Dear Obama, why Rick Warren?

December 30, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, Illinois 60682

Dear President-Elect Obama:

Like many Americans, I was moved by your call for fundamental change in this election, and your victory indicates just how many Americans want change. I have also been encouraged that you have been doing work even before your inauguration to get the nation moved in the right direction, in order to bring the kinds of change we need.

As a member of Atticus Circle, a group of straight Americans who support equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, I ask you to include gay rights into your administration’s priority list once you take office.

Though the 2008 elections brought your victory, it also brought a series of stunning defeats for LGBT equality. Though California’s Proposition 8 is receiving the most attention right now, you’re no doubt aware of similar measures against equal marriage rights in Arizona and Florida, as well as an Arkansas ballot measure restricting adoption rights.

Your recent selection of Rick Warren to lead an invocation for your inauguration presents an additional concern for me and my fellow LGBT equality supporters. While I understand your aim to be inclusive and reach out to a wide variety of groups, I find Warren’s public support of Proposition 8 to be inherently divisive.

He essentially advocates making LGBT Americans second-class citizens, denied the right to marry whom they love. Those of us who support gay equality consider this to be the civil rights issue of our time, and Warren is a vocal leader in denying this group of Americans their basic civil rights.

I implore you to champion the rights of LGBT Americans upon your inauguration. For the last eight years, we’ve had a president who was unwilling to hear our call for equal rights. I’d like to believe that your presidency will be different, and that we can someday teach future generations about the gains for LGBT rights made during your administration. Please don’t let Warren’s presence at your inauguration set the tone for the continuation of second-class status for our LGBT friends and family members.

Advertisements

Recent news coverage 12.10.08

December 11, 2008

Another Action in Austin for LGBT Rights

December 10, 2008

Austin Rally 12.10.08

As many of you know, yesterday was Day Without A Gay — a national day of awareness for LGBT equality. Atticus Circle jumped into the mix of organizers. We especially liked that the day was built around the idea of what individuals could do to reach out to the community.

I spent most of the day fielding phone calls from the media. Atticus Circle posted a letter writing campaign on the Day Without A Gay website, encouraging gay and straight supporters of LGBT equality alike to write letters to straight friends encouraging them to stand up and support the cause. In many areas across the country, we were the only action listed, so a number of journalists called to ask me about the success of our campaign.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for us to tally all those who participated; however, we do know that over 200 people reached out to Atticus Circle because they received a letter from a friend urging them to sign up on our website.

People who opted to take the day off from their jobs as part of the national “Day Without a Gay” were encouraged to perform community service, and charitable organizations across the country reported that volunteers did indeed show up. In Austin, volunteers were encouraged to help out over at Out Youth.

Over 100 people gathered at Austin City Hall last night to rally around Day Without A Gay. The rally culminated the day in a collective way, and provided an opportunity to include people who could not, for whatever reason, “call in gay.”

Our first speaker, Meredith Bagley, Ph.D from University of Texas at Austin, referred to the Harvey Milk movie. Did you know that Milk earned $1.4 million from only 36 theatres in its limited release? It made the top ten box office list on its opening weekend.

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that this highly acclaimed film has taken on a new significance after the passage of Proposition 8. Activists called on Focus Features to pull the film from the Cinemark Theatres chain as part of a series of boycotts, because Cinemark’s chief executive, Alan Stock, donated $9,999 to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Bagley noted that is just one example of how gay and ally activists can have an impact on the economy. The impetus behind Day Without a Gay, after all, was to help illustrate the impact that LBGT Americans have on the national economy. The encouragement to “call in gay,” however, was tempered with the warning that not everyone could call in gay because of discrimination that still exist in a number of arenas.

A special thanks to all those who participated in Day Without A Gay. Grassroots actions empower more people to take a stand for equality. As we’ve seen with Join the Impact — and now with Day Without A Gay — people are talking more and more about these issues because of the energy being created. Different actions appeal to different groups of people, and because of the grassroots efforts of these actions, local organizers have been able to reach out to people in diverse and effective ways. Obviously, there’s still much work to be done, but Day Without a Gay showed me just how many people are willing to stand up for LGBT equality.


Getting Ready for Day Without a Gay Rally

December 9, 2008

I just heard from some of the other organizers of tomorrow’s rally at Austin City Hall, to cap off Day Without a Gay activities, and we have some great speakers lined up. One of my colleagues from Soulforce, who married in California recently, will be talking about her experience, the executive director of Equality Texas (which does great work) will be speaking, and we’ve even got a rugby player from our own Austin Valkyries appearing. I’ll be speaking too, sharing news of our letter writing campaign, where we’ve encouraged gay and straight supporters of GLBT equality to write a letter to a straight friend, asking him or her to stand with us in support of gay rights.

Remember, since the concept behind Day Without A Gay is to take time out to serve the community, we’re asking that everyone who attend the rally bring canned and non-perishable food items for the Capital Area Food Bank. And if you are able to call in “gay” from work and can spend the whole day in service to the community, there are suggestions available on the Day Without a Gay website.

If you’re in Austin, we’d love to see you at City Hall at 5:30 p.m.


December 10 is Day Without A Gay

December 4, 2008

On December 10, 2008 — for an event called Day Without A Gay — gay, transgender and straight ally community members will take a historic stance against hatred, by donating their time to a variety of different causes in order to raise public awareness of the need for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) equality in marriage and in other civil rights.

Atticus Circle is encouraging LGBT and straight community members alike to write to at least one straight friend, neighbor, or co-worker, asking him or her to take a public stand for LGBT equality, perhaps for the first time, by joining Atticus Circle. Check out website

The mission of Day Without A Gay, according to the event website, seeks to shift our strong feelings about injustice toward service, and calls for us to fight for equality by out-loving those who would deny us rights. The Day Without A Gay website allows the LGBT community and allies a platform to be active in the search for service by posting and searching volunteer opportunities.

We at Atticus Circle want to reach out to the straight community to participate in this event as well — the success of the recent Join the Impact nationwide protests show just how much support there is for LGBT equality, and Day Without A Gay is an opportunity to put that support into service.