Update on Gay Marriage in Vermont (and now New Hampshire)

March 30, 2009

The legislative action around gay marriage in Vermont — and now in New Hampshire — is getting more and more interesting by the day.

In Vermont, it looks as if both the state’s House and Senate will pass a bill affording LGBT individuals the right to marry, but Gov. Jim Douglas has said he may veto the bill if it crosses his desk without the 2/3 majority necessary to override a veto. As a result, he’s been getting a lot of letters and e-mails in the last few days expressing concern over the possible veto, here’s how to add your voice to the growing chorus.

In New Hampshire, the State House narrowly passed a similar bill several days ago, and the Senate will now take up the bill. As in Vermont, there’s concern among LGBT equality supporters that the state’s governor will veto the bill should it pass. Here’s how to contact him in case you want to let him know about your support for gay marriage rights.

Despite the encouraging developments in New England, there’s still a lot of work to be done in many different parts of the country to forward LGBT rights — especially where churches and faith communities are concerned. If you haven’t yet visited the new Sundays of Solidarity website, please take a moment to do so. This is an exciting new project we’re doing in conjunction with our friends at Soulforce, and it’s a chance to make a difference on a community level by engage non-affirming faith communities in honest and open discussions. While not every state is on the cusp of adopting momentum-changing legislation, conversations like the one we’re asking you to have are what will help bring every state to more reasonable positions on LGBT issues. Please help us spread the word, and please join us for our initial training session on Sunday, April 19 as we prepare to engage in these necessary conversations.


Let’s Start Talking: A New Initiative, Sundays of Solidarity, to Start May 17

March 26, 2009

Hi, friends!

We have an important announcement to make. Atticus Circle, along with our friends at Soulforce, have launched a new seven-week initiative starting May 17 called Sundays of Solidarity. The press release we just sent out details the project, but in short, we’re inviting members of both organizations and other supporters of LGBT rights to engage in dialogue about gay rights with faith communities across the United States.

Because countless churches across the country have publicly stated that “homosexuality is an abomination,” we have determined that it’s necessary to engage with those communities of faith directly, and start meaningful conversations about the importance of LGBT rights.

We’ll start actions on Sunday, May 17, and carry momentum for seven straight Sundays, all the way to June 28 — the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

If you’re interested in participating — especially if you have a non-affirming church in your area in mind — please register online, and make plans to join us for three short Sunday afternoon sessions starting April 19.  During these trainings, we’ll cover the basics of nonviolence, communications with the media, and what the Bible and science really say about homosexuality. The online registration not only allows you to participate; it gives you access to an online training site you can access 24/7.

We hope you’ll join us for this important work.  If we can make one member of a congregation feel safe or change the heart of a member by realizing how much their words of hate hurt, we will consider this SOS Action a sucess.  Help us spread the word and start conversations across the country between May 17 and June 28.

New Definition of Marriage … in Webster’s!

March 23, 2009

In case you didn’t catch this last week, even Webster’s is aware of the change afoot in how society is viewing marriage.

The latest dictionary definition from Webster’s includes same-sex marriage and gay marriage in the overall definition. Pam’s House Blend, one of our favorite blogs, notes that the definition isn’t sitting well with gay marriage opponents.

It’s certainly an interesting indicator of where society’s moving. While California’s taken the spotlight in the last few months with Proposition 8 and its curtailing of gay marriage rights, Vermont is quietly but quickly moving forward to become the third state in the Union to legalize gay marriage. Certainly, gay marriage has earned its way into the dictionary — it’s real, it’s legitimate, and despite the state-by-state debate currently taking place, it’s legally recognized, affording LGBT couples the rights they should have by pledging their lives to one another.

U.S. to Sign UN Gay Rights Declaration

March 19, 2009

Great news coming from an Associated Press story courtesy of 365gay.com — the United Nations has a non-binding resolution on the table, already signed by more than 60 nations, calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide. After the Bush administration refused to sign on to the resolution in December, the Obama administration has decided to support it, bringing the U.S. in line with all other Western nations approached about signing the resolution.

This clearly signals an important shift for the global view on gay rights, and we find it heartening that the U.S. is joining a growing group of nations in publicly pledging its support.

The Latest Poll from California

March 13, 2009

Many of us are waiting for the California Supreme Court to rule on the validity of Proposition 8, but in the meantime, this blog post from columnist Andrew Sullivan reveals some interesting new data on attitudes around gay marriage in California. While there appears to be a slight lean toward support for same-sex marriage in California (48 to 47 percent, with 5 percent undecided), the numbers of LGBT support increase dramatically for those who know or work with gay and lesbian individuals, while those who do not oppose same-sex marriage by more than a 2-1 margin. The percentage who favor no recognition for gay couples whatsoever, according to the poll, remains at only 19 percent.

What this means for supporters of LGBT rights is that momentum and public opinion are on our side, regardless of what the California Supreme Court rules. As straight allies, it means standing up for gay marriage rights and letting our friends and co-workers know that we support the rights of our LGBT friends and neighbors, and standing behind LGBT individuals and couples when they speak out. The more people we can reach, the more likely we are to defeat measures like Proposition 8 before they go to the courts, and the more likely we’ll be to see an eventual victory, should LGBT supporters have to get a new measure onto a future ballot to overturn Prop 8.

Video Update from Lobby Day

March 10, 2009

Here’s some video from last week — this is former Soulforce Media Director Paige Schilt with Atticus Circle member Stephanie Molnar, talking about their experience talking to Texas state legislators during last week’s Lobby Day event. The Equality Texas event, which involved a number of Atticus Circle members, involved nearly 500 Texans who talked face-to-face with legislators about their support for a series of bills seeking to give LGBT individuals, couples, and families in Texas equal rights.

Here are Paige and Stephanie talking about their experience:

The Latest on Proposition 8

March 6, 2009

As you probably know, the California Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday on Proposition 8. This report from the San Francisco Chronicle is grim; the justices’ comments indicate that they may be ready to uphold the ban on gay marriages in California. The article includes this foreboding passage:

“There have been initiatives that have taken away rights from minorities by majority vote” and have been upheld by the courts, said Chief Justice Ronald George. “Isn’t that the system we have to live with?”

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the justices are also expected to allow the 18,000 couples who married prior to Prop 8’s passage to remain legally married. Still, though, allowing people to vote on whether other people can marry sets a chilling precedent. It is a setback, to be sure, but we need to make sure it’s a rallying cry to make our voices heard, rather than a rebuke that silences us. We must continue to work to achieve equal rights for everyone regardless of orientation.