Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Photos from NYC Pride March

On Sunday, Pride Agenda staff and nearly 100 volunteers--both LGBT advocates and allies--marched in the NYC Pride Parade. This was our biggest turnout ever, so thank you to everyone who marched with us and who came out to watch and support us from the sidelines. We showed the power of our community and let everyone know that we haven't stopped fighting for our issues. The time is now for LGBT equality and justice!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

News Sweep

Amid gridlock and differing views about the constitutionality of the extraordinary session, the Senate has still not taken action on the marriage equality bill, despite it being on the Governor’s agenda yesterday. “We expect that marriage will be at the top of the agenda when the stalemate is over and the Senate resumes its business, but only when we are certain that any such vote taken by the Senate is valid and not subject to legal challenge,” said Alan Van Capelle. Read the rest of the Pride Agenda’s statement here.

Carolien Gehrels, the gay, married deputy mayor of Amsterdam, will be among a delegation of officials from the Netherlands who are attending pride celebrations in NYC this week to champion efforts to pass the marriage bill.

A trans-inclusive ENDA bill has been reintroduced in Congress, as well as a bill to address LGBT healthcare issues called the Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act.

Obama’s administration is drafting first-of-their kind guidelines barring workplace discrimination against transgender federal employees.

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd from CT has reversed his stance against marriage for same-sex couples. “I firmly believe that it’s important to keep learning,” he said of his change in position.

The New York Times’ City Room blog writes on newly released police reports from the June 28, 1969 Stonewall uprising.

The federal government has issued a formal apology to New York gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny for dismissing him from his job 52 years ago just because he was gay.

The UK’s Lesbian & Gay Foundation graciously included The Agenda blog in their first-ever list of “Top 100 International LGBT Blogs.” Thanks—we appreciate it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New poll reaffirms that a majority of New Yorkers support marriage

The new Quinnipiac University poll conducted last week found that 51% of New Yorkers support passing legislation to extend marriage to same-sex couples, while only 41% oppose it. This marks the first time that the Quinnipiac poll has found majority support for the measure—the most recent survey on the same question in May showed an even 46%-46% split. This poll now joins others—such as the latest Siena College poll—showing that the majority of New Yorkers support marriage equality.

“Supporters have worked hard in the last six weeks, moving the needle from dead even to slightly ahead. Who knows how far they can move that needle in the next six weeks if the State Legislature doesn't act,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. You can read more about the latest poll here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Morning Sweep

Gov. Paterson plans to call a special session of the Senate on Tuesday so that legislators can take up time-sensitive issues like tax and school reform. He has also indicated that the marriage equality bill is part of his agenda.

In the Huffington Post, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand writes that she is “firmly committed to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.”

The New York State Bar Association adopted a resolution over the weekend in support of marriage equality.

New York labor leader Stuart Appelbaum, a Pride Agenda Board Director, writes on Huffington Post about his reasons for recently coming out: “I have always believed that the only way to challenge injustice is by organizing people for change. That's why I first became involved in the labor movement. But change also requires being honest with each other and ourselves. For me, that means recognizing that the time has long passed for me to step forward and say: ‘yes, I'm gay.’ I'm sure to some that may seem ‘in your face.’ To me, though, it's being who I am.”

The Legislative Gazette talks to former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno about his public statement in support of marriage and the impact it has made on some LGBT New Yorkers—and possibly Senators.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn expresses disappointment over Obama’s actions on LGBT rights so far.

Syracuse’s News 10 covered this past weekend’s Central NY Pride Parade. Attendees expressed frustration over the Senate’s lack of action.

As part of a larger story on the status of marriage for same-sex couples in NY, the Daily Star profiles an Oneonta couple who went through hardships to marry in Mass.

The New York Times has a thought-provoking story on the LGBT movement’s lack of a national leader, including an interview with David Eisenbach – author of “Gay Power: An American Revolution,” one of our favorite books chronicling New York’s gay rights history.

New York Magazine’s story on “the gay generation gap” is also an interesting read.

New Jersey Gov. Corzine is making his support of marriage for same-sex couples a key issue in his re-election campaign.

Same-sex couples who report themselves as married will be counted as such in the 2010 Census. This reverses the old policy of overwriting such responses and calling these couples “unmarried partners.”

Hundreds of formerly Episcopal parishes are meeting this week to unify as a new national church called the Anglican Church in North America. The church will exclude women and LGBT people from serving as bishops.

An unusual ban that prohibited a Georgia man from bringing his partner or gay friends around his children was unanimously overturned by the state’s Supreme Court.

Clergy continue to call for marriage equality

The Rev. Vivian Ruth Waltz, a founding member of the Western New York Reconciling Ministries Network and a member of the Pride Agenda's Pride in My Pulpit program, wrote this moving opinion column in The Buffalo News:

Movement recognizes gays as part of God’s plan

Marriage equality for same-sex couples is a hot-button issue nationwide, but here in New York it is particularly timely to consider. Recently, the State Assembly passed the marriage equality bill by an overwhelming margin for the second year in a row. The parallel legislation in the State Senate has been held up by the leadership dispute between Democrats and Republicans.

The bill provides same-sex couples the same opportunity to enter into civil marriages as opposite-sex couples. The bill also provides that no member of the clergy may be compelled to perform any marriage ceremony.

In contrast to the principles of our nation’s founders, same-sex marriage is one issue where the separation of church and state often becomes indistinguishable. Sen. William Stachowski, D-Buffalo, cited “religious factors” in his district as his chief reason for opposing the bill.

When it comes to same-sex relationships, it seems that “religious factors” is synonymous with the impulse to oppose marriage equality. The so-called religious right appears to be winning the argument, if only by out-shouting other faith-based convictions.

But there is a quiet groundswell of gentle people of good faith who believe that justice will be served only when our laws reflect the truth that all God’s children are of sacred worth. They know at heart that homosexuality is part of the diversity of God’s glorious creation, not a choice to revel in a sinful and decadent lifestyle.

For close to 40 years, the Welcoming Church Movement has gathered together denominational networks of Christian communities that are supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Often in opposition to the official policies of their religious bodies, these defenders of ecclesiastical rights envision a future of full inclusion for all of God’s beloved people, both within the Church and society.

Welcoming Christians recognize that Jesus’ own community prohibited him from reaching out in love and protecting those society had deemed unworthy of equality—the “least of these” whom he encountered. But the religious hierarchy of his day could not prevent him from doing what was right in the sight of God, and as a witness to the truth before even the most outraged people around him.

Alive and growing, the Welcoming Church Movement encompasses many churches, clergy, religious and laity here in Western New York. These are the places where the spirit of love is moving in our midst, a spirit that does not distinguish between different sexual orientations.

Here are the prophets who are filled with joyful expectancy of the time when all people will be embraced in life and ministry in Christ’s name. They are just waiting for their churches to catch up.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Morning Sweep

Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle responds to NOM’s threats that it will help fund primary challenges to any Republicans who vote for marriage equality.

The New York Times editorial board writes that Obama has taken an important first step in extending some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, but that there’s still much more to be done.

Obama said of DOMA: “"I believe it's discriminatory, I think it interferes with states' rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it."

At yesterday’s press briefing, the press corps asked extensively about Obama’s plans for fulfilling his promises to the LGBT community.

Legally married same-sex couples may now use their spouses’ surnames on their passports.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Morning Sweep

The Albany Times-Union editorial board thanks former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno for getting on board with marriage for same-sex couples, and suggests that his former colleagues in the State Senate follow suit.

President Obama will sign a memorandum today granting some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, but will stop short of providing full health insurance coverage. Gay rights activists remain less than thrilled over the administration’s lack of action on LGBT issues.

The number of LGBT people killed in bias-motivated crimes in 2008 was the highest since 1999, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. In the meantime, the vote on the federal hate crimes bill expected today has been pushed back, possibly until just before the U.S. Senate’s recess in August.

U.S. Rep Barney Frank plans to re-introduce a trans-inclusive ENDA bill next week.

Today is the anniversary of the first day that same-sex marriages were performed in California. Nearly 18,000 same-sex couples wed before Prop. 8 struck down marriage equality in the state.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pride Agenda at Long Island Pride

This past Sunday, the 19th annual Long Island Pride Parade took place in Huntington. This year’s theme was “Proud, Strong, United,” and hundreds of people representing dozens of LGBT organizations, places of worship and clubs marched along Main Street. The parade was followed by a festival in Heckscher Park, where the Pride Agenda and 14 volunteers handed out hundreds of placards and collected close to 1,000 letters in support of marriage equality and GENDA.

Pride Agenda staff and volunteers.
Pride Agenda Board Director Juli Owens (with sign) and friends.

Pride Agenda volunteer Kendra Clark looks at letters collected in support of marriag equality and GENDA.

Morning Sweep

The New York Times editorial board writes that it’s time for the Obama administration to begin fulfilling its promises to fight for LGBT rights: “Busy calendars and political expediency are no excuse for making one group of Americans wait any longer for equal rights.”

The federal hate crimes bill is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate tomorrow.

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics have blocked a proposal to allow a voter referendum on whether the district should recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions. The D.C. Council passed a law to extend this recognition to same-sex couples earlier this year, and barring any other challenges, it will take effect in July.

Forbes estimates that there is $9.5 billion to be gained by legalizing marriage for same-sex couples nationwide – and breaks it down with pictures.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Sweep

Here's a recap of the news from over the weekend:

Former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno has come out in support of marriage equality. Read the Pride Agenda’s statement thanking him here.

Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi also came out in support of marriage with an excellent op-ed in the New York Times. Read our statement thanking him here.

The Syracuse Post-Standard highlights local activists who refuse to give up in the fight for marriage equality.

Attendees at Rockland’s Gay Pride festival took a hopeful stance on marriage for same-sex couples.

The Gotham Gazette provides a summary of New York’s role in the LGBT movement.

Gay and lesbian couples in Iowa say that despite their new freedom to marry, there’s still much work to be done to overcome anti-gay discrimination in the state.

Rhode Island is working toward winning marriage by 2012.

National LGBT advocacy groups are dismayed at the U.S. Justice Department's filing of a motion to dismiss a federal case challenging DOMA. The groups say the dismissal is inconsistent with Obama’s campaign pledge to repeal the Act.

Pride Agenda at Capital Pride

This past weekend the Pride Agenda was at Capital Pride, where we handed out placards and flyers during the march and collected nearly 250 letters in support of GENDA and marriage equality after, as well as passing out information on how to get involved and signing up nearly 150 new volunteers for our Capital District Impact team.
(Photos courtesy of Sheryl Koennecke)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Morning Sweep – Week In Review

Although stories on the Senate leadership have dominated the media this past week, we wanted to update you on the other LGBT news you may have missed:

The New York Times City Room blog wrote on the findings of the new health and human services needs assessment we released this week.

Local news outlets covered last weekend’s Queens and Buffalo Pride parades.

Greenwich, CT has become a hot spot for New York lesbian and gay couples who cross the border to get married.

Several of the prostitution charges against gay men targeted at 8th Ave adult shops have been dropped.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a legal challenge to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this week, and The New York Times editorializes that ultimately, it should be repealed by the Congress.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the first federal case concerning marriage for gay couples.

The U.S. State Department has issued a statement condemning the torture and murders of gay men in Iraq and has begun discussions on the issue with the Iraqi government.

The New York Times covers the complexities of same-sex divorce.

The Washington, D.C. Attorney General has rules that the proposed voter referendum seeking to overturn the city’s recently passed law recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions would violate the city's human rights law and should not be allowed.

Ohio’s Secretary of State wrote a compelling column in support of marriage equality on Huffington Post.

The Sacramento radio hosts behind last week’s offensive remarks about trans youth have apologized.

A Virginia prison has come under fire in the media for allegedly segregating lesbian prisoners in what they offensively called the “butch wing.”

A new study finds that gay and lesbian adults are more frequent social networkers than their straight peers.

Chaz Bono, born Chastity Bono to parents Sonny Bono and Cher, has announced that he is transgender and has started the process of transitioning.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pride Agenda marches in Queens Pride

This past weekend, the Pride Agenda and dozens of our supporters marched in the Queens Pride parade down 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Here are some pictures from the march.

The Pride Agenda's OffSprung group.

Spectators along the parade route hold our placards.

Pride Agenda releases Second Edition of Best Practices Guide

Yesterday was the Empire State Pride Agenda’s sixth annual Equality@Work Awards, where we honored companies and individuals who are working to create an inclusive work environment that respects, welcomes and supports LGBT professionals and empowers them to reach their potential. At the awards, we were honored to recognize Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Jeffrey Siminoff of Morgan Stanley and The New York City Bar Association’s Committee on LGBT Rights.

Also at the Equality@Work Awards, we released the second edition of Pride in My Workplace: Best Practices Guide for New York State Businesses to Support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Employees. Originally released in spring 2006, the first edition of the guide gave companies the information they need about LGBT workplace issues and the law in New York. Reaching over 7,500 employees in the past three years, that guide has now been updated to include six best practices for supporting LGBT employees and success stories from Polo Ralph Lauren, JPMorganChase, Kenneth Cole, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, The New York Times, Eastman Kodak, Mercer, Corcoran and Time Warner. In recognition of the evolving legal, legislative and political landscape and its impact on LGBT people, this second edition also includes information on relationship recognition, transgender non-discrimination and engaging straight allies.

You can view an online PDF of the second edition of the Best Practices Guide here. For more information about the guide and the Pride Agenda’s Pride in My Workplace program, contact Wazina Zondon at 212-627-0305 or wzondon@prideagenda.org.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New York clergy column on Huffington Post

The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones of the Union Theological Seminary and the Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton of the Riverside Church in NYC wrote the eloquent guest column below in support of marriage equality for The Huffington Post.

Marriage Equaltiy Is a Theological Necessity
By Serene Jones and Brad R. Braxton

New York - As people of faith and leaders of religious institutions in New York City, we support ending the exclusion of our gay brothers and sisters from civil marriage. Opponents of marriage equality too often attempt to use arguments about religion to denounce equal civil marriage laws. As Christians, we believe it is crucial for us to support the freedom to marry for loving and committed gay couples. In fact, we believe it is a theological necessity, and we call on our state legislators to take action to end inequality now.

Our support for marriage equality is motivated by our religious commitments, not in spite of them. Our Christian faith teaches us the uncompromising, unconditional love of God for all people. Bound together by that love we are all deserving of dignity, equality, and justice. But, because of our belief in the universal capacity to sin, we are suspicious of merely private efforts to enshrine equality, recognizing that all people and all groups are susceptible to prejudice, error, and mistreatment of and by others. Children of the Protestant Reformations, we believe that the state exists to uphold absolute and unequivocal equality under the law for all persons. As religious communities continue to wrestle with interpretation of sacred texts about the meaning and ordinance of marriage, our gay brothers and sisters deserve the same dignity, respect, and protections under the law as different sex couples receive in our state and our country.

Marriage equality and religious freedom are not in conflict. When states grant the civil rights of marriage to gay couples, religious communities still maintain their right to recognize whichever relationships they see fit as a religious community. We believe that debates about the meaning of Christian marriage can only take place honestly when the state provides equality and fairness for all. This is all the more true because there is no one Christian position about marriage: many different interpretations exist within our traditions, and it is a challenging task within Christian communities to discern our way forward despite theological differences. While we welcome theological discussion about the religious understanding of marriage, we insist on full, equal civil rights for all couples who wish to share their lives in committed and loving relationships with one another.

Imagine, on any given day, couples from myriad faith traditions entering churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, even beaches and backyards to wed with the blessing and rituals of their religious communities -- but the legal contracts that bind them by the power of the state all look the same. In a land of true equality, civil marriage contracts must be open to all loving couples who seek to undertake the promises and responsibilities of life-long partnership.

The dedication to upholding religious freedom through civil equality was reaffirmed in the Iowa Supreme Court's decision which ended marriage discrimination against gay couples in Iowa. The ruling stated, "[W]e give respect to the views of all Iowans on the issue of same-sex marriage -- religious or otherwise -- by giving respect to our constitutional principles....The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past. The only difference is civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law. This result is what our constitution requires."

We've also learned from nearly five years of marriage equality in Massachusetts that religious freedoms are not endangered because civil equality has been upheld. In Massachusetts the institution of marriage is being strengthened by loving and committed gay couples receiving marriage licenses from the state. At the time of this writing, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine have joined Massachusetts in ending marriage discrimination against gay couples. It is time for New York to take action and support marriage equality.

As ministers and people of faith, we call on the legislative leaders of New York to decisively end marriage discrimination in our state. We call too on our fellow Christians to engage in robust theological discussion within our communities about the meaning, value, and role of Christian marriage without resorting to tactics of fear-mongering and civil disputes.

We stand with our legislators as people of faith in support of fairness for all families. Attacks will come, cloaked in the language of religion, from those who oppose equality. But speaking as committed Christian leaders in New York, we support the promise of civil freedom and equality. We cannot abandon civil rights protected by the state without endangering the very ground for religious freedom. Ending the exclusion of gay couples from marriage will strengthen families and provide loving, committed couples with the full equality under the law that our faith teaches us is requisite for any just society. As people of faith we call for full marriage equality and give thanks to God for the civil government that will allow it.

Pride Agenda calls for Senate vote on marriage, GENDA and Dignity

In response to developing events in the New York State Senate, the Pride Agenda has released the statement below. Also of note is this entry from the the New York Times' City Room blog, which quotes Senator Pedro Espada Jr., a co-sponsor of the marriage bill, as saying that he personally wants to bring same-sex marriage to a "vote of conscience of the senators." Stay tuned for more updates from the Pride Agenda as this situation unfolds:

Pride Agenda calls for Senate vote on marriage equality, GENDA and Dignity
Statement by Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle

“The Empire State Pride Agenda and our allies have fought hard to make sure that same-sex couples in New York are given access to marriage and the 1,324 rights and responsibilities that come with a state marriage license. We have also fought hard to end legal discrimination against transgender New Yorkers and bias-based harassment in schools.

The marriage equality bill recently passed by an overwhelming margin in the State Assembly and was gaining momentum in the State Senate as the end of the session approached. The same is true for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and the Dignity for All Students Act.

Our issues are not partisan issues. They are about equal rights for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are treated like second class citizens. Our hope and expectation is that yesterday’s events will not derail efforts by our community to win the equality we so desperately need.

It is time to bring marriage equality and these other LGBT issues to the Senate floor for votes and have members vote their conscience. We urge the Senate to schedule these votes as soon as possible before the end of the legislative session.”

Monday, June 8, 2009

GENDA's Time is Now

Last Friday's Gay City News featured a Perspectives column by Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle on the need to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) now.

GENDA's Time is Now
By Alan Van Capelle

With all the national attention being focused on efforts to pass a marriage equality bill in New York before the end of the legislative session on June 22, let's not forget that this isn't the only important issue our community has been working on to pass into law. Another critical piece of legislation is the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) that provides long-overdue legal protections for transgender members of our community.

Some still remember a time when it was perfectly acceptable to be fired from a job, denied a lease on an apartment, or refused service in a restaurant for being gay or lesbian, but increasingly this is becoming community history. This isn't the case for our transgender brothers and sisters by any stretch of the imagination -- discrimination is still ever-present in their lives, down to the most day-to-day aspects of living. Even just walking down the street safely can be a challenge for transgender New Yorkers. It's time to end this injustice and pass GENDA -- and New Yorkers agree by an overwhelming 78 percent, according to polling we did last year.

Let me be clear on what this means. When any issue polls this high, it has moved out of the realm of being the least bit controversial or still up for debate by the electorate. The debate is over. Transgender discrimination is unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers. The New York State Democratic Party got this message two years ago and unanimously approved a resolution calling for the passage of GENDA. So, too, did the New York State AFL-CIO, when it did the same last year. The New York State Assembly has stepped up and passed GENDA two years in a row with bipartisan support. And now the votes are there from both Democrats and Republicans to pass it in the State Senate, and if the Senate does the governor has already indicated that he will sign it into law.

So what's the holdup?

Well, the opposition knows that GENDA is going to happen sooner or later and they're trying to slow it down through misinformation and fear-mongering. They've taken to calling it the "bathroom bill" and they spin all types of ominous scenarios about bathrooms and child molestation -- none of which, of course, can be backed up with evidence anywhere in the many jurisdictions across New York or the US where laws like GENDA are in place.

They also say that GENDA will create hardships for businesses and workplaces that all of a sudden will be forced to accommodate the needs of transgender employees. And yet workplaces in New York, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, have been successfully addressing this issue for a long time. In fact, the Pride Agenda put out a report earlier this year with business case studies that specifically discredit the assertions opponents make about "chaos" in the workplace.

Once assemblymembers approved GENDA in 2007 and there was no reaction in the press or from voters at election time, the light bulb went off that what our community had been telling them was true. New Yorkers don't like discrimination of any form and that includes discrimination against transgender people.

The other impediment with GENDA is getting the Senate to move beyond promising to get it done to actually getting it done. The Pride Agenda recognized a number of years ago that when only LGBT people push to get a bill passed in Albany it takes a while because we're just a small slice of the electorate. But when we expand support for our issues outside of the LGBT community, the heat on elected officials to do something increases substantially. We're seeing this with marriage equality and we're making this happen with GENDA too.

Like marriage, we have been successful working with those whose opinions matter to legislators. Labor unions have passed resolutions in support of GENDA and a growing numbers of clergy and people of faith are saying it's time to provide equality for transgender New Yorkers. And we've been highlighting the fact with legislators that businesses figured out a long time ago how to operate a productive workplace that includes transgender employees.

The LGBT community has done the work these past few years to show the Senate that it is not a tough political lift to pass GENDA. Transgender people all across the state have been effective in moving a number of senators to be supportive when they previously were not. Our polling shows and last year's elections proved that there is no price to be paid at the ballot box by an elected official who votes for GENDA.

There has never been such an opportunity as there is this year to pass GENDA. If we all keep up the heat on the State Senate, GENDA can happen this month. And it absolutely should.

Release of Report on LGBT Health and Human Service Needs in NY State

Today, we released a first-ever assessment of LGBT health and human service needs in New York State. Ross Levi, our Director of Public Policy & Education,and Somjen Frazer, the report’s author and a Brooklyn-based researcher with expertise in LGBT issues, weigh in on some of the reports findings:

As researchers and advocates, we know that the LGBT community has unmet health and human services needs. LGBT people lag behind on seven of the ten targets set by the U.S. government to improve health nationally. We also fall behind on the New York City Take Care New York indicators. However, the disadvantage goes beyond health and human service needs—LGBT people in New York State have never before been asked about WHY these gaps exist and HOW our lives are affected.

This lack of specific information on our community is not just an academic problem; policymakers, especially those in government, demand real numbers to document the existence of problems and decide how to allocate resources to address them. In short, in this context as with so many things, knowledge equals power.

Thanks to funding from the New York State Department of Health, we have spent the last six months surveying nearly 3,500 LGBT New Yorkers, interviewing 60 experts in health and human service needs, and analyzing existing data and research. The report from this needs assessment, LGBT Health and Human Service Needs in New York State, provides hard, scientifically valid data on what our community needs for its health and well being.

This report is the first of its kind, and the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation is excited to share some of the key findings and recommendations. In our research, done in close collaboration with the NYS LGBT Health and Human Services Network, we asked LGBT people who took our survey to tell us what THEY thought was the most pressing health and human services need in New York State; we have included some of their responses as well as our survey results.

A need for culturally competent care
As one lesbian participant said, “I would love to go to an LGBT-friendly doctor, but I don’t know where to find one. . . . It seems to be a very common problem.” 40% of LGBT people say there are not enough health professionals who are adequately trained and competent to deliver healthcare to LGBT people. 27% fear that if medical personnel found out that they are LGBT that they would be treated differently.

Increase in services for homeless LGBT youth and adults
“Housing is healthcare,” as one key expert who works with urban African American, Caribbean and Latino/a youth explained. 14% of LGBT people, and one-third of transgender New Yorkers, are or have been homeless at one time.

An expansion of social programs, especially for rural and older LGBT people
As one staff member at an urban LGBT health organization put it: “We see a huge desire among gay men for a community connection. . . . Those who have a connection to a community have better health.” Studies consistently find that socially isolated people have worse health outcomes. Social isolation is a significant problem for LGBT people, with two-thirds of rural LGBT residents saying they feel isolated from others, and over half of LGBT seniors saying they sometimes or always lack companionship. For youth, living in a rural environment requires safe and accessible transportation to these services.

Violence is an ongoing problem for LGBT people
The executive director of an LGBT center said, “I run into so many people that are used to being treated crappy, they don’t even report it.” 13% of LGBT people had experienced a serious homophobic or transphobic physical or sexual assault and only about a quarter of those who had been hit, punched or kicked in a homophobic assault had reported it.

For more information and to read the report, click here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Advocates in Action - Buffalo

Transgender Rights Advocates of Western NY, including Buffalo activist Patti Jones (far left), are preparing a great GENDA float for the Buffalo Pride Parade taking place this Sunday, 6/7. The float has a giant GENDA rainbow and at the end is a pot of gold labeled "Transgender Rights."

If you live in Buffalo, you can march in the parade with the Pride Agenda - meet at 11 AM at the Belmont Shelter Corporation at 1195 Main Street & Dodge, and RSVP with Western New York Program Organizer Todd Plank at tplank@prideagenda.org or 585-271-2420 today.

We'll also be marching in Queens Pride this Sunday, 6/7 - join us at the corner of 37th Avenue and 89th Street in Queens at 11:30 AM. RSVP with Program Organizer Matt Brunner at mbrunner@prideagenda.org or 212-627-0305 x116 today.

Finally, if you'll be at Black & Latino Gay Pride on Saturday, 6/6, stop by the Pride Agenda table at the Health & Wellness Expo at the Albany Riverfront Park at the Corning Reserve from noon to 5 PM.
We hope we'll see you at one of our Pride events soon!

Morning Sweep

The Albany Times-Union highlights the amazing union support in New York’s fight for marriage equality.

The CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition in Washington wrote this great op-ed in favor of marriage equality in the Buffalo News.

NH gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson says he’s celebrating the state’s new marriage equality, but that there’s still much work to be done to overcome years of religious hostility towards LGBT people.

A new Williams Institute study has found that same-sex marriage in New England could deliver an economic windfall by attracting a youthful "creative class" of workers to a region with an aging population.

Snapple, Sonic and Chipotle have pulled their advertising from a radio show that made offensive comments about trans youth earlier this week. We’ll be having a burrito and an orangeade for lunch in tribute.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Morning Sweep

New Hampshire becomes the sixth state with legal marriage for same-sex couples. Read the Pride Agenda’s statement here.

The New York Times calls on the State Senate to bring marriage to the floor for a vote before the end of session: “Its work will not be done until the Senate publicly debates and then votes to legalize same-sex marriage.”

Politico reports that gay rights groups are becoming frustrated with the Obama administration’s lack of action on LGBT issues.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Morning Sweep

The attorney defending the man accused of killing Syracuse trans woman Latisha Green plans to challenge the constitutionality of New York State's hate crimes statute.

Actress Cynthia Nixon received quite a bit of attention for her lobbying trip to Albany yesterday.

The Uniting American Families Act will be discussed in a hearing in the U.S. Judiciary Committee today. UAFA would allow American citizens to apply for residency for their same-sex partners, just like opposite-sex spouses can currently do. Analysis at Politico, Daily Kos, and The Daily Dish.

A very sad Pam’s House Blend post brings attention to the devastating need for more attention to trans issues, especially those pertaining to trans youth. Much can be said about the bigoted comments of Sacramento-based radio host Rob Williams that have been making the rounds on the LGBT blogosphere—but we’ll just let his hatefulness speak for itself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Morning Sweep

Daily Politics writes more on “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon’s trip to Albany today to lobby Senators on marriage equality.

Newsday interviews local same-sex couples active in the fight for marriage equality.

An exhibit on gay rights at the New York Public Library commemorates the 40th anniversary of Stonewall and will be on display throughout June.

Former VP Dick Cheney has come out in support of same-sex marriage. Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter, said yesterday that he thinks marriage should be decided on a state-by-state basis.

Obama issued a Pride Month statement yesterday including a “call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Monday, June 1, 2009

Morning Sweep Update

Lately, by the time we’ve gotten a chance to do them, our Morning Sweeps have been conducted closer to midnight—so here’s a roundup of what we’ve missed since last week in both the New York and national news.

New York:

Our second marriage ad featuring Karen Schuster, a mother from Rochester, and her gay son, Luke, has been seen by thousands of New Yorkers and received coverage in blogs and news stories throughout the state and nationally. The ad’s release came just days before The National Organization for Marriage releasing a misleading TV ad in New York markets last week, and the Pride Agenda responded by pointing out the fear-mongering tactics. A sampling of stories on both ads can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Celebrities including Maya Angelou, Cynthia Nixon and Paul Tagliabue (the former commissioner of the NFL) have been lobbying NY Senators for marriage equality.

CNN broadcast news covers the fight for marriage equality in New York, including footage of the lobbying efforts of NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and phonebanking at the Pride Agenda NYC office.

Christine Quinn also wrote in Gay City News on her experiences lobbying in Albany.

The Daily Politics writes on the latest efforts by NY rights groups to win marriage in the Senate.

The Buffalo News highlights local couples in the fight for marriage equality.

Gay City and NY1 were among many news outlets that covered last Tuesday’s rally against Prop. 8 in Union Square.

Marriage for same-sex couples could give NY’s economy as much as a $210 million boost in three years.

Other News:

Some same-sex marriage advocates are warning that an appeal of the Prop. 8 case to the U.S. Supreme Court could lead to further setbacks.

After last Tuesday’s Prop 8 decision, the New York Times editorial board opined “Polls show growing support for marriage rights for all Americans. We remain confident that the California ruling was a temporary setback.”

Legislators in NH seem to have reached a compromise on the state’s marriage bill, which is expected to come up for a vote this Wednesday.

Illinois’ pending civil union legislation has a special provision to quash ill-informed religious objections.

In Nevada, the Legislature overrode the Gov’s veto and established a domestic partnership registry for both same-sex and unmarried straight couples.

The Connecticut Hartford Courant’s editorial board opines on its state’s need for transgender non-discrimination protections.

We knew there was a good reason we bought all those Matchbox 20 albums…