Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ashton Kutcher 2010 - Let the Campaign Begin



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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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Podcast - Episode 5

Episode 5 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 are the "firsts" our community has seen over the last few weeks. As well as an update on the possible police discrimination case that I had discussed on the blog.

Following the news we have a great interview with Ellen Kahn the Director of the family project for the Human Rights Campaign. We discuss the possibility of LGBT adoption becoming the new issue to attack in the next election cycle.

Also, Ellen tells us about the new Welcoming Schools program designed to provide the elementary schools tools so they can better service our families.

Our song of the show is by Hotel Eden and is called "The Take - Home". Hotel Eden is actually the solo project of Kelly Warner. His new album A Way Back Home is scheduled to release May 26, 2009. You can get more information on the Hotel Eden website. You can always find new and great music on the Podsafe Music Network which is where I found out about Hotel Eden.

Finally I give my thoughts Representative Steve King from Iowa. He has been attacking the LGBT community for years. His latest show was put on during the mark up of the Hate Crimes bill this week. I go through his sordid history of comments over the years. My favorite is,
"Unicorns, leprechauns, gay marriages in Iowa -- these are all things you will never find because they just don’t exist."
Um, I guess Iowa should be on the lookout for unicorns and leprechauns cuz the gays are getting married next week!

However, I have an answer to Rep. King in the 2010 election. I'm calling for Ashton Kutcher to run against him. Now I can't take credit for this idea but believe me Kutcher 2010 needs to happen so we can get this guy out of office.

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, April 23, 2009

HRC Releases New Welcoming Schools Guide To Address Name Calling and Bullying Among Younger Students

With two 11 year old boys committing suicide in recent weeks for being bullied by being called gay I can't think of a more important thing for schools to be looking into. A new program from the Human Rights Campaign is rolling out and will hopefully help schools deal with the problem of bullying that is facing kids in schools across the country.

I spoke with Ellen Kahn, the Director of the Family Project at HRC about this program. Our interview will be featured in Episode 5 of the Thoughts From A Lezzymom Podcast which will be out April 24th.

Here is the press release from the Human Rights Campaign:

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today announced the release of “An Introduction to Welcoming Schools,” a guide aimed at equipping school administrators, classroom teachers, and all other school personnel with knowledge and skills to address bias-based bullying, and to create environments where all students feel safe and affirmed. The announcement comes as the nation grapples with the suicides of two 11-year-old children, both of whom were frequent targets of anti-gay bullying.

“It is absolutely devastating that two children took their own lives in response to chronic bullying at school,” said Human Rights Campaign Foundation Family Project Director Ellen Kahn. “These tragedies point to an epidemic of bullying and name-calling among younger students, as well as a lack of knowledge or responsiveness on the part of school leaders to address these behaviors head on. ‘Welcoming Schools’ will help schools reduce those tensions and teach children to respect differences and not belittle them.”

The subject of school bullying and teasing—particularly harassment that is homophobic in nature—has emerged as a major issue in the wake of the suicides of the two 11-year-olds this month.

On April 6th, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Springfield, Mass., hanged himself after a period of prolonged school bullying. Walker-Hoover’s mother says she complained to school leaders multiple times about the abuse her son suffered but was met with inadequate responses. Ten days later, Jaheem Herrera of DeKalb County, Ga., hanged himself. Herrera’s mother says her son was often bullied by other children at Dunaire Elementary School and claims the school administration ignored her complaints about it.

“We know that in these tragedies both boys routinely heard the words ‘gay’ and ‘fag,’ and were harassed in part because they were not perceived as “masculine” enough. We also know that school personnel do not always know how to respond to these kinds of behaviors. ‘Welcoming Schools’ can deliver real results in reducing this type of bullying,” continued Kahn.

“As a mother and teacher, I know some students wake up every morning and dread going to school because they don’t fit the gender norm,” Graciela Slesaransky-Poe, Ph.D., a member of the Welcoming Schools Advisory Board. “They’re harassed because somehow they’re different. What’s so powerful about Welcoming Schools is it helps students and educators alike understand that there are many different ways of being a boy or a girl.”

Originally planned for release later this spring, the ‘Welcoming Schools’ guide is designed for use in elementary schools to help create an inclusive approach to family diversity, name-calling and gender stereotyping. It also offers specific guidance on addressing anti-gay and gender-based name-calling.

HRC is in the second year of a three-year pilot of Welcoming Schools. Preliminary results show that educators want more training to address LGBT issues, as well as other diversity issues, in their schools and that with administrative support, professional development, and community involvement, educators want to tackle these issues with students.

The central goal of Welcoming Schools is to create a respectful learning environment for all students. The nation’s elementary school communities are comprised of diverse children and families, including multiethnic families, single parents, adoptive parents, gay and lesbian parents, immigrants, foster parents, and families headed by grandparents. The Welcoming Schools guide gives educators the tools to open dialogue about all kinds of diversity with students and families. By engaging the entire community, Welcoming Schools offers a comprehensive approach to improving the school climate.

“Educators have an important role in keeping students safe and creating an environment that provides for maximizing every student’s potential for academic success. Welcoming Schools is a valuable resource that can help lay the foundation for addressing these issues in elementary schools,” said Jerald L. Newberry, executive director of the National Education Association Health Information Network.

“An Introduction to Welcoming Schools” can be viewed online at www.welcomingschools.org.

The Human Rights Campaign 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.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NH GOP Chair Sununu Says Marriage Equality is 'Garbage'

John SununuImage via Wikipedia
On April 21st, New Hampshire held a special election for a state Senate seat. After the Republicans won the election the New Hampshire GOP Chair, John Sununu, had quite a bit to say. While telling everyone how wonderful it was going to be to have the newly elected Jeb Bradley in this seat he managed to say what he really thought about the pending gay marriage legislation.

Bradley could be counted on to sustain a [Dem. Gov. John] Lynch veto of the gay marriage and transgender discrimination legislation, "if he (Lynch) finds the strength to veto that garbage," Sununu said.

Thanks John for letting us know that you aren't buying into the new Republican concept that gay marriage might be ok.

The Human Rights Campaign had this response

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today responded to former Gov. John H. Sununu, who is now Chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, and his last ditch efforts to derail marriage and transgender anti-discrimination bills pending in the state Senate. Sununu referred to the legislation as “garbage” while speaking to the Union Leader, a New Hampshire-based newspaper.

“To call basic human rights for thousands of New Hampshire residents 'garbage' just shows how out of touch the former governor really is,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Such rhetoric is neither civil nor appropriate, and I hope it galvanizes New Hampshire to move swiftly on both these measures.”

The state Senate is scheduled to hold a public hearing this Thursday, April 23, on HB 415, which would amend existing anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws to include gender identity and expression. The hearing will take place at 1 pm in Room 201 in the Legislative office building. The bill passed the House earlier this month. Allyson Robinson, HRC’s Associate Director for Diversity, testified before a House committee in February.

The state House passed a marriage equality bill in March; it is now pending in the Senate. HB 436, which would provide marriage equality for the state’s LGBT couples. You can take action on both of these bills:http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/campaign/nhmarriagediscrim.

Since 2006, HRC has invested significant staff and financial resources. By working with key political leaders, we helped elect fair-minded majorities in the state house and senate for the first time in over 100 years. In the 2008 election cycle, HRC sent staff members to New Hampshire to help elect U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and defeat former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, his son.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

10 Years - Judy Shepard Calls for Hate Crime Law

Mother of slain gay man makes plea to update federal statute
With this vital piece of legislation coming before committee Judy Shepard speaks out once again for a hate crimes law. Please go to FightHateNow.org and tell Congress how important this bill is. Don't let another life be lost to hate.

The following is a press release from the Human Rights Campaign about Judy's statement.

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization – released a video today as part of the effort to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) featuring Judy Shepard whose son Matthew was murdered in 1998 because he was gay.

“It’s been ten years since Judy Shepard lost her son Matthew and this video is a painful reminder that the federal government does not have the resources it needs to assist in prosecuting these horrific acts,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Since Matthew’s murder, tens of thousands of Americans have been victims of hate violence and it’s time to give local law enforcement the tools to combat this scourge.”

Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. The bill would give the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the victim is chosen because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The video profiles the stories of hate crimes victims who were targeted because of who they are. They include:
· Angie Zapata who on a summer night in Greeley, Colorado, was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher because she was transgender.
· Billy Ray Johnson a mentally disabled man from Texas who was taken to a party, ridiculed, knocked unconscious, and then dumped by the side of the road.
· Luis Ramirez who while walking home to his family in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, was beaten him to death by a group of young men yelling racial and ethnic epithets.
· Ryan Skipper of Eloise, Florida, who was robbed, driven to a dirt road and stabbed more than twenty times because he was gay.
· Sean Kennedy, a South Carolina man who died after he was assaulted by a man yelling anti-gay slurs. The state has no hate crime law and his attacker was sentenced to three years in prison.

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Human Rights Campaign Announces #FightHateNow Twitter Hashtag

#FightHateNow will update Twitter users on federal hate crimes legislation

I enjoy getting press releases from the various organizations working on LGBT equality. But I must say it really makes my day when one is about twitter. The following is the press release from the Human Rights Campaign:

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today announced the #FightHateNow hashtag for Twitter users to contribute to and stay current on the status of the federal hate crimes bill, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), now pending in the U.S. House. By entering #FightHateNow at search.twitter.com, anyone can review the real-time updates submitted by Twitter users on the hate crimes legislation, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act.

The Human Rights Campaign’s blog, HRC Back Story (www.hrcbackstory.org), will provide live coverage of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee markup of the hate crimes bill (H.R. 1913) on Twitter using the #FightHateNow hashtag. The markup is scheduled to begin tomorrow, April 22 at 10:15 a.m. in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

HRC launched the website FightHateNow.org to arm voters with tools to help pass overdue federal hate crimes legislation. The site includes testimonials, up-to-the minute updates on congressional action, and specific action voters can take to ensure its passage. FightHateNow.org also features photos and videos illustrating the devastating impact hate crimes have on individuals and communities, answers frequently asked questions about the bill, and provides users with the tools to directly contact their members of Congress to urge them to support the legislation.

HRC today also released a new video and take action page featuring Judy Shepard as part of the effort to pass the hate crimes bill. Judy’s son Matthew was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 because he was gay. Supporters of the hate crimes bill can view the video and send a message to their congressional leaders at http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/campaign/hate_crimes_video.

Follow HRC Back Story on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hrcbackstory.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Take Action to Help Pass the Hate Crimes Bill

Have you heard that the hate crimes bill is coming before Congress again? This is the bill that will set the tone for all other action Congress takes on LGBT issues. If the community fails to come together and push for this bill to pass Congress it will be very unlikely that we will see movement on the Employee Non-Discrimination Act or a repeal of Don't Ask Dont Tell. Even though this seems like it should be an easy victory for the LGBT community that may not be the case. There is still a significant amount of work to be done to make sure members of congress do the right thing and pass the Matthew Shepard Act. We have been waiting over 10 years to get this passed and the time is right with Obama in office. He is waiting to sign it - we just need to get it there.

The following is a call to action from the Human Rights Campaign. Please join me in taking action today.
I hope you'll join me in sending a message to Congress: we can't wait any longer for a federal law to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans from violent hate crimes. Take action at:


Ordinary people are living in fear for their safety and their lives every day, in small towns and big cities. Hate crimes against LGBT people are on the rise, but the federal government has no direct authority to investigate, prosecute or help local law enforcement crack down.

We can't let this continue. We can't let friends and neighbors become targets for violence simply because of who they are.

Congress passed the hate crimes bill in 2007, but because of George Bush's veto threat, it never became law. And now, right-wing extremists are once again making outrageous claims that the bill would criminalize preachers, end free speech, and so on.

Will you help make sure their lies aren't the only things members of Congress are hearing about this bill? Please click below to send a note urging Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act.


Thanks for your help.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day of Silence - Stop the Bullying

Bullying is a huge problem in America today. One of the most recent stories is of 11 year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. He was bullied daily which included being called gay and being told he acted like a girl. Carl ended up taking his life by hanging himself with an extension cord.

Carl would have turned 12 today which just so happens to be the annual Day of Silence held by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take some form of a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. The event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.

Here is a video with Lance Bass talking about the Day of Silence

The interesting thing about bullies are they function on fear and thinking the victim will remain quiet. Most of what is talked about is the bullying done by children. However, since the election and all the coverage of Prop 8 interesting things have happened.

Instead of the gays being silent we have taken to the street. We have said, "Enough!" We have begun to demand our equality. Interestingly enough in the wake of the huge loss in California, gay marriage has seen huge wins in the last month alone. This includes Vermont becoming the first state to legalize marriage through the legislature and not by a court decision.

So what does this do to the bully? Just when the bully thinks his victim is beaten down so much he sees that maybe there is some strength left. So he does this....

James Dobson, former leader of Focus on the Family, starts a website to counter the Day of Silence. The site is called True Tolerance. The site encourages parents to fight the schools and try to shut down the events. The site is pure bullying. Filled with lies and playing on fear to motivate others to join in the bullying.

Then there is this video.

And of course the video by the queen of bullying, Maggie Gallager - President of the National Organization for Marriage.

Just looking at the website by Dobson and these videos it becomes clear to me why we have such a bullying problem in our schools. If these are the examples kids are getting then we have a very long road ahead of us to try and fix the bullying problem in America.

Before the 2008 Day of Silence Lawrence King, a 15 year old, was shot and killed by a classmate because he was gay. This year Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover killed himself for being called gay. Clearly the grownups have not figured out that their actions and words have consequences.

The children are watching. Please, adults - Maggie and James that means you, stop the bullying. It really is hurting our families and our children.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LGBT Tax Day Demonstration Shut Down By Police

I recieved the following not from Christopher Hall, founder of C.A.R.E - Central Arizona Rainbow Equality. Christopher organized Casa Grande, Arizona's first LGBT event just a few weeks ago. He also organized the protest today which was designed to bring attention to the fact that LGBT people pay an average of $1,000 on their taxes by not being allowed to marry. Protests like this were held all over the country today and organized by Marriage Equality USA, Join the Impact, and the Human Rights Campaign.

I received the following email from Christopher regarding the protest
Today the Casa Grande Police Department broke up our demonstration.

Officer B. Walsh and his accomplice, who would not provide her name, informed us that our flag was not to be flown anywhere within the city of Casa Grande. Dana who was the owner of the flag, was threated to be arrested if it were flown again.

We were told that it was obstructing the view of the road for some individuals. We were more than willing to work with them. We had asked where we could stand and they said we could not stand anywhere.

Funny thing is, I had talked to the city and they said as long as we were on the sidewalk or 7 feet from it, there should not be a problem. Apparently there was. When I first confronted the police about the issue, they told me to get in touch with the city. Even though I did, they still enforced their "policy" and were hesitant to work with us in any way.

Another form of injustice happened when they took down the gay people's information, but none of the straight people had to provide the police with their ssn, date of birth, photo id, etc. The gay population on the other hand had to.

With future events such as the right to save rally, we need your help to make sure this does not happen again. Please help us in figuring out how to deal with this situation. If you have any ideas, please feel free to let me know asap.

I already talked to the on duty supervisor tonight, and I took a witness with me. I also plan to talk to the chief and commander for the police department sometime tomorrow. Please help me. This is not right and something needs to be done.

Since this email the ACLU and Lambda Legal have been told about the incedent and asked to give assistance. Also, the Attorney General's office has been made aware of the actions to shut the protest down.

I will be updating this story when more information comes in. In the meantime if you would like to tell the police department how you feel you can contact Commander Scott Sjervern - Casa Grande P.D. at (520) 421-8700.

Also you can contact Bob Jackson - Mayor of Casa Grande, AZ at (520) 421-8600.

The following are statements from the Casa Grande Police Department obtained from azcentral.com

A statement issued Thursday afternoon by Casa Grande police Chief Robert Huddleston said the department is working to determine whether Walsh acted inappropriately and, if so, will take steps to correct issues.

Chief Huddleston said, "The Casa Grande Police Department will continue to work with this and any other citizen group to respect their right to assemble and demonstrate in a safe manner. We apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding, and look forward to the completion of the investigation."

To read the full article on azcentral.com go here.

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Anyone Want Some Milk?

The got milk campaign has been going on for more than 10 years. It's one of my favorite advertising campaigns. That could be because it's not obnoxious or it could be because sometimes the pictures are pretty great. And by great I mean hot. One of the newest ads features Dara Torres, the olympic gold medalist. If this is what milk can do to keep your body looking like this as you head into your 40s with a 2 year old then I'm all for it.

You be the judge. How does Dara stack up against these previous Got Milk? stars

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Human Rights Campaign Applauds Washington State Legislature for Passing Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill

Human Rights Campaign (HRC)Image by PDX Pixels via Flickr
The following is a Press Release from the Human Rights Campaign:
Bill adds hundreds of rights and responsibilities to current law

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today praised the Washington State House of Representatives for passing the Domestic Partnership Expansion bill on a 62-35 vote. This follows a positive vote of 30-18 in the state Senate several weeks ago. The bill will provide registered domestic partners with access to the rights and responsibilities granted to spouses under state law.

“We applaud the Washington state legislature for providing these important protections under Washington state law to committed lesbian and gay couples and we thank Senators Ed Murray and Joe McDermott and Representatives Jamie Pedersen, Dave Upthegrove, Jim Moeller and Marko Liias, as well as Equal Rights Washington for their leadership on this civil rights issue,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This is another important step toward full equality, and it will provide tangible, much needed legal protections for families in Washington.”

The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Christine Gregoire for signing. In 2007, Governor Gregoire signed the first Domestic Partner bill into law, creating a domestic partner registry and providing some rights to lesbian and gay couples and their families. In 2008, the Governor signed legislation providing domestic partners with 160 of the more than 400 rights and responsibilities afforded to married couples. This year’s Domestic Partnership Expansion bill grants approximately 250 additional rights and responsibilities to registered domestic partners.

The Human Rights Campaign worked directly with Equal Rights Washington to mobilize thousands of supporters to lobby their legislators in Olympia, send over 35,000 emails and make thousands of phone calls to legislators.

In addition to Washington, eleven states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa (as of April 27, 2009), and Vermont (as of September 1, 2009) recognize marriage for gay and lesbian couples under state law. Four states—California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon—plus Washington, D.C. provide gay and lesbian couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Maine and Hawaii provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits. New York recognizes marriages by gay and lesbian couples validly entered into outside of New York.

Lesbian and gay 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.

The Human Rights Campaign 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.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Human Rights Campaign to Host National Web Chat on LGBT Financial Issues in Advance of Tax Day

Experts to field questions from the LGBT community on variety of financial, tax and estate planning issues
WASHINGTONIn advance of April 15 – “Tax Day” – the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, will host a national web chat on a variety of financial issues currently facing members of the LGBT community.  During the discussion, HRC and several financial experts will highlight the unique legal inequalities and hurdles facing the LGBT community with regard to financial, tax and estate planning issues.  Federal law treats same-sex couples as strangers, thereby denying them the 1,138 federal rights, benefits and protections available to different-sex married couples. Questions may be submitted in advance by emailing: webchat@hrc.org.
WHAT:  National web chat hosted by Human Rights Campaign
WHO:  Financial planner Joe Kapp, Family and Estate Attorney Kirstin Gulling, and HRC Legal Director Lara Schwartz
WHEN:  TODAY, Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. EST
HOW:  To participate, visit the following link: www.hrc.org/taxchat
For additional online resourcesand daily updates visit the HRC blog, www.HRCBackStory.org.  

The Human Rights Campaign 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.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

LGBT People To Hold Tax Day Events Across Country

As tax day approaches it provides another reminder of the discrimination LGBT people face on a day to day basis. When Prop 8 passed rock star Melissa Etheridge made a statement that she would not pay her California taxes this year. She felt since her right to marry was taken away and she was being treated as a second class citizen then why should she be expected to pay.

Well I don't know if Etheridge plans to follow through on that statement but for most of us we can't afford the legal consequences of that type of protest. But we can hang out near post offices while others are dropping off their taxes. The following media alert was released to announce events all across the country.

Tax Season Serves as a Reminder How the “Defense of Marriage Act” Harms Same-Sex Couples and Costs Taxpayers Billions of Dollars
Take action by visiting www.taxday2009.com
WASHINGTONAs millions of Americans file their income taxes, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups call attention to the tax inequities facing same-sex couples as a result of the state and federal laws that refuse to  recognize or extend civil marriage protections to same-sex couples.  Marriage Equality USA, Join the Impact and the Human Rights Campaign have collectively organized a series of events at U. S. Post Offices across the nation to highlight the ongoing moral and financial costs of denying marriage equality to same-sex couples—as well as the consequences paid by all Americans as a result of these discriminatory state and federal laws.
“Each tax season, same-sex couples sit at their dining room tables and are forced to live a legal lie by checking ‘single’ despite their decades together and then arbitrarily dividing up their joint household’s income, expenses, and dependents,” said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality USA Media Director.  “Then we write checks to the IRS for social security taxes, knowing that when we die our families will not even have access to any of the family ‘safety net’ benefits provided in the form of social security survivor benefits, estate tax deferral, and other programs that we help fund through our tax dollars and that only heterosexual couples and their children will enjoy.”
“The tax inequities faced by loving, committed same-sex couples make them less able to care for each other and their families,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “Even same-sex couples in states that do legally recognize their unions are penalized by the federal government simply for building a family with the person they love.  This is an injustice that can and must end.”
“Whether couples are married, civil unioned or have no state protections under state law, all same-sex couples in the United States are treated as ‘single’ under federal law.  The U.S. Census has declared that they will not recognize married same-sex couples as “married” in the 2010 Census.  We cannot allow our community to be erased,” said Amy Balliett, co-founder of Join the Impact.  “Tax season is yet another time where same-sex couples are reminded that despite abiding by the requirements of American citizenship by paying our taxes, we are still are treated as second class citizens.”  
A study produced by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) debunks the myth that granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry would cost the government money. In fact, it would save taxpayer dollars.  Same-sex couples are not the only ones paying for marriage discrimination, all taxpayers fund this discrimination which amounts to as much as $1 billion nationwide. To read the CBO study, visit www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=5559&sequence=0.
Founded in 1998, Marriage Equality USA is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, at the federal and state level, without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation .  For more information go to www.marriageequality.org
The Human Rights Campaign 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.
Join the Impact is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to empower grassroots direct action across the nation.  For more information go to www.jointheimpact.com

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The Gingrich Family Feud

Senior Manager of the Human Rights Campaign's Youth & Campus Outreach Department Candace Gingrich went on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" to give her reaction to her brother Newt's comments about Obama's appointment of Harry Knox to his religious council. Harry Knox is the Director of the HRC's Religion and Faith Program.

I can not believe Candace has to put up with this guy on a regular basis - you know at family gatherings. I'm sure Thanksgiving is quite a sight.

Here are Newt's comments on the appointment.

Here is Candace's reaction.

Here is the Press Release from HRC about the appointment of Harry Knox.

Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox to Join Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

WASHINGTON –The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, announced today that HRC Foundation Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox will join the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, an interfaith council of religious and secular leaders and scholars. The council will be comprised of 25 members, each appointed to serve a one-year term.

“I am humbled by the invitation to join President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships,” said Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program. “I hope this council will draw upon the richness of our unique perspectives to advise the president on policies that will improve the lives of all the people we have been called to serve. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is eager to help the Administration achieve its goals around economic recovery and fighting poverty; fatherhood and healthy families; inter-religious dialogue; care for the environment; and global poverty, health and development. And, of course, we will support the President in living up to his promise that government has no place in funding bigotry against any group of people.”

President Barack Obama signed an executive order on February 5 to establish the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Led by Joshua Dubois, the office was created to allow religious and community leaders to make policy recommendations to the President’s Cabinet Secretaries and each of the eleven agency offices for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships.

To learn more about the Religion & Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign, visit: www.hrc.org/religion.

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.

For more information on Harry Knox's work with HRC listen to Episode 3 of my podcast, Thoughts from a Lezzymom in iTunes or found in the sidebar.

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Weekly Presidential Address

President Obama gives his weekly address and reflects on our difficulties at this time of both Passover and Easter. He discusses the need to work together and build on our mutual interests.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Attempt to Amend Iowa Constitution Blocked

Senator Mike Gronstal

Well you knew it would happen. You just knew there would be an attempt to put a constitutional amendment through in Iowa after the State Supreme Court ruled it was legal for gays to marry. However, someone forgot to tell the conservatives that this is not their time.

Without the support of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, efforts to amend the Iowa Constitution can not move forward in the Senate.

Below is the video of the Senator's response when asked by Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton to co-sponsor a bill. This was on April 6, 2009, the first day the Senate met after the unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to allow same sex couples to marry. (Transcript is below the video)

One of my daughters was in the workplace one day, and her particular workplace at that moment in time, there were a whole bunch of conservative, older men. And those guys were talking about gay marriage. They were talking about discussions going on across the country.

Any my daughter Kate, after listening for about 20 minutes, said to them: You guys dont understand. Youve already lost. My generation doesnt care.

I think I learned something from my daughter that day, when she said that. And Ive talked with other people about it and thats what I see, Senator McKinley. I see a bunch of people that merely want to profess their love for each other, and want state law to recognize that.

Is that so wrong? I dont think thats so wrong. As a matter of fact, last Friday night, I hugged my wife. You know Ive been married for 37 years. I hugged my wife. I felt like our love was just a little more meaningful last Friday night because thousands of other Iowa citizens could hug each other and have the state recognize their love for each other.

No, Senator McKinley, I will not co-sponsor a leadership bill with you.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Breaking: Human Rights Campaign Exposes National Organization of Marriage's Fake Ad for Fake Problems

Right-wing group does not have truth on its side, so it hires actors to spew lies; Audition reel uncovered online

Below is the press release from the Human Rights Campaign with video of the television ad and the auditions.

WASHINGTON –The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, released a statement and a factual rebuttal today on a television spot produced by the National Organization for Marriage and set to run on CNN, the Fox News Channel, and MSNBC in the coming days. In the ad, actors make disproven claims about marriage for lesbian and gay couples.

“What’s next for the National Organization for Marriage? Will they hire legendary infomercial pitchman Ron Popeil to hawk their phony agenda?” said Human Rights Campaign Spokesman Brad Luna.  “This ad is full of outrageous falsehoods—and they don’t even come out of the mouths of real people.”

According to sources, the phony ad is set to run eight times per day in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and California. The ad can be viewed here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AzLrn5JVIo

The National Organization for Marriage hired actors to peddle their lies about marriage for lesbian and gay couples. The audition reels can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRjVDZxho54 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqNFBt33o4

The National Organization for Marriage and Maggie Gallagher is featured on the interactive wall of EndtheLies.org, a new HRC action-based website launched to confront the lies and distortions repeatedly used to defeat LGBT equality measures. National Organization for Marriage was added to the wall after the group created an anti- marriage equality radio ad that played in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

“Again and again, opponents of equality have claimed one shallow victory after another by telling lies about who we are as individuals, as loving couples and as families. These lies must be called out for what they are every time the right-wing seeks to derail our progress by spreading distortions and inciting fear mongering,” continued Luna.

EndtheLies.org’s interactive wall features videos, audio, pictures, and quotes, calling out those who maliciously use lies and misinformation to interfere with the LGBT community’s path to equality. By clicking on the panels of the wall, users can access more information about those highlighted, watch videos, add comments on multimedia discussion boards, and learn how to take action to counteract their misdeeds.

Along with the National Organization for Marriage, the wall currently features the American Family Association (AFA), the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern, and Utah State Senator Chris Buttars, Proposition 8 lawyer Ken Starr, right-wing media personality Rush Limbaugh, and GOP Chairman Michael Steele. Users can also nominate their own candidates for inclusion on the wall.

Background Ad Rebuttal
“The Real Truth Behind the Fake Ad”

The general argument of the ad is that the push for marriage equality isn’t just about rights for same-sex couples, it’s about imposing contrary values on people of faith.  The examples they cite in the ad are:

(1)   A California doctor who must choose between her faith and her job
(2)   A member of New Jersey church group which is punished by the state because they can’t support same-sex marriage
(3)   A Massachusetts parent who stands by helpless while the state teaches her son that gay marriage is okay

The facts indicate that (1) refers to the Benitez decision in California, determining that a doctor cannot violate California anti-discrimination law by refusing to treat a lesbian based on religious belief, (2) refers to the Ocean Grove, New Jersey Methodist pavilion that was open to the general public for events but refused access for civil union ceremonies (and was fined by the state for doing so) and (3) refers to the Parker decision in Massachusetts, where parents unsuccessfully sought to end public school discussions of family diversity, including of same-sex couples. 

All three examples involve religious people who enter the public sphere, but don’t want to abide by the general non-discriminatory rules everyone else does.  Both (1) and (2) are really about state laws against sexual orientation discrimination, rather than specifically about marriage.  And (3) is about two pairs of religious parents trying to impose their beliefs on all children in public schools.   

The real facts of each case are:

·         The California doctor entered a profession that promises to “first, do no harm” and the law requires her to treat a patient in need – gay or straight, Christian or Muslim – regardless of her religious beliefs.  The law does not, and cannot, dictate her faith – it can only insist that she follow her oath as a medical professional.  

·         The New Jersey church group runs, and profits from, a beachside pavilion that it rents out to the general public for all manner of occasions –concerts, debates and even Civil War reenactments— but balks at permitting couples to hold civil union ceremonies there.  The law does not challenge  the church organization’s beliefs about homosexuality – it merely requires that a pavilion that had been open to all for years comply with laws protecting everyone from discrimination, including gays and lesbians.

·         The Massachusetts parent disagrees with an aspect of her son’s public education, a discussion of the many different kinds of families he will likely encounter in life, including gay and lesbian couples.  The law does not stop her from disagreeing, from teaching him consistently with her differing beliefs at home, or even educating her child in a setting that is more in line with her faith traditions.  But it does not allow any one parent to dictate the curriculum for all students based on her family’s religious traditions. 

The Human Rights Campaign 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.

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