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Let’s Admit What Really Went Wrong in Houston

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Hayden MoraIt’s a dangerous myth that Houston was unexpected. National leadership of the LGBTQ movement has known or had very good reasons to suspect that our opponents — still reeling from their defeat around same-sex marriage — would seize on trans issues to energize their supporters, refill their treasuries, and create a new opportunity to gain traction with voters and the public at large.

But our funding has been so focused on marriage equality that we were left fighting for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance without the proper resources for political strategy, organizing, and effective, wide-scale public education. We were caught unprepared and that is inexcusable.

The voters’ decision on HERO comes at a pivotal time in our movement and raises key questions for all of us — especially our leaders — about what happened, why it happened, and where to go from here. How much and how quickly we learn from this loss depends on whether we, as a movement, engage in an unsparing and rigorous analysis not just of the Houston campaign, but also the ways in which we have and have not prioritized trans issues.

The reaction to the loss itself is telling. Many whose engagement is bounded by the victory of marriage equality and the goal of passing the Equality Act are left shocked. On the other extreme, for those who spend most of their lives working on the “margins” of our community — the undocumented, the young, people of color, trans folks, and those that hold multiple marginalized identities — Houston is like a distant rainstorm amid an ongoing level 5 hurricane of profound and pervasive violence and oppression. Identifying how and working toward bridging this divide is part of the crucial work that must occur in order for us to develop a stronger, smarter, and more holistic strategy of how to move forward.

By Hayden Mora – Full Story at The Advocate

USA: New Poll Says 60% of Likely Voters Support Marriage Equality

Friday, February 13th, 2015

titleA new poll from HRC shows a heightened level of support for marriage equality among likely voters.

Politico reports:

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to rule this spring on whether same-sex couples nationwide should have the right to marry, a gay rights organization on Friday released a new survey showing support for gay marriage at 60 percent among likely voters in the 2016 election. The Human Rights Campaign — a Washington, D.C.-based tax-exempt nonprofit that works to “achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans” — says its survey shows conservatives who claim the country will balk at court-imposed marriage rights are out of step with public opinion. The poll was conducted late last month by the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. According to the survey, 60 percent of likely voters say they favor “allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally,” while 37 percent oppose allowing gays to marry.

While the poll measures likely voters vs. people in general, it’s still a great number to see.

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New HRC Report Exposes World Conference of Families’ Anti Gay Bigotry

Monday, August 25th, 2014

World Congress of FamiliesA new report from the Human Rights Campaign profiles the anti gay activities of the World Conference of Families.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The report by the HRC Foundation, the educational arm of HRC, documents: WCF’s origins and founding members; a timeline of its major international events; affiliations with prominent American officials, political groups, and religious organizations; engagement and lobbying with leaders and lawmakers abroad; and the primary regions in which the group has been most active. According to the report, the WCF and its affiliates are connected to anti-LGBT advocacy in Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, and many other countries. “This organization and their affiliates’ global advocacy have corresponded with a dangerous rise in anti-LGBT laws, discrimination, and even violence around the world,” said Cobb.

See the full report here.

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The Most Awesome Response to Westboro Baptist Church, Ever

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Panic at the DiscoThe band Panic! At the Disco turned a WBC protest into an HRC fundraiser in a brilliant response to the homophobic group’s pathetic rally outside the band’s concert in Kansas City.

Queerty reports:

The Bible-thumping gang that just loves to hate recently put out the most nails-on-a-chalk-board version of Panic At The Disco’s pop-punk anthem “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” which they call “You Love Sin What a Tragedy.”… They also announced plans to picket Panic’s show in Kansas City, Mo this past weekend. Because apparently there weren’t any bigger sinners to harass that day. Well the band fired back in just about the prefect way imaginable. Frontman Brendon Urie (who is married to a woman but doesn’t shy away from talking about past experiences sleeping with men) and co. posted this message to Twitter, pledging a $20 donation to HRC for every Westboro protester.

Only 13 showed up, so the band upped their donation from $260 to an even grand. How awesome is that? They also donated 5% of their merchandise sales for the show. Love these guys!

National LGBT Groups Drop ENDA Support

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

New Human Rights Campaign President Ready to Wade Into More Marriage Equality FightsIt started yesterday with an announcement from NGLTF.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Six of the nation’s leading LGBT rights advocacy groups on Tuesday announced they were withdrawing their support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), fearing that broad religious exemptions included in the current bill could compel private companies to cite objections similar to those that prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week.

The withdrawal was first announced earlier Tuesday by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and by mid-afternoon the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Transgender Law Center issued a joint statement that they would no longer support the current version of ENDA because it provides “religiously affiliated organizations … a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people.”

The issue has been simmering for awhile, but the Hobby Lobby decision last week brought it to a boil.

Towleroad.com reports from the NGLTF press release:

“The morning after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, we all woke up in a changed and intensified landscape of broad religious exemptions being used as an excuse to discriminate. We are deeply concerned that ENDA’s broad exemption will be used as a similar license to discriminate across the country. We are concerned that these types of legal loopholes could negatively impact other issues affecting LGBT people and their families including marriage, access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and access to other reproductive health services. As one of the lead advocates on this bill for 20 years, we do not take this move lightly but we do take it unequivocally – we now oppose this version of ENDA because of its too-broad religious exemption. We cannot be complicit in writing such exemptions into federal law.”

The lone hold-out? HRC.

Pink News reports:

Despite the shift, the Human Rights Campaign – which tackled anti-gay discrimination – has maintained support for the bill. Human Rights Campaign Vice President Fred Sainz said yesterday: “HRC supports ENDA because it will provide essential workplace protections to millions of LGBT people.”

Is HRC hanging on because it has spent years and years failing to get this thing passed, and now fears seeing the whole thing go down in flames?

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USA: HRC Launches Campaign in the Deep South

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

New Human Rights Campaign President Ready to Wade Into More Marriage Equality FightsThe Human Rights Campaign is taking its gay rights and marriage equality fight to the Deep South.

The Advocate reports:

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s most prominent LGBT rights organization, is launching an $8.5 million intiative to enhance its presence in states that offer no protections for its LGBT citizens. Called Project One America, the initiative will establish offices in the Deep South states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas (coincidentally or not, HRC president Chad Griffin hails from Arkansas). The impetus is to address the serious inequalities in the South, where there is not only a lack of marriage equality, but also no basic protections in housing and employment for LGBTs.

Seems to me Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas could use a little extra LGBT love… 🙂

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USA: Joe Biden Speaks Out at HRC Dinner

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Vice President Joe BidenVice President Joe Biden gave a rousing speech at the HRC gala yesterday.

The Advocate reports:

“Because of what all of you’ve done,” he said during the Human Rights Campaign’s Los Angeles gala, “my granddaughter is going to grow up in a better country, and a more just country, and a more fair country.” Biden said that among the many wins for marriage equality, the silent majority has been liberated to speak up. “You liberated tens of millions of straight guys and straight women,” he told the room. Adding later, “they know they are not the exception, they know they are the majority.”

Give ’em hell, Joe!

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BREAKING: Bid to Overturn California’s Transgender Students Rights Law FAILS!!!

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Transgender FlagThis is late breaking news out of California, but it appears that, following a final hand-count of signatures submitted by a coalition of anti-trans groups seeking to force an initiative to repeal of the State of California’s Student Success and Opportunity Act, the drive to place the Act on the ballot has FAILED by more than 17,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot!

The Advocate reports:

An attempt to repeal California’s recently implemented transgender student law has been shot down after conservative organizations failed to turn in the necessary 504,760 valid signatures to qualify the issue for a referendum.

 

Proponents of the repeal, who had formed a coalition deceptively named Privacy for All Students,came up short, only collecting 487,760 valid signatures, leaving the repeal effort 17,276 short of the required 504,760 to qualify the issue to appear before voters in the November election.

 

As a result, California’s Student Success and Opportunity Act will remain in force. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of a student’s gender identity and guarantees that trans students can participate in the gender-segregated sports and have access to facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The law, also known as Assembly Bill 1266, cleared the State Assembly by a vote of 46-25 and passed through the Senate by a vote of 21-9 before being signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in August of last year. The law went into effect January 1.

The group behind the petition drive, Privacy for All Students, however, is not giving up:

“[Privacy for All Students] is anxious to challenge any signature that has been unfairly thrown out,” reads the message. “We are prepared to [challenge the signatures thrown out] again, as many times as we need to, until every valid signature is counted and the referendum qualifies for the ballot.”

HRC President Chad Griffin is ecstatic.

“The forces of discrimination tried to go after California’s LGBT young people, and it’s a sign of our progress that they fell short of their goal,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. “Yet unfortunately there are groups out there that are actively working to make the lives of LGBT youth harder. This law does nothing more than safeguard transgender students from being excluded and ensures all students are provided the same opportunities — regardless of gender identity.”

As mentioned earlier, the law has been in effect since January 1st of this year.

Marriage Equality USA Launches the National Equality Action Team (NEAT)

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

New York • 3 October 2013 ― Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) is launching the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), a coalition of almost 50 local, state and national organizations and individual organizers mobilizing volunteers to win the freedom to marry in states with active marriage equality campaigns.

Volunteers are able to sign up on the NEAT website to join events near them and also to phone bank from virtually anywhere.

“The National Equality Action Team is unique in that it gives passionate marriage equality advocates across the country — especially those in marriage equality states who want to pay it forward — a chance to play an important role in our national movement to win the freedom to marry,” said MEUSA Program Director Tracy Hollister.

“NEAT shows what organizations and individuals can do when we come together as a coalition to empower our community to take individual action in support of all 50 states,” said Marriage Equality USA Executive Director Brian Silva. “Until everyone can marry the person they love, we all have work to do.”

“NEAT is a continuation of our work over the past year in winning campaigns in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island and Delaware, where we hosted almost 150 phone banks and made approximately 100,000 calls for marriage equality,” said MEUSA Board President Jane Wishon. “Our goal is to continue this work and leverage our communities’ collective power to secure marriage equality by working side by side with our NEAT partners.”

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USA: LGBT Groups Issue Marriage Equality Fact Sheets for Same-Sex Couples

Friday, August 30th, 2013

After DOMA Fact SheetsIn the post-Defense of Marriage Act Section 3 environment, 11 LGBT groups have gotten together to issue a series of fact sheets for gay lesbian couples, to help navigate through the confusing current environment.

Lambda Legal reports:

After DOMA: What it Means For You” LGBT Organizations Fact Sheet Series details many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples. The guide includes 14 factsheets on the following topics: Bankruptcy, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Federal Employee Benefits, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Immigration, Medicaid, Medicare, Military Spousal Benefits, Private Employment Benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Taxes, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Veteran Spousal Benefits. “This is an exciting time and an historic step forward for the country. We want to make sure that same-sex couples have a guide to help them understand what it means for them,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal.

You can find the fact sheets here.

We have such a patchwork of state and federal laws right now, and it’s great to have a new resource to help same-sex couples navigate them.

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