Equality Begins at Home: Day 2!!
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
In American hometowns from Atlanta to Anchorage, the momentum was still churning Monday following this weekend's launch of Equality Begins at Home, a nationwide campaign of weeklong state and local actions for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) rights.
Some 150 events highlighting issues of anti-gay discrimination, violence, and families have been held throughout the country since Friday under the banner of Equality Begins at Home (EBAH), the first-ever campaign of actions in all 50 states, the District of Colombia and Puerto Rico, to focus attention on the battles in state legislatures over GLBT rights.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force continues to receive reports about many of the major events held across the country this past weekend and yesterday, including events in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, and Washington State:
In Atlanta, U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney and Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell issued a city proclamation in honor of Equality Begins at Home on Sunday, attracting an enthusiastic crowd of more than 200 people. The kick-off event for Equality Begins at Home drew local leaders, volunteers, supportive organizations, and statewide activists in advance of a "Unity Above Hate" rally scheduled for Saturday, March 27.
More than 80 Alaskans launched EBAH on Saturday, March 20 with a celebratory dance at a local pub to honor same-sex relationships. On Sunday, some 125 people attended a private same-sex recommitment ceremony that was announced in the Anchorage Daily News, the first-ever recognition of a same-sex anniversary in a newspaper in Alaska.
About 150 supporters, community leaders and lawmakers gathered at the Nebraska Capitol on Sunday to launch Equality Begins at Home, the biggest GLBT civil rights event in the state's history. Both State Senator Shelley Kiel and State Democratic Chair Anne Boyle spoke in support of equality for GLBT Nebraskans, and the photo display "Love Makes A Family," the first of its kind to appear in the capitol, opened its weeklong engagement in the Capitol. About 100 panels of the AIDS Memorial Names Project Quilt also were displayed near the Capitol at the Lincoln Women's Club. Organizers expect 1,000 Nebraskans to attend the Lincoln rally scheduled for Friday, which will feature NGLTF's Executive Director Kerry Lobel as keynote speaker.
On Sunday, GLBT youth from across Colorado hit the State Capitol for a youth rally. A youth improv troupe from Longmont, called Break the Cycle, had the audience laughing and crying as they acted out gay bashing in schools, coming out to friends and family, revelations of HIV status and first kisses. Youth speakers also addressed the crowd before the attendees walked to Denver's GLBT youth drop-in center. Colorado's "Rally Against Hate" will be held Thursday.
In North Dakota on Monday a historic press conference, a first ever on gay and lesbian legislative issues, drew 30 people from across the state to the Capitol for the launch of the state's premier statewide organization, Equality North Dakota. Speakers included Jon Lindgren, former mayor of Fargo; Sue Anderson of the Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Statewide Political Organizations; and Doreen Yellow Bird, a Native-American mother of a gay son, who spoke passionately about the dire need for anti-discrimination legislation and for acceptance and respect for all people, including GLBT people. This was reportedly the first time that the words "gay and lesbian" had ever appeared on a banner in the Capitol building.
Also yesterday, scores of people participated in an EBAH lobby day in Olympia, Washington. After a morning training, people fanned out to lobby state legislators, focusing mainly on a broad-based safe schools bill stuck in committee that would promote hate-free learning environments for all youth.
And in Albany, 175 hardy souls braved a snowstorm that shut down much of New York State to lobby on civil rights, hate crimes, funding for GLBT health and human services, and killing the anti-gay marriage bill. The display of AIDS quilt panels along with the "Love Makes a Family" and SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment) photo exhibits created a profound public portrayal of GLBT people.
In Fayetteville, Arkansas, more than 75 GLBT young people participated in a speakout for safe schools and an end to violence, racism and homophobia. Arkansas' capstone Equality Begins at Home event, a Little Rock rally on Saturday, will draw NGLTF's Kerry Lobel back to her former home state to address members of the Arkansas GLBT community.
Equality Begins at Home is coordinated by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and organized by the Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Statewide Political Organizations.
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movementís premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
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