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One Court Can Effect the Nation

Posted by amy On March - 31 - 2009

Yesterday, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry posted an amazing article clearly defining the implications of Proposition 8, if the California Supreme Court chooses to uphold it.  Evan drives the point home that we have all said time and time again: If Proposition 8 is upheld, it sets a precedence in this country that a simple majority can vote on the rights of any minority group.  Though we keep saying this, his article sends the point home in a way that pinpoints the severity of Proposition 8.

Think about it this way: If Prop 8 sticks, then there is nothing stopping the KKK from rallying together to put something on the ballot that takes away the rights of the African American Community.  A state would be able to choose to take away voting rights of women.  Hell, maybe the next ballot initiative will be to take the LGBTQ community back to a pre-Stonewall era where we could get arrested just for holding hands with our partner!  Yes these may be extreme, but the California Supreme Court has the power to say that anyone can rally a simple majority to strip rights of any minority.  Our Constitution is meant to protect all of us… even from each other.  While many who voted for Proposition 8 did so because they felt that they were protecting the word “marriage,” the vast implications of what they perceived to be good intentions, were left in a black box only to be opened now.

I consistently come back to Jim Crow laws here; a time when a man and woman who loved each other, could not legally marry based on the color of their skin.  At the time, the same “moral” arguments were used to protect the word “marriage.”  And, as Evan so eloquently puts it:

…the “essence” of which, the California Supreme Court explained in 1948 when it became the first court in the U.S. with the courage to strike down race restrictions on marriage, is the right “to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice,” the person who to you may be “irreplaceable.” Imagine what California and our country would look like today had that court flinched in the face of the 90% disapproval of the then-majority. Imagine what the Constitution would look like if a mere majority could always cement inequality or a selective denial of fundamental rights into it, without even the procedural protection of the deliberative revision process the people themselves set forth.

So what will you do on the Day of Decision (D-Day)?  We all hope that we’ll be celebrating in the streets, but are we prepared for the worst?  If the California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8, then all minorities are at risk.  Will you be ready to fight for your rights?  Will you be prepared to fight for the rights of all minorities?  Will you be ready for the next ballot initiative – The one that is in your own back yard?  Proposition 8 is not just a California issue.  It is not just a marriage issue.  And it is NOT just an LGBTQ issue!  Join the many organizations that are gathering on D-Day.  Prepare your city, your friends, your family, and your powerful voice for what might happen next.

Beyond California

Posted by amy On March - 9 - 2009

Prop 8 is a huge fight that we have going on when it comes to equal rights for members of the LGBTQ community.  When JTI began, we called for everyone around the nation (and the world) to unite as one voice for equal rights.  We explained that Proposition 8 is much more than California’s problem.  If Prop 8 is not repealed, it sets a precedent that the majority can vote on the rights of the minority.  As argued on Thursday, it states that people who are NOT affected by a lack of rights, can choose to keep those rights from a suspect class.  This is appalling.  California is a HUGE battleground right now which we will all continue to be a part of.  Beyond California, there are many many issues at stake that we all need to support and take actions on.

  • Only 13 states have laws protecting LGBTQ citizens from employment discrimination based on sexual or gender identity.
  • There are 7 more states that protect LGB citizens, but do not protect Transgendered citizens from employment discrimination.  Soon we will all come together to support a federal ENDA law that secures equal protections in the work space.
  • Throughout the country, families are at risk of deportation because we can not legally sponsor our partner to become a citizen of the US.  The Uniting American Families Act has been reintroduced to Congress, and we encourage you to call your representative and ask that they support this act and support our families!
  • In the state of Washington (my current home) a Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill has been introduced and will hit the Senate and House this week.  This bill will give Washington LGBTQ citizens protections under the law at a state-wide level that are equal to the state-wide protections of marriage. Those who oppose same-sex civil protections are stating that this law (which again uses the semantics of Domestic Partnership) is seeking to redefine the word marriage, even though we are not.  They are taking action and we need to respond by educating our representatives on the realities of this bill and how it will help us.
  • In the state of Hawaii, another battle surges as our LGBTQ brothers and sisters fight for Civil Unions.  The opposition has come out in full force and Hawaii needs you!  If you are from Hawaii or know someone who is, please contact your representative (or ask your friend to) and ask that they support HB444.
  • HB2234 is going to the House floor for a vote in Illinois.  This same-sex civil union bill does not grant all of the state-wide rights of marriage, but it does grant some very important protections.  Please take action by contacting your representative (if in Illinois) and asking that they support this bill.
  • Here’s a great state by state breakdown on LGBTQ adoption rights.  Clearly we have work to do.  With an average of 500,000 children needing families every year, only 50,000 get adopted.  In a country where so many go without family, why do we have to fight to provide safety, shelter, and parental care?
  • Despite the evolutions in the field of science, we still live in a country where gay and bisexual men cannot donate blood.  This ban on blood donations began with the AIDS crisis and a fear that blood donations would be tainted with the disease.  According to the CDC, the incidence of AIDS is lowering in gay and bisexual men and raising in the heterosexual community.  Yet this ban does not extend to members of the heterosexual community.  A JTI member and amazing organizer for many great grassroots groups has worked hard on this front with her program called the Right to Save.  She is calling for national actions on May 16th 2009 to send a message to the FDA that this policy is discriminatory.
  • These are just a FEW of the many battles brewing in this EQUAL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.  Add more in the comments and let’s organize together to work toward winning these battles and our equal protections under the law.

Get Active Today – A Long Delayed Tools of the Week

Posted by amy On February - 24 - 2009

OK it’s official: my Flu is gone. This means that it’s about time I catch everyone up on some amazing things happening all over the nation as we continue moving toward equality. To begin, the conversation of equality has been going on for many many years, but the passage of Proposition 8 has made this conversation surge in ways never seen before. EVERYONE is talking about equal rights these days… and it’s making our opposition louder as well. We need to stay strong, stay loud, and STAY PROUD!

Here are some amazing ways that you can get out there and keep this conversation going, make some changes, and push us another step (or leap) forward on the path to full equal rights:

  1. “PROcott” Pepsi – so there is no official antonym for “boycott”  as such, I give you “procott.”  The American Family Association (the group that brings the nation anti-gay propaganda videos making members of the LGBTQ community out to be in-human), is now calling for a national boycott of Pepsi. They are angered by Pepsi’s pro-LGBTQ stance and outraged by the latest Pepsi Ads.  They have almost 200K people signed up to boycott Pepsi.  So, let’s show Pepsi how much we support them.  Check out this great Facebook Group asking you to BUY PEPSI.  We have millions of people involved with JTI… let’s show the AFA just how easy it is for us to cancel out their numbers!  Once you’ve agreed to Buy Pepsi, call them and thank them for their support (especially since they are getting calls from those against the LGBTQ community right now: 914-253-2000 or  1-800-433-2652).
  2. March Forth on March 4th: March 4th is the “Eve of Justice” and MEUSA is putting together an amazing candlelight vigil across California.  Join in from your home, your city center, or use The Impact to setup an event in your city.
  3. March 5th Wear White: Willow did a great post on this yesterday.  On March 5th, the CA Supreme Court will be hearing the opening arguments for and against Prop 8.  Please wear white (or a white knot) that day to support those fighting for all of us.
  4. March 5th – COME TO SF: That’s right… I know that the economy is in a downward spiral right now, but that also means that plane tickets are SUPER CHEAP.  Join myself, Willow, and thousands of JTI members from around the country outside of the SF Supreme Court to witness this amazing historical event!  Virgin Airlines and Travelocity are selling super cheap tickets to SF right now!  Let’s join the goal of getting 100K people outside of the courthouse on the 5th!
  5. Even if you can’t come to SF, help us share this with EVERYONE!  MEUSA is raising money to get a Jumbotron in front of the SF courthouse so that everyone in attendance can hear the opening arguments.  ANY DONATION HELPS!!!  Please DONATE TODAY!
  6. Ask Your State Rep to Support UAFA: The Uniting American Families Act was reintroduced on February 12th.  Call your state rep and ask that they support the UAFA.
  7. Stay tuned to this site for updates on future events.  If you have an idea for an event and would like the help of JTI, please submit your event here.

March 5- Wear White!

Posted by willow On February - 24 - 2009

As you may have heard, March 5 is the date the California Supreme Court will hear arguments on the validity of Proposition 8. This is a day that begins an historic process which directly affects the rights not just of those who seek a same-sex marriage, but all minority rights. Proposition 8 sets a precedent that allows the majority to vote on the rights of a minority any time there is a court decision. It can affect the rights of any minority that faces discrimination because it TAKES AWAY an existing right from a targeted minority. Prop 8 clearly affects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it’s implications are far more reaching. Additionally, Prop 8 does not just affect the rights of Californians. All Americans are affected. The conservative right is bringing this fight to us in states throughout the Union. Yesterday in Hawaii 2,000 people stood AGAINST Civil Unions. Florida, Arkansas and Arizona also all lost ballot measures in their states on Nov. 4 to limit the rights of our families. We are under attack, and we MUST fight back.

We can all show our solidarity on March 5 by wearing white. This can be a wedding dress, sailor uniform, feather boa, all white leather, white tee, white knot, whatever you please.

We are calling for a loud voice to show up in San Francisco and be part of hearing the oral arguments. I’ve extended my trip in California. Amy’s flying down from Seattle. People have already purchased tickets from the east coast. Students from campuses all over have been granted funding for transport to be witness to this important piece of the political process. People will be calling off work to be there. Oh yeah, and did I mention there’ll be a JUMBOTRON? (Please help fund the jumbotron! No contribution too small!)

We know this economy is tough, but if you have the means- you should get there. Many airlines have announced drastically reduced rates recently, and this is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of them.

A college run website has emerged with a goal of driving ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND people to San Francisco for March 5. Some people say that number is crazy, I say that number is NECESSARY. There should absolutely be a larger turn-out than we’ve ever seen for this. We know our opposition will be there.

Let’s show them numbers they’ve never dreamed of!

March 5 Wear White at the San Francisco Supreme Court!!

Heroes of Love

Posted by amy On February - 13 - 2009

Share Valentine’s Day Love
with Champions of Marriage Equality

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s ‘Heroes of Love’ Campaign
Thanks Courageous Straight Allies

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 2, 2009— As a kid, Valentine’s Day often meant slipping cheesy heart-shaped cards into the construction paper-decorated shoeboxes of classmates (though not necessarily the classmates you really liked). For adults, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating relationships—and the Heroes of Love campaign is about showing love for those who have supported the relationships of same-sex couples by being fierce advocates for marriage equality.

Visitors to www.LoveHeroes.com can sign oversized valentine cards that the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will deliver to 15 courageous straight allies, Heroes of Love, who have stood with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in our fight for marriage equality. The goal is to show them how many thousands of people appreciate their support.

Because there are many more than 15 heroic supporters of marriage equality, visitors to the site can also personalize and send e-valentines, designed by celebrity supporters of the Center, to any hero of love they choose.

Straight Ally Heroes

“Our movement has made enormous progress regarding the freedom to marry, thanks not only to courageous LGBT people but to the dedication of many straight allies,” says Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “We could not have come as far as we have without them, and they deserve our kudos and respect. With continued support from Heroes of Love like those we honor this Valentine’s Day, we will forge ahead, confident that Proposition 8 was only a temporary setback in our quest for justice and that full and complete equality will one day be ours.”

The 15 straight allies being honored are:

· Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP

· Jerry Brown, California Attorney General

· Judy Chu, chair of the California Board of Equalization

· Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the L.A. County Federation of Labor

· Diane Feinstein, U.S. Senator

· Hon. Ron George, Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court

· Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America

· Alice Huffman, President of the California NAACP

· Bill Maher, host of Real Time with Bill Maher

· Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco

· Jack O’Connell, California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction

· Brad Pitt, A-list actor

· Jerry Sanders, mayor of San Diego

· Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles

· Karin Wang, Vice President of Programs for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

Your Personal Hero

Use this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to thank a boss who let you volunteer on Election Day, a parent who donated to the No on 8 campaign or friends who joined you for phone banking—recognize them all with free Valentine’s Day e-cards, including cards designed by Queer As Folk stars Michelle Clunie and Peter Paige and Girls Will Be Girls star and executive producer Jack Plotnick.

Canvass Campaign

The Center’s Vote for Equality Project, which has been educating voters about marriage equality for more than 4 years, is organizing a Valentine’s Day canvass to help change the minds and hearts of voters in parts of Los Angeles where Prop. 8 passed by a narrow margin. The canvass will begin with a full training, and lunch will be provided.

To volunteer or to learn about future canvassing opportunities, visit www.lagaycenter.org/voteforequality.

-30-

About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
Since 1971 the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Our wide array of services and programs includes: free HIV/AIDS care and medications for those most in need; housing, food, clothing and support for homeless LGBT youth; low-cost counseling and addiction-recovery services; essential services for LGBT-parented families and seniors; legal services; health education and HIV prevention programs; transgender services; cultural arts and much more. Visit us on the Web at: www.lagaycenter.org.

Freedom to Marry Week

Posted by amy On February - 6 - 2009

National Freedom to Marry Week is around the corner, and orgs all over the country have some amazing events planned! Check out our Other Events page to see what’s going on.

Join the Impact and Marriage Equality USA have teamed up to make February 12th a huge day! Every year, MEUSA has marriage counter actions on National Freedom to Marry Day. This year, they asked JTI if we could join to cover more ground and send the message of LGBTQ Equality to our local community and representatives. JTI and MEUSA organizers have teamed up around the country and have spent the past few weeks working extremely hard on their Feb 12 IMPACT!

Here’s the official rundown:
On National Freedom to Marry Day, Thursday, February 12, 2009, at local marriage counters in cities all over the country, same-sex couples will request marriage licenses at their local County Clerk’s Offices to raise awareness of the harms and impact that the inability to marry causes on their families. This national event is hosted yearly by Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) and this year they have asked Join the Impact for our help to make this their largest Marriage Counter Action yet! .:more:.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Please help us lend support to Marriage Equality USA as we draw national attention to the many committed couples who are not afforded the right to marry. We ask that JTI organizers reach out to their local chapters and member organizations and offer support in making this event a success!

If You Want to Get Involved, Please Find a Marriage Counter Action in YOUR CITY

>> Click here to a complete list of MEUSA locations (by states) and other critical information!
>> Click here to find JTI cities that will be hosting events where MEUSA is not

Marriage Equality USA chapters and member organizations are eager to hear from you and get your help. In those cities where an MEUSA does not exist, we ask that JTI organizers step up (once again) and help us bring this event to their city for the first time. MEUSA has provided us with a national toolkit which will help us ensure that this event gets the attention it deserves as we join forces for one large impact!


GET THE TOOLKIT

Tell-Three.org

Posted by amy On February - 3 - 2009

Some of you may have heard rumblings about JTI partnering with some AMAZING orgs like the ACLU to roll out a new initiative… well, here’s confirmation in Press Release form:

Join the Impact has partnered with other national LGBT groups to develop a web based public education campaign, www.tell-three.org, to encourage LGBT people and their supporters to have three conversations with friends and family to help build support for LGBT equality.

“The passage of Prop 8 in California has motivated LGBT people and their supporters like never before,” said Amy Balliett of Join the Impact, a grass roots organization with more than 15,000 regular members and millions of world-wide participants, that has helped to organize massive demonstrations throughout the U.S. since the November elections. “Now that we’ve had some time to get over our anger and sadness, we’re ready to act. And the single most important thing we can do to guarantee we don’t find ourselves on the losing side of another political campaign is to have conversations with our friends and family about what it means to be LGBT.”

Other organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union; Equality California; the Equality Federation; Freedom to Marry; The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, will be rolling out their own versions of the campaign on their websites. The goal of the campaign is for all LGBT groups and individuals to seize upon the momentum that has been generated since the passage of Proposition 8 in November and work together to tell their stories to build support for all of the issues affecting LGBT people.

“Harvey Milk was right on the money to encourage everyone to come out to their friends and family, but we know now that coming out alone isn’t enough,” said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU LGBT Project. “To persuade others to support LGBT equality we need to have personal conversations with people that explain what its like to be LGBT. We need to talk about our relationships, the struggles we face as LGBT people, the ways our lives are the same and the ways they are different.”

Visitors to www.tell-three.org can find additional information on who to talk with and how to start these important conversations. There are also resources for those who want to learn more about the issues affecting LGBT people. But, as the website notes, the most important thing is for people to have personal conversations. The website encourages LGBT people to talk about their relationships, about growing up, and about how being LGBT has made them feel different from others in some respects and the same in others. Straight allies are encouraged to talk about their relationships with LGBT people and to speak up when they hear others make homophobic or transphobic comments.

The groups are encouraging everyone – members of national and local LGBT groups, individuals and couples supportive moms and dads, and allied friends and colleagues – to join the campaign and get people talking. The site makes it easy to spread the word to others to send an e-mail to their friends. Eventually there will also be opportunities for people to share their experiences on the site.

The campaign is also calling on bloggers and videographers to help spread the word by sharing their experiences of having these important conversations. “After Prop 8 passed, we spoke through demonstrations and we made ourselves heard. We need to take our voices beyond the streets into every home in America, and to do that we need to use every avenue available to sparking conversations,” added Balliett.

A Long Awaited Update: Open Letter Signatures

Posted by admin On January - 25 - 2009

Hi Everyone,

I can’t even beging to tell you how many emails I have received this week regarding the Open Letter Signature Drive.  I apologize to everyone for not updating you in a timely manner, but the truth is, we are STILL counting signatures.  This is a GREAT problem to have!  It means that we had so many people participating, that the core group we put together to handle 1 million signatures, are overwhelmed!  One of our board members got a call on the 16th of the month from the post office.  They asked him to come over there immediately because they couldn’t handle the amount of mail we were receiving!  His apartment is covered with signature sheets!!

We did the math.  Each signature sheet has the ability to contain 20 signatures.  To get 1 million signatures, that means a MINIMUM of 50,000 sheets of paper!  Stacked on top of each other, 50,000 sheets of paper would be a little over 4feet tall!  Talk about an amazing visual impact!  Well, we have around 4-5ft of paper right now, and have decided to EXTEND the signature drive to DOUBLE our impact!  We are doing this because weather and college break got in the way of about 7 states participating.  Ohio had to cancel their event because of a huge snow storm.  Manhattan’s turn out was affected by weather.  Small college towns were just returning from break.  The list goes on.  We want to ensure that EVERYONE has a voice in this and EVERYONE’S SIGNATURE COUNTS! Because of this, we pushed our deadline to hand the signatures to Obama to the end of February.  We will need all signature sheets mid-Feb to ensure that they all get counted.  This ensures that the letter gets to Obama while Congress begins their session and that EVERYONE has the opportunity to participate.

So here’s what we are going to do:

  1. We hope that you’ll join us and print out the Open Letter and Signature Sheets and start collecting more signatures.
  2. Send signatures to our Ohio office BY MONDAY FEB 16TH to ensure all are counted
  3. Here’s a new twist based on feedback from our members: Write your own letter, sign it, and send it our way, we’ll ensure it gets to him.
  4. If you can’t get to a printer, then let me send you a letter and some signature sheets, as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope for you to mail the signatures back.  Use the contact us form to request the forms.

Many people want us to turn this into an online signature drive, but we feel that this will negate the purpose.  Many online petitions are taken less seriously and considered much less valid.  We have a 4.5foot stack of signatures to bring to Obama!  We want to make that 10 feet tall!  Handing over a DVD with all the signatures just doesn’t make the same visual impact.  We want the world to see just how many of us there are that support full equality for LGBTQI citizens!  Let’s do this in the most organic way possible.

Further, we want everyone to continue the conversation of equality.  This signature drive provides each and every one of you with the opportunity to do this.  So who’s with us?  Ready to kick it up a notch?

A Long Awaited Update: Open Letter Signatures

Posted by amy On January - 25 - 2009

Hi Everyone,

I can’t even beging to tell you how many emails I have received this week regarding the Open Letter Signature Drive.  I apologize to everyone for not updating you in a timely manner, but the truth is, we are STILL counting signatures.  This is a GREAT problem to have!  It means that we had so many people participating, that the core group we put together to handle 1 million signatures, are overwhelmed!  One of our board members got a call on the 16th of the month from the post office.  They asked him to come over there immediately because they couldn’t handle the amount of mail we were receiving!  His apartment is covered with signature sheets!!

We did the math.  Each signature sheet has the ability to contain 20 signatures.  To get 1 million signatures, that means a MINIMUM of 50,000 sheets of paper!  Stacked on top of each other, 50,000 sheets of paper would be a little over 4feet tall!  Talk about an amazing visual impact!  Well, we have around 4-5ft of paper right now, and have decided to EXTEND the signature drive to DOUBLE our impact!  We are doing this because weather and college break got in the way of about 7 states participating.  Ohio had to cancel their event because of a huge snow storm.  Manhattan’s turn out was affected by weather.  Small college towns were just returning from break.  The list goes on.  We want to ensure that EVERYONE has a voice in this and EVERYONE’S SIGNATURE COUNTS! Because of this, we pushed our deadline to hand the signatures to Obama to the end of February.  We will need all signature sheets mid-Feb to ensure that they all get counted.  This ensures that the letter gets to Obama while Congress begins their session and that EVERYONE has the opportunity to participate.

So here’s what we are going to do:

  1. We hope that you’ll join us and print out the Open Letter and Signature Sheets and start collecting more signatures.
  2. Send signatures to our Ohio office BY MONDAY FEB 16TH to ensure all are counted
  3. Here’s a new twist based on feedback from our members: Write your own letter, sign it, and send it our way, we’ll ensure it gets to him.
  4. If you can’t get to a printer, then let me send you a letter and some signature sheets, as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope for you to mail the signatures back.  Use the contact us form to request the forms.

Many people want us to turn this into an online signature drive, but we feel that this will negate the purpose.  Many online petitions are taken less seriously and considered much less valid.  We have a 4.5foot stack of signatures to bring to Obama!  We want to make that 10 feet tall!  Handing over a DVD with all the signatures just doesn’t make the same visual impact.  We want the world to see just how many of us there are that support full equality for LGBTQI citizens!  Let’s do this in the most organic way possible.

Further, we want everyone to continue the conversation of equality.  This signature drive provides each and every one of you with the opportunity to do this.  So who’s with us?  Ready to kick it up a notch?

We Need Your Voice

Posted by amy On January - 14 - 2009

We need your help! When Join the Impact began, it was simply a blog post asking people to come together on a national level to join in one united voice against Proposition 8. In that first week, a great deal of things were asked of Join the Impact, one of which was a 3 month calendar. We put together the calendar as fast as we could and were not aware of the months of learning that laid before us. Now, Join the Impact is a little over 2 months old and we want to make the most out of it. From now on, we need YOU to help us plan what to do next. Light Up the Night was a success because one of our members suggested the idea. Since then, we have had many suggestions come our way and we want our community to have a say in what happens next, what our goals should be, and how we want to accomplish these goals.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Offer up an idea by creating a thread on our event ideas page
  2. People will reply to that specific idea thread to help lend their support and constructive criticism.
  3. Every idea that reaches 100 votes (in the “was this comment valuable to you” tool of the thread), will get it’s own page and members will be asked to create a task force to help make that idea a reality.
  4. We will work with you to help your idea take flight and truly ensure that Join the Impact is your platform for YOUR voice!