Taking It to School: Atticus Circle Annnounces Shirts for College Supporters of LGBT Equality

August 17, 2009

We’re proud to announce a new campaign today for the fall semester, involving college students who want to make a difference in the ongoing campaign for LGBT equality. The Fine By Me T-shirt campaign, as this release details, is ramping up for the Fall 2009 semester by making the “Gay? Fine By Me” and “Gay Marriage? Fine By Me” shirts available for bulk purchase.

Since its inception, the Fine By Me project — now part of Atticus Circle’s overall mission of education on LGBT issues — has been inspiring conversations about LGBT rights and the need for LGBT equality. We’re hoping for dialogues to be created in two key areas — the recent momentum toward same-sex marriage from a number of states, and the re-energized discussion around LGBT individuals in the military, and the potential repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

If you (or a college activist you know) wants to know more about coordinating a shirt campaign on a specific campus, go to the Fine by Me website for more info.

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Kudos to a Senator and an Author

July 31, 2009

Two recent quotes caught our attention — one, from Senator Christopher Dodd, and one, from author Nora Roberts — that we thought should get your attention as well.

In an editorial published last month in the Meridien Record-Journal, Dodd talked about his evolving position on gay marriage. While formerly supporting a distinction between civil union and marriage, he now supports gay marriage, based on a better understanding of the legal protections necessary for all Americans. In the editorial, he stated:

“My young daughters are growing up in a different reality than I did. Our family knows many same-sex couples – our neighbors in Connecticut, members of my staff, parents of their schoolmates. Some are now married because the Connecticut Supreme Court and our state legislature have made same-sex marriage legal in our state.

But to my daughters, these couples are married simply because they love each other and want to build a life together. That’s what we’ve taught them. The things that make those families different from their own pale in comparison to the commitments that bind those couples together.

And, really, that’s what marriage should be. It’s about rights and responsibilities and, most of all, love.

I believe that, when my daughters grow up, barriers to marriage equality for same-sex couples will seem as archaic, and as unfair, as the laws we once had against inter-racial marriage.

And I want them to know that, even if he was a little late, their dad came down on the right side of history.”

Author Nora Roberts, in a statement of support for gay marriage for Equality Maryland, created a simple and elegant articulation of the essence of the pro-gay marriage position:

“Love is a gift. Marriage is a celebration of and commitment to that gift — a promise between two people. The right to legally marry should never be denied based on the gender of those who love, but instead honored, respected and protected for all.”

These statements are affirmations from two of the millions of people across the country who support LGBT rights — but the statements are particularly powerful and inspirational, and we’re lucky to have supporters like Sen. Dodd and Ms. Roberts within our ranks.


Domestic Partner Benefits: A Critical Part of Our Fight

June 19, 2009

You may have run across yesterday’s news accounts, such as this one in the Washington Post, about President Obama’s decision to award some domestic partner benefits to federal employees. You also may have read accounts, such as this Reuters release of a Politico story, that detail continued criticisms of Obama for not doing more to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Here in Texas, we’ve been working on this issue with a coalition of state university workers who want to secure domestic partner benefits for university employees. The term accurately describing what we’re seeking is “competitive insurance benefits.” In other words, if we don’t secure the same sorts of insurance benefits that more progressive university systems have arrived at, we risk losing talented LGBT members of university faculties and staffs to schools in other states.

President Obama, to be fair, is attempting to address the concerns that LGBT federal employees. Because health care is tied so closely to employment in our current system, LGBT workers with families to support must factor in employers’ views on health care for domestic partners when looking for work or deciding to stay with a particular employer. Married couples don’t have to take those same sort of factors into account, because federal law protects them. Under the current system — a system with includes the Defense of Marriage Act and its limitations on same-sex partners, even those who are legally married in the handful of states currently allowing and recognizing those marriages — there is a separate and unequal system in place that ultimately impacts many families. Certainly, that double standard is as unacceptable as any other form of discrimination — be it based on gender, race, or sexual orientation.


An Editorial Worth Reading

June 16, 2009

From today’s New York Times, an excellent editorial (alerted to us from Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry), with disheartening news about how President Obama may actually be working against the LGBT equality movement.

It’s heartening to see supportive editorials from the likes of the New York Times’ editorial board, as we work in our continued efforts to secure basic rights for our LGBT friends, neighbors, and family members. This year has brought with it a remarkable set of victories and setbacks around the issue of same-sex marriage, leading us to believe that we are in a milestone year for this particular issue. The more attention called to the issue, the more likely we are to ask the fundamental questions at the heart of this debate.

As our founder Anne Wynne wrote last month, in response to the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8:

“I know a number of the couples who were married in California last year. They weren’t getting married as a way to subvert or mock marriage – they were getting married for the very reasons my husband and I got married. They wanted to declare their love and commitment to one another, whether in the presence of just an officiant or in front of family and friends. They were thinking about being parents, and gaining the legal rights and provisions that will help them be more effective parents. They were thinking about taking care of one another as a family.

Preventing same-sex couples from marrying doesn’t prevent these couples from raising children, forming family bonds, or from relying on each other’s emotional as well as financial support. Instead, measures like Proposition 8 merely create obstacles for a growing number of families.”

Unfortunately, the Defense of Marriage Act is ultimately creating the same sorts of obstacles. The issues raised in this editorial should be of concern to anyone who put faith in President Obama to champion necessary changes in laws pertaining to same-sex marriage.


Same-Sex Marriage Map

June 3, 2009

Another reason to love NPR: an excellent state-by-state map covering same-sex marriage rights, bans, and current legislation or court cases which may change the status in that state.


A Victory in New Hampshire, and a Victory (Of Sorts) in Nevada

June 3, 2009

This just in! After a disappointing, recent hiccup in the conversation over same-sex marriage in New Hampshire, the state legislature has passed a bill that will legalize same-sex marriage and address the earlier concerns of Gov. John Lynch.

According to the article, Lynch “had promised a veto if the law didn’t clearly spell out that churches and religious groups would not be forced to officiate at gay marriages or provide other services.” The revised version of the bill has addressed those concerns, and once Lynch signs it later today, will make New Hampshire the sixth state allowing gay marriage.

There’s also mildly good news out of Nevada this week — you may have heard by now that Nevada has a new domestic partnership law, by a 2/3 majority, which was necessary in order to override the veto from Gov. Jim Gibbons.

According to the article, “The move makes Nevada the 17th state to recognize the relationships of gay men and lesbians, creating the registry with the secretary of state by which couples receive legal protections associated with marriage.”

While this is a step in the right direction, the new law doesn’t require employers to provide health benefits to domestic partners of employees — which, to us, is one of the most fundamental rights that comes with marriage.

However, as as this excellent Reno Gazette-Journal article details, this law clears the way for same-sex couples to legally adopt children, and even spells out child support requirements if the couple splits up.

Ultimately, though, even with its flaws, the Nevada law is a step in the right direction, and New Hampshire’s good news most certainly is.


Prop 8 Upheld, But Same-Sex Marriages Upheld as Well

May 26, 2009

And the battle will continue in California.

It was just announced that the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, though it also said that the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in California last year would continue to have their marriages legally recognized.

Here are the thoughts of Atticus Circle founder Anne Wynne on the decision:

“While we’re disappointed in the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage, we know this isn’t the final word in the debate over equal rights in California.

Recent victories for same-sex marriage rights in Iowa, Vermont, and Maine indicate to us that attitudes are evolving, and more and more people are beginning to understand LGBT couples deserve the same protections and rights that straight couples enjoy.

While the ruling disappoints us, we are glad that the Court decided to legally recognize the marriages of the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who were allowed to legally marry in California last year. We are hopeful that more LGBT couples in California will someday be able to exercise the right to marry those they love.

As straight supporters of LGBT rights, we in Atticus Circle will continue to speak out in support of LGBT couples and families, who are just as deserving of the basic legal rights that straight couples and families receive through marriage.”

If you’re looking for an immediate action, there are rallies happening across the country — check out this wiki site for the rallies taking place in your state.