Watch NY State Senator Diane Savino Speak on Marriage Equality

December 2, 2009

House Bill Seeks Immunity for Military Gays

December 2, 2009

by Lisa Leff | Associated Press

A group of lawmakers wants to give gay servicemembers the ability to testify before Congress without fearing they’ll be discharged under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

A bill that would grant immunity from the policy was introduced in the House on Wednesday. It would prohibit retaliatory personnel actions against those who reveal their sexual orientations during congressional hearings.

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No More Delays. Pass ENDA now!

December 2, 2009

NCLR has been on the front lines, fighting for an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for years. We’ve proudly worked side by side with civil rights organizations, grassroots activists, and committed individuals like you who have called Congress to put the pressure on to ensure workplace equality. We are so close to making ENDA law, but we must continue the fight to make it so. We must keep our momentum going and continue to demand results from our elected officials.

Call your elected officials at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to step up. No more delays! Our community can’t afford to wait on workplace equality. If you’ve already called, call again. Demand answers and demand action!

We all must push to pass ENDA. Please make sure your friends and family know that the unfair practice of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is still legal in most of the country. Let them know that they can help make sure that it stops. Urge them to call their representatives and senators.

It’s time that we all stand up for the rights we deserve and the equality we need. Please call today.

In Solidarity,

Thank You Empire State Agenda for Your Leadership in the Fight for Marriage Equality in New York

December 2, 2009

Pride Agenda Executive Director Reacts to Today’s Vote on Marriage Equality in the New York State Senate

Moments ago, the Pride Agenda released the following statement from Executive Director Alan Van Capelle:

“While we are disappointed by today’s vote, we are pleased that the issue of marriage equality at last was debated in the New York State Senate. We had long called for a public debate on this matter so we could determine who was truly on our side.

It is a step forward for our democratic process in New York that a debate and vote have now occurred. Now we know where we stand, and where we need to concentrate our efforts in the future.

We are incredibly thankful to those who have stood with us and will continue to stand with us as our community presses forward to win marriage equality.  In this regard:

We thank Governor Paterson for his unstinting support;

We thank each of the Senators who pushed for a vote and stood with us when it was time to be counted;

We also thank the members of the New York State Assembly—led by Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell—who have three times now voted for marriage equality by increasingly bipartisan majorities; and

We thank our many allies in the labor, faith and the business communities for their support and willingness to speak out.

To the tens of thousands of LGBT New Yorkers who have worked hard for equality, and to those who may for the very first time have become politically involved due to this fight, our message is as follows:

Our fight continues.  Marriage equality is coming to New York. Time clearly is on our side and you can be sure that we will never stop working until we win.

To those Senators who do not yet see our families as deserving the same protections as other families in New York, our message is simple:

We are more committed than ever to this fight. We will redouble our efforts in your district to ensure that our voice is heard. We know our cause is just. We know that a growing majority of New Yorkers believes in the same values of fairness and equality that we do.  If you cannot support us, we will find candidates for public office who do, and we will work through the democratic system to affect needed change.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s Statement on New York State Senate Vote on Gay Marriage

December 2, 2009

Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and longtime advocate of marriage equality and LGBT rights, issued the following statement:

“I am extremely disappointed by today’s vote against marriage equality in the New York State Senate.  But we must remind ourselves that this is just one battle in a longstanding struggle, and our resolve should only be strengthened.  We will ultimately be vindicated in our march toward marriage equality, and those who stood on the wrong side of history will one day regret it.  Today’s vote was truly historic in that it actually happened at all in a national climate where marriage equality and LGBT rights are, more often than not, taking a back seat to other issues.  Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to put this issue on our state’s agenda – Majority Leader John Sampson, Senator Tom Duane, the Empire State Pride Agenda, Gill Action, and many others.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights Disappointed in New York Senate Vote Rejecting Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

December 2, 2009

Today, in a 38-24 vote, the New York State Senate failed to pass a bill which would have extended the right to marry to same-sex couples.

As Lisa Keen of Keen News Service reported in the Bay Area Reporter, Senator Bill Perkins, an African American Democrat from Harlem, addressed the bill’s openly gay sponsor, Tom Duane (D-Manhattan), by saying “Thank you, brother.” Then he turned to the galley where marriage equality supporters sat watching the debate and said, “Thank you, movement—thank you for your vigilance and your push to get us where we are today.” Regardless of the outcome of the vote, said Perkins, change is coming “and I can see Dr. Martin Luther King smiling down on us today—recognizing that his sacrifice was not in vain.”

Statement from Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“The vote today in the New York Senate is a heartbreaker. To see justice denied yet again is crushing. But we cannot be down for long. The lessons of every human rights movement teach us that setbacks and dark days are always the risk in fighting for equality and justice. We applaud the courage of Senator Tom Duane, sponsor of the bill and of the 24 Senators who stood for equality, fairness, and love. Their names will be remembered and so will their votes. The time is long past for those who reject our basic dignity and value to do so without consequence. The votes of those who affirmed our equality and humanity will be vindicated, of that we can be certain.”

Keep the Pressure on for Marriage Equality in New York

December 2, 2009

from Christine C. Quinn, Speaker, New York City Council

This is it.  The Marriage Equality Act is being debated on the floor of the New York State Senate.  (You can watch it live here.)

We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time, and it’s my hope that a majority of our senators in Albany will make the right decision and cast their votes for marriage equality.

Right now, I’m in Albany after having met with senators on both sides of the fence – and I can report that our leaders in the Senate are working very hard to get the votes.  Governor David Paterson, Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell and every one of our allies in Albany deserve our appreciation for getting us this far.

We need to keep pushing, though.  Please call or write your state senator and urge them to vote for this bill.  You can find contact information for your NY state senator here.

It’s my hope that marriage equality will soon be looked back upon as a great accomplishment that all New Yorkers achieved together.

It Is Time for Congress to Take Action and Pass ENDA Now

December 2, 2009

crossposted from the Bilerico Project

This is from Mara Keisling, Exec Director, National Center for Transgender Equality; Kate Kendell, Exec Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights; Jody Huckaby, Exec Director, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National; Michael Mitchell, Exec Director, Stonewall Democrats; Selisse Berry, Exec Director, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates; and Rea Carey, Exec Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Because the Employment Non Discrimination Act is desperately needed by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to combat employment discrimination and is also ripe legislatively, our organizations call on the members of the House Committee on Education and Labor and Congress to take immediate action and pass ENDA without further delay.

Passing a bill of far reaching impact such as ENDA requires considerable labor. Written in large part almost fifteen years ago, with even older roots, tens of thousands of people and organizations have formed and advocated for ENDA. Simply from the perspective of LGBT organizations, our lawyers have helped craft language, our field staff members have mobilized supporters, our communications teams have told our stories, and our lobbyists have logged countless thousands of hours on Capitol Hill and in coalition meetings.

Outside of Washington DC, state, local and some national organizations have worked hard to move ENDA and secure employment protections. They have passed state and local laws, developed relationships with their members of Congress, and leveraged those relationships to educate Congress and push for passage of ENDA. Many individual activists and allies have undertaken considerable time and effort to meet with members of Congress and press for their support.

So many people have worked so hard. All the while, though, people across our country wait, desperate to keep the jobs they have and to work in the jobs they seek. They are the ones who matter and they are the ones who cannot afford to wait if they are to overcome discrimination and have the jobs that they need to feed their families, pay the rent, and contribute to their communities. They need to know that they can get work and keep it without being fired for who they are. They cannot wait any longer nor should they have to.

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NY Lawmakers Set for Final Vote on Gay Marriage

December 2, 2009

from the Associated Press

New York’s Senate will take a long-awaited vote on a bill to legalize gay marriage.

But the outcome of the vote Wednesday that could give final legislative approval to the measure remains in doubt.

The bill will need 32 votes to pass. And Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger, a leader in the majority, says the measure will need Republican votes because of opposition from some of the chamber’s 32 Democrats.

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Family Ties’s Meredith Baxter: ‘I’m a Lesbian Mom’

December 2, 2009

by Blaine Zuckerman | People Magazine

Most people know Meredith Baxter as Elyse Keaton, everyone’s favorite mom from the hit ’80s sitcom Family Ties. But now the actress reveals to PEOPLE that she’s ready for the world to see her in a different – and surprising – way: “I’m a lesbian mom,” she says.

Before Baxter, 62, first started dating women seven years ago, the thought of being gay “had never crossed my mind,” she tells PEOPLE. Having been in three failed marriages to men (most famously to actor David Birney), she says of her many difficult years before coming out, “I was never comfortable with myself.” But she’s quick to add, “That doesn’t mean I was questioning.”

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