By Brandy Black
The Family Equality Council was a spectacular event. It was quite the red carpet affair with stars from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Glee, The New Normal and more. The premiere event at the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios was well attended and an event worth going back to next year.
Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the one million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in this country and their two million children. They are changing attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated—including families with parents who are LGBT.
The standout for the night was Chris Kluwe. “As athletes, what we say on the field and on the sidelines has a direct impact on how some kids are treated on the playground,” said Kluwe. “I hope more professional athletes stand up and declare that all American families are worthy of respect in their community and protection under the law.”
By Sheana Ochoa
On the morning Adam Lanza discharged countless bullets on two rooms full of children and staff in Connecticut I was sound asleep next to my four-year-old son in Los Angeles. His grandpa was visiting and using his room so he slept with Mommy and Daddy. On the morning of the Newtown massacre, my son and I awoke, opened our eyes and smiled at each other. By then the children were dead. The rainstorm from the previous night had passed, but the temperature had dropped and my son and I stayed snug under the covers. “Will you scratch my back?” he asked and I did, reveling in the touch of his silky skin, still so much like a newborn’s. One day that baby softness will toughen from the elements and time. His heart will harden too as he learns prejudice and judgment and fear. This is the problem and there are solutions. It isn’t just my responsibility, though parents play the major role; it is this country’s obligation to help rear healthy, compassionate, and usefully whole human beings. But we need the resources.
As the investigation in Newtown ensued that day, I was still uninformed. My son and I dressed for school. He was excited that I’d be staying at school with him for the Christmas party. Christmas songs punctuated our play as children made paper and yarn stockings and heart-layered Christmas trees. Not all the parents came, and so I helped a couple kids make stockings of their own. We cleaned up, and after all the hullaballoo, the children were placated with plates of cookies and chips and juice. My son, content with treats, asked, “Aren’t you leaving, Mommy? All the other parents are going.” That was my cue so I left and if I had turned on the radio I would’ve heard what happened in Newtown and turned the car around to bring him home, but I did not listen to the news. As twenty bright stars lay extinguished in the classrooms where they fell I was gluing sequins and glitter onto Christmas stockings with my son. Yes, there’s guilt, which is unreasonable. But mostly there’s grief.
The day after the killings I awoke hoping it had been a nightmare, but when I saw the front page of the LA Times, I realized it really did happen. And now here were more pictures, more details to burrow into the recesses of my gnawing heart. I couldn’t remember the gunman’s name yesterday. But it rang like an alarm the next day: Adam. Original Man.
On the day of the massacre, it wasn’t until my dad and I were on the 10 freeway heading to UCLA Pain Management (the reason for his visit) that I turned on the radio and heard that 20 children and 6 adults had been slain. Eight and half hours had passed. The gunman was dead too. After my initial disbelief came incomprehension mixed with outrage: Why would somebody attack defenseless children? Then came a strange sympathy. Whoever did this, I thought, must be incredibly sick and in pain.
We don’t spend this country’s abundant resources on our children. On Monday, President Obama addressed Newtown at the high school saying, “This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right.” I agree, but his words are mere platitudes if he doesn’t implement institutional change in health care, social services, teacher’s pay, school security, community awareness, resources for parents, and all the components that create the villages we need to rear healthy children.
If we spent as much money on our children -their empathic instincts, their emotional needs, their handicaps, their education- as we do on the war economy, perhaps Adam Lanza would have been given the tools to deal with his demons early on when he was as unblemished and vulnerable as the children he murdered. Our obsession and consequent immunity to violence has permeated the nation’s very soul. Mass murder doesn’t happen in other countries on this scale, and it’s escalating. The president is aware of this. Talking to the citizens of Newtown, he said, “There have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America.” Obama said we have to change, but again, how is he, as our leader, going to do this?
As I waited for my father in the doctor’s office on the day of the shootings I visualized picking up my son. At his preschool, the door is locked and there’s a buzzer. A staff member sees the person at the door on a monitor and unlocks the door. There’s a sign-in/out sheet at the entrance, more to track attendance than as a security precaution. When I first enrolled my son, I remember thinking how unattractive this system was -the gates, the buzzer, having to wait for someone to let me in. At Sandy Hook Elementary, the late Principal Hochsprung had just installed the exact same security measures. It didn’t prevent Adam Lanza from entering the school.
At my son’s preschool, a substitute or class helper can buzz someone in. To clarify: they don’t have to necessarily identify or recognize who they are letting in with the children. It isn’t monitored. This has to change. We must institute a universal security system in every school throughout the country.
When I enrolled my son I signed a release form listing the specific people that could take him to and from school. It should be required that the parent supply the school with photos of these people and when someone announces that they are dropping off or picking up a specific child, there should be a security guard whose only job is to man the door, verifying on his computer that the person standing at the door matches the photo of the people on the child’s release form. Software would have to be developed. Cameras would have to be installed with a 360-degree view of the entrance. Employees would be required to meet with a relative or associate outside the school premises. These are logical and reasonable precautions. It isn’t rocket science. It surely wouldn’t cost a fraction of what we spend on our defense budget.
Without a doubt school safety is an issue of national security. These are demands every parent in this country needs to make. How many times will we live under the delusion that our children are safe with evidence to the contrary? I realize this isn’t fullproof. A “gunman” could still attack children at play outside. Or in the case of Sandy Hook, he could force his way in through a window. But deterrents must be put in place if for no other reason than to buy time to call for help and secure the children in a bulletproof safe room out of harm’s way.
When I finally retuned home from the hospital, my son was watching a cartoon, happy to see me, but engrossed in the action hero. I hugged him, felt his baby smooth skin. As much as I wanted to hold him all night, I had to keep my distance, as my heart was in such turmoil, cycling between shock and fear and tears. I didn’t want to frighten him. I let him stay up after Daddy and Grandpa went to bed. We watched a Christmas movie and ate sweets, my gratitude overflowing. The parents whose children didn’t come home from school could not even say goodbye to their kids.
Before the first Adam committed the original sin of knowledge he knew nothing of fear. He lived in harmony with the world. Whether one believes that Adam’s fall was a fable or truth, it boils down to the same principle just like the laws of physics which we seem to have no problem following. That principle guides the spiritual, or moral, laws of our higher selves. The first Adam turned his back on his higher self when he placed self-will above that of the Universe. The moral of the story is that we all suffer when self-interest is placed above the greater good, that of the community and most importantly that of our most valuable asset, our children. Children in this country are not taught and have fewer and fewer examples of how to listen to their higher selves. Nor do they have the resources to get back on track when they lose their way. We have forsaken them. But we can change the destructive course we’re on. We can create the villages they need to thrive by investing in our schools and communities and by supporting parents.
A universal security system is simply one small measure of protecting our children, but it doesn’t resolve the root problem. The president has the majority of Americans supporting him. It is our job to let him know what we want him to do. It is our obligation to listen to our higher selves and prevent the massacre at Sandy Hook from happening again. Again, this is an issue of national security -not the war in Afghanistan, drones, or semiautomatic guns.
By: The Next Family
The high court will consider marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Today the U.S Superme Court issued an order granting review of Hollingsworth vs. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown), the federal constitutional challenge to California’s proposition 8 and the review of US v. Windsor, a challenge to the constutionality of the federal Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The Next Family will keep you updated as we get more information.
Democratic representative Tammy Baldwin gave us another reason to celebrate on November 6, 2012 by making history in becoming the first elected openly gay senator. Congrats Wisconsin and Senator Baldwin!
Tonight is an historic night and yet another step toward equality for all. It looks likely that it will be 4 of 4 states that have voted to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s the first time after some 30 losses across the country that by popular vote same-sex marriage is supported.
By Tom Butts
It’s hard to explain, but the 2012 Election seems to have a high level of emotion in it. My own included. I can’t remember when I’ve been so passionate and raw about a general election. Maybe it’s because the election has really taken place over a two-year period. Maybe it’s because in my state, Washington, every day residents are voting on my relationship. Yes, they are deciding whether I can call my marriage of 11 years a “marriage” or not. It’s hard to look at that with any other attitude, as I find it so appalling that, in 2012, people can vote to take away my right to something that’s so deeply personal to me, my husband and my beliefs.
To top things off, we have a very important general election to consider. One candidate believes that my marriage should be recognized throughout the country, one does not. One openly talks and includes the GLBT in conversations to the nation, one does not. The next President will more than likely choose two Supreme Court Justices. This is a huge thing in a divided court. This court will make decisions on very personal issues. A woman’s right to do as she likes with her body. Marriage Equality…etc.
Now, back to my point of emotion…
There are people that call me a “one issue” voter. That may be correct. In fact, I believe in a lot of the things that President Obama is trying to do. I believe in healthcare reform, I believe in marriage equality, I believe we need all Americans to pay their fair share of taxes.
All of these are important. That said, “marriage equality” is what really sticks with me personally. I’ve found myself being a bit hurt by family members that are voting for Mitt Romney in 2012. I respect their right to choose the candidate they feel best meets the needs of the country. That said, I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for myself. I tried to explain it to my father. I told him, what if Mitt Romney said (and the RNC platform stated) that anyone over the age of 70 should not be allowed to drive. My father, being, 82, said “I could NOT support the candidate.” I said, there, you have it Dad, that’s my thought exactly with gay marriage.” He said, “Tommy, that’s my livelihood they’d take away.” I said, “Dad, it’s my marriage they want to take away.” I think it actually settled in. Although, for the record, I am guessing his vote will still be cast to Mitt Romney.
It’s obvious which way I want this election to go, but I wish more of my friends and family that identify with “conservative values”would realize that gay marriage is extremely conservative. I want to be responsible for my partner, I want to love him, be loved, learn, have challenges and be in a responsible, adult marriage. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.
Now…writing this has gotten me emotional *smirk* so I’ll say…adieu.
Equality California and its Board of Directors announced today that John O’Connor, a seasoned nonprofit executive with deep ties in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, will serve as the new executive director of Equality California and Equality California Institute. O’Connor will begin his tenure on December 3.
“I am honored to lead Equality California forward as the statewide voice on LGBT equality. The message will be that we are for full equality and nothing less,” said O’Connor, who currently serves as the executive director of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert. “That means enacting, implementing and enforcing legislation that expands the protections and freedoms afforded to LGBT Californians, supporting and electing pro-LGBT legislators, and winning the hearts and minds of Californians through effective education. I won’t just be speaking – I’ll be listening too, to our coalition partners, to the needs of LGBT Californians, and to everyone involved in building a state of equality.”
O’Connor has extensive experience leading non-profits through transition and into solvency and stability. Most recently, through his work at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, he brought in new staff, established a new counseling center – which was fully staffed and operational within a year – and forged important partnerships with area schools in order to bring anti-bullying and suicide prevention workshops into every 9th grade and first year continuation class. From 2006 through 2010, O’Connor worked directly under former California First Lady Maria Shriver to establish the California Hall of Fame at the California Museum, and he played a key role in stabilizing the museum and leading fundraising and program development that brought the organization statewide visibility and acclaim.
O’Connor brings important national and foundation experience to his new role. From 2002 to 2004, O’Connor was national director of the Gill Foundation, a $220 million foundation dedicated to advancing LGBT equality. He also served as program director of The David Geffen Foundation, where he worked closely with charities and issues of importance to the LGBT community.
“On behalf of the boards of directors, we are very pleased to welcome John aboard, knowing that his background and experience will be valuable as we chart our future,” said Clarissa Filgioun and Cary Davidson, board presidents of EQCA and EQCA Institute respectively. “John is a bold leader with a history of leading nonprofits into the next phase of their journeys. He will enable EQCA and EQCA Institute to broaden our work and move forward on our path to achieve LGBT equality in California.”
O’Connor was selected by the Boards of Directors of Equality California and Equality California Institute after an extensive, national search conducted by executive search firm Morris & Berger.
Leaders both inside and outside of the LGBT movement have reacted enthusiastically to O’Connor’s appointment:
“John’s dedication to The California Museum, which represents all of the breadth and diversity of California, was key to the turnaround it experienced and the success it achieved during the years I was California’s First Lady. I know that he will bring that same passion, commitment and skill to making sure that the voices of all LGBT Californians are heard. Congratulations, John, and congratulations Equality California.”
- Maria Shriver, award-winning journalist, best-selling author and former First Lady of California
“Equality California made a terrific choice in John O’Connor. I am confident John will provide strong leadership and look forward to the opportunity for EQCA to be a powerful advocate for LGBT health as part of the organization’s overarching efforts to advance the well being of LGBT people throughout California.”
- Daniel Zingale, Senior Vice President, Healthy California, California Endowment
“We congratulate John on being selected as the Executive Director of Equality California. His accomplishments at The LGBT Community Center of the Desert have been tremendous and we are certain he will remain fully committed to the success of our organization as he moves into a larger role. While we will miss John at The Center, he will be carrying on the mission of enriching the lives of the LGBT community on a state-wide basis affecting a much larger community with national implications. We support John in his new role and wish him the very best.”
- Randy Lowe, Chairman, LGBT Community Center of the Desert
“I’ve known John for more than a dozen years and couldn’t be happier with EQCA’s selection of him as their next Executive Director. Whether in his role as a foundation manager or non-profit director, John has always been a passionate advocate for, and a great partner in, so many of the causes and concerns that we all share. I look forward to working with John as he takes on this great challenge.”
- Michael Fleming, Executive Director, David Bohnett Foundation
“Equality California has thoughtfully selected an executive director who has a solid track record of growing LGBT organizations. I look forward to collaborating with John and EQCA as we build a stronger movement for LGBT equality in California.”
- Masen Davis, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center
“John O’Connor is a great choice to lead EQCA. He has grassroots, organizing and fundraising experience and he understands the importance of strategic vision and partnerships. NCLR and EQCA have been critical partners for years. We have often joined forces to make significant gains for LGBT residents in California. We fully expect that partnership will deepen under John’s leadership. We stand ready to help John and EQCA in any way that helps LGBT Californians and their families.”
- Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has passed more than 90 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org.
By: Brandy Black
Does kissing defuse anger? These two women kissed in front of demonstrators who gathered to oppose the bill which would allow gay marriage and adoption in France. The women of Marseille, France explained later that they were straight but simply wanted to draw attention to the issue with a gesture of solidarity.
Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State will have marriage on the mind this November when voters in support of equality are being instructed to “Vote Yes on 1” in Maine; “Vote for Question 6” in Maryland; “Vote No” in Minnesota; and “Vote to Approve R74” in Washington State.
Here in Washington State, a few dozen politicians didn’t pass marriage equality. We the People passed marriage equality in Washington State. The law was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire on February 13, 2012. Surprisingly, no straight people were harmed with the passage of marriage equality on this day — or the many that followed.
Allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry their partners does not threaten heterosexual marriages or cause children to be born with three ears and five eyes on the tops of their heads.
I believe that fear is the root of so many anti-gay movements in this nation. Our counterparts are so concerned with their livelihoods being threatened that they don’t even notice that their daughter’s best friend in elementary school has two moms; that the firefighter that died saving their husbands’ lives left behind a partner with no means to financially survive; that their son or daughter was killed in the line of duty without ever being able to share with them their true identities; and that one teenaged kid was beaten down to shreds emotionally because he “just never fit in” …
At the end of the day, we will not remember the acronyms to the organizations that have shunned our lives and loves for generations. No, we will remember those who have stood beside us and have fought for our denied freedoms as if they were their very own. We will remember the effort, stamina, chutzpah, and resiliency it took to effectively win equality in all four states. And then, when December rolls around, we will start all over again. In the United States of America, no one is equal until all of us are equal.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is betting on the probability that voters will be confused this November… and that assumption might be an accurate one to anyone not paying extremely close attention to the wording on their state’s ballot.
NOM President Brian Brown said he thought anti-gay marriage opponents would prevail across the country this election. In fact, he told SiriusXM OutQ, “I think we’re going to win all four. But say we were to lose one — but still, we lost [just] one. Will there be a huge amount of media saying the country now supports same-sex marriage? Of course there will. The mainstream media is in the pocket of the same-sex marriage advocates. Anyone who looks as an objective observer will still be able to say, if we lose one state, the record still shows that [we’ve] won, whatever, 35 out of 36.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “NOM sometimes displays a sense of aggrieved victimhood, picturing itself and other religious opponents of same-sex marriage as under assault by powerful and devious forces. In an August update, NOM President Brown described a ‘jihad’ by ‘those who wield scorn and hatred as a weapon to suppress the truth and those who speak it.’ He said that gay marriage advocates want ‘second class status’ for their opponents, adding, ‘we are looking into the face of a movement which wants … to take away your rights.’”
Essentially, NOM is a bully.
We in this country have stood up against bullying — promoting Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project and other pro-health/anti-discrimination initiatives in the past several years. So do we have anything to be concerned about, truly?
“Vote Yes on 1” in Maine; “Vote for Question 6” in Maryland; “Vote No” in Minnesota; and “Vote to Approve R74” in Washington State. Tell your friends and family members to do the same. Equality is not created in a vacuum.
Originally published by ParentMap magazine.
By Zach Ford / Think Progress
Michael Bloomberg And Bill Gates Donate $500K To Marriage Equality | Both New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) as well as Bill and Melinda Gates have donated $500,000 to marriage equality campaigns. Bloomberg’s funding will be divided among the campaigns in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington, complementing the $250,000 donation he already made to the Maryland campaign. The Gates’ have given their half-million directly to the Washington campaign, adding to the $100,000 Bill gave earlier this year.