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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 »

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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 »

Unite the Fight will have a live feed from the “Meet In the Middle 4 Equality” rally in Fresno, CA, today at 1pm PST on USTREAM. You can also see videos from the 14 mile equality march from Selma, CA to Fresno, CA on Unite the Fight’s qik site. To see these folks marching for 14 miles in over 90 degree heat is pretty darn inspirational to me, and makes me very proud of them. Saw San Diego in the house, as well as Planned Parenthood, in this video. Also great to see folks representing us straight allies!

You can also follow “Meet In the Middle 4 Equality” by putting #mitm4e in the search box on Twitter for up-to-the-minute tweets.

Best of luck to everyone involved in today’s equality rally and march!

***Live feed for “Meet In the Middle 4 Equality” just went up @ 12:40pm PST…they’re welcoming the 14 mile equality marchers. :)***

Tomorrow is a HUGE day for those in California (gay, straight, trans, and everything in between!) who believe in equal rights FOR ALL, in this case the right for everyone to marry the person they love. Of course it isn’t JUST for those in California since this outcome will send a signal to the rest of our country and the world. Fingers crossed it’s a signal of equality and hope. Please watch the following video and TAKE PART in tonight’s vigils across not only California, but other areas of the country.

This anticipation of change is exciting folks, it’s REALLY exciting.

From Eve of Justice:

EVE OF JUSTICE

Candle

The Eve of Justice: Lighting the way for the Supreme Court

Chico Costa Mesa Delano Fort Bragg Fresno Kernville Long Beach
Los Angeles Mariposa Miami, Florida Modesto Napa New York Palm Springs
Palo Alto Phoenix, Arizona Riverside Roseville Sacramento San Diego San Francisco
San Jose San Luis Obispo San Mateo Santa Barbara Santa Cruz Santa Maria Stockton
Thousand Oaks Tulsa, Oklahoma Tucson, Arizona Tuolumne Ukiah Ventura Visalia

Wednesday, March 4 is the day before the California Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the validity of Prop 8. That evening, we’ll stand together and send a unified message to our fellow Californians, including the Supreme Court Justices, that individual liberties like the right to marry are guaranteed by the Constitution to everyone and cannot be stripped away at the ballot box by a bare majority. Just as important, we will give our love and support to all the families headed by same-sex couples who are threatened by the recent electoral outcome, as well as same-sex couples whose hopes and dreams of marriage and family have been frustrated by enactment of Prop 8.

To read the parties’ filings and the dozens of amicus ‘friend of the court’ briefs filed on behalf of Civil Rights Organizations, Bar Associations, Academics, Women’s Groups, Faith and Religious Groups, and many others go to http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/prop8.htm

March 5th – Supreme Court Oral Argument Hearing 9am to noon.

Television viewing: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/prop8viewing.htm

Local Public Viewings: Check your local city for viewing locations as they become available.

Equality should not be put up for a popular vote.

• Prop 8 is a radical and unprecedented change to the California Constitution that puts all Californians at risk.
• Prop 8 defeats the very purpose of our constitution, which is to protect minorities and to make sure the law treats everyone equally.
• This is the first time the initiative process has successfully been used to change the California Constitution to take away a fundamental freedom from a particular group and to mandate government discrimination against a minority.
• If prop 8 is upheld, the courts will no longer have a meaningful role in protecting minority groups or women, since any decision prohibiting discrimination could be reversed by a simple majority.

Nationwide/Statewide Sponsors of Eve of Justice

Marriage Equality USA Human Rights Campaign EQCA Join The Impact
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation PFLAG COLAGE National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Courage Campaign California Faith for Equality Progressive Jewish Alliance Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry, California Amnesty International Gay-Straight Alliance Network

 

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.” 

Today’s email from the Human Rights Campaign:

 
  Take  action against hate crimes  
 

The hate crimes bill has been derailed.

But we’re not giving up.

We’ve made huge progress already, and we’ll work tirelessly to get this legislation through in 2008.

Dear *****,

As I write this, I am filled with both deep disappointment and gratitude. I am disappointed because our fight for a hate crimes bill has been derailed, but grateful for the historic advances that we were able to achieve this year.

As you all know, we have made momentous advancements this year by moving the federal hate crimes legislation the closest it has ever been to becoming law. For the first time ever, in one year we were able to pass the fully-inclusive legislation through both chambers of Congress – a truly historic feat.

If you recall, the Matthew Shepard Act first passed the House of Representatives back in May as a stand-alone piece of legislation. It then moved to the Senate, where it passed 60 to 39 in September as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) attached the Matthew Shepard Act to the Department of Defense Authorization bill because President Bush had announced that he would veto a free-standing hate crimes bill. By amending hate crimes to this larger bill, Senators Kennedy and Smith thought that we had a better chance of getting the president’s signature. After all, Bush would have to veto the entire piece of legislation – hate crimes AND programs for his war in Iraq – to reject hate crimes protections.

But in a frustrating move yesterday, during the very last legislative step – a conference committee working out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill – we received word that the Matthew Shepard Act would be dropped from the final version of the bill. The hate crimes veto threat issued by the White House and organized opposition by House Republican Leadership cost significant numbers of votes on the right. Iraq-related provisions, which many progressive Democrats opposed, cost votes on the left. Moderate Democrats, many of whom voted for the hate crimes bill in May, did not want to test the President’s veto threat and risk a delay in increased pay for military personnel. All of these factors resulted in insufficient votes to secure passage of the bill with the hate crimes provision.

HRC coordinated a major final push to protect this bill. 40,000 HRC activists responded to our call and wrote to Congress. We helped organize a coalition effort with 120 national and local organizations. We held 11th-hour meetings with lawmakers.

Despite the anger we all feel that we fell short so close to the finish line, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we did succeed in moving hate crimes legislation the closest it has ever been to hitting the President’s desk for signature. And rest assured, the Human Rights Campaign is not done fighting. We are not giving up on efforts to find another legislative vehicle, in the second half of this Congress, to move the Matthew Shepard Act. Yes, we made historic advancements, but we will not be satisfied until we get a President who will use his or her pen to enshrine into our federal law books that violence against the GLBT community will not be tolerated in this country.

We have been a leader in the fight for hate crimes legislation for over a decade, and we’re not about to let this setback deter us. We will not rest until these protections are law.

We also can’t lose track of the bigger picture for 2008. On top of working to advance this bill and the rest of our equality agenda, we are already mobilizing around the 2008 elections. We are investing major resources to:

  • Elect local pro-equality officials who will be tomorrow’s national leaders,
  • Expand our majority in Congress – so that we will have the votes we need to thwart roadblocks like this – and
  • Elect a leader in the White House who would NEVER veto a bill protecting Americans from hate crimes.

These are the moments when your support counts most. Together, we’ll find the right path to victory. We know it is there.

Warmly,
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
President

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/

 
 
 
 
     

I’ve been meaning to post the video clip below since becoming aware of it about a week or so ago, but this nasty cold has me being on the lazy side. The video is the product of the witty, irreverent, right-on-the-money, and totally talented drag superstar Jackie Beat penning the lyrics to this hilarious parody performed by Rosie O’Donnell and Roseanne Barr opening night (11/6/07) of the New York Comedy Festival.

For those who haven’t heard of Jackie Beat you really DO need to check her out. Mind you, she may not be your cup of tea (not for the faint of heart and definitely not rated G ;)), but I enjoy the daylights out of her ability (technically his ability, Kent Fuher) to create some insane, fantastically funny, and quite often politically-biting lyrics (as is evidenced with the lyrics below and with her thought-provoking blogs on her MySpace page) and belt them out donning some of the most lavish make-up, wigs, and outfits you’ll ever see. I’m hoping to catch the incomparable Ms Beat soon after finally getting my fanny moved up to LA. Enjoy!

Rosie and Roseanne “I Got You Bitch” at Lincoln Center

I GOT YOU BITCH!

lyrics by Jackie Beat

ROSIE: They say we’re nuts and full of crap
Just one false move and we are gonna’ snap!
ROSEANNE: We’re big & loud, well-known and rich
Girl, do the math, to men that equals Bitch

BOTH: Bitch! I got you bitch, I got you bitch

ROSIE: Gay marriage causes such a scare
But you’ve changed husbands more than your underwear
ROSEANNE: If adopting children is so divine
How’s about I give you some of mine?

BOTH: Bitch! I got you bitch, I got you bitch

ROSIE: We need healthcare for everyone
ROEANNE: And to bring home, every daughter and son
ROSIE: When you’re under attack, I will be there so fast
ROSEANNE: Girlfriend I’ve got your back, I’m prepared to kick ass!
ROSIE: And when your voice cannot be heard
Just stand your ground and give them all the bird
ROSEANNE: Cuz what good is a voting booth
If we can’t stand up here and speak the truth?

BOTH: Bitch! I got you bitch, I got you bitch

ROSEANNE: I call you when things ain’t right
ROSIE: But not too late it’s a school night
ROSEANNE: I read you my blog you missed
ROSIE: It’s half past two, my wife is pissed!
ROSEANNE: I needed you, you disappeared
ROSIE: Frankly Roseanne, this is getting weird!
ROSEANNE: There’s no need to be so rude
ROSIE: Here we go, another feud!

BOTH: Not with YOU, bitch!

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”

(***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

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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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:

(***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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