NCLR Applauds Florida Officials’ Decision Not to Appeal Adoption Ban Ruling

October 22, 2010

Today Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announced that he would not appeal last month’s ruling by the Third District Court of Appeal striking down Florida’s anti-gay adoption ban as unconstitutional. Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the state’s Department of Children and Families had already announced that they would not appeal the ruling. The ruling will become final after today, and will be binding on courts across the state.

A statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“It is truly heartening that Florida’s elected leaders have stepped up to the plate and finally agreed to put this offensive law to rest once and for all. We are thrilled that the Florida Department of Children and Families will never again have to waste its time rooting out ‘homosexual’ and bisexual people who apply to become adoptive parents—instead, it can now focus on making sure that children who desperately need homes can find the very best loving, devoted parents to adopt them. This is a great day for the state of Florida and for LGBT families everywhere.”


Teaching Our Kids Not to Hate

October 13, 2010

The past few weeks have been shameful for those who abuse religion to justify their anti-gay bigotry, and devastating for our community and families that lost sons and daughters to suicide. We now face a moral challenge that we must meet.

In these past weeks, I have felt powerless to stop the rising toll. Just months into the school year, at least 10 teenagers committed suicide rather than continue to face the pain of daily harassment and the shame of being made to feel they were “wrong” or “immoral.” We know that for every one of these young people, there are countless more who suffer in schools and classrooms every day.

In the wake of these tragic deaths and in an appalling act of grown-up bullying, several anti-gay figures, including Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, spit on the fresh graves of these young people. Spewing hate-filled rhetoric, baseless lies, junk science, and half-truths about our lives, they justified their screeds by invoking their religious beliefs.

Packer, in remarks televised as part of the Mormon General Conference, said that same-sex “tendencies” were “impure and unnatural,” and suggested that God would not make us this way. Perkins, in a column riddled with lies and discredited research (shame on The Washington Post for publishing such trash), argued that the bullies must not have been regular churchgoers because true Christians would not engage in such acts. He went on to blithely attack the integrity of our lives and the health of our relationships, and in a classic “blame the victim” deflection claimed that we are hurt not by anti-gay violence, intolerance, and harassment, but rather by simply being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. So much for living a “Christ-like” life.

These men are simply bigger bullies, and quite devoid of human decency. They spinelessly dodge the blame that belongs at their feet for trafficking in stereotypes about our lives, and for eagerly and ceaselessly supplying excuses and ideological cover for discrimination and hatred. We must hold them accountable for the damage they cause to LGBT youth with their bigotry masquerading as religious belief.

The deaths of these young people have galvanized our community and a range of allies. There has been an outpouring of support for many of the families and for other young people who may likewise be suffering, and a renewed push for accountability to address the epidemic of bullying and harassment. We must keep up the pressure. We must make sure there is lasting reform. We must reach the parents of kids who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying and forge a permanent end to this corrosive cycle. And perhaps most importantly, by speaking up and being out, as LGBT people or as allies, we must help foster a culture of greater inclusion, compassion and understanding.

In my school community, we have taken our first steps. My 14-year-old son Julian and some of his friends wanted to find a way to get a supportive word out to other kids, who may not be as lucky as they are to live in a community where difference is not feared. The result is our own It Gets Better/We are Making it Better video.

These kids are the same age as many who took their lives. That is a sobering reality. But fortunately, unlike those who exploit these tragic deaths to further their own anti-gay agendas, the kids in this video are the future. They are our future leaders. That should give us, and every kid out there, hope.

We still have much to do, and some of our most profound victories lie ahead. But we must have the faith of those who know our full humanity is worth fighting for. We will win equality. And we will win a day when anti-gay bigotry and dehumanizing statements about us and our lives are universally condemned as damaging, wrong, and utterly unacceptable. The teenagers we fight for – Asher, Tyler, Billy, Raymond, Seth, Aiyisha, Felix, Zach, Cody, and Chloe – should be fighting with us. They, more than most, earned the right to see that day. They were robbed of that moment. Our commitment must be to do all we can to ensure that they will be hate’s final victims.

Sincerely,

For additional resources on helping to stop bullying and information on suicide prevention efforts for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth, please visit:

The Trevor Project
GLSEN
Gay-Straight Alliance Network
Groundspark’s Respect for All Project films
Family Acceptance Project
Make It Better Project
Welcoming Schools


Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell on Today’s Ninth Circuit Ruling in Prop 8 Case

August 16, 2010

(San Francisco, CA, August 16, 2010) — Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Proposition 8 proponents’ motion to stay U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision, which means that same-sex couples in California will not be able to marry while the case is on appeal. However, the Ninth Circuit put the appeal on a fast track and specifically directed that the Prop 8 proponents to address “why the appeal should not be dismissed for lack of Article III standing” in their opening brief.

 ________________________________________

Statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

 “Every additional day that couples must wait to marry again in California is painful, but despite the terrible disappointment for the many couples whose right to marry has been delayed yet again, today’s ruling includes another significant victory for our side. The court did the right thing by putting the case on a fast track and specifically ordering that Prop 8 proponents show why they have a legal right to appeal. This ruling brings us one step closer to ending the nightmare of Prop 8, and restoring full equality for all Californians.”


Ted and David’s Most Excellent Adventure

August 16, 2010

In the weeks leading up to the Proposition 8 trial, much was made in the media, blogs, and everyday conversations about the unlikely duo leading the legal challenge against the shameful California ballot measure that stripped marriage from same-sex couples.

The two, Ted Olson and David Boies, are an unlikely pairing on many levels. They are political adversaries, and famously opposed each other in Bush v. Gore. They are each high-powered and highly paid inside-the-beltway lawyers. Ted is a long-time darling of the conservative movement, a former U.S. Solicitor General and a founder of the Federalist Society. David is a Democratic Party insider and an advisor to a number of key Democratic leaders. And, finally, both are straight, and had no apparent prior interest or experience in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.

When the lawsuit was filed, the first question to each of them was, “Why?” Their eloquent statements in support of full equality for same-sex couples quickly convinced even the most dubious that their commitment was sincere. Their stunning trial presentation and utter evisceration of the arguments and witnesses of those supporting Prop 8 paved the way for the recent ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker, which methodically dismantled every tired and baseless trope ever trotted out for why same-sex couples alone should be excluded from the right to marry. The trial was a masterwork, the ruling a tour de force. As a result, the LGBT civil rights movement has jumped into hyper-drive.

This is a moment that happens in almost every major social justice movement. The community most affected, along with its closest allies, toils for years to secure key wins—measured in terms of formal equality, changing attitudes, and cultural shifts. In the past five decades the modern LGBT civil rights movement has made breathtaking advances in both law and popular culture. We have made these gains because we fought for them, and we have been joined by key allies: family members, neighbors, religious leaders, politicians, Hollywood, and business types.

All together, we have come very far. But every movement also needs a game changer – the key figure, or figures, who come, seemingly from nowhere, and step up to make our fight their fight. When that moment happens, it is something to behold. In the wake of the Prop 8 ruling, we heard the familiar hysterics from the same over-the-top folks who always show up to foam about the end of civilization. But for the first time in the wake of a major legal victory for LGBT rights, we are neither hearing nor seeing any of that from those in real political leadership positions, who have mainstream credibility. In fact, it seems eerily quiet—the noises we have heard from those quarters in the past are now muted and few. So it may be that Ted and David not only led the legal team that took down Prop 8, but may, just by being who they are, have muzzled some of the most powerful voices against us.

It remains to be seen how long this apparent detente will last. But for the moment, it seems cooler heads are prevailing. And just this week CNN released poll results showing, for the first time ever, majority support for the right of same-sex couples to marry. So maybe, just maybe, some of those who have been so quick to vilify us are being forced to think twice, simply because a man they respect, a colleague they admire, a long-time friend they look to for advice, has said, “That’s enough.” We aren’t the first and won’t be the last civil rights movement to benefit enormously from the involvement of unlikely allies, but as we savor the victory of truth over lies and reason over caricature, it is very nice to have Ted and David by our side.


Tending to the Community: Kate Kendell Bartends at CAV Wine Bar

August 10, 2010

On Wednesday, August 4, 2010 Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. By Friday, August 6, 2010 the opposition already had filed the appeal to a higher court. While there is great celebration in the LGBT community for the great victory, there is also great attention toward the next phases of the journey towards full and true equal rights. To that end. Pamela Busch, the owner of San Francisco’s CAV Wine Bar, decided that 10% of the proceedings for the bar tab on that day would be donated to the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Equality California (EQCA) two organizations whose tireless efforts have helped in this fight. NCLR Exec. Director Kate Kendell tended bar at CAV this evening and took a few moments in her inaugural moments as bar keep to share some thoughts.

Tending to the Community: Kate Kendell Bartends…, posted with vodpod

S.O.M. (Save Our Magazine)

July 22, 2010

One of the great advantages of the dog days of summer, if you are lucky enough to get time away, is the chance to read for pleasure. Books and magazines get stacked up on my nightstand throughout the year and summer finally provides some time to make a dent in the stack. A few weeks ago, my family spent a week in heat and sunshine, and I spent many hours lounging with some of my reading favorites, which includes, of course, our community’s own Curve magazine.

This year Curve is celebrating 20 years of bringing the lesbian community news about and for us and our allies. Curve’s publisher and founder, the fierce and fabulous Frances Stevens, aka Franco, started Curve at age 22 because she was disappointed that there was no quality lesbian magazine in the U.S. From its humble beginnings as a ’90’s black-and-white magazine that Franco peddled on Castro streetcorners, Curve has grown into the nation’s best-selling lesbian magazine, read by more women than any other national gay or lesbian publication—all while remaining independent of corporate ownership.

For two decades I’ve relied on Curve to bring me stories and perspective that I don’t get anywhere else and I’ve always taken for granted that my magazine would arrive every month, like clockwork. But there may soon be a day when Curve doesn’t show up. Franco told me recently that Curve is in trouble. The economy has hit publishing hard, we all know that. Many newspapers and magazines have folded in the downturn. We know that being in this business is tough right now, but our community needs Curve to survive. There is no other national lesbian-focused magazine left. Curve is the last one. Our last magazine devoted to our lives, our loves, our culture, our future.

You can help save it. We hope. For the price of two weeks of coffee drinks at Starbucks, you can get a year of Curve. But new and renewed subscriptions may not be enough. So if you have the means and the interest to help Curve through this rough patch, you can make a contribution here. If we all step up and do what we can, it may be enough to keep alive this community treasure.

Next summer when I pack my bags with my favorite reads, I want that bag to include copies of our lesbian magazine.


Watch Video of Kate Kendell from the San Francisco ENDA Rally

May 19, 2010

Happy 50th, Kate Kendell!

April 15, 2010

Sure it’s Tax Day, but the good news is that it’s also our own Kate Kendell’s 50th Birthday! Yes, dears, 50 years ago in Utah, a new little honeybee was born in the Beehive State! Today we celebrate fifty years of sweetness from My Sister-Friend Kate.

So don’t get all grumpy and down in the dumpy because you have to pay your taxes today. Just think of how that little bundle of joy-buzz grew up to be the fine and fierce Queen Bee of our beloved NCLR.

Okay, I’ll stop with the bee metaphor, but not with the tax imagery.

Decide your Kate Tax Bracketology and send NCLR a gift in honor of Kate’s Big Birthday:

  • $1 for each year of her life—$50
  • $10 for each year—$500
  • $100 for each year—$5,000

Compared to the huge refunds we’ve gotten, I know that’s short-selling the Birthday Gal’s great work. With Kate Kendell, we are too big to fail.

When you make your gift, we’ve even given you an opportunity to send a little e-card to wish Kate a Happy 50th!

Yours in Kate-ness,

kate signature
Dupli-Kate (Clinton)
(not the Executive Director)


Watch 2 Months, 4 Victories

February 23, 2010

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.


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