Going All Out for Pro-Marriage Equality Tim Kennedy in Western NY

The following is from HRC Field Fellow Errin E. Doyle:

The New York state Senate race for the 58th District is heating up and HRC endorsed candidate, Tim Kennedy, has a headquarters full of HRC volunteers helping to spread his pledge to change the way business is done in our capital.  Less than two weeks before Election Day, Tim’s grassroots efforts are being supported by volunteers from all over western New York.

My experience as an HRC Field Fellow is teaching me a tremendous amount about political campaigns and community organizing.  Assembling HRC and community members alike has been a chief focus of my work with the campaign.  I’ve been able to reach out through traditional methods like calls and emails, as well as blogging through blogging here at Back Story.

It just so happens that one of these blogs was read and well-received by Jacob Edmister, a western New Yorker who responded to our call to action by signing up to volunteer with Kennedy’s team.  Together, we canvassed Buffalo neighborhoods, convincing others to join the worthy cause.

We all continue to make phone calls to people in the district, ushering in volunteers and prospective votes.  To increase the numbers, large phone banks are being held at headquarters on a regular basis, including a great one last night.  All are welcome to join our push to elect Tim Kennedy for New York’s 58th Senate District.

If you’re in the Buffalo area and interested in meeting other HRC members and volunteering on a strong, pro-equality campaign, please contact Regional Field Organizer David Contreras Turley at 202.330.3790 for more information.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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NY One Step Closer to Marriage Equality with Tim Kennedy Primary Win

Tonight NY state Senate candidate Tim Kennedy’s had a triumphant victory over anti-equality state senator William Stachowski in the SD 58 Democratic primary election. HRC endorsed Tim Kennedy, a pro-equality candidate, as part of the Campaign for New York Marriage, which aims to help re-elect senators who supported marriage equality, defeat incumbent opponents and elect fair-minded candidates to open seats.

“Tonight voters sent a clear message to lawmakers everywhere that taking a stand for equality is the right thing to do,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “With high reelection rates for incumbent state Senators, Tim Kennedy’s win is a tremendous victory for treating every New Yorker with dignity and respect.”

“I would like to thank the Human Rights Campaign for the assistance they have provided in my effort to change Albany,” Kennedy said. “HRC staff and volunteers played a key role in ensuring a major victory.”

HRC’s Campaign for New York Marriage has been working in cooperation with Fight Back New York, Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry and Marriage Equality New York to close the eight-vote gap blocking marriage equality in the New York state Senate. As part of the campaign, HRC endorsed Tim Kennedy and provided direct contributions, staff resources and volunteers to his campaign. Unfortunately two endorsees – Charlie Ramos and Lynn Nunes – were not successful in their primaries today.

HRC’s New York PAC has raised over 0,000 so far this election cycle and mobilized its 70,000 members in the state. HRC’s involvement in New York state elections dates back to 2007, when HRC endorsed pro-equality candidate Craig Johnson from Long Island won a seat in the state Senate that had been held by anti-equality senators for over 100 years.

Solmonese added, “With marriage equality hanging on the balance as we look toward November, this is a critical election season in New York. The Empire State will be a national leader in fight for equality.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Join the Blend’s live chat with Billy Kennedy, who is challenging GOPer Virginia Foxx

You all remember Virginia Foxx. She’s the class act who said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a hoax. Seriously:

this — the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.

This year, Foxx has a Democratic opponent, Billy Kennedy. Pam’s hosting a chat with him tonight, which you can join here. Pam has a post with some background on Kennedy here.




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Kennedy Center Honors Herman, Winfrey

BILL T JONES JERRY HERMAN OPRAH WINFREY X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMBill T. Jones, Jerry Herman, and Oprah Winfrey are among this year’s Kennedy Center honorees for their contributions to the arts.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

A pleasant surprise phone call – Billy Kennedy dialing for dollars to unseat vile Virginia Foxx

This was a really interesting and unexpected event. Kate and I were watching VH1 Classics “Best of I Love the 70s” and the phone rings.

Usually if we don’t recognize the phone number we ignore it because it’s usually tele-spam (how many of you have received the urgent “we need to talk to you about reducing your interest rate NOW” from your credit card company that you have zero balance with). Kate this time decided to ask who was calling and it was Billy Kennedy, running for the U.S. Congressional seat in the 5th District of NC currently held by the repulsive, homophobic embarrassment Virginia Foxx.

Since I’ve blogged about Foxx and Kennedy’s campaign several times I thought that he was calling to ask about whether I could do a live blog or some fundraising pitch on the Blend, but he actually was just dialing for dollars outside of his district with the usual list, and I was on it. I don’t think my name clicked at first, but as we continued our conversation he made the connection.

He started laughing because I was the last person on the call list for the evening and he hadn’t made the connection. Anyway, I told him that it would be great to have him on the Blend for a liveblog to talk about Foxx’s poor record of serving her district and what he plans to bring to the table.

What he has said in the past:

I will not run a wedge campaign. I want to focus on what all of us can do to improve our lives. I plan to listen to my constituents and hear what’s important to them because I respect other people’s points of view. I will not allow my opponent to play “gotcha” politics on these questions of individual liberty.

I want to make it clear. I support freedom and equal rights for all people. I will protect all individual constitutional rights, without allowing politicians to pick and choose which Amendments deserve to be taken seriously.

Even when a candidate or political party wins an election through the use of a wedge issue, once they arrive in Washington they do nothing to further its cause. That is when it becomes painfully clear that the candidate never had any real commitment to the issue itself. The candidate simply used the issue to try to fool the people and win the election at any cost.

So once Billy recalled PHB, he was excited about the prospect of a liveblog, as he’s done them on DKos as well as Crooks & Liars and it would be nice to give him as boost – the 5th deserves better. We will have a date for a liveblog soon.  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

A letter to the Pentagon about DADT from Lynne Kennedy, a military spouse

The Pentagon is surveying military spouses about the repeal of DADT. Servicemembers United calls that survey “insulting and derogatory.” SLDN wants the Pentogon Working Group to hear from spouses and family members who have been directly impacted by DADT. From SLDN:

With the Pentagon’s family survey now in the field, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), will release a letter each day this week from family members and spouses of former service members impacted by DADT. As the Pentagon reaches out to 150,000 straight couples on how their lives are impacted, these letters will share the perspective of those forced to serve under this law alongside their loved ones. SLDN is urging supporters of repeal to call, write, and schedule in-district meetings with both their senators as the defense budget, which contains the repeal amendment, moves to the floor just weeks from now. www.sldn.org/action.

Here’s the first letter. It’s from Lynne Kennedy, the partner of Capt. Joan Darrah, U.S. Navy (Ret.):

General Carter F. Ham
Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe
Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group

Hon. Jeh C. Johnson
General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense
Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group

Dear General Ham and Mr. Johnson:

In 1990 – while working as a reference librarian at the Library of Congress — I met Joan Darrah, an active duty Naval Officer. I already knew about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but I soon woke up to the harsh reality that loved ones of gay and lesbian family members are forced to serve in silence, too.

Over the years, Joan had adjusted to living two lives — in the closet at work and out after hours. For me, it was a bit of an adjustment as I had been fortunate to work for an employer who valued my skills and expertise and realized that my being a lesbian in no way detracted from my ability to do a great job.

I knew that Joan could be deployed at any moment. She may be away from home for two or three years. I realized that being with an active duty military officer was even more constricting than I could have possibly imagined and I worried constantly about Joan’s well being. Yet, through it all, I knew our relationship was worth the compromises. I knew we had to make it work for Joan to continue to serve our Country.

There were so many things that we had to be careful about. For example, Joan had asked that I not call her at work unless it was truly an emergency. When we were out in public if Joan saw someone from work, I learned to “disappear,” until Joan’s co-worker moved on. We didn’t dare go to nice restaurants on Valentine’s Day or even Saturday nights. We could not show any familiarity while out in public. I went to parties at colleagues’ homes alone lest a guest I didn’t know learn that Joan was in the Navy.

The events of September 11, 2001, caused us both appreciate more fully the true impact of DADT on our lives and the reality of our mutual sacrifices. At 8:30 a.m. that morning, Joan went to a meeting in the Pentagon. At 9:30 a.m., she left that meeting. At 9:37 a.m., the plane flew into the Pentagon and destroyed the exact space that Joan had left less than eight minutes earlier, killing seven of her colleagues.

In the days and weeks that followed, Joan went to several funerals and memorial services for her co-workers who had been killed. Most people attended these services with their spouses whose support was critical at this difficult time, yet Joan was forced to go alone, even though I really wanted to be with her to provide support.

As the numbness began to wear off, it hit me how incredibly alone I would have been had Joan been killed. The military is known for how it pulls together and helps people; we talk of the “military family,” which is a way of saying we always look after each other, especially in times of need. But, none of that support would have been available for me, because under DADT, I didn’t exist.

In fact, I would have been one of the last people to know had Joan been killed, because nowhere in her paperwork or emergency contact information had Joan dared to list my name.

Whenever I hear Joan recount the events of that day, I relive it and realize all over again how devastated I would have been had she been killed. I also think of the partners of service members injured or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are unable to get any support from the military and they must be careful about the amount of support they offer to their closeted service member loved ones.

The events of September 11th caused us to stop and reassess exactly what was most important in our lives. During that process, we realized that this discriminatory law was causing us to make a much bigger sacrifice than either of us had ever admitted.

Eight months later, in June 2002, Joan retired from the U.S. Navy, and I retired from the Library of Congress. If it wasn’t for DADT, we might both still be serving in our respective positions.

Lynne Kennedy

CC:
U.S. Sen. Carl M. Levin, Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee
U.S. Sen. John S. McCain, Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee
U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Member, Senate Armed Services Committee




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—  John Wright