Thursday, May 19, 2011

Introducing the Weekly Agenda

Post by Executive Director Ross Levi

As one of the Empire State Pride Agenda’s valued supporters, I wanted to fill you in on some of the exciting news that you may not be reading about in the press and invite you to join us as we pursue our aggressive advocacy campaign to improve the lives of all LGBT New Yorkers.

Another Monumental Equality & Justice Day
Last week’s wildly successful Equality & Justice Day continues to fuel our momentum. On May 9, the Pride Agenda brought more than 1,200 LGBT New Yorkers and our allies to Albany to tell their stories directly to legislators about the need for transgender civil rights, marriage equality and health services for the LGBT community. The event got a lot of press attention, and we are still hearing from legislators and their staff about the impact of seeing and hearing from so many of their constituents.

Police Chiefs for a Transgender Civil Rights Bill
On the heels of this magnificent day, the Police Chiefs of Rochester and Albany publicly confirmed what we already know to be true: that it makes sense from a law and order perspective for all residents to be treated fairly and equally and to be fully protected by the laws of the state. All hardworking New Yorkers, including transgender people, should have a chance to earn a living, provide for themselves and their families, and be protected from bias crime. With the support of these law enforcement officials, we continue to push for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would extend civil rights protections to transgender New Yorkers.

Pride Agenda Supporters in your Mailbox
The Pride Agenda continues to advocate for all loving, committed couples to be able to legally marry in our state. Paul and Iris Blumenthal are long time supporters of the Pride Agenda who volunteered to appear in a piece of direct mail that was sent to ten targeted Senate Districts. Along with our partners, we’ve also helped recruit and train hundreds of couples who want to take on a public roll telling their stories about why marriage is so important to them. If you want to get involved with this program, please contact George Simpson.

Our Years of Strategic Organizing Pays Off
We’re capitalizing on the hard work of our Pride in Action programs to mobilize key allies across the state in support of marriage. Through our Pride in the Pulpit program, more than 730 faith leaders have expressed their commitment to supporting loving, committed couples who what to marry, and their support was publicized in Albany through a well covered press conference. Union backing for the initiative continues to grow daily, thanks in large part to the Pride Agenda’s Pride in Our Union project. And we have used our resources to help recruit African American and Latino leaders to sign on to a coalition letter in support or marriage equality. Coming up: the unveiling of hundreds of businesses, large and small, that recognize allowing marriage for all loving, committed couples is good for New York State business.

Summer Fun Supporting the Pride Agenda
As the legislative session enters the final few weeks I’ll be keeping you up to date on the issues that are so important to our community. The hard work we have ahead will be easier if we remember to celebrate our successes along the way as well, so I invite you to join us at our very first Hudson Valley Engagement, June 4, and at our 19th annual Hamptons Tea Dance, July 9 in Water Mill New York.

New Talent at the Top
On an internal note, we have new leadership at the helm of the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation. Our Board of Directors represent the remarkable diversity that comprises our movement. We have board members who are straight, LGB and T, Democratic, Republican, from upstate and from downstate. Individually and collectively their talent, commitment and expertise guide the organization. At the lead we welcome two new Co-Chairs, Louis A. Bradbury and Marla Hassner.

Louis brings a wealth of business expertise and a breadth of experience with progressive non-profits including Calamus Foundation, Planned Parenthood of NYC and Gay Men’s Health Crisis, in addition to several others. Marla is an Employee Relations Specialist whose work has spanned the finance, legal and non-profit sectors. As the former Co-Chair of the Pride Agenda’s Pride in My Workplace Committee, she helped create the highly-lauded Best Practices Guide for New York State Businesses to Support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Employees.

We also welcome new Foundation Vice Chairs J. Goodwin Bland and Mark Siwiec, along with new members to both of our Boards: Don Capoccia, Faith Gay, Monica Graham, Alan Lubin, Jeff Soref and Toby Usnik.

As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to the leadership of our Board, past and present, including the service of outgoing Foundation Co-Chairs Mitch Karsch and Frank Selvaggi.

Ross D. Levi
Executive Director
Empire State Pride Agenda

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