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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

Fidelity

Posted by amy On February - 5 - 2009


“Fidelity”: Don’t Divorce… from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

The Courage Campaign never ceases to amaze me!  California is filled with some amazing orgs, but when it comes to Prop 8, the Courage Campaign always knows how to take the message of the damage Prop 8 has caused, and deliver it in a way that really hits home for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.  So here is a BIG THANK YOU to the Courage Campaign for putting together this inspirational campaign and taking our movement another step in the right direction!

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.

Domestic Partnership VS. Marriage

Posted by amy On January - 29 - 2009

In my current home state (current because Ohio will always be my real home state) of Washington, our state-wide LGBTQ organization, Equal Rights Washington, just introduced a state-wide Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill*.  Currently, our state provides partial rights under our Domestic Partnership laws including property rights, real-estate related taxes, powers of attorney, and a few more.  The DP expansion bill would provide WA-state LGBTQ families with even more rights, making our relationships almost equivalent (at least at the state-level) to heterosexual married couples.  Since yesterday’s announcement of this bill, there has been some heated debate about weather it is “too little vs. too much” and of course, the consistent debate amongst our own community of “Domestic Partnership” vs. “Marriage.”

As the debate rages, I feel the need to bring attention to a very specific quote from ERW: They say that this DP bill is “part of a broader effort to secure full marriage equality in Washington.”  While we all work together to achieve full marriage equality, we need to understand that there are steps to be taken in this process.  Some of these steps include starting off with a word that many of us are not comfortable with: Domestic Partnership.  This word, from what I gather, is meant to be a “start,” but definitely not an end in our evolution toward full equality.

So now I want to bring this question to YOU on a national level.  If you were given the option to fully protect your family RIGHT NOW, but have those protections categorized under the term “Domestic Partner” or to wait an uncertain amount of time (months, years, possibly more) so that you can have the entire package – the word and the rights… which would you choose?  Now, I am in no way trying to under play the word “marriage.”  Beyond the 1100 PLUS Federal rights that come with the word “marriage,” there are also numerous unspoken social rights that come with the word.

As this debate rages in our community, there are LGBTQ families in need of equal protections NOW.  With our current economic state, we need to ensure that families can share pensions, health insurance, life insurance, and more.  In some states, these protections can come immediately, but only if the semantics come with it.  Many are angry about this.  Many feel that this is an all or nothing situation and they will not support a Domestic Partnership because it does not come with all of the federal and social rights of Civil Marriage.  I say, that we must come together as a community, which was the call to action that began Join the Impact.  We cannot let our community continue to be divided in this debate, while elderly members of our community loose out (as many DP rights are set to protect these people the most).  A DP is NOT FULL EQUALITY, but it IS a step in the right direction, and I think we need that step to be taken in states that require it.  Not all states can skip the step of DP, but we are lucky to have those that can.

While we continue this discussion, we each must realize that there is an internal struggle we must deal with as well.  We are raised to believe that the highest form of commitment only comes with the word “marriage.”  This is why I call my wife, “my wife.”  This is why I call my relationship a “marriage.”  And this is why I spent a whole lot of money on a full-blown “traditional” ceremony with family and friends to celebrate my love.  I did this because the word is extremely important to me.  I did this because I have a deep rooted pride and respect in the word marriage.  And the internal struggle exists when those outside my family do not understand my relationship or revere it the way I do, or the way they would a heterosexual marriage of two perfect strangers.  The majority of these people do not “hate” me or my relationship.  Instead, they believe that they are protecting their families when fighting to keep this word theirs.  We, on the other hand, are protecting our families when fighting for this word as well.  Herein lies the divide, which is rooted in an equal end goal: protection of one’s family.  Well, I’m going to protect my family in any and every way that I can.  I will do this by upholding my definition of marriage:  A monogamous, consensual, life-long commitment rooted in love, honor, respect, and responsibility.  I will do this by fighting for equal protections under the law.  I will do this because I know that one day, the ENTIRE package of equality will be sitting at my doorstep.

This is a chicken vs. the egg scenario.  What will come first, the legal rights, or the social rights?  That is up to you.  If the legal rights come to me here in Washington before the social rights do, I won’t complain.  I won’t because I demand those social rights everyday in everything that I do.  I know what my relationship is, and I am confident enough in it that nobody’s beliefs can change it.  No law will tell me what I can and cannot call my family.  No law will tell me how to regard my wife.  I AM MARRIED, and the LAW and the SEMANTICS will just have to catch up to my PRIDE!

*If you are in WA and would like to support this next step toward civil-marriage, please email your legislature today!

*If you are in a state where similar initiatives are taking place, PLEASE post them on this blog, The Impact, and email JTI with them as well… JTI will do whatever we can to help get the word out and help!

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?

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?

IN the parade

Posted by amy On January - 20 - 2009

Many are aware of INtheparade.com, but for those who aren’t, IN worked hard to ensure that LGBTQI visibility shined bright during the inaugural parade today. In the words of IN the Parade:

For the first time in America’s history, an openly-LGBT contingent is marching in a Presidential Inaugural Parade. The Lesbian/Gay Band Association (LGBA) has been invited to MARCH on January 20, 2009. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. And there is still more you can do!

Though I did not attend the parade, many members of Join the Impact (including co-founder, Willow Witte) made their way to Washington D.C. for this amazing event!  I want to share you you some pictures taken during the parade as we, the LGBTQI community, join in making history!

Hours Away: America’s New President

Posted by amy On January - 19 - 2009

Tomorrow marks an amazing moment in the history of America that I am honored to witness. I still remember what everyone, including myself, was saying a year ago: America is not ready for an African American president. Now look where America is only one year later. In less than a year, we emerged from the overwhelming idea that America was not ready and took to the polls to prove that we were and we are!

I spent my evening talking with someone about laws governed by society. This conversation was about Same-Sex Civil Marriage. The person I was speaking with stated that Civil Marriage for same-sex couples will not happen because society is not ready. So where do you want us to be in a year? Will society be ready for Same-Sex Civil Marriage? What about a gender-identity inclusive Federal ENDA law? The passage of the Matthew Shepard Act? National adoption rights for LGBTQI couples? These are just a few opportunities in front of us. Help us decide, and then help us make it a reality. Share your ideas to make an IMPACT here.

Look how far our country has come in one year!  What will your IMPACT be to get us to the next level?  I can’t wait to see where we are next year, with the help of amazing people like you!

Equality on Campus Day

Posted by amy On January - 18 - 2009

Ideas for Change Winners Announced!

Posted by willow On January - 18 - 2009

Inaugural weekend has been very exciting for Join The Impact!

Change.org, an online action network for progressive change, announced the winners of the Ideas for Change in America competition. In December we brought this contest to your attention in the post IMPACT the White House Part 2, and asked you to vote for your idea.  Among those top ten winning ideas was Pass Marriage Equality Rights for LGBT Couples Nationwide. We were invited to attend the announcement ceremony in Washington, D.C. Friday morning.

Thanks all of you who voted!

The Change.org event was about bringing together grassroots organizations that are working to make change happen in a forum where we were able to hear great ideas for using the internet to make positive changes from panelists including Chris Hughes, who co-founded Facebook and served as the Director of Online Organizing for the Obama campaign, as well as Lee Brenner, Political Director for MySpace. Additionally Macon Phillips, a member of the Presidential Transition Team, was on hand to assure us the activist community that our ideas would be heard. The energy in the room of embracing the idea of change and looking for innovative ways to grow our movement was magical.

So what’s next you ask? The top ten ideas will be featured on Change.org’s site. As we move forward to turn the idea of Marriage Equality from an idea into policy Change.org will help to foster connections between us and online communities with overlapping issues. We hope to gain much from this organization in terms of technical expertise, marketing our message, and improving the online experience of our community. Most importantly, Change.org delivers a message to the Obama transition team that the issues of the GLBTQI community are pressing issues, not just to us, but to the entire progressive political community.