Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Equality & Justice Day 2007 - Open Thread

To all of the roughly 1100 participants of this year's E&J Day in Albany, use this space to leave your impressions, comments, experiences and thoughts about your day. A huge thanks to everyone who came and made the power of our community felt in our state capitol.

To leave a comment, simply click on the "comments" link below.

6 comments:

Lauren said...

I was so happy to be able to go to Equality and Justice Day - it was very much worth missing classes! My friend and I attended and had an amazing time meeting other activists from around New York. We met with our assemblyman and senator and actually got a commitment out of our assemblyman - he is going to co-sponsor DASA! The meeting with our senator, who is a republican, did not end in any promises from him, but I Hope and think he was moved by the sheer magnitude of constituents (about 40) who attended our meeting with him. Our numbers were so big we had to move the meeting into the lobby! I am so happy I was able to attend this historic event, and promise to keep fighting for LGBT New Yorkers!

Jo-Ann said...

There was so much energy and passion at E and J Day, especially in light of Spitzer's support for marriage equality legislation. Let's hope the NY legislature does what the NY Court of Appeals failed to do....the right thing!

J.Friedman said...

I would like to start by expressing my sincere thanks to all the members of Empire State Pride Agenda. It was clear that a lot of time was spent in the coordination of meetings, buses, food etc., especially with such a large group of people. Bravo!!

I met with my Assemblymen Barra (Long Island) who ironically said he does not discriminate yet had no reason to explain why he is against gay marriage other than marriage is between a man and a woman. When I pressed him on what his compelling interest was in restricting marriage he had no answer, later he said his constituents are not in favor of gay marriage. I made him promise me that he would meet with me again when I proved him wrong. Seems like a door to door campaign may be my next step. I am looking forward to the time when I have that proof. Grass roots efforts take time and it appears that Equality and Justice day is just the beginning.

Ultimately I view E&J Day as a huge pep- rally for our community. It is now time to bring it home. Tell your friend, family or whomever will listen regarding the importance of our issues and the struggles we face.
Thank you again for giving me that motivation that I needed.

John M said...

First I must thank everyone at the Pride Agenda who worked so hard to make Equality and Justice Day happen. This was the second time I have attended E and J day and I must say it was even more impressive than the first time I attended. Last year, when I was a junior in High School, I came with a friend and loved it so much that I brought six friends, one parent and one teacher with me this year.

We are part of a group called Students for Justice and Equality and we have an agenda for social justice and activism on a variety of issues, including gay rights (check out our video on the Day of Silence: http://www.current.tv/watch/13625164 ). During our lobbying meetings we gave a copy of that video to both of our representatives along with statistics from when we conducted GLSEN’s Local School Climate Survey in our school. The combination of the video, the statistics regarding homophobia and our school administration’s inaction made if more and more difficult for our representatives to argue against supporting the Dignity for All Students Act. Our group must have done well because our representatives were clearly not going to support Dignity and GENDA before our meetings, but after they agreed to meet with us again in our district to further discuss the issues.

I loved E and J Day because it allowed me, the openly gay co-president of my High School’s Students for Justice and Equality club, to bring my friends to Albany to help me fight for my rights and for the rights of the LGBT community. It was because of the Pride Agenda’s work that I was able to organize the group to come with me and lobby our legislators for LGBT rights. And E and J day gave me an opportunity to speak with Alan Van Capelle and Carmen Vazquez. After the amazing rally in front of the capitol a friend of mine and I thanked Ms. Vazquez for all of the work she has done for the Pride Agenda. During lunch we saw Mr. Van Capelle at the board table directly next to ours. After we had thanked him for all of his hard work, he took the time to have a conversation with me and a friend of mine about where we were from, how the day was going, where we were going to college, and internship possibilities at the Pride Agenda. I’m glad that the leaders of the Pride Agenda can always make time to talk to people like me at E and J day and I hope that I will be able to intern with them during college. Once again, thank you everyone at the Pride Agenda for making E and J day possible and for giving me the tools needed to lobby my legislators for LGBT rights. See you at next year's Equality and Justice Day (I'll defiantly be bringing a bigger group).

Anonymous said...

May 2007, Day 1. Albany, NY. LGBT EQUALITY AND JUSTICE DAY

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East sponsored buses to Albany, May 1, 2007 for E&J DAY. Our delegation of around 50 1199SEIU members and guests along with 1100 LGBT, Straight Allies, Pride in our Union, Pride in our Pulpit, PFLAC, etc. just to name a few, took a bus ride to Albany to be part of this historic day in the Empire State Government.

It started early for me, about 4am in the morning to be exact. I was designated bus captain for a Manhattan bus leaving from Empire State Pride Agenda’s Chelsea location. I should add, the operation ran like clockwork. “Early to rise catches the worm” prototypes were very eager to get to Albany and into “the Egg” to involve our legislators in a conversation about social justice and equal protection under the law for the LGBT community.

The conference room in “The Egg” was arranged in sections representing each corner of the state of New York and filled to capacity with people from all walks of life by 10 o’clock in the morning. It was an amazing collage of beautiful people, young and old, gay and straight, union members and the faith-based representatives, armed with the AGENDA- to speak on the issues concerning anti-discrimination for our transgender community (GENDA), protecting our LGBT youth against violence in school (DIGNITY), and securing marriage for same sex couples (MARRIAGE EQUALITY).

There were opening remarks from the leadership of ESPA, as well as, legislators who could not wait for us to go to them rather they wanted to be with us in full support of our mission. Leading the pack was the Deputy chief of Staff from Governor Spitzer’s office (Governor Spitzer was in California), Sean Patrick Maloney, Senator bill Perkins-D, SD 30, Deborah Glick-D, AD 66, Daniel O’Donnell-D, AD 69 among the many who reached out to us.

We did plenty of talking! We visited and talked to 177 Senators and Assemblypersons (60 out of 62 Senators) through out the day, and in between we rallied on the plaza. For me, it was a day full of magic and excitements, and it was even prophetic:

I was on the elevator on my way to see my Assemblyperson Adriano Espaillat-D, AD 72, accompanied by members of the Washington Heights contingency and other people who were riding with us, when a young man began expressing his excitement over his wedding day that was approaching. He boasted of plans for house shopping, gift registry, tuxedo measuring, ring buying, wife-to-be naggings and other soon to be married issues. For that moment, I wished that I could be in his shoes and boast to friends about my wedding arrangements with my love of 20 years. You could say I felt jealous for what he had and that is why I was here today Day 1, May 2007.

After a day of pure synergy of mind and soul, we headed home. Lourita Shegog, Keith Francis, Eddie Figueroa, Vivian Smith, members of 1199SEIU, who support the cause, expressed their feelings of the unity that prevailed, and the successes and accomplishments of the day. There is something in the air that tells me that the reality of marriage equality is right around the corner and will be the front and center piece of dialogue in the crevices of “the Egg”, halls, elevators, and chambers of the Empire state government for a very long time.

Thank you 1199SEIU members and administration for supporting this mission. We will ride and keep on riding ‘till Equality and Justice for LGBT is a reality. So, let’s enjoy the ride!

Carmen Acosta-Delegate
Friends and Family Hero

Ron said...

I think E&J Day was a great thing to see happen at Albany, yet again for the 3rd year in a row. It was great to meet with political leaders and to see where they stand. It was also, sad yet enlightening to see how much work the 5 boroughs, LI and Westchester have to do before Marriage Equality becomes a reality.

Please register for www.theweddingmarch.org

This event will help send a message that the movement is alive and loud as ever in this area. Please do not feel like you are preaching to the choir- because it seems they might be on lunch break and we need our message to ring loud and clear.

Thanks again ESPA for being the political arm in this movement and please support Marriage Equality NY with their awareness and education through out NYS.