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San Diego Prides Activism for Equality float
San Diego Pride’s “Activism for Equality” float

Went to my first San Diego Pride parade yesterday and had a great time.  Yes, I admit I went to not only show my support as a straight ally, but to hopefully ogle some hot guys with my buddy Gordon. (Hey, at least I’m honest!) Read the rest of this entry »

Meant to post about this earlier, but I never seem to get over here as much as I should.  Bad me, bad me.

San Diego Pride created the Equality Torch Relay to help raise awareness of the equality cause by bringing together all areas of the San Diego region.  The relay will simultaneously take place in the north county and the inland area, and from the south bay to the east county, with all torch bearers converging this evening at the San Diego County Administration Building for a 6PM rally, which everyone is invited to attend.

San Diego Pride "Equality Torch Relay" stop in Oceanside, CA

San Diego Pride "Equality Torch Relay" stop in Oceanside, CA

Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s an extremely inspiring video of various religious, labor, and civil rights  leaders (including Eric Lee of SCLC) as well as those who worked so hard to put the powerful “Meet In the Middle 4 Equality” march and rally together (Robin McGehee) yesterday.  This video is from just prior to the 14 mile march from Selma, CA to the MITM4E rally in Fresno, CA.  Big thanks to Unite the Fight for these videos, as well as getting the live feed of the rally on ustream. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear GLBTQ community,

Please know that not everyone in California thinks the way those who voted Yes on Prop 8 do. Please know that the illogical decision handed down by the Supreme Court of California WILL be challenged. Please know that you have countless straight allies, such as myself, out there who are ready, willing, and able to continue to fight with you to gain equality in every aspect of the law.  Please know that you ARE valued individuals (not second class citizens), that who you love should NOT matter, and the fact that you continue to stand firm in your love in the face of this ignorance is still truly amazing to me.  Don’t be discouraged for too long,  don’t look at every person and wonder how they voted, don’t think that things will never change, and don’t give up hope.  Everything is just going to take a bit longer than anticipated or hoped for, but change WILL come and I look forward to being right there with you when it does.

Much love and admiration,

Laura Read the rest of this entry »

 

join-the-impact1

Join the Impact  (Click the image or link to find protest locations near you.)

This election is something I obviously felt quite strongly about, not only on the presidential level, but especially with some California propositions I took to heart; Prop 2, Prop 4, Prop 8.  One would think that with my choice for President, Barack Obama, being swept into office, and two of the propositions I felt strongly about all going the way I had hoped, I would be running to my blog, sharing my happiness and thanking everyone who voted the same way I did.  But the joy at seeing my beloved country make the historic choice it did for President, was unfortunately overwhelmingly deflated when I realized that the majority of my fellow Californians who took the time to vote on Proposition 8 (defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, thereby stripping away the civil rights of the GLBT community to marry the person they love) voted to support this antiquated, hateful, and discriminatory proposition. 

This has affected me in a profound and extended way which admittedly has surprised me.  I’m not gay.  I’m not married, and don’t have any mad desire to be (have already traveled down that road).  But why should I have rights my friends and neighbors don’t have just because I was born straight?  Why should my love for someone else be deemed “appropriate” and “legal” just because as a female I may want to wed a man and not a woman?  I don’t get it folks, I really, really don’t.  I don’t get how someone thinks that they have the right, usually based on their religious beliefs, to legislate who someone else can spend their life with, who they can love and be with.  I don’t get the hate–and yes it’s hate so don’t try to sugarcoat it–that people have for others who believe in something different from what they might believe in. 

And where is this unbelievable hell that we are all supposed to descend into if gay people are allowed to marry?  They’ve had the legal right in California for several months now, and I’m not seeing the heterosexual marriages needing protection from that.  I’m not seeing the marriages of straight folks falling apart any faster than they already were.  And have your children come home from school over the past months, suddenly preaching “the gay lifestyle” because they are being indoctrinated into it at their public school?  Hmmm, the sky has not been falling Chicken Little?  Say it ain’t so! 

How ridiculous all of this is.  Ridiculous that this proposition even made it to the ballot, especially considering our State courts have already stated that disallowing gay marriage is unconstitutional.  This is definitely going back into the courts which is only going to extend the divisiveness, the hate, and the pain being inflicted upon members of the GLBT community who have to face each day knowing that other human beings are considering them to be second class citizens without the right to love the person they choose and have that love be acknowledged legally in marriage.

Do any of you that voted yes on Prop 8 REALLY think that you will be keeping gay marriages from being legal for all time?  Really?  Do you really feel so strongly about the issue that you are willing to spend your time fighting against equality for all?  Is there nothing you could be spending your time on more productively?  Really?  How sad it is that you choose to spend even a second of your life fighting against love.  I feel for you.  I really do.  What a sad little life you have if needing to strip away the rights of others is a priority for you.  Sad and pitiful.  Shame on you, narrow-minded, hateful person, shame on you.

Transcript of Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comment” on gay marriage

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8.  And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble.  You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling.  With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.” 

I hope every woman in this country, whether they agree with Roe or they disagree with Roe, whether they themselves would make one decision or another, will come together and say: Prochoice means that the Government respects the individual, and isn’t that really what our country is all about?~Senator Barbara Boxer

Today is the 35th anniversary of one of the most important legal decisions for women in our country, and one well worth taking time to acknowledge. Unfortunately it’s quite easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that Roe v. Wade will always hold firm, but there are many people opposed to a woman’s constitutional right to privacy and to her right to make her own decisions regarding her health and safety. We must remain vigilant against the chipping away of women’s rights by anti-choice groups and their ability to work their viewpoints into our government and legal system. Happy Anniversary, women!

From Planned Parenthood:

35th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade Decision

The 35th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion nationwide, is one of the most powerful reminders that the struggle to protect women’s health and safety continues. Reproductive freedom is still a political target for extremists, and the battle isn’t just being waged over abortion, but over access to contraception and medically accurate sex education.The best way to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies is to make contraception accessible and affordable and provide young people with comprehensive sex education that helps them make responsible decisions about their reproductive health.

To commemorate 35 years since Roe, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Planned Parenthood’s advocacy and political arm, is launching a One Million Strong Campaign to mobilize people who care about women’s health and get one million people to the polls in 2008.

With One Million Strong, Planned Parenthood Action Fund will

  • make women’s health issues a campaign priority for all the candidates
  • and defeat ballot initiatives in communities across America

Visit the Planned Parenthood Action Fund website today to find out more about how you can become involved and join the campaign.

For more information background on Roe v. Wade and its impact over the past 35 years, refer to the links below:

It goes without saying that we should celebrate and live Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of nonviolence, coexistence, and civil rights for all, each and every day of the year, and not just just on his birthday (today) or on the federal Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrated the 3rd Monday of each January (this year 1/21/08). That being said, and considering the headlines of the past few days regarding the Clinton and Obama camps divisive comments regarding race (don’t get me started on that mess), I think that taking at least today and MLK Day to reflect on the mission and life’s work of MLK, Jr., is something we ALL would be advised to do. One would hope that this introspective reflection would continue well past these two celebratory days set aside to give thanks and appreciation to MLK, and become an integral and commonplace part of each of our lives. There truly is so much joy to be had in reveling in the diversity of us all.

Here is the post I did last year on this day. Peace. 🙂

MUST SEE: A reminder of Martin Luther King’s message

I think we all need a reminder of the message behind the day, behind the man. Here are a couple videos WELL worth a look. Also included is a link to the History Channel’s page dedicated to Dr. King, and a link to the lyrics of “Where is the Love?”, which is the song by the Black Eyed Peas playing over the images in the first video. Peace.

Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Would love to write a more in-depth blog entry on the fantastic Make It Right organization, but don’t seem to be able to find the time and am worried I’ll forget to post about it at all. I first heard about it a couple nights ago when Brad Pitt (founder of Make It Right) was the hour-long guest on Charlie Rose on PBS (clips/link to the interview are offered below). Here’s some information from the Make It Right web site that will help you understand their vision:

In December 2006, Brad Pitt convened a group of experts in New Orleans to brainstorm about building green affordable housing on a large scale to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Having spent time with community leaders and displaced residents determined to return home, Pitt realized that an opportunity existed to build houses that were not only stronger and healthier, but that had less impact on the environment.

Previously, Pitt sponsored an architecture competition organized by Global Green with the goal of generating ideas about how to rebuild sustainably. Several of those designs are currently under construction in the Lower 9th Ward and the project inspired him to expand his efforts.

After discussing the hurdles associated with rebuilding in a devastated area, the group determined that a large-scale redevelopment project focused on green affordable housing and incorporating innovative design was indeed possible.

The group settled on the goal of constructing 150 homes (one of the larger rebuilding projects in the city), with an emphasis on developing an affordable system that could be replicated.

To demonstrate replicability, Pitt determined to locate the project in the Lower 9th Ward, one of the most devastated areas of New Orleans, proving that safe homes could and should be rebuilt. Pitt hopes that this project would be a catalyst for recovery and redevelopment throughout the Lower 9th Ward and across the city of New Orleans.

Having listened to one former resident’s plea to help “make this right,” Pitt was inspired to name the project “Make It Right” (MIR).

While I’ve never been one of those folks to go ga-ga over Mr. Pitt (although he IS admittedly adorable!), I do have to say that after seeing the Charlie Rose interview I am incredibly impressed with Brad’s down-to-earth nature, the thought he puts into his answers, and his apparent genuine desire to truly improve the quality of life for others while at the same time respecting and bettering our environment. Count me in as someone who has now developed a healthy respect and admiration for Brad, and who also finds him even MORE adorable than before–beauty, brains, AND compassion! You are a fortunate lady, Angelina! 😉

Below are a couple of short videos clips of Brad on Charlie Rose, but for the interview in its entirety click here.

PART I-Brad Pitt on Charlie Rose-12/17/07

PART II-Brad Pitt on Charlie Rose-12/17/07

I received this email to day and urge everyone to follow the links and take action. Thanks!

 
  Take  action against hate crimes  
 

The Matthew Shepard Act is at risk!
Tell your lawmakers to protect the hate crimes legislation we’ve worked so hard for.

     

The Matthew Shepard Act could be abandoned by Congressional leaders unless we act immediately.

Email Congress today and stand up against hate crimes.

 

Dear ******,

I have alarming news. The Matthew Shepard Act – whose passage in the Senate and House required months of effort – is now in serious jeopardy of not making it to the President’s desk.

The hate crimes legislation we’ve fought for has reached its final step before being sent to President Bush, but some lawmakers are working to derail it. Right now there is a very real danger that the Matthew Shepard Act won’t even make it to the President for his signature or veto. If that happens, we could lose months or years of progress.

We likely have less than a week to act. Tell your lawmakers the Matthew Shepard Act must not be abandoned by the Conference Committee next week.

How can a hate crimes victory be so close and yet still so much in jeopardy?

Here’s what’s happening: Senate leadership employed a commonplace strategy with this bill. They calculated that the only chance of the Matthew Shepard Act surviving Bush’s veto pen was if it were attached to a “must-pass” Department of Defense bill. But now that House and Senate are reconciling their versions of the DoD bill, it is under attack from anti-GLBT conservatives against hate crimes legislation, as well as progressive, pro-equality lawmakers who oppose some of the bill’s provisions for the war in Iraq.

We cannot let the Matthew Shepard Act be abandoned when we have come so close to getting it to the White House! We only have a matter of days before Congress is back in session and the final decision is made. This issue is especially timely right now. Last week, the FBI reported that hate crimes rose nearly 8% last year.

You know how hard we’ve worked to pass the Matthew Shepard Act. Since April, hundreds of thousands of HRC supporters like you have bombarded Congress with letters and phone calls. You’ve enlisted friends in the fight, written to local papers, passed out postcards at events. You’ve given time and you’ve given financial support.

Don’t back down now – not if you care about the safety of GLBT Americans.

Ask your Senators and Representative to make sure the Department of Defense bill passes with the Matthew Shepard Act included.

Thank you, again, for your ongoing commitment to equality and justice.

Warmly,
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
President

Having trouble clicking on the links above? Simply copy and paste this URL into your browser’s address bar to take action today: http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/campaign/DoD_HateCrimes/

 
 
 
 
     

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketToday, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day, so I thought I’d post a little information from the Human Rights Campaign web site. For those who have yet to come out, know that there is support out there, sometimes where you’d least expect it. And for those of you like myself, who have “come out” as straight supporters of GLBT rights, keep your voices strong. This is an issue of common sense, common decency, compassion, and most of all love.

T.R. Knight PSA for GLAAD

From the Human Rights Campaign web site:

About Coming Out as a Straight Supporter (from the HRC web site)

A straight ally is someone who is not gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) but personally advocates for GLBT equal rights and fair treatment. Straight allies are some of the most effective and powerful advocates for the GLBT movement. These allies have proven invaluable personally and politically, and are increasingly important in the fight for GLBT equality. Indeed, their voices often have been heard while those of GLBT people have been ignored.

Coming out as a straight ally may be an extremely challenging experience, but many find that it is unexpectedly rewarding. Some may think that advocating on behalf of GLBT equality is solely the responsibility of those who are affected by the inequality.

But as straight ally Caleb Baker has put it: “U.S. Representative John Lewis once said that the next great movement in America would be the gay rights movement. His words make me remember there are white people fighting for black people’s rights in the civil rights movement. There are men fighting for women’s rights in the feminist movement. I would be greatly ashamed if there were no straight people fighting for gay rights in our movement.” (GLSEN’s Students and GSA’s Yearbook)

Like GLBT people, straight allies will find that coming out is not a one-time event, but rather a lifelong journey.

Opinion polls show that people who know someone who is gay or lesbian are more likely to support equal rights for all gay and lesbian people. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the same is true for people who know someone who is bisexual or transgender.

—————————————————————————————-

A couple of reminders…

Cyndi Lauper on The View discussing True Colors Tour 2007

Cyndi Lauper on The View singing “True Colors”

For your consideration on the topic of Columbus Day.

Videos:

Web site:

Transform Columbus Day Alliance

Book:

Ronald Takaki’s 1993 excellent read on the history of multiculturalism in America, beginning with the colonization of “The New World” and continuing through the Los Angeles riots in 1992. Thankfully I was required to read this book for a teaching credential course on the role of cultural diversity in schooling, but wish that everyone would take the time to read it of their own volition.

Abuse refers to the use or treatment of something (a person, item, substance, concept, or vocabulary) that is seen as harmful. The term can be used for anything ranging from the misuse of a piece of equipment to the severe maltreatment of a person.-Wikipedia

Today is BlogCatalog’s latest blogging challenge, “Blogging Against Abuse“, which aims to have thousands of bloggers internet-wide take part in blogging about putting an end to abuse of any sort. I only found out about this event two days ago, and really had no idea exactly what type of abuse I would write about since so many, especially child abuse and animal abuse, are worthy of attention. I had decided that I would allow my readers to peruse Wikipedia’s offering under abuse, and hope that in having just a few of the various forms of abuse staring back at them from their computer monitor, they might realize that we all (more than likely) take part in one form of abuse or another; from the abuse we inflict upon ourselves with drugs or alcohol to abuse inflicted upon others such as physical abuse, elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and animal abuse. Perhaps the one we think of less as an abuse is that of verbal abuse, however the sting and lasting effects of being lashed out at with hurtful, hateful, and harmful words can have as much of an impression as that of a physical blow.

While all of these forms of abuse are worthy of deep thought, discussion, and plans for constructive steps to be taken to end them, the one that is resonating most with me at this particular moment is the abuse of power. Mind you, all of the abuses I have already mentioned are abuses of power of some sort, but the one I am thinking of more specifically is the abuse of power in which government officials (elected or public safety) have been partaking far too long, far too often, and with far too many negative ramifications for innocent bystanders. Any reader of this blog knows my opinions on this horrific, no-end-in-sight war, my frustration with the non-action by our government before/during/after Hurricane Katrina, and my absolute and total disgust with George W. Bush and his cohorts in crime. George and his cronies are the epitome of the abuse of power and their ability to have duped the American public for so long, and to underhandedly mold the laws of our land to fit the shape and the ideal of what THEY think it should be, regardless of the will of the people, simply astounds me.

I just finished watching the movie Bobby, by Emilio Estevez, and it was Robert F. Kennedy’s brilliant speech, “On the Mindless Menace of Violence”, played over the last scenes of the movie, which gave me that mental and emotional push to choose abuse of power as my topic to blog about for this “Blogging Against Abuse” event. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I had never heard that particular speech before, but it is truly one of the most touching, insightful, and beautiful stringing together of words and mental imagery that I have ever come across. The connection between abuse of power (be it citizen-to-citizen or government official-to-citizen) and the violence RFK spoke of is obvious, and unfortunately one that continues today, and sadly one that will probably always remain in one form or another unless we all take the time to search inside ourselves to see if we are guilty of planting even the tiniest seed of abuse in any form, which could ultimately lead to the flowering of abuse of other sorts.

Please take a few moments to watch this video I found which contains the audio of Robert Kennedy giving his “On the Mindless Menace of Violence” speech over some gripping and heart wrenching images. They are truly words and images which are bound to give you pause for thought. And that pause for thought, my friends, is where change begins.

On the Mindless Menace of Violence

Robert F. Kennedy

City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

“Among free men,” said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs.”

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

(***UPDATE 9/27/07: GREAT NEWS: Amendment added!!!***)

It is expected that the U.S. Senate will finally be voting on The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act/Matthew Shepard Act (H.R. 1592 / S. 1105) TOMORROW! It is vital that you contact your Senators TODAY to remind them that you are one of their constituents, that you strongly support this very important hate crimes bill legislation to protect ALL people, and that you fully expect them to do the same despite the fact that George W. Bush has vowed to veto the bill. Please DO YOUR PART to make sure prejudice and bigotry is not allowed to flourish in our country by contacting your Senators and spreading the word to others.

From The Matthew Shepard Foundation:

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the Matthew Shepard Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense bill to ensure that all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability deserve to be free from violent crimes committed because of hatred and bias.

Please call your Senators NOW and ask for him/her to the vote for the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act.

URGENT: CONTACT YOUR SENATORS NOW!
CALL (202) 224-3121
& ask for your Senators office

Ask for their support of the Matthew Shepard Act and let them know that all Americans regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability deserve to be free from violent crimes committed because of hatred and bias.

From HRC Backstory:

BREAKING NEWS: Senate vote on hate crimes bill expected on Thursday

September 25, 2007 4:36PM
Chris Johnson

This afternoon, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), one of the lead sponsors of the Senate hate crimes bill, took to the Senate floor to urge the Senate to pass the hate crimes bill (S. 1105) and for President Bush to sign the legislation into law. Earlier today, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) filed a cloture motion on the hate crimes bill, a procedural move to overcome Senator McCain’s objection to bringing the amendment to the floor. Our side must achieve 60 votes on the cloture motion to win; that vote is scheduled for Thursday. The Senate should then move towards passages of the hate crimes bill as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.

Senator Kennedy’s prepared statement on the Senate floor can be read here.

Senator Kennedy Speaks On Hate Crimes

From the Human Rights Campaign web site:

Hate Crimes Affect More than Just the Individual Attacked
All violent crimes are reprehensible. But the damage done by hate crimes cannot be measured solely in terms of physical injury or dollars and cents. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target a whole group and not just the individual victim. Hate crimes are committed to cause fear to a whole community. A violent hate crime is intended to “send a message” that an individual and “their kind” will not be tolerated, many times leaving the victim and others in their group feeling isolated, vulnerable and unprotected.

The Truth About Hate Crimes Laws

Related articles/information:

  • Complete text of Senator Kennedy’s statement on the floor of the US Senate regarding The Matthew Shepard Act
    • Hate crimes are a form of domestic terrorism. They send the poisonous message that some Americans deserve to be victimized solely because of who they are. Like other acts of terrorism, hate crimes have an impact far greater than the impact on the individual victims. They are crimes against entire communities, against the whole nation, and against the fundamental ideals on which America was founded. They are a violation of all our country stands for.
  • Fabricated fears about hate crime legislation (Cornel West and Sylvia Rhue Op-Ed piece from The Boston Globe)
    • The truth is that the Matthew Shepard Act protects all First Amendment rights. And, although that is a given, this bill goes out of its way to protect the free speech of ministers. Those pastors who wish to continue condemning and dehumanizing the gay community will be free to do so.
  • Hate Crimes and Justice in the Black Community (Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the Huffington Post)
    • The proposed federal statute does not punish nor prohibit free expression of one’s religious beliefs. The hate crimes bill includes language protecting individuals from race-based and religion-based crimes as well. The Act protects first Amendment rights for everyone while ensuring that the authorities fully investigate all violent crimes intended to degrade and oppress their victims. The bill protects our children, because black youth are disproportionately targeted and victimized in anti-gay hate crimes.
  • Transcript: Judy Shepard Urges Passage of Hate Crimes Law (NOW on pbs.org)
    • HINOJOSA: So right now the House has already passed the bill. And the Senate is—is set to vote on it shortly. But President Bush is expected to veto the bill. The White House has said that state and local criminal laws already cover the new crimes that are defined under the bill. So—the—basically—the President is saying this kind of legislation just isn’t necessary. So what do you say to that?
    • SHEPARD: It’s very disheartening when the leader of our nation goes on national T.V. and says that gay people aren’t—aren’t deserving of every—every equality that everyone else is. I’m very disappointed that they don’t see the difference, if nothing else than the message that it sends, that we need to protect—all of our citizens. Everyone is a race. Everyone is a sexual orientation. It just gives permission for people to continue to harass sexual orientation until we mark them as protected.
  • Senator Kennedy press release on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007
    • Crimes motivated by hate because of the victim’s race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, disability, or gender are not confined to the geographical boundaries of our great nation. The current conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Ireland, the ethnic cleansing campaigns in Bosnia and Rwanda, or the Holocaust itself demonstrate that violence motivated by hate is a world-wide danger, and we have a special responsibility to combat it here at home.
  • Support for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007

I am so shocked, disappointed, and disgusted by what went down yesterday with OUR Senate, OUR government, OUR system of free speech, and the blinders that Americans seem to be wearing in regard to what exactly it is that Bush and his cronies are doing to OUR country, that I don’t even know how to put it into words. Are Americans so clueless that they don’t see that the minute the anti-war movement gains any sort of substantial ground, Bush & Crew pull some ridiculous BS, and typical sleight-of-hand out of the closet to take the focus off of all they are doing wrong. And for Bush to say in his press conference that HE was disgusted by the MoveOn.org ad, well Georgie Boy I’m beyond totally disgusted by what YOU and your regime are doing to MY country, and MY freedoms. The nerve of you to say that YOU are disgusted, considering everything you have done. Disgusted. I’M just totally disgusted.

I’ll allow Keith Olbermann to try and sort this latest disaster out for me in his usual intelligent and eloquent manner:

Here is a link to how the vote went down on the resolution. Shame on you to my senator, Dianne Feinstein, for voting in favor of it. Shame on you.

Here are some items from MoveOn.org, a group I hope those of you who are not currently involved with WILL join. We need SOME sort of group that helps us get our voices, our concerns, and our thoughts out there. Goodness knows our elected officials aren’t doing it.

George Bush: A Betrayal of Trust

Here is an email MoveOn.org sent out to its members after yesterday’s asinine resolution:

Dear ******,

The U.S. Senate just told you to sit down and be quiet when they passed a Republican amendment condemning MoveOn.1

Every day, our brave men and women are dying in a bloody civil war this Senate has done nothing to stop. Yesterday, they couldn’t even pass a bill to give soldiers adequate leave with their families before redeploying.2 But they’re spending time cracking down on a newspaper ad?

So, we’re making clear where America stands. We’re releasing a statement from MoveOn members—and anyone else who feels the same way—saying, “We will not be quiet, we will fight back. We will keep speaking out until Congress forces an exit plan for this awful war.”

Clicking here will add your name:

http://pol.moveon.org/fightback/o.pl?id=11268-3414425-KnI3_g&t=3

Maybe you liked our General Petraeus ad.3 Maybe you thought the language went too far. But make no mistake: this is much bigger than one ad.

It’s part of a larger campaign by Fox, the right-wing echo chamber, and Republicans like John McCain (who said we should be “thrown out of the country”).4

They’re doing it because they’re hurting: Polls show last week’s Bush Administration PR blitz increased the number of Americans favoring withdrawal5 and vulnerable Republicans are sinking lower and lower in the polls (or announcing their retirement).

And it has one purpose: to intimidate all of us. To send a message that anyone who speaks unpleasant truths about this war will pay. To make everyone—especially politicians—think twice before they accuse the administration of lying.

If it looks like we’re on the run, people will think twice before they speak out. Will you send a message today to Dick Cheney, Fox, Bill O’Reilly, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Karl Rove—and the Democrats without the guts to vote against this—that it’s not working?

We’ve changed our home page to just run the names of people who sign on. We’ll report the totals to the media all day. And if we can find an electronic billboard in Washington, D.C., we’ll run the names there, too.

And after you add your name, you can go one step further. We’ve put together a fair but hard-hitting ad that highlights how, yesterday, Republicans blocked a bill to give our troops adequate family leave before going back to Iraq. If we can raise enough money, we’ll air this ad across the country and take the fight back to the real issues—this terrible war and its impact on our troops and the Iraqi people.

Clicking here will add your name to our statement:

http://pol.moveon.org/fightback/o.pl?id=11268-3414425-KnI3_g&t=4

This morning, the Senate didn’t pass an exit strategy for Iraq. They didn’t pass a bill to cover millions of uninsured Americans or combat the climate crisis. Nope—they condemned 3.4 million Americans for speaking out against the war.

Let them know them it’s not going to work.

Thank you for all you do, every day, to get the truth out.

–Eli, Aaron, Adam G., Adam R., Anna, Carrie, Daniel, Erik, Ilyse, Jennifer, Joan, Justin, Karin, Laura, Marika, Matt, Natalie, Nita, Noah, Tanya, Tom & Wes
MoveOn.org Political Action
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
PS. I will join MoveOn members tonight for a live webcast at 8:30 EST/ 5:30 PST. We’ll update this situation, talk about next steps, and answer your questions. To join in, click here:

http://pol.moveon.org/fight_back_call.html?id=11268-3414425-KnI3_g&t=5

Sources:

1. You can see the resolution text here and the roll call of who voted for it here. Absurdly, it claims that MoveOn “impugns the honor and integrity of … all the members of the United States Armed Force”—despite the fact that MoveOn includes hundreds of thousands of veterans and military family members, who’ve led our campaign to bring our troops home.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2988&id=11268-3414425-KnI3_g&t=7

2. “Effort to Shift Course in Iraq Fails in Senate,” New York Times , September 19, 2007.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/20/washington/20cong.html?hp

3. You can read the ad text and why we ran it here:
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2987&id=11268-3414425-KnI3_g&t=8

4. “McCain To MoveOn: Get Out,” CBS News, September 14, 2007.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2973&id=11268-3414425-KnI3_g&t=9

5. “Poll: Most Say Bush Iraq Plan Falls Short,” CBS News, September 17, 2007.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2974&id=11268-3414425-KnI3_g&t=10

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Pass ENDA Now!

I find it very disconcerting and disappointing that as a society we have to regulate those with no moral compass by passing and enforcing laws to protect against discrimination. Shouldn’t people with common sense, common courtesy, and any level of intelligence know how to treat others? (Yes, I often wear rose-colored glasses, but when it comes to discrimination and what I have seen perpetuated against others, I’m afraid rose-colored glasses just don’t work.) We had to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit employment discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or national origin, with the Age Discrimination Employment Act following three years later to make sure discrimination based on age would not take place. A couple of decades later we realized we needed Title 1 of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 to protect qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace.

Sadly, here we are in 2007 having to again take people by the ear, sit them down, and legislate to them what ought to be ingrained in the compassion, tolerance, and understanding (never mind common sense) section of their human nature. But alas fear, misunderstanding, and closed-mindedness take over the brain cells of far too many people who are in a position to make or break the careers of many in the workforce. Just as institutional racism took hold and has yet to loosen its grip enough, homophobic bigotry has placed its heavy hand inside the walls of commerce and has choked the life out of the livelihood of many.

With permission from the Human Rights Campaign, I am reposting some very important information from their web site, which I ask you to not only take the time to read, but to act upon. My sincere hope is that everyone (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and every other category in between) will realize how ridiculous the notion is that anything other than job qualification should come into play in the hiring/firing/ promoting of employees. IF someone is qualified for a job, and IF that person is hard-working and honest, then there is no logical reason to NOT hire/retain/promote that person. It should not matter how light or dark someone’s pigmentation is, which god they believe in (if any), whether they are male or female, how old they might be, or whether they have some form of a disability, nor should it ever matter what that person’s sexual orientation is, as long as they are qualified for the job. That’s it, end of story.

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Info Center

The problem. Qualified, hardworking Americans are being denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against – not because of their performance and abilities, but because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet those who experience this form of discrimination have no recourse under current federal law.

And state protections are few and far between. 31 states, it’s legal to fire someone because they’re gay; in 39 states it is legal to fire someone for being transgender.

Employment discrimination strikes at a fundamental American value – the right of each individual to contribute to society without facing unfair treatment. That’s why the Human Rights Campaign is working with its allies in Congress to pass ENDA.

What is ENDA? The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a federal bill that would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote employees simply based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It would reinforce the principle that employment decisions should be based upon a person’s qualifications and job performance.

What’s the current law? Currently, federal law protects against employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin or disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

What is HRC doing in the business community? In addition to advocating for the passage of ENDA, the Human Rights Campaign has been working with private employers to encourage them to adopt policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Partly due to HRC’s efforts, non-discrimination policies covering gender identity and expression continue to multiply. For example, a total of 124 Fortune 500 companies now include transgender people in their policies; this is more then 10 times the number that had such policies in 2001. In addition, exactly 49 of the Fortune 50 companies include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. (Exxon Mobil Corp. is the only company in the Fortune 50 that does not.) In fact, 433 companies in the Fortune 500 – or nearly 90 percent – include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies as of spring 2007.

More Resources:

Click the following links for more information:

vick-cartoon-dog-years.jpg

Joel Pett ~ MICHAEL-VICK-DOG-YEARS-HYDRANT-BAR-CAI-072307

Here’s hoping Tony Taylor’s guilty plea might be the nail in the coffin needed to put Vick away. Hey, a gal can dream, right? Of course the flip side would be if his other co-defendants follow suit and plead guilty, somehow hoping this might make it look like Vick had no awareness of what was taking place on his property. I think we’ve all seen such deviousness take place in the legal system before, so who really knows how it will turn out. Here’s hoping the truth prevails and there is some (belated) justice for the innocent dogs involved in all of this disgusting mess.

And how disappointing to read about the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s stance on the issue.

SCLC President Charles Steele Jr. said his organization prefers to focus on Vick’s redemption and plans to honor him for his community contributions at its convention next month in Atlanta. “We need to support him no matter what the evidence reveals,” Steele said.

I have had nothing but respect for the work the SCLC has done on the civil rights front over the past decades, and respect the right of folks to support the good that Vick has done in the past, but to give so little regard to the possible outcome of the dogfighting charges is something I don’t get, never mind it sends a message to others who condone dogfighting that it’s okay to do so. Yes, people make mistakes in life and should be given a second chance, but be honest about what you’ve done. When Vick admits his wrongdoing and makes redemption, then we’ll talk about support. (***8/7/07 UPDATE: SCLC backtracks regarding “support” of Vick.***)

And this train of thought just blows me away:

“We Support Vick a Human Being Over Dogs,” was the message of one placard to honking passing cars on Northside Drive.”

Say what?!?! You mean to tell me folks will ACTUALLY blindly support someone involved in dog fighting just because that person is a “human being” (a term I’d use very loosely for dog fighters), and TOTALLY disregard the actions of that “human being” because the victims are dogs?? Then again, these are the same folks in the article who think the NFL should be supporting Vick and attacking PETA and the HSUS. Ah, the mentality of some folks is such a continuous disappointment.

As I’ve said before, if Vick is shown to be innocent of the vile crimes the federal grand jury indictment states he took part in, then I will admit to being wrong. But until that time I am going with the evidence put forth, and the common sense notion (especially in light of Tony Taylor’s guilty plea) that there is virtually no way possible that Vick had NO CLUE, let alone no voluntary action in, the barbaric treatment of animals on his property. Guess we’ll have to wait for the trial on November 26th to find out, unless Vick and his cohorts decided to come clean and tell the truth before then–won’t hold my breath.

(***Added 6/19/07: LOGO will air a True Colors special beginning this Thursday, June 21st.***)

Thanks to a VERY generous and spontaneous friend (Thanks, Jackson ;)), I’ll be hitting the True Colors Tour 2007 when it makes its final stop in Los Angeles at the Greek Theatre on June 30th. Totally something to look forward to, for so many reasons (especially after finding out just today that The Cliks are rearranging their own tour schedule in order to add the last three True Colors gigs–woo-hoo!), but especially since it will be a incredibly memorable time spent with fabulous friends. Btw, the LA stop is SOLD OUT (Not sure if more tickets have been released or what the deal is, but TicketMaster is no longer showing the LA show as sold out), so I would highly recommend jumping on tickets for the other remaining shows NOW!

I’ll let the following Cyndi Lauper interview on The View fill you in on what the True Colors Tour 2007 is all about, and I’ll include links to the MySpace pages of several of the scheduled performers. I do have to say, though, that I continue to shake my head in disgust, dismay, and ultimately sadness, over the fact that so many people continue to harbor such hatred toward others just due to one’s sexual orientation. Sigh. Life is far too short, folks. Appreciate the incredible diversity around you (who on earth wants to be just like everyone else?), embrace it, and for crying out loud just get out there and enjoy the heck out of life!

Cyndi Lauper on The View discussing True Colors Tour 2007

Cyndi performing an acoustic version of True Colors

MySpace Pages

True Colors lyrics

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then,
Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there

And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Sniffin’ out the info

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