Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maine Marks Another Blow To Gay Marriage

Watch a Time Magazine Video on Gay Marriage in The Heartland

Ooops! They did it again. For the 30th time, the people of a state in our country voted against allowing same-sex marriages. Disappointing? Of Course! A Set-back? Yes! An Earth-shattering Loss? Not Really! Maine was different and there are lessons that can and should be learned from there. First we have to remember that Maine was unique in that it was the first time that gay marriage was made legal through a law passed in the legislature, and not by a court ruling. With some legislative bravery, this could be a HUGE difference. Because it was in Maine, the referendum that was voted upon is basically the equivalent to a Governor's veto. The referendum could be overturned by the legislature when they meet next. The question is, will they? It would require a lot of political capital and bravery to overturn the will of the people they represent, especially when the margin was 6% which is not necessarily small.

Of note, should be that at first glance, it appeared that we were going to win and we didn't. The reason of our early optimism, was that the first precincts to get counted were primarily the cities, towns and suburbs. When the rural votes came in later that had to be hand-counted, is when we lost. To me, that tells a lot about the theory that, "to know us is to love us," and people who know self-identifying people in the LGBT community, tend to vote with us, or at least not against us. That is what Pride is all about. Having pride in yourself and being out and self-identifying is hugely important. It is also hugely scary and granted in some places even dangerous. That is why having a vibrant Pride Center that can be a galvanizing place for our community, a place to come together and fellowship and learn and grow and educate our cities, is so important. Maine shows us that it is also important especially in the smaller towns that the Centers need to be a voice and advocate for our community. Youngstown may be the 5th or so largest city in Ohio, but we have a lot of smaller communities surrounding us, and we need to be their voice and advocate as well.

There was some good news both locally and nationally in yesterdays election as well. In Akron, they just elected their first openly lesbian city official. The state of Washington's voters ratified a law giving their over 6,000 registered domestic partners the same state rights as married couples. Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Houston Texas supported and voted in gay mayors, (although the Houston mayor will face a run-off because of the close vote count.) We also still have marriage bills under consideration in New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. with a federal challenge to California's Prop 8 coming in January. It is not the time to be defeated or give up, but to energize and move forward. We as an individual, a community, and a Pride Center, can make the difference and bring change. We have to, it's the right thing to do.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween At The Pride Center, This Saturday

halloween flyer 09

Friday, October 23, 2009

HHS to Create National Resource for LGBT Seniors

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced plans to establish the nation's first national resource center to assist communities across the country in their efforts to provide services and supports for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

Experts estimate that as many as 1.5 to 4 million LGBT individuals are age 60 and older. Agencies that provide services to older individuals may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the needs of this group of individuals. The new Resource Center for LGBT Elders will provide information, assistance and resources for both LGBT organizations and mainstream aging services providers at the state and community level to assist them in the development and provision of culturally sensitive supports and services. The LGBT Center will also be available to educate the LGBT community about the importance of planning ahead for future long term care needs.

The LBGT Resource Center will help community-based organizations understand the unique needs and concerns of older LGBT individuals and assist them in implementing programs for local service providers,
including providing help to LGBT caregivers who are providing care for an older partner with health or other challenges.

The Administration on Aging will award a single Resource Center grant at approximately $250,000 per year, pending availability of funds. Eligible entities will include public-private nonprofit organizations with experience working on LGBT issues on a national level. The funding announcement for the Resource Center will be made available on the following website very soon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thanx For A Great Week of NCOD Events

Hey Friends, Family, and Allies,

We made it through our second year of National Coming Out Week events, and on behalf of the Pride Center, I would like to thank all of those who worked so hard to make all of these events possible. It was very appreciated to see our Straight Allies, Marguerite Felice, and Steve and Toni Schildcrout at so many events. To our core team, Bob Holmes, Marita Emmert, Liam, Diana Shaheen, Karen and Laura Davis, Anita Davis, Javonne LFontaine and Don Rowinski, you all went above and beyond.

Lunch with a Decision Maker finally got Congressman Tim Ryan to make an appearance at the Pride Center, and David Betras showed as well and re-affirmed his commitment to the LGBT community. Good job Don on arranging the luncheon, and representing us with a contingency in Washington DC for the March for Equality. Pride Youngstown held an excellent panel discussion on working with the police and the LGBT community with excellent speakers from Cleveland and Columbus as well as Pride Youngstown founders Carlos, Anita, and Kim. YSUnity had a couple of good movie showings, but didn’t really have the attendance. In a school of 14k there needs to be more support to their organization. The interesting but enjoyable movie, “Breakfast on Pluto,” was enjoyed by a small group of people at the Pride Center, and each having our own individual microwave popcorn was yummy! Over 15 members of the First Federated Church in North Jackson came to a showing there of, “For The Bible Tells Me So,” always an eye opening movie. Marita brought some great experts on gay adoption and family rights for the panel discussion Thursday night. We all learned a lot and we really learned how All Families Matter. The Cocoa Mocha dance was decorated fantastic and had plenty of food at the Unitarian Church on Friday. Everyone who went had a great time. Saturday we had coffee and wine enjoyed by all as we wrapped up our week of events and again, thanx for everyone who made it possible. There were a lot more donations this year than last, and we are learning more and more each year how to make it better.

Our only regret was that as nice as all the events were and as much as we liked seeing each other, it was the same dedicated group of active people in our community. National Coming Out Day was founded by someone who wanted us to be able to come out to at least one another in our community and stand up for who we are, and what we want to be. We want our NOCD week-long events to do the same. We want to bring people out to our community that we don’t normally see. People who need the friendship, fellowship and resources, that all of our organizations have to offer. We are taking baby steps growing in visibility, and we look forward to more and more people coming out not only of the closet, but to all of the opportunities the LGBT community in the Mahoning Valley has to offer, which is much more than people realize. Like politics? The Stonewall Democrats are for you. Need family resources and help with others who know what it’s like adopting, creating lives together, and becoming an LGBT family? All Families Matter is the place to go. Mom, Dad, Best Friend, Grandma doesn’t really know how to react to you now that you are an out member of our community? PFLAG gives them a place to talk about it, provide support, and offer many resources. Feel like you are minority in a minority? People of All Colors Together, (PACT,) offers great support and a sense of community within our LGBT community. Out and Proud, and love to organize events and have a good time? Pride Youngstown needs energetic volunteers to make the 2010 Youngstown Pride Festival and their other events a big success and are always looking for motivated members of our LGBT community.

Finally, we at the Pride Center are happy to act as a facilitator and resource group for the entire LGBT community, organizations and our allies. My goal as Chairman is to raise the visibility of our community, get the leaders in all of our associations to work together for a common goal of being out and affirming the good we all can do, and to be a resource for those that are questioning, confused, scared, and need a place to hang out where they can be who they are, among others who understand what they are going through and want to help. Welcome to the LGBT community, tell your friends, and Just Show Up! I hope to see some of you this Wednesday at our regular Pride Center meeting at 7:30. We will be having, support, fellowship and popcorn and a movie.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pro Football Player Sticks Up For Our Team

As we approach National Coming Out Day this Sunday, October 11th, I am becoming more proud each day of our GLBT community and the people that support us. I am probably the farthest thing from a sports guy there is. I hate when they equate masculinity with sports, but thats another story altogether, I just don't want to sit down in front of the TV for hours to watch a stupid game. I just came across this article about Pro Football player from the unbeaten (i'm told,) New Orlean Saints, Scott Fujita, has come out strongly in his support of the march on Washington for gay rights this Sunday. The question and answer article HERE, is very well written, and I am happy to pass it along. Take a second and read it over, even if you are not a sports fan.....S

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