Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Policy Matters 11/15/2011

Front Page Headlines

Medical School Admits Neglecting LGBT Applicants, Health Issues: Medical schools have recently admitted there’s a problem. Nearly three quarters of 132 surveyed medical schools in the United States and Canada gave themselves grades of “fair,” “poor,” or “very poor” for the integration of LGBT content in their curricula, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Every medical student, regardless of identity, must be familiar with LGBTQ health issues in order to provide high quality care to patients during medical school training and while practicing as a full-fledged physician,” said Erica Pettigrew, chair of the American medical Student Association’s national gender and sexuality committee. [US News]

NC NAACP President to speak at Equality NC Conference: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, presented the keynote address at the 2011 Equality NC Foundation Conference & Gala this past Saturday in Greensboro. The Gala is the signature annual event of The Equality North Carolina Foundation. This years’ conference is looking to challenge a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage next May. [Fox 8]

Clinton Sees HIV Reduction When Anti-LGBT Laws Repealed: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD on Tuesday November 8th that repealing anti-LGBT laws is among the ways to curb the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Clinton used her NIH speech to announce that the White House has devoted an additional $60 million to fight the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. She also unveiled comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres as the State Department’s new special envoy for global AIDS awareness. [EDGE] For a video and transcript of Secretary Clinton’s speech click here

National Study Finds Widespread Sexual Harassment of Students in Grades 7 to 12: Nearly half of 7th to 12th graders experienced sexual harassment in the last school year, according to a study scheduled for release on Monday. When asked what types of students were most at risk of harassment, students said students said “good-looking boys” were the safest; “pretty girls, ugly girls, and feminine boys” were the most likely targets. About 18% of girls and boys reported being called gay or lesbian in a negative way. [NY Times]

Policy Watch

Michigan House Likely to Drop Controversial Language in Anti-Bullying Bill: Controversial language in anti-bullying legislation—language some say provides a license to bully on religious or moral grounds—is likely to be removed under the leadership of House Republicans. The bill requires school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies. But language added at the last minute says that policies would not prohibit “a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian.” [Free Press]

Washington State Rep. Moeller to Co-Sponsor Marriage Equality Bill: State Rep. Jim Moeller announced Thursday that he’ll join dozens of other legislators next week in introducing a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the 2012 Legislature. He emphasized that the legislation will protect the rights of clergy and religious institutions to determine for whom to perform marriage ceremonies and which marriages to recognize. [The Columbian]

Basic Rights Oregon Will Not Put Same-Sex Marriage on 2012 Ballot: After a three-year campaign to build support for legalizing same-sex marriage, Oregon’s largest LGBT rights group has decided against putting the issue up for a vote in 2012. Feedback from an online survey of over 1,000 people, door-to-door canvassing, community meetings and two statewide television advertising campaigns overwhelmingly say, “we must allow our education work to continue,” Basic Rights Oregon announced Wednesday. Oregonians now appear about evenly divided on a proposed ballot initiative to legalize same-sex marriage and to overturn the constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2004. [Oregon Live]

Question from the Field

Dear Policy Matters,

I’m a resident of North Carolina, for marriage equality, and feel like I’m going no-where fast. Our talking points about why marriage equality is important just don’t make the same impact they used to. But we don’t know what else to talk about! Please help?

Thanks so much,

Carolynne

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Dear Carolynne,

Talking to people who don’t completely agree with marriage equality presents many challenges, and we certainly understand your frustration. However, there has been a new “campaign” of sorts which gives marriage equality advocates new tools for approaching this issue with others.

Third Way is a think tank which creates easy to understand reports and research for many progressive social issues through moderate-led politics. They just presented their new strategy for marriage equality advocates called the “Commitment Campaign.”

Researchers at Third Way have been studying the effectiveness of marriage equality messages for three years. They found that the most impactful way to talk about marriage equality was to focus on the topic of commitment instead of using rights-based arguments (ex: Marriage is a basic human right; Same-sex couples want federal rights).

The report talks about the 44% of Americans who have middle-ground attitudes about same-sex marriage (“the Middle”). Because most of “the Middle” defines marriage as a public expression of love and commitment, Third Way found that half of “the Middle” believed lesbian and gay couples only wanted to get married because of obtaining legal rights. Marriage equality supporters know that this isn’t true! So, to combat this assumption and show why LGBT couples really want the right to marry, Third Way re-framed the marriage equality argument:

“Gay and lesbian couples who are truly committed to each other want similar things from marriage as the rest of us—to build a life together based on love and commitment, staying together through thick and thin. If a couple is willing to stand up in front of family and friends and make a lifetime promise of fidelity to each other, it’s not for us to judge, or to deny them that opportunity.”

Third Way found that by the end of the survey they gave, which also presented the above campaign message, 15% of those in “the middle” had shifted to a more supportive stance, and nearly one in ten supporters moved to a strongly supportive stance.

The report is very easy to read, and is available in PDF format for download. They allow anyone to duplicate their pages for personal use as well. For an in depth look at Third Way’s resources and survey statistics, follow these links:

· Report

· Pocket Card

· Quotes from Commitment Campaign Champions

Third Way also provides a talking point sheet on how to talk to those who don’t have a firm stance on DOMA while incorporating their “Commitment Campaign” message.

· Talking to the Middle about DOMA

We hope that you find these new talking points useful. Thank you for writing to Policy Matters!

Thank you for moving equality forward,

Policy Matters

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P.S. Have you downloaded our new edition of Bringing the Message Home yet? Get your 2011 version of the how-to guide to PFLAG advocacy now and share it with your chapter. Visit PFLAG nationals' website for more information now!

If you would like to have a policy-related question featured in our next edition, please e-mail rperry@pflag.org with your question no later than Friday, November 25th, 2011.

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