Thursday, April 17, 2014

Join the Impact

Activism Rooted in the Internet

Equality is now. Demand it!

Posted by admin On June - 17 - 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. He is engaged to marry his partner of 5 1/2 years in their home state of Iowa.

UPDATE 4:12 PM PST: Transcript of the President’s comments during the signing ceremony.

UPDATE 3:34 PM PST: The President signed a more lasting executive order and renewed his commitment to over turn DOMA. Our voices are making an impact.  Keep it up. For up to the minute blogging of the signing ceremony visit the Law Dork 2.0.

The President announced plans to sign a memorandum to grant Federal Employees in Same-Sex relationships access to some domestic partnership rights. This announcement came on the heals of last week’s release of the Department of Justice memo comparing same-sex relationships to incestuous and pedophile relationships among other outrageous and highly injurious claims. The 50 page brief was a stab in the back and the President is quickly trying to recover from it. However, instead of introducing meaningful and lasting legislation that will impact the entire country, the President’s memorandum is weak and temporary. When he leaves office the memorandum will lapse leaving those protected by this symbolic measure with nothing but a legal and fiduciary mess.

And let’s not forget, domestic partnership benefits like health care are taxed unfairly. Same-sex couples must claim benefits like health care as income. Opposite sex couples do not. Domestic partnerships are just one more glaring example that separate is never equal. But this may be a moot point since the President is likely to stop short of offering health care and retirement benefits because of DOMA.

Some have suggested we should applaud the move. Chris Geidner from Law Dork, 2.0 wrote:

Yes, we want and deserve more, much more — including all those campaign promises the President Obama gave to us. But, in the midst of the turmoil of all the legal debacles of the past week — and regardless of why Obama chose to take this action now — let’s stop and be strategic for a minute to realize how we can harness the power of this memorandum to move forward the causes of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA and passing ENDA. In each case, this can be used to advance those missions:

  • As John Aravosis pointed out, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would keep military service members from accepting the benefits — even if they are eligible under the memorandum. The obvious unfairness of that can be used to urge Congress to take quick action.
  • As for DOMA, the reality of a quarter-million folks in D.C. being eligible for benefits tomorrow that they weren’t today will be a powerful everyday sign of the need for a less anachronistic federal policy on marriage equality. This action is living proof of how wrong the DOJ brief filed in Smelt v. United States truly is.
  • ENDA becomes a common-sense step under the same logic as above. If the federal government is granting its lesbian and gay employees partner benefits, it seems obvious that an employer should never be able to fire an LGBT employee based on that fact alone.

Geidner made some very excellent points, but this memorandum must be leveraged at the grass roots level. Last Friday when the DOJ memo was released it unleashed a firestorm of criticism from bloggers like David Badash, Andrew Sullivan, and others. Editorial boards like the New York Times decried the memo as “a bad call.” But most importantly citizens throughout this country said, “No!” Twitter and Facebook were alive with messages to @barackobama and @whitehouse protesting the memo and its insulting language. The President clearly heard our message, but he did not go far enough.

We must not be placated by this disingenuous move. The HRC and others were very clear, and very correct to demand the President to introduce legislation now to repeal DOMA, to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and to protect all gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual citizens in their employment through the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA).

The administration told the Advocate there is not enough votes to pass ENDA or even the very symbolic and highly over due hate crimes legislation. Politicians have not heard us. We must be relentless. We must be unforgettable. We must be loud and clear that their jobs are on the line. Simply, if the Democrats do not start taking action and supporting the people that funded their campaigns, that volunteered their time, that gave them their vote, they are going to lose us and likely their jobs. We are the swing vote. We have enormous power.

Let’s unleash a firestorm on the switchboards of congress today, tomorrow, and every day. (202)224-3121 Let’s follow up our calls with hand written letters. Let’s follow up those letters with visits to their offices. Let’s follow up those visits with a march on Washington in October. Let’s learn from civil rights movements of the past and participate in acts of civil disobedience. Dan Savage from the Stranger proposed one possible idea at the link.*

Friends, if we do no not seize this brief moment in history before the next Presidential election cycle begins in 2010, you can bet our issues will be ignored by anyone who has the power to make the change they were so proud to represent in 2008.

Now is your time. Now is your moment. Equality is now. Demand it!

*(Note: Please consult an attorney before engaging in any acts of civil disobedience that could result in arrest.  Join the Impact is not specifically endorsing Savage’s plan, but simply pointing it out as an example).

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’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

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!

Breaking News – Author of DOMA Asks for Repeal

Posted by amy On January - 5 - 2009

One week before our National DOMA protest, the waves of change are already starting to form! Bob Barr, the infamous author of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), wrote an op-ed in the LA Times stating that DOMA should be repealed!  This is something worth celebrating, and something we should take to the next level.

Ever since we announced January 10th’s National DOMA Protest, we learned that many members of the LGBTQ community do not even know what DOMA is.  DOMA, put simply, is one current reason LGBTQ rights are so hard to come by.  When you drill down to the heart of DOMA, it was launched as an effort to keep same-sex couples from gaining the same rights as heterosexual married couples… in other words, it was born out of a need to restrict the rights of the LGBTQ community.  DOMA has been used time and time again to continually restrict the rights of the LGBTQ community in employment, spousal benefits, property ownership, insurance, etc.  Many view it as discrimination written into the constitution (I am one of those many).

On January 10th, we are protesting to repeal DOMA and to gain 1 Million Signatures on our Open Letter to Barack Obama.  This letter is meant to serve as a reminder to Obama of the promises that he made to our community, which he wrote in an Open Letter to the LGBTQ Community in early 2008.  In that letter, he promised to repeal DOMA.  We drafted a letter that uses his exact words in an effort to remind him just how accountable we expect him to be for his promises.  Many requests have been made to broaden this letter and add a request for full gay marriage, or other initiatives to the list.  We do not want to deter from the point of the letter though: Repeal DOMA.  Hold True to Your Promises.  Your Words DO Have Meaning.

DOMA Defined:

On September 21st, 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into federal law. DOMA, wrote discrimination into the Constitution with two strict regulations:

  1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.
  2. The Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

To drive the point even further, 37 states slowly but surely adopted DOMA as a state-wide regulation further amending state Constitutions. This appalling law tells the American people that it is OK to discriminate. That it is OK to recognize the LGBTQ community as less than equal. This same law, that the California Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional set the precedence for Proposition 8. This same law has nullified many rights that come with Domestic Partnerships. This law does not just affect members of the LGBTQ community – it also repeals rights from heterosexual non-married couples.  This law has nullified the heterosexual rights that come with Common Law Marriage. This law blurred the lines of separation of church and state even further. And this law, is one of many that President Elect Barack Obama has PROMISED to repeal in his “Open Letter to the LGBTQ Community.

DOMA is not a speed bump on the road to full equality.  It is not even a road block.  DOMA is a gigantic brick wall that is crumbling!  On January 10th, we encourage you to find a protest in or near your city.  Join in this important national moment, where we will work together to shed light on the negative effects of DOMA.  Help us get signatures between now and Jan 10th on the Open Letter to Barack Obama.  Bob Barr, who created the beast, is now in our corner to help us defeat it!  He started the wall crumbling, now it’s time we come together this Saturday with our own “demo team” to help tear it down!

Take a STAND on January 10th

Posted by amy On December - 22 - 2008

Across the country in hundreds of cities, we came together on December 20th in vigil. This was a protest in the spirit of the holiday season, and one that helped us reach 1 Million people with our message of equality. While we didn’t change the hearts and minds of all 1 Million, we did change the lives of many. This highly successful event grew our base, and that growth will show with our next goal: 1 Million Signatures.

On January 10th, 2009 we ask that you join us to unite again! This movement WILL NOT BE WON WITHOUT VISIBILITY. 50 Cities across the country have already jumped on board to organize. And that’s just in a few days of planning. We got 300 cities with 1 week of notice on November 15th. We can easily exceed that this time around. So, on January 10th, we ask that you join us in your city for one or all of the following events:

  • A protest in your area to bring attention to DOMA and the promise that Barack Obama made to repeal DOMA.
  • Organize a transportation unit in your city to get people to the closest DOMA protest
  • Canvas your city to get signatures for our Open Letter to Barack Obama.

In response to President-elect Barack Obama’s “Open Letter to the Gay Community,” we ask that you join us in signing our “Open Letter to Barack Obama,” to be revealed soon. It’s time we show the government how numerous we are. We need to show our impact and we’re going to take it to the White House!

The work done over this weekend will help us achieve and exceed this important goal. Help us get 1 Million signatures, and we’ll get it the letter in Obama’s hands.

Shedding Some Light on Rick Warren

Posted by amy On December - 19 - 2008

In the spirit of tomorrow’s national vigils (Light Up the Night for Equal Rights), I thought it would be a great idea to shed some light on the Rick Warren debate. Many people have added some great comments. I’ve highlighted a few here… what are your thoughts? Read the rest of this entry »

Rick Warren – What Can You Do

Posted by admin On December - 18 - 2008

A quick list of tools for everyone wanting to take action on the pick of Rick Warren for Obama’s invocation speech:

  1. The HRC will be on EVERY Newssource tonight speaking out about this. Please tell your friends and family. Here’s a list of TV spots. Let’s educate the movable middle by getting everyone to see at least one of these spots.
  2. Come out on December 20th to Light Up the Night for Equal Rights and show the nation that we are one strong, united, and very visible voice! A reader just commented on our Rick Warren post that Evangelicals make up 7-16% of our country and we make up 10%. Why do they get representation and we do not? Make your voice heard on December 20th and spread the word of equality. Rick Warren Views us as 2nd Class Citizens… This needs to be known!
  3. Equality California has stepped up to provide a legitimate petition (since there are many out there) to get Rick Warren taken off of the list of speakers on inauguration day. Please sign the petition. Print it out and gather signatures at your local Light Up the Night event and forward the link to everyone.

Rick Warren – What Can You Do

Posted by amy On December - 18 - 2008

A quick list of tools for everyone wanting to take action on the pick of Rick Warren for Obama’s invocation speech:

  1. The HRC will be on EVERY Newssource tonight speaking out about this. Please tell your friends and family. Here’s a list of TV spots. Let’s educate the movable middle by getting everyone to see at least one of these spots.
  2. Come out on December 20th to Light Up the Night for Equal Rights and show the nation that we are one strong, united, and very visible voice! A reader just commented on our Rick Warren post that Evangelicals make up 7-16% of our country and we make up 10%. Why do they get representation and we do not? Make your voice heard on December 20th and spread the word of equality. Rick Warren Views us as 2nd Class Citizens… This needs to be known!
  3. Equality California has stepped up to provide a legitimate petition (since there are many out there) to get Rick Warren taken off of the list of speakers on inauguration day. Please sign the petition. Print it out and gather signatures at your local Light Up the Night event and forward the link to everyone.

The Elephant in the Room – Rick Warren

Posted by amy On December - 18 - 2008

Over the last 24 hours, many have asked what Join The Impact’s take is on the pick of Rick Warren for President Elect Barack Obama’s invocation speech. Thousands of members have expressed anger, fear, sadness, confusion, aggrevation… the list goes on. Simply put, this is a slap in the face… especially in the wake of Proposition 8. In an effort to unify America, Obama’s choice could easily divide us further. In such a historic election, it is embarrassing that a man who DOES NOT stand for change is given a stronger voice than those that do.

The Reverend Rick Warren has spoken openly about his approval of Proposition 8 – saying that allowing Same-Sex Civil Marriage will somehow take away his freedom of speech. Honestly, I have no clue how an argument like that even holds water. There are still racists in this world Mr. Warren, and they still have the freedom to express their ignorance as unfortunate as it may be. This will not change for you WHEN WE DO RECEIVE FULL EQUALITY. The fact is, our fight for equality is like pulling off a band aid: if you continue to fight it, it’s only going to hurt more… either way, that band aid is bound to come off and you’ll realize that there is no scarring at all. Our rights do not affect you, they affect US!

If President Elect Barack Obama DOES NOT revoke his invitation to Rick Warren, then I see only one solution for the President Elect: find an openly gay leader and ask that they too have an opportunity to speak. Obama’s goal is to represent ALL Americans and he is grossly under-representing 10% of the population! To save face, he must contact an intelligent, well-known, political, and LGBTQ man or woman to speak at his inauguration. Some ideas that come to mind: Eliza Bayard of GLSEN, Joe Solmonese of the HRC, Andrew Sullivan, Kevin Jennings, Rea Carey of the NGLTF, the list goes on and on. Ultimately this might be a golden opportunity to educate the public and increase LGBTQ representation on Inauguration day by DEMANDING an LGBTQ speaker. Of course, if Obama were to choose a fully inclusive religious leader to give the invocation speech, then he can kill two birds with one stone… but it seems like he’s making it difficult on himself, so it’s time we give ourselves a voice and make our visibility known! We will NOT BE IGNORED!

I keep coming back to the following: Obama can’t go back on his word. Sure, politics is politics – everyone goes back on their word too many times to count. But President Elect Barack Obama has made it clear that these should not be the standards. He sold us on his character, his ethics, and his morals. He sold us on his promises. In many ways, this issue is a double-edged sword. He promised to give EVERYONE a voice and that includes Rick Warren. He promised to include ALL ideas and beliefs in his cabinet. Therefore, in SOME points of view, his choice of Rick Warren, could also be viewed as him sticking to his promises. So, Mr. President Elect, we at JoinTheImpact implore you to CONTINUE sticking to your promises. If EVERYONE deserves a voice – then GIVE US ONE AS WELL. You made many PROMISES to the LGBTQ community. So when will you start calling on one of our leaders to speak? It is our duty to continuously remind President Elect Barack Obama of the MANY promises he made to our community: REPEAL DOMA, REPEAL Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, STRENGTHEN Hate Crimes Legislation, PASS a Fully Inclusive Federal ENDA law… and now, since you have clearly given one viewpoint a voice, you must also give us a VOICE on inauguration day as well!

On December 20th – We will all UNITE to Light Up the Night for Equal Rights. Our Goal is to REACH 1 Million People. Based on our numbers, this is an easy goal to accomplish. So now is the time to STEP IT UP A NOTCH. Now is the time to show this country exactly why Rick Warren DOES NOT speak for us. If Obama won’t give us a voice, then WE HAVE TO DO IT OURSELVES! On December 20th, we have been asking that you come with “2nd Class Citizen” shirts on. Clearly, Barack Obama has chosen someone who DOES consider us 2nd Class Citizens to speak on behalf of all the people. We need to let the people know the words that are being put in their mouths. As such, I’m grabbing a sharpie and making some changes to my message on Saturday night. The messaging on my shirt will say the following: “RICK WARREN THINKS I’M A 2nd CLASS CITIZEN… Do You?” Join us to make our voices heard! Join us to make an impact! And Join us to SHED LIGHT on the darkeness of this important issue!