Talk Turkey with Your Family and Friends This Thanksgiving
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
A joint statement from the Federation of Statewide LGBT Advocacy Organizations, Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centers, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
The highest court in Massachusetts has granted the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples. The court gave the state's legislature up to 180 days to make this happen.
In response, anti-gay organizations across the nation have gone into overdrive, mobilizing thousands of their supporters to contact members of Congress and state legislators. Their goal is to bombard legislators during the Thanksgiving/December recess with demands that they move anti-marriage legislation as soon as they go back to work early in 2004. It is critical that those who support fairness and equality for same-sex couples make our voices heard.
Over the next few days, many of us will be fortunate enough to celebrate Thanksgiving with loving families and straight friends. Because we so rarely talk about it, most relatives and friends have no idea how few rights lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have or that the religious and political right are launching a vicious and dehumanizing campaign against us under the guise of the "threat of gay marriage." Moreover, most of us have never asked our family and friends to take a stand for us.
Now is that time. The next few weeks are a critical moment in the struggle for full equality. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, summon up the courage to reach out your family and friends and ask for their help. Let each one of them know what's going on and the way in which our lives are being distorted for political gain. Let each one of them know that this is not some abstract, political debate. No - let them know that it's personal, that it affects you, your future, your civil rights, and the lives of people close to you. Ask each one of them to stand beside you and to speak out for you when the attacks and jokes come.
And finally, ask each one of them to contact their state legislators and their representatives in Washington to oppose all efforts to ban same-sex marriage, including the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment." The best would be having your family members and friends request meetings with their elected officials in their home districts. (Phone numbers for home district offices can be found in the blue pages of your phone book or, for state legislators, by calling your Secretary of State's office, and for Congress by calling the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121.) Most state legislatures are recessed for the rest of the year, and Congress will be on break for most of December and January. The anti-gay groups are mobilizing thousands to meet with their elected officials right now; supporters of equality for same-sex couples must do the same.
If you aren't able to see family and friends in person, give them a call or send them the attached request as a letter or e-mail (which you can also use as a sample script). Also, please make sure you, too, have made these calls to your state and Congressional representatives.
SAMPLE LETTER, E-MAIL OR SCRIPT:
Dear Family Member or Close Friend,
I appreciate and value the love you have shown me over the years. I've rarely talked about the kind of discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face in this country, and I've never asked for you to stand up for me in ending this discrimination. Now, this Thanksgiving, I need your help.
Using the so-called "threat" of gay marriage, the religious and political right are launching an unprecedented campaign ban marriage equality for same-sex couples and other, more limited forms of family recognition, including civil unions and domestic partnerships. Their vicious campaign is based on lies and distortions about LGBT people, and that includes me. Please stand with me and for me by doing two things over the next few days:
1. Call or write your Member of Congress and your two U.S. Senators. Ask them to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J. Res. 56), which would ban same-sex marriage and prevent courts from mandating even the most basic benefits, such as domestic partner health benefits and hospital visitation rights. The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. If you aren't sure who your Congressperson and two Senators are, please call the Congressional switchboard or go to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.
2. Call your state representative/assembly member and state senator. Ask them to support equal treatment of same-sex couples and to oppose efforts to ban same-sex partner recognition in your state. If there is a specific anti-gay bill or proposed constitutional amendment pending, please mention that bill or amendment. You may be able to get this information by contacting your local or state LGBT rights organization. A list of these is posted at http://federationlgbt.org/Members/members.html
Thank you for being there for me when I need your help.
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 movement’s 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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