Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of us here at PFLAG National wish all of you a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather together and be thankful for the love and support that we share. For many LGBT people, the holiday seasons can be times of stress and uncertainty, especially for those who are going through journeys of acceptance with their families. PFLAG has resources for both LGBT people, and their loved ones to help make the holidays smoother.

We hope that this is a restful time of thanks and remembrance for what matters most - all of our families and loved ones.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Got MILK?

Tomorrow, on November 26th, Focus Features will release Milk at select theaters throughout the country. The film will expand to more theaters throughout the month of December.

Milk is the inspiring and epic story of Harvey Milk. Harvey Milk was one of the pioneer's of the LGBT movement in the United States. California's first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk served as a San Francisco Supervisor. He was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by Supervisor Dan White. The film is directed by Gus Van Sant and stars Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna and James Franco.

Milk
is already receiving rave reviews: “It’s a total triumph! Brimming with humor and heart. If there’s a better movie around this year, with more bristling purpose, I sure haven’t seen it. An American classic!" says Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.

Are you going to see Milk when it opens this week? Tell us your reviews and what you think! Be sure to check out the theatrical trailer below...


Breaking News: Florida Adoption Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

The Miami Herald is reporting today that the Miami-Dade Circuit Court has ruled in the case of Frank Martin Gill [pictured], a gay foster parent challenging Florida’s decades-old ban on LGBT people from adopting children.

According to The Miami Herald:

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman Tuesday declared Florida's 50-year-old ban on gay adoptions unconstitutional -- a ruling state lawyers immediately said they would challenge.

The ruling sets the stage for Frank Gill, a gay man from North Miami, to adopt two foster children he has raised since 2004.

In a 53-page ruling, Judge Lederman said, ``It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent."

Two lawyers from the Florida Attorney General's Office said they would file an appeal Tuesday. ''We respect the court's decision,'' said Assistant Attorney General Valerie Martin. ``Based upon the wishes of our client, the Department of Children & Families, we will file an appeal.''

Gill, who is raising the half-brothers, ages 4 and 8, said he was ''elated'' by the ruling and ``I cried tears of joy for the first time in my life.''

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just a "Plain Old Married Couple"

They've been together since October 15, 1974. And this year, on October 15, David Grice and John Naylor [pictured] tied the knot in Presidio park in San Diego, California. Despite the disappointing outcome of Proposition 8, their marriage is considered valid as it took place before the election.

Today in Savannah, Georgia's The Savannah Morning News catch a glimpse in the lives of a self-proclaimed "plain of married couple" living back in Georgia - with their California marriage license. And while Georgia and the U.S. federal government might not recognize their marriage, they feel it has given them finally the right to be the "plain old" couple with the added recognition of a legal marriage certificate.

Read more about David and John's wedding in California. Hopefully in time the door will be opened again for more couples to wed once again in California!

Friday, November 21, 2008

PFLAG Talks to USA Today About Post-Election Priorities and Strategy

In today's paper, USA Today reporter Andrea Stone looks at the future of LGBT advocacy - including priorities for the movement and the fight for marriage equality - following ballot measures on election day that rolled back rights for same-sex couples in California and amended the constitution in Florida and Arizona to discriminate against our families.

"Gay rights activists are re-thinking their political strategy," Stone writes, noting that federal legislative issues, such as employment non-discrimination and hate crimes, may move to the top of the list, especially given President-elect Barack Obama's strong support for both measures and because of a re-energized, pro-equality majority in Congress.

"There will be some hard questions asked about where marriage ranks on the list of possibilities and priorities," PFLAG told Stone, who also noted that "PFLAG plans programs . . . in January in California, New York and Iowa in which parents of gays will talk to members of their chuches, especially in minority communities where opposition to same-sex marriage is strong."

That effort will be part of a renewed focus by PFLAG, as part of our faith program, to bring together parents, faith community leaders and local congregants for a tough but necessary conversation about what it means to be a person of faith . . . and a person who embraces fairness. PFLAG's efforts will "focus on education to sway not only lawmakers but the public," Stone writes.

To read the full USA Today report, click here. And leave your thoughts, here in the comments section, about new priorities, possibilities and strategies for the LGBT movement.

How I Met Neena Mabe

Last April, I had the opportunity to do a Straight for Equality in the Workplace training with one of our corporate partners, Replacements Ltd. During the course of the planning process, I contacted the Winston-Salem PFLAG chapter to locate a parent to join me and speak at the training. Chapter president Thomas Farmer told me, “I’ve got the perfect person for you – you’re going to love her.”

And that’s how I met Neena Mabe.

Not only did Neena play a powerful and memorable role in the Straight for Equality training speaking as a PFLAG mom, but she brought her daughter, Kate [pictured,right], along for the workshop. The two had become progressively more involved in the work to move equality forward in their community through projects with both PFLAG and GLSEN.

I was lucky enough to get to spend some time talking to Kate, who is a sharp, funny, and powerful young woman who is the perfect example of how fierce determination, partnered with support at home, really does lead to big change. She’s become an activist in her school, member of the GLSEN Jump-Start Team, and a member of her local PFLAG chapter. She’s generated so much attention to the issues that students face in school that she was just featured in a great profile in the Winston-Salem Journal.

So mother and daughter are making change in North Carolina, with Neena active in her PFLAG chapter (and recently a co-presenter with fellow PFLAGer Andrea Angelo at the Equality North Carolina State Conference talking about Straight for Equality) and Kate making schools safer, one person at a time. They make me proud to be part of PFLAG and genuinely hopeful that no matter what resistance we face, no matter where we are, we do have the ability to change the world.

- Jean-Marie Navetta

Thursday, November 20, 2008

PFLAG: On the Radio

You can tune into 103.9 FM in Toronto (via their online listening link) to hear PFLAG weigh in on the California Supreme Court’s decision to review Proposition 8.

The interview is scheduled to air between 4 and 5pm EST today.

Those Who Can’t Remember Our Past are Doomed to Repeat It


This evening PFLAG National will honor the 10th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge Street NW, Washington, D.C.) at 6:30 pm. The annual event marks a solemn tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred and also aims to raise awareness of the constant reality of unembarrassed harassment and violence experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

In this year alone we have lost a record number of transgender and gender non-conforming people because of unembarrassed brutality. While we may be familiar with the names and narratives of some people like Lawrence King, Angie Zapata, Duanna Johnson and most recently Latiesha Green, it is important to note that others are no longer with us this year because of the same kind of ignorance, fear and brutality we have read about in these more popular narratives.

The commencement of Transgender Day of Remembrance was intended to honor Rita Hester, who was murdered in 1998. Her death led to the "Remembering Our Dead" project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Since 1998, the event has become more ubiquitous - dozens of cities all across the country including the nation’s capital pay tribute to those we have lost. November 20th is also honored as an international day of solidarity to end anti-transgender hatred and prejudice by countries including Turkey, Germany, Italy, the UK amongst many others.

It is our hope that one day anti-transgender hatred and, more generally, gender oppression will no longer be portrayed as virtuous and morally defensible by those who falsely use their faiths or culture as justification. In order to get to this day where we celebrate gender diversity, it is imperative that we continue to educate our friends, family members and potential allies about the cruel and unjust treatment that so many of our transgender and gender-nonconforming family and friends experience on a daily basis. On this special day, we challenge you to take a friend to your local Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial, pay tribute to those that we have lost, and begin the dialogue discussing how we can build a better future free from anti-transgender hatred.

-Rhodes Perry

PFLAG Applauds CA Court's Decision to Review Proposition 8


PFLAG today applauded a decision by the California Supreme Court to review Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriage that was approved by voters on November 4. In an order issued on Wednesday, the court agreed to hear a challenge to the proposition as early as March 2009. In the interim, the court has declined to issue a stay. The court challenge was brought by a coalition of organizations working in California, including The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and The National Center for Lesbian Rights. The City of San Francisco is also challenging the measure.

“The California Supreme Court has taken a second, bold stand for families in the state and we welcome its decision to review Proposition 8,” said Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG. “The proper checks and balances role of the judiciary is to ensure that majority rule doesn't undermine minority rights, and the court has an important role to play in that process. Loving couples and their families should be protected, not neglected, under the law. Proposition 8 singled out a specific community of Californians for discrimination and created a category of ‘separate and unequal’ for same-sex couples. That is wrong, and the measure should be struck down by the court.”

In May, California became the second state, following Massachusetts, to grant same-sex couples the right to marry. According to the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles, more than 102,000 same-sex couples live in the state, and more than 50,000 planned to wed in the next three years. More than 18,000 couples have already been married in the state. Following California’s decision, Connecticut has also recognized marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples.

“The California Supreme Court has blessed our family,” PFLAG parents Ken and Molleen Matsumura of Oakland, California, wrote shortly after the May decision. “All loving parents hope to see their child secure in the love of their chosen partner in life, if the child chooses to marry. That means someone who can visit her in the hospital, tell the doctors what to do if she can't speak for herself, share their earnings and insurance and support each other in building financial security [and] share a name if they so choose.”

The court has invalidated three similar ballot measures in the past. California Attorney General Jerry Brown encouraged the court to review Proposition 8, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed strong support for the original ruling, recognizing full marriage rights for all couples.

“As the court considers the future of Proposition 8, all of us must continue to educate Americans from every state about the legal jeopardy our families face because of measures like these,” said Huckaby. “Our opponents are already targeting other parts of the country for campaigns similar to the one in California. From Massachusetts to California, and right through America’s heartland, there will be a coordinated effort to roll back equality. PFLAG families have a unique role to play in combating those efforts, alongside allies such as those who brought this challenge in California, and we will continue to do so.”

Live Chat Event: A Conversation with Anti-Amendment Leaders

In the wake of our community's disappointing ballot measure losses in California, Florida and Arizona, many people have asked: What lessons can we learn from our election day experience? And what happens next?

Tonight, three leaders of the campaigns to defeat anti-marriage amendments will answer those questions - and more - as part of a live-blog event at The Bilerico Project.

Bilerico readers will be able to chat with Kate Kendall, who helped spearhead efforts against California's Proposition 8 . . . our own PFLAG board member Nadine Smith (pictured), who led the fight in Florida . . . and Barbara McCullough-Jones, who was on the frontlines of the battle in Arizona.

"They'll take your questions and comments about Prop 8, Amendment 2, and Prop 102, the recent protests, and what went wrong," Bilerico founder Bil Browning says. "Best of all, we'll talk about where we go from here."

The conversation starts at 7pm ET tonight. To join in, visit The Bilerico Project online.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

100 Days to Fight HIV/AIDS

Yesterday I attended the National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education’s bi-annual meeting in New York City. At the meeting, I learned that there will be a rally in Lafayette Park (Washington, D.C.) tomorrow at 12:30 pm. The goal of the rally is to urge the next president to make HIV/AIDS a national priority within the first 100 days. As we all know, marginalized communities – including low-income, People of Color (POC) and LGBT communities – are hardest hit by the epidemic. After 27 years of ideology-driven prevention policy, community organizations are now urging the new president to move in a new direction and launch a comprehensive national AIDS strategy that includes:

· Treatment and care for all people in the US living with HIV/AIDS

· Housing for all people living with HIV/AIDS

· Advance HIV prevention justice

· Reform the US Global HIV/AIDS Plan

Despite the chilly weather, I encourage everyone who can to visit Lafayette Park tomorrow and join other community members and organizations including the African Services Committee, the American Medical Student Association, the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project and Advocates for Youth amongst many others to call for the next president to make HIV/AIDS a top priority.

If you have any questions about the event, please don’t hesitate to ask me or visit www.100daystofightaids.org.

-Rhodes Perry

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Call for Repeal, and a Timeline That Makes Sense

It would appear that there are now very few military leaders who continue to believe that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" serves any useful purpose. Following on the heels of respected leaders like retired Joint Chiefs Chairman John Shalikashvili, retired Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy and retired (and legendary) Army Brigadier General Pat Foote, the Associated Press reports that a group of more than 100 Generals and Admirals have added their names to the list of those who want this unfair, counter-productive law to finally end.

"As is the case with Great Britain, Israel, and other nations that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, our service members are professionals who are able to work together effectively despite differences in race, gender, religion, and sexuality," the officers wrote. "The list of 104 former officers who signed the statement appears to signal growing support for resolving the status of gays in the military," the AP added in its story announcing the statement.

The truth, as we all know, is that the officers are right. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is not in the best interest of our national security and it forces brave, patriotic service members - who happen to be LGBT - to serve in unacceptable silence. We can all agree that it is long past time for this law to be repealed, and to allow those who serve our country to do so without a shadow of prejudice and implied indignity to cast over them, courtesy of the federal government.

But . . .

Continue reading this post at The Bilerico Project . . .

Equality Starts at Home

Today I have a personal story to share with everyone. Yesterday I received a phone call from my mother. And the conversation caused me to have an "a-ha!" moment, and made me realize how much work we have to do on education and advocacy in this country for LGBT people.

Now, my parents have always been supportive of my being openly gay, and I always assumed my de-facto PFLAG parents “got it” when it came to LGBT equality issues. So last night when talking to my mom on the phone, the conversation turned somehow to the progress of LGBT people in America. It went something like this:

My Mom - “But one thing I don’t understand, Adam, is the whole gay marriage thing. I mean, why can’t gay people just live together, why do they need to get married?”

Me - “OK, Mom, I’m glad you asked. Let’s talk about this...”

So I began going through the many, many legal, financial and social ramifications of the legal contract that is marriage. And I asked the simplest question of all: “Why did you and Dad get married, then?”

In just a short conversation, she admitted, there were so many angles she’d never considered before. She conceded that marriage equality suddenly made perfect sense.

My point is this: sometimes even LGBT-friendly people out there, because of lack of education or exposure, don’t “get” why gays lack rights, or even need them.

It’s not always homophobia, I’ve learned. I’m coming across more and more straight allies who love their LGBT family members and friends - but because they aren’t personally experiencing discrimination, sometimes don’t see what it is that LGBT people are missing out on.

I have a feeling if we educate potential allies more, we’ll discover that by sharing our stories and experiences, we can open peoples’ eyes to discrimination they didn’t realize even existed. And then we will truly be making change.

A New Resource for Latino Families from PFLAG & The Unity Coalition


There is a new, invaluable resource for Latino and other Spanish-speaking families and LGBT people searching for information and organizations serving their communities.

Florida's Unity Coalition, based in Miami, has announced the first-ever National Latino and Hispanic LGBT Resources Center Hotline –the first ever of its kind- which is being implemented in unison with PFLAG and a network of other organizations from coast to coast that will solidify the resources available but often overlooked or not known to smaller communities.

As a service to family members and allies seeking resources as well, the Unity Coalition has partnered with PFLAG to ensure programming, resources and contacts are available which address the unique needs of loved ones seeking information on coming out, support and other issues. With more than 500 chapters and affiliates throughout the country - including a diverse PFLAG network reaching the Latino/a, Haitian, Creole, Asian-American and African-American communities - PFLAG is available to provide confidential and supportive resources at the local level. The Unity Coalition's hotline will be able to make critical connections between families in need and the trusted support available from PFLAG nationally.

"Unity Coalition / CoaliciĆ³n Unida looks to the community and its resources to improve the quality of life for all Americans, offers the leadership to reach Equality for all, and invites the nations’ LGBT leaders & organizations to join in our vision," the organization said in announcing the new hotline, adding that the group will "offer our existing and up and coming leaders the tools needed to reach true EQUALITY FOR ALL in the U.S."

For more information on this new project, click here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The PFLAG Annual Meeting: Saturday in Washington, D.C.

All PFLAG members are invited to join us for the organization's annual meeting, being held this Saturday, November 15 from 9:30 to 11:45am at the Washington Marriott, at 1221 22nd Street, N.W.

In addition to voting on important measures proposed by the PFLAG board, PFLAG members are also invited to a special Straight for Equality training: The Care & Feeding of Straight Allies.

PFLAG's annual meeting is open to all PFLAG members in good standing and the Straight for Equality training is offered to members at no charge. A continental breakfast will be served.

Please make plans to join us on November 15th. And if you're not yet a PFLAG member, but want to sign up, just click here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crisis: A Review by Dave Parker

Dave Parker is a PFLAG National board member and has served as president of TNET, the PFLAG Transgender Network.

"I’d rather be shot dead than know my son is queer!"

To me, this is the heart of the crisis discussed in Mithcell Gold’s book, Crisis. It reflects the verbal abuse of gay young people by those who have a responsibility to love and support them. It also reflects the perverted teachings of many churches – that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) youth are not worthy of respect and love.

The forty short autobiographical sketches that make up the bulk of Crisis largely show over and over the oppression experienced during their formative years by these gay men and women. All of them finally overcame their religion-based oppression. Most are now highly respected leaders in their chosen professions. Still, their stories reveal the years of fear and shame they – and so many others like them – experienced in their most formative years.

Many young gays are not so lucky. Many suffer total rejection by their church, schoolmates, and family, and are left to fend for themselves at a vulnerable young age. They suffer both verbal and physical abuse simply because of who they are. Too many are lost, through murder and suicide. Is no one ashamed that their words have cost these young people their lives?

Crisis stresses the need for acceptance and support of all our GLBTQ children. Parents, churches, schools, and politicians must recognize the grave harm they do not only to the GLBTQ youth themselves, but also to their families and friends.

It is Mitchell Gold’s expressed hope that families, church leaders, politicians, and school authorities will read his book. There is a desperate need for all of them to act to eliminate the violence inflicted on the millions of American GLBTQ teens by the very people charged with protecting them.


To order a copy of 'Crisis,' visit Lambda Rising bookstore online.

Wedding Bells in Connecticut

Despite setbacks in California, Florida and Arizona, there is some good news: this week Connecticut officially opened it's doors to marriage equality and began issues marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Last month, on October 10, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that gay couples must have the same rights to marriage as straight couples. And now that ruling has gone into effect.

Among the couples that gathered in New Haven, Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery (pictured, above) were the first same-sex couple in Connecticut to exchange vows and become legally married.

"Today, Connecticut sends a message of hope and inspiration to lesbian and gay people throughout this country who simply want to be treated as equals by their government," Ben Klein, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, said shortly after the final ruling was issued. The Connecticut decision, Klein said, is "living proof that marriage equity is alive and well and making progress in this country."

Congratulations to all of the couples in Connecticut who are now able to legally marry! Be sure to read the complete story in today's Boston Globe.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Remembering Our Dead – Hate Crime Victim Duanna Johnson Shot to Death

On the night of Sunday, November 9th, Duanna Johnson, a transgender woman, was shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee – almost a week before Transgender Remembrance Day. After witnesses reported hearing gunshots, three people were seen fleeing the crime scene – Johnson’s body was found lying in the street. Memphis police officials have yet to identify any suspects.

This terrible news comes only months after we reported shocking footage of two police officers verbally assaulting and physically beating Johnson at a downtown booking station. The two police officers responsible for the beating were eventually fired. Shortly after the beating, Johnson filed a lawsuit against the City for violating her civil rights. Johnson’s attorney says he still expects one of those officers responsible, Officer Bridges McRae, to face criminal charges – even after Johnson’s death.

Given the recent rash of transgender violence -- Johnson’s attack and a recent death we also reported on in July -- Johnson’s family “hoped and prayed that nothing bad would ever come to her.” They “always felt that Memphis wasn’t the best place for Duanna with everything that had gone on there.” According to Memphis’ ABC24-CW30, Johnson was in the process of moving back to her hometown of Chicago.

Like Tyra Hunter, Gwen Araujo, Brandon Teena and so many others, Johnson joins a tragically long list of transgender and gender non-conforming people who have met their end because of unembarrassed hatred and violence. Study after study indicates that transgender and gender non-conforming people face a higher risk of harassment, vandalism and assault. A simple visit to Remembering Our Dead, provides a disturbing snapshot of what this hatred and violence renders.

While it is not clear whether or not Johnson was the victim of a hate crime, authorities are certain that she already experienced one hate crime earlier this year because of her gender identity and expression. As such, it certainly would not be out of bounds to assume that her death is somehow related. For folks who live in or around Memphis, please note that the Memphis Police Department is asking for anyone with information about Johnson’s death to call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.

- J. Rhodes Perry

Olbermann on Marriage Equality

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC commented on his show recently about the passing of Proposition 8 in California, and his dismay and disappointment with the results. He wonders why anyone would want to deny another person the right to the same things that they enjoy. Be sure to watch this clip...

A New Voice of Support in South Dakota

"I think sometimes we have more closet families than we have closet gays in South Dakota."

"Personally I wish PFLAG would have been here a lot sooner. It would have been great for my family."

"I think by talking and educating the public will dispel a lot of the fear and misinformation."


These are what some LGBT people and their family members are saying about the latest chapter in the PFLAG family: PFLAG Sioux Falls.

Featured on television station KDLT this week, the new Sioux Falls chapter will begin meeting and providing community support the second Sunday of each month.

Click here to watch the video featuring Sioux Falls chapter members, and read the complete story.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Veterans Day, PFLAG Chapters Host LGBT Vets & Their Allies

As our nation pauses today to remember those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country, all of us at PFLAG are reminded of the critical role lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans have made to our national security, too.

Since 1993, more than 12,000 men and women have been unjustly discharged from the armed services because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the federal ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual troops. On average, two more service members are fired under the law every day. LGBT families are denied important benefits that traditionally come along with military service, and our country loses mission-critical specialists - such as doctors, linguists and combat engineers - because of the ban.

At several PFLAG meetings tonight, our chapters will highlight the true costs of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and rally their members to work for repeal of this unfair and un-American law.

As we reported earlier, our Dayton, OH chapter will host Major General Dennis Laich, USA (Ret.) who has been a strong proponent of ending the ban. MG Laich will address PFLAG supporters tonight at 7:30, at the Cross Creek Community Church in Dayton.

And in Maryland, PFLAG Howard County will host former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella (pictured), who served openly during a tour of duty in the Middle East, but was later discharged under the law after appearing on 60 Minutes to talk about his experience as a gay soldier in the war zone. (Darren's mother, Nancy, recently sat down and spoke with PFLAG about her hopes for repeal. You can read that interview here.)

Ahead of tonight's meeting in Howard County, Darren talked to the Baltimore Examiner about his experience in the U.S. Army, his work to topple "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the excuses some right-wing activists use to prop up the law.

To read the full interview, click here. And if you're near Dayton or Howard County, make plans to join PFLAG tonight as we salute America's veterans and recommit ourselves to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" once and for all.

From One Veteran to Another: A Veterans Day Message

This is a guest post from former Navy Petty Officer Jason Knight, who served as a linguist in Kuwait before being dismissed from the armed forces under the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.

The "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918", the symbolic end of the major struggle and the signing of the armistice that ended the first World War, would forever become a day of remembrance for all of those that pledge to serve in the United States Military. And tomorrow, cities across our nation will parade down the streets celebrate of our military heroes.

While I did not follow in the footsteps of family members in the spring of 2001(being the first member in my family to join the military), I continued a long-standing American tradition and took an oath to serve our nation in the United States Navy. Unknowingly, I had joined the rank and file of more than a million service members who have silently served without recognition. The Urban Institute estimates that over a million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans have served in the US Military, and more than 65,000 are selflessly serving today.

Like many of their straight counterparts, LGBT service members have led incredibly distinguished military careers in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Military in dedication to defending our freedom and values.

However, their service has not come without a price. Under the law commonly known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Congress forces our military to separate LGBT service members simply based on who they are. More than 12,500 heroes discharged from the military since 1993; LGBT members are discharged at a rate of 2 a day. This law prevents young adults from following in mom or dad's footsteps through military service, goes against the values we work to keep safe, and creates an environment that is hostile rather than an environment free of discrimination, fear, and ignorance.

But change is coming, and at a growing pace. Many LGBT veterans will be honored by family and friends in remembrance of their service, and many more will march alongside their straight service members in tomorrow's Veterans Day parade with their local AVER chapter (American Veterans for Equal Rights). With the support of our family and friends and the continued support of all of our veterans, we find hope that this next administration will follow the will of the people and urge congress to change this unpatriotic law so Veterans Day continues in the spirit of its inception: in honor of all those who stood to fight for freedom, democracy, and the American way of life.

From one veteran to another, I salute your service.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Yes, He Can."

PFLAG National board member Walter Schubert (pictured) has a post-election blog entry up at the Gay Financial Network site, looking at the promise that is presented by President-Elect Obama's new administration and the struggle for marriage equality in America.

"Its was an historic day for all African Americans to have elected an African American president….but despite his statements that he does not believe in same sex marriage, I ask can he see the misguided way of his thinking on this issue," Schubert writes. "To this I say ‘yes he can.'"

"Can President Obama guide the African American and Hispanic faith based communities into an understanding that we are all children of God and equally deserving of his love?," he asks. "I believe he can…I say ‘yes he can.'"

"Is President Obama willing to spend some of this landslide political capital on abolishing 'Don’t ask Don’t Tell?' I believe he can. Will President Obama and the Democratic Party with clear majorities in both houses bring and pass legislation granting all LGBT American’s the right to marry their own love of their lives? I believe they can."

"To all of the above, the tears in my eyes say 'Yes he can…yes he can…yes he can . . . "

To read Walter's full blog entry, visit the GFN website, here.

Moving On With Optimism

Much has been written and discussed in the last few days about the controversial Proposition 8 in California, which reverses marriage equality. Sadly, two other states - Florida and Arizona - passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

But pro-equality forces aren't giving up.

Take PFLAGers in Naples, Florida. The deeply sad passing of Amendment 2 cast a pall over their annual dinner. But they turned the dinner instead into a celebration of diversity and a place for strategic planning about how to move forward.

With special guests such as Florida’s American Civil Liberties Union executive director Howard Simon, the emphasis was on bringing a wide spectrum of groups together, and focusing on outreach and education.

Be sure to read about PFLAG Naples in The Naples Daily News, and be sure to leave feedback about any activities in your chapter or community about moving forward to bring about marriage equality.

Gender Non-Conforming Mayor Elected in a Landslide Victory

Given the recent attention to heartbreaking defeats in California, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas, we should take some time to recognize some important victories our community accomplished for good measure. As all know that Tuesday was an historic election not only for President-elect Barack Obama, but very few of us know that it was also a historic day for Stu Ramussen (pictured) and the people of Silverton, Oregon, who elected him their first ever gender non-conforming Mayor.

Ramussen, who previously served for two terms as Silverton’s Mayor in the 1990s, campaigned for office this time around with a different gender expression. A few years ago, Ramussen had come out as a “heterosexual male” who “just likes to look like a female.” In the 1990s he was often spotted wearing suits and oxfords. These days -- in post-election glory -- he can be found wearing skirts and high heels.

Because of his gender identity and non-conforming gender expression, Ramussen was unsure how the recent election would turn out. Yet his gender expression very quickly became a non-issue, given the town’s growing concerns about jobs, wage decline and education issues. Silverton residents were eager to see him serve another term because of his past experience as an effective mayor. In the end, Ramussen won the race for the Mayor’s Office by a hefty margin – 13 points, a landslide victory by some standards.

Many in Silverton find it amazing that a small town can be so open-minded in electing Stu Ramussen – the town’s first gender non-conforming mayor, a similar sentiment that many are feeling across the country when thinking of electing Barack Obama – the country’s first African-American President . This election has taught us all an important lesson that no matter a candidates identity – be that their gender identity, ethnic or racial identity – they can win on merit, integrity and a lot of persistence (and potentially caffeine). In the end we all should remember that like Stu Ramussen and Barack Obama – YES WE CAN!

- J. Rhodes Perry

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right

All of us at PFLAG work hard, every day, to ensure that every member of our family is embraced and respected. We are in hundreds of communities across the country, and we know that our families are diverse, and include people of many different racial, religious, ethnic and gender-variant backgrounds. And we recognize that, in order to achieve full equality for everyone, we must all come together as a movement for change.

In the days following the passage of Proposition 8, we have been alarmed, and dismayed, by some of the rhetoric on both sides of the issue of marriage equality. While we understand and feel the horrible pain of having our rights and the rights of our children and loved ones eliminated, we reject the deplorable displays of racism, especially, against the African-American and Latino communities, that have taken place at some Proposition 8 protests. Such behavior is beneath us, and does nothing to move equality forward for our families. Promulgating prejudice against others only divides our community and is not an answer to fighting the discrimination we face ourselves.

We have many allies in the African-American and Latino communities. The late Coretta Scott King, a civil rights icon, stood with us in our fight for full marriage equality. And Mildred Loving, who broke down barriers faced by inter-racial couples in our country, spoke out about the sanctity of our relationships, too. Many members of many communities have made our own movement stronger, and we must respect their legacies, too, which are dishonored by the events in California over the past few days.

PFLAG’s vision of creating a society in which we celebrate diversity is one that is shared across cultures. We know that we all must do much more in partnership within communities of color to achieve our common goals.

As we move forward and work to reverse the discriminatory policies and laws that create second-class citizenship for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, we must also work to bring together, and not tear apart, everyone who believes in the dignity of every person. California, our community and our country are better than what we have seen and heard in the news and on the streets. Two wrongs do not make a right, and we must stand together as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all once more.

- Jody M. Huckaby

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why Are You A Straight Ally?

Lurleen at Pam's House Blend posed a question to her readers yesterday:

Dear Allies,

I spend a lot of time talking to groups of people, telling them why civil/legal equality is important to me, but I realize that I rarely hear from allies why this is important to them. Please tell me your stories. Why are you an ally? What are the LGBT-related issues most important to you?

Are you involved because you find injustice repugnant, because you are upset to see your best friend treated poorly, because your god tells you to, or something else?

Love,

Lurleen

You can weigh in by commenting on Lurleen's post at Pam's House Blend by clicking here.

Change(.gov) That Includes Us, Too

Even as the LGBT community continues to deal with the aftershocks of ballot measures, approved by voters on Tuesday, rolling back and blocking fundamental rights for our families, there is reason to take solace following the historic election of 2008. Yesterday, President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden unveiled their transition website, Change.gov, and their blueprint for the new Administration.

And, for the first time in a long time, the blueprint includes us, too.

As part of their civil rights agenda spelled out on the website, Obama and Biden include two specific, much-needed and long-awaited goals of our community: Employment non-discrimination and a federal hate crimes law.

The new Administration, they pledge, "will also pass . . . the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression," and, the site says, "Obama and Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section."

The new Administration's pledge - following strong support on the campaign trail for also repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - is a welcome breath of fresh air in Washington, where such critical issues have struggled to pass and faced veto threats from the Bush Administration if they did.

Though there are many challenges facing our country - including a struggling economy, wars abroad and a global environmental crisis - we take heart, and hope, in the fact that our families are included in a new agenda, too.

Moving Forward After "Tuesday's Rights-Shredding Exercise"


Yesterday's New York Times included a moving lead editorial about the fight for LGBT equality . . . Tuesday's set-back at the ballot box on LGBT ballot initiatives. . . and our nation's "winding path" to recognizing and respecting fundamental rights for minorities.

Following disappointing results on ballot measures in several states, the Times wrote that, "We do not view these results as reason for despair. Struggles over civil rights never follow a straight trajectory, and the ugly outcome of these ballot fights should not obscure the building momentum for full equality for gay people, including acceptance of marriage between gay men and women. But the votes remind us of how much remains to be done before this bigotry is finally erased."

"Even as the nation shattered one barrier of intolerance [on election night]," the editorial board noted, "we were disappointed that voters in four states chose to reinforce another."

Nothing that passage of Proposition 8 in California would create legal uncertainty for couples previously married in the state, the Times concludeed that the measure there, and in other states, sets a far more troubling precedent wherein "the immediate impact of Tuesday’s rights-shredding exercise is to underscore the danger of allowing the ballot box to be used to take away people’s fundamental rights."

To read the full New York Times editorial, click here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dream Big Dreams: A Message from John Cepek

I thought I’d wake up with a hangover the morning after election day. (No, I didn’t drink much at Sidetrack, Chicago’s preeminent gay bar, where Char and I followed the election returns with supporters of Equality Illinois and hundreds of residents of “Boys Town,” but the atmosphere was heady as cheers arose every time CNN called another state for the president-elect, who is a longtime friend of the LGBT community.)

And when Barack Obama was at last declared the victor, balloons fell, confetti flew, and we laughed and cried. For a man of my age (60), all of that giddiness can produce dire after-effects, especially when subverted by the shock of truly bad news.

The steady drumbeat of defeats in the ballot initiatives in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, and California assaulted me once again with the enormity of prejudice. When I checked the California results at 3 a.m., black clouds covered my heart. I was certain that actual physical pain would greet me in the morning.

But it didn’t. Although I wasn’t as fresh as the first buds of spring, I felt, well, OK . . . considering. For one thing, the words of Winston Churchill played incessantly in my mind: “Never, never, never give up.” For another, I was uplifted by memories of successes in the Land of . . . Obama.

Five years ago, Char and I met Barack Obama at an Equality Illinois gala. He was running for the senate and roving through the crowd to shake hands. We talked for at least five minutes, and Char and I were impressed by his keen mind and palpable decency. I later met him again while I was lobbying for the Illinois “gay rights” bill, which covered gender identity as well as sexual orientation. Obama was a strong supporter of the bill.

For more than thirty years, Equality Illinois, PFLAG, and other organizations and individuals had worked tirelessly to pass that bill. By continually reaching across the aisle and appealing to the better angels of the people of Illinois, we finally succeeded in January 2005. Recognizing that a majority of Illinoisans wanted to end discrimination, Democratic representatives and senators were joined by many Republicans in voting for it.

From the pain, frustrations, and final success of that long campaign, I learned that such victories require patience, persistence, and broad-based support. Though we failed several times, we kept trying, and because of our work, the number of allies supporting us steadily grew. Later, we called upon these same allies to help us keep a marriage-inequality initiative off the ballot. Now, we have a civil unions bill close to passage.

So, am I devastated by our defeats in Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Florida? No, I’m disappointed. That’s all. How can I be depressed when I know we’ve exercised our muscles and built up larger and stronger numbers of supporters? Steadfastly placed on the right side of history, justice, and morality, we’ll ultimately prevail. Consider the power of having a president and Congress more committed to equality and supportive of our efforts to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and pass a trans-inclusive ENDA. Consider the affirming words that will now come from Washington. Consider the power we have in this wonderful organization to compound those gains through Straight for Equality, our Safe Schools initiative, Welcoming Faith Communities, and our other programs. As we create a more positive cultural climate, more and more Americans will join us in moving equality forward.

Last Sunday at our local PFLAG chapter meeting, Bob Minor, who has written extensively about erasing homophobia, urged us to dream big dreams. According to Bob, big dreams are those which require more than a lifetime to achieve. Securing civil and cultural equality for LGBT individuals in America and throughout the world is a big dream.

Together, we’re dreaming that big dream for my son John, for your sons and daughters, for your family members and friends, and for all other LGBT people, and we’ll follow that dream until it is a reality.

My heart goes out to those of you who dreamed and worked so hard in Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Florida. As PFLAG board member Sam Thoron says, you need time to dry your tears, soothe your pain, and heal. You fought the good fight, and you’ll rise to fight again even more energetically and effectively. When I think about California and Sam and his wife Julia’s eloquent statement on marriage equality and their deeply moving television ad, and when I consider the monumental efforts of PFLAG chapter members and national staff, I know we have the talent, brains, and commitment we need to make our dream a reality. We didn’t win this time, but we’re coming closer and closer to victory.

Never, never, never give up. These words worked for Churchill, and they’ll work for us.

Dream big dreams.

- John R. Cepek
PFLAG National President

On Veterans Day, A General Joins PFLAG to Denounce "Don't Ask"

Major General Dennis Laich, USA (Ret.), one of more than 50 retired senior military officers to publicly call for an end to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual troops, will speak on Veterans Day to PFLAG's Dayton, Ohio chapter. MG Laich will be the keynote speaker for the chapter's monthly meeting, which will be held at 7:30pm at Cross Creek Community Church, located at 667 Miamisburg-Centerville Road. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Laich recently joined dozens of other military leaders in issuing a joint statement calling on Congress to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which has resulted in the discharge of more than 12,000 men and women since its implementation in 1993.

“… It is not the place of the military or those in senior leadership to make moral judgments," the letter read in part.

Their statement represented the greatest number of military leaders to simultaneously call for repeal. Those signing the letter join other respected military leaders, such as retired Joint Chiefs Chairman John Shalikashvili and retired Army Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, in calling for an end to the law.

One million lesbian and gay Americans are veterans of the armed forces, and an estimated 65,000 gay troops are currently serving in the United States military.

For more information on MG Laich's Veterans Day address to PFLAG, visit our Dayton chapter on the web.

The PFLAG Annual Meeting: Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C.

All PFLAG members are invited to join us for the organization's annual meeting, being held Saturday, November 15 from 9:30 to 11:45am at the Washington Marriott, at 1221 22nd Street, N.W.

In addition to voting on important measures proposed by the PFLAG board, members are also invited to a special Straight for Equality training.

PFLAG's annual meeting is open to all PFLAG members in good standing and the Straight for Equality training is offered to members at no charge. A continental breakfast will be served.

Please make plans to join us on November 15th. And if you're not yet a PFLAG member, but want to sign up, just click here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Mix of Sadess and Hope

With the victory last night of Barack Obama also came the anti-marriage equaltiy ballot initiatives that passed in both Florida and Arizona. Arkansas voter passed an anti-gay bill that restricts unmarried couples from adopting or foster parenting.

California currently hangs in the balance. While the outlook is not certain, anti-marriage votes seem to be leading and many are predicting that Proposition 8 will pass and enshrine discrimination into California's constitution.

However, there are as many as 3 million ballots that have not been counted at this moment. There still may be time for hope. PFLAG National's executive director, Jody Huckaby, released this statement this afternoon:

“PFLAG’s core mission of support, education and advocacy for our LGBT loved ones is more critical than ever,” said Jody M. Huckaby, the group’s executive director. “Though we fell short of protecting our families on this election day in three states, we are hopeful for marriage equality to prevail in California. PFLAG parents and allies shared their stories, talked about their loved ones and made personal appeals to voters in three states, making a significant difference. As we move forward and continue that work, we can build a critical mass of support that will be invaluable in future fights, too.”

“Despite some setbacks, millions of people voted with us, and against discrimination, and we will work to grow that coalition of allies and move equality forward.” Huckaby said. “We are watching California closely and we must not be deterred from continuing to work for full equality for LGBT Americans,”

Lift Up Your Eyes to the Day Breaking For You


Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG, released the following statement following the election of President-Elect Barack Obama:

“All of us at PFLAG congratulate President-Elect Obama on his victory this evening. Tonight, our country has turned an historic corner, electing our first African-American commander-in-chief. As a United States Senator, and a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, Obama has been a steadfast friend to the LGBT community, our families and friends. We look forward to working with the new administration, and new Congress, in moving equality forward for our families and friends.

“Tonight, old prejudices have fallen, and outdated barriers have been broken. For those of us with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) loved ones, the significance of this moment cannot be underestimated. President-Elect Obama will arrive in the Oval Office as a remarkable advocate for our community and our families. He will be the first sitting chief executive to support repeal of the military’s prejudicial ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ban on LGBT Americans, and the first occupant of the White House to support federal recognition of same-sex relationships. We believe our families have an invaluable ally in the White House, and LGBT Americans have a champion for ‘liberty and justice for all.’ We join our country in congratulating pro-equality candidates for Congress as well, as it appears we have obtained a significant majority of fair-minded candidates in both houses of Congress. Even as we await the results of ballot initiatives on marriage equality and adoption, we take great hope and inspiration in President-Elect Obama’s victory.

“In her 1993 inaugural poem to the nation, one of America’s greatest treasures, Dr. Maya Angelou, implored our nation to ‘lift up your eyes to the day breaking for you; give birth again to the dream.’ This evening, we have heeded Dr. Angelou’s call, and we embark on a new journey for America. PFLAG’s family, friends, supporters and volunteers are proud to join President-Elect Obama on that journey, and we salute his historic victory on this unforgettable election day in America.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let America Be America Again

Election Day in America has almost come to a close. The first polls, here on the east coast, are just now closing, and the palpable sense of history that has been in the air for months is beginning to give way to great anticipation. Tomorrow, we will have either our country's first African-American president, or female vice-president. And we will know, very soon, whether voters have taken a stand for liberty for every family, or second-class citizenship for some.

Regardless of the outcome, PFLAGers all over our country should be proud of the significant role they have played in this election, and the difference they make in the lives of so many every day.

The poet Langston Hughes once urged our nation to "let America be America again." Because of your hard work, America may be closer than we know to realizing Langston's dream.

To all of the PFLAGers who have dedicated so much time, effort and energy to get out the vote, defeat divisive ballot initiatives and educate your friends and neighbors about why this vote was so important . . . thank you. You have been the rock that all of us at PFLAG National have stood upon.

To the extraordinary PFLAG staff, board, regional directors and volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to move equality forward for us all, thank you, too. You inspire me each day and give our country hope that new horizons are dawning just before us.

And to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans who have put so much hope into this election, please know that, whatever happens over the next few hours, you are equal with your fellow Americans . . . you are the reason we have and always will fight this fight so hard . . . and you will always have a home in PFLAG.

America can be America again, and because of the exceptional PFLAG family committed to support, education and advocacy, it will be soon.

Thank you,

Jody M. Huckaby

Step Into 'The Blend' for Election Night Coverage & Debate


In just a few hours, the 2008 election season will come to an end, and our country will know who our next commander-in-chief will be . . . who will be our new elected representatives in Congress . . . and whether voters have rejected anti-family ballot measures in California, Florida, Arizon and Arkansas. By all accounts, tonight will be an exciting, historic and memorable evening in American politics, and the outcome of today's vote will shape policies and laws for our families for years to come.

PFLAGers are invited to join blogger-extraordinaire Pam Spaulding tonight at Pam's House Blend for incoming election results, and a lively debate on the 2008 race. Pam will report results as they come in, cover critical Congressional races and give Blenders the latest news on ballot initiatives in the 4 states LGBT voters, and our allies, are watching so closely today.

To join the conversation, click here, and leave your thoughts and observations throughout the evening here in the comments section of the PFLAG blog, too.

Voting for Our Families: The Results

Tonight, LGBT Americans and our families and friends will be watching closely as the results come in from critically important ballot initiatives in Florida, California, Arizona, Arkansas and Connecticut. Voters will decide whether equality continues to move forward, or whether we turn back the clock on "liberty and justice for all."

eQualityGiving will be monitoring the vote counts as they come in, and posting updates on the ballot initiatives online here. Be sure to check in as the polls close in each state to find out the results of these initiatives. Then, leave your thoughts about the results here in our comments section.

To visit the eQualityGiving election update, starting at 7pm ET tonight, click here. You can even check in using the link with your mobile device or iPhone!

Election Day in America

It's election day in America, and the results of today's votes will impact the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community - and our family, friends and allies - for generations to come. In four states, voters will decide the fate of divisive, anti-gay ballot measures that seek to restrict and roll-back rights for LGBT people and in every state, voters will choose our country's next president, and decide who will be part of our next Congress.



As PFLAG's executive director, Jody Huckaby, wrote here yesterday, "The stakes could not be higher."

It is critically important that everyone take time to vote today . . . and to vote the right way.

First, vote NO to defeat ballot measures that would create a second-class of citizenship for LGBT Americans:

In Florida, Vote No on Amendment 2.
In Arizona, Vote No on Amendment 102.
In California, Vote No on Proposition 8.
In Arkansas, Vote No on Act 1.

There is little doubt that, should these initiatives be approved by voters, anti-family extremists will be emboldened to take similar fights to other states and localities in future elections. If we are able to beat back their efforts, however, it will represent a truly significant turning point in our community's work for equal rights under the law. In 2004, similar measures, with the exception of Arizona, were overwhelmingly successful. Just four years later, we have a very real opportunity to turn the page and show that voters believe discrimination is wrong and that stripping away fundamental rights is no longer acceptable in our country. Anti-family groups are pushing these measures hard, because they understand that, if they fail, equality moves forward and our country moves beyond their divisive and discriminatory campaigns.

Next, vote to elect a commander-in-chief who you believe will stand up for every family and champion equality for every American, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Then, help send pro-equality candidates to Congress. Over the next few years, Congressional representatives will be asked to weigh in on critically important issues like employment non-discrimination, hate crimes, repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and leveling the playing field for bi-national couples navigating U.S. immigration law. Find out where candidates in your state and district stand on each of those issues, and cast your vote for the person who will fight for dignity & respect for LGBT Americans when they arrive in Washington.

In almost every election, we hear candidates talk about this particular election being the most important of our lifetime. This time, that may not be an exaggeration. Anti-LGBT lawmakers are facing tough re-election battles, with voters increasingly expressing support for candidates who believe in fairness and equality. And in the 4 states facing anti-gay ballot measures, voters can reject the politics of division that our opponents try to use in election after election.

Now, it all comes down to voter turnout. We know that most Americans don't want to discriminate, and if we succeed in getting them all out to the polls to vote for pro-equality candidates and against these mean-spirited ballot initatives, Wednesday morning may bring an entirely new landscape in American politics . . . and a bright new day for LGBT Americans, our families and allies, too.

For more information, visit PFLAG's 2008 Get Out the Vote page. Then, check back here throughout the night. When the votes are counted, and the results are in, we'll have PFLAG's reaction to the 2008 election results here first.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Protect the Constitution: Vote NO in Connecticut

This morning's Boston Globe notes that, while voters consider anti-equality ballot initiatives in four states tomorrow, a similar though somewhat different battle is shaping up in Connecticut, where the state's recent recognition of marriage equality for all couples could be in jeopardy, depending on the outcome of a vote on tomorrow's ballot.

Connecticut voters will be asked tomorrow to decide if the state should convene a constitutional convention, which could lead to a move to roll-back marriage equality in the states. Our allies in Connecticut are urging voters to vote NO on the constitutional convention question on election day.

"Jeffrey Busch of Wilton [one of the couples who successfully won marriage equality there], said the constitutional convention question 'has cast a pall' over his family," the Globe reports. "Busch and his longtime partner, Stephen Davis, have been planning to get married since the state's high court handed down its decision on Oct. 10."

"We were just walking on air," Busch said. But he said now, when they see signs at their local Catholic church urging people to vote for the convention, "it feels threatening."

"It's absolutely been an emotional roller coaster," said Anne Stanback, executive director of Love Makes A Family, a group that has been [working on behalf of] same-sex marriage in Connecticut for years.

"There was joy and excitement on decision day," Stanback said, "but we couldn't fully celebrate. We knew we needed to really dig in to defeat this."

If you are a Connecticut voter, please vote NO on Question 1, the constitutional convention, when you head to the polls tomorrow. And for more information on the campaign being led by our friends in the state, click here.

Less Than 34 Hours

The following is an email update from the No on 8 campaign, working to defeat the anti-family Proposition on the California ballot which would roll back marriage equality for same-sex couples in the state.

We have less than 34 hours to prevent the elimination of our right to marry.

Every poll shows that this election will be extremely close. The winner will be determined by voter turnout. It is that simple. Get out the vote activities will make or break this election.

Please make a small donation to fund our get out the vote efforts.

Your contribution will fund one million last-minute phone calls to pre-identified No on Prop 8 voters and our massive effort on the ground.

If every one of our 170,000 supporters receiving this email makes a small gift of $10, $25, $75 or more, or asks a friend to donate, we will meet our goal of $500,000.

I know it’s a lot to ask after you have already given so much. But these efforts could very well be the deciding factor in this election.

The day after tomorrow newspapers all over California will have two headlines, the first being “America Elects a New President.” Your support today will determine if the other headline reads “Californians Reject Discrimination.”

We could not have fought a better fight. Thank you for everything you have sacrificed.

To victory,

Patrick Guerriero
Campaign Director
No On Prop 8

Get Out the Vote

Every poll shows that this election will be extremely close. The winner will be determined by voter turnout. It is that simple. Get out the vote activities will make or break this election.

Your contribution will fund one million last-minute phone calls to pre-identified No on Prop 8 voters and our massive effort on the ground.

The Most Powerful Instrument: Your Vote.

“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men."

- Lyndon B. Johnson

Tomorrow, November 4, is a critically important day for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans, our families and friends. All across America, voters will be making decisions that will impact our lives for generations to come. From local elections for school boards to an historic presidential election, voters will be deciding the future direction of our communities and our country.

The stakes could not be higher.

In several states, voters will weigh in on divisive, anti-family ballot measures. These mean-spirited attempts to block and roll-back rights for our loved ones must not succeed . . . and we have the power to stop them.

Remember, in Florida, to Vote No on Amendment 2.
In Arizona, Vote No on Amendment 102.
In California, Vote No on Proposition 8.
In Arkansas, Vote No on Act 1.

And if you do not live in any of those states, but have friends or family who do, please ask them to vote with us on these important ballot initiatives.

Then, no matter where you live, please go to the polls tomorrow and make your voice heard. With your help – and your vote for pro-equality candidates – we can move equality forward in your hometown and on Capitol Hill.

President Johnson’s words still ring true today. There is no greater weapon to effect change . . . and no more powerful instrument for breaking down injustice . . . than our vote.

On Tuesday, our families, our friends and our loved ones will be counting on us to stand with them and against the forces of prejudice that seek to divide and discriminate against us.

Tomorrow is election day. Join PFLAG in tearing down the terrible walls that try to separate us . . . PLEASE VOTE.


- Jody Huckaby

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Colonel, and a PFLAG Dad, Says Dump "Don't Ask"

Add another name to the growing list of military leaders who support repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In today's Marietta Daily Journal, PFLAG supporter and retired Army Colonel Reuel Hamilton, Jr., calls for an end to the ban, writing that, "The time is overdue to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

"According to Col. Daniel Tepfer, USAF (Ret.), in a letter printed in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News May 1, the military accepts convicted criminals," Colonel Hamilton writes. "He says the Army and Marine Corps grant 'moral waivers' allowing convicted persons of crimes including drug offenses, theft, sex crimes, and manslaughter to enlist, and such waivers nearly doubled from 2006 to 2007."

"Like Col. Tepfer, I am a retired colonel; and we're both members of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays," he continues. "One of my children is gay. During my active and Reserve Army career - before I knew my son was gay - I thought little about the policy nor whether there were gay persons in my unit or whether they should be allowed to serve. Since learning of my son's sexual orientation, joining PFLAG and educating myself on the issues, I realize how counter-productive the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy is. I'm certain that the Army Medical Department had and has many closeted gays. We'd have been crippled by their loss had they all 'come out' at the same time."

Colonel Hamilton joins respected military leaders like retired Joint Chiefs Chairman John Shalikashvili, and retired Army Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy - the Army's first 3-star, female General - in calling for an end to the law. Like them, Hamilton and Tepfer understand that excluding LGBT Americans from our armed forces hurts our national security, our commitment to equality and our families, too.

To read Colonel Hamilton's full letter, click here.