HRC Joins Yepsen and Others in Upstate New York Rally for Equality

The following post comes from Field Staff memberJessica Jensen. Jessica is just one of 30 HRC staff that will be on the ground in 16 states by Election Day, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the upcoming elections:

This past Monday, I was welcomed to the charming city of Troy in upstate New York with one of my favorite things in the world: a big pro-equality rally.  The rally was sponsored by pro-equality state Senate candidate Joanne Yepsen, and was held to denounce the recent discriminatory remarks of New York Governor hopeful Carl Paladino.  Yepsen was joined by several others, including openly gay Troy City Councilman Ken Zalewski and HRC’s National Field Director Marty Rouse, in promoting a message of tolerance for everyone.  It was a great introduction to Yepsen’s terrific campaign and I’m excited to get to work up here in the 43rd district of New York fighting for equality throughout the state!

If you live near New York’s Capital District area and are interested in volunteering for a pro-equality state Senate candidate, please contact Field Staff Jessica Jensen at 202-716-1658.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Openarms Youth Project holds It Gets Better Rally

The Openarms Youth Project featured in the New York Times and located in Tulsa, Oklahoma had a “It Gets Better” rally to show support for the area’s LGBT youth in response to the epidemic of teen suicides in response to being bullied for their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

I personally attended the event and the stories that were shared and program was incredibly moving. A friend of mine, Professor Laura Belmont, was interrupted by a group who loudly drove their truck parallel to the rally and screamed unintelligible gibberish while she tried to speak. I heard something to the effect of “Lesbians… blah! blah! blah!” Laura responded gracefully and humorously, and continued on but it was a fine example of why those teens need our support. The teen years are hard enough without being isolated as some kind of pariah, and even assaulted, for your actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Please read the comments at the end of the article as another example of just how necessary it is to work for changing the climate of hate, willful ignorance and intolerance that exists here at ground zero that is ripe for needed change.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

WATCH: MTV News on Joel Burns, Andy Moreno

MTV News came to North Texas last week to interview Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns about his “It Gets Better” speech, but they ended up sticking around for Thursday’s rally in support of Andy Moreno outside North Dallas High School. Actually it looks like they missed most of the rally itself. But anyhow, the best thing about these two clips is that you can watch ‘em both in about 2 ½ minutes.

—  John Wright

HRC Supporters Rally with Obama in Ohio

Terry Penrod, member of HRC's Board of Directors, attends the rally at Ohio State

On Sunday evening, HRC supporters joined 35,000 other progressive voters to rally with the president and first lady at Ohio State University in Columbus.

President Obama reminded us that change does not often come quickly, and that the stakes in this election are huge.  We have a choice to keep moving America forward with policies that will move us into a clean energy economy with clean energy jobs, that will maintain higher education affordability, continue tax cuts for middle-class Americans and advance our civil rights.  Or, we will go back to the failed policies of the Bush years.  It’s a pretty simple and a pretty stark choice.

I felt the excitement of 2008 all over again, and President Obama’s message is just what we needed to hear—in clear terms—how we must all get out to vote for fair-minded legislators at the local, state and federal levels so the policies that we all care so much about—like the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the Employment Non-discrimination Act—have a chance to pass.

It’s now or never, and I urge all Ohioans to get involved with our HRC election efforts in Ohio by emailing me:  Karin.quimby@hrc.org.

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by the Ohio Democratic Party.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Youth First Texas leader Sam Wilkes speaks from experience about the struggles of gay teens

Sam Wilkes speaks during the safe schools rally in Lake Cliff Park on Friday.

Sam Wilkes is development director and the only paid staff member at Youth First Texas.

On Sunday he appeared on Lambda Weekly to talk about bullying and how groups like YFT can help.

Wilkes said an estimated one-third to on- half of teen suicide attempts are by LGBTQ youth.

The Centers for Disease Control lists suicide as the third leading cause of death of people ages 15 to 24, just behind accidents and homicide. More than 4,000 young people commit suicide every year — that’s one every two hours.

According to estimates, 100 to 200 attempts are made for every actual suicide.

On Friday, at a rally in Lake Cliff Park in Oak Cliff to support safe schools, Wilkes spoke about the youth who attend YFT.

“These are youth who are marginalized and have no other place to turn,” he said. “In fact many of them are homeless because they feel they are safer on the streets than they are in their own homes.”

On Lambda Weekly, Wilkes told his own story and talked about why he’s so passionate about helping other young people.

When he was 18, Wilkes’ mother asked him whether he was gay. Although Wilkes knew he was different from the time he was 12, he wasn’t ready to come out. So he gave his mother an answer that was ambiguous and non-committal.

The next day, his mother handed him a letter that said he was no longer welcome in the house.

Wilkes was fortunate because he already had a job working at a restaurant. He had friends who let him crash on their sofa for several months until he could save enough for an apartment. On his own, he managed to finish school. To this day, he said, his relationship with his parents is nonexistent.

But not all youth are even as fortunate as he was, he said. He called his job at Youth First Texas the best opportunity anyone could have.

Wilkes said more than half of youth at YFT have contemplated or attempted suicide before coming to the center. But after they become involved at YFT and meet other LGBTQ youth, depression and risky behavior decreases tremendously.

—  David Taffet

Rally for trans girl barred from running for homecoming queen

Dallas Voice:

Hundreds of students at North Dallas High School chanting “Whose queen? Our queen!” and carrying “Team Andy” signs surround Queer LiberAction member Elizabeth Pax, holding megaphone, and transgender student Andy Moreno, standing behind Pax, during a rally in support of Moreno, who was denied the opportunity to run for homecoming queen even though students had nominated her. NDHS Principal Dinah Escanilla said Moreno couldn’t be homecoming queen because she is “a boy” and refused to allow votes for Moreno to be counted.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Join HRC before the Rally to Restore Sanity

We hope that many of you will be spending the last weekend before this year’s critical elections volunteering for pro-equality candidates. By election day, HRC will have more than thirty staff working on elections in 18 states, supplementing the efforts of thousands of HRC members who are actively volunteering for pro-equality candidates.

However, if you’re planning to be in Washington, D.C. on October 30th for the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies, please join us that Saturday from 9-12 at HRC headquarters. Grab some coffee and refreshments while you help us make calls to get out the vote for priority candidates, make signs for the rally and meet other progressive and equality-minded folks before heading down to the Mall.

Event details are below:

Saturday, Oct. 30 2010
9am-12pm at HRC Headquarters
1640 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

The rallies will be held from 12 p.m.-3 p.m on the National Mall. More information on the rallies.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

DVtv: Rally to support Andy Moreno at NDHS

Read our story on the rally by going here. To see more photos, go here.

—  John Wright

Scenes from today’s rally outside North Dallas High School in support of Andy Moreno

If you turn on the local TV news tonight, you’ll undoubtedly see coverage of today’s rally outside North Dallas High School in support of Andy Moreno, the transgender girl whose principal decided she wasn’t fit to run for homecoming queen. A dozen or so protesters from Queer LiberAction gathered on a street corner in front of the school at about 3:30 p.m. As the bell rang a few minutes later and students poured down the front steps, QL organizer Elizabeth Pax yelled through a megaphone for those who support Andy to join the protesters. Hundreds of students swarmed the street corner, cheering and chanting as Moreno stood alongside Pax looking on. Crews from several local TV stations, as well as from CNN and MTV News, were on hand. The protesters and students, including Moreno, eventually marched up and down Cole Avenue yelling things like “Who’s queen? Our queen!” as police and school officials watched nearby. We’ll post a full story and video from the rally shortly. More pics below.

UPDATE: We’ve posted our story here.

—  John Wright

Pastor Plans Rally Against Eddie Long

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The firestorm surrounding Bishop Eddie Long will get some fresh fuel later this month, when a South Carolina Pastor named Prophet H. Walker leads a rally in Georgia calling for Long’s resignation.

“[Long] has no right to assume the office of pastor at any Christian church. A pastor should be above reproach,” said Walker, whose rally against Long will be held on Halloween. Long, a homophobic conservative, has been accused of sexually assaulting four young men from his congregation.

The claims against Long come as no surprise to radio host Reuben Armstrong, who says someone came to him in 2006 and told him, “Bishop Long was allegedly grooming young vulnerable male members of his church for his own personal sexual use.” Armstrong has always been a voracious critic of Long, whom he included in his best-selling book, Crooks and Homos in the Pulpit.

Long, meanwhile, maintains his innocence and refuses to back down.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright