Mother’s Day for all Moms

May 8, 2009

parent \ˈper-ənt\. noun.1 one that begets or brings forth offspring 2. a person who brings up and cares for another.

Take a look in the nearest Merriam-Webster dictionary and you will find that “parent” isn’t defined in gay or straight terms – a parent is simply someone who brings up and cares for another.  Sadly, our society discriminates between LGBT and straight parents.  Because same-sex couples cannot legally marry, they cannot function as equal parents out in the world like their straight counterparts.  Here are a few ways discrimination affects the lives of the families headed by same-sex couples:

  • If the parents were to separate, a parent could be completely denied access to the child.
  • The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act allow married couples up to 12 weeks off to care for a sick child or spouse. The law does not extend these protections to same-sex couples because they cannot legally marry. As a result, if a child were to become seriously ill, her parent may not be able to take the necessary time off from work to care for the child.
  • Same-sex couples are denied many of the financial benefits of being able to marry, creating a smaller economic pool from which families can draw for their basic living needs and inevitably impacting the standard of living of the child.

LGBT parents and their children are not equally protected under law. This is why Atticus Circle is introducing two new campaigns this spring: “All Mothers’ Day” and “All Fathers’ Day.”  We want to ensure that every parent in America receives the recognition, basic rights, and “the pursuit of happiness” he or she is promised.

Our “All Mothers’ Day /All Fathers’ Day” campaigns work like this:

1. Sign up on our website. After signing up, we will send you two emails. One will have our “All Mothers’ Day/All Fathers’ Day Toolkit” attached. The other will be a sample of the e-card you will send to your friends, family, co-workers, etc.

2. We will provide you with a link to contact your elected officials.  We will provide you with a sample letter to mail to your representatives expressing your support for All Mothers and All Fathers.

3. Don’t forget: Mother’s Day is May 10 and Father’s Day is June 21.

4. Sign up for All Mothers’ Day / All Father’s Day

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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.


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:


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.