excuse yourself

It may not be a someecard but it’s 100% true.

Happy Monday!

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Equality For All Americans

FACT: The survivors of the Orlando shooting could be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout most of Florida, it is legal to fire someone or deny them access to housing or public accommodations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

But it’s not just Florida.  In 32 states across the country, hardworking Americans can be fired from their jobs or denied housing simply because of who they are or who they love.  While in many places it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, the LGBT community is currently left out of nationwide and many statewide non-discrimination protections.

At the federal level, the Equality Act would establish explicit, permanent protections against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. In addition, it would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federal funding and access to public places.  The Equality Act is supported by over 70% of all Americans as well as major corporations like Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Facebook, and others.

But we also need to lay the groundwork in the 33 states that don’t have clear, fully inclusive non-discrimination laws for all LGBT Americans.

We can no longer wait.  The time has come for us to speak out, stand up, and act up.  We can do this.  LGBT and straight – you can help!

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Contact your US Senator and Congressperson and tell them to support the Equality Act.  Even if they already support the Equality Act, it never hurts to remind them of why we need their support! Simply click the link here (contactingthecongress.org) to find out who represents you in Congress.  Type in your address; you’ll be given the phone number and web contact page for both of your senators and your representative in the House.  Below are some sample scripts that you can use when you email or call these men and women.  Make sure to ask for a response!
  2. If you live in one of the states below, contact your state legislators and urge them to support legislation extending full non-discrimination protections to the ENTIRE LGBT community where you live.  Find your state below and follow the links (some states have separate links for House and Senate; for other states you will need to find your legislative district first).  Alternatively, you can use OpenStates.org to find your state legislators.  Some states have automatic forms you can fill out while others will only provide a phone number or email address.  Below are additional sample scripts you can use when you call or email these men and women.  Once again, make sure to ask for a response!
  3. Support organizations like Lambda Legal (find them on Facebook & Twitter) or Freedom for All Americans (Pledge your support, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter).  And yes, if you feel so inclined – donate money.  While our voices were necessary to win marriage equality, it also took a lot of cold hard cash.  Remember, every little bit counts.
  4. Share this with your friends and family!

Here’s a form letter for emailing/writing your US Senators and Representative:

Dear ________________,

FACT: The survivors of the Orlando shooting could be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout most of the United States, it is legal to fire someone or deny them access to housing or public accommodations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).  This problem comes up over and over again in the 33 states that don’t have clear, fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination laws.

Therefore, I am writing to urge you to support the Equality Act to extend clear and fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans.  The current patchwork of local and state laws leaves millions of Americans subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their livelihood.

The Equality Act is supported by over 70% of all Americans as well as major corporations like Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Facebook, and others.

It’s time to end discrimination in our country. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of [your state] and the United States.

Thank you,
[Your Name]

Want to call your Senators or Representative?  Great! Try this sample message!

Hello, my name is __________, and I’m calling today from __(city)__ to urge Senator/Representative __________ to support the Equality Act to extend clear and fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans.  The current patchwork of local and state laws leaves millions of Americans subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their livelihood.

The Equality Act is supported by over 70% of all Americans as well as major corporations like Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Monsanto, and others.

It’s time to end discrimination in our country. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of [your state] and the United States.

Is your state on the list?

Alabama; Alaska – Click here to find your legislative district and your legislator, then click here to find contact information, ; Arizona – Click here to locate your legislative district and then click here to find your Senate and House legislators; Arkansas; Florida – click here for the House and click here for the Senate; Georgia; Idaho – Click here to locate your legislative district then click here to find contact information; Indiana; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Michigan – Click here for the House and click here for the Senate; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Hampshire – Click here for the House and click here for the Senate; New York – Click here for the State Assembly and click here for the Senate; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio – first look up your full zip code; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming.

Try out this sample letter for contacting your state legislators.

Dear ________________,

Did you know that the survivors of the Orlando shooting could be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?  It is currently legal in Florida to fire someone or deny them access to housing or public accommodations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

This can happen in our state as well.  The laws in our state do not currently contain clear, fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, leaving thousands of Americans in our state subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their livelihood.

Therefore, I am writing to urge you to support legislation that would extend non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans in [your state].

It’s time to end discrimination in our state. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of [your state].

Thank you,
[Your Name]

Or if you would rather call, try out this sample message for contacting your state legislators.

Hello, my name is __________, and I’m calling today from __(city)__ to urge Senator/Representative __________ to support legislation extending clear and fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans in [your state].

Did you know that the survivors of the Orlando shooting could be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?  This could happen in our state as well.  The laws in [your state] do not currently contain clear and fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, leaving thousands of Americans in our state subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their livelihood.

It’s time to end discrimination in our state. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of [your state].

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overheard

Diversity is a strength, and tolerance is a virtue.  Together it produces beauty.

~Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans

Memorial Vigil for Orlando

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Yes, we still need Pride

For every time someone has told you that you are sinning.  For every time someone told you that what you’re doing is immoral.  For every time someone told you that what you’re doing is gross or sick or unnatural.

For every time someone asked you “why do you need to get married?”  For every time someone asked you “why should you have ‘special rights’?”  For every time the government has denied you your unalienable rights.  For every time you’ve been denied the right to visit a sick boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse in the hospital.  For every time society has denied you for who you are, for who you love, and for how you love.

For every time you’ve wondered “will my boss fire me for being gay?”.  For every time you’ve been nervous to put a picture of your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/spouse on your desk at work.  For every time you’ve wondered “will my landlord kick me out for being a lesbian?”.

For every time you’ve been nervous/afraid/scared/hesitant to go to the bathroom of your true gender.

For every time you’ve been afraid to live your truth.

For being denied the ability to donate blood to help those in need.

For every time you walked down the street and wondered if today is the day someone is going to call you a fag or a dyke.  For every time you’ve been called a fag or dyke.  For every time you’ve been afraid to hold the hand of your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse in public.  For every time you’ve felt threatened.  For every time you’ve walked out of a club and wondered if today is the day you’re going to be hit/beaten/tortured/killed for being who you are, for who you love, and for how you love.  For every time you’ve been hit or beaten or tortured.

For every time someone has died for being who they are, who they loved, and how they loved.

And especially today for our brothers and sister in LGBT community of Orlando.

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Do We Still Need Pride?

Wayne Dhesi published the following article on Huffington Post called “Do We Still Need Pride?” a few weeks ago.  It’s a valid question; after all, President Obama just yesterday declared June “LGBT Pride Month.”  It may make us think our work is done.

I guess the topic comes to mind for several reasons, mostly because my friends in Boston will be celebrating Pride this weekend, and here in New Orleans we will celebrate next week.  But yesterday’s airing of “The Fight Against AIDS” on CNN’s documentary series The Eighties and the documentary How to Survive a Plague are great reminders of a time when our community had to stand up, speak out, and act up to get the rights, recognition, and the dignity we so deserved.  That struggle continues today, especially for our trans brothers and sisters.  Perhaps need to celebrate Pride each year because we as a community need a casual reminder of why we had Pride parades in the first place.  To quote Dhesi, “if you think Pride parades are pointless because there’s nothing left to fight for” well… see below.

Happy Pride my friends.

Around this time each year I start to see tweets, Facebook statuses and blogs debating the current relevance of Pride events. Those who doubt the need for such events usually talk about the fact that they have become corporate circuses and are now focused around partying and getting drunk. Another argument against Prides is that in 2016, with equal marriage now a reality in the UK, there really isn’t a ‘need’ for such a gathering of communities — after all, what else is there left to fight for?

To understand Pride and the its significance we need to take a step outside of our own experience and look at the bigger picture. Of course, I’m not trying to convince anyone that they should attend a Pride event if they really don’t want to, but I do think it’s useful to provide an alternative view of what Pride is for.

I came out in 2002 when I was 21, but even now when I’m marching in the Pride in London parade with 400 other colleagues, friends and Stonewall supporters, I feel a renewed sense of acceptance. It’s hard to explain how it feels to walk through the streets of your capital city publicly displaying your support for LGBT people and to get universally cheered and applauded by hundreds of thousands of people, LGBT and straight, parents with their kids. We shouldn’t need that affirmation but unfortunately, living in a world that is still overwhelming geared towards straight cis-gendered people, many of us still do.

I work at Stonewall and each year we enable 150 young people join us in that parade and for many of them it’s a day of firsts; first time in London, first time around so many other LGBT+ people, first time seeing so many allies showing their support for the LGBT community. The impact of such an experience on a 16-year-old is immeasurable. It’s always a very emotional day and I know those moments stay with the young people for a long time after the last sticker or flag has been swept up.

It’s true that same sex couples can marry now in the UK, but they can’t in Northern Ireland, that fight continues. And let’s be realistic, just because laws have changed to make life for LGBT people better, that doesn’t mean that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia have been wiped out. In fact, in 2015 homophobic crimes in London rose by almost a third. Whether this was due to more actual crimes or just more effective reporting mechanisms, the figures don’t lie. There are still many people out there who simply don’t like us, and more than that, will make that dislike known and felt.

Last year 75,000 young people were bullied for being lesbian, gay, bi or trans. 23 percent of lesbian, gay and bi young people have attempted suicide. For trans young people that figure shoots up to 48 percent.

Having sex with someone of the same sex is illegal in 75 countries, and you could be put to death in ten. Each year, one in twelve Trans people in Europe experience a violent hate crime.

The recent ‘bathroom bill’ in America shows not only the severe lack of understanding of trans people but also a blatant disregard for trans people’s human rights.

I could go on but you get the point. If you think that Prides are pointless because there’s nothing left to fight for, see above.

There’s no doubt that over the years Pride events have changed. They are a great opportunity for corporate organizations and public services to show their support as well as showcasing how far they’ve come in becoming more inclusive for LGBT people. Staging a Pride event, even just the parade aspect, is not cheap. The money needs to be found from somewhere, and if large organizations want to offer financial support, as well as celebrating their own LGBT staff and inclusive cultures, then surely they should be able to.

The main point of Pride for me isn’t about seeing two thirds of Atomic Kitten performing 15 year old songs to a bunch of drunk people, but what’s wrong with that? Remember, the parades are always free to watch, if you don’t want to stay for the evening, you don’t need to. Throughout its history, Manchester Pride has given out over £1.3 million to local LGBT charities, organizations and community groups in Greater Manchester. Lots of this money would have been raised from the sale of wristbands. Birmingham Pride raises around £75,000 each year which is distributed to local LGBT causes.

I’d estimate that I’ve been to around 20 Pride events and no matter where I am there’s always a moment that hits me and reminds me why we still need them. Whether that’s seeing someone give me the thumbs up from the side of the parade, reading a powerful banner about international LGBT inequality or simply enjoying a moment with my friends. Has Pride changed? Most definitely. Is Pride still needed? Absolutely.

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overheard

I ain’t tryin to get too skinny.  I’m thinking a size 42 should be good.

oh Louisiana…

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work apologies…

For when you get work emails on the weekend…

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