Friday, October 9, 2009

Email Message From HRC

Dear Daniel,

Sometimes life moves so quickly that you can forget how much is changing around you. But this weekend we will have a powerful reminder: President Obama's appearance at HRC's national dinner. His joining us that night says that although last year, we were outsiders to our own government, this year, we are a part of its vision.

It shouldn't be difficult to see why the president of the United States speaking to the nation's largest LGBT rights group is a good development for LGBT people. But at this point in time, it is hard for many among us to see. The substance of the feeling is this: he promised us the world, and we gave everything we had to elect him. But what has he done?

I've written that we have actually covered a good deal of ground so far. But I'm not going to trot out those advances right now because I have something more relevant to say: It's not January 19, 2017.

That matters for two reasons: first, the accomplishments that we've seen thus far are not the Obama Administration's record. They are the Administration's record so far. If you ask "is that all" my question to you is "is that all you think we're going to push for?" It isn't.

More importantly: today, and for the next seven years and three months, Barack Obama is the most powerful person in the world, with the largest bully pulpit, and the most power to effect change. To do the work, we have to work with our supporters in Congress and with the Administration. Whatever you think of the Administration's first nine months, you don't pass laws by sitting out. You pass laws by sitting at the table.

And you don't get to the table at the expense of your principles. You don't get the President's ear at the expense of your expectations. In June I wrote a letter to President Obama describing HRC's disagreement with his decision to defend DOMA in federal court, and with the offensive and inaccurate arguments the government put forth. It's hard to read such a letter—a public one—from an ally.

But when the President signed a memorandum providing family protections and an inclusive non-discrimination policy for federal employees—policies for which HRC and our sister organizations had advocated—I was proud to be present. Our disagreement about DOMA did not require me to ignore a step forward for transgender federal workers and for same-sex partners. In turn, the President invited me because he recognized HRC's accomplishments in promoting those fair policies, and because he would not exclude a civil rights advocate for speaking up about our community's rights.

Those protections were a good first step. Passing the hate crimes law is a monumental one. I continue to believe that with this president, we will do much more. As we prepare to dedicate HRC's Edward Kennedy award, I know that this president shares his mentor's commitment to promoting justice for LGBT people.

I predict great things coming out of our work with this President, but that does not mean that I am satisfied today. Our community cannot be satisfied so long as DOMA is on the books and an inclusive ENDA is not. This is something we share with all those who advocate for civil rights. No civil rights advocate can be satisfied as long as there are children who eat their only meals in their failing schools each day. No civil rights advocate should be satisfied until all of us have health care and no one has to declare bankruptcy because of a hospital bill. We are not satisfied until this country keeps its promise to everyone.

Advocates for health care, education, LGBT rights and other civil rights issues are getting used to this new landscape, where passing our legislation is possible, but still hard. We've learned that end of life counseling can be twisted into "death panels" and hate crimes into "pedophile protection." We've come to understand that we didn't win it all in November but that we can win now.

I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will look back on the President's address to my community as an affirmation of his pledge to be our ally. I will remember it as the day when we all stood together and committed to finish what Senator Kennedy called our unfinished business. And I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will also look back on many other victories that President Barack Obama made possible.


Joe Solmonese
President, Human Rights Campaign

PS: C-Span will cover President Obama's address live. Tune in on Saturday night at 7:55 p.m. And if you are travelling to DC to participate in the National Equality March, click here for details about the resources HRC will be providing, including the tools you need to become a citizen lobbyist, advocating for all of the rights that you came to march for.

Warning! $467,562 Charge for Same-Sex Partnerships

When we talk about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the fact that, because it prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions, lesbian and gay partners are denied over 1,100 benefits, we're not just talking about marriage, are we? We're really talking about health insurance, Social Security, estate tax and much more.

click here to read the full article

Fred Karger Challenges NOM To Sign Oath Promising Not To Lie

Courtesy of JMG

Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, who is being harassed by NOM's attorneys for demanding their financial records, has issued a challenge for Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown to be completely truthful about their funding.
What’s wrong with these people? Why are they working so hard to harm so many? What is their true motivation? Why do they continue to lie and cover-up at every turn? Well, I for one am fed up with their whining about being the victim here, when in fact, the very opposite is true. They raise millions and millions of dollars to take away the rights from a minority. They beat down people and cast an entire minority as 2nd class citizens – not equal to them. They hide their federal tax returns for two years until just before Thursday’s hearing in Maine. NOM's IRS 990 filings for 2007 and 2008 magically appeared on its web site during the wee hours of Thursday morning. I got tipped off right before the hearing, and I was able to point out the truth to the Ethics Commission. Commission members questioned Brian Brown about that. He said that he wasn’t sure when they were posted. And still no sign of the NOM 501(c)3 Educational Fund's (Tax ID Number 26-0240498) 2008 return.
Here is Karger's oath challenge. Anybody think they'll sign?

posted by JMG

Governator Poised To Veto Milk Day Bill

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is prepared to again veto the bill creating a Harvey Milk holiday, saying he will issue a mass veto of hundreds of bills at once unless lawmakers come to an agreement on reorganizing the state's water system.
Seven hundred bills on issues including education, hospital funding, ammunition restrictions, and a day dedicated to Harvey Milk currently sit on the governor’s desk. The deadline for Schwarzenegger to sign or veto the myriad measures is Sunday at midnight. Members of the California legislature are concerned that the governor will issue a mass veto on the bills unless the lawmakers reach an agreement on reorganizing the state’s water system, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, a Democrat from Fremont, called on Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown on Tuesday to investigate the governor, saying his veto threat amounted to extortion. "These threats are akin to extortion or vote trading, which is illegal," said Torrico, reportsthe Los Angeles Times. "The governor should be very, very careful."
Schwarzenegger first vetoed the Milk holiday bill last year, saying Harvey Milk was not well known enough outside of San Francisco. The Oscar-winning film about Milk's life has surely changed that, but it remains unknown how the governor will vote, should the bill get a stand-alone opportunity.

posted by JMG