Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday State Sweep

Equality North Carolina's executive director, Ian Palmquist, was invited to the White House for a reception honoring Pride Month.

The Tennessee Equality Project's Grand Divisions blog discusses two types of incremental progress for LGBT equality, what we gain and what we lose.

Equality Florida and the ACLU will give a joint town hall and training on adoption, June 18 and 19.

Election Day revealed support for LGBT and pro-equality candidates in California, reports Equality California. Nearly all of their endorsed candidates won their primary fights.

TransOhio lists some of the presenters for their upcoming 3rd Annual TransOhio Transgender & Ally Symposium, August 13 - 15, 2010.


Empire State Pride Agenda emphasizes the importance of straight allies in the workplace through their Pride in My Workplace program.

A reading of the Prop. 8 trial transcripts will be performed June 18 and 19 at the Brody Theater in Portland. 25% of the proceeds will go to benefit Basic Rights Oregon.
read on

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Road to Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

from our allies at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, here is a guide to the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - cross-posted at their site.

REPORTER GUIDE: The Path Forward on the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), released a guide today on the path to repeal.


After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the U.S. Senate is now poised to take it up. An amendment that would allow for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was successfully attached to the NDAA in both the House and Senate.

Senate floor debate on the NDAA may begin as early as June 18, but it could come later.

SLDN and other repeal advocates will be working to shore up a filibuster proof majority, 60 Senate votes, to proceed to consideration of the NDAA. While this is traditionally a “must-pass” piece of legislation, the White House has threatened to veto the bill due to spending disagreements unrelated to the repeal of DADT.

Even with a filibuster proof 60-vote majority, SLDN and our repeal allies will be closely watching for any crippling amendments offered on the floor and a “motion to strike” that could allow repeal opponents to remove the repeal language from the defense bill.

SLDN is working closely with Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin to guard against any attempts to strike repeal or weaken its provisions.

For instance, we will vigorously oppose any amendment to expand the certification process in the “compromise." Opponents of open service may be considering an amendment that would require all of the Joints Chiefs to sign off on the certificaiton process. This killer amendment is designed to delay open service for years.


After passage in the Senate, repeal advocates will focus on the conference committee where staff work would begin shortly thereafter. The committee will be tasked with resolving any differences in the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. At this time, the language in the repeal amendment for DADT is the same in both chambers – a good thing.

With similar amendment language in both chambers, there will be little to resolve. However, SLDN does not under estimate the “Big Four.” The “Big Four” are the chairs and ranking members in the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Only one of the four supports repeal: Senate Chairman Carl Levin. The ranking member in the Senate, Sen. John McCain, and House Chairman Ike Skelton and ranking member Rep. Howard McKeon, do not.

The conference committee will produce a conference report and we expect a vote in both the House and Senate chambers on that report in September or early October.


Generally, the NDAA is signed each year in late October or early November. When the president signs the NDAA – with the repeal amendment attached – nothing would happen. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law. Service members will still be discharged. Read SLDN’s warnings:


On or before December 1, the Pentagon Working Group is required to submit its report to Congress and the Secretary of Defense. The working group was established to author a report on “how” to implement repeal, not “if” repeal should happen.


At some point after the Pentagon Working Group submits its report, the President would transmit to the congressional Armed Services Committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

(A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

(B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f)

(C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law at this point. Service members will still be discharged. Read SLDN’s warnings:


After the President transmits written certification to the congressional Armed Services Committees, full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be effective 60 days later.


Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would NOT automatically allow for “open service.” Policies and regulations to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly would need to be written and put in place. SLDN will also encourage the President to issue an executive order protecting service members from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network ( is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Elizabeth A. Shirey
Grassroots/Policy Advocate
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
read on

Monday, May 17, 2010

In Washington D.C. National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Leaders, Community Members Demand Vote on Employment Non-Discrimination Act

crossposted from

In Washington D.C. National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Leaders, Community Members Demand Vote on Employment Non-Discrimination Act
May 17, 2010
tags: Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, National Week of Action
by endanow

At Tuesday press conference, LGBT rights advocates will highlight congressional inaction on ENDA as part of National ENDA Action Week


Press conference to demand immediate action in both the House and Senate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a federal bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is part of a series of nationwide actions this week calling for a vote on ENDA.


Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director, PFLAG National
Frank Kameny, longtime activist who was fired from his job over five decades ago due to sexual orientation discrimination; 50-plus years later, he is tired of waiting for equality as he turns 85 this week
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Sharon Lettman, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition
Michael Mitchell, Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats
Gloria Nieto, California resident, former member of the Democratic National Committee, former executive director of the People of Color AIDS Foundation, currently unemployed
Liz Seaton, Director of Projects and Managing Attorney, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Peggy Shorey, Executive Director, Pride at Work
Terrance L., a gay man who has been closeted in previous employment
Donna P., a transgender woman from the Baltimore area who was fired from two jobs


Tuesday, May 18, Noon (ET)


National Press Club, 529 14th Street, N.W., Lisagor Room, Washington, D.C.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates have been lobbying for ENDA’s passage for years. There is more support for ENDA than ever before in Congress, growing every day. Congress needs to prioritize ENDA for passage to secure the most basic of civil rights, the right to work, for LGBT people. LGBT rights leaders and community members are demanding an immediate vote on ENDA and are sending a united message to Congress: No more excuses, no more delays: Pass ENDA now.
read on

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Round Up of State Blogs - Successes, Surprises, and Struggles

Fair Wisconsin takes on Marquette University after it rescinded deanship offer made to out lesbian, Dr. Jodi O'Brien.

A new Washington Post poll shows that Equality Maryland has something to be happy about, support for marriage equality has out-stripped opposition.

Equality Florida is following the train wreck that is George Rekers. He's resigning from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality Board.

Cancel Harvey Milk Day? Equality California tells us what the people who brought us Prop. 8 are up to now.

TransOhio lets us know about “Minorities Within Minorities” - The Black Gay Experience, coming up on May 20.

Basic Rights Oregon shows that they're busy around the state.

And Equality North Carolina thinks about Mothers' Day
read on

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's May - Whip Around the States

Students for a Fair Wisconsin reached out to faith leaders.

Small towns are leading the education effort for marriage equality, writes Basic Rights Oregon.

Indiana Equality has many good events coming up.

Equality California notes that the closing arguments for the Prop. 8 trial are set for June 16, 2010.

TransOhio's May newsletter is available online.

A candidate for Tennessee's 8th congressional district who wants to keep "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and laughed about "taking care of" homosexuals in the military, complains that he's being attacked by liberals.

Equality North Carolina reminds you that we need to push and lobby for ENDA.
read on

Friday, April 23, 2010

Week-End Roundup

TransOhio asks us all to help the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition pass the Transgender Rights Bill in the MA state legislature.

Equality North Carolina is collecting stories to make healthcare fair for LGBT people.

Fair Wisconsin holds a faith panel next week.

Inland Empire PFLAG president on Equality California's Marriage Equality Roundtable.

Basic Rights Oregon does the right thing on racial justice, invites everyone to the table.

The Tennessee Equality Project fights for sane sexual health education.

Empire state Pride Agenda sweeps the internet and finds some interesting LGBT content.

The Miami Beach Commission supports the Uniting American Families Act, according to Equality Florida, a bill that helps same-sex families stay together in the USA.
read on

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mid-Week Roundup

"You can't support equality and gay bait." Equality Texas calls out homophobic behavior by Democratic incumbent in primary race.

Equality Maryland introduces a new field director.

The Tennessee Equality Project looks at gubernatorial hopefuls positions on adoption.

There's more to celebrate in Florida than close (35 votes!) win in Gainesville mayoral election. Equality Florida tells us that an equality champion has won a seat in Congress in yesterday's runoff election.

Fair Wisconsin announces four-day intensive training by ally Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute coming to Minneapolis in June.

Empire State Pride Agenda follows up on teenager's suit against school district for bullying in their weekly sweep.

And there's more,

LGBT community marches in the San Jose Tet parade, reports Equality California.

Indiana Equality let us know that Judy Shepard will be giving a free and public talk in Indianapolis.

The Philippine Supreme Court has ruled to accredit a gay political party challenging a national election (from Equality South Dakota).

Basic Rights Oregon co-hosts an Elton John tribute night. It's a benefit, so break out your rhinestone glasses for equality.

Equality North Carolina congratulates Iowa on its first year of marriage equality.
read on

Friday, April 9, 2010

Has the "Truth Truck" Been in Your Town?

The anti-equality "Truth Truck" is in Annapolis Md. Equality Maryland has more. read on

Friday, April 2, 2010

State Roundup

TransOhio posts a call for works on transmasculine sexuality.

Indiana Equality posts a video on why it's time for a change.

If you missed National LGBT Health Awareness Week, read about it on Equality North Carolina's blog.

Equality Maryland follows the attempt of a House representative to impeach Attorney General Gansler for Gansler's opinion supporting marriage equality.

Equality California meditates on Cesar Chavez' legacy to all of us.

Empire State Pride Agenda swept the blogs last week.

Equality Florida urges members to take action to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by signing on to a letter to Senator Bill Nelson.

And the Federation made it possible for thirteen LGBT families from across the country to take part in the White House Easter Egg Roll!
read on

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Wrapup

Tennessee's Grand Division blog thinks about activism.

Want to phone bank for ENDA? TransOhio tells you how.

Equality North Carolina discusses Lambda Legal's latest report on health care for LGBT people. (Spoiler: it's not good.)

Empire State Pride Agenda gives an update on GENDA campaign.

Equality California posts the thoughts of a volunteer field worker.

Equality Florida covers the weird "family-friendly" film bill out of Tallahassee.

Indiana Equality has some upcoming media trainings.
read on

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Midweek Roundup

Equality Maryland celebrates marriage equality in nearby DC.

Empire State Pride Agenda's news sweep catches Harold Ford's decision to drop out of senate race.

TransOhio puts out a call for scholars to develop research on LGBTQI issues in education.

Basic Rights Oregon takes a stand against racism and police violence.

Equality North Carolina looks at changes in public attitudes towards lesbians and gay men in the military.

In Michigan Michigan Equality and Triangle Foundation announce their merger.

Equality Florida covers pressure on state to repeal anti-gay adoption laws.
read on

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010 Census is Nearly Here and It's Time to Queer It

If you've been watching the Olympics (and probably even if you haven't) you've seen the ads for the upcoming census. This enormous project has a huge influence on how federal money flows to the states, how civil rights laws are enforced and other crucial social and civil issues.

LGBT communities need to be part of the count

Equality Federation is a member of the Our Families Count Partnership which wants to bring more LGBT visibility to this snapshot of America. You can hear Che Ruddell-Tabisola, from Our Families Count on the Windy City Queercast on why it's important for all of us to get counted.

The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) has joined in partnership with the US Census and OFC to get their congregants and communities counted.

If you're on Facebook (and who isn't?) become a fan of Queer the Census. And be sure to be counted in 2010.
read on

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Roundup

This is Indiana Equality's weekend of Love is Equal dinners.

TransOhio is sponsoring the film City of Borders at the 34th Cleveland International Film Festival.

Equality North Carolina celebrates SAGE's new federal grant and ambitious new initiatives.

Basic Rights Oregon calls our attention to two strong trainings coming up soon.

And Tennessee's Grand Division has an interesting quote of the day.
read on

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Around the States

Equality Texas reflects on Creating Change and how to create change at home.

Equality South Dakota highlights NYT Op Ed on the curious silence of the Right on DADT.

Equality California's guest blogger, one on the 18,000 couples married before Prop. 8, tells her heart-warming story.

Equality Florida notes panel discussion on employment discrimination. read on

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday State Roundup

TransOhio's February newsletter is available online.

Equality California remembers Lawrence King in the second anniversary of his murder.

Basic Rights Oregon offers an anti-racism toolkit for LGBT equality organizations and activists.

Equality Florida launches the Council of 1000.

And Equality North Carolina tell you how to oppose DADT. read on

Monday, February 8, 2010

Freedom to Marry Week 2010

It's the thirteenth anniversary of Freedom to Marry Week. in 2010 there are five states that have marriage equality - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The District of Columbia is on the way to join them.

Freedom to Marry has information about the celebrations going on across the country and a great FAQ about marriage equality.

Celebrate, tell your stories February 8 - 14 and every other day of the year for equality.
read on

Monday, February 1, 2010

Morning Around the States

Indiana Equality promotes a Mass Call Out to advertise LGBT resources at Indiana University.

The Tennessee Equality Project's Grand Divisions Blog uncovers opposition to transgender inclusive anti-discrimination policy at Middle Tennessee State University.

Equality Florida covers President Obama's speech in Tampa, supporting equal benefits for same-sex couples.

Empire State Pride Agenda notes the first Congressional Hearing on DADT in 17 years and an analysis of the Prop. 8 trial from

Finally Equality California and California Church IMPACT support a bill by state senator, Mark Leno, that allows clergy to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. This bill is expected to reassure those faith communities who are afraid that marriage equality will force them to go against their beliefs.
read on

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prop. 8 Trial - Defense Witnesses and LGBT Political Power

The defense has tried to show that the LGBT community has immense political power and influence. But skillful cross-examination by plantiff attorney, David Boies, shows that despite the progress of the last four decades our community is still vulnerable to majority communities: politically, economically, and physically. Follow the trial on liveblogs from the Courage Campaign or Firedoglake. Shannon Minter from NCLR provides an informed summary each day on Pam's Houseblend. read on

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Around the States

Equality Florida discusses candidates in upcoming Attorney General race.

Empire State Pride Agenda's Morning Sweep highlights weekend NYT article on the work of the Transgender Legal and Education Fund.

Basic Rights Oregon mobilizes to prevent cuts to services crucial to LGBT communities.

Equality California crossposts NCLR attorney Shannon Minter's analysis of the Prop.8 trial.

Fair Wisconsin applauds marriage equality support from Meghan and Cindy McCain.

TransOhio publishes call for panelists for 2010 National Women's Studies Association Conference. The panel, "Gender Performance: Transgender Perspectives,” will address conference thematic areas - Complicating the Queer and “Outsider” Feminisms
read on

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Prop 8 Trial Observer Looks at LGBT Political Power

crossposted from Prop 8 Trail Tracker
By Rick Jacobs - Chair and Founder of the Courage Campaign

The essential question coming out of Day 7 of the Prop 8 trial is clear:

What is political power?

Today, Gary M. Segura, a Stanford Political Science professor, convincingly testified about the relative political power of the LGBT community as a class of citizens, as well as the level of vulnerability experienced by gays and lesbians in the political process.

Segura first defined the differences between political power and weaknesses. He then showed that gays and lesbians do not have that much power, which is surprising to some. Protect Marriage attorney David Thompson is trying to show that gays do have power because we give money, have access to public figures like Speaker Pelosi, have marriage in a few states and raised $43 million against Prop 8.But juxtapose this with the amazing revelation of documents earlier this afternoon that show how clearly the Mormon and Catholic Churches coordinated and ran the field campaign for Prop 8. We knew the churches were involved deeply, but now we see that they essentially made the campaign work.

The summary from both sides reduces to this: After 30 years, we have a hate crimes bill. And even though Mr. Thompson keeps touting the Human Rights Campaign’s own writings promoting HRC, we see that we have little real power.

Let’s look at the record:

1. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a gift of the Clinton Administration; there is no sign that President Obama is going to move to repeal it anytime soon, especially after the Coakley defeat last night.

2. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was a gift of the Clinton Administration. We still have no commitment from President Obama or the Democratic leadership in Congress that this will be repealed and certainly not when.

3. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) languishes somewhere between the House and grey skies.

4. We have lost 33 out 34 ballot fights and 75% of the 200 or so initiatives that have been waged against us.

As Mr. Thompson for the defense inadvertently points out by having played excerpts from Obama’s speech, the gays get politicians to show up and get invited to parties. But nothing happens. We see that the hundreds of millions of dollars that the LGBT community has spent has not resulted in very little real power — the kind of power that can actually conjure fear in the minds of elected officials. As a friend and senior advisor to Obama remarked to me recently, not one federal office holder worries in the least about what the gay community says or does.

Professor Segura made clear that the foregoing is not necessarily true for Latinos or African Americans or women or evangelicals, as office holders appear to factor the votes of these specific constituencies into their decisions more often (recognizing, of course, that the the LGBT community is inclusive of all of these constituencies).

On this first anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration when Democrats are wringing their hands over the meaning of Martha Coakley’s defeat in Massachusetts, this trial shows us the clear path ahead.

First, progressives and the LGBT community itself must continue to support such breakthrough efforts as this trial. It is truly a groundbreaking event.

Second, we must build true political power. That means we have to show office holders that we will fight them, that we will run primaries against them and that we will reward them for good behavior. The idea that getting lots of stories in the newspaper is somehow going to change politics is ludicrous.

Third, we have to embrace and empower the grassroots communities that we see reading this blog and participating in any number of activities to advance equality, online and offline. An organization like the Courage Campaign Institute is more powerful with hundreds of thousands of small donors than this movement can ever be with a few donations from big corporations. And we are most powerful when we have hundreds of thousands of people across this country who will exercise political power.

Finally, we have to tell our stories. Let’s never forget how this trial began and of what this fight consists. It’s all about Jeff and Paul, Kris and Sandy. It’s about each and every family, straight and gay.

Those who possess power get results. If we have it, we don’t use it very well. It’s time to change all of that. And it’s starting right here in a Federal court in San Francisco
read on

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Prop 8 Trial: Day 7 - On LGBT Politcal Power

Today's testimony contains an interesting analysis of LGBT political power by political scientist Dr. Segura. It's chilling. And it's why Federation groups are key to winning equality. read on

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Week Two of the Prop. 8 Trial

If you haven't been following the trial (especially since it won't be on YouTube, you should check out one of the many liveblog covering the trial.

  • The Prop. 8 Tracker comes from the Courage Campaign.

  • Progressive blog, Firedoglake has analysis, videos, and a Twitter feed.
  • Towleroad also has analysis of the issues, including background on the presiding judge.

  • Pam's House Blend hosts a Twitter feed and legal analyses from NCLR lawyer, Shannon Minter.

read on

Monday, January 11, 2010

Prop 8 Trial Starts in San Francisco, Unseen

The Federal Supreme Court has blocked video coverage of the trial on Prop. 8. Marriage equality opponents have argued that video coverage on YouTube would keep them from receiving a fair trial. Civil trails have been recorded and posted before, but the people who supported Prop. 8, who supported bigotry, want to stay anonymous and hidden.

The video is being streamed to other rooms in the courthouse. The stay on live streaming will expire on Wednesday.

read on

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Marriage Equality for NJ, Garden State Equality Heads Back to Court

Garden State Equality Chair and CEO Steven Goldstein delivered the remarks below at a news conference in Trenton on Thursday, January 7, 2010, after the New Jersey Senate’s vote on the marriage equality bill.

With today’s vote in the state Senate, the New Jersey legislature defaulted on its constitutional obligation to provide same-sex couples in New Jersey equal protection, as unanimously mandated by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006. That’s why we at Garden State Equality are here with our partner Lambda Legal, which has an extraordinary track record of advancing LGBT civil rights in the courts. Now our organizations will announce major news. Our side is going back to court to win marriage equality.

We’ll hear from Lambda Legal in a moment. Let’s be clear about what this news means. We are not waiting out the term of any new Administration to bring equality to same-sex couples in our state.

In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court told the legislature it could enact marriage or another structure that provides the equal protection of marriage. But the civil union law failed to do that. Too often, civil union couples too often cannot visit loved ones in hospitals, make medical decisions for their partners or receive equal health benefits from employers. Hospitals and employers have treated civil union couples differently because they’ve been labeled differently. Children have been treated differently at school because their families are labeled differently.

In recent months, including today and at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December, New Jersey legislators publicly recognized these failures. They publicly acknowledged that the civil union law has not provided equal protection. That’s important. New Jersey legislators themselves said it. Our opponents in the legislature said it.

In other words, though we didn’t achieve our final victory today, we’re better positioned than we were a few months ago to win marriage equality. So if you’re wondering how we feel, it’s complicated. On the one hand, we resent, more than you can imagine, remaining second-class citizens a bit longer. On the other hand, the ball has moved forward. The public record for the courts is mighty, and we’re closer than ever to winning.

In 2006, New Jersey enacted an experiment called civil union. In 2010, New Jersey has a mountain of proof that the experiment has failed.

Now let’s talk about what happened politically.

Things didn’t go our way in the legislature because of one factor: Governor Corzine lost reelection.

After his win in November, Governor-elect Christie persuaded a number of legislators to reverse their support of the bill. Before the election, nearly every neutral observer in New Jersey thought marriage equality was certain to become law in lame duck. It became the zeitgeist in Trenton, with good reason. In contrast to today’s outcome, before the election we had votes to spare in the Senate, including from a number of Republicans.

But the election changed everything and our national opponents changed nothing. They didn’t do much or spend much in New Jersey. As you saw from our thousands of members at the State House these past few weeks who symbolized the massiveness of our campaign, we overwhelmed our opponents on every front – but one. Our opponents had the Governor-elect on their side, and that’s all they needed to have. It’s ironic given that marriage equality wasn’t even an issue in the election, and that the candidates who favored marriage equality together won a majority.

All this said, we extend to Governor-elect Christie an outstretched hand. He will be the Governor of all of us. We ask him to continue the tradition of his Republican predecessors, Christie Whitman and Tom Kean, who always kept an open door to the LGBT community. And though we differ with the Governor-elect on marriage equality, we also seek to explore with him and his Administration the issues on which we may have agreement and can work together.

No political party should write off any constituency. And no party should take any constituency for granted either. Our fundamental right to equality should never have been left to sudden death overtime by the party to which the LGBT community and our allies have been unstintingly loyal and have given so much.

To be clear, we will continue to support those who support us. Over the past five-and-a-half years, the separate Garden State Equality political committee has provided thousands of campaign volunteers and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for supportive candidates through contributions to the organization, or through contributions from individuals directly to candidates.

Of course, when we exceed politicians’ expectations in ways they like, we never hear, you’re going too far, your fervor is too much. That double standard, which other minority communities have heard in their own fights for equality, hurts deeply. And it hurts everyone who stands for equality, including supporters in the majority.

Now there will be a sustained response not only from the LGBT community, but also from straight progressive voters who have been our equal partners. Marriage equality stopped being just a gay issue long ago.

To those who let us all down, here’s our policy: Don’t ask, don’t expect. You can’t take progressives’ money and volunteers with one hand, slap us in the face with the other, and then act astonished when we declare our independence. The marketplace of democracy runs along a two-way street.

Members and friends, today was not an outcome lost, but rather a juncture in an otherwise glorious road to justice. Since Garden State Equality’s founding in 2004, New Jersey has enacted 210 LGBT civil rights laws at the state, county and local levels, a national record. We have 64,000 members – LGBT and straight alike – who have improved the lives of millions. A watchdog organization,, just ranked New Jersey #1 in America for LGBT rights, tied with three other states, and we haven’t even won marriage equality yet.

But we will soon. Cesar Chavez said it best. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the people who feel pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.

Before I introduce our colleagues from Lambda Legal, some thanks are in order. Thank you to all our Senate sponsors, including prime sponsors Loretta Weinberg and Raymond Lesniak. We appreciate Loretta and Raymond beyond measure for their indefatigable leadership, and extend to them our love. We thank Senators Bill Baroni and Nia Gill – unwavering voices for justice at our committee hearing. We thank all our Assembly sponsors, including prime sponsors Reed Gusciora, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, John McKeon and Mila Jasey. We thank our Governor Corzine and Speaker Roberts for their support. And let me say this about Governor Dick Codey: He’s been an extraordinary champion of equality who kept his word about a Senate vote. Every progressive in New Jersey should view Governor Codey as a hero.

We thank the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, Gill Action, the Civil Marriage Collaborative, the Arcus Foundation and Freedom to Marry, which have given us resources and wisdom. We thank our partners at the state level, including the ACLU of New Jersey, BlueWave, Democracy for America, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Stonewall Democrats and the state’s progressive voice on the web, Blue Jersey, to which we owe so much.

We thank our spectacular field staff who joined us from across the country. We thank our executive committee, board, staff and donors who make Garden State Equality possible. We thank the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition for its decades of groundwork. We thank all the supportive staff in the legislature and executive branch. We especially thank our thousands of volunteers – the stars of Garden State Equality – who rallied at the State House and worked in our offices and in the field throughout the year. And if I may, I thank my partner Daniel and all the loved ones of our staff and volunteers who have supported us and sacrificed so much.

Most of all, we thank our colleagues at Lambda Legal, without whom our march toward equality would never have gotten this far. We’re thrilled to reunite with our partner Lambda Legal in the next stage of the battle. Please welcome Leslie Gabel-Brett, Lambda Legal’s director of education and public affairs.
read on