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Call UAFA bill sponors to thank them and ask them to co-sponsor the Reuniting Families Act (RFA) #aop #immigration

In an Act On Principles blog post, I made the case that both LGBT AND immigrant rights are civil rights and that we ought to support both the UAFA (HR.1024) and RFA (HR.2709) immigration bills. At last count, there are 116 co-sponsors of the LGBT immigration bill UAFA. Slightly less than half of them have signed on to co-sponsor the broader family immigration bill RFA, which includes all the provisions of UAFA.

We should thank all the co- sponsors of UAFA and now ask them to also co-sponsor RFA. I have used the AOP Whip Count data to generate the list below of the UAFA co-sponsors who have yet to co-sponsor RFA. The list also includes the phone number of each member and a link to their website.
If you are able to persuade a member to confirm support for RFA, or even to co-sponsor the bill, please record and share what you have learned on the RFA whip count .





Baird, Brian




Becerra, Xavier




Berkley, Shelley




Berman, Howard




Bishop, Timothy




Brady, Robert




Conyers, John Jr.




Courtney, Joe




Crowley, Joseph




Cummings, Elijah




DeFazio, Peter




Edwards, Donna




Eshoo, Anna




Gutierrez, Luis




Hare, Phil




Inslee, Jay




Kennedy, Patrick




Larson, John




Levin, Sander




Lowey, Nita




McCollum, Betty




McDermott, Jim




McMahon, Michael




Meek, Kendrick




Michaud, Michael




Miller, Brad




Moore, Gwen




Neal, Richard




Olver, John




Pascrell, Bill Jr.




Pingree, Chellie




Price, David




Quigley, Mike




Rothman, Steven




Schiff, Adam




Schwartz, Allyson




Sherman, Brad




Sires, Albio




Slaughter, Louise McIntosh




Smith, Adam




Speier, Jackie




Sutton, Betty




Tierney, John




Tonko, Paul




Tsongas, Niki




Velazquez, Nydia




Watson, Diane




Clarke, Yvette




BLOG for equality now, North Dakota

ND’s Senator Kent Conrad: Legislator of the Day

North Conrad.jpgDakota is a key state in the fight for ENDA.

North Dakota’s Senator Kent Conrad may be a supporter of ENDA, but his vote is unconfirmed.

Please call him today to ask for his support of S.1584.

Facts and contact info here: http://bit.ly/144jgn

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LGBT AND Immigrant Rights Are Civil Rights – Support UAFA AND RFA #aop #immigration

It’s great to see that our Act on Principles website is now “whipping” our legislators’ positions on both the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)(HR.1024 and S.424) as well as the House version of the Reuniting Families Act (RFA)(HR 2709), which has completely incorporated UAFA.

I have worked on many LGBT and HIV-related immigration issues over the years, including building coalitions among LGBT, HIV/AIDS and immigrant organizations and advocates. All this work means that I strongly believe that the best way to gain full immigration rights for LGBT couples and individuals will be for our LGBT communities, activists and allies to also support fair immigration laws for ALL immigrants and refugees.  It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing politically and strategically.

Look how the legislative strategy for UAFA has evolved, reflecting the best in coalition-building among and with our legislative champions and allies.  When Representative Jerry Nadler first introduced the bill (then called the Permanent Partners Act) in 2000, there were very few co-sponsors, no committee hearings and no votes taken.  We should be very grateful to Representative Nadler, Senator Patrick Leahy (the sponsor of bill in the Senate beginning in 2003), Immigration Equality, local LGBT immigrant and bi-national couple organizations, and many, many LGBT couples and activists for being so persistent in their organizing and advocacy over the years.  Representative Nadler has re-introduced his bill in every session of Congress and today, UAFA has 117 co-sponsors in the House and 23 co-sponsors in the Senate.  On June 3, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first ever hearing on UAFA and heard compelling testimony about its importance and urgency.

Yet despite all this great work, almost everyone in Congress believes that UAFA as a stand-alone bill is not likely to be enacted any time soon.  Immigration law is extremely complex – as well as controversial – especially in challenging economic times when immigrants are more likely to be scapegoated.  Stand-alone bills to change our immigration laws almost never get enacted; they usually become part of a broader bill, or “comprehensive immigration reform,” as it is now talked about.

So Representative Nadler has worked closely with Representative Mike Honda (and LGBT organizations and advocates) to incorporate all of UAFA (plus some technical improvements related to the definition of a child under immigration law, naturalization and protections for immigrant women facing domestic violence) into a broader bill on family immigration, the Reuniting Families Act (HR 2709).  Representative Honda has been an articulate champion for LGBT couples and families, emphasizing that his bill is intended to secure fair immigration rights for ALL families, including LGBT couples and families.  He has resisted pressure from some otherwise immigrant-supportive organizations from faith communities to drop the UAFA provisions from RFA and stood firmly as an advocate for LGBT couples and individuals.

And look at the impressive and diverse number of groups who have already expressed their public support for RFA – which includes UAFA, and therefore support for LGBT immigration rights:  the NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Council of La Raza, League of United Latin American Citizens, Asian American Justice Center, Organization of Chinese Americans, Japanese American Citizens League, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center, South Asian Americans Leading Together, American-Arab Discrimination Committee, Arab American Institute, Anti-Defamation League,  American Jewish Committee, Union for Reform Judaism, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Service Employees International Union.  These are exactly the organizations – and the communities and constituencies they represent – who we as an LGBT movement need to build closer alliances, greater trust and shared successes.

This shared work also highlights that we are part of other communities – that there are LGBT folks in every minority, immigrant, faith, labor and other constituency.  And here we all are now working together on a bill that has brought us together – on both LGBT and broader immigrant rights.

The final strategy step towards enactment will be a “comprehensive immigration reform” bill that will also have to address the much more difficult issues of enforcement, legalization and other reforms.  The more support there is for RFA and UAFA with co-sponsors and others on the public record, the more likely the LGBT provisions become part of any broader immigration bill that moves forward.

One of the equality goals of the Dallas Principles, which inspired this Act on Principles website, is that “Every LGBT person has the right to a family without legal barriers to immigration, civil marriage or raising children.”  To make sure that these immigration bills move forward in Congress, this website now gives all of “something to do” – to “act on principles.”

We can use the public whip counts of UAFA and RFA and update them.  We can get every one of the co-sponsors and supporters of UAFA to now co-sponsor or otherwise publicly support RFA (we also need a version of RFA in the Senate that includes UAFA).

We can reach out to local organizations, advocates and activists in immigrant, minority, faith, labor and other communities and help mobilize their support for RFA and explain why it is so important to include LGBT couples and individuals in a family immigration bill and any comprehensive immigration reform.  We can educate our own LGBT organizations and communities about the broader immigrant issues at stake and why they should be equally strong allies for immigrant rights.

All our work will help build the momentum for broader immigration reform, which will greatly increase the chances of the UAFA provisions ultimately getting enacted.

Act now.  No delay. No excuses.


Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson: ENDA Legislator of the Day

Senator Bill Nelson (the second sitting Congressmember Nelson.jpgto fly in space), has generally been a supporter of the LGBT community.

But where is he on ENDA? We don’t know, because he hasn’t declared a position on it yet. We’re at 56 likely yes votes in the Senate. Those last four are getting increasingly hard to find. Senator Nelson is not one of them, though he could be.

Please call him today to ask for his support of S1584. Also, please share this info with your social networks by clicking on the “Share” link at the bottom of this post. There, you will see buttons to share this post instantly in less than a second with your Twitter and Facebook crowds. That will help get this message out far and wide.

Facts and contact info here: http://bit.ly/1Nz218

BLOG for equality now

Ready for Another March? #NEM #Equality

Here is a great essay written by Michelangelo Signorile from The Advocate:

COMMENTARY: Taking to the streets — and to the World Wide Web — is the only way get this White House to move on gay issues, columnist Michelangelo Signorile says. So it could be time to plan another march on Washington.

The National Equality March, which Time magazine estimated brought roughly 200,000 people to the National Mall earlier this month, was such a huge success even before it happened that we must plan another one — even if it never happens. That’s because we’ve learned a few things in this first year of Barack Obama’s presidency. 

First off, this administration responds to pressure, and unlike the previous Democratic administration, these White House officials cannot contain our discontent by going to groups like the Human Rights Campaign or politicians like Barney Frank (more on that and the reasons why farther down).

They want to keep LGBTs at arm’s length, but we continue to make that difficult, and we force them to move — ever so reticently — each time we have applied pressure.

Sure, it was dispiriting to realize that after electing Obama we have to make a lot of noise to get even a little attention, but hopefully we’ve gotten over that: They’re politicians, they must be pressured, and there is absolutely no downside to pushing them hard.

The successes of the march began when the president decided to address our issues days before the march, agreeing to speak at HRC’s annual dinner. Just as he decided to commemorate Stonewall back in June, inviting gays to the White House after much public criticism of the administration’s dragging its feet, the president was responding to the marchers’ criticisms. The speech didn’t outline any new details on how the president would follow through on his promises, but he did spend a bit of capital just by speaking to a gay group — and doing so with much more passion than any time before, and saying a few things more emphaticall y— and sending a message via the televised coverage to the mainstream and to the opponents of LGBT rights.

Click here for full essay.

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Queer & Conflicted about Hate Crimes Laws

This posting comes to Act on Principles by AOP supporter: Mark Snyder

Beginning in 7th grade, I was mock raped, pushed, kicked, punched, spit on, and isolated from my peers. The supportive teachers in my rural Pennsylvanian school didn’t know how to help me, and the other teachers watched in silence. By ninth grade I was suicidal and threatening to quit school. My parents paid $8,000 a year for me to go a different public school in a college town an hour drive away, which provided a little bit more safety. Yet even at the new school I received death threats on my car and locker. It was during the fall of the year I transferred that Mathew Shepard was murdered. Like me, a thin effeminate male. My brother commented to my mom that I “could have been that kid.”

I was lucky enough to escape rural Pennsylvania for college in Boston where I found a supportive queer community who nurtured my activist nature and allowed it to blossom. Today, I runQueerToday.com, an online hub for queer activists who fight for social justice, and I work for an organization that serves LGBTQ headed families. My partner and I still experience harassment, like the time guys threw beer bottles at us in San Francisco while calling us fags, but we’re better prepared to handle it.

Given my past and my current work you might think I would be excited about the passage of hate crimes legislation. I’m not. In fact, I’m very conflicted about it. The legislation has been attached to military and war spending. I don’t think we should throw a single penny more towards weaponry the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. This hate crimes legislation also has the potential to increase prison sentences for those who commit crimes.  My father is in jail (after being entrapped for paying for sex with a male sex worker) so I have first hand experience to validate the mounds of research that show jail, the death penalty or long prison sentences do not deter crime or rehabilitate people. Finally, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project ( a legal organization serving the transgender community) has noted (and given examples) that hate crimes laws have been and can be used against our community, especially LGBTQ people of color and the transgender community.

It feels good that the new administration is showing us they care, and that they want to view us as equals. I understand why people would feel very compelled to support hate crimes legislation, but I’ll have to stand on the sidelines with Dennis Kucinich (who voted no) for this fight.

Arkansas, BLOG for equality now

Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas: ENDA Legislator of the Day

Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas is a key vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Pryor.jpg Meanwhile, Senator Pryor’s cohort, Senator Blanche Lincoln, has come out against ENDA.

We’re at 56 likely yes votes in the Senate. Those last four are getting increasingly hard to find. Senator Pryor is not one of them, though he could be.

Please call Senator Pryor today to ask for his support for S.1584. Facts and contact info by clicking here: http://bit.ly/2Ou0Yb


Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska: ENDA Legislator of the Day

Murkowski.jpg Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, is considered a moderate Republican. She is generally pro-choice on abortion and supports stem cell research. She is also a member of the Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans For Choice, and The Wish List (Women in the Senate and House), a group of pro-choice women Republicans.

She may also be one of a few Republicans to join Democrats on climate change legislation. Meanwhile, she has a 64% approval rating among Alaskans.

Will she support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, S1584? Contact info and more, click here: http://www.bilerico.com/2009/10/senator_lisa_murkowski_of_alaska_legislator_of_the.php

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In the global fight for human rights, every one of us has got to turn it up a notch. #LGBT #AOP #NEM

I just returned home last night after two very moving, very inspiring, very unsettling trips.

First, I went to DC to be a part of the the National Equality March. The rallies, the crowds, the events, the speeches were all so incredible and somewhat intimidating for me. There I was mingling and chatting and listening to Frank Kameny, Rev. Troy Perry, David Mixner, Cleve Jones, Kip Williams, Lt. Dan Choi, Judy Shephard and so many others.. It’ll take a while before I can process it all.

This was an inspiration and near-intimidation for me to turn it up a notch in the fight for LGBT rights and HIV activism on the national level.

I also found so much reassurance and acceptance from the size of the crowd and the overwhelming solidarity and diversity in DC. It was almost like a big lovefest for me..

Then, a day later, I went on to attend the InterPride Conference in Florida. This was a long weekend shared by representatives of Pride organizations from around the world. And this weekend of hearing of the struggles of communities was heartbreaking, disturbing and challenging. While we are fighting the good fight for marriage and to repeal DADT, all important battles, other LGBT peoples are fighting to literally stay alive.

The documentary footage, the stories, the photos of people throwing things at LGBT Pride parades, people yelling and punching and getting brutal on us for being LGBT starkly reminded me how we’ve come very far and not far at all.

In the global fight for human rights, every one of us has got to turn it up a notch. We can’t allow ourselves to think that because we can put on a pink boa and cowboy hat or sexy little swimsuit or wear the t-shirt with the political slogan of the week and have a parade and celebration that we have arrived. As long as one of us is suffering and being forced to stay in the closet, here in the US or in Moscow, Belgrade, the Philippines, Iraq, or Zimbabwe, we all suffer. MLK Jr said once that if one of us is not free then none of us is free.

Now’s the time to turn the battle for freedom up a couple notches. We can do marches and nonviolent disobedience. We can have kiss-ins, flash mob Prides, sit-ins and so much more.  Who’s with me?

Kelly Rivera Hart

San Francisco

BLOG for equality now, Florida

Florida’s Sen. George LeMieux: ENDA Legislator of the Day

Senator George LeMieux was recently appointed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist after the resignation of former Senator Mel Martinez. Will he support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, S1584?

lemieux.jpgThere have been some press reports that Senator LeMieux may be somewhat friendly towards gay rights, at least in his heart. However, the political climate in Florida doesn’t make it easy to express these thoughts openly. Even the senior Senator from Florida, Senator Bill Nelson, who is reckoned a friend of the LGBT community, has not come out in favor of ENDA.

What they need, in order to come out with support of ENDA, is to hear that there is support for it. That comes from one place: telephone calls from you. Please call Senator LeMieux and ask him to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, S1584.

Contact info and more after the jump.