Saturday, August 23, 2014

Join the Impact

Activism Rooted in the Internet

Archive for the ‘site news’ Category

Obama defends DOMA, we defend our families

Posted by admin On June - 12 - 2009

The following Op-Ed was written by Joe Mirabella. Joe Mirabella is a volunteer for Join the Impact as the Washington State Community Organizer.  Mirabella is a full time writer and content developer for an online retailer. He is engaged to marry his partner of 5 1/2 years in their home state of Iowa.

The Obama Flip-Flop campaign was a creative attempt to convince Obama to instruct the Justice Department to refuse to defend the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) lawsuit started by GLAD.  Presidents have the option to let lawsuits go through undefended when they believe they are unconstitutional.  Both Clinton and Bush exercised this option.  Unfortunately, the Justice Department released a 50  page brief today outlining the Obama administration’s defense of DOMA.  Check out the AMERICAblog for their translation of the motion. (A copy of the brief is at the end of this post.) In the mean time let me summarize; it is not good.  The Obama administration is attempting to diminish the two Supreme Court cases that most of our rights are based on, Loving vs Virginia and Lawrence vs Texas.

The LGBT community supported President Obama and his campaign with our money, our valuable time, and our votes.  We believed the President when he promised us he was going to repeal DOMA, end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act, support Hate Crimes Legislation, and more.  We believed the President because he offered the country hope and our community needed hope more than any other community in America.  We needed a friend in the White House who was willing to lead us through the civil rights movement of the century.  We needed someone who was not going to stab us in the back.

Mr. President you flip-flopped.  We should have known.  You started your Presidency with one of the most anti-gay Pastors in the country giving your inaugural prayer, Rick Warren.  You further hurt us by remaining silent on proposition 8.  The one moment you mentioned our advances in Iowa and other states was in jest at the correspondence dinner. You asked the Supreme Court to ignore an appeal on Don’t Ask Don’t tell for “unit cohesion”.  You did all these things and yet your promises remained on Whitehouse.gov (FYI his promise to repeal DOMA is no longer there.)  Some of us still hoped, myself included, that you would do the right thing and not defend DOMA.

I no longer have hope for you President Obama.  I no longer believe you are on my side. Your adminstration is using the arguments of our worst enemies to uphold laws that destroy our families.  I should have known. I should not have been so enchanted by your beautiful speeches and colorful campaign posters. Mr. President you are no different than the rest.  You used our community to get to the White House and now you have pushed us aside. This time is different though, because we won’t take it anymore!

I was once on the fence about the October march on Washington.  It is clearer to me now more than ever we can not wait. We need to show up and stand up.  We need to destroy our worst enemy — apathy.  We need to mobilize our communities to fight locally and nationally. We need to demand that our leaders not only say they are going to protect our families, but they must prove it through action.  Flowery speeches will no longeer woo us.  Colorful posters are a red flag now.  If you want the support of the LGBT community, you will have to earn it.

A group of leaders met this spring in Dallas to discuss the future of the LGBT civil rights movement.  They developed a set of ideals that I think are a good start. They are called the Dallas Principles:

In order to achieve full civil rights now, we avow:

1.Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now.  Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.

2.We will not leave any part of our community behind.

3.Separate is never equal.

4.Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.

5.The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.

6.Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.

7.Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.

8.Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.

We are in a fight for our lives. Maine needs our help to protect marriage from a voter initiative to overturn the recent gain there.  Washington needs our help to protect Domestic Partnerships from a group of fundamentalists. Gays and lesbians are still being fired from their jobs because of who they were born to be.  Children are being hurt as they are ripped from loving same-sex parent’s arms and returned to foster care systems. Our community continues to be violently attacked in hate motivated crimes. Obama reminded us today that we are the only ones we can depend on to fight for our rights. Apathy is no longer an option. Either stand up for yourself now or don’t be surprised when we are left with nothing.

Join the Impact will be launching several tools in the near future to help you fight for your rights. In the mean time volunteer your time locally, get ready to go to Washington DC, donate your money to LGBT causes, demand your representatives vote for your rights, talk to people about our issues, and most importantly do not give up.

When Obama became President, he asked us to hold his feet to the fire when he was letting us down. Mr. President, you let me down.  Join me by telling the president he let you down by twittering the president @barackobama with the tag #promise

It is no longer okay for our elected leaders to take advantage of us. If you want our support, you will have to earn it through action.  You better start now, because we are watching.

Obama’s Motion to Dismiss Marriage case

I Heart Iowa!

Posted by amy On April - 3 - 2009

I’m sure you all know the amazing news: The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of Same-Sex Civil Marriage today!  As someone who is originally from Ohio, I never expected a Midwest state to jump on the marriage equality bandwagon before the coastal states, but Iowa has just proven me wrong!  Thanks to the amazingly hard work of groups like One Iowa and Lambda Legal, we are another great step closer to winning equality for all LGBTQ citizens!

Please take a moment today to celebrate.  Share the story with friends and family.  Tell your co-workers about today’s historic event.  Tell a neighbor.  Send an email.  Change your Facebook/Twitter status.  Or join one of the many celebratory rallies that are springing up around the nation:  MEUSA has planned one in San Francisco, many are happening in Iowa (thanks to One Iowa),  and the Civil Rights Front is holding one in Manhattan.  Check The Impact to see if a local organizer has set something up for your city.  Continue the conversation of equality with this amazing news!

Here’s some links to stories about it:

Finally, on a personal note, since the launch of Join the Impact, I have had the privilege to meet some extremely amazing people who are working toward gaining full equality for all LGBTQ citizens on both the local and national level.  One of those people is a man named Joe Maribella.  Joe organized the Seattle Light Up the Night event, and, since I live in Seattle, I have had many great opportunities to work directly with him as he organizes for Join the Impact in Washington State.  Joe is originally from Iowa and (by shear coincidence), he and his partner (also named Joe… yup, it’s confusing) of 5 1/2 years were home in Iowa visiting this week.  This morning, they woke up and saw their home state embrace their commitment.  They applied for a marriage license an hour ago with a formal proposal outside of City Hall!!  Congratulations to Joe… and Joe :-).  Also, congratulations to all of the amazing couples that will be married in Iowa!  And congratulations to all of you, who are working hard for the LGBTQ community as a whole and know that a win for one state is a win for all of us!

Day Of Decision

Posted by admin On March - 17 - 2009

DayOfDecision.org is calling for a national response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop 8.  We cannot predict when this ruling will come down, we can only prepare our cities for a place and time to meet on D-Day (Day of Decision).  JTI has joined as just one of many co-sponsors to Robin Tyler’s DayOfDecision.org.  We are lending our resources and are asking any of our members and organizers interested to help out.  The CA Supreme Court will give us only 24 hours notice before they announce their decision.  We need to be prepared to respond, and hope that this is a response of celebration rather than protest.  Moving forward, we all must work together to fight for equality on a national level… we have begun this, but we must harness this, learn from our mistakes, and keep moving forward.  The world is buzzing with the word “equality.”  So many amazing conversations are happening (Check HERE and Checkout Tell-Three.org as well).  DayOfDecision.org is about continuing this momentum.  We must come together as a community and mourn our losses, while never backing down, and celebrate our wins, while knowing that there are more to come.

Here’s the Press Release:

Join the Impact Responds to the Call for DayOfDecision.org Co-Sponsors

NATIONAL – In the near future, the California Supreme Court will announce its decision on whether or not to repeal Proposition 8.  The ruling could come down as early as this week, and as late as June 5th. When this time comes, it will either be a moment of protest or celebration for the LGBTQ community.  To respond to both possible outcomes, grassroots activists Robin Tyler and Andy Thayer are calling for Day of Decision activities across the US. Join the Impact and many other national organizations are adding their support and resources to the national effort.

“We have over 200 amazing organizers across the country who are eager to respond to Proposition 8” says Willow Witte, co-founder and Executive Director of Join the Impact.  The California Supreme Court will give 24 hours notice before reading its decision, but Witte is confident that with proper planning, 24 hours will be enough time for organizers to rally their base.

“I’m hoping that the day is one of celebration in the streets,” says Amy Balliett, co-founder and Communications Director of Join the Impact.  “If it is not, then the California Supreme Court will set an unhealthy precedent in this country; One that allows the majority to vote on the rights of the minority, and take a minority out of the Constitution.”

Along with their organizers, Join the Impact has also lent its virtual organizing platform to the mix by re-creating their November 15th Wetpaint tool for DayOfDecision.org.  This tool (http://dayofdecision.wetpaint.com), will allow organizers to update their city pages with event information, and will allow all who sign up the chance to be notified of their city’s actions almost immediately.

Robin Tyler and Andy Thayer are seasoned activists when it comes to events like this.  They called for national action by organizing celebrations in 50 cities for the Federal Supreme Court Day of Decision regarding Lawrence v Texas, the decision that struck down sodomy laws across the nation.  Tens of thousands of activists were on the streets, from Alaska to Hawaii to Puerto Rico and all over the mainland.  Robin Tyler has been the main stage producer for 3 marches on Washington and she and her partner, Diane Olson were the first lesbian plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court Marriage Equality case in 2008.  They are also petitioners in the recent California Supreme Court case to overturn Proposition 8.

To get involved in Day of Decision activities, go to DayOfDecision.org and sign up to organize.  To stay informed about a local Day of Decision event in your area, go to http://dayofdecision.wetpaint.com and navigate to your state and then city pages to stay informed.  Joining the site will put you on the national mailing list to receive a call to action the day the decision is read.

A JTI Weakness

Posted by amy On March - 7 - 2009

This afternoon, I was running errands looking for the proper attire for a black tie event.  I’m going to an LGBTQ gala tonight and it’s formal, but the only dress I have is my wedding dress and my fashion sense is slim to none.  Anywho, I digress.  As I was trying to find a black tie (because I just can’t bring myself to wear a dress), I got a text message saying “Why didn’t I know that there was a JTI event today???”  My response was “What JTI event today?  There wasn’t one.”  The next response “The fliers said it was a JTI event.”

Herein lies a weakness of JTI.  We organize in the virtual space for the most part.  We talk online, text message, email, and call each other.  Willow and I barely see each other in person.  In fact, in San Francisco on Thursday, we saw each other for only the 2nd time since the launch of JTI.  Organizing online can sometimes lead to mixed messages.  JTI-national did not have any event today, but some of our organizers may have chosen to have an event in their city for something local.  JTI seeks to empower our members to stand up for what they believe in locally and nationally.  Because of this, sometimes there will be events that a member holds that Willow and I or JTI-national are not a part of.  Most of our organizers follow the protocol of checking in before listing JTI as endorsing an event that is not officially a JTI event.

So, this text message led me to thinking about this weakness, and wondering how we can fix it.  We do have an Official JTI Events page that speaks to events or protests endorsed, hosted, or sponsored by JTI.  We have an Other Events page, which speaks to events that we want to help get the word out on, but they are not run by, hosted by, endorsed, or sponsored by us.  Still, there seems to be confusion out there, and we’re curious about how you think we should help to clear up this confusion?  We do not want to become an organization that makes all the decisions of what to do, without listening to the needs of our members. This is why we’ve used The IMPACT the way we do and why we do not treat our organizers like employees… these organizers are what make us a success, we do not make them a success, and we want our actions to show our appreciation for them.  We will NEVER tell our organizers that they cannot have an event without our approval.  So how do we clear up the confusion when an event is held in our name, that isn’t actually one JTI is behind or even aware of?

We want to continue learning from you and working with and for you.  Willow is at Camp Courage today.  She is learning how to help provide more support for our organizers so that we can better serve you.  That is one step, but we know there are more.  So what do you think?

March 5th Watch Online

Posted by amy On March - 4 - 2009

Just a quick update to everyone who can’t make it to SF on Thursday.  You can watch the opening arguments online at www.calchannel.com. Everything starts at 9am PST (that’s 6am EST so hopefully you’re an early bird).

It’s not too late to setup a viewing party.  Many local theaters around the country have announced that they are willing to show the streaming video at 9am PST sharp, if enough people will come.  Call your local theater or gay bar and ask that they open their doors early to show this event to the masses!

I’ve Been Sick

Posted by amy On February - 19 - 2009

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to take a moment to apologize for not posting anything for awhile.  I have had a horrible flu for the past 2 weeks and am just now getting to the point where I can get back to business.  Soon you will see more posts, updates, and the like.

Here’s some quick updates:

  • Freedom to Marry Day was a HUGE success thanks to the amazing efforts of MEUSA!
  • We gathered another few feet (stacked) of signature pages on the Open Letter to Obama!
  • Willow Witte (the co-founder of JTI) is on a month-long visit to California.  She’s meeting with leaders in the movement, attending some amazing events, and finding great partners for future JTI events!
  • We are still working on what we want to lend our support to in March, which is a key month for the Prop 8 battle (We’ll keep you posted)
  • Finally, there are a few great winners for our “Share Your Ideas” contest in which we asked our members to share their ideas for future events.  We will be contacting the owners of those ideas soon and working with them to make each event a reality!

Thanks so much for your patience and your amazing emails wishing me a quick recovery!!  You guys are amazing!!!!

-Amy

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!