Wednesday, June 26, 2013

GOOD-BYE DOMA AND PROPOSITION 8, HELLO MARRIAGE!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2013
Liz Owen |
lowen@pflag.org> | (202) 467-8180 ext. 214

GOOD-BYE DOMA AND PROPOSITION 8, HELLO MARRIAGE!
WASHINGTON – PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization for families, friends and allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people – celebrated today’s victory at the United States Supreme Court, striking down both Section Three of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, and Proposition 8 on standing, which means the restoration of marriage equality to the state of California.
“Today, committed and loving LGBT couples and their families, friends and allies in California and across the country celebrate a huge step forward towards full acceptance and equality,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby. “The Supreme Court’s dual rulings affirm what we at PFLAG have always known to be true:  that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fundamental rights for all Americans, and that denial of those rights seriously harms LGBT people and their families.”
Joining in the celebration were PFLAG members and supporters from across the country who had worked tirelessly to ensure that their loved ones would receive equal treatment under the law.
Said PFLAG Los Angeles President Mariette Sawchuk, “When my son Stephen came out he said to me, ‘Mom, all I have ever wanted is to have a family and to have a marriage like yours and Dad’s.’ Thanks to today’s ruling, my twin sons--both of whom are gay--will have the opportunity to share in an enduring, loving, legally recognized and protected marriage.”
Sawchuk was one of several PFLAG members who shared personal stories in an Amicus Brief submitted by PFLAG to the Supreme Court regarding Proposition 8.
Another PFLAGer who participated in the brief was Eric Brock, whose older brother Brandon is gay. While Eric, Brandon, and each of their spouses celebrated today’s rulings, they acknowledged that there is still work to be done; Brandon and his spouse, Alexis Caloza, were married in New York and reside in San Francisco, where--thanks to today’s ruling--their  marriage is now legal again. But Eric still resides in Arkansas where the brothers were born and raised, a state whose constitution bans same-sex marriage and civil unions.
Said the younger Brock, “I am incredibly excited that my brother's New York State marriage will be recognized by the Federal government and in the state of California where he now lives. This was a big step forward, but there is still a long way to go to reach full equality. We need to keep working so that If Brandon and Alexis should ever choose to return to Arkansas, the federal government would provide them all the benefits of marriage within that state...even if the state itself didn’t yet legally recognize their relationship.”
PFLAG National ED Huckaby agreed with Brock,  stating, “PFLAG National and its vast chapter network will continue to move hearts and change minds to win full marriage equality at the federal level and in more states, and to grow support among the majority of Americans throughout the country. Together, we will continue to affirm the message that, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, love is love, family is family, and marriage is marriage.”
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About PFLAG NationalFounded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original family and ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies united with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education and advocacy. PFLAG has more than 368 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states. To learn more, please visit http://www.pflag.org, and connect with PFLAG National on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

LGBT Advocacy Groups Stand With Civil Rights Counterparts in Disappointment at Supreme Court Ruling on Voting Rights

Washington, DC – Today, the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating crucial protections passed by Congress in 1965 and renewed four times in the decades since. The sharply divided decision will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination against African-Americans.


We, America’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations, join civil rights organizations – and indeed, all Americans whom this law has served to protect – in expressing acute dismay at today’s ruling. Not only had Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the need for this bedrock civil rights protection, but authoritative voices from across America had filed amicus briefs urging the court not to undermine the law: the NAACP; the American Bar Association; the Navajo Nation; the states of New York, California, Mississippi and North Carolina; numerous former Justice Department officials charged with protecting voting rights; dozens of U.S. senators and representatives; and many others.

These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.

Voting rights protections, which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice, should not be cast aside now. The court has done America a grave disservice, and we will work with our coalition partners to undo the damage inflicted by this retrogressive ruling.

Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Equality Federation
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
Human Rights Campaign
Immigration Equality Action Fund
Lambda Legal
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
PFLAG National
Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
Unid@s

Friday, June 7, 2013

Student Non-Discrimination Act Reintroduced in Senate

Back in 2010, U.S. Sen. Al Franken first introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) which protects students who are—or are perceived to be—lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) from harassment, discrimination, and violence at school. Sen. Franken's bill extends to LGBT students the same rights to protection from discrimination as other kids have based on their gender, religion, disability, race, or national origin. 

In 2011 PFLAGers from all over the country met in Washington DC to kick off the PFLAG National Convention with a Lobby Day focused specifically on urging legislators to support this important bill.  It was an exciting day, kicked off with speeches by Sen. Franken, as well as the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Col) speaking to PFLAGers about the significance of the legislation, and the need for PFLAGers to share their stories as they lobbied.

Within several weeks of the Lobby Day, numerous legislators stated they would either support, or co-sponsor SNDA.

Earlier this week, Sen. Franken reintroduced SNDA in the Senate. Earlier this year, SNDA was reintroduced in the House by Rep Polis and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a former certified teacher and school principal.

SNDA has 30 original cosponsors on the Senate side, and has also been added to the Strengthening All Schools Act to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, which was also introduced today.

According to GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey, nearly eight in 10 LGBT students have been bullied. The harassment LGBT youth experience in school deprives them of equal educational opportunities by increasing their likelihood of skipping school, underperforming academically, and eventually dropping out. It can also have a detrimental effect on their physical and mental health. 

SNDA would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It would prohibit schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior. It would also provide meaningful and effective remedies for discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Read more about Sen. Franken’s legislation and the organizations endorsing the bill here.

And learn more about PFLAG's Safe Schools work by visiting www.pflag.org/safeschools

Monday, June 3, 2013

Joint Statement on HIV / AIDS, A Re-commitment to the Fight


Today, 35 LGBT and HIV advocacy groups marked the start of Pride Month with a joint statement on HIV/AIDS. The Executive Directors of these organizations--including Jody Huckaby of PFLAG National--have urged the broader LGBT movement for equality to re-engage in the fight to end this epidemic.


Together, these leaders have released a joint letter re-committing themselves and their organizations to the fight against HIV/AIDS. While issues like marriage equality and employment protections for LGBT workers have taken center stage, HIV continues to ravage the LGBT community.  Despite making up just two percent of the population, gay and bisexual men accounted for more than 63 percent of new HIV infections in 2010.  In fact, gay men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing.


“Our organization was founded in 1973 in New York City, the cradle of the LGBT movement  for equality...and where some of the earliest cases in the HIV/AIDS epidemic were reported,” said Jody Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “Our founder, Jeanne Manford and her husband, Dr. Jules Manford, were themselves the parents  of a gay son, Morty Manford, who died of AIDS. The history of PFLAG is intertwined with the history of HIV/AIDS and it is important that we raise up that truth. Beyond the Manfords, many of our earliest members were parents who were fighting the battle of acceptance and equality for their children, while simultaneously fighting for their children’s lives. Jody Huckaby noted "It is imperative that PFLAG National and its vast chapter network renew our commitment to the inclusion of HIV/AIDS in our work.  Science is finally on our side. Today those of us leading LGBT-related organizations strengthen our voices in unison with HIV/AIDS organization leaders and stand together to help bring an end to this epidemic."


We are at an important crossroad in our fight against HIV,” said National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul Kawata.  “The evidence behind treatment as prevention, and expansions in health care coverage that will accompany implementation of the Affordable Care Act, have provided a unique opportunity to end this epidemic, which has ravaged our community for more than three decades.  But this will not happen without the full engagement of those most impacted by the disease, and no community has been more heavily affected than the LGBT community.  I am thrilled to be a part of this campaign to re-energize the LGBT response and work together to realize the vision of an AIDS-free generation.”
“As an organization that has been working to combat HIV discrimination since the beginning of the epidemic we are excited to see the LGBT movement re-commit to this work,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal. “Because gay and bisexual men and transgender people are disproportionately affected by the epidemic and because we see the effects of discrimination and laws targeting people with HIV for criminalization it is incredibly important for the LGBT community to step up.”


Said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell:  “The LGBT community always has been at the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic.  As the community most impacted, we are the ones who must step-up and recommit to ending future transmissions.  To have a new generation of LGBT young people grow up free from HIV and AIDS will be a fitting legacy to those we have lost to this disease.”


Below is an excerpt from today’s joint statement:


Over the last 30 years, the [LGBT] community has seen great strides in the movement for full equality.  Much of this success is the result of a concerted movement, which was galvanized in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s…In the decades since our movement has seen incredible victories… Unfortunately, our community hasn’t maintained the same momentum in our fight against HIV…Each day, more than 80 gay and bisexual men become infected with HIV in the United States…Despite these alarming statistics, which have galvanized our community in the past, the HIV epidemic has seemed to fall by the way side.  Many in our community have simply stopped talking about the issue.  This must change.


The entire letter and accompanying video can be viewed online here:  www.wethelgbt.org