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Posts Tagged ‘marriage equality’

Happy Spring! It’s About Time

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s a beautiful day in Washington and the city is buzzing with activity.

Congress is voting on health care. I’m sorry my Hill friends have to work this weekend, but it comes with the territory and I’m sure they understand the importance of it. You can follow all the drama on Twitter, which, let’s face it, really is the best way to get information for events that are unfolding. There’s also a march happening today in support of health care reform. I firmly believe we’ll be getting some kind of reform in the coming weeks. Is it a good bill? Meh. But, this is where we are. Let’s get it through and slog through the awful process to fix it. Baby steps, I guess.

DC gays are getting married this weekend here too. They’re trying to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest same-sex wedding ceremony. Congrats to you all! I love living in a city where this is law.

The Young Feminist Leadership Conference is happening in Washington this weekend, too. This should be a good one.

And, the weekend is going to be capped off with a march for immigrant rights. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend, but I hope my brothers and sisters marching know that I am there with them in solidarity. Like health care, this country needs to seriously reform its immigration policy.

And, where will I be this weekend? Enjoying one, possibly two bbq’s. It’s my first for the season and I’m so happy it’s here. Welcome Spring!

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Classy With a ‘K’

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s the only way to describe Nancy Elliott, an anti-gay legislator in New Hampshire. She described in extra graphic detail about how gay men engage in anal sex

We’re talking about taking the penis of one man and putting it in the rectum of another man and wriggling it around in excrement.

The comments were made at an executive session to repeal New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage equality law.

Klassy.

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Afternoon Tab Dump

December 30, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s been a few days since my last post and I’m working on a new one which will be featured on The Bilerico Project.

In the meantime, enjoy my first tab dump.

–The Mexico City municipal legislature approved marriage equality last week and this week it was signed into law. ¡Orale!

–Justice Sotomayor graces the cover of Latina magazine this month.

–The pro-abstinence folks are relentless. President Obama cut off funding for abstinence programs when he signed the budget citing, among numerous reasons, that they have repeatedly produced dubious results. The new health care reform bill, however, includes renewed funding for the programs. Even the amendment’s sponsor, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), was surprised to see it survive the deal-making process.

–Finally, a local DC restaurant is hoping out-of-work reporters will be willing to spend whatever cash they have left on all-you-can-drink wine. I hope they have plenty of cases for the onslaught of unemployed journalists that are sure to stop in for several tall glasses of vino.

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Mayor Fenty Signs Marriage Equality Bill

December 18, 2009 1 comment

Well, it’s official. Washington, DC has become the latest city to fully recognize same-sex marriages.

At a signing ceremony at All Souls Unitarian Church, Mayor Fenty signed the measure into law. It is now off to the U.S. Congress for a 30-legislative day review.

It really is a great day for DC residents and an awesome Christmas gift to DC’s substantial LGBT community. The crowd was sizeable, the Washington Post estimated it at 150. Most of the Council members were in attendance, including Chair Vince Gray. Also in attendance was Harry Thomas, Jr. who at a rally earlier in the week talked at length about his support of marriage equality despite representing a ward that was vocal in its opposition. Such political risks are admirable and it was heartwarming to see him in the front row.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this long fight was the civility involved in the debate over this issue, at least among the Council members. On Tuesday, when the bill was passed, Catania gave praise to Council Members Barry and Alexander. Both members have long supported the LGBT community, but could not bring themselves to support this bill. He implored his supporters and the LGBT community in general to keep their support in other areas in mind and to try to, at the very least, respect their decision.

David Catania delivers remarks at All Souls Church just before Mayor Adrian Fenty (pictured, right) signed the historic bill into law. Catania was the marriage bill's lead sponsor.

Of course, our work is not over as we ready for a potential fight in Congress. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has already stated that he plans to introduce a bill that would bar the law from being implemented. Chaffetz himself has little faith that his bill will get anywhere in this Congress, as he told the Salt Lake Tribune, “It’s going to be exceptionally difficult because Democrats have us outnumbered by large amounts.”  Indeed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said publicly several months ago that Congress would not get involved. “The speaker is a longstanding supporter of marriage equality and of the District of Columbia making decisions for itself,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House speaker Nancy Pelosi to The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld.

I’m ready for this fight. I know the whole community is, but today I plan to celebrate. With Mayor Fenty’s signature, he has made Washington now, more than ever, a shining example of what cities across America should be.

(photo courtesy of HRC Backstory)

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In Sickness and in Health

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

(cross-posted from The Bilerico Project)

I’ve never been prouder to live in Washington, D.C. than this week when the DC Council voted to recognize same-sex marriages. Come next spring, D.C. will be this country’s only major city in which marriage equality is the law, Congress’ intervention notwithstanding.

It was with great anticipation that we attended a rally on eve of the historic vote, as my friends and I have been following this closely for the past year. It was inspiring to hear our elected officials talk about their support for marriage equality, especially the members who took a political risk for such support. I was also smacked with a dose of reality when I though about my own very long engagement to Jim. This is actually going to happen, I kept thinking. No more excuses, he is yours and you are his and you’re going to be married.

I think it’s a tad early to start planning any ceremony, and I know Jim would agree that our ceremony will probably bear little resemblance to any traditional straight ceremony, including the exchanging of vows. There is one tradition, though, I want to incorporate into our ceremony: the promise to support Jim in sickness and in health.

We have been together for more than four years now, but the last two years have been the most intense and integral years of our relationship. In this time, we have moved across the country, endured job losses, two hospitalizations and soon an up-coming marriage. I think my commitment to Jim is more than clear, especially when it comes to supporting him while sick. Now I get to express that commitment in front of the folks I love most.

It isn’t that I’m glad we have had to endure the battle with bipolar. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that our struggle to live with it has brought us closer together. There have been times when I thought I should leave because I was unequipped to deal with it. Other times, I was just so angry that this was a reality in my life. I was even incredulous to bipolar’s existence, though that was largely a fleeting thought.

Then the thought of being without Jim would surface and suddenly the bipolar disorder seemed less important, less scary. After all, what kind of a man would I be if I left him when he was at his weakest. Where was the passion in me to fight for those I love? Was a sickness going to keep me from being with the one person who made me happiest?

Obviously we have stayed together and we continue to learn from each other. We also continue to learn how to live with bipolar and how to cope with the inevitable ups and downs. I think we have both proven to each other that we are willing to stay with each other in sickness and in health.

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Marching Not the Only Event at National Equality March

October 3, 2009 Leave a comment

(cross-posted from The Bilerico Project)

A friend of mine visited Chicago recently and we were talking about his trip when he got back to DC. We chatted about various parts of the trip but the comment that struck me the most was when he said that upon mentioning the march to his gay friends there they had no idea what he was talking about. Then he asked me why the gays he talked to in the nation’s third largest city had no idea what was happening here in D.C. on Oct. 11.

Not knowing how to respond I said that I’m not on the ground in Chicago so I don’t know what local folks there are doing to publicize the national event. This news was troubling to both of us as we have been following this march since we both heard about it a few months ago.

Full disclosure: I was originally opposed to the idea of march on Washington when I first learned about it. I have since changed my mind and have even volunteered my time to help out with the D.C. host committee.

The exchange prompted a larger discussion about the whole march and whether it was a good idea. In the end, I wasn’t able to convince him that the march itself is a great idea, though he had always planned to attend since he lives in Washington and is with the movement on principle. He was convinced, however, that it was worthwhile for folks to attend, if feasible, because of the myriad events that will be taking place all weekend long.

Many of these events will be strategy sessions and grass-roots organizing workshops. I told him to think of it as a free conference available to anyone who can make it. We are all aware of how expensive conferences can be, but the best ones are worth the money paid because of the invaluable information received. Part of the idea behind this march is to bring together seasoned and new activists in order to learn from one another. Conferences are excellent for networking opportunities, making new friends and finding out the latest news about an issue. Indeed, learning about the events associated with the march is what sold me in the end and I was heartened when at the end of our conversation, my friend was also a new convert.

In several of the posts I’ve read here on Bilerico and on other LGBT blogs, there has been much pleading with readers to attend to show solidarity and to speak out. If you’re still on the fence, however, maybe learning about the other events happening that weekend and why they are important to the movement will help you make up your mind.

First, it is important that you understand why organizers have called for a march and the strategy for advancing the equal rights movement. From the Equality Across America web site:

Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states. We will accept no less and will work until it is achieved. Equality Across America exists to support grassroots organizing in all 435 Congressional Districts to achieve full equality. Many bills currently exist to address some of these issues, but we do not support a piecemeal strategy. We seek one federal solution to full equality.

The strategy:

Equality Across America is a network of decentralized organizers in every one of the 435 Congressional districts. These organizers form Congressional District Action Teams (CDATs) that will do the work on the ground in their own communities to achieve full equality. Each CDAT works not only toward national equality, but participates in their local and state struggles for equality in areas like marriage, adoption, and work-place discrimination. Equality Across America connects organizers from around the country so we can support one another in all of our work, focusing energy and resources in battlegrounds when needed.

Much of the criticism that has been lobbed at organizers of the march (it should be noted that while Cleve Jones has been the subject of much of this criticism, he is only one player and certainly not in charge of the event) is that it will be ineffective, it is a waste of resources, and nobody will be around to listen. Of course, those same critics have said little about what else will be happening that weekend.

“We always wanted this event to be a weekend planned around organizing, not big productions of concerts and social events,” said Robin McGehee, national co-director of the National Equality March. “We looked at the Saturday before as a time to capitalize on the grassroots organizing energy that is happening across the country and allow for people to not only learn or refresh skills around lobbying, phone banking, media work, etc., but, to meet other organizers and activists from across the country that truly want to organize in their congressional districts to bring about full equality across America.”

So, what exactly are these events I keep talking about, and what will attendees get? There are actually far too many to describe here, but you should visit the Equality Across America site for a full schedule of events. I will highlight a few that I think are definitely worth going to. You should note that some require registering so be sure to sign up soon.

There are a whole host of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell events which include a session called “Repealing DADT: Lobbying Tactics”. This training will take place at the fabulous HRC building and there is room for 200 of you who are interested in finding out best practices for lobbying your legislators. Other DADT-related events include a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetary and even a morning cadence run starting at the national WWII memorial.

A big part of what we’ll be marching for is to ensure a better future for LGBT youth. There are several youth-related events that will allow them to network and learn about how they can get involved to help secure that future. SMYAL, a local DC group, is hosting its leadership conference “Stand up, Get Loud” on that Saturday for youth age 13-21. Among the workshops included are those on developing communications skills, college/intern readiness and self-defense. The event is free and includes meals, but it does require registration. The Trevor Project is also sponsoring empowerment trainings and workshops for folks ages 13-25. For those college students looking to take home organizing skills, there will be a session solely on tips for organizing on campus. Again, all these workshops are FREE.

Ever thought of running for office? If so, you should sign up for the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute’s session, “Change Your Government from the Inside”. The Institute has helped hundreds of LGBT candidates run and win public office. Indeed, having more LGBT men and women in public office is one of the most effective ways to advance our cause. Equality Across America is also hosting Camp Courage, a grass-roots organizing workshop modeled after the highly effective “Camp Obama” trainings that helped elect a president. Those attending will be expected to commit to promoting full LGBT equality. This event already has 166 people signed up and organizers are asking for a small donation of $5-$10. Those interested in promoting a healthier relationship between faith and the LGBT equality movement should be sure to attend the “Workshop on Faith Communities & LGBT Justice Campaigns.”

There are several other workshops and events happening that weekend and you should visit the site for more information. Free conferences are not a regular occurrence.

Above all, remember that this march is an opportunity for the LGBT community, which for so long has suffered from disunity, to come together and strategize over how we will advance our cause in the years to come. Being on the same page about our demands and speaking with a united voice is far more effective than a disjointed movement. And, to effectively speak in that voice, we need to be prepared.The workshops will help us prepare and at the end of the weekend we march to the Capitol to make our demands, ready to go home afterward to start making progress.

“The march is not the end. The march is the beginning. We are hoping that our message re-invigorates the dialogue about LGBT full equality and eventually fulfills the dream of EAA [Equality Across America] – an organizing group in every congressional district – ready to lobby and remove people who are not voting for and promoting a full federal equality agenda,” said McGehee. “We are not expecting to wake up on Monday morning with a federal bill on the presidents desk to sign. But we do know that the more noise we make at the march, we have energized our young people, re-committed older advocates, and inspired groups of allies to make sure the issue stays top-of-mind until we all are equal in the eyes of the law.”

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