Friday, October 30, 2020

Join the Impact

Activism Rooted in the Internet

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  If Prop 8 is not repealed, it sets a precedent that the majority can vote on the rights of the minority.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.

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!