Wednesday, March 31, 2010

National LGBT Health Awareness Week

This week, March 28-April 3, is the 8th Annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week.

This year's theme for LGBT Health Awareness Week is "Closing the Gap." The LGBT community has, on average, worse health outcomes and less access to the care than the straight community.

We need to educate ourselves and our health care providers about our unique health needs as well as our health risks in order to close the gap - everyone deserves good health!

It can be hard to talk about intimate life with anyone. To make sure the LGBT community stays healthy, we need to help our health care providers help us by talking openly and honestly about our lives and who we are.

Coming out is crucial. We need to come out to our providers about our sexual orientation or gender identity. We need to let them know when we are fighting depression, challenging substance use, and trying to manage our sexual health.

You'll find a selection of fact sheets and resources on LGBT-specific health issues here. Topics include:

As a bonus, in honor of this week, here is the upshot of the recently passed healthcare reform legislature ... from a gay perspective.

Once implemented, more than 95 percent of the country will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured. This matters to the LGBT community because:
  • Gay folks are disproportionately poor and/or homeless due to pervasive discrimination, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Extending health care coverage to economically disadvantaged people will help a critically vulnerable segment of our community gain access to basic medical care.
  • Under the new law, adult children under the age of 27 will be able to remain on their families’ insurance policies, even after they leave home and/or graduate from college. Between 1 million and 9 million children are being raised by LGBT parents in the United States today, and poverty rates for children of same-sex couples are twice as high as poverty rates for children of different-sex married couples.
  • A 2006 survey of national data by the Williams Institute showed that 20 percent of people in same-sex couples were uninsured, compared with only 11.5 percent of married individuals.
  • Data from the CDC's National Health Interview Survey found that women in same-sex couples were statistically significantly less likely to have health insurance than women in different-sex relationships.
Other positive aspects include:
  • Increased general data collection, which will help identify disparities in LGBT healthcare (though increased LGBT-specific data collection did not make the final cut).
  • Emphasis on disease prevention and public health.
  • The end of gender ratings, which means insurance companies will no longer be able to charge women more than men for the exact same policies.
  • Access to coverage despite preexisting conditions. This provision will be a tremendous benefit to transgender people, people with HIV, and groups of LGBT folks who are disproportionately affected by certain illnesses, e.g., lesbians with a greater incidence of breast cancer.
Unfortunately, the reform also has some negatives:
  • It continues the five-year ban on legal immigrants’ Medicaid eligibility and a ban on undocumented residents’ access to health insurance, which will affect gay communities in these groups.
  • There are restrictions on reproductive freedom, which is an adjunct issue affecting LGBT folks.
  • There are none of the proposed specific anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people or measures specifically addressing the needs of people with HIV.
  • The final package lacks an earlier provision that would have eliminated the tax paid on domestic partner health benefits offered by employers.
  • It provides funding to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which have been proven not only ineffective but also harmful to LGBT youth and youth from LGBT families
Read more about healthcare reform at the White House's site on the topic.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Supporting LGBT Victims of Crime

The National Center for Victims of Crime and and The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recently released a report, "Why It Matters: Rethinking Victim Assistance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Victims of Hate Violence and Intimate Partner Violence." (Download the full PDF here.)

This report is the product of a 2009 nationwide survey of mainstream victim assistance providers and anti-violence programs serving the LGBT community. It describes widespread gaps in victim services for gay victims of crime and recommends steps to improve both the services and their accessibility.

Among its finding:
  • LGBT victims do not have consistent access to culturally competent services to prevent or help victims recover from violence. For example, most respondent organizations lack outreach to gay victims, cultural competence training for staff, gay-positive/specific victim services policies and practices, and collaboration with LGBT providers.
  • Mainstream victim assistance agencies do not provide a culturally sensitive response to these victims, and gay-specific anti-violence programs either lack resources to meet the need or simply do not exist. As a result, LGBT victims suffer disproportionately from violence and its aftereffects.
  • Only six percent of survey respondents reported that the majority of the victims they served were LGBT people, and the types of services these agencies offer to victims differ significantly.
The report suggest that in order to address these problems, we need to eliminate the obstacles that prevent LGBT victims from reporting crimes and accessing victim services. Law enforcement agencies often underestimate the levels of violence against these victims, and the victims - fearing discrimination and further consequences - often hesitate to report partner/domestic/hate-crime violence or to seek victim services.

The National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recommend work to:
  • Build collaboration among LGBT anti-violence programs and mainstream victim assistance providers to increase the availability of culturally competent services for gay victims of crime by providing gay-specific training for criminal and civil justice system personnel and victim assistance providers.
  • Assess and evaluate the implementation of state and federal protections for victims of crime and implement policy and legislative changes to assure that LGBT victims have equal access to protections.
  • Increase public awareness of the extent and impact of victimization against LGBT individuals and communities and on crime victims’ rights and services through national and local public awareness, education, and outreach campaigns.
  • Increase state and federal funding for collaboration, training, outreach, services, research, and data collection on the victimization of gay people.
It can be difficult to measure an unaddressed need, simply because we don't know what we don't know.

It's even more difficult when dealing with victims of violence. Even when victims do report the violence, fear of revictimization or lack of knowledge on the part of responders may result in victims receiving services without being identified as being part of the gay community. Service providers may not have the mechanisms to properly document LGBT relationships or sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

"With this report, the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs have taken the first step in an initiative between mainstream victim assistance providers and LGBTQ-specific anti-violence programs to increase the efficacy of outreach, prevention, justice, and direct services for LGBTQ individuals, families, and communities harmed by crime.

We invite federal, national, state, tribal, local, and individual collaborators to join us in this endeavor. This initiative must encompass cross-training and collaboration; LGBTQ-specific training for law enforcement and victim assistance agencies; more resources for LGBTQ anti-violence programs; public awareness, education, and outreach; and more consistent LGBTQ-focused research and data collection.

Advocacy to change laws and policies that address the victimization of LGBTQ people is integral to this effort to provide LGBTQ victims with equal access to victims’ rights and services."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


One-thousand one-hundred thirty-eight: That's the number of federal marital benefits and protections denied to same-sex couples as the result of marriage inequality, according to the General Accounting Office (GAO).

Here are two new resources that want to address the issue of marriage inequality:

Project 1138

Equality Forum, a national and international gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights organization, has launched the Project 1138 Web site, along with Facebook and Twitter pages.

"What Is Project 1138?
Project 1138 increases awareness of the 1,138 federal marital benefits and protections denied to same-sex couples as the result of marriage inequality.

How Did It Originate? In January 1997, Senator Bill Frist, the Republican Majority Leader, asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to identify how many federal benefits were contingent on being married. The GAO reported that the number of federal benefits was 1,138.

Share Your Story.
For more than a thousand reasons, YOUR relationship deserves equal treatment under the law. Take a stand against marriage inequality and share your story. Participate in Equality Forum's Project 1138 blog! Separate is not Equal. Separate is not Equality. "

DOMA Stories: Federal Marriage Discrimination Hurts Families

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, New England's leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression, has created this resource.

"The double standard created by DOMA causes tangible harm to families every day. Here we share some of those stories.
In 1996, Congress passed and President Clinton signed the "Defense of Marriage Act."

DOMA ensured that when states ended their own bans on same-sex couples marrying, the federal government would disregard their marital status for purposes of all 1,138 federal laws in which martial status is a factor. Never before in our nation's history has the federal government disrespected a class of marriages for all federal purposes; the federal government has long relied on states to define marriage.

In 2010, same-sex couples can legally marry in five states and the District of Columbia, and this number will continue to grow. Yet married same-sex couples are denied all of the protections the federal government otherwise makes available to married people. The double standard created by DOMA causes tangible harm to families every day — from higher tax burdens, to an inability to provide for a spouse's health care, to denial of family medical leave and the safety net of social security and survivor benefits the federal government offers all other married partners.

In these stories, loving couples, widows and widowers, from all walks of life, describe how DOMA hurts their families. A new story will be added each week, so please check back often."

Marriage equality is, in many ways, the ultimate expression of equality in our society. Working together, we can get this brass -- or rather, gold -- ring.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Equality in the News March 12-19

Thanks again to Communications Intern Danielle for compiling the news!


Church Town Hall Meeting Discusses LGBT Issues

In Greensboro, a meeting led by the Human Rights Campaign’s Harry Knox was held to address LGBT and faith issues. The goal of this dialogue was to encourage discussion within faith-based communities. The question at hand, "What does the Bible say about gays and lesbians."

I hope this discussion will encourage other members of the faith-based communities to address the issue instead of simply denying the existence of gays and lesbians or bashing them.


New Jersey Equal Marriage Gets Another Chance

New Jersey advocates for gay and lesbian couples are heading back to the Supreme Court to gain equal marriage rights. A motion was filed on March 18 seeking a ruling that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

In 2006, a similar motion arrived at the Supreme Court but was defeated narrowly in a 4-3 vote decision. The outcome, however, did grant same-sex couples civil unions but they have proved to be unsuccessful and ineffective when visiting other states or when someone was denied access to their sick partner in the hospital.

Soldiers against Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. James Pietrangelo, opponents of the "Don't Ask, Don’t Tell" policy, were arrested after protesting on the White House Lawn.

They are heroes for both standing up for their country by putting their life on the line despite second-class citizenship. I hope President Obama will keep his word and work to repeal the policy that already has dismissed more than 250 soldiers in his administration.

Monday, March 22, 2010


The federal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, which prohibits LGBT folks from serving openly and honestly in the nation's military, is filled with bigotry and prejudice.

I don't mean it's homophobic, which is obvious and the policy's entire point. Instead, I'm referring to it's presumably unintended consequences of racism and sexism.

The Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), an organization dedicated to helping women servicemembers and vets, has produced a great fact sheet (PDF) on these discriminatory effects of DADT.

SWAN has publicly opposed DADT since its inception, arguing that not only is it discriminatory, but it also plays into the hands of racists, misogynists, and homo/transpobes. They also argue that it can be used as a blackmail tool by sexual predators in the military who threaten to use it to blackmail servicefolks.

According to their fact sheet:

DADT disproportionately affects women. Although women made up 15% of the armed forces in 2008, 34% of service members discharged were women. The impact of DADT on women varies according to service branch. For example, women comprised only 20% of the Air Force yet made up 62% of Air Force discharges. Racial minorities are also disproportionately affected by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Non-white active duty service members represent 29.4% of the total military population, but comprise 45% of all DADT discharges in 2008. Service Branch/Percent Women Discharged Under DADT/Percent Women Serving in Branch:
  • Army 36% 14%
  • Navy 23% 15%
  • Marine Corps 18% 6%
  • Air Force 62% 20%
Race/Ethnic Group Percent discharged under DADT:
  • White (non-Hispanic) 55%
  • Black 20%
  • Hispanic 9%
  • Asian/Pacific Islander 8%
  • American Indian 3%
  • Other/Unknown 5%

Note the huge disproportions between the representative populations and the discharge percentages. Obviously women and racial minorities are being targeted under this policy, either expressly or subliminally.

SWAN also notes:

In addition to being formally excluded from the military, LGBT service members also endure informal discriminatory treatment from their peers and superiors in the military. Service members suspected of homosexuality are frequently harassed, mocked, and generally experience hostile treatment based on their real or perceived sexual orientation.

Women are especially vulnerable to so-called lesbian baiting, defined as “the practice of pressuring women for sex and sexually harassing women by using the threat of calling them lesbians as a means of intimidation.” Women in the military who do not conform to gender stereotypes or refuse to engage in sexual activity with men are at risk of being labeled a lesbian. Some of the increased scrutiny of service women’s sexuality is undoubtedly the result of women’s hyper-visibility in the military, along with the attitude that women do not belong in service.

Transgender individuals also endure many forms of exclusion in the military. In the first place, individuals who have undergone genital surgery in order to change their gender may be denied the opportunity to serve in the military at all. Furthermore, individuals diagnosed with “gender identity disorder” are barred from serving in the military, which effectively excludes most open transgender individuals. They are subject to harassment, hostile treatment, and are generally unwelcome in the military. Also, even though transgender servicememers are not necessarily gay, lesbian, or bisexual, they may be assumed to be and thus targeted under DADT.

A new poll commissioned by The Vet Voice Foundation and conducted jointly by Republican and Democratic pollsters finds that most veterans are “comfortable around gay and lesbian people, believe that being gay or lesbian has no bearing on a service member’s ability to perform their duties, and would find it acceptable if gay and lesbian people were allowed to serve openly in the military."

Obviously it's time - past time! - the United States ditches the failed DADT policy, which not only prevents LGBT servicemembers from serving honestly with honor and dignity, but also fosters other bigotries and stereotypes.

Our servicefolks deserve better, and so does our country.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Take Action! Supporting Health Care Reform As An LGBT Issue

With all of the talk of national health care reform, not much attention is being given to one fact: this is an LGBT issue, and the proposed reforms have a lot of gay-positive aspects to them.

Did you know that the bill being voted on by Congress this week - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) - includes:
  • Improved data collection for at-risk groups (still a bit vague, but with continued lobbying, this will likely include sexual orientation and gender identity demographic categories)
  • Nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal grants for mental health education and training
  • $8.5 billion in funds for community health centers, including LGBT health community centers
This is in addition to:
  • Prohibition of insurance exclusions based on pre-existing conditions
  • Extension of insurance coverage to approximately 31 million uninsured people
... which will affect thousands of LGBT folks and their families.

LGBT people are often under- and uninsured, and also fall into a number of other at-risk populations, including seniors and youth, women, people of color, immigrants, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

These at-risk groups face extreme discrimination by both insurance companies and by health care providers and are denied the care they need. Even more egregious, in 2007, 50% of our tax dollars were invested in public health expenses in the USA with only 5% of the population receiving treatment, leaving an estimated 45,000 people to die because they simply lacked affordable insurance coverage.

Take action now thorough PFLAG's action alert: tell your representative to pass health reform today!

Access to competent and affordable healthcare is out of reach for far too many of our LGBT loved ones, but we can change it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Take Action! Every Child Deserves a Family Act

It's sadly rare to hear about LGBT-family-positive legislation, but we have a federal proposal pending right now!

Not only is it LGBT-positive, it's also homophobia-negative. The "Every Child Deserves a Family Act" would restrict federal funding for states with anti-LGBT adoption and foster policies.

This legislation would directly affect states with explicit adoption restrictions, including Utah, Florida, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Mississippi.

Representative Pete Stark (CA-13) just introduced this bill, HR 4806, to take into consideration the best interests of children in the foster care system. The bill would open up permanent homes to more foster youth by working with states to eliminate laws, policies, practices, and procedures that exclude potential adoptive and foster parents because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

The House Ways and Means Committee is beginning to review this bill, so this is the ideal time to urge your representative to co-sponsor this legislation that will help give foster children permanent, safe, and supportive homes. You can take action over at PFLAG - click here now to send your message.

About 125,000 foster children across the US are waiting to be adopted, but only 50,000 adoptions take place in any given year. There is a clear shortage of adoptive parents, and the result is that children, especially minority and special needs children, languish in foster care and bounce from placement to placement. The 25,000 youth who never find a permanent family and age out of the system each year are more likely to experience poverty, homelessness, incarceration, early pregnancy, and suffer with mental illness or substance abuse.

Despite the urgent need for more adoptive and permanent foster homes, some states have enacted discriminatory bans that prohibit children from being placed with qualified parents due to the parent's sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

The result is less children being adopted and more children bouncing around the foster care system with no permanency and no security. In some cases these bans have resulted in a grandparent having to go through costly litigation in order to care for their own kin who are in foster care.

This kind of discrimination does a disservice to many children who need a permanent, safe and supportive home. It robs far too many young people of a family, a core value that many Americans hold dear, and it's time to take a stand.

That's your cue! A couple of clicks and some keystrokes could change the life of a needy child.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Individual Health Care Reform

Now, this may come as a shock, but LGBT folks don't get as good of service from the medical community as others.

Obviously this isn't really a surprise, but the specific data on this phenomenon may be.

Lambda Legal has released a free report on this, "When Health Care Isn't Caring."

This survey is the first one to examine the issue on a national scale. It documents refusal of care and barriers to health care among LGBT and HIV communities. The hope is to use these data to raise awareness of this issue and to influence decisions being made about how health care is delivered in the future.

Some of the key findings include:

  • More than half of all respondents reported that they have experienced at least one of the following types of discrimination in care:
    = being refused needed care
    = health care professionals refusing to touch them or using excessive precautions
    = health care professionals using harsh or abusive language
    = being blamed for their health status
    = health care professionals being physically rough or abusive
  • Almost 56 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents had at least one of these experiences; 70 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents had one or more of these experiences; and nearly 63 percent of HIV+ respondents experienced one or more of these types of discrimination in health care.
  • Almost 8 percent of LGB respondents reported that they had been denied needed health care outright. Just under 27% of all transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents reported being denied care. Finally, 19 percent of respondents living with HIV also reported being denied care.
  • Just over 10 percent of LGB respondents reported that health care professionals used harsh language toward them; 11 percent reported that health professionals refused to touch them or used excessive precautions; and more than 12 percent of LGB respondents reported being blamed for their health status.
  • Almost 36 percent of HIV+ respondents reported that health care professionals refused to touch them or used excessive precautions and nearly 26 percent were blamed for their own health status.
  • Nearly 21 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents reported being subjected to harsh or abusive language from a health care professional, and almost 8 percent reported experiencing physically rough or abusive treatment from a health care professional. Over 20 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents reported being blamed for their own health conditions.

Not all discrimination is equal, though.

In almost every category measured in this survey, transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents reported experiencing the highest rates of discrimination and barriers to care. Transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents reported facing barriers and discrimination as much as two to three times more frequently than lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents.

In nearly every category, a higher proportion of respondents who are people of color and/or low-income reported experiencing discriminatory and substandard care.

Respondents reported a high degree of anticipation and belief that they would face discriminatory care and such concerns were a barrier to seeking care. Overall, 9 percent of LGB respondents are concerned about being refused medical services when they need them, and 20 percent of HIV+ respondents and over half of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents share this same concern.

Even worse, the survey respondents had higher proportions of people with advanced degrees, higher household incomes, and better health insurance coverage than the LGBT community in general. Since these factors tend to improve access to care, this means the report likely understates the barriers to health care experienced by all LGBT people and those living with HIV.

Things that people can do to improve the conditions documented by this survey include:

  • Educate themselves and health care providers about the rights and needs of LGBT and HIV+ patients.
  • Advocate for improved laws and policies.
  • Use existing mechanisms that are appropriate, such as medical powers of attorney and other legal documents, to create as much protection as possible for themselves and their loved ones.
  • Fight back when discrimination occurs, including reporting discriminatory practices, sharing stories, and contacting advocacy organizations and/or attorneys.
The report is a tough read, but it has a lot of good information. You have to identify the problem before you can fix it, and this report does an excellent job of chronicling many of the issues in health care.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hockey, Homophobia, and A Father's Love for His Gay Son

The Carolina Hurricanes had been on a great winning streak this season - they'd won seven games in a row, and had won 11 of their past 13 games. Unfortunately, this streak came to a ugly, sloppy end this weekend when they lost to the Florida Panthers 4-1.

Hockey, while relatively new to the state, has been pretty well embraced by North Carolina.

Now, hockey, sadly, is famous for having a culture of homophobia. Gay slurs and challenges to masculinity and sexual potency are commonplace.

Things are changing, though. Four years ago, according to a Sports Illustrated survey, 80% of the National Hockey League (NHL) said they'd welcome an openly gay player. This made hockey more progressive than Major League baseball (62%), the NBA (60%), and the NFL (57%).

It's not surprising that the NHL players were more open. Many of the league's players are from Canada and Northern Europe, where marriage equality exists and LGBT folks have equal rights under the law.

Last year, Brendan Burke, youngest son of Brian Burke, general manage of the Toronto Maple Leafs, came out as gay. His father fully, publicly supported him on ESPN.

This caused much more discussion of sexual orientation in hockey. His coming out prompted Justin Borne, NHL sports columnist in USA Today, to proclaim "It's time to end the use of gay slurs in hockey."

Brendan Burke died in a car crash last month. His father
, who served as GM of the United State's Olympic team, Team USA, in the 2010 Winter Olympics, has committed to work for LGBT equality in memory of his son.

Brendan's causes are Brian's now. He will do a PSA aimed at eliminating the bullying of gay children, and he plans to be in the Toronto Pride Parade. "I'd promised him I would march with him," Brian Burke said. "He won't be there, but I will."

Issues of LGBT equality cross all boundaries of sports, stereotypes, and family. This story is remarkable. What makes it remarkable isn't that it dealt with sexual orientation in hockey. It's not remarkable for what the father did after his son died. It's remarkable for Brian Burke's unwavering and casual support of his gay son from the get-go, from within a sport that isn't obviously gay-friendly.

His father is commendable for picking up the banner of his son's causes, but he's more commendable for simply being a loving father, regardless of his son's sexual orientation.

That's a glimpse of the world we're working for, and an example of how a parent should behave towards their kid. That's the type of parent all children deserve.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Asking and Telling About Serving

Two recent polls have shown strong public support for open service by LGBT Americans in the military.

Currently, almost 14,000 qualified men and women have been discharged from the military under the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy (DADT), which only allows LGBT folks to serve if they conceal their sexual orientation. Many thousands more have chosen to not re-enlist because of the policy. Enforcing and implementing this policy has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and our armed service has suffered from the additional stress placed on its LGBT servicemembers and their families.

The American public does not support this discrimination, however, and wants it to change.

Even here in North Carolina, with its long Southern history of social conservatism, most people believe gay people should be able to serve openly in the armed services, like they do in Israel, England, Canada, and our other allied countries.

Public Policy Polling released this information a couple of weeks ago:

"We've seen a lot of national polling recently showing support for allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military but we wondered: Would that hold true even in a military heavy, historically conservative southern state like North Carolina?"

"The answer is yes. 50% of North Carolinians support repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' compared to 40% who are opposed to it. Most notably 59% of independents favor letting gays serve openly even as they simultaneously express majority disapproval of Barack Obama. This is not nearly the party line issue that something like health care is - while just 5% of Republicans support the President's agenda on that 26% of them are for scrapping DADT."

"Public opinion on gays in the military reflects the growing progressivism of North Carolina's population. Rural voters are strongly opposed to it but their proportion of the electorate is declining while suburbia's share rises, and suburban voters strongly favor allowing gays to serve openly. Republicans will probably have a good year in the state this time around but that doesn't change the fact that the state is moving gradually away from some of its more conservative attitudes."

Full results here."

Similarly, the Center for American Progress' recent poll supports these data:

"A majority of American voters support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the U.S. military’s policy that bans openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the armed forces.

The poll is the most extensive of a number of recent surveys tracking public opinions on this issue and undeniably shows that the American public has become increasingly supportive of open service. Voters recognize as our country fights two different wars that it is critical for the military to make recruiting decisions based on a soldier’s skills—not his or her sexual orientation. This finding is echoed by other polls on the issue conducted over the past year.

Key findings

Stable majority for change graph

CAP’s poll, fielded by Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research, finds that a solid majority of likely voters support allowing openly gay men and lesbians to serve in the U.S. military: 54 percent of those surveyed support repealing the current ban on open service, with just 35 percent opposed to repeal. These numbers demonstrate a massive change in public opinion on this issue since 1994, when polls showed that majorities of Americans opposed gay men and lesbians serving in the military.

The poll also shows that:

  • Voters value skills over sexual orientation: Sixty percent believe that with the United States in the middle of two wars, the military needs every talented woman and man it can get regardless of a person’s sexual orientation. Similar numbers say that they do not think gays and lesbians will harm unit cohesion or morale.
  • DADT repeal is not a politically polarizing issue: Among likely voters, 68 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents, and 41 percent of Republicans support repeal. What’s more, 56 percent of voters in House of Representatives battleground districts and 56 percent in Senate battleground states support repeal.
  • Voters do not want to defer to the military on DADT: A clear majority—63 percent—would not change their opinion on DADT repeal even if the U.S. military was opposed to open service by gays and lesbians.
  • Voters are becoming more accepting of gays and lesbians overall: Nearly 30 percent said that they have become more accepting of gays and lesbians in the past 5 to 10 years. Only 11 percent became less accepting.
Download this memo (pdf)"

America is engaged in two wars, and the public believes it's time to repeal DADT and make military service contingent on abilities, not bigotry.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Act Now: ENDA Lobby Day, 3/16

On Tuesday, March 16, the National Center for Transgender Equality is sponsoring a lobby day specifically for the national Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in Washington, DC. LGBT people and allies from around the country who support ENDA will be there, and we need folks from North Carolina.

It is particularly important to ENDA that people attend from the eight states in which Senators are on the fence, including North Carolina, where Senator Kay Hagan is still undecided. These states include:
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia
There will also be a policy conference, lobby training, and phone bank on Sunday and Monday, March 14 and 15. Registration for all of this is free.

ENDA is closer to passing than ever before.

The House has enough votes (223 likely yes votes, which is five more than a majority). There are 29 unconfirmed votes, many of which will probably be favorable.

Here's where our Reps stand (brought to you by the "Inclusive ENDA" Facebook Campaign):

Definite Yes Probable Yes Probable No Definite No

G. K. Butterfield

Bob Etheridge

Walter B. Jones

David E. Price x

Virginia Foxx

Howard Coble

Mike McIntyre

Larry Kissell

Sue Wilkins Myrick

Patrick T. McHenry

Heath Shuler

Melvin L. Watt x

Brad Miller x

The Senate, however, is missing a few votes. There are 55 likely yes votes (again, five more than a majority), but 60 votes would be needed if there were a filibuster.

That's where the list of states above come in. Senators in those states - including, surprisingly, our Senator Kay Hagan - are unconfirmed. Based on their previous positions they may support ENDA, but only if people from their states talk to them in sufficient numbers.

Here's info on Senators (also brought to you by the "Inclusive ENDA" Facebook Campaign):

Unconfirmed Confirmed no
Richard Burr (R-NC) NC
Kay Hagan (D-NC) NC x

To make federal employment nondiscrimination happen, we need to have North Carolinians there at ENDA Lobbdy Day.

Travel can be expensive, though, but Dr. Julian T. Weiss of the Bilerico Project is willing to help folks get there.

"If you would like to come to DC for the lobby day, and you are unemployed because of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, and you are from one of these crucial states, I think our community should help get you there. After all, you are the ones who need this legislation. I have talked to some people who are behind ENDA 100%, and ready to put their money where their mouth is."

"If you would like to come to DC for the lobby day, and you currently reside in one of the states listed above, and you are currently unemployed because of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, send an email to me at describing your situation and how your presence in DC for the lobby day would make a difference for your US Senator."

"I cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate you, but I will make every effort to accommodate all those whose presence would make a difference. Please be as specific as possible in your email about how your presence would make a difference. Include your name, email address and telephone number. The subject line should read "DC LOBBY DAY ASSISTANCE REQUEST." Please send your email no later than March 5, 2010."

Not only is this the best chance for ENDA to pass than we've ever had before, but this is also an amazing opprotunity to individually, directly affect an important piece of national legislation.