TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress Not to Defend DOMA!


After President Obama ended his defense of DOMA in federal courts this week, Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders are stepping in to defend the discriminatory law.

Republicans are being pressured by right-wing groups to use taxpayer dollars to defend DOMA. Do not let this happen!

Tell Congress to stop defending DOMA by clicking here!

TAKE ACTION NOW! It is time to DITCH DOMA!

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2010 Election Results from HRC


From HRC:

The march to equality has steps forward and steps backward. Yesterday we saw some of each. Our fight for equality at the federal level was dealt a serious setback – but there are paths forward for pro-equality bills and amendments, and there are new opportunities for progress in states across the country. If you know anything about HRC, it’s that we’re fighters. And fighting tirelessly is exactly what we’ll need to do over the next few years.

Since 2006, the U.S. House has been led by committed supporters of equality. But yesterday, a wave of anti-LGBT radicals seized control. Their leaders – Reps. Boehner (R-OH), Cantor (R-VA), and Pence (R-IN) – all received scores of zero on HRC’s congressional scorecard, meaning they’ve NEVER supported a single pro-equality bill. Key Senate seats were lost as well.

In Pennsylvania, arch-conservative Pat Toomey beat the staunchly pro-equality Joe Sestak, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal leader Rep. Patrick Murphy lost his seat. Longtime LGBT rights champion Sen. Russ Feingold lost to multi-millionaire Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who’s called homosexuality a “dysfunction” and “personal enslavement,” continues as a U.S. Representative.

But there were major victories last night as well. A record number of openly LGBT candidates prevailed, including newly elected David Cicilline (D) of Rhode Island, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) spent millions to gin up hatred and fear, and although they ousted three Iowa judges who ruled for marriage equality, many of their favored candidates lost – like Tea Party darlings Christine O’Donnell in Delaware (who founded a group to “cure” homosexuality) and Sharron Angle in Nevada (who refused donations from pro-equality companies), as well as Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in California and Carl Paladino in New York. The man who likened homosexuality to alcoholism, Colorado’s Ken Buck, also went down in defeat.

The upside is that we are now better positioned to win marriage equality or other forms of family recognition in multiple states. HRC’s Campaign for New York Marriage helped pick up three state senate seats, building significant momentum for a marriage equality vote. Maryland re-elected Governor O’Malley, who has committed to signing a marriage bill, and flipped a key state Senate Judiciary Committee seat. In California, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Colorado, pro-equality governors will take office.

These elections also proved again that pro-LGBT candidates don’t lose because of their belief in equality. New Hampshire voters rejected the bigotry and hate of NOM and other anti-equality forces and re-elected Governor John Lynch, who signed marriage equality legislation last year.

But hey, at least the democrats maintained control of the Senate.

We Are One Step Closer To Not Being Second Class Citizens!


 

ObamaToday, President Barack Obama made good on his first promise to LGBTAmericans by signing the hate crimes legislation into law!

Today, we are one step closer to no longer being second class…

From an article entitled “President Barack Obama Signs Hate Crimes Legislation Into Law” at HRC.org:

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised President Barack Obama today for signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law.  The new law 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.  The legislation was added as a provision to the FY 2010 National Defense Authorization Act earlier this Summer.  For a comprehensive retrospective and historical overview of hate crimes advocacy visit: www.hrc.org/loveconquershate.

“This law honors our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters whose lives were cut short because of hate,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “Today’s signing of the first major piece of civil rights legislation to protect LGBT Americans represents a historic milestone in the inevitable march towards equality.  Although this is a major step in fighting the scourge of hate violence, it is not the end of the road.  As a community, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to changing not only laws but also hearts and minds.  We know that hate crimes not only harm individuals, but they terrorize entire communities.  After more than a decade of advocacy, local police and sheriffs’ departments now have the full resources of the Justice Department available to them.”

“We applaud President Obama for signing this bill into law and thank the leadership and our allies in the House and Senate.   We also will always remember the tireless efforts of Senator Edward Kennedy on this issue.  Senator Kennedy once said that this legislation sends ‘a message about freedom and equality that will resonate around the world.’   This marks the first time that we as a nation have explicitly protected the LGBT community in the law.  And this law sends a loud message that perpetrators of hate violence against anyone will be brought to justice,” said Solmonese.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act honors the memory of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming college student brutally murdered in an act of hate violence in 1998, and James Byrd, an African-American man who was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas, in 1998.

“We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly,” said Judy Shepard, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.  “But each of us can and must do much more to ensure true equality for all Americans.”

“We appreciate everyone who worked so hard on this bill.  My son was taken at such an early age and we hope this law will help prevent other families from going through what we experienced,” said Stella Byrd, mother of James Byrd.  “Even though we’re different colors and different sexual orientations or gender identities, God made us all and he loves us all.”

The new law also 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.

This legislation was first introduced in the 105th Congress.  There have been 14 total votes in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to bring this historic legislation to the president’s desk.

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.

Let’s keep this momentum going!  One day soon, we are no longer going to be Second Class Citizens!

Shepard Murder Still Stirs Anger, Fear


From Advocate.com:JUDY_MATTX

As the 11th anniversary of the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard nears, celebrations of his life are casting a wide net across the country. 

His mother Judy Shepard, who has become a figure in his foundation and in lobbying for hate crime legislation is making appearances to talk about her book, The Meaning of Matthew. While speaking at Salt Lake City’s Main Library on Sunday, however, the mood went from celebratory to sour, when an onlooker called Shepard out from the crowd. 

According to a report on Pam’s House Blend, a man in the audience took Shepard to task, saying that she was exacerbating the premises under which her son was murdered for her own political gain. He said the murderers only targeted Matthew because they wanted to rob him and were high… not because of his sexual orientation. A visibly upset Shepard, however, refuted the claim, pointing out that neither of the killers tested positive for drugs when they were picked up by the police. They also each admitted to their actions because of the flight. 

Meanwhile, the creators of The Laramie Project, a play centered around Matthew Shepard’s death, are celebrating the project’s 10th year on stages across America with an epilogue, which includes a prison interview with convicted murderer Aaron McKinney. 

In the jarring interview, conducted by Greg Pierotti, McKinney admits to being drawn to crime since childhood and feeling sympathy for Shepard’s family… but not for killing Matthew.

“As far as Matt is concerned, I don’t have any remorse,” McKinney is quoted as saying, according to a script acquired by the The Associated Press. He added, “Yeah, I got remorse, but probably not the way people want me to. I got remorse that I didn’t live the way my dad taught me to live.”

McKinney and his accomplice Russell Henderson approached Shepard in a bar in Laramie on October 7, 1998. They offered Shepard a ride in their car, but then they savagely beat him and left him tied to a fence. Eighteen hours later, he was found by a passing bike rider, and eventually died on October 12. 

More than 1,000 actors will perform the updated version of the show when it premiers in October on the anniversary of Shepard’s death. Pierotti and other members of the Tectonic Theater Project will perform the piece at New York’s Lincoln Center while actors will stage the work at more than 100 theaters nationwide.

Hate Crimes Bill Passes Senate, But Faces Veto


hatex390The Senate voted 63-28 today to cease discussion on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was immediately adopted by unanimous consent as an amendment to the Department of Defense (DOD) re-authorization bill.

This is a major victory for gay rights, but don’t celebrate just yet.  That last part about the DOD means that the hate crimes legislation is now partially linked to $1.75 billion in funding for F-22 fighter jets, a program that President Obama opposes.  A spokesman has said the president would not sign the DOD bill if it continued to fund the F-22 program.

Thus, President Obama (as it stands) will receive a bill that includes the hate crimes legislation that he has promised to sign and funding for an F-22 program that he claimed he would not sign.  Whatever will he do?

Fortunately, Senators Carl Levin and John McCain stepped up to offer a bipartisan amendment to remove the F-22 funding.  This amendment is scheduled for a vote Monday, but if this amendment fails and President Obama vetoes the bill, it will be sent back to the Senate for a rewrite.

Read the full story at Advocate.com

From HRC: CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY BY 5PM!


From the Human Rights Campaign:

HRC

The right wing is willing to keep LGBT people in harm’s way to make a political point. Your senators could vote on the Matthew Shepard Act this week. Call them TODAY!

The Senate is poised to vote on the Matthew Shepard Act THIS WEEK. But our allies are reporting an avalanche of 300,000 letters and calls from right-wing groups trying to stop it.

Anti-LGBT leaders like Focus on the Family’s James Dobson are now calling the bill “utter evil.” They’re even referring to it as the “Pedophile Protection Act.”

With a vote on hate crimes coming any day, we desperately need senators to hear from fair-minded people like you.

It takes about 45 seconds to call each one of your senators – and each one of them needs to hear from you today. It’s just as important for supportive senators to hear from us – they’ve promised to pass this bill, and they need to know we’re counting on them to keep fighting.

So set yourself a reminder on your computer. Make the call on your way to lunch. Or stop reading this and do it right now. Whatever you do, make sure to CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY.

If you’ve never called Congress, let me assure you, it’s incredibly easy.

  1. Before 5 p.m. ET, call your senators.  You can find their numbers here.
  2. Most likely, one of your senator‘s interns will answer and ask where you’re calling from and why. You’re calling to urge the Senator to vote for the Matthew Shepard Act (S. 909). Most calls end right there. But if you like, you can add:
    • 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.
  3. IMPORTANT: After you hang up, click here to let us know that you made the call. Don’t skip this step! It helps us track our progress.

We have the truth on our side – and we need you to speak the truth today to counter our opponents’ outrageous lies. Please make your phone calls right now.

Then, please pass this email on to your friends and family.

Thank you for taking action.

Warmly,

Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
President