Proposition 8 on Trial

February 10, 2010

by Courtney G. Joslin and Lawrence C. Levine | Sacramento Bee

The first phase of what will be a long legal battle about the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 will soon come to an end. For the past month, a bevy of talented lawyers in a federal district courtroom in San Francisco have argued about whether the U.S. Constitution permits the voters of California to limit the institution of marriage to heterosexuals, while relegating California’s gay and lesbian couples to an alternative regime of “domestic partnerships.” While the California Supreme Court last year upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 8 under its interpretation of state law, the current case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, challenges Proposition 8 under the federal Constitution.

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Transgender Protection Bill Put on Hold

February 10, 2010

by Aishah Hasnie | Wane TV

A bill that would have added protections for transgender people in Fort Wayne was taken off the table, Tuesday.

Democratic city council member Karen Goldner was expected to introduce the proposed amendment at Tuesday’s city council meeting. It’s aimed at preventing or punishing discrimination based on “gender identity.”

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Virginia: Job Protection for Gay State Workers Dies in House

February 10, 2010

By Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer | The Virginian-Pilot

A bill that would have protected gay and lesbian state workers from discrimination died in a House subcommittee Tuesday, a day after the state Senate passed a similar bill for the first time.

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Watch Building Political Power: One Interview at a Time

February 10, 2010

by Kate Kendell, NCLR Executive Director | crossposted from the Bilerico Project

I’m back at my desk after four days in Dallas at the annual Creating Change conference organized by The Task Force. Every year I return re-energized and inspired. What I love most about Creating Change is the energy and vibe. There were over 2,500 folks this year and the crowd truly represents the full, vibrant, and fierce diversity of our community. Folks from all over the country, young and old, virtually every ethnic and religious identity, and a wide spectrum of abilities and backgrounds.

There is so much strength in our differences, and yet those differences also present critical opportunities and challenges. While at Creating Change it feels like our power and unity are unstoppable. But then we all go back home and, I fear too often, back into our familiar, silo-centered approaches to our work in this movement. I can’t help but think what a force we would be if we truly saw the strength in our difference, and built the kind of coalitions and cross-cultural political movement that to date we have only dreamed of.

Along these lines, one of the best things I did at Creating Change was interview some of the other conference attendees. Bilerico set me up in a corner and rolled the camera and this is what we got. Great little conversations with some really inspiring folks, now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Let’s hit the ground running this year and commit to making sure that creating change isn’t relegated to simply a catchy conference name.

As NCLR does its work in this coming year, my commitment is to always look for ways our core work can enhance and be enhanced by strategies and partnerships with new activists, other progressive organizations, and emerging and established leaders in the LGBT and allied movements.

During the federal trial on Prop 8 here in San Francisco, I was profoundly affected by the testimony of Gary Segura, an American politics professor at Stanford. Segura testified about political power: how you get it and what it is. He defined political power as the “ability of a group, on its own or with reliable allies, to achieve its goals.”

By this standard, it should be obvious that many communities, and certainly the LGBT community, lack political power. The plain fact is to get anything done we always need allies, and as we have recently seen, the reliability of those allies waxes and wanes with political winds. This fact makes it all the more urgent that we develop new tactics and strategies with other groups who have been stigmatized by the law and culture and that we join forces to consolidate our power and ability to win full equality for all.

I, like so many others, am tired of waiting and tired of being used as a political tool. Damn, enough already!

Jeff Sheng

It was just serendipity that right after Cathy, I spoke with Jeff Sheng. Both Cathy and Jeff understand the power of not only alliances, but of stories and Jeff’s photographic work tells, yes, 1,000 words.

Roxanne Anderson

The work that Roxanne Anderson does is at once about elevating the voices and visibility of queer artists of color and of telling the story of oppression unbounded by sexual orientation or race

Sara Beth Brooks

Newer and emerging activists are a true key to our future victories and to a model of cross-cultural collaboration. Many on these activists were never in the closet or spent very little time there, that path of always being out is profoundly different than the lived experience of many of us, there’s a lot there to pay attention to and learn from.

Jaan Williams

My Phil Donohue/Oprah Winfrey/Jimmy Kimmel moment ends with an interview with Jaan Williams about action on the federal level and a certain organization which shall remain nameless, for now.

So that’s it. And no, I won’t quit my day job. But it was fun and see what I mean about inspiring?? Now, let’s all go be, make, create change.

Conferencia de “Orgullo y Poder Latino” Inspira en el Valle Central Inspira Cambio

February 10, 2010

Por Lisa Cisneros. Licenciada para California Rural Legal Assistance y gerente de el Proyecto Poderoso para el Nacional Center for Lesbian Rights

El Sábado, más de 120 personas se reunieron para la conferencia de Orgullo y Poder, un evento pionero para las personas LGBT y aliados en el corazón del valle central. El programa  fue completamente bilingüe en español e inglés. Los asistentes llegaron de todos los rincones del cinturón bíblico de California: El valle Central, la Costa central, El valle de Cochella y el Imperial.

Incluso mientras el caso federal en contra de la propuesta 8 se desarrolla, los asistentes de la conferencia reconocieron que son piezas clave en la lucha por igualdad, dignidad y respeto. Los participantes estuvieron de acuerdo que un movimiento debe trabajar dentro y fuera de las corte para disipar el miedo y la ignorancia que han llevado a muchos a creer que las personas LGBT son inferiores.

El programa de la conferencia se centro en el tema: “Tu voz es tu poder”. A lo largo del día los discursos, los talleres y la galería de arte inspiraron y entrenaron a líderes a compartir su historia con varias audiencias-nuestras familias, nuestros vecinos e incluso los medios de comunicación. Juntos aprendimos las muchas maneras que nuestra voz única puede ser arma de cambio social. Al contar nuestras historias en conversaciones, arte, video, en la Web e incluso llenando la forma del censo podemos poner nuestro granito de arena para transformar el mundo a nuestro alrededor. Por lo menos lograr que dejen de negar nuestra existencia, especialmente en las áreas rurales.

La conferencia fue patrocinada por Proyecto Poderoso, un trabajo conjunto entre California Rural legal Assistance (CRLA, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Centro Nacional para Derechos Lesbicos (NCLR, por sus siglas en Inglés) para mejorar los servicios legales y de abogo para las personas LGBT de bajos recursos. Otras agencias locales, grupos de derechos civiles, y organizaciones latinas proveyeron apoyo critico, Bienestar, Equality California, Gay Central Valley, Gente Latina de Ambiente (GELAAM), Somos Familia, Somos LGBT, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) de California del norte, el Diversity Center de Santa Cruz, el GSA network, el Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), el Trangender  Law Center, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Todos estos se reunieron en el First Congregational Church of Fresno para un día lleno de inspiración, conocimiento crítico  y muchos amigos a lo largo del estado.

NCLR & CRLA’s Inaugural Proyecto Poderoso | Project Powerful Leadership Conference Inspires Change

February 10, 2010

by Lisa Cisneros, Esq., NCLR Proyecto Poderoso Director

On Saturday, January 24th, over 120 people gathered for the Orgullo y Poder Latino conference—a first of its kind leadership event for LGBT people and allies in the heart of California’s Central Valley. The conference program was fully bilingual in Spanish and English. Attendees arrived from all corners of California’s Bible Belt: the Central Valley, Central Coast, Imperial, and Coachella Valleys.

Even as the federal case against Proposition 8 unfolds, conference goers recognized that they continue to play a key role in the fight for equal dignity and respect. Participants agreed that as a movement we must work both inside and outside of courtrooms to dismantle the fear and ignorance that have led so many to believe that LGBT people are inferior.

The conference program centered on the theme: Your Voice Is Your Power. Throughout the day, speeches, workshops, and an on-site art gallery inspired and trained leaders to share their stories with various audiences—our families, our neighbors, even the media. Together we learned the many ways our unique voices can be a tool for change. By telling our story in conversations, art, video, online, and even by filling out the census survey, we can do our part to transform the world. At the very least, particularly in rural areas, we can stop our communities from denying our existence and our right to belong.

The conference was hosted by Proyecto Poderoso, a joint project of NCLR and California Rural Legal Assistance to improve legal services and advocacy for low-income LGBT people in rural California. Several other local agencies, civil rights groups, and Latino organizations provided critical support: Bienestar, Equality California, Gay Central Valley, Gente Latina de Ambiente (GELAAM), Somos Familia, Somos LGBT, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz, the GSA Network, the Immigration Legal Resource Network, the Transgender Law Center, and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Conference attendees convened at the First Congressional Church of Fresno for a day packed with inspiration, critical knowledge, and many new friends from across the state.