Friday, July 3, 2009

Podcast Episode 8


Episode 8 of "Thoughts From A Lezzymom" is now available FREE on iTunes. You can subscribe and listen to it here. Please use the tell your friends link in iTunes and spread the word about the show. If you don't have iTunes use the player in the sidebar on the blog to listen to the show.


In this episode of the podcast I interview Arizona State Representative, Kyrsten Sinema. Rep. Sinema was a leader for the campaign that defeated the anti-gay marriage amendment in 2006. Rep. Sinema recently released a book called Unite and Conquer that talks about her success in building coalitions to achieve political goals. Rep. Sinema was one of about 250 individuals invited to attend President Obama's event remembering the Stonewall riots. We discuss the event along with some controversial statements on the LGBT community's mindset.






The song of the show is by Uncle Seth and is called "To Be An Angel." I found Uncle Seth on the Podsafe Music Network.




Thanks for listening and remember you can send me comments and show ideas by emailing me at lezzymom@gmail.com.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

HRC Statement on Signing of Presidential Benefits' Memorandum

SVG Version of :Image:Hrc_logo.png, which has ...Image via Wikipedia
HRC President Calls Signing "Only the Beginning" in Achieving Full Equality for LGBT Community

WASHINGTON -- Today, in an Oval Office signing ceremony, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum granting non-discrimination protections and some same-sex partner benefits for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federal employees.







Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement tonight after the ceremony:
"Moments ago in the Oval Office, President Obama signed a memorandum committing his Administration to adhere to principles ensuring that the federal workplace is free from discrimination, including the extension of some benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers. This first step granting benefits such as giving federal employees the ability to provide their partners with access to long-term insurance and requiring supervisors to extend leave policies so that LGBT employees can take care of their loved ones, is a welcome and long-overdue movement towards bringing the government’s policies in line with the overwhelming majority of America’s businesses.

Earlier today, OPM Director John Berry affirmatively stated that this newly signed presidential memorandum will give him the authority to ban workplace discrimination for all members of the LGBT community.

Although today’s actions are only the beginning in what will be a multi-step process towards achieving real and tangible equality for our community, it is no doubt an important first step. We commend President Obama and his administration for taking this action to provide some basic benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees and his endorsement of legislation that would provide domestic partner health benefits.

Presidential leadership can be a powerful tool as we work to protect LGBT people under the law and President Obama’s continued leadership is what we need and expect as we move forward.”

Prior to today's ceremony, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued this statement

"Today's Presidential memorandum committing to a federal workplace free from discrimination, including the extension of some benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers, is a welcome and long-overdue step toward bringing the government's policies closer in line with what America's largest companies understand is good for business. Today’s presidential signature is the first brick in paving what is a long path toward equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

We commend President Obama and his administration for taking this beginning step to level the playing field but we look forward to working with him to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, overturn 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' and guarantee the entire American workforce is free from discrimination."




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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Podcast - Episode 7


Episode 7 of "Thoughts From A Lezzymom" is now available FREE on iTunes. You can subscribe and listen to it here. Please use the tell your friends link in iTunes and spread the word about the show. If you don't have iTunes use the player in the sidebar on the blog to listen to the show.

In this episode of the podcast I discuss the latest in LGBT news. Some of the topics discussed are the California Supreme Court's decision on Prop. 8 and what's happening in NY with the Senate mix up and what it has to do with marriage equality. Also I interview Steven and Zeniff Vanderran about the discrimination they are facing from their HOA. They have been told they can no longer fly their rainbow flag.


Listen to their story and then take action. Contact the Cambria HOA President at cambria.president@yahoo.com and the secretary at cambriahotline@aol.com.



Our song of the show is by Adrina Thorpe and is called "Midnight" from her Album Halflight & Shadows which is her second album. I found Adriana on the Podsafe Music Network. You can find more information about her music at halflightandshadows.com.



Our featured interview is with Jennifer Chrisler the Executive Director from the Family Equality Council. We discuss their great work in helping LGBT families achieve equality. They provide amazing education on many topics for LGBT families as well as help push public policy. Some of the hot topics we discuss are the federal lawsuit filed against Prop. 8, adoption rights moving backwards, and how the movement is missing out on LGBT families as stong activists. Jennifer also talks about Family Week which is an annual event held by the organization.


Finally I give my thoughts on the recent attacks on the Human Rights Campaign made by The Daily Beast. HRC called the report "an outright lie and recklessly irresponsible." I discuss not only the facts and what happened after the attack but how HRC may have been able to avoid the attacks in the first place.

Thanks for listening and remember you can send me comments and show ideas by emailing me at lezzymom@gmail.com.



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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nevada Recognizes Gay Relationships

Yesterday the Nevada legislature was able to override the Governor's veto of a domestic partnership bill. This makes Nevada the 13th state to provide some sort of relationship recognition for LGBT couples. It's not marriage equality but it is a step. The following is the press release from the Human Rights Campaign:


Human Rights Campaign Applauds Nevada Legislature’s Override Vote Recognizing Domestic Partnerships

Vote to override Governor’s veto makes Nevada the thirteenth state to offer some sort of relationship recognition for same-sex couples

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today applauded the Nevada legislature for voting to override Governor Jim Gibbons’ veto of SB 283 and recognizing domestic partnerships for lesbian, gay and unmarried straight couples. The state Senate voted 14-7 late Saturday to override the veto and the state Assembly followed by voting 28-14 last night, making Nevada the thirteenth state to offer some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. The Nevada legislation goes into effect October 1, 2009.

“This bipartisan vote to override the Governor’s veto is proof positive that this is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but one of fairness and equal treatment under the law for all Nevada families,” said Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign President. “This is a law that will strengthen families and give meaning to the promise of equal rights for all. Today would not be possible were it not for a united coalition effort and we congratulate Senator David Parks, Harrah’s Entertainment, MGM Mirage, the ACLU of Nevada, R&R Partners, The Nevada Resorts Association, PLAN, the Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada, and the Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus for their tremendous effort.”

The Human Rights Campaign and its Nevada volunteer leadership mobilized its more than 5,000 supporters in Nevada to advocate for this legislation. Through HRC’s efforts more than 1,000 phone calls and emails were generated by constituents reaching out to their legislators. HRC also partnered with the coalition to hold Nevada’s first LGBT Lobby Day in Carson City on April 21-22 where HRC Associate Director of Diversity, Allyson Robinson, was a featured speaker. In 2006 and 2008, HRC worked for fair-minded leadership in the Nevada legislature, including sending a staff person to Las Vegas in 2008. HRC also held a Camp Equality activist training in 2008 seeking to give local advocates the tools needed to play key volunteer roles in Nevada campaigns.

“This is a great achievement for fairness and equality in Nevada. It would not have been possible without the relentless efforts of the members of the coalition,” said Sen. David Parks, the bill’s primary sponsor. “The Human Rights Campaign played a significant role in activating its membership and providing strategic advice. I sincerely thank them for their unrelenting efforts.”

“It’s wonderful to see the Nevada legislature recognize that the rights of thousands of Nevada families cannot and should not be neglected due to one individual’s opinion,” said Steve Amend, HRC Las Vegas Political Co-Chair. “Today the State of Nevada has taken a giant leap forward towards equality and we look forward to continuing the dialogue with the legislature to further advance our cause with regards to discrimination issues.”

Including Nevada, thirteen states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (as of September 1, 2009) and Maine (as of mid-September 2009, pending possible repeal effort) recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law. Five states - California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington (as of July 26, 2009, pending possible repeal effort) - plus Washington, D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Hawaii provides same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits.

New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples validly entered into outside of New York. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which amends the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Recently the California Supreme Court upheld the validity of Prop 8, but also allowed the nearly 18,000 same-sex marriages already performed to stand.

Legislatures in New Hampshire and New York are considering marriage legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry in those states, and the D.C. Council has passed legislation that would recognize marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in other jurisdictions (that legislation is going through a Congressional review period).

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws.
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Monday, June 1, 2009

Obama Delcares June LGBT Pride Month


President Obama has come under a lot of scrutiny from the LGBT community. There has been virtually no comment from the White House on many of the big topics that have hit the media recently - Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Prop 8 decision, and the many Marriage Equality decsions happening in the states. People are upset that our fierce advocate seems to have gone in the closet on our issues.

Today however may show a shift in Obama's plans. There have been rumors that LGBT issues will be getting lots of White House attention in June. Apparently whatever they are up to starts with a Proclimation from the President.


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 1, 2009

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

BARACK OBAMA

Time will only tell is Obama is finally ready to be our fierce advocate and come out of the closet. I know that this country has many problems left by the previous administration and maybe LGBT rights aren't first on the list. But if we let our priorities drop something else will always come up. It's time for the President to use his strength and get Congress to pass protections for us. With Hate Crimes in the Senate and Employment Non-Discrimination Act coming to the front soon we need him to be on the front lines. And we need him to be a leader when it comes to repealing DADT. I understand he alone can't stop it but he needs to speak out and use the power he does have by issuing stop losses so the firing of the soldiers can be stopped.

President Obama this is a great start. I am not surprised that you made this move. We know you believe in our equality but we need you to continue to use your voice and to start to make things happen in Congress.

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Blogging for LGBT Families - Typical Family


Today is the 4th annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day. It's a time to bring attention to LGBT families and things we have to go through. Even though I don't blog much about my family and personal life I felt today would be a good day to change it up.
 
Life as a parent is challenging. You are always worried about something – are my children learning enough? Am I spending enough time with them? Are they eating right? Are they learning to share? Did they out grow their shoes yet?

The funny thing is, none of these things are new and none of them are about being a lesbian parent – they are just things that every parent deals with. But there are some things that are specific to LGBT parents. For example, the choices of how to have a child in the first place – adoption, artificial insemination, or surrogacy. Also, second parent adoptions (or lack there of here in Arizona), and other legal protections are something LGBT parents are constantly struggling with.

My family is like many in Arizona. I have a 7 year old daughter that I have shared custody with my ex-partner. I have a two year old son with my current partner. So we have a little bit of everything – divorce (not legally since their of course was no “marriage”), stepmoms, the fun of explaining that our princess has four moms every school year, as well as the terrible twos.

I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child and our situation is no different. Our village comes equipped with four sets of grandparents. Some days it seems like it takes every one of them to just make it through. Let me share a typical day in our house.

My wife gets up at 5am to go to work. I am up at 6:45am (if the little man lets me sleep that late) to get ready to go pick up the princess from my ex. With the little man in tow, we head to the rendezvous point and bring the princess back. Now it’s time for breakfast and the finishing touches on getting ready for school. At 8:30am it’s off to school.

After the big drop off, it’s back home to spend some time with the little man. Some days this includes playing with friends, play-doh, or playing outside. Then around noon it’s time to meet up with Grammie so I can head to work. From there she and Granddad are in charge of the little man and picking the princess up from school. Then my ex will pick up the princess when she is done with work and have her until the morning.
Some evenings Grandma and Grandpa will pick the little man up and take care of him until my wife is done with work. Then she will pick him up and have him for the evening. Sometimes I see him before he is asleep for the night but not usually.

See what I mean about a village. Somehow we all make it work and the kids get to be with family all day everyday – except for school. I can’t think of a better team to have my kids around. And my wife and I are so grateful to all our friends and family that make our village such a great place for our kids to grow up.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

You Sure You Want Traditional Marriage?

I love the message in this video. I agree you can't have it both ways...if you want to pass laws to keep traditional marriage then by all means let's have traditional marriage.



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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Human Rights Campaign Reacts to Prop. 8 Decision

Protesters in San Francisco campaign for marri...Image via Wikipedia

The Human Rights Campaign released a statement and started a new campaign called "We Won't Back Down." The following statement was released after the decision from the CA Supreme Court and includes their new video.
CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT TAKES STEP BACK FROM EQUALITY
Nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group responds to court ruling
HRC President Joe Solmonese: “We will not give up until marriage equality is restored in California.”

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the California Supreme Court’s split 6-1decision today ruling that Proposition 8, the narrowly approved measure which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, is valid. As a result of the court’s decision in Strauss v. Horton, California becomes the first state in the nation to strip away marriage rights for same-sex couples. As same-sex couples and allies from across the country react to the news, HRC is releasing an online, YouTube video set to the song “I Won’t Back Down”: www.HRC.org/California.



“Today’s ruling is a huge blow to Americans everywhere who care about equality. The court has allowed a bare majority of voters to write same-sex couples out of basic constitutional protections,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This ruling is painful, but it represents a temporary setback. There will be a groundswell to restore marriage equality in our nation's largest state, and HRC will not give up until marriage equality is restored in California.”

One significant effort already underway is a strategic partnership between HRC and California Faith for Equality (CFE), a statewide group established to educate, support and mobilize faith communities on LGBT equality. The partnership joins CFE and its 6,000 supporting faith leaders with both HRC's Religion and Faith Program expertise as well as HRC's National Field Department to broaden, diversify and deepen religious support for marriage equality in California.

“This ruling couldn't be more out of step with what's happening across the country,” said Solmonese, pointing to recent marriage victories in Iowa, Vermont and Maine. “We have no choice but to return this basic question of fairness for the estimated 1 million LGBT Californians back to the voters.”

“While we are relieved that the 18,000 couples who married before the Prop 8 vote will still have valid marriages, it does not in any way remove the sting of this ruling,” added Solmonese.

Over the past decade, public acceptance of marriage equality for same-sex couples has changed dramatically. For the first time, more Americans say they support marriage for same-sex couples (49%) than oppose it (46%), according to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll released in late April.

WHERE MARRIAGE STANDS TODAY:
Twelve states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (as of September 1, 2009), and Maine (as of mid-September 2009, pending possible repeal effort) recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law. Five states—California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington (as of July 26, 2009, pending possible repeal effort)—plus Washington, D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Hawaii provides same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits. New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples validly entered into outside of New York. Legislatures in New Hampshire and New York are considering marriage legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry in those states, and the D.C. Council has passed legislation that would recognize marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in other jurisdictions (that legislation is going through a Congressional review period).

IMPORTANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit: www.HRC.org/State_Laws.

For a summary of the history of the case and for a comprehensive listing of HRC’s work in California on Proposition 8, please visit:www.HRC.org/California.

A breakdown of the ruling and interpretation by the HRC legal team will be available shortly on HRCBackStory.org: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2009/05/prop-8-decision-analysisprop-8-decision-analysis/
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meghan McCain on The Colbert Report

Last night Meghan McCain was on The Colbert Report and discussed being Pro-Sex, Pro-Life, and Pro-Gay Marriage. I have said it before and I'll say it again - Meghan is my favorite Republican.

The most interesting part of the interview is when Meghan talks about gays and which party is best for them. McCain says,

"I do believe the Republican party can be a safe place for the gay community. President Obama said he was going to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and I think me and a lot of people are still waiting for that. And the Democratic party isn't necessarily a better place for the gay community than the Republican party is. And I think if you go to the basic beliefs of the Republican party, keeping government out of your life, why can't that include marriage?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Meghan McCain
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage

There has been a call to boycott the June 25th Democratic National Committee LGBT Leadership Council fund raising dinner at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC. Maybe it's time we stop blindly funding the Democrats and actually expect results. We must hold them accountable. I agree with Meghan McCain - the Democratic party is really safer right now than the Republican party. I agree we are accepted by more Democrats than Republicans. And more Dems are willing to take our money and "support" our issues. But I'm changing the definition of support. I don't want it to be "yes I wish you could have equal rights." I want it to be "I did this, this, and this to get you your equal rights." Then I will give my money to the Democratic party again.

President Obama and the other leaders in the party, this is not 1993. We have seen California voters take rights away from us. We will not sit idly by and wait for things to happen to us. We will demand and make change and you will help us - or you will lose us. I believe this because I think there are more Meghan McCain's out there. One thing we have seen is the Republicans want to keep their money flowing. Just look at all the abstinence only programs and the countless other things the religious right were able to get in the last 8 years. The Republicans aren't going to lose that money as long as they stay Pro-Life.

Wouldn't it be something if the Meghan McCain Republicans got more done for the gay community that the Democrats have.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Podcast - Episode 6


Episode 6 of "Thoughts From A Lezzymom" is now available FREE on iTunes. You can subscribe and listen to it here. Please use the tell your friends link in iTunes and spread the word about the show. If you don't have iTunes use the player in the sidebar on the blog to listen to the show.

In this episode of the podcast I discuss the latest in LGBT news. Some of the topics updates on the progress we have made on marriage equality. Also, the passing of the hate crimes bill in the House of Representatives and some of the controversy that came out of that.
Following the news we have a great interview with animated comic Lizzy the Lezzy created by Ruth Selwyn. She performs, discusses who she would like to do a duet with and what she thinks of the National Organization of Marriage. You can find out more about Lizzy the Lezzy at http://www.youtube.com/lizzythelezzy or http://www.lizzythelezzy.com. You can also follow her on twitter where she is very happy to talk with everyone https://twitter.com/LizzytheLezzy



Our song of the show is by Jennifer Vasquez and is called "I'm No Saint" from her Album Bend which was nominated for “Independent Triple A Album of The Year” by the Los Angeles Music Awards. She has been an ACAPLU$ winner since 2001, was chosen as one of the Hot 100 Unsigned Artist four years in a row at Music Connection Magazine, and received a nod from Billboard Songwriting Contest a few years back for her songs "Bend", "Nothing Without You", "I'm No Saint" and "He's Like Strawberry Milk". Keep up with Jennifer by following her on twitter. You can pick up her album for $4 at www.jennifervazquez.com. 



Finally I give my thoughts on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This topic has been in the news a lot lately since Lt. Dan Choi came out on the Rachel Madow Show and has since received disharge papers. Lt. Choi is an Arabic linguist and his services are very important to the military during wartime. I discuss information I have obtained from an unnamed source at the pentagon and shed some light on the obstacles of overturning DADT. Also I discuss how you can make a difference in repealling DADT.

Thanks for listening and remember you can send me comments and show ideas by emailing me at lezzymom@gmail.com.




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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Human Rights Campaign Announces Partnership with California Faith for Equality

The following is a press release from the Human Rights Campaign:

New comprehensive effort to broaden, diversify, and deepen religious support for marriage equality

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, announced today a new strategic partnership with California Faith for Equality (CFE), a statewide group established to educate, support and mobilize California's faith communities on LGBT equality.

The partnership joins CFE and its 6,000 supporting faith leaders with both HRC's Religion and Faith Program expertise as well as support from the National Field Department to broaden, diversify and deepen religious support for marriage equality in California. The partnership comes on the eve of an expected decision by the California Supreme Court on Proposition 8 which stripped away the right of same-sex couples to marry.

“This is a strategic partnership to not only expand and diversify CFE's impressive statewide work, but to ensure that California voters know that many people of faith support same-sex marriage," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Religion was too often used as a weapon against us in California, and we know whatever the court's decision, this is critical work in achieving full equality."

The Human Rights Campaign will lend significant resources both on-the-ground and collaboratively to California Faith for Equality. Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox and HRC field staff will assist CFE build capacity for a sustained, locally-driven public education campaign led by California clergy and supported by their congregants.

“We must harness this opportunity and help local clergy build advocacy for marriage equality into their routine work in congregations and train participants to utilize low-cost, high-impact public education that extends their justice ministries,” said Harry Knox, Director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program.

“At the core of many people's objection to same-sex marriage is religion,” said Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations. “This collaboration facilitates open and constructive dialogs within faith communities about the inherent worth and dignity of all of God's creation and the shame that is created when people are forced to live without integrity when their lives and loves are not valued.”

“The partnership between the Human Rights Campaign and California Faith for Equality is good news to all who are committed to equality,” said Rev. Abel Lopez, All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena CA. “I look forward to the work we will do together as we combine our energies to reach across differences toward the goal of liberty and justice for all.”

The elements of the partnership include:

--Develop a religious declaration of support for marriage equality that multiple faith leaders can endorse, and use it as a coalition-building tool to attract and build CFE's membership and voice.

--Prioritize those counties where Prop 8 passed or failed by seven percent or less, and build new coalitions while strengthening existing ones.

--Train clergy and lay leaders how to build advocacy for LGBT equality into their routine work with their congregations. Additionally, create a specific tool kit to help people of faith build support beyond their places of worship, and into their families and neighborhoods.

--Identify key religious spokespeople relevant to a local community and give visibility to those clergy and their congregations endorsing marriage equality.

--Create culturally-sensitive as well as denomination-specific material to help religious leaders and people of faith to talk about why supporting marriage equality is consistent with the tenets of their faith. This includes identifying and building coalitions and ties with faith communities of color.

--Work with progressive communities of faith to become volunteers and leaders if a marriage campaign is launched. HRC and CFE believe that communities of faith have much to offer in expanding that statewide, volunteer network.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

The mission for California Faith and Equality is to educate, support and mobilize California's faith communities to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and to safeguard religious freedom.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Justice For All : Creating Safe Schools


On Thursday May 7th, I presented at an event co-hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, and Equality Arizona. The goal of the presentation was to start a dialog in Arizona about how to improve the school situation for LGBT students and families.

A few months ago I wrote about Chris Quintanilla, a student in the Peoria High School District that had been told by his school that he could not wear a rainbow wristband that said "Rainbows are Gay." After the ACLU got involved and wrote a letter to the district that matter was resolved favorably and Chris has been able to wear the wristband.


The problem is, the school never really wanted to deal with Chris' sexuality. They wanted to try and hide it and make him conform to how everyone else looks and acts. Many of the students in attendance spoke of a similar problem at their school. The common theme with the students was that the teachers and administrators were not supportive or too scared to be supportive. Since in Arizona one can be fired for being gay many teachers are afraid of losing their jobs if they are assumed to be gay.

I had taught High School for a short time. Back in 1995 students at the High School asked me to help them establish a gay-straight alliance. I was more than happy to sponsor it. While that story should be it's own post some day, I did gain valuable experiences that I could pass onto the students and empower them. I suggested that they try and get the teachers on board by treating it as a sexual harassment policy. All schools must treat name calling using fag, dyke, etc. as sexual harassment. If the teachers and administrators are failing to stop it and follow the necessary discipline procedures then they can be reprimanded.

Besides trying to give tips on empowering the students, I was able to share HRC's latest program called Welcoming Schools. The concept of the program is to start teaching diversity in the elementary schools. This includes teaching about all types of families. My daughter is in 1st grade. For the past two years during the first month of school they do projects about your family. This means each year she has to "come out" to her class that she has 4 mommies (I had her with my ex). This can create questions from the students. How those teacher handles the conversations will be key in how my daughter is accepted by her peers. This is what the program is designed to do, give the teachers training and tools to be able to handle these types of discussions. The program also deals with bullies. We know that bullying happens very young so by having a program that educates teachers on what to do hopefully we can begin to improve the situation.

The program was well received. Thanks to some educators and board members in the audience I think we are going to try and bring the program to Arizona.

All the co-sponsors help to put on a great event and I hope we will see more of these events in the future.







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HRC Raises Maine Flag

On May 6th Maine became the 5th state to recognize same-sex marriage. This was done by the legislature with the Governor's support - the first state to accomplish this. Here is the video of the flag flying on top of the Human Rights Campaign Headquarters in Washington, D.C.



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What Can Be Done About Bullying

Last week Oprah discussed a topic that I have been working to prevent for the past 20 years - bullying. On the show were the mothers of, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera, two 11 year old boys,  that killed themselves because they were called gay, fag, and other types of harassment. 50% of bullying involves this types of bullying. The Supreme Court has included this type of bullying under Sexual Harassment and schools are required to stop it. THEY ARE DOING NOTHING. Watch the interview below.




As a Martial Arts Instructor I see the effects of bullying all the time. The number one mistake we as adults trying to help kids being bullied is to tell them to ignore the bully. Kids need to learn how to stand up with a bully and not look like a victim. This doesn't mean they need to actually hit anyone. They can do this by gaining confidence in themselves, walking with confidence, looking at the bully in the eye and saying in a loud voice that they are DONE taking their crap.

Parents if this is happening to your child instead of saying to the school officials they are bullied, tell them they are also being sexually harassed. Make sure they are aware of that. We need to help school and teachers be able to talk about the harm in using those words in a derogatory manner. Teachers must understand they are breaking the law if they do not follow the sexual harassment policy of the school. We have seen cases were kindergartners have been brought up on sexual harassment charges for things that were never going to lead to suicide. It's time teachers and administrators take this seriously and do their jobs. It's time that we as taxpayers hold them accountable.
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kutcher Following Other Actors Running For Congress?


The Kuchter '10 campaign is alive and kicking. I know some of you out there are skeptical about Ashton Kutcher taking on Congressman Steve King (R-IA). King after all is a seasoned politician. He served in the Iowa Senate for six years before being elected to Congress in 2002. However, there is a history of actors becoming successful politicians.

Let take a look at some of the of the actors that led the way for Ashton to make his run for Congress.
  • Ronald Regan - The hero of the Republican party. He stared in over 50 films, became the Governor of California and then went onto become the 40th President of the United States.
  • Clint Eastwood - Star of Dirty Hary and Academy Award Winning Director became the Mayor of Carmel, CA. He was no match for his opponent and didn't have to retire from movies to do the job. He only served one term which would work for me and get Rep. King out of office.
  • Fred Gandy - Played Gopher on the show Love Boat, actually showed Iowa how this is done. After opponents tried to say he was a "fancy educated fool actor" he won anyway. Sounds like something King's people would try on Kutcher who played Michael Kelso on That 70's Show. Kelso was not exactly the smart character on the show.
  • Sonny Bono - Partnered with Cher he stared in The Sony and Cher Show. He became Mayor of Palm Springs and then went on to Congress. Because of his celebrity status, Bono was able to reach across party lines and make many friends on the other side of the aisle.
  • Jesse Ventura - Known for his professional wrestling career, Ventura was able to transition into acting with roles in movies like Predator. He was elected to Mayor of Brooklyn Park, MN by beating the 18 year incumbent. He then went on to surprise everyone by winning the election for Governor of MN by beating out the two mainstream party candidates (one being Norm Coleman).
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger - Know as The Terminator Arnold has starred in numerous blockbuster films. He was elected Governor of California in the 2003 in a recall election. He won after only running for 2 months which shows his use of his celebrity to get the word out.
  • Al Franken - Another example of someone that played a "funny guy" as a star of Saturday Night Live and was able to run a successful campaign for the Senate. He is currently waiting on the final ruling so he can be sworn in as the latest actor to become a representative of the people. This was the most expensive race in Senate history and shows the power of celebrity to fund raise. Another interesting point is that Franken had no previous political experience.
There are many others that could be discussed here like Shirley Temple Black and Jerry Springer that have done the same thing.

Some got involved because something happened to them personally that they wanted to overcome, others got involved because they wanted to make a difference in the bigger picture and replace the incumbent. The common thread is that by being a celebrity the amount of free press and attention that candidate draws is huge. Even if they are not succesfull their ability to expose what the incumbent is doing is amazing. And frankly, if people really knew what Rep. King was saying in Congress on a daily basis they would be shocked and appalled.

With Ashton's amazing ability to control the web and social media and the fact that everyone wants him on their show it would be easy for Kutcher to control the message. Also, the fund raising possibilities are endless. I could not be more excited for Kutcher vs. King 2010. It will be a great day in Iowa politics when King loses his seat.

Lezzymom Lezzymom has two kids and a wonderful partner. Her political commentary has appeared on C-Span and CSPAN.org. Visit her Lezzymom blog for more of her insights.


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Friday, May 8, 2009

King Opens His Mouth Again


{{w|Steve King}}, member of the United States ...
Image via Wikipedia
Congressman Steve King (R-IA) had more to say this past week when he spoke at the debate for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

During the debate Rep. King tried again to claim that the Hate Crimes bill really should be called a "Thought Crimes" bill.

He tried to show that it is hard to define someone's sexual orientation because there is a different definition in many reference books.

See the video below for how he tries to confuse members of the House:



He continues by trying to compare what this law is to the George Orwell book "1984" and that if this law is passed we will create "thought police." I find this very interesting since things in this country got a little too close to the book during the Bush-Cheney era. Watch the Congressman here



But one of his "best" moments this week was when he called the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus "separatists" groups.



The term separatists seems to be used here in a derogatory manner such as Anti-American. King's point is that we need to accept each other and embrace our differences. This is very interesting since he has made clear he is unwilling to treat everyone the same, especially when it comes to gay marriage.

Congressman King, I would love to see you start to listen to your own words and treat everyone with respect and embrace each individual for who they are, not who you think they should be or how they should act.

Congressman King, I hope you are ready for the 2010 elections. The Kutcher campaign will be getting a lot of backing - the gays, the african-americans, the hispanics, the muslims...I could go on because there are so many groups you have not been able to embrace and accept.







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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Weekly Presidential Address

Associate Justice David Souter of the US Supre...Image via Wikipedia
This week President Obama focuses on the Swine Flu and what the government is doing about the outbreak. The following is the synopsis from the White House

In this Weekly Address, the President discusses the government's response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, urging that there is no need to panic but explaining that the federal government and American people nonetheless should take the necessary precautions.



I have also included the press conference from Friday, May 1st when the President stepped in and announced the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Souter. The President comes in at around 28 minutes.





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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ashton Kutcher 2010 - Let the Campaign Begin

 

YOU PICK THE CAMPAIGN SLOGAN

If you listened to Episode 5 of my podcast then you understand why I am starting a campaign to get Ashton Kutcher to head home to Iowa and run for Congress. I'm sure you all are more creative than I am and will be able to come up with something better than "Kutcher '10 - Moving Iowa Forward." So come on and play

Name That Campaign
 
Now this is not random. I want him to run specifically against Republican Representative Steve King. If you need some creative fire as to why this is so important I encourage you to listen to the final segment of the podcast for more details but in case you can't let me give you some insight on Rep. King.
  • Official Statement on the marriage decision shows King is worried about Iowa becoming a "gay mecca." 
“Iowa law says that marriage is between one man and one woman, yet activist judges molded Iowa’s Constitution to achieve their personal political ends. Ultimately, the people of Iowa should decide whether or not Iowa should allow same-sex marriage, not activist judges handing down extra-constitutional rulings.

“I believe the majority of Iowans are committed to marriage between one man and one woman, one of the essential building blocks of civilization. I will continue to work with the Iowa legislature to pass a Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution, clarifying that marriage is between one man and one woman. Along with a constitutional amendment, the legislature must also enact marriage license residency requirements so that Iowa does not become the same-sex marriage Mecca for America.
  • While speaking at an anti-abortion event King stated that he would like to see people defy the court.
“This decision by the [Iowa] Supreme Court puts us in a position where we can either defy the court — which I would prefer to do, but I don’t see the appetite out there to do that,” the congressman said. “If it were up to me I’d say, ‘You made this decision, so now you enforce it because you stepped outside your bounds.’ But the logical approach to this — to get something that we can do —  I think is to pass a constitutional amendment to correct the court.”
  • King continues to show his fear of LGBT people and how people will come to the new gay mecca, Iowa, get married and then go back home and spread...well I don't really know but maybe you can understand his fear.
“We have no residency requirement in Iowa law, which means that people can come from all over this country — a man and a man, a woman and a woman — it could be, I suppose, a father and a son or a mother and a daughter,” he said. “They can come to this state and get married and then go back to the state where they reside. And then what they will do — and this will be a national effort — is file suit in their own state. They will press those states to recognize Iowa’s marriage law. If that happens, in each of these courts, it puts a lot of pressure on and breaks down the defense of marriage that has been created by most of the states.
“We have a real problem here in Iowa, and we’ve become the embarrassment of the nation. But we don’t need to proliferate that embarrassment to the rest of the country. We can at least save the rest of the country from the mistake made by the Supreme Court justices here in Iowa.”
  • King has been working with Maggie Gallagher, president of National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to make calls to Iowa citizens encouraging them to call their representative and ask them to get an anti-gay marriage amendment passed. NOM is the organization that is spreading fear about gay marriage in the video "The Gathering Storm." These calls are a one way street since they first ask do you support the decision. Anyone that says yes is hung up on. Apparently King is not interested in seeing what his constituents really think.
  • Some other great quotes to show how Rep. King thinks are below and are from Think Progress
King compared gay people to unicorns and leprechauns. "Unicorns, leprechauns, gay marriages in Iowa -- these are all things you will never find because they just don’t exist."

King sought to uphold anti-gay employment discrimination. "The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would force employers to hire homosexual employees."

King refused to say 'Happy Ramadan.' In 2007, King refused to vote for a harmless resolution recognizing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

King insisted homosexuality was just a "behavior." Declaring that "homosexual marriage is not a civil right," King said sexual orientation "is a self-identified behavior, not an immutable characteristic."
Unfortunately King seems more concerned about the culture wars than the main problems Iowa, and the rest of the country are facing. This is of course the economy. According to a study by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law,
Our analysis projects that giving equal marriage rights to same-sex couples will have a positive impact on the state budget of approximately $5.3 million per year and a revenue gain to state businesses of over $53 million per year during the first three years that marriage is extended to same-sex couples. The analysis shows that same-sex marriage is not just good for same-sex couples, but good for the state budget and economy, too.
Huh, I could see why that would cause some fear because we would be giving the elected officials more money to spend ... oh wait that's probably not why he's scared. Now I understand that some of that money is because the gays will be flocking to the new mecca and spending their money...oh wait that's probably not it either.

Ok so I think you all understand why Rep. King needs to go. Now why would I pick Ashton Kutcher? Well it would be an extremely tough district for a Democrat to win. (Yes I am assuming he Kutcher would run as a Democrat). But I think he could put up a huge fight. Look at the money he could raise on social media alone just by asking for $5. Plus, what house with a teenage girl (or gay man) wouldn't want Ashton Kutcher on their lawn - in sign form of course.

Not to mention the guy is smart and has been talking politics quite a bit lately. He spoke out against Prop 8 and even made a point to talk about how he couldn't believe this was even an issue and screamed of a blatant separation of church and state problem. Also, I think he isn't so far to the left that he could speak to both sides. Last November on "Real Time With Bill Maher", Kutcher spoke about where he is politically,
"I would say that I'm a fiscally conservative individual, in general, and probably very socially liberal, but there really isn't a party that exists for that. So I'm a little bit in between. I wasn't that far away from looking at John McCain as a viable candidate for myself, because I sit somewhere in the middle. But, as soon as a Sarah Palin comes onto a ticket, it turns me away so feverishly."
So come on everyone let's get this ball rolling and Name That Campaign! I know you all have some good ideas on this so leave them in the comment section so we can get King out of Congress.











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Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekly Presidential Address

Barack Obama and Michelle ObamaImage via Wikipedia
Here is President Obama's address from this weekend.

The white house summarizes the video:
This week the President reiterates a theme that has been a hallmark of his career, namely that "old habits and stale thinking" will simply not help us solve the new and immense problems our country faces. Listing off several specific changes he intends to bring, he describes his guiding principle: "To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative."



I have also included the press briefing on the swine flu breakout from yesterday.



Special briefing by those with primary governmental responsibility in handling the current swine flu situation in the US and Mexico.
John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
• Dr. Richard Besser, the Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security.








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Human Rights Campaign, Coalition of Groups Launch National Call-in Campaign

Anti-Defamation LeagueImage via Wikipedia

Supporters of bill to combat hate crimes urged to call Congress

With support for this bill increasing among many groups a strong coalition has formed. Now is the time for action and these organizations are teaming up to start a national call-in campaign to urge their followers to call their member of Congress and ask them to Support the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The call in number can be found below in the press release from the Human Rights Campaign. TAKE ACTION NOW and let's finally get a Federal Hate Crimes bill that includes LGBT people passed.

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, announced today a coalition campaign to call Congress in support of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would provide local police and sheriff’s departments with federal resources to combat hate violence. After more than a decade of lobbying on Capitol Hill and seven successful votes on the bill, this critical piece of legislation is again expected to see a vote in the House this week. The call-in campaign is set for April 27-29.

“We've received word that the House will vote on the Matthew Shepard Act very soon and we know that right-wing groups are flooding Congress with calls, emails and sickening ‘fact sheets’ full of lies about the lives of LGBT Americans,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We need more calls to Members of Congress, and we need them right away. It has been ten long years and tens of thousands more victims since the Matthew Shepard Act was first introduced in Congress. We are poised for a presidential signature this year but lies from the radical right could easily derail our efforts. We must not allow them to continue to demagogue and distort the truth.”

It takes about 45 seconds. Members of the community are urged to call 202-224-3121. Callers are urged to tell the Member’s office:

• Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are on the rise. One out of every six hate crimes is because of the victim's sexual orientation.

• Hate crimes have more than one victim. They are intended to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize entire communities.

• The Matthew Shepard Act targets only violent acts – not speech. It does not tell any clergy member what he or she can or can't preach.

Because there is no federal law mandating states and municipalities to report hate crimes, they are often underreported. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s own statistics, based on voluntary reporting, show that since 1991 over 100,000 hate crime offenses have been reported to the FBI, with 7,624 reported in 2007, the FBI’s most recent reporting period. Violent crimes based on sexual orientation constituted 16.6 percent of all hate crimes in 2007, with 1,265 reported for the year. In addition, while not captured in the federal statistics, transgender Americans too often live in fear of violence.

The LLEHCPA gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias motivated violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It provides the Justice Department with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of violent crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. It also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers, or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias motivated crimes.

A wide coalition of national organizations has called for the passage of the LLEHCPA legislation. Some of those organizations supporting this legislation include: the National Sheriffs Association; International Association of Chiefs of Police; 26 state Attorneys General; the National District Attorneys Association; the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; the Anti-Defamation League; the NAACP; the National Council of La Raza; the Presbyterian Church; the Episcopal Church; and the National Disability Rights Network.

To take action to support the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes PreventionAct, please visit: www.FightHateNow.org
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