Anti-Bullying Bill Clears Committee, Headed to Texas House

April 21, 2009

Good news from our friends at Equality Texas, who we partnered with on the recent Lobby Day event at the Texas State Capitol.

One of the bills designed to help defend LGBT youth in Texas, HB 1323, has cleared committee and could be debated on the Texas House floor as early as this week.   According to Equality Texas’s fact sheet on the bill, it would:

  • “add reporting standards for incidents of bullying in Texas public schools.   Specifically, school districts would be required to provide reports detailing the number, rate, and type of incidents of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, and discrimination against students.
  • require districts to adopt model policies on bullying and harassment.
  • provide for confidentiality, parental notification, transfer of the bully rather than the victim.
  • define and proscribe ‘cyberbullying’ and off campus conduct that affects the educational environment.”

The recent, horrific account of an 11-year-old who recently committed suicide after enduring bullying, including daily taunts about being gay is sadly one of a growing number of examples of how adversely bullying can affect our kids.  The bill not only seeks better and more comprehensive protections against bullying, but it also defines cyberbullying, which past state legislation against bullying doesn’t even address because of its relative newness.

Equality Texas suggests this sample letter in support of HB 1323:  Sample Letter

To find your representative, this page can help.

If you’re in Texas, please write today to help the bill get passed this session.

Advertisements

Are We In the Midst of a Marriage Rights Pendulum Swing?

April 16, 2009

After the last few years of ballot measures in which marriage was declared the sole domain of heterosexuals by a number of states around the nation, it looks as if more states are looking to follow the recent lead of Iowa and Vermont to allow LGBT individuals to enter into legal same-sex marriages.

In New York, Gov. David Paterson has announced that he’s seeking to introduce a gay marriage bill in the state House today. It is the same bill that was voted down in 2007, but the change in composition to the New York Senate — where Democrats now hold a 32-30 majority — may help it.

Next week, Maine begins to look at its own gay marriage bill with a public hearing that has gained so much attention that it’s being moved to the Augusta Civic Center in order to handle the expected crowds weighing in on the issue.

The Obama Administration continues to work to invite LGBT leaders and include these leaders in decision making roles.  Read Deb Price’s article in the Detroit News.

Stay tuned! More change is possible.  It is time.


Conversation with Paul Dodd about Sundays of Solidarity

April 9, 2009

Today, we invited Paul Dodd to talk to us about his experience of visiting a non-affirming church in 2004.

To learn more about Sundays of Solidarity and to sign-up, visit our SOS website.


Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

April 8, 2009

Atticus Circle is proud to join Military Readiness Enhancement Act (MREA) Legislative Team (MLT) and SLDN in the fight to guarantee equality for all of our patriots and make our military more effective.

137 US Representatives are now cosponsors of MREA and that number continues to grow. That said, there is still much work to be done. We have a unique opportunity to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” once and for all. We must counter the voices of opposition that are beginning to publicly challenge us and continue to make our case that the time for repeal is now.

One of the most effective ways to do this is by scheduling in-district meetings with our members of Congress. That’s right, you don’t need to be in Washington, DC to meet face-to-face with your representatives and senators!

You can build a relationship with your members of Congress and explain to them why repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is so critical for their constituents.

Members of  Congress will be heading home for an extended Easter recess starting this weekend – so now is the perfect time to set up a meeting!

Never participated in an in-district meeting? Not to worry! We’ve prepared (and attached) all the materials you’ll need throughout the process.

. Scheduling an In-District Meeting – a how-to guide
. Meeting Request Letter – if the scheduler asks you to fax/e-mail a
meeting request
. A Guide to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – a short and sweet, yet
comprehensive, guide to DADT
. Lobbying Tips – tips to keep in mind during the meeting
. In-District Meeting Report 2009 – to provide us with feedback
after the meeting

We’ve also included a list of the current cosponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283). If you see your representative on this list, you do not need to schedule a meeting with him/her – reach out to your senators instead!

We are particularly interested in the following states and members :

MAINE

Senators Collins and Snowe
ME-1 Chellie Pingree

MICHIGAN

MI-1 Bart Stupak
MI-4 Dave Camp
MI-5 Dale Kildee
MI-7 Mark Schauer
MI-9 Gary Peters

MISSOURI

Senator Bond
MO-8 Jo Ann Emerson
MO-9 Blaine Leutkemeyer

PENNSYLVANIA

Senator Specter
PA-3 Kathy Dahlkemper
PA-10 Chriis Carney
PA11 Paul Kanjorski
PA 12 John Murtha

VIRGINIA

VA-2 Glen Nye
VA-5 Tom Periello
VA11 Gerry Conolly

Progress is on the horizon, but it won’t come unless each and every one of us makes the case that the time for repeal is now.

HELPFUL DOWNLOADS:

A Guide to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Congressional Co-sponsors for HR 1283

Letter Template for Meeting Request

In-district Meeting Tips

In-District Meeting Report


Council approves Marriage in DC

April 7, 2009

More great news — this time from our nation’s capitol.

The District of Columbia Council voted unanimously in favor of legislation recognizing same-sex marriages from other states as marriage in the District.

“This is the march towards human rights and equality,” said Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent. “It is not the march toward special rights…and that march is coming here.”

Council members voted 12-0 in favor of an amendment to a bill introduced by Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat. Members also approved separate legislation that recognizes relationships that are similar to domestic partnerships in the District and have all “the rights and responsibilities of marriage” in another jurisdiction.

Another provision in the legislation allows the mayor to certify relationships that fall short of marriage as domestic partnerships in the District.

(source Washington Times)


Victory in Vermont!

April 7, 2009

Vermont has become the fourth state in the Union to legalize gay marriage! This happened literally minutes ago, on the heels of Iowa’s decision last week to extend marriage rights to LGBT individuals.

It happened in somewhat dramatic fashion — as promised, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas vetoed the bill after it passed both the Vermont House and Senate, and though the Senate easily overrode the veto by achieving a 2/3 majority, there was speculation the Vermont House could not reach that same 2/3 threshold. However, just moments ago, it did so with a 100-49 vote. If just one of those 100 House members hadn’t shown the courage to stand for LGBT rights, the veto would have carried, and LGBT individuals in Vermont would not have been granted the right to marry. Today, though, those 100 displayed courage and did the right thing, and we’ve doubled the number of states in the Union allowing gay marriage from this time last week.

Again, an incredible week, and a historic week. We’re obviously very, very happy for our friends in Iowa and now Vermont.


This Just In: Gay Marriage Now Legal in Iowa!

April 3, 2009

Amazing news out of the Heartland this morning: The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that gay marriage is legal in Iowa, as a result of a legal challenge of Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban. According to the USA Today article on its breaking news blog, “The court upheld a 2007 Polk County District Court judge’s ruling that would allow six gay couples there to wed.” According to the article, that ruling came as a result of a 2005 legal challenge.

This comes on the heels on the Vermont House of Representatives passing its gay marriage bill late yesterday — though not with enough votes to override a veto from the state’s Governor.

We are in the midst of a historic week for LGBT rights. It’s a proud moment for our nation that state Supreme Courts and legislators are standing up for equality.