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Dan Choi to Russia: “Love is Worth It”

Dan Choi has taken the LGBT movement by storm over the past year in fighting to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.   Follow Dan’s tweets here.

Now he is going global taking on Russia, and standing in solidarity with LGBT brothers and sisters in one of the most oppressive countries. You can follow the live blogging here at the Moscow Gay Pride Blog.

Here’s hoping the US State Department makes a statement condemning the violence.

The following landed in Act On Principles inbox this morning….

Released. No charge, no fine. Russians stay in police custody probably overnight.
Few bruises on left leg, scratches and swelling right ear. Punched in the face 5 times. Still alive. Overall best pride march yet.
Looking forward to Kansas on 6/22-26
Hillary Clinton still needs to say something about the Russian ban on this freedom of expression. We were absolutely non-violent.
My twitter feed has some pics from the jail, and other details from the event.
Love is worth it.

Thank you Dan. We stand with you in solidarity.

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UPDATED: Grading the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus

In order to achieve full federal equality, we need an important institution such as the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to actually be efficient and turnkey in our efforts to demonstrate and increase the support for all pieces of LGBT friendly legislation. I am hopeful that the Equality Caucus leadership either: 1. Encourages all of its members to support and cosponsor ALL LGBT-friendly legislation introduced by its membership and other allies in Congress or 2. Explains to the larger LGBT community why the Equality Caucus isn’t supporting specific pieces of legislation.bw_teacher_pupil_blackboard-300x204

According to their website (http://lgbt.tammybaldwin.house.gov/): The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus was established in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2008 by Co-Chairs Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Barney Frank (D-MA), along with Members of Congress who are strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world.”

The Caucus is now co-chaired by four openly gay members of Congress:  Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and David Cicilline (D-RI).  In addition to the Co-Chairs, the membership is comprised of 19 Vice-Chairs and 73 Members, which totals to 96 members (Current website doesn’t reflect the resignation of Jane Harman (D-CA).

It is commonly understood amongst LGBT advocacy organizations and activists, that with the recent loss of Democrats in the House of Representatives during the 2012 election, the 112th Congress might be a challenging field to secure passage of any LGBT legislation. Given the current political environment, one would expect that the Equality Caucus formed with the mission to achieve equal rights for LGBT people would immediately and unequivocally support ALL pieces of LGBT friendly legislation introduced in this Congress.

However that isn’t what is happening.  Act on Principles is giving the following grades to the Equality Caucus based on its percentage support of LGBT friendly legislation introduced in the House of Representatives. Currently, there are nine pieces of legislation in the House that impact LGBT equality.

Shockingly, the Equality Caucus receives a mediocre report card consisting of one A, three B’s and five F’s.

H.R.998: Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] (introduced 3/10/2011)

95% = A

H.R.1397: Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Sponsor: Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] (introduced 4/6/2011)

87% = B

H.R.1116: Respect for Marriage Act

Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 3/16/2011)

84% = B

H.R.1537: Uniting American Families Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 4/14/2011)

82% = B

H.R.1648: Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] (introduced 4/15/2011)

54% = F

H.R.1488: Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] (introduced 4/12/2011)

49% = F

H.R.1028: Equal Access to COBRA Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] (introduced 3/10/2011)

47% = F

H.R.1681: Every Child Deserves a Family Act

Sponsor: Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] (introduced 5/3/2011)

44% = F

H.R.1048: Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2011
Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] (introduced 3/11/2011)

7% = F

Before going into too much details on each of the bills, the three members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus that are supporting ALL NINE pieces of LGBT legislation introduced should be commended.  These Members of Congress received a 100% score on their co-sponsorship efforts, unfortunately they account for only 3% of the entire Equality Caucus (3 out of 96 members):

  • Judy Chu (D-CA) – Caucus Member
  • Michael Honda (D-CA) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Steven Rothman (D-NJ) – Caucus Member

Conversely, the ten members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus that are supporting only one or two pieces of legislation should be also noted. These Members of Congress receive an 11% to 22% score on their co-sponsorship efforts.  (We do not want to penalize the Equality Caucus or Equality Caucus Member Gabrielle Giffords due to her circumstances and medical condition that keeps her from participating in her Congressional activities. Her co-sponsorships will not be counted in the tabulations).   Those with only one or two co-sponsorships of any pro-LGBT legislation account for 11% of the Equality Caucus (10 out 95).

  • Robert Andrews (D-NJ) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Xavier Becerra (D-CA) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Timothy Bishop (D-NY) – Caucus Member
  • Hanson Clark (D-MI) – Caucus Member
  • Peter DeFazio (D-OR) – Caucus Member
  • Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) – Caucus Member
  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) – Caucus Member
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) – Member
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL) – Caucus Member

With a grade of an A, 95% (90 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R.998: Sponsor: Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] (introduced 3/10/2011)). Those Equality Caucus members not co-sponsoring the Student Non-Discrimination Act include the following five members:

  • Robert Andrews (D-NJ) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Xavier Becerra (D-CA) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • John Conyers (D-MI) – Caucus Member
  • George Miller (D-CA– Caucus Member
  • Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) – Caucus Member

With a grade of a B, only 87% (83 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R.1397: Sponsor: Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] (introduced 4/6/2011). Those Equality Caucus members not co-sponsoring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act include the following twelve members:

  • Timothy Bishop (D-NY) – Caucus Member
  • Hansen Clarke (D-MI) – Caucus Member
  • Peter DeFazio (D-OR) – Caucus Member
  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) – Caucus Member
  • Doris Matsui (D-CA) – Caucus Member
  • Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) – Caucus Member
  • Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) – Caucus Member
  • Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) *Non-voting Caucus Member from the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) – Caucus Member
  • Paul Tonko (D-NY) – Caucus Member
  • Nydia Velazquez (D- NY) – Caucus Member
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL) – Caucus Member

With a grade of a B, only 84% (80 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R.1116: Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 3/16/2011)). Those Equality Caucus members not co-sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act include the following fifteen members:

  • Robert Andrews (D-NJ) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Xavier Becerra (D-CA) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Timothy Bishop (D-NY) – Caucus Member
  • Andre Carson (D-IN) – Caucus Member
  • Hansen Clarke (D-MI) – Caucus Member
  • Peter DeFazio (D-OR) – Caucus Member
  • Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) – Caucus Member
  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) – Caucus Member
  • Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) – Caucus Member
  • Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) – Caucus Member
  • Laura Richardson (D-CA) – Caucus Member
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) *Non-voting Caucus Member from the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) – Caucus Member
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL) – Caucus Member

With a grade of a B, only 82% (78 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Uniting American Families Act (H.R.1537: Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 4/14/2011)). Those Equality Caucus members not co-sponsoring the Uniting American Families Act include the following seventeen members:

  • Robert Andrews (D -NJ) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Hansen Clarke (D-MI) – Caucus Member
  • Marcia Fudge (D -OH) – Caucus Member
  • Charles Gonzalez (D -TX) – Caucus Member
  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) – Caucus Member
  • Brian Higgins (D -NY) – Caucus Member
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson (D -TX) – Caucus Member
  • Bill Keating (D-MA) – Caucus Member
  • David Loebsack (D -IA) – Caucus Member
  • Christopher Murphy (D -CT) – Caucus Member
  • Gary Peters (D -MI) – Caucus Member
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R -FL) – Caucus Vice-Chair
  • Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) *Non-voting Caucus Member from the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Loretta Sanchez (D -CA) – Caucus Member
  • Robert (Bobby) Scott (D -VA) – Caucus Member
  • Nydia Velazquez (D -NY) – Caucus Member
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL) – Caucus Member

With a grade of an F, 54% (51 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R.1648: Sponsor: Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] (introduced 4/15/2011)). Rather than list all those Equality Caucus members not cosponsoring the Safe Schools Improvement Act let’s look at some other details.  All of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs, except for Barney Frank (D-MA) are cosponsors of the bill.  However, only 42% (8 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.  This is a priority piece of legislation for the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) (http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/2702.html), as it “would require schools to implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies that address bullying and harassment and ensure the safety and well-being of all their students.”

With a grade of an F, 47% (45 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Equal Access to COBRA Act (H.R.1028: Sponsor: Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] (introduced 3/10/2011). Rather than list all those Equality Caucus members not cosponsoring the Equal Access to COBRA Act let’s look at some other details.  All of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs (Baldwin, Cicilline, Frank, and Polis) are cosponsors of the bill.  However, only 42% (8 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.

With a grade of an F, 49% (47 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act (H.R.1488: Sponsor: Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] (introduced 4/12/2011)). Rather than list all those Equality Caucus members not cosponsoring the Freedom from Discrimination Act, let’s look at some other details. All of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs, except for David Cicilline (D-RI) are cosponsors of the bill.  However, only 63% (12 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.

With a grade of an F, 44% (42 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R.1681: Sponsor: Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] (introduced 5/3/2011)). Rather than list all those Equality Caucus members not cosponsoring the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, let’s look at some other details.  All of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs, except for David Cicilline (D-RI) are cosponsors of the bill.  However, only 52% (10 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.  This is a priority bill for the Family Equality Council (http://www.familyequality.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ECDF) as it will “eliminate (sic) state laws, policies, practices and procedures that exclude potential adoptive and foster parents because of their marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

With a grade of F-, 7% (7 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act (H.R.1048: Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] (introduced 3/11/2011)). The bill sponsored by Democrat Rush Holt from New Jersey is the least supported piece of legislation in the Equality Caucus with only 7 co-sponsors. None of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs (Baldwin, Cicilline, Frank or Polis) are cosponsors and only 11% (2 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.

Act On Principles (www.actonprinciples.org) will continue publicly whip all LGBT supportive legislation in the 112th Congress, continue to evaluate the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus on their support of our equality, and work with organizations to ensure we achieve full federal equality.

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Adopt a State with GetEQUAL

Are you ready to Organize For Equality?

Organizing For Equality is a national strategy to create a grassroots network of state-based organizers building power in the LGBT community to demand full federal equality.

Rather than waiting around and hoping that someone else will work for our equality, OFE is taking the movement for full LGBT equality into our own hands. No longer will we wait around while partisan politics make our equality a political football. No longer will we wait around while the specter of a President Palin is raised to dismiss our criticism. No longer will we wait around while candidates raise money from their base on the backs of our youth by spewing lies about the morality of LGBT Americans.

Organizing For Equality will inspire members of the LGBT community to stand up for the dignity and justice that we all deserve. We will organize for full federal equality — no longer relying solely on piecemeal federal legislation that divides our community and forces us to leave behind areas of the country that are not “politically strategic.” This campaign is a line in the sand — an effort to mobilize LGBT Americans and allies around a vision to create an undeniable call for our full humanity.

Make a commitment — now — to take ownership in this fight for dignity and equality.

Will you join us?