Campaign Director for Change.org. On the side I write some sketch comedy, and enjoy being the proud parent of the best dog on the planet.
Tell Law Firm King & Spalding: Don't Defend Bigotry Against LGBT People
King & Spalding is a major international law firm, with offices in more than a dozen cities around the globe. They proudly claim on their website that diversity is a major priority at the firm, and they single out LGBT issues on their website, saying that they value the contributions of LGBT employees and LGBT clients. Yet if King & Spalding is so LGBT-friendly, why is a senior partner at the law firm working with U.S. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner to defend one of the most anti-LGBT laws in the entire country? Paul Clement, a partner with King & Spalding, has been tapped by Rep. Boehner to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- a law that bars LGBT people in the United States from having their relationships recognized. This discriminatory law prevents LGBT couples from sharing in more than 1,100 benefits that straight married couples are able to access, and is also responsible for tearing binational couples apart. Is this type of blatant and unjust discrimination something that King & Spalding wants their name attached to? History doesn't look kindly on law firms that defend bigoted laws. Does King & Spalding want to go down in history as the law firm that tried to keep LGBT people second class citizens in this country? Demand that King & Spalding's Diversity Committee respond to Clement's decision to defend DOMA. They should condemn this decision, and in every way try to disassociate themselves from supporting such an immoral, unjust, and discriminatory law.
Demand resignation of TX Democratic Party Chair who called LGBT people "termites" and "Nazis"
Dan Ramos, Chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, gave an interview last week with the San Antonio Current, where he compared LGBT people to "termites," suggested that the national movement for LGBT equality was "a sinister movement," and compared a local gay rights group to the Nazi Party. And this is a chairperson for the Democratic Party? "They are all connected to the gay Democratic Party, the so-called Stonewall Democrats. Just like termites they managed to get some of their people in key positions," Ramos said of local LGBT political activists. “I liken them to the Tea Party — the Tea Party and the fucking Nazi Party — because they’re 90 percent white, blue-eyed, and Anglo, and I don’t give a fuck who knows that. Just like the blacks … they’re American, but you can’t get your way just because you’re black.” This type of rhetoric is inappropriate from anyone in politics, let alone the Democratic Party chairman. It's time to join with many voices in the local community calling for Ramos to resign. Demeaning and vulgar remarks like this are no sign of leadership, especially in a political party that's supposed to value equality as one of its core principles.
Expand Nondiscrimination Policy Within the University of Alaska System
Students, activists and faculty members have put pressure on the University of Alaska system for years to expand their anti-discrimination policies to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation. And for years, the University of Alaska Board of Regents has rejected these calls, and ignored efforts to address anti-gay discrimination. That soon may be about to change. This week the Board of Regents will meet again, and once more they'll look at whether the University of Alaska system should expand their nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation. Indeed, students, faculty, and even the President of the University of Alaska have said that the time is now for the University of Alaska system to expand their nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation. Send the Board of Regents a note that they should follow the lead of their students, employees and community members, and include sexual orientation in their official nondiscrimination policy.
Tell Seattle Pacific University: Recognize LGBT Group on Campus
Seattle Pacific University was founded in 1891. Looks like their policies are still stuck in the same time period, too. That's because Seattle Pacific University recently ruled that a group of LGBT students and straight allies could not meet on campus, and could not be recognized as having official group status. The group, known as The Haven, hoped to be a place where students could go to discuss issues surrounding the intersection of sexuality and religion. Seattle Pacific University, after all, is a Christian college affiliated with the Christian College Consortium. Yet instead of allowing students with The Haven the chance to discuss issues with one another and create a safe space for all Seattle Pacific University students, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Jeff Jordan, ruled that the club was no longer allowed to be given meeting space on campus, and would not be considered an official campus group. The decision has led students with The Haven to say that college administrators are trying to define LGBT students and straight allies "out of existence." Send administrators at Seattle Pacific University a message that denying LGBT students and straight allies the chance to meet on campus, sends a damaging message about the school's priorities. Is Seattle Pacific University the type of place where speech and ideas related to sexuality and religion are censored? So much for academic freedom ... Moreover, is Seattle Pacific University a place where when it comes to discussions about creating safe spaces on campus for all students, administrators shut the conversation down? That appears to be so, and it does a huge disservice to the reputation of the school. As one student put it in the school's student newspaper, “They can define us out of existence all they want, but Haven will continue to meet on campus because there’s a need for Haven on campus."
Tell UK Home Office: No Government Health Advisors Who Believe Gay People Can Be Cured
Meet Dr. Hans-Christian Raabe, a doctor in the United Kingdom who was just named to a prominent government advisory committee. Dr. Raabe is a member of a religious movement that believes homosexuality is destructive and unhealthy, and that gay people can be cured. He's coordinator of a group known as the Council for Health and Wholeness (CHW), which believes in a host of controversial (and not terribly scientifically sound) theories about homosexuality. Among the more frightening nuggets? "The media and the gay movement portray the homosexual lifestyle as happy, healthy and fulfilled. However, the homosexual lifestyle is associated with a large number of very serious physical and emotional health consequences," says a CHW document authored by Dr. Raabe himself. And there's plenty more. In another document, Dr. Raabe notes: "A high proportion of homosexual men engage in a destructive lifestyle." And then comes the real kicker. This professional, who now sits on a prominent UK advisory board, believes that there's a tie between homosexuality and pedophilia. In a paper that Dr. Raabe co-authored, the medicine man describes gay people as having a penchant for abusing children. "It is of grave concern that there is a disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among pedophiles and an overlap between the gay movement and the movement to make pedophilia acceptable," Dr. Raabe noted in the piece. This type of "science" should simply not be honored or rewarded by the UK government. Send the Home Office and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that you expect their health professionals to stick to science, not anti-gay dogma, in their research and work.
Tell Chris Brown and RazB: Apologize for Anti-Gay Tweets
UPDATE: After numerous emails were sent to RazB's public relations agent, he issued an apology on Twitter. Now Chris Brown has done the same, saying that he regrets using homophobic language over Twitter. Read an updated post here. During a recent Twitter-feud, artists Chris Brown and RazB got into a heated exchange with one another. What did both celebrities resort to in order to bash the other? Damaging and dehumanizing language against people who are LGBT. Here's the Twitter conversation. "@razb2k: Im just sittin here Thinking how can niggas like @ebenet & @ChrisBrown disrespect women as Intelligent as @HalleBerry11 @Rihanna" RazB tweeted. "@ChrisBrown: @razb2k nigga you want attention! Grow up nigga!!! Dick in da booty ass lil boy" Brown responded, alluding to allegations that RazB once made that a former manager sexually assaulted him. Not content with just that response, Chris Brown added another tweet, complete with the #homothug hashtag (meant to demean an LGBT person of color who dresses or acts hip hop): "Tell me this @razb2k!! Why when the money was coming in u won't complaining about getting butplugged! #homothug!!!" Welcome to Chris Brown's latest comedy routine, all jokes about male rape, all the time. Over the past few months, you only have to look as far as the death of Tyler Clementi, or the suicides of a number of LGBT youth who experienced cyber-bullying, to see the tragic consequences of the kind of storm Chris Brown and RazB are brewing here. Can the two have their feud? Sure, go at it. But as celebrities who carry at least a marginal amount of clout, they owe it to their fans and followers not to foster the type of violence that when translated into the real world, outside of the comfort of 140 characters, can have some damaging and dangerous implications. Send Chris Brown and RazB a message that anti-gay bashing has no place on their Twitter accounts. Both artists are interested in rebuilding their careers. Perhaps they should start by not alienating fans who are sick and tired of seeing homophobia given a free pass.
Ask Nashville's Metro Development and Housing Agency to Expand Non-Discrimination Statement
Nashville's Metro Development and Housing Agency works to create affordable housing opportunities for residents of Nashville, as well as build a more vibrant downtown area for the city. The Agency currently has a pretty exhaustive non-discrimination policy, which reads: "The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, color, national origin, religion, disability or any other legally protected status in admission to, access to, or operations of its programs, services, or activities." But the Agency currently includes no discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. And that's something the Mayor of Nashville, Karl Dean, would like to see change. Send the Metro Development and Housing Agency a message that in order for Nashville to be a truly inclusive city, agencies like theirs should step up to the plate and make sure that all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, are rooted out.
Tell Mecklenburg County Board: Censure Anti-Gay Politician Who Called LGBT People "Sexual Predators"
North Carolina had some shining moments this month, at least when it came to LGBT politics. Several members of its congressional delegation in the U.S. House, and both U.S. Senators from the state, voted in favor of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual troops. The success of that vote prompted Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts to circulate a letter to her Republican and Democratic colleagues, asking them to sign on to a bipartisan 'thank you' note to these officials, for standing up for the principle of equality. Only one Mecklenburg Commissioner didn't want to hear it. And he was all too pleased to let his colleagues know it. "Homosexuals are sexual predators," Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James (pictured above, all the way to the right) wrote in an email to his colleagues, which was submitted to qnotes, an LGBT publication in North Carolina. "Allowing homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military with the endorsement of the Mecklenburg County Commission ignores a host of serious problems related to maintaining U.S. military readiness and effectiveness not the least of which is the current Democrat plan to allow homosexuals (male and female) to share showers with those they are attracted to.” It's only the latest outburst from James, who previously made fun of a colleague whose son died of complications from AIDS, who once said all LGBT shove gerbils and hamsters up their rectums, and who said that people of color "live in a moral sewer." Is this really a politician that the rest of Mecklenburg County wants representing them? Urge the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners to officially censure James for his latest outburst. This can't be the national reputation that official in Mecklenburg County want to build for their community.
Tillsonburg Public Library: Don't Censor Gay Art
If you stop on by the Tillsonburg Public Library in Ontario to check out a book, you'll notice a bunch of sculptures in the foyer covered with cloths. No, the library isn't trying to keep these pieces from collecting dust. They're censoring the sculptures because they depict same-sex affection, and they don't want patrons to have to view artwork that features two men embracing. How unfortunate, given that libraries are supposed to be bastions of free expression, where the word censorship rarely comes into play. And the artist behind these sculptures? He's chiding the library for censoring something as innocent as two men hugging. "This censorship is deeply distressing because of the negative message it sends out to the homosexual community," said R. Bruce Flowers, the artist behind the sculptures who lives in London, Ontario. "With this kind of hostility in their own community, what chance do young people have of making their transition into a homosexual lifestyle valid?" Send a message to the Tillsonburg Public Library that sculptures depicting same-sex affection aren't offensive, and shouldn't be covered over. The message censorship sends in this case is that LGBT affection is abnormal and inappropriate. And that's a damning sentiment to breed in a community.