Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Policy Matters 1/11/12

Front Page Headlines

First 24-Hour Service for Homeless LGBT Youth: For the first time ever, The Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization working on behalf of homeless LGBT youth, says it will begin offering 24-hour services thanks to a grant. The center has been awarded a two-year matching $500K Challenge Grant from the Calamus Foundation of New York. [Philly Mag]

Deportation Threat Lifted from S.F. Gay Spouse: Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk have been together for 19 years. They’re married and live in the Castro, but have been living under the threat of separation because Wells is an American citizen and Makk a citizen of Australia. Because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Makk was denied consideration for a green card based on his marriage to Wells, who suffers from severe AIDS-related illnesses. Makk is his primary caregiver. The threat ended Wednesday when they won a two-year stay of Makk’s deportation. [SF Gate]

More LGBT-Friendly Housing for Seniors Needed: Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors fear discrimination, disrespect, or worse by health care workers and residents of elder housing facilities, ultimately leading many back into the closet after years of being open, experts say. At least 1.5 million seniors are gay, a number expected to double by 2030 according to SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders). [Sun Times]

Policy Watch

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire to Champion Marriage Equality: The battle over same-sex marriage is heading to Washington state. Gov. Gregoire announced her plan to introduce legislation granting same-sex couples the right to legally marry at a televised press conference this past Wednesday. “It’s time, it’s the right thing to do,” Gov. Gregoire (D) said in a statement posted on her website. [LA Times]

Labor Leaders in MD Promoting Marriage Equality Bill: In advance of the 90-day General Assembly session, labor leaders are promoting a new priority in coming days with a news conference and participation in an Internet video campaign aiming to make Maryland the seventh state to allow same-sex nuptials. [Washington Post]

Oklahoma National Guard to Have ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Under Lawmaker’s Bill: A bill being proposed by a state lawmaker would reinstitute the controversial ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy in the Oklahoma National Guard. [Tulsa World]

Question from the Field

Dear Policy Matters,

I recently saw Senator Al Franken’s video about the Student Non-Discrimination Act. It really inspired me, and I want to learn more about how my chapter can help get this legislation passed. What can we do to have the most impact?

Thank you for your help.

Sincerely,

Allen

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Dear Allen,

Thank you for writing to Policy Matters. Sen. Franken’s new video about anti-LGBT bullying and his bill, the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 998/ S. 555) was released this week. The short three-minute video describes the urgent need for a federal law which protects our students from being bullied because of their actual, or perceived, sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill “makes it better for kids by banning discrimination and harassment in public schools based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” So far, more than one third of the Senate supports Sen. Franken’s bill.

The quickest way to make an impact is to call your Senator directly and ask them to co-sponsor SNDA (H.R. 998/ S. 555). Ask your friends to call their Senators too! Your Senators care about your opinions, and pay attention to what their constituents are telling them. The more you reach out to them, the more your Senators will listen and consider your concerns when voting.

You can also schedule a meeting with your Senator’s in-state staff; this is a great way to engage in a dialogue with a staff member within your Senator’s office. For help with scheduling an appointment in your state, contact Laura VanDyke at lvandyke@pflag.org.

Last, but not least, post Sen. Franken’s new video on your Facebook, your chapter’s Facebook page or website, your personal blog, or email the video to friends to spread the word about this important bill. Every student deserves to feel safe and protected at their school, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity is.

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, January 20, 2012.

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