Friday, May 28, 2010

CFE Supporters Help Pass DADT

Last night, we made history.

Less than 24 hours ago, the House voted 234-194 to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell."

Thanks in part to CA Faith for Equality's supporters from Representative Costa's district, Costa, who was leaning to vote No, voted Yes to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell."

Didn't get a chance to call your representative before the vote? You can still be a part of history.

Call and thank those who voted YES because it's important they know that they made decisions both morally upright and representative of their constituents.

Call out those who voted NO because they must be reminded of their moral obligations to support human rights, especially for soldiers who are willing to die for our and their freedom.

Here's how you can call your representatives to thank them or to call them out:
Look up your representative's recorded vote.

Dial 202-224-3121, the House switchboard, to thank or to call out your representative.

Leave a message or tell the person you speak with that you are a member of that district, and that you're happy or disappointed in your representative's vote.

Email CA Faith for Equality to tell who us you called. Email Kerry at

Together, we won tonight, and together we will continue to win.

Your call to your representative makes all the difference.

Samuel Chu
Executive Director

California Faith for Equality Action Fund is part of the California Faith for Equality family of organizations.

Friday, May 21, 2010

CFE Organizers Meet Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo

From the Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong:
In a country that is trying to pass a law that would make homosexuality punishable by the death penalty, few voices speak out in favor of justice and human rights as courageously as Retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo from West Buganda, Uganda.

On Thursday, May 20, 2010, Bishop Ssenyonjo spoke out about his country's draconian measure as not only an affront to the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights or his own country's system of extended families, but also challenges the basic Christian teaching of love and inclusion. He suggests that education is key to stemming the homophobic tide that has a grip on his country right now.

Kerry Chaplin and I represented California Faith for Equality at a lunchtime conversation hosted by Irvine United Congregational Church (UCC) in Orange County along with 30 other people. All the participants favored the concept of showing compassion in the midst of a hostile political and religious environment.
Comparisons and connections were drawn between the passage of Prop 8 here in California, support from the conservative Rick Warren and his Saddleback Church in Riverside, CA. for "ex-gay ministries," and the breakaway groups such as St. James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, CA., to the current homophobic environment in Uganda. Bishop Senyonjo encouraged supporters of equality to be vigilant about keeping the pressure on the Ugandan government, as well as working locally to affect international law.

CFE urges all persons of faith to join Bishop Christopher in his call to end homophobia and stop the spread of hatred and discrimination in Uganda and around the world.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Prayer for Harvey Milk Day, Every May 22nd

Created by Rabbi Lisa Edwards
Beth Chayim Chadashim
Los Angeles

Eternal One, You created us b’tzelem Elohim, in Your image, filling us – as You are filled --- with hope, hope that we might yet bring to fruition Your vision of cooperation and harmony, of wholeness and peace. You imagined such a world, Holy One, and then instilled within us the ability to imagine it too. You hope even now for such a world, Holy One, knowing You created us with the desire to give each other hope like Yours, hope that tomorrow will find us finally ready, finally able, to bring Your imagined world into being. Blessed are You, Hopeful One, creator of hope and of those who bring it to the world.

Faith Leaders to Remember Harvey Milk in Sunday Services

Faith Leaders will join secular leaders across the state of California to remember Harvey Milk in their services this weekend. May 22, 2010 is the first official Harvey Milk Day in the state of California and there will be many events honoring him throughout the state.

"We have asked congregations to join in the celebration of the life and work of Harvey Milk , the first openly gay elected official in the nation. He was a visionary and a man of great courage who took action to fight for equality for all people, " said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of California Faith for Equality. "Likewise, we have called for faith leaders to put their faith into action by following Harvey Milk's example of speaking out for all who suffer from oppression and inequality."

"I will be telling my parishioners that like Harvey Milk, I am here to recruit them to stand up for justice and equality for all, " said the Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles. Thomas is the 2010 recipient of the CSW Pride LA Harvey Milk Award.

Some of the other churches and synagogues who have committed to honor Milk in their services are: Kehilla Community Synagogue in the Oakland, Piedmont, Berkeley areas; St. Victor's Catholic Community Church in Vallejo; First Presbyterian Church of Baldwin Park; First Congregational Riverside; Unity Fellowship Church, Riverside; and Dignity – San Diego.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010




California Faith for Equality (CFE) is proud to announce that its President and one of its founding members, Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, has been named the 2010 recipient of the coveted Harvey Milk Award.

In honoring Neil, here's what CSW LA Pride said in their press release: Reverend Neil, as he is known, is the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles. He has helped create feeding programs for the homeless, night and day shelters for those in need, safer sex initiatives for the vulnerable, worked on better relations between law enforcement and the LGBT community, and launched a drop in center for LGBT youth. As the President of California Faith for Equality, Reverend Dr. Thomas works with an interfaith coalition to build a collective voice that will help bring about Marriage Equality in California. He is also the President of the Los Angeles LGBTQI Clergy Council. Reverend Neil believes "that God is calling us all to make a difference and to reach the world, one life at a time."

(Samuel Chu & Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas)
"This award couldn't go to a more deserving person", said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of CFE. Reverend Neil is a man of deep faith who leads by the example of putting his faith into action. Like Harvey Milk, he has worked tirelessly for equality and human rights for all persons. Neil has followed Milk's marching orders that 'hope must never be silent.' We are very proud and congratulate him on this honor.

"CFE vows to continue to spread the vision and example of both Harvey Milk and Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas to continue to make a difference and champion equality for all."

California Faith For Equality is a network of over 6000 clergy and lay leaders committed to equality for all.

For more information contact:
Louise Brooks
CFE Media Relations

Monday, May 17, 2010

CFE Board President Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas named recipient of HARVEY MILK Award for 2010 CSW Pride Festival


LOS ANGELES (May 13, 2010) Christopher Street West Proudly presents the 2010 Honorees for the 40th LA PRIDE celebration June 11 - June 13, 2010.

Reverend Dr. Neil G. Thomas - Harvey Milk Award

Reverend Neil, as he is known, is the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles. He has helped create feeding programs for the homeless, night and day shelters for those in need, safer sex initiatives for the vulnerable, worked on better relations between law enforcement and the LGBT community, and launched a drop in center for LGBT youth. As the President of California Faith for Equality, Reverend Dr. Thomas works with an interfaith coalition to build a collective voice that will help bring about Marriage Equality in California. He is also the President of the Los Angeles LGBTQI Clergy Council. Reverend Neil believes "that God is calling us all to make a difference and to reach the world, one life at a time."

Other honorees are:

Jane Velez-Mitchell - Person of the Year Award.

Christopher Street West proudly names Jane Velez-Mitchell as the 2010 Person of the Year for her activism, her honesty in sharing her journey overcoming addiction, and for being an out lesbian working in national media. Velez-Mitchell currently hosts HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell." She is a veteran television news journalist and Emmy Award winner who spent more than a decade anchoring and reporting for KCAL-TV in Los Angeles.

Velez-Mitchell is a published author whose autobiography, "I Want: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life" became a New York Times bestseller. In her book, Velez-Mitchell reveals that she strives "to experience the ultimate joy and freedom that lies in compassion and being of service to other people and other living beings." In addition, Velez-Mitchell is a strong animal rights activist advocating for the humane treatment of animals.

Nadia Sutton - Morris Kight Lifetime Achievement Award

Nadia Sutton is an activist, volunteer, and inspiration to all in the LGBT community and beyond. In 1989, Nadia founded PAWS/LA (Pets Are Wonderful Support), a non-profit organization helping those affected by HIV/AIDS who had difficulty caring for their pets. Nadia is passionate about the fight for equality. She is among the first to mobilize teams of people to show up at a protest march or demonstration. Nadia is also a tireless advocate for many organizations that rely on her skill to move their mission forward. Nadia serves on the West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, the West Hollywood Women's Mastermind Group, Friends of the Center for Sex and Gender Research at CSUN and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

Best in Drag Show - CSW Special Community Award

Best in Drag Show is a labor of love by a group of friends who donate their time and remarkable talents to produce a unique and entertaining event benefiting those living with HIV/AIDS. Originally called the Battle for the Tiara, the Best in Drag Show is a spoof on the Miss America Pageant. It began production in 1989, the brainchild of Patrick Rush and Alexis Pittman and has since generated over $1 million in donations. Rush has said, "We wanted to raise money for an organization that had actually helped people we knew." Celebrity judges have included Jane Lynch, John C. Reilly, Charlie Sheen, Niecy Nash, Kathy Griffin and many more.

HONOR PAC - CSW Special Community Award

Made up of a dedicated group of individuals, HONOR PAC is a voluntary, non-partisan committee whose mission is to advocate for the political empowerment of the Latina/o LGBT community. HONOR PAC supports candidates and ballot propositions that advance progressive policies that serve the unique needs and interests of those communities. HONOR PAC promotes education of LGBT issues, supports education programs for immigrant students and helps Latino LGBT youth by advancing anti-bullying legislation. HONOR PAC strives to provide access to health care and support for HIV/AIDS funding. In addition to fighting for marriage equality, it works to achieve equal protection for transgender individuals.

Guy Baldwin - Berman/Schaffer Award

Guy Baldwin is a pioneer, an educator, and an advocate in the LGBT BDSM, D/S, and Leather communities and has made a noticeable and positive impression on the lives of many. Guy was the first gay man to join the Society of Janus, an education and support organization devoted to safe and consensual BDSM. He quickly helped educate and expand the group. In 1976, while attending UCLA, he began insisting that 'taboo' erotic practices had been misunderstood by mental health-care providers. He worked to change the view and recognition among professional metal health practitioners concerning alternative or kinky sexuality. He also helped create the Kink-Aware-Professionals List, a global resource of kink-friendly medical, dental, and legal professionals.

Bamby Salcedo - Connie Norman Award

Bamby Salcedo is a transgender woman who works to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Bamby is the project coordinator for the transgender youth program at Children's Hospital LA. She previously worked as the program manager for the Transgeneros Unidas with Bienestar. Ms. Salcedo is a strong advocate and activist on issues regarding HIV prevention and economic and professional development for Latina transgender women. She has presented at many national health and HIV prevention conferences and serves in various planning committees statewide including the California HIV Planning Group (CHPG), in which she chairs the transgender working group. Ms. Salcedo is also a member of the Transgender Service Provider Network in Los Angeles. She is also the creator of the Angels of Change Calendar which provides positive and assuring images to transgender youth.

Ari Ruiz - Outstanding Youth Leader Award

Christopher Street West recognizes Ari Ruiz as an Outstanding Youth Leader. In August 2009, Ari Ruiz was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the Commission for Children, Youth and their Families. He was the youngest individual to be elected Political Vice President for the Stonewall Young Democrats. Ari worked to improve education in East Los Angeles with InnerCity Struggle. He also worked in the community of El Serano as the Outreach Coordinator for Barrio Action, which ensures that community members participate in after-school tutoring, ESL and basic computer skill building. Ari actively participates with the LAUSD as a member of Project 10.

Sheryl Lee Ralph - George Moscone Award

Christopher Street West proudly honors longtime community ally, Sheryl Lee Ralph, with the 2010 George Moscone Award. Sheryl Lee Ralph is an acclaimed actress, activist and creator. In 1990, she established the Diva Foundation (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed) and created DIVAS Simply Singing!, a star-studded, fundraising extravaganza, produced by Ms. Ralph and co-starring a host of committed Divas. The annual event has helped raise millions for organizations such as AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Black Pride Institute and Project Angel Food. Past Diva's have included Chaka Khan, Fergie, Nancy Wilson, Loretta Devine, Melissa Manchester and Raven Symone. "Women's voices have been silent for too long in the struggle against HIV/AIDS," Sheryl says, "and their stories need to be told. Their health and well-being matter too."

West Coast Singers - Pat Parker Arts Award

Created in 1983, the West Coast Singers is the third oldest mixed-voiced chorus of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender singers in the nation. Upon its inception the organization's primary purpose was to provide a safe environment for gays and lesbians to come together and sing. The West Coast Singers have performed at many community events including: the California AIDS Lifecycle closing ceremonies, the Gay & Lesbian Center's 25th anniversary, PFLAG's 20th anniversary dinner, the GLAAD Tidings annual holiday party, the Imperial Court of Los Angeles and the Names Project presentation of the Aids Memorial Quilt at UCLA.

D.I.V.A. - Torie Osborn / Dick Michaels Media Award

D.I.V.A.: Diverse and Inclusive Visionary Artists is a grassroots, non-profit organization comprised of 2,000+ industry members dedicated to promoting the creative endeavor and maximum visibility of multi-ethnic and/or LGBT artists and professionals in the media. In 2003, Nelson Melegrito recognized the need to provide a forum for multi-ethnic LGBT artists with an alternative niche to network. In addition, D.I.V.A. events have helped raise funds and awareness for many local and national non-profit organizations


M·A·C Cosmetics - The Sheldon Andelson Award

M·A·C AIDS Fund, the heart and soul of M·A·C cosmetics, was established in 1994 and is a pioneer in HIV/AIDS funding, providing financial support to organizations working with under-served populations. As the largest corporate non-pharmaceutical giver in the arena, MAF has raised over $150 Million exclusively through the sale of M·A·C's VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass, donating 100 percent of the sale price to fight HIV/AIDS.

For more detailed information and images of the 2010 Honorees, please visit Christopher Street West Board of Directors and Nominating Committee congratulate all of this year's Honorees and thank those that took the time to nominate this outstanding slate of committed individuals and organizations that live our vision of PRIDE 365: Power. Passion. Purpose.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The newly formed Moral Compass to Justice Group held it's first town hall forum called: Stop The Hate: A Forum on Hate Speech & Violence on May 11th at the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

The forum was moderated by Rev. Eric Lee, President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Moral Compass to Justice group is a newly formed group of faith and lay leaders who are committed to human rights. California Faith for Equality members have been active in the formation of this group which hopes to bring together all those in the community who suffer injustice and inequality to support justice for all.

The program was opened by songs of peace and justice and equality written by Ani Zonneveld, Co-Founder of Muslims for Progressive Values

The panelists from left to right were:

Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Founder, Progressive faith Foundation; Adrian Dove, CORE, Anjelica Solas, Executive Director, CHIRLA and Commander david Doan, Chief of Detectives, LAPD.

All the panelists committed to stand together for human rights and to stand beside one another in their struggles for justice.

At the close of the forum, The Moral Compass Group was honored by the California State Assembly for their work

R to L :
Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of CLUE, Rev. Ryan Bell, Hollywood Seventh Day Adventist, the Rev. Susan Russell, All saints Church Pasadena, Sharon Groves, Human Rights Campaign, Rabbi Steven Jacobs and Rev. Eric Lee.

Monday, May 10, 2010

CFE Supports Transgender Equality - Join Us

Marriage equality is not our only call to justice.

With Harvey Milk Day approaching, we honor his legacy of fighting for the us'es - those of us pushed to the margins.

We are called to serve and to advocate for all of the us'es, and especially for transgender equality.

In order to fully support Transgender Lobby Day on Monday, May 17th, we are postponing California Faith for Equality’s Lobby Day, formerly on May 11th, to later this year (date TBA).

Register to participate in Transgender Lobby Day on Monday May 17th in Sacramento, then email California Faith for Equality at to let us know you'll be there.

By participating in Lobby Day, you'll put your faith into action. You'll use the your experience as a faith leader and the knowledge you've gained from California Faith for Equality to be an effective advocate for transequality.

Together, we will pursue justice for all of the us'es.

Yours in the Struggle,
Samuel Chu
Executive Director

California Faith for Equality educates, supports and mobilizes California's communities of faith to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in California and to safeguard religious freedom.
For more information visit or call (310) 598-5866.