Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Weekly Agenda: "The Final Stretch"

Post by Executive Director Ross Levi

We are in the final stretch. This is our last chance this legislative session to make progress on our two legislative priorities: the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act(GENDA) and marriage. There are indications that the Assembly will take up GENDA next week, where we expect it to pass for a fourth time. We’re working hard to keep up the pressure so that should marriage go to the Senate floor in the last days of session, the support will be there for it to pass. These are our final few moments to advance a transgender civil rights bill and pass marriage equality so all loving, committed New Yorkers can marry, right here at home.

New York Business for Marriage
Companies and business leaders across New York State added their voices to the growing chorus of New Yorkers who are calling on New York State legislators to pass a marriage bill before the legislative session ends. Due to the hard work of the Pride Agenda and our coalition partners, nearly 50 leading statewide corporations like A|X Armani Exchange, The Corcoran Group, McGraw-Hill, Ogilvy & Mather, Outten & Golden, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and Xerox Corporation publicly added their support to our movement for marriage equality. Joining them are more than 250 local businesses, many of which, alongside Mayor Tom Richards, declared their support in Rochester earlier this week.

New Ad and Mailers
As longtime Pride Agenda supporters, Iris and Paul Blumenthal took the courageous step of telling their story and that of their two sons to television audiences across the state in the form of an ad and a dedicated mailing sponsored by New Yorkers United for Marriage. It is because of acts like these that specific state senators are hearing from their constituents in these final critical moments of the campaign. We are honored to count this family as stalwart supporters of the Pride Agenda.

Critical Voices in Critical Districts
The Pride Agenda’s Lynn Faria and I both spoke at press conferences in the outer boroughs of New York City this past week. I was in the Bronx, and Lynn was in Queens. In both locations we were pleased to be joined by virtually every elected official representing those districts, underscoring the nearly 60% support for marriage across the state. What a show of support!

Reaching our Senators
This week the Pride Agenda personally delivered more than 7,000 hand-signed postcards to the offices of select senators on behalf of the New Yorkers United for Marriage coalition. The postcards, urging them to say "I Do" to marriage equality, were collected by the Pride Agenda and were the result of a coalition-directed mailing campaign. These "drops" augmented the 25,000 postcards that were delivered by the coalition last week.
Our "Family Photo Album: Picture Equality" campaign is a resounding success with hundreds of New Yorkers sending their senators family photos with a note explaining why marriage really matters to them. We continue to ask all of our supporters to “Picture Equality” and to let us know when you’ve sent a photo to your senator. In these final few moments, everything we can do matters immensely.

Galvanizing Support Across the State
Recognizing that working to pass marriage equality was going to be a priority for our community, the Pride Agenda convened and co-hosted a statewide meeting in Albany this past January of the scores of local and statewide leaders on LGBT issues, including union leaders, clergy and organizations in solidarity. There, the Pride Agenda was asked to implement a system of information sharing to keep the marriage discussion and coordination going. We are proud that we were able to maximize our long-standing roots in local communities to do just that. Since that time, groups across the state have been meeting regularly to keep each other up to date with the latest information and identify opportunities for cooperation. The Pride Agenda strongly believes our movement is most effective when we are all able to harness the incredible commitment and talents of activists from across the Empire State.

Hudson Valley Rallies Support
The Pride Agenda had a remarkably successful evening at the home of Hermes Mallea and Carey Maloney in the beautiful Hudson Valley. We were joined by almost 300 supporters who took the time out of their busy lives to raise critical funds for our work and send pictures and letters to their elected officials in Albany in support of marriage and transgender non-discrimination. In the midst of the noise that accompanies the end of the legislative session, we must remember to open our arms to new allies and welcome their help in our movement.

I wish I could predict the outcome of the next few weeks, but I can’t. All I know is that with hard work and dedication, fueled by the righteousness of our cause, we can prevail.

Thank you for all you do every day for the LGBT community and our families. Know that the Pride Agenda will not rest until we have won true equality and can further our quest for justice.

Onwards in Unity,
Ross D. Levi

PS - We’re recruiting volunteers and staffing multiple phone banks every night. If you can give a few hours, please contact Nicholas Galbraith at We really appreciate your commitment!

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