Op-Ed: COLUMN: Setback for Gay Rights in Maine, But Hope Elsewhere

The Detroit News
November 16, 2009
Deb Price highlights advances for LGBT equality in Wash. state, Kalamazoo, Mich., and other areas of the nation during the 2009 election: "Momentum is now on the side of equality, even when setbacks make the biggest headlines." [Link]

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Voice for Equality: Michigan House Speaker Pro Tem, Pam Byrnes

Speaker Pro Tempore Pam Byrnes, is serving her third term in the Michigan House of Representatives. Her colleagues unanimously elected her to the position of Speaker Pro Tempore of the House this year, giving her the responsibility of running each session of the 110-member body from the rostrum. As Chair of the House Transportation Committee, a key leadership position, Byrnes focuses on the development of Michigan's mass transit systems and improvement of our infrastructure. She also is a member of the Regulatory Reform Committee and the Military and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. As a member of the House Committee on New Economy and Quality of Life, Byrnes is working to promote job growth by attracting and nurturing high tech businesses to Michigan. She also was recently appointed to the Biosciences Subcommittee which will focus on helping grow the bioscience industry in Michigan. Learn more here.

Following up on an announcement originally made in June of 2009, on November 4, 2009, Speaker Byrnes announced she was introducing legislation to roll back a 2004 constitutional amendment which bans same-sex marriage in the state of Michigan. In announcing the move, she stated:
This really boils down to treating all people with the dignity and respect everyone deserves. So many of us were raised to treat others how we’d like to be treated — it’s about time we start actually doing that. Last time I checked the Golden Rule didn’t say ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated, unless they are gay or lesbian. [Link]
Freedom to Marry salutes Pam Byrnes as a Voice for Equality! See other Voices for Equality here.

If Speaker Byrne's support inspires you - get involved!

**Make your NOMINATION for a Voice for Equality today!

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Byrnes Calls for Repeal of Michigan’s Ban on Marriages between Same-Sex Couples

The Michigan Messenger
November 4, 2009
Michigan House Speaker Pro Tem, Pam Byrnes, on Wednesday announced she had introduced legislation to roll back a 2004 constitutional amendment which bans marriage equality in the state. “This really boils down to treating all people with the dignity and respect everyone deserves,” she said. [Link]

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Kalamazoo Residents Approve Nondiscrimination Ordinance

One Kalamazoo
November 3, 2009
Kalamazoo residents approve nondiscrimination ordinance

“Our campaign started with a very basic idea, and today voters confirmed that we are One Kalamazoo,” said Campaign Manager, Jon Hoadley.

With only absentee ballots outstanding, 65 percent of Kalamazoo voters have approved Ordinance 1856 by a vote of 6,463 to 3,527, adding protections for gay and transgender people to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. This margin is larger than the number of outstanding absentee ballots that are currently being counted.

“I am elated with the outcome of the election,” says Yes on Ordinance 1856/One Kalamazoo Steering Committee member and local resident Janice Brown. “This vote reinforces what our campaign set out to prove – that our fellow residents of Kalamazoo share the belief that all people should be treated fairly and equally, including gay and transgender people.”

The outcome of today’s vote confirmed that all hardworking people in Kalamazoo should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families without fear of being fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.

“Kalamazoo is a great place to live and the passage of Ordinance 1856 makes the city an even better place,” says local resident Rev. Matt Laney, Pastor of the First Congregational Church. “I am proud to live in a city that recognizes that all people deserve fairness and respect.”

The Yes on 1856/ One Kalamazoo campaign in support of the nondiscrimination ordinance involved hundreds of local volunteers and contributors, and had the endorsement of over 30 local religious, social, business, and political organization. The campaign would like to thank the Kalamazoo community for asserting their belief in the inherent equality of all Kalamazoo residents, and the countless volunteers for their hard work and dedication in recent months – and in some case, years – to ensure the passage of the ordinance.

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Gay Rights Advocates Closely Watching Kalamazoo Vote

The Grand Rapids Press
November 1, 2009
Some LGBT equality advocates are viewing Kalamazoo, Mich.'s, upcoming vote on an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance as a small barometer of the progression of public opinion on issues of concern to the LGBT community. [Link]

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State Ballots Tackle LGBT Issues Tuesday

USA Today
November 2, 2009
Voters in three states on Tuesday will decide on measures of importance to the LGBT community: Maine's Question 1, Washington state's Referendum 71, and a non-discrimination ordinance that would protect LGBT residents of Kalamazoo, Mich. [Link]

Support Kalamazoo non-discrimination here.

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Op-Ed: Six Tests for Equality and Fairness

The New York Times
November 1, 2009
Political battles this fall in six different parts of the country could have a profound impact on whether the United States will extend the promise of equal rights to those who are not allowed to marry simply because they are the same sex as their partner. [Link]

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Help WA, ME and Kalamazoo Win on November 3rd: Spread the Word About the Campaigns Today

The election is less than a week away, the races are tight in each state, and every action counts. Here's what's going on and how you can help.


Who we are: Approve Referendum 71 is the campaign to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington State. By voting to approve, voters retain the domestic partnership laws that were passed during this year's legislative session, including using sick leave to care for a partner, adoption rights, insurance rights, and more.

What we need: We need phone bankers to get our supporters out to vote. Washington is an all mail-in ballot state, and we need to ensure our supporters put their ballots in the mail. Also, youth turnout is a critical component of our campaign, and youth turnout historically drops in off-year elections. So we need a lot of help to turn them out.

How you do it: Sign up here to make remote calls for Approve 71. We'll then contact you for a training, and you can make GOTV calls.


Who we are: The No On 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign is working to protect Maine's recently-passed law legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Our opponents have put the issue on the ballot for Nov 3, 2009. Because of Maine's early voting election laws, people are already voting at the polls, so we need help immediately to turn out our side at the polls.

What we need: We need you to devote a few hours to Call for Equality. Call for Equality is a virtual phonebank set up so that you can call Maine voters wherever you are. Much of Maine is rural, where canvassing isn't effective, so we need to reach these voters- along with other supporters- by phone. All you need is a phone and internet connection. No experience required! We'll provide the training, and all you need is a a few hours to help get a win in Maine.

How you do it: Click here to sign up for a training and your shift. There are lots of times available for your convenience.

Kalamazoo, MI:

Goal Thermometer

Who We Are: The Yes on Ordinance 1856 / One Kalamazoo campaign is working in Michigan to support the City Commission of Kalamazoo's twice approved ordinance for housing, employment, and public accommodation protections for gay and transgender residents. Opponents forced a public referendum on the ordinance so dedicated local volunteers, led by former Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley, are working to ensure voters say YES to fairness and equality and keep Ordinance 1856.

Why The Urgency: In the final weeks, the opposition has gone all out with aggressive disinformation and misleading red herrings to try to defeat the ordinance. This includes signs that say "No to Discrimination" (even though voting No actually supports continued discrimination of GLBT residents), transphobic door hangers and fliers, and now radio ads that falsely suggest that criminal behavior will become legal when this simply isn't true. The Yes on Ordinance 1856 supporters are better organized but many voters who want to vote for gay and transgender people are getting confused by the opposition.

How To Help:

1) Help the One Kalamazoo campaign raise a final $10,000 specifically dedicated to fight back against the lies on the local TV and radio airwaves and fully fund the campaign's final field and GOTV efforts.

Give here: http://www.actblue.com/page/3-2-1-countdown

2) If you live nearby and can physically volunteer in Kalamazoo sign up here. If you know anyone that lives in Kalamazoo, use the One Kalamazoo campaign's online canvass tool to remind those voters that they need to vote on November 3rd and vote YES on Ordinance 1856 to support equality for gay and transgender people.

Contact voters: http://www.onekalamazoo.com/tellfriends2

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The Kalamazoo Referendum: Lots Going On; You Need to Care About This

Pam's House Blend
October 19, 2009
Autumn Sandeen highlights the campaign to pass an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in Kalamazoo, Mich.: "When there are so many non-LGBT people of faith volunteering their time to keep an ordinance in place that protects LGBT people from discrimination, that speaks to me that there is more than one faith-based value system in play. Basically, LGBT people have allies in faith communities." [Link]

Learn more and support One-Kalamazoo here.

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Wolfson Keynotes Triangle Foundation Fundraiser in Michigan

October 9, 2009
The night was capped off by speech given by Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry. Wolfson spoke about the great inequality suffered in all areas of life by Michigan gays. "In this state, there is not a single statewide protection at any level, in any area of life for these families," Wolfson stated emphatically. "You indeed labor and suffer and deal under a constitutional amendment that reinforces and cements the second-class citizenship that already existed for these families in Michigan. This is intolerable." [link]

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