Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't forget the Empire State Pride Agenda's voter guide on Election Day

Some of the most critical elections for LGBT equality and justice are upon us. This Tuesday, November 2, New Yorkers will be choosing who will lead our state in the years to come. The future of marriage for same-sex couples and basic protections for transgender New Yorkers is in their hands -- and yours.

You may have received our election guide in the mail listing our endorsements for pro-LGBT candidates. Our endorsed candidates have committed to use the power of their offices to push for the issues that matter most to our community. But we need your help to get them elected. You can download and print our most recent voter guide here. Take it with you to the polls Tuesday and share with everyone you know who believes in equality and justice for LGBT people.

Even if you're frustrated with electoral politics, that's all the more reason to stand up for equality and justice on Election Day. Too many races are too close to stand idly by. We know we can count on you to vote on Tuesday and get us one step closer to a more fair and just Empire State.

PS -- Get Out The Vote! Our endorsed candidates could really use a helping hand this weekend to get out the vote in key regions. We've compiled a list of volunteer opportunities and contact information for some key campaigns close to you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sen. Hugh Farley denounces GENDA and marriage: "abhorrent"

Incumbent Senator Farley opposes marriage for same-sex couples and GENDA, the most basic of civil rights protections for transgender New Yorkers. Empire State Pride Agenda's Political Action Committee is endorsing challenger Susan Savage. Won't you help us get out the vote this weekend for Susan and other pro-LGBT candidates? GOTV opportunities >

Check out this shocking video of Farley speaking at an event organized by extremist anti-LGBT lobbyist group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms where he calls marriage "abhorrent" and dismisses GENDA, saying: "I won't even get out of my chair. NO."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Your Check List for Election Day 2010

One week from today New Yorkers from Long Island to Buffalo will be voting in an election that analysts of all political stripes predict could be a major game-changer. In a volatile election year with so many tight races between LGBT allies and vocal opponents, we can't afford to suffer an enthusiasm gap from our side.

What will you do over the next seven days to take us over the finish line?

1. Check our endorsements for the pro-LGBT candidates in your district.

2. Find your voting location and put Election Day, Tuesday, November 2 on your calendar.

3.Talk to your friends and family and ask them to vote on Tuesday, November 2 for pro-LGBT candidates. Ask them to do it for you. Don't take anyone for granted. Every vote counts.

4. Volunteer with us on a key campaign. Join Pride Agenda staffers and volunteers out in the field. Find an opportunity that works for you.

5. Support pro-LGBT candidates with a gift to Empire State Pride Agenda PAC. Your contribution could make the difference. Help us counteract the flow of anti-LGBT funding flowing into our state from the National Organization for (straight only) Marriage.

These elections will literally determine how quickly we can achieve marriage equality and the most basic of civil rights for transgender New Yorkers. They will also determine if we can hold onto funding for the LGBT health and human services upon which so many New Yorkers desperately rely. Who do you want representing YOU in Albany?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gains are seen for LGBT candidates

The LGBT community could use better representation at all levels of government. This year there’s a potential to increase the number LGBT state legislators, with two new potentials. Harry Bronson and Brian McGrath, both running for Assembly, would be our first LGBT state legislators from outside of New York City.

One piece of good news this election year is the growing number of transgender people across the country who are running for political office (and have won elections in recent years). The New York Times has profiled some of these candidates and elected officials, including Alameda County Superior Court Judge candidate Victoria Kolakowski who said, “I want people to know that we are capable of being everything.”

We also need transgender people in elected office here in New York. Transgender New Yorkers are still deprived of their basic civil rights and face intrusive burdens in obtaining certain state services. There’s nothing like having a seat at the table to make change happen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Long Island Update: elections, a new video, our community forum and more

Post by Long Island Program Organizer Joanna Solmonsohn

Long Islanders have been playing, and will continue to play, a major role in the fight for the passage of marriage equality and the Gender Expression Non-discrimination Act. Here’s a rundown of recent past events and upcoming ways to get involved!

This month is LGBT History Month. Help celebrate it by working to achieve LGBT equality and justice on Long Island. There is much work to be done in anticipation of the General Election on November 2 and many ways to get involved.

Re-elect Brian Foley

Join the Pride Agenda, Marriage Equality New York , HRC and the GLBT Democrats of Suffolk County as we work to re-elect Senator Brian Foley. Senator Foley voted “yes” on the marriage bill and has expressed public support for the Gender Expression Non-discrimination Act. His vote in support of marriage is being used against him. Our community must not allow attacks based on pro-LGBT votes to hurt fair-minded candidates in the 2010 elections. Senator Foley was willing to stand up and do the right thing for our community, and now our community needs to stand behind him to ensure he remains in office and continues fighting for our community.

Let’s show Long Islanders that LGBT people and our allies are a strong, united force that is willing and able to make a difference.

When: Sunday, October 24 and on election day, Tuesday, November 2
Beginning at 11am

Where: Senator Brian Foley’s Campaign Office
81 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip

RSVP: Joanna Solmonsohn, 516.993.4623, jsolmonsohn AT prideagenda DOT org

While you’re at it, check out this video about Sen. Foley, made by our friends at Marriage Equality New York.

Long Island marriage education program

In addition to our electoral work on Long Island, the Pride Agenda is engaged in identifying marriage equality and transgender civil rights supporters and a marriage equality education program.

The marriage education program, entitled Marriage Equality and Families, was created and developed in conjunction with our Pride in the Pulpit Program. The goal of the program is to connect with Long Islanders especially those who are skeptical about marriage equality or who think that same –sex marriage has little to do with them. The program is in the form of a panel discussion. Same sex couples share stories about their lives and families in order to bring a personal perspective to this issue, help people explore their own thoughts about marriage equality, and provide a venue for them to ask questions about a topic that they may not know a lot about.

If you would like to invite the panel to speak at your congregation, club meeting, or university, please contact Joanna Solmonsohn at 516.993.4623 or jsolmonsohn AT prideagenda DOT org.

Report from Community Forum

On September 23, the Pride Agenda hosted a community forum in Hauppauge. Joining our new executive director Ross Levi for a dialogue about the work being done to achieve LGBT equality and justice on Long Island were Cathy Marino-Thomas from Marriage Equality New York and James Fallarino from Equality Long Island. Members of our community had the chance to share their ideas about the work being done on Long Island and the best ways we can work together going forward. Much discussion centered on the importance of the upcoming election and engaging allies in our fight. Watch a recording of the webcast.

Watch a special message from Billy Porter

One time opportunity for supporters of the Pride Agenda...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Andrew M. Cuomo for Governor

Today the Pride Agenda PAC is announcing our support of Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo for New York State Governor for his commitment to fighting for civil rights, ending discrimination and achieving true equality for all New Yorkers.

As attorney general, Andrew Cuomo has been a great champion for the LGBT community, working closely with the Pride Agenda to fight transgender discrimination in employment and to defend our state's policy of fully respecting the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed out of state. This proven record is bolstered by Andrew Cuomo's commitment to working as governor to secure marriage equality, a statewide transgender non-discrimination law and policies, programs and resources to address the health and human service needs of New York's LGBT communities.

In accepting our endorsement, Andrew Cuomo said:
"I want to be the governor who makes marriage equality a reality in New York
State," said Andrew Cuomo. "New Yorkers believe that their neighbors should be
afforded the same rights and privileges under the law that they receive. I will
work with our leaders in the legislature to achieve passage of the Gender
Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), and with our state agencies to eliminate health
disparities for LGBT New Yorkers. I thank the Pride Agenda for its endorsement
of my candidacy, and I look forward to continuing our terrific partnership into
the future."

All New Yorkers who care about LGBT equality and justice should support Andrew Cuomo. The election is less than two weeks away, and we're working hard to elect him and the rest of our pro-LGBT endorsed candidates. Join the fight at our Online Election Center where you can:
If Andrew Cuomo is going to achieve our LGBT priorities, he's going to need strong allies in the legislature and in statewide offices at his side. There's so much you can do to help us get out the vote over the next two weeks!

(Photo: Gay Socialites)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Transgender Women Stand Up for Their Rights

Within the last week, two different transgender women appeared in the press because they had filed lawsuits over discriminatory treatment they had received. At first glance, these women seem worlds apart: one is a prison inmate suing a NYC correction officer for harassment and rape in the Manhattan Detention Complex, the other is a retired police officer and 2008 women’s Long Drivers of America champion, suing for the right to participate in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), which has the requirement that all competitors be “female at birth.” But both are trying to get basic respect and dignity. Furthermore, the kind of employment discrimination that the professional golfer is experiencing is pervasive for transgender people and is connected to the lack of employment and economic survival options that land too many transwomen in jail. (You can see hard data on transgender employment, poverty and homelessness in New York in our LGBT Health and Human Service Needs Assessment.)

Most importantly, what these two different women have in common is the guts and determination to fight for their rights. That is what it took to win the NYC and California non-discrimination laws that these women are fighting to enforce. That is what it will take to win and enforce a statewide transgender non-discrimination law in New York. Join this campaign >

Posted by Desma Holcomb, Program Director, Empire State Pride Agenda
Photo: NYT/Bang Golf

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another pro-LGBT voice in the State Senate

It's now a little more than two weeks from Election Day and already we are picking up more support for LGBT equality in the New York State Senate. In a special election in Queens last March, we helped to replace anti-gay state senator Hiram Monserrate with Jose Peralta, a strong advocate for LGBT New Yorkers.

In a video that we're releasing today, Senator Jose Peralta is introducing another vote for marriage equality, GENDA and other bills that provide equality for LGBT New Yorkers. That vote is Mike Gianaris, currently an assemblyman from Queens, who has been a long time supporter of our issues. Gianaris will be replacing retiring Senator George Onorato, who voted against marriage equality last year.

Watch Senator Jose Peralta introduce Mike Gianaris. With these two champions of equality, we're already two votes closer to passing bills like marriage equality and GENDA.

There's more work to be done. We need every New Yorker who cares about equality to help us work from now until Election Day to make sure we have more elected officials like Jose Peralta and Mike Gianaris who will stand up for our community. You can help out by volunteering on a campaign in your area and by giving to the Pride Agenda's PAC. With your support, we can make sure that the best candidates get the resources they need to win.

Please consider making a donation to the Pride Agenda PAC today!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Angry about Paladino?

Turn anger into action -- Pledge to Vote on November 2
Everyone's talking about candidate for governor Carl Paladino's recent comments attacking the LGBT community before an audience of orthodox rabbis in Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

"That's not how God created us. . . . I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don't want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option—it isn't."

In light of recent stunning anti-gay violence in the Bronx and a rash of suicides by LGBT youth across the country, The New York Times called his remarks "utterly gratuitous" and said that they suggest "at the very least an extraordinary level of insensitivity." The Washington Post called them a "stunning display of tone-deafness and bigotry."

What are you going to do about it? Don't just sit there and shake your first at the television screen or grumble into your newspaper.

Take our "Pledge to vote" in the November 2 General Election for all candidates — those running for statewide office and those in the NYS Senate and Assembly — who support our equality and have committed to supporting our issues. And ask everyone you know who is offended by these insults to do the same. The upcoming elections must be our number one target to send the message that in New York State we hold our elected officials up to a higher standard. They also clear the way to proactively push for major priorities like marriage and transgender civil rights.

Join us and sign the pledge. If you're angry like us, you can't afford to sit this election out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pride Agenda Condemns Statements by Carl Paladino Calling Lives of LGBT People Not Valid

Ross D. Levi, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda and Foundation, released the following statement:
“In the wake of the hate crimes sweeping New York State, including the sickening abuse and torture experienced by three young men in the Bronx last weekend, and the rash of LGBT youth taking their own lives all across our country, it is unfathomable that Carl Paladino could espouse the homophobic position that the lives of gay New Yorkers are not as valid as his. Law abiding, tax-paying LGBT New Yorkers, and parents of LGBT children, should not have to worry that their governor will be siding with those who feel we are less than, that we are second class citizens living less valid lives than our neighbors. Apparently, Carl Paladino is fine with schools teaching that sentiment as well, and believes that to teach otherwise is brainwashing. Fortunately, what Carl Paladino calls brainwashing most New Yorkers call getting along.

Will every New Yorker who fails to meet Carl Paladino’s personal morality code have to worry about being deemed invalid? Our extraordinary diversity is part of what makes New York great, and we will all need to work together to address the challenges we face in the coming years. This will be far harder if New Yorkers are divided or distracted by a governor and a government who are making judgments about whether or not some law abiding citizens are leading ‘valid lives.’

Carl Paladino seeks to be governor, but by confirming anti-LGBT sentiments, he shows that he is clearly not cut out to be the leader of our state. New York needs a governor who is committed to equal treatment and equal respect for all its citizens, not one who finds a whole segment of the population he would be representing to be invalid and dysfunctional. The days of elected officials refusing to give LGBT people the dignity and respect we deserve as citizens are long over. We expect and demand better from those who seek to represent and lead our great Empire State.”