Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just Arrived in Maine!

Arriving at midnight characterizes the campaign life. Thanks to the hospitality of Religious Coalition organizer Katy Jayne, who picked me up from the airport (at midnight!), and Rev. Stephen Callahan, who opened his beautiful home to me, I'm ready to get a little rest before jumping into the mix tomorrow by helping with a Religious Coalition press event. Looking forward to my first day and CA Faith for Equality's opportunity to support the Religious Coalition.
Peace and Blessings,
Kerry Chaplin


Rev. Eric Lee, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), met with Washington, DC-area clergy on Tuesday at HRC’s offices to share his insight and experience building support for marriage equality as part of a week-long trip to DC.

Rev. Lee explained he naturally felt that marriage equality in California is a social justice issue. Initially when he was asked what he thought of same-sex couples marrying in Los Angeles, he immediately stood up in support and he explained to us how that affected his work in the African American community.

Taking that experience, he’s written a book: “Marriage Equality: Proposition 8, The California Divide.” In it Lee describes how he found himself at odds with the leaders of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference and many of his peers in the faith community last year after speaking out against California’s Proposition 8. Yet he refuses to remain quiet.

HRC’s Religion and Faith program pulled this meeting together so that African American clergy could talk with their peers in DC about what we face in discussing LGBT equality in the African American community.

Rev. Lee noted key issues that the LGBT community should work through as we talk more about working together for each other’s causes:

Remember to give homage to the Civil Rights Movement. It’s unproductive to just say the gay civil rights movement is like the African American civil rights movement. Respect that it’s different.

Begin to work with the African American community in the trenches on social justice issues such as: battling structural inequities in education; immigration issues; and supporting policies that help lower the economic discrepancies while we fight for ENDA.

Help combat the high school dropout rate for African Americans that too often leads young people into the criminal justice system. There are many social justice programs that can help lower the rate and the LGBT community can contribute to this cause.

Rev. Lee ended by saying “There is room to create real partnerships with African Americans and in return, they will support the LGBT community on marriage equality.” Rev. Lee knows that he is at odds with the leaders of the SCLC over his support for marriage equality, but he wanted the ministers today to know that there is room to feel comfortable working together on all of our issues.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


While we believe that returning to the ballot in 2010 would be less expensive, we still conclude that at this moment, our time and resources are better spent fostering deeper dialogue, building networks, and addressing root causes. Therefore, we respectfully recommend to California Unitarian
Universalists that we refrain from signing petitions and supporting efforts to place the measure on the ballot to overturn Prop 8 in 2010.

That said, regardless of when a measure to overturn Prop 8 gathers enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, whether in 2010, 2012, or 2014, the UULM Action Network will take our place among the ever growing network of people of faith who will work to fully engage our members in a campaign to reestablish marriage equality in California. Until such time as we are back in campaign mode, we are working in close collaboration with our excellent partners at CA Faith for Equality to create educational and organizing resources to equip our congregations and clergy for these next steps on the journey. We welcome your continued engagement and look forward to deepening our ministry and our capacity to serve.

Read the entire letter here


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 28, 2009


Our family provides one of the strongest influences on our lives. American families from every walk of life have taught us time and again that children raised in loving, caring homes have the ability to reject negative behaviors and reach their highest potential. Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things. Today, our children are confronting issues of drug and alcohol use with astonishing regularity. On Family Day, we honor the dedication of parents, commend the achievements of their children, and celebrate the contributions our Nation's families have made to combat substance abuse among young people.

The 21st century presents families with unprecedented challenges. Millions of women and men are struggling to balance the demands of their jobs with the needs of their families. At the same time, our youngest generation faces countless distractions in their social environment. They are coming of age in a world where electronic devices have replaced the playground, televisions have preempted conversation, and pressure to use drug and alcohol is far too prevalent. Parents bear significant stress and burdens to protect their children from harmful influences.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 28, 2009


The Episcopal Church held its triennial General Convention in Anaheim in July. The focus of the media and the worldwide Anglican Communion of which the church is a constituent member was on what we would do on matters of human sexuality. Regardless of the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the communion, came to deliver a keynote speech on the spiritual and ethical challenges of the economic crisis, even he responded after the convention on the two resolutions on same-gender couples.

Iowa finds itself along with the dioceses of the five New England states where equal marriage is upheld in the forefront of the church's conversation on marriage equality. Faith communities are deciding what this means to their traditions or what it does not. Many faith communities have long awaited the chance to celebrate civil marriage for same-gender couples. The Episcopal Church has been engaged with this for more than 30 years - almost alone among churches of the Catholic tradition. That Episcopal couples were among those cited in the Iowa State Supreme Court Ruling is significant.

Of course, we are not of one mind in this. Not all my own clergy or congregations agree with my position in celebrating this opportunity for same-gender couples. But is there not a beauty in this situation? Faith communities that cannot and will not welcome or embrace these marriages have that freedom in this state and nation, even while others that do coexist beside them peacefully and lawfully. When a bishop in Southern Africa learned of the Iowa ruling, he sent me a note asking me its implications. He was concerned that we might be seen as going against the constitution now if we disallowed such marriages. He found it rather admirable that there was no such pressure upon religious institutions, and that there was a specific exemption for religious institutions to pursue their consciences.

Marriage and its significance for all people is an essential value in our social life. For every faith community, marriage exists not only to protect but to reveal the deeper connection of God's love for us. It is precisely as such that it is as important an institution to same-gender couples as it is to heterosexual couples in those same faith communities.Faith, however, demands more of us. At the recent General Convention, we heard a sermon by Bishop Stephen Charleston, a Native-American bishop. He stood before us and said in hyperbole that he "had 10 minutes to save the world." Boldly claiming his anointing as a prophet of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, he said that the alarm clock. which had been ticking away the hours toward our civilization's demise, had stopped its ticking. "The alarm bells are ringing," he said. He went on to say that unless we woke up and put aside those things that have used up our energies for the past 30 to 40 years in our disputes together, and bring the peace among human beings needed to care in common for each other and for the planet God has given us, none of what consumes our heated passions today will mean anything. The generations to come, he added, who will have to rebirth civilization on their burned up cinder of a planet, will not thank us, nor will God thank us.

I find myself considering, as a growing number have had to in recent times, the vital nature of jobs and resources to feed the married family, peace across our global communities to keep us safe in our extended families or a fair sharing of the world's goods, education and health resources to provide for all people. In seeking these things the clock is ticking, calling us to action as one, even as we disagree on marriage. These efforts, too, are how we reflect the commandment of our God to love one another as God loves us.

Contact: ascarfe@


Job Title – Executive Director - California Faith for Equality (CFE)

Organizational Mission: To educate, support and mobilize California’s faith communities around a variety of equality issues as they relate to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
community, including marriage, employment discrimination and healthcare.

The ED will guide the newly incorporated California Faith for Equality (CFE), a state-wide multi-faith 501(c)3 organization which provides leadership and education to various faith traditions around a variety of equality issues with a near term focus on marriage equality.
The ED reports to the Board of Directors of CFE and a clergy Advisory Board, and is responsible for the organization's consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives.

In program development and administration, the Executive Director will:
1. Implement the organization’s long-range strategy to achieve its mission, and move toward that
goal with consistent and timely progress.
2. Provide leadership in developing program, organizational and financial plans with the Board of
Directors and staff, and carry out plans and policies authorized by the Board.
3. Promote active and broad participation by volunteers in all areas of CFE's work.
4. Maintain official records and documents, and ensure compliance with federal, state and local
5. Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the field.

In communications, the Executive Director will:
1. See that the Board is kept fully informed on the condition of the organization and all important
factors influencing it.
2. Publicize the activities/programs of CFE in conjunction with the PR/Media Coordinator.
3. Establish sound working relationships and cooperative arrangements with relevant LGBT and
religious affiliated community groups and organizations.
4. Represent the programs and point of view of CFE to agencies, organizations, and the general

In relations with staff, the Executive Director will:
1. Be responsible for the recruitment, employment, and release of all personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.
2. Ensure that job descriptions are developed, that regular performance evaluations are held, and that sound human resource practices are in place.
3. Encourage CFE staff and volunteer development and education, and assist program staff in
relating their specialized work to the total program of the organization.
4. Maintain a climate that attracts, keeps, and motivates a diverse staff of top quality people.

In budget and finance, the Executive Director will:
1. Be responsible for developing and maintaining sound financial practices.
2. Work with the CFE staff and Board in preparing a budget; see that the organization operates
within budget guidelines.
3. Ensure that adequate funds are available to permit the organization to carry out its work.
4. Jointly, with the executive committee of the Board of Directors conduct the official
correspondence of the organization, and jointly, with designated officers, execute legal

Overall Responsibilities:
o Acquire full understanding of this unique organization through interviews with staff and board,
review of policies, board and staff minutes, financial reports, website, grant proposals, recent
correspondence and other significant paperwork.
o Develop consistent internal controls, including policies and procedures pertaining to
communications, fiscal oversight, employees, subcontractors, grantors/donors, and government
o Assume supervisory responsibility for personnel including the Director of Interfaith
Organizing, the Community Organizer, the volunteer coordinators and other staff as hired.
• Understanding of and experience in working with the LGBT movement, diverse communities
of faith and communities of Color and their inter-relationships
• Ordination preferred but not required
• Knowledge of and experience with non-profit management
• Proven ability to fundraise including grant writing and donor cultivation
• Experience with principles of community organizing
• Commitment to and experience with coalition building
• Supervisory experience
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills
• Must be able to travel and work some evenings and weekends
Salary is commensurate with experience.

Position Start Date January 4th, 2010
Please send an e-mail cover letter, resume, a one-page writing sample related to fundraising, and the names and contact information of three professional references to:

Prior to a new incorporation as an independent organization as of 1/1/10, California Faith for Equality is under the fiscal sponsorship of the UULM-CA. UULM-CA is an equal opportunity employer anddoes not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, religion,national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, marital status, disability, family responsibility, veteran’s status, or any other status protected by applicable law.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Momentum Builds for the October 11 Event

San Francisco, CA, September 24 – 70 religious leaders added their names this week to the growing list of endorsement for the National Equality March. The March has provided leaders from America’s broad religious spectrum a vehicle to demand full and equal protection for LGBT people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.

“Part of what hinders our reality of full federal equality is the notion that one religious freedom trumps another,” said Robin McGehee, co-director of the March. “It is heartwarming to highlight that there are multiple areas of faith, within many different religious communities, that believe in full equality.”

Just as there are LGBT people of faith who worship in nearly all religious denominations and practices, the March has gained growing support from religious leaders within many of the nation’s religions and faiths. “In every case in this country's history when misguided church teaching was used to justify prejudice and discrimination it has been judged as a moral failure of our society.

The greatest obstacle to reaching full civil equality for LGBT American’s today is this same kind of religion-based bigotry”, said Mitchell Gold, founder of Faith In America. “ The National March for Equality gives all people of faith an important opportunity to speak out about this injustice and the irreparable harm it creates in our lives…and to say the time to end the harm is NOW.”

The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, gave the March a resounding endorsement, “The Unitarian Universalist Association strongly endorses the National Equality March and the goal of achieving full legal equality for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people. The inherent worth and dignity of every person is a foundational principle of our Unitarian Universalist faith. Unitarian Universalists from around the country will be standing together on the side of love on October 11th when we will take one more step towards the day when the laws of this country protect the basic human rights of all Americans.” Rev. Morales will preach at a service prior to the March at All Souls Church Unitarian and then gather everyone after the service to join the March route.

Leaders from the faith community who endorsed the March include: Rev. David Bahr, Park Hill Congregational Church UCCPamela Baldwin, Interfaith Alliance of IdahoNelson Bock, Interfaith Alliance of ColoradoRabbi Stephen Booth-Nadav, Aytz Chayim/Tree of LifeDr. Richard C. Bozian, TIA-Cincinnati-First Unitarian ChurchRev. Elizabeth Braddon, Stony Brook Community ChurchDr. Phil Campbell, Iliff School of TheologyRev. Tom Capo, Peoples Church Unitarian UniversalistCarol Carlson, Social Justice Committee of First Unitarian Church of CincinnatiRev. Cynthia Cearley, Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church Angela Cesa, HospiceRabbi Carl Choper, The Interfaith Alliance of PennsylvaniaRev. Hal Chorpenning, Plymouth Congregational UCCRev. Samuel Chu, Interim Executive Director of California Faith for EqualityDick Clark, St. Timothy’s United Methodist ChurchRev. Paul Collier, First Presbyterian ChurchRev. Greg Cummins, Montview Blvd. Presbyterian ChurchDouglas Cunningham, New Day United Methodist ChurchRabbi Mark Diamond, Exec. Vice President of the Southern California Board of RabbisMaureen Doherty, Episcopal ChurchAnne Dunlap, Comunidad Liberacion/Liberation CommunityRabbi Denise Eger, President of Pacific Association of Reform RabbisRabbi Dr. David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union CollegeRev. Eric Fjeldal, United Methodist ChurchRev. Vicki Flippin, Diamond Hill United Methodist Church, Cos Cob, ConnecticutRabbi Steven A. Fox, Exec. Vice President of the Central Conference of American RabbisPaul Fraser, Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)Rev. Dr. C. Weldon Gaddy, Interfaith AllianceGregory Garland, United Church of ChristDan Geslin, Sixth Avenue United Church of ChristMitchell Gold, Faith in AmericaRev. Galen Guengerich, All Souls Unitarian ChurchElizabeth Gull, Universal Life ChurchSusan Guy, Walnut Hills United Methodist ChurchRev. Debra W. Haffner, The Religious InstituteEdward Hawley, United Church of ChristRabbi Steven B. Jacobs, Chair of the Progressive Jewish FoundationEllen Johnson-Fay, Unitarian Universalist AssociationRabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, NYCNoel Koestline, United Methodist ChurchRev. Eric Lee, President of the Los Angeles Southern Christian LeadershipRev. Eun-sang Lee, First United Methodist Church, Salt Lake CityRev. Mark J Lukens, Bethany Congregational UCC/ LI Chapter of TIAWhit Malone, Collegiate Presbyterian ChurchRev. Matthew J. Mardis-LeCroy, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ Sister Maureen McCormack, Interfaith Alliance of ColoradoRev. Nancy Nelson, Metropolitan Community ChurchesRichard S. Parker, United Methodist ChurchRev. Emily Peck-McClain, United Methodist ChurchRev. Troy Perry, Metropolitan Community ChurchesDouglas Peters, United Methodist ChurchRichard Pleva, Iowa Conference, United Church of ChristJulia Rendon, Crossroads United Church of ChristBishop Eugene Robinson, Episcopal Diocese of New HampshirePaul Rolig, Humanists of IdahoRabbi David Saperstein Director of the Religious Action Center, Washington DCRev. Susan Russell, President of IntegrityConnie Ryan Terrell, Interfaith Alliance of IowaWalter Schenck, United Methodist Church, NY Annual ConferenceRev. Catherine Schuyler, Duluth Congregational ChurchRev. Jeremy Shaver, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado/Park Hill Congregational Church Rev. Charles H. Straut, Jr., New York Annual Conference, United Methodist Church Rev. Mark Stringer, First Unitarian Church of Des Moines; Nadine Swahnberg, UUARev. Neil G. Thomas, Chair of California Faith for Equality Kenneth Thurow, ELCAJoel Warner, United Methodist ChurchRabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, President of the Central Conference of American RabbisDana Wimmer, United MethodistRabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform of Judaism Ani Zonneveld, Co-founder and President of Muslims for Progressive Values

"For people of faith, the National Equality March is an expression of our most deeply cherished values—that we are called to love, do justice, seek equality and act with compassion,” explains Rev. Debra W. Haffner, executive director of the Religious Institute who also has endorsed the March. “The Religious Institute is proud to endorse the March and the values it upholds."

“The importance of the National March for Equality for LGBT civil rights is being articulated through the Religious and Faith communities,” said Rabbi Denise Eger, president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. Jewish national leaders and faith leaders understand that equality and justice stem from the message of welcome and love. We are joining together to lift up this message of full civil rights.”

To date more than 250 notable leaders from the arts, entertainment and media industries as well as political leaders, elected officials and community activists have endorsed the March and are urging people to join them and make their way to Washington.

For more information about EAA and the NEM, and for a full list of endorsements, visit: <>

Friday, September 25, 2009


From Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Gay rights activists hoping to win back the right to marry in California submitted a ballot proposal on Thursday for the November 2010 election -- a date deep-pocketed advocates have said is too soon.
Californians in November voted to ban same-sex marriage after courts made it legal in the spring. Advocates ever since have been debating when to challenge the ban, known as Prop 8, in the state, which is closely divided on the issue despite a social liberal reputation.
The Los Angeles group Love Honor Cherish filed a proposed state constitutional amendment that repeals the gay marriage ban and says churches would not be forced to perform any marriage.

Read the rest of the story here:

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Current polls show that we are two points behind in Maine and have only 51% support in Washington.

Your involvement now could mean the difference between victory and defeat in these extremely low turn-out elections.

Sign up today to call Maine and Washington voters near you:
Los Angeles
Orange County
Palm Springs
San Diego
San Francisco
Silicon Valley

If you can’t make it to one of our phone banks, sign up to make calls from home for Maine or for Washington.

Victories in these two states are crucial for victory in California, and we have an opportunity and responsibility to support these critical fights.

So far, our movement has lost in every state where we’ve face a referendum on marriage. That’s why we need to stop this here and now. Join us to call voters.


CFE Interim Executive Director, Pastor Samuel M. Chu, announced today that California faith for Equality endorses the National Equality March in Washington, DC on October 11th, 2009.
"Rabbi Densie Eger, President of the Southern California Boeard of Rabbis and Board memebr of CFE, and I will be marching as faith leades who support grassroot efforts for equality."
Click here more information about the National Equality March.



You are invited ... 2nd annual Episcopal diocesan gay & lesbian ministries evensong ! Come celebrate the gifts of LGBT people in the L.A. diocese!

We will honor the ministry of the Reverend Susan Russell,
Senior Associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena, who is
being named an honorary canon of the diocese. A past president of Integrity, Susan has appeared on countless panels and national broadcasts, advocating eloquently and tirelessly for the full inclusion of gay men and lesbians in the Church. Bishop Sergio Carranza will preside at the service, which begins at 4 p.m. Canon Jim White will preach.
The evensong and reception are open to all.
Sunday, sept. 27, 2009
4 p.m.
St. John's pro-cathedral
514 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90012

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CENSUS:: 150,000 gay couples report they're married

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 150,000 same-sex couples reported being in marriage relationships last year, many more than the number of actual weddings and civil unions, according to the first U.S. census figures released on same-sex marriages.
About 27 percent of the estimated 564,743 total gay couples in the United States said they were in a relationship akin to "husband" and "wife," according to the Census Bureau tally provided to The Associated Press. That's compared with 91 percent of the 61.3 million total opposite-sex couples who reported being married. A consultant to the Census Bureau estimated there were roughly 100,000 official same-sex weddings, civil unions and domestic partnerships in 2008. Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year.
They say you can never go home again. This summer I tried that out. I went home to Memphis for a brief visit. The apartments that I grew up in are now torn down and a Mercedes Benz dealership sits on the land of my childhood! Lots of change through the years.

During my visit to Memphis I went to the National Civil Rights Museum. This museum is dedicated to telling the story of the African American Civil Rights struggle and the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is built around the site of his assassination, The Lorraine Motel. You can see the room where he stayed just as it was on that April 4th day in 1968 and the balcony where he was shot by a gunman across the street.

The hotel now restored and the museum built around it, is a far cry from how it looked when I lived there as a teenager. At least once a week, I would park my car outside the hotel and just sit contemplating what transpired there. My mother worked around the corner on Beale Street and I used to drive her to work and pick her up each day. Some afternoons I drove downtown early just to sit outside the Lorraine Motel which during the seventies was a ruin. Fenced off ; crumbling bricks; urban blight. I would try to imagine what happened.

King was in Memphis to help solve a Sanitation workers strike. He had been in Memphis the last week in March trying to help negotiate a solution and have a nonviolent protest march with the workers. It ended in rioting when police attacked. He left only to be summoned back to lead a peaceful protest when the talks broke down once again. The sanitation workers were asking for the basic dignity of a raise from $1.60 an hour to $2.00 and the right to unionize. An issue of economic justice.

But Memphis at the time was hardly the place it is now. It was rife with racism. And the Klan marched openly in her streets. Jews were only a notch above. And the rabbi of my youth, Dr. James Wax worked tirelessly to help the sanitation workers in the struggle. Rabbi Wax was the head of the Memphis Ministerial Association in February, 1968 when the sanitation workers went on strike. Dr. Wax was instrumental in helping organize the workers and the protests, rallying clergy and citizens to their cause. He conferred with Dr. King. He confronted the Mayor of Memphis on a number of occasions who refused to negotiate fairly. And the day after King was shot led a giant march down the main street -Poplar Ave to City Hall to take on the Mayor.

As I would sit outside of the Lorraine Motel as a teenager this living history was part of the fabric of my spiritual foundation. It shaped my understanding of the intersection between my Judaism and civil rights. It echoed the call of our Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Micah to uplift human dignity.

The story of the civil rights movement of African Americans was bloody and long. It involved hundreds of people and different organizations. At first with their various turf wars but then coordinating and cooperating to make their protests meaningful. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Council, the NAACP, The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and later the work of Malcom X joined together to support one another and to build a movement for change and equality even as they maintained their own missions. Whether at lunch counter sit-ins, boycotts of the buses, freedom riders, and voter registration drives, marches like the one in Selma, the various tactics would pay off.

Unfortunately, there were young people who paid often with their lives, like Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner who were lynched by the Klan in the summer of 1964 in Meridian, Ms. They were willing to take on the cause of justice and equality not just with a checkbook but with action and fervor and total commitment to their cause. Not just African Americans. But white Americans who were just as fueled and committed to equality and civil rights.

All through the story of the African American Civil Rights movement Jews were there as team members and supporters. What you may not know is one of the founders of the NAACP was a prominent Jewish leader in 1910, Henry Moscowitz. And many Jews have served on its board and as chair person. Previously serving on the Board was Rabbi Emil Hirsch, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Julius Rosenwald owner and leader of Sears, Roebuck Company, Lillian Wald founder of Henry Street Settlement House and the Reform Movement’s own Rabbi David Saperstein of our Religious Action Center. Columbia Professor Joel Spingarn served as chair from 1913-39. His brother Arthur succeeded him as chair of the NAACP until 1965. Kivie Kaplan a noted Reform Jewish businessman from 1965 -1975.

Jewish involvement in civil rights was and is an extension of our Jewish values. “Remember the stranger in your midst for you were once strangers in the land of Israel”, the Torah teaches us. This value propels us to see all as created b’tzelem Elohim, created in God’s image. We Jews have been called to a mission of ensuring human rights in places where there are none because we as a people have known throughout our history what it means to be treated without human dignity. To be ghettoized, marginalized, denied economic access and murdered. We know that there are still many places where Jews are hated for no other reason than our faith. Our people have memory of what it means to not be treated as fully human.

And in this sacred community those of us who are Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender also know what this is like. In this last year, the California electorate proved once again that they gave into their fears about gay people. They gave in to the lies and myths about our lives.
Was it only a year ago that we stood in this sanctuary and celebrated those who had married? Those who tasted the full force of their human dignity granted by the Supreme Court of California with the opportunity for gay men and lesbians to marry their partners? Would all of you who were married in the last year gay or straight please stand! So we can applaud you and celebrate your humanity!
(Please rise)
But sadly now we have lost this part of our equality and liberty. And when on group loses equality all are diminished.

But if we want it back it will take much more than we are doing now. If we want our civil rights at the federal level then it will take more than we are doing now.

Gay and straight must work passionately together. And as a Jewish community we must help be a strong part of this movement towards GLBT full acceptance and equality in our country. It is part of our heritage to cast our lot with the underdog for we have walked that road so often. Our story is the story of the underdog rising to leadership. Of Isaac, not Ishmael, of Jacob not Esau, of Joseph over his older brothers, of Moses over Aaron and Miriam, the underdog wins out. And this should provide us with inspiration for our cause.

Today to achieve our full inclusion and our full civil rights will take more than isolating in our community. We must move beyond just talking to ourselves and our allies. This was a failure of the No on 8 campaign. We didn’t talk enough outside of our allies. We must get out of our comfort zones and build strategic alliances together. For those of you who are straight family and friends who are a part of this community we need you to continue to combat the hatred for gay people everywhere. Our commitment to equality and total acceptance of those on the margins is part of the fabric of Kol Ami’s essence.

But what does that mean for you and me sitting here today? How can we further this cause? And energize ourselves for the long haul. Last November’s defeat at the ballot box and the subsequent defeat at the Supreme Court in overturning Proposition 8 have left many of us jaded; burned; saddened and angry.

Do we merely let the organizations on a national and statewide basis do their work? Do we write checks in the comfort of our homes? Do we leave it to others to do for us? Wait our turn? Do we sit out and say “Well they screwed it up so I am not going to participate. This has nothing to do with my everyday life.” “I don’t care about marriage equality because I am single or I will never get married.” “Marriage is failed institution.” If these continue to be our responses I can assure you GLBT full inclusion and rights will never be won. For this is not the way we will make the vision of the prophets who called out God’s messages of universal hope, of a time when all will become one, a reality.

On this New Year’s Day we have a chance to be God’s messengers, God’s angels in this world doing this holy and spiritual work. We have a chance to be the angels of change in our country, the angels who bring the Divine mandate for human dignity and caring into the world and into our lives. The angels who bring blessings every Shabbat –as we sing Shalom Aleichem; The Angels- like Raphael who bring blessings of Healing and Uriel who brings light into the world. You can be an angel one of the heavenly host on earth. You can be an angel of change though your commitment, and willingness to act bringing equality from the Heavenly Realm here to the Earthly Realm.

First it is time to march. To get out of your comfort zone. Time to show our face in Washington and make a significant showing. Time to join me in Washington, D.C. for the March for Equality Oct 10-11. Show up. Be counted. And help send a message that our rights are crucial for America’s dream of liberty to be fulfilled. You can send a message that we are simply not going to settle anymore—we won’t live as second class citizens. For we have tasted true inclusion and it was stolen from us by the lies. Now is the time to organize and march together. You can be an angel of change. The time has come to understand that the equality and liberty for gay men and lesbians must demand action. The young people had it right last November following our embarrassing and humiliating and devastating loss at the ballot box-the streets is where we must be. And we must be more visible in our quest. Action not rhetoric is what we need to achieve this goal of full human rights here in California and our nation.

Secondly, we must insist that the turf wars between organizations and personalities stop. The battles between personalities and the finger pointing of the past will only keep us from achieving our common goal of equality. And you who are leaders in this room, who sit on the various boards, must demand this of your executives. As donors you must demand that we get on the page together; to share resources. The time has come to demand coordination and cooperation. And if the organizations are busy arguing with each other and we are arguing among ourselves—then the ability to create a real action plan is hampered. We need more coordinated efforts to protest at every army recruiting station. We need coordinated efforts to protest at every marriage license bureau. We need more volunteers to go and register voters and talk to them about marriage equality. Do you think that Rosa Parks was just a nice seamstress who refused to give up her seat on a bus? Mrs. Parks worked for the NAACP! There was coordinated action. And coordinated action is the real way we will transform this country and this state. We need to lobby more and demand of elected officials and those running for office to be held accountable on our issues. We need you to come down from the hills and the comfort of our middle class and be an angel of change – to get actively involved.

We need more volunteers willing to take on the Catholic and Mormon churches by reaching out across the pews to your neighbors and friends who are Catholic and Mormon. We can’t be afraid to engage people in conversation about full equality. We must tell our stories and we must be visible. We are the angels-God’s messengers on earth who will transform our world if we act.

But this is not the task of the GLBT community alone. It will take passionate people of all kinds coming together to rise up to action. We learned this from the African American civil rights struggle.

This is a vision that can be fulfilled. And we here in this congregation are uniquely poised to further this goal. This community has always been gay and straight together—seeking a vision of holiness and wholeness for our lives. To find the Divine inside and to bring that Divine hope into our world. It is why our commitment as a community to social justice has always been at its core. Whether it is feeding the hungry with our work for Sova and Project Chicken or engaging the local West Hollywood Russian community to overcome their fear of gay men and lesbian or walking for Darfur, and raising awareness of the genocide taking place in the midst of the Sudan as the world turns its head as part of Jewish World Watch.

Full equality of the GLBT community is not just about marriage equality but it is about repealing DOMA, Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, allowing couples to be reunited when one is of a different nationality which at the present time is not allowed. It is about adoption which in many states is still outlawed for gay people. It is about getting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed. It is about Extending the civil rights bill of 1964 to the GLBT community. It is about changes in Social Security and other federal agencies. It is about access to healthcare, and for those with HIV/AIDS especially, access to the medicines that help sustain their well-being.

Most importantly, we who are members and supporters of this Congregation understand something that is still often lost on some leaders of the LGBT community and the foundations. That unless we address the so-called religious right on these issues and take them on and fund our GLBT positive religious organizations that we will never win our civil rights. This is a message I have been trying to drum into the hearts and minds of LGBT political leaders for more than two decades. And some have listened. But time and again they continue to think they can do it alone with ballot initiatives, legislation that doesn’t get signed, and court battles. But they can’t. Until we address the lies that the fundamentalist both Christian and Jews repeat. Until more of the political organization in our state recognize and turn to those of us who have the ability to articulate our vision of God’s inclusivity and beliefs have the moral authority to challenge their religious books head on we will never win. We must take the moral authority that we have and expound it everywhere. And you who have a spiritual foundation must be well-versed to answer these inflammatory and hateful lies where the Bible is used to bash us. You can help do this and be and Angel of Change

The pathway to our full equality will take building coalitions with other groups beyond the GLBT community, to work in solidarity to improve the quality of all of our lives and our country. We must reach across the partisan divide especially.

That is why the struggle for our civil rights, our human rights, is broader than marriage equality-it is about shaping a world, a vision where we are part of an ongoing march towards equality and opportunity. In Dr. King’s last years even as he was intimately involved in the struggle for African American civil rights—he understood that human dignity was more than just one group’s equality. And so he turned his eyes also to curing poverty and against the war in Vietnam. He understood that the great challenges in his day to our society held back everyone.
We too must embrace this strategy. The great poverty around us, that was here before the recession hit and has only grown keeps us all from thriving and keeps us from our equality. This is why we are participating in the Jewish Federation and Mazon and Sova campaign Fed Up with Hunger –you each have received a black reusable bag –in it are the lists for Sova, the Kosher Food Pantry. Bring back to us on Yom Kippur or any time to our synagogue a brown paper bag filled so we can help the hungry and begin to defeat poverty. The reusable bag is yours to keep helping our environment.

Another place we should be involved as a GLBT and Jewihs Community is our schools. The problems in our school system hold everyone back from creating a workforce that is ready and able to become the workers that we need for a full economic revival. In Los Angeles County-the dropout rate especially among young boys of color soars astronomically. Nearly one in five African American boys and nearly 3 in 10 Latino boys drop out. Talk about no hope- We can’t live in our isolated hubs of the valley, the hills and the Westside and especially West Hollywood and continue to turn a blind eye to the layers and layers of issues that hold all of us down. Even if you have no children or send yours to private school, this group on the margins is no different than gays and lesbians being on the margins. We all are denied access to full equality and opportunity.

That is why our congregation must be poised in this our 18th anniversary year to engage each other in this quest for justice and equality like never before.

Civil rights are human rights. And when we as a Jewish community work tirelessly for those rights—we are living our values and building Dr. King’s beloved community. As Dr. King wrote in his last book "Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation . . ."
To that end I offer you four opportunities to work to make this change and to be the change –an Angel of Change.

Our congregation will begin a process of working with California Faith for Equality to prepare for a dialogue between members of our congregation and others from congregations that voted Yes on 8 this will be a first step in carrying our message of human dignity to others. Getting out of our comfort zone and engaging with those who don’t understand our lives and our spiritual vision echoed by the Prophets. Wednesday Oct 14 at 7 pm will be the first training for the dialogue. We will be able to transcend some of these boundaries through our dialogue. We might not agree but we will create together some common ground for knowing one another. Be an angel of change face to face with others who are different.

Secondly, Equality California is working hand in hand with the Gay and Lesbian Center’s Vote for Equality program. This program canvasses door to door in neighborhoods reaching out across color and class lines to engage voters in a conversation about GLBT equality. There are sign up clipboards in the lobby and information in your black bangs. There is phone banking, Volunteer recruitment and an opportunity to really make a difference person by person. Be an angel of change.

And later in the winter, Courage Campaign will be holding a mini-camp courage for training activist specifically who come from a spiritual background. And in November Rev. Eric Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership will come and teach us about the issues of education and the increasing dropout rates among boys of color and what we can do about.

We need you. We need you to walk like the angels to transform souls and lives. And through doing so you will transform our cause of justice and equality into a reality.

The Kedusha prayer in the Amidah is a dialogue between the Heavenly Host the choir of angels who sing Holy Holy Holy—praising God.

The midrash says that the Angels do this job from Sunset to Sunup while we
Sleep. And during the day it is our jobs to be like the angels praising God’s holiness and acting in God’s holy ways here on earth. You shall be holy for I Adonai am holy—Words we will read Yom Kippur afternoon. This is the year of action, the year to make a change, this year -5770 of becoming the angels who transform our world, ourselves, and yes our cause of justice, equality and civil rights. And let it be renewd here with us. Ken Yehi Ratzon so may it be God’s will.

Three times you call holy to hallow God like the angels
We are here! We are here!
Your spirit filled army
They are the source of your teaching
That expands the circle of your followers
They proclaim your sacred praise
Which they spread throughout the world
They robe themselves in awe
Crowning your head with Jewels
You shall sing songs anew
Know all this and be brave
Call out a threefold Holy


Iowans are almost evenly divided about whether they would vote for or against a constitutional amendment to end marriage for same-sex couples, according to The Des Moines Register's new Iowa Poll.Forty-one percent say they would vote for a ban, and 40 percent say they would vote to continue gay marriage. The rest either would not vote or say they are not sure.The most intensity about the issue shows up among opponents. The percentage of Iowans who say they strongly oppose gay marriage (35 percent) is nearly double the percentage who say they strongly favor it (18 percent).

The overwhelming majority of Iowans - 92 percent - say gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives.Sixty-three percent say candidates' stands on other issues will be more important in making their decisions in the 2010 elections.This is the first Iowa Poll to examine opinions on the issue since the Iowa Supreme Court in April overturned the state's statutory ban on same-sex marriage.The newspaper's poll of 803 Iowans ages 18 and older was conducted Sept. 14 to 16 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines.

The poll has a possible margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.The poll shows that 26 percent of Iowans favor April's unanimous court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, 43 percent oppose it and 31 percent don't care much or are not sure.Despite the 43 percent opposition to the ruling, 61 percent of Iowans say other issues will influence their decision on whether to vote to retain Iowa Supreme Court justices in the 2010 elections.

"It's really none of my business what other people do in their lives," said Curt Goodell, 38, a Johnston resident.He identifies himself as a Republican but said he worries his party will try to make marriage a key issue in coming elections. "I don't have any judgment toward people who want to get married: gays, straight or whatever," Goodell said.John Smith, 50, a Republican from Clarinda, opposes gay marriage because of religious reasons, but he supports civil unions.
"I'm going to nursing school now, and part of the nursing code is to be nonjudgmental," Smith said. "In hospitals, if a same-sex partner couldn't visit or get information about their partner's health? I just think that's wrong."Immediately after the April ruling, Republicans in the Iowa Senate and House lobbied for a vote to amend the Iowa Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Democratic leaders blocked those attempts.The court decision turned national attention to Iowa, the first Midwestern state to make same-sex marriage legal.

The issue has taken on prominence in the early stages of the 2010 race for governor, as potential Republican candidates jockey for favor with primary voters.Also on the 2010 ballot are all 100 Iowa House seats, 25 of the 50 Senate seats and the positions of state treasurer, auditor, secretary of state and attorney general.Few poll respondents who described themselves as Republicans say the court decision is the single most important issue in the 2010 elections. But more than a third of Republicans say it is among several important issues, while only about a quarter of Democrats put it in that category.

Former state Republican Chairman Mike Mahaffey said the poll shows that, as the party searches for a winning message, the economy trumps marriage among voters."I think all of the candidates are going to state that they believe the people ought to be given the right to vote on a constitutional amendment. That's a reasonable approach," Mahaffey said. "I also think when it comes down to it, the overriding issues are going to be what can we do to create jobs and put ourselves in a better position fiscally."

Celinda Lake, a national Democratic pollster, has polled on the issue of gay marriage in Iowa since 2004. She said the minority of Iowans who consider the court decision a top ballot-box issue is consistent with her research."What we found is Iowa has always had fewer single-issue voters on gay marriage than a lot of other states even in the Midwest," Lake said. "Now what we're seeing nationwide, the issue has really receded. So, people are not particularly focused on it as a voting issue."

National advocacy groups for and against the ruling have spent tens of thousands of dollars campaigning in Iowa. The Register's poll could perhaps give hope to both sides, since it indicates a close contest if a vote were held now."Wherever this has been put on the ballot, there's been a pretty spirited education campaign on both sides," said Chuck Hurley, a former Republican legislator and now president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, a group opposing gay marriage.
David Redlawsk, a former political science professor at the University of Iowa, took note of the finding that almost all Iowans say the ruling has had no impact upon their lives."Given how hard it is to amend the constitution, by the time a vote will happen, this will be the new normal," Redlawsk said. "There's a core that oppose it and always will, but, for most people, they're ready to move on."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


A groundswell of support for the National Equality March, set for October 10 and 11 in Washington D.C., is building as the date approaches. Towleroad can exclusively reveal a list from Equality Across America of 140 prominent LGBT figures and allies who have put their names and endorsements behind the National Equality March, which seeks equal protection in all matters governed by law in all 50 states.
The new list consists of a broad range of LGBT strategists and visionaries, media figures, entertainment industry notables, elected officials, and HIV/AIDS and community activists, from across the country.
Said activist Robin McGehee, who is running day-to-day operations of the march with Kip Williams: "I will never be able to describe the humbling amazement of a once closeted lesbian from Mississippi, who would read about the movement and it's leaders, now being able to work with and plan for the people and community I had admired from afar. The people and organizations that are endorsing the National Equality March are giving young activist and organizers, like myself, encouragement and support to continue our movement's forward push for full federal equality."
Among the 140 new endorsers of the march are activists, strategists, and leaders in the fight for LGBT equality: Diane Abbitt, Roberta Bennett, Ethan Geto, Neil Giuliano, Cleve Jones, David Mixner, Nicole Murray-Ramirez, Ann Northrop, Torie Osborn, Judy Shepard, Nadine Smith, Peter Staley, Sean Strub, Urvashi Vaid and William Waybourn.
Entertainment industry endorsements include: Oscar-winning Actress Charlize Theron; Oscar-winning Producer Bruce Cohen; Oscar-winning Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black; Emmy-winning Actress Judith Light; Tony Award winners Alan Cumming and Harvey Fierstein; Jazz impresarios Kate Clinton and Dave Koz; Chad Allen; "Mad Men's" Bryan Batt; Beth Broderick; David Drake; Herb Hamsher; Lance Horne; Dan Karslake; Michael Kearns; Tim Miller; Holly Near; Larry Sullivan; Bruce Vilanch and Judge David Young.
Elected officials and other political leaders endorsing October's march include: US Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); State Senator Tom Duane (D-NY); San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty; former US Congressman Ed Feighan; Assembly Member Micah Kellner (D-NY); former California State Senator Sheila Kuehl; Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell (D-NY); NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Victory Fund president and CEO, Chuck Wolfe; Donald Hitchcock; Charles O'Byrne; Marsha Scott; Frank Selvaggi; Richard Socarides; Rich Tafel; Will Trinkle; Jon Winkleman; Peter Yacobellis and Paul Yandura.
Endorsements by members of the media include: Air America's David Bender, and other radio personalities, Lance Helms, Ace Lundon, Michelangelo Signorile, and Tony Sweet; as well as literary figures and blog writers, Richard Burns, Robert Desiderio, Lane Hudson, Doug Ireland, Jonathan Katz, Eric Marcus, Patrick Range McDonald, Bob Smith, and Pam Spaulding.
HIV/AIDS and other community activists endorsing the march include: Chip Arndt, Aaron Baldwin, Dr. Jerry Cade, Mark Ishaug, Corey Johnson, Dr. Tony Mills and Dan Montoya. Leaders of the faith community endorsing the NEM include: C. Weldon Gaddy (Interfaith Alliance), Mitchell Gold (Faith in America), MCC Church Founder Rev. Troy Perry, and President of Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, and Soul Force Freedom Ride Founder, Jake Reitan.
We at Towleroad (Andy Towle and Michael Goff) are included on the list as well and urge everyone to meet us in Washington D.C. in October.
The full list of new endorsers, AFTER THE JUMP...

Diane Abbitt, President, California Equality and Lesbian Legend! Chad Allen, Actor/ Producer Jeff Anderson, Fundraiser/ Activist (San Francisco) Chip Arndt, Activist, Winner of the Amazing Race 4 Toni Atkins, Former City Council Member of San Diego Dennis Bailey, Author/Actor Aaron Baldwin, LGBTQ/HIV Activist Tammy Baldwin, Congresswomen (D- WI) Jarrett Tom├ís Barrios, President, GLADD Bryan Batt, Actor, AMC’s “Mad Men” David Bender, Air America Roberta Bennett, Attorney/Legendary Activist Jeff Berman, Attorney at Law / New York City Dustin Lance Black, Oscar Winning Screenwriter (”Milk”) Jeremy Blacklow, Entertainment Industry Steven Bluestein, Playwright Beth Broderick, Actress Bil Browning, Founder and Publisher of Richard Burns, Screenwriter Dr. Jerry Cade, Director HIV Service University Medical Center/Las Vegas Jeffrey H. Campagna, Founder, Tom Carpenter, Former CoChair of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)Michael Cashman, Member of the European Parliament Lt. Daniel Choi, West Point and United States Army Kate Clinton, Comedian/Writer Bruce Cohen, Oscar Wining Producer Alan Cummings, Actor Robert Desiderio, Actor Tanya L. Domi, Former US Army Captain/ Human Rights Advocate Clay Doherty, Former Executive Director, Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council of the DNCWilliam Alan Donius, Former Chairmen/ CEO Pulaksi Bank/ St. Louis Craig Dougherty, Corporate Leader/ Entrepreneur David Drake, Obie Award Winning Actor/ Playwright and Director Tom Duane, New York State Senator Bevan Duffy, San Francisco Board of Supervisors Rabbi Denise Eger, President of Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis Brian Ellner, Political Activist/ New York Edward Feighan, Former United States Member of Congress (D-Ohio) Harvey Fierstein, Actor/ Writer Sally Fisher, Founder/Intersect Worldwide Randy Florke, Founder, Rural Connection Robert Forbuss, Nevada Board of Regents Joe Freeman, Political Activist Alan Friel, Labor Day LA C Weldon Gaddy, Interfaith Alliance Ethan Geto, Geto and de Milly Neil Giuliano, Former Mayor of Tempe, Arizona and President of GLAAD Mitchell Gold, Faith in America – Board President Michael Goff, Towleroad/ModUrban Media / Founder, Out magazineHerb Hamsher, Producer/ Manager Lance Helms, Talk Show Host, “Lundon Calling” Lance Horne, Musician Mark Ishaug, President, AIDS Foundation of Chicago Chad Johnson, Former Executive Director National Stonewall Democrats Corey Johnson, New York Democratic Party Activist Lane Hudson, Commentator and Writer Doug Ireland, Journalist Cleve Jones, Activist, The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt Kim Kakerbeck, Former CoChair of Empire State Pride Agenda (New York)Gregg Kaminsky, Travel Expert Barry Karas, Political Operative/ANGLE Fred Karger, Founder, Californian’s Against Hate Leslie Katz, Former San Francisco Supervisor Dan Karslake, Director/Producer (”For the Bible Tells Me So”) Jonathan Katz, Author/Historian/ University of Buffalo Michael Kearns, Actor/Activist Micah Kellner, New York State Assembly Member Dave Koz, Smooth Jazz Legend For Sax Sheila Kuehl, Former California State Senator Donald Hitchcock, Democratic Party Activist Judith Light, Actress Tony Leonhardt, Union Advocate, Association of Professional Flight AttendantsAce Lundon, Talk Show Host, “Lundon Calling” Jack Mackenroth, Fashion Designer/ TV Producer Sean Maloney, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP Eric Marcus, Writer/ Journalist Patrick Range McDonald, Award Winning Journalist Robin McGehee, Activist, Meet In The Middle Organizer Dana Miller, Producer/ Writer Tim Miller, Actor/ Performance Artist Dr. Tony Mills, HIV/ AIDS Activist David Mixner, Author/Activist Patrick Menasco, Attorney Dan Montoya, Former Presidential Commission on HIV/AIDS Member Larry Moss, New York Democratic Party Official Christopher Murray, Author/ Psychotherapist Holly Near, Musician/Actress Ann Northrop, Activist, Co-host Gay USA Charles O’Byrne, Prominent Political Strategist Danny O'Donnell, Assemblyman, NY Andrew Oldershaw, LGBT Media Specialist Torie Osborn, Author/Activist Dan Osheyack, Point Foundation Board Member Alfredo Paredes, Executive Vice President, Polo Ralph Lauren Jay Perez, Attorney at Law/ St. Louis Dana Perlman, Human Rights Campaign Board Member Rev Troy Perry, Founder of the MCC Church Christine Quinn, City Council President of New York City Nichol Ramirez, City Commissioner, San Diego, Activist Phil Reese, Talk Show Host, “Lundon Calling” Jacob Reitan, Founder of Soul Force’s Equality Rides and “The Right To Serve”Randi and Philip Reitan, Parent Activists for LGBT Rights Howard Rosenman, Film and Television Producer, Writer and Actor Guy Ross, Trustee, University of Richmond (Virginia) Marsha Scott, White House, President Clinton Frank Selvaggi, Co-Chair of Empire State Pride Agenda/ New York Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard Foundation Michelangelo Signorile, Talk Show Host/Writer Bob Smith, Comedian/ Author Richard Socarides, White House Special Assistant to President Clinton Jeff Soukup, Fundraiser/ Activist (San Francisco) Pam Spaulding, Blogger Peter Staley, Founder and Advisory Editor/ Jonathan Stoller, Financial Advisor Alan M. Strasburg, Former Board Chair, The Trevor Project Sean Strub, Founder of Poz Magazine and CEO of Cable Positive Tony Sweet, Talk Show Host/ Los Angeles Larry Sullivan, Actor/The Trip Rich Tafel, Founder of Log Cabin Republicans/ President of RLT StrategiesCharlize Theron, Academy Award Winning Actress Andy Towle, Towleroad.comJeff Trandahl, Washington, DC / Environmentalists Will Trinkle, Board Member of GLAAD Curt Truman, Los Angeles, President Truman Real Estate Urvashi Vaid, Author/ Activist/ LGBT Leader Dana Vera, Managing Editor/ White Crane Journal Bruce Vilanch, Writer/ Actor Bo Young, White Crane Institute/ White Crane Journal Honey Ward, The Experience William Waybourn, Former Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Former Managing Director of GLAADScott Widmeyer, Former Board Chair of Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and CEO of Widmeyer CommunicationsKip Williams, Activist, One Struggle One Fight Rev. Nancy Wilson, Head of International MCC Church Bob Wingate, Publisher, Outbound Press Jon Winkleman, Stonewall Democrats Chuck Wolfe, CEO and President of National Gay and Lesbian Victory FundPeter Yacobellis, Aide to Governor Paterson Paul Yandura, White House, President Clinton Judge David Young, Television Judge Jose M. Zuniga, CEO of International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care
"Equality Across America (EAA) is a network of decentralized organizers in every one of the 435 Congressional districts. These organizers form Congressional District Action Teams (CDATs) that work within their own communities to achieve full equality for LGBT Americans and their families. EAA supports the following key pieces of legislation: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Repeal of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). With members of every race, class, faith, and community, EAA sees the struggle for LGBT equality as part of a larger movement for peace and social justice. The National Equality March (NEM) is being organized by EAA to show broad-based support for full equality for LGBT Americans on the doorstep of those who can make that happen – the United States Congress. The event will be held Saturday, October 10, and Sunday, October 11, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Each EAA Congressional District Action Team will mobilize its community to attend the event. "SPHERE: RELATED CONTENT

Thursday, September 3, 2009

CFE's Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong speaks at API EQUALITY-LA event

On August 22nd, API Equality-LA hosted a workshop called Crossroads: The Intersection of API & LGBT Civil Rights. Several community leaders spoke atthe event, including: L.A. City Clerk June Lagmay, historians Eric Wat andAlice Y. Hom, Karin Wang of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center,Marshall Wong of API Equality-LA, immigration attorney Ally Bolour andReverend Dr. Jonipher Kwong of California Faith for Equality.

The event was targeted toward Asian/Pacific Islander (API) leaders in southern California who have endorsed API Equality-LA, with the goal of making them moreeffective advocates of marriage equality. It was the first of its kind tolearn about queer Asian history in Los Angeles, the history ofdiscrimination against APIs in the United States, Asian LGBT immigrationissues, examples of how other Asian organizations addressed marriageequality to their constituents, and the challenges of engaging Asian faithcommunities about LGBT issues.

Of particular interest was CFE spokesperson Jonipher Kwong’s presentation about faith matters in the API community. During his presentation, he broke down the differentreligious positions on homosexuality and their views on marriage equality. He discussed API religious demographics and some of the obstacles encounteredwhen reaching out to API faith communities, particularly to Buddhist templesand conservative churches.

Jonipher also highlighted that within those communities (particularly Filipino and Korean Americans), people whof requently attend their respective services tend to be more difficult to reach out to about marriage equality and other LGBT issues than those who attend less frequently. This fact was mentioned earlier in the day, when Karin Wang of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center emphasized that 78% ofAPIs who regularly attended services voted yes on Prop 8.

The “Crossroads” event proved to be a successful one, with a closing breakout session that gave attendees the chance to brainstorm ideas of programs that their organizations could lead in the fight for LGBT equality.A skills-building component is currently in the works as a second part ofthis program, and is expected to take place in the near future.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) HRC President Joe Solmonese called clergy a powerful new lobbying force for the gay and lesbian community.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese called clergy a powerful new lobbying force for the gay and lesbian community.

In an interview with Dan Gilgoff, religious correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, the gay rights leader agreed that clergy were becoming powerful advocates of gay rights.

"LGBT people, many of us are people of faith, and there are religious leaders in this country who support LGBT equality, and it has taken us too long to empower those voices and ensure those people are out there fighting on the front lines on our behalf. Our Clergy Call for Justice brought 300 clergy, more than five from each of the 50 states, and we worked with them to walk the halls of Congress and lobby on behalf of LGBT issues in full religious vestments,” Solmonese said.
"One of the most profound things I see whenever we do this is the staff members in those congressional offices oftentimes are confused about whether they're there to lobby for LGBT causes or against them. That itself says to me that we're woefully overdue on that. So clergy will continue to be a powerful front line lobbying force for us."

The group's new religious programs turn conventional wisdom on its head as clergy lobby for gay and lesbian rights instead of oppose them.