We’re Fighting for LGBT Equality & Elaine Marshall (NC-Sen)

Part 1 in our MarshallBomb Series … Crossposted at BlueNC and Daily Kos

As many of you know, my political adventures led me to start a PAC last year. I wanted to break away from the predominant funding mechanisms in North Carolina and start creating a grassroots network of committed progressives. I wanted to build a donor list that would put people who believed in LGBT equality, good government, ethics reform; in short, big-and-little-D democratic values. I wanted to make sure there was an effective voice for young, progressive candidates in our state. So I started the Grassroots Farm Team PAC, opened a bank account, registered with the State Board of Elections, and started raising money.

With a full-time job and finishing my A.B. degree, it's been hard. It hasn't always been fun. However, it's stories like this that make it all worth it.

More below the fold …

Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith is the founder of Scrutiny Hooligans, a progressive blog many of you know. This time last year, he was just a candidate, and he needed our help to put him over the finish line.

Gordon is not shy about his belief in equality. While blogging at Pam's House Blend, he set out what he believes:

The gay and lesbian citizens of Asheville deserve equal recognition and equal benefits. To deny these benefits is to relegate gay and lesbian couples to second-class status. We all know that Asheville is a gay-friendly city, and our city government ought to reflect our commitment to honoring the civil rights of all our citizens.

It was because of that commitment that we wrote our single biggest check of the year to Gordon. In his own words: “thanks to Sam Spencer and the NC Farm Team. They helped my Asheville City Council campaign just when I needed it most.”

Gordon has gone on to become a great leader on the city council. In a year when regressive forces in Asheville have gone as far as ignoring the Establishment Clause in an attempt to bar an atheist from joining the city council, Gordon has stood up for what he believes in:

Councilman Gordon Smith is asking the council to move forward with the idea of giving same-sex domestic partners health insurance, bereavement leave and other benefits.

If a majority votes yes, city staff would come back to the council at a later date with information including estimated costs and who would qualify. A final vote on the measure could then follow.

Granting the benefits would “provide equal rights to our employees who are denied the option to marry,” Smith said.

He even went on YouTube to make the case:

And then

After about 90 minutes of public comment and deliberation on Feb. 9, Asheville City Council voted 4-2 to support a motion by Council member Gordon Smith supporting benefits for city employees in same-sex domestic relationships. While the vote does not implement benefits such as health insurance and bereavement leave already afforded to straight married couples, it does mean city staff will conduct a financial impact study and other research and make a recommendation for Council vote in March.

According to Gordon, “There's another round or two to go before final passage, but I'm feeling confident.  It's the first movement on equal rights for same-sex couples here in 16 years.”

This time last year, a pro-equality candidate needed help, and the Farm Team was there.

This year, we're shooting a little bigger. We've got a pro-equality candidate who needs your help – Elaine Marshall:

Elaine believes it is not the Federal government’s job to discriminate, including when it comes to sexual orientation. She believes we should honor the commitment of those serving in the military regardless of sexual orientation, and that we should follow the lead of our military leaders and repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Elaine supports the repeal of DOMA and the enactment of ENDA and UAFA.  She supports eliminating all forms of discrimination under the law, including immigration law.

You can donate to Elaine here.

We need southerners in the Senate who support equality. Elaine Marshall is infinitely better than Burr in every way when it comes to civil rights … and she's a hell of a lot better than many Democrats who are already in the Senate.

We've been doing a lot to get Elaine elected. Our ad campaign against Richard Burr got almost 1,000,000 impressions on facebook this past weekend, and we've got lots of great stuff lined up. And this week we'll be opening a website for an October 8 “MarshallBomb.”

I'm asking Blenders to pitch in to help us get Elaine Marshall elected. We're going to be running an ad campaign to promote the MarshallBomb, while still helping great North Carolina candidates get elected. If you're willing to give more, that's great! We're building the small-dollar donor network that will help us raise the money we need to achieve big victories for young candidates across the state.

(Again, you can also donate to Elaine here).

If you’d like to help out, you can reach us at @NCFarmTeam on twitter, on our Facebook Fan Page, or by e-mail at NCFarmTeam <:at:> gmail.com.

Thanks for taking the time to read this – I hope we can earn your support!

Sam Spencer
Executive Director
Grassroots Farm Team PAC
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Fighting for Fairness in Bowling Green

This past week I met with One Bowling Green campaign manager Kim Welter, who is heading up the effort to defend two non-discrimination ordinances passed by Bowling Green city councilors in 2009. The ordinances amended the city’s existing anti-discrimination laws to protect individuals from arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and veterans status in housing, public accommodations, employment, and public education. With no state law in Ohio against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, city ordinances are important bulwarks against discrimination in the workplace.

After these ordinances passed the city council (by votes of 7-0 and 6-1), opponents of basic fairness launched a successful recall petition that placed both ordinances on the November 2, 2010 ballot for a public referendum. Bowling Green is known as a progressive college town, but there are still opponents of equality working hard to misinform voters about the true intent and impact of the anti-discrimination ordinances.

That is why a broad coalition of residents has formed One Bowling Green, a campaign to educate voters about the importance of protecting the non-discrimination ordinances. In a city of only 30,000 residents, speaking with voters personally about these ordinances will be critical to success in November. Of course, speaking with voters one-on-one requires time and resources.

The repercussions of losing our hard-won equality are too many to consider. Having job and housing protections stripped from us will be devastating.  Contact One Bowling Green and join the fight for fairness now.

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, President, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington DC, 20036

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Celebrating Diversity and Fighting for DADT Repeal in Manchester, NH

“My daughter has risked her life in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and has a high security clearance from the United States government. We are her family and we accept her, why can’t the United States military?” a mother asked me bright and early Saturday morning.

I was surrounded by booth after booth celebrating the diversity of Manchester, NH at the fourth annual People Fest in Veteran’s Park. People Fest is an incredible open air festival that brings together the many cultures of the area, from its early Irish settlers to the French Canadian and Lebanese populations (to name a few) that have grown and prospered over the decades.

With the sounds of traditional Native American drums as a backdrop, I listened to the story of a woman from a small town in New Hampshire who was too afraid of jeopardizing her daughter’s celebrated military career to get involved in our campaign to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell beyond signing a petition.

Amidst the celebrations and festive music, I realized; we have so much more to do.

Luckily, People Fest was the right place to be. With the help of Mary Lou Paquette, a twenty year veteran who has been a powerful voice in New Hampshire, and Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress, we gathered more than 120 petition signatures to Senator Judd Gregg asking for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year at this fantastic local event.

That night, with the dedication of super volunteers Tom Lavalley and Joshua Bedard, we more than doubled our efforts by pounding the pavement the old fashioned way. We heard more stories, got more signatures, and listened to more messages as they were left on the voicemail of Senator Gregg’s Manchester office.

Hopefully, by this time next year, the woman I met Saturday morning, and the hundreds of supporters I have spoken to over the last months will be able to take a sigh of relief, and reflect upon the fact that we did it. We made history. We will repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year, but only with your continued support.

Zandra from Granite State Progress

We are so close to this historic vote, and there is no way that we’re going to let up the pressure now. Please join us Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 4 Park Street in Concord at 5:30 p.m. to make calls to make the difference. This is the last leg, and we need you now more than ever!

Please contact Christine Sloane at Christine.Sloane@hrc.org for more information.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

The Religious Right is freaking and fighting over Prop. 8

Pam has the email from NOM’s Brian Brown:

This is a ruling that not only ignores the clear, legally-enacted will of the people of California, but jeopardizes the marriage laws of 45 states and threatens to strip millions of Americans of our core civil right to vote for marriage. We will fight back! Details to follow . . . .

We’ll be fighting harder, Brian. We want our equality. At the Courage Campaign Prop 8 Trial Tracker, Adam Bink reports that Brian blew off a conference call with supporters tonight. Jeremy Hooper has more on the NOM fail.

Via press release, Robert Knight, who claims to be the author of DOMA, is asking for prayers:

“The judge’s contempt for the rule of law and a constitutionally guaranteed self-governing republic cannot be overemphasized,” said Robert Knight, Senior Writer and Washington , D.C. Correspondent for Coral Ridge Ministries , who was a draftsman of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. “With courts turning traditional values into a form of ‘hate’ actionable under the law, we are seeing the criminalization of not only Christianity but of the foundational values of civilization itself.

“As the case heads to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually to the Supreme Court, Americans need to pray that the judges diligently seek wisdom before ruling. And we urge our constituents to encourage public officials to support ways to stop the judicial wrecking ball from further damaging God’s oldest human institution – marriage.”

And, from Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin, an intra-right wing blame game is underway:

This is hilarious. Matt Staver’s Liberty Counsel, which is closely aligned with Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, issued a press release blaming the Prop 8 decision on the Alliance Defense Fund.

Have at it.

Of course, the religious right does have Newt Gingrich and Mary Matalin on their side. Both of them are huge proponents of marriage, having each been married three times. Rush will undoubtedly weigh in tomorrow. He’s been married four times.


—  John Wright