Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Long Island Update: Growing support, Faith panels, Star Awards and upcoming opportunities

Post by Long Island Organizer Joanna Solmonsohn

The Pride Agenda and our many Long Island activists have had a busy few months and are gearing up to continue our work to achieve marriage and transgender civil rights.

A recent Siena College poll shows that statewide, about 57% of New Yorkers support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Public approval of marriage equality is even higher in New York’s suburbs. According to the poll, 61% support equality. Support for transgender civil rights is even higher. A Global Strategy Group poll found that 78% of New York voters support passage of such a law. Again, support is stronger in suburbs, with 82% of people in support of protections for transgender New Yorkers.

This information doesn’t surprise those of us who have been out in the community talking to our friends and neighbors. We know that the majority of them are on the side of equality and justice.

Long Island’s Newsday has recently published articles on marriage equality. Yancey Roy, who writes for the Politics Section of the paper, points out that Long Island Senators will be key to passing the bill. Daniel Akst—a member of the popular Long Island newspaper Newsday’s editorial board—published an op-ed in favor of same-sex couples being allowed to marry.

Activists on the ground are working hard to engage our neighbors in our work and ensure that our state senators know it’s time to treat all New Yorkers fairly. As part of these efforts Long Island couples have been sharing the reasons why marriage equality is important to them at congregations around the island. Several months ago our Pride in the Pulpit-Long Island group initiated a program entitled “Marriage Equality & Families.” Its goal is to increase support for marriage equality by speaking to, and connecting with, fellow Long Islanders. Congregations that have hosted the panel include the United Church of Rockville Center, The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock, Temples Beth-El of Great Neck and Sinai of Roslyn, and the South Nassau Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Freeport.

In order to celebrate all of the work being done on the Island by our many volunteers, the Pride Agenda hosted its annual Star Awards Celebration in Huntington on January 29th. Three outstanding activists were honored for their contributions to our fight for LGBT equality and justice. The honorees included Cindy Hacken, Rev. Paul Ratzlaff and Maria Studer.

The Pride Agenda cannot do its work without the help of our many activists. If you wish to become a strong and articulate advocate and/or ally for LGBT equality and justice, join activists from around the state for a Community Ambassador Training on either Tuesday, March 29 or Thursday, March 31 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. The training is offered online and via conference call at no charge to participants.

Also, be sure to join us in Albany on Monday, May 9 to call for LGBT equality and justice. Equality & Justice Day is the Pride Agenda’s annual advocacy day bringing the statewide movement together and includes a rally, workshops, caucuses and an opportunity to speak directly with your legislator about the issues that matter to LGBT New Yorkers and our allies. It is also the largest statewide gathering of LGBT and allied New Yorkers and a unique opportunity to strengthen our ties and build the coalitions we need to win. Join us in Albany on Monday, May 9 to make your voice heard!

To get involved in the Pride Agenda’s work on Long Island, contact Long Island Program Organizer, Joanna Solmonsohn at jsolmonsohn AT prideagenda DOT org.

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