The following is a statement released today in response to evangelicals’ threat to withdraw support for comprehensive immigration reform legislation if it includes a provision that recognizes same-sex binational couples. The statement can be attributed to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAAD, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, United We Dream and Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project:
Our primary goal is to pass a commonsense, compassionate immigration reform bill that puts our nation’s undocumented men, women and children on a pathway to citizenship. That pathway would provide at least 267,000 LGBT undocumented people the opportunity to become full participants in our economy and our democracy.
We do not believe that our friends in the evangelical faith community or conservative Republicans would allow the entire immigration reform bill to fail simply because it affords 28,500 same-sex couples equal immigration rights. This take-it-or-leave-it stance with regard to same-sex binational couples is not helpful when we all share the same goal of passing comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship.
We all deserve a chance to live with dignity, to pursue our dreams, and to work for a better future and better quality of life.
Our current immigration system is broken. It dehumanizes, scapegoats and vilifies all immigrants, including LGBT immigrants, and their friends and families. Comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform is an urgent priority for our nation and the LGBT community. We stand firmly that the following principles must be included if we are to truly have comprehensive immigration reform legislation:
- Provide a pathway to citizenship.
- Ensure that family unity remains at the heart of immigration law and policy.
- End unjust detentions and deportations.
- Uphold labor and employment standards and ensure that the enforcement of immigration law does not undermine labor and employment rights.
- Promote a dignified quality of life for border communities by establishing oversight mechanisms to ensure border agencies uphold basic civil and human rights protections.
- Ensure immigrant members of our community are not relegated to permanent second-class status.
May Day is a day of solidarity and action on behalf of immigrant rights. That makes today a critical day to get in touch with your senators and talk to them about your dreams for fair, comprehensive immigration reform.
We need you to reach out to your senators now and let them know that the country deserves a commonsense, compassionate immigration reform bill that puts our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants on a pathway to citizenship!
Right now senators are home in their districts. When they come back to D.C. next week, immigration reform will be one of their top priorities.
Now is the time to call 866.563.5608 to get through to your senators’ offices, or send an e-mail. Even better, schedule a visit while your senator’s home from D.C. or make sure to attend one of their town hall meetings nearby.
When they get back to D.C., they’re going to debate legislation that really would create a path to citizenship for many undocumented people in the U.S. and includes provisions for DREAMers. But it’s not enough. Now’s the time to tell your senators that the pathway to citizenship must be an open one without unfair barriers. Tell them the pathway must also be ensure social services for immigrants, and family unity by continuing to allow sibling visas and include recognition for same-sex binational couples.
Find out about May Day events happening across the country at the Alliance for Citizenship website here.
CALL your senator at 866.563.5608!
VISIT them this week while they’re home from Washington!
ATTEND a town hall meeting near you!
Guest Post by Sara Beth Brooks, a student and activist from Sacramento, Calif. Who currently attends Sacramento City College. She founded Asexual Awareness Week in 2010 and in January was named one of the top 10 Voice & Action Leaders in Action by Campus Pride.
In January, The New York Times published an article called “Generation LGBTQIA” that highlighted the broad spectrum of gender and sexual diversity among youth in the queer community. Some say that the A stands for allies, while others contend it stands for asexuality. Asexuality is an umbrella term for those who experience a range of sexual attraction that is significantly less than the rest of the population. This orientation is very rarely talked about in our queer community — but that is starting to change.
The common connection in the asexual community is the way in which we experience sexual attraction that is different from the norm. Asexuals experience low levels of or no sexual attraction. Demisexuals describe their experience as not feeling sexual attraction until after forming a close emotional connection. Grey-asexuals (or grey-a’s) identify somewhere between asexual and sexual. Many of us use “ace” as a shorthand term to describe ourselves. Aces also describe their romantic attraction; many use hetero-, homo-, bi-, pan-, and a- in front of the word romantic to describe their romantic attraction (for example: I identify as a panromantic ace). Aromantics don’t experience romantic attraction. Both romantic and aromantic asexuals build relationships of all varieties, including partnered relationships as well as community relationships.
Since the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) began in 2001, an organized community has been bringing attention to asexual issues. Like many other asexuals, I found the community through AVEN. When I came out five years ago, the silence about asexuality — especially in queer spaces — was deafening. Many LGBT activists I talked to had never heard of asexuality.
After attending the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in 2010, and seeing nothing on the agenda, I decided to start working on issues at the intersection of LGBT and asexual issues. I founded an organization called Asexual Awareness Week where we’ve been developing the biggest collection of asexual resources on the internet.
Now LGBT groups are having conversations about asexual issues. There have been workshops at the last two Creating Change conferences. The Task Force is joined by the Trevor Project and Campus Pride as the first LGBT organizations to include asexuality in their work. Ace-identified people often experience fear and shame over our non-normative sexual identities and frequently hear that we are broken or inhuman. Since sexuality is synonymous with healthy intimacy, asexual people are wrongly perceived as emotionally stunted, socially incompetent and insufficiently masculine or feminine.
There has been a recent wave of scientific study of asexuality, but there is still a huge deficit in statistical data. In addition to more funding for research about asexuality, our policy goals include protection in anti-discrimination policies, adoption and family law, and health policies that educate about both reproductive and mental health.
There are a lot of asexuals who do not yet know that there is a name for their experience. Asexual visibility and awareness are critical to counteracting the invisibility of our community. Luckily, it is very easy to raise awareness about asexuality: just talk about it. Start a conversation, talk to your organization, download resources and share them. Watch the documentary (A)sexual on Netflix. Once upon a time the words gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender were unknown in our society. It’s only because people came out and talked about them that we’ve been able to reach our current level of awareness.
The Department of Education today announced that beginning with the 2014-2015 federal student aid form, it will — for the first time — collect income and other information from a dependent student’s legal parents regardless of the parents’ marital status or gender, if those parents live together.
The 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, will provide a new option for dependent applicants to describe their parents’ marital status as “unmarried and both parents living together.” Additionally, where appropriate, the new form will also use terms like “Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)” and “Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)” instead of gender-specific terms like “mother” and “father.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said today:
All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics. These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student’s whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families.
According to the Department of Education, the FAFSA has long been constructed to collect information about a student’s parents only if the parents are married. “As a result, it has excluded income and other information from one of the student’s legal parents (biological or adoptive) when the parents are unmarried, even if those parents are living together. Gender-specific terms also fail to capture income and other information from one parent when a student’s parents are in a same-sex marriage under state law but not federally recognized under the Defense of Marriage Act.”
The department will ask for comments after it publishes the changes this week in the Federal Register. Read the full Department of Education statement.
NBA player Jason Collins made history today with three simple sentences in Sports Illustrated: ”I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.“ That announcement makes him the first out male athlete playing in any of the four major American sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB).
Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said today:
We applaud Jason Collins for his honesty and integrity in choosing to come out. In doing so, he has become a role model not just on the court, but far beyond it. By having the courage to be true to himself — and to the world — he has become a role model for young people everywhere, for all of sports, and for America. All people should be able to live their lives freely and openly no matter who they are or who they love.
In an interview, Collins said:
I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand….
The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less then three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn’t say a thing. I didn’t want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing.
I’m glad I’m coming out in 2013 rather than 2003. The climate has shifted; public opinion has shifted. And yet we still have so much farther to go. Everyone is terrified of the unknown, but most of us don’t want to return to a time when minorities were openly discriminated against. I’m impressed with the straight pro athletes who have spoken up so far — Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo. The more people who speak out, the better, gay or straight. It starts with President Obama’s mentioning the 1969 Stonewall riots, which launched the gay rights movement, during his second inaugural address. And it extends to the grade-school teacher who encourages her students to accept the things that make us different.
N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern released a statement welcoming Collins’s announcement:
Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career,” Stern said, “and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.
The barrier that he has broken is huge, but he is by no means the first male professional athlete to come out of the closet. Recently soccer player Robbie Rogers came out as gay and last fall professional boxer Orlando Cruz came out.
Out athletes are nothing new for women, with early out professional female athletes Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King coming out thirty two years ago. And just recently the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, Brittney Griner, came out. Fallon Fox also recently came out as the first openly transgender athlete in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA.)
We applaud Jason Collins’s courage and hope that his honesty and openness have started the conversation among athletes in the major American sports leagues, as well as breaking through a barrier for future professional athletes.
While Collins’s announcement has seen an overwhelmingly positive response, including a call from President Obama, he has unfortunately been criticized by some including ESPN’s Chris Broussard who implied that gay people can’t be Christians. Yet, many people of faith including Christians instill a value of acceptance that Jason Collins spoke about:
I’m from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding. On family trips, my parents made a point to expose us to new things, religious and cultural. In Utah, we visited the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. In Atlanta, the house of Martin Luther King Jr. That early exposure to otherness made me the guy who accepts everyone unconditionally.
Our Task Force Faith Work Director Rev. Rebecca Voelkel praised Collins’s statement:
We are particularly gratitified by Jason Collins’ articulate connection between his Christian faith and his desire to live with unconditional acceptance, tolerance and understanding. Our religious traditions can be great reservoirs of wisdom in teaching us how to make this a better and more just world.
We asked people at the United for Marriage rally at the Supreme Court to write letters to their elected officials telling them how wrong it is that it’s legal to fire or refuse to hire people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in more than half of the country.
A little boy named Joe wrote that his mom has a good job and that they need every dollar she can make, so he hopes that she’s never fired just for being gay. He asked his Congress member to pass ENDA so his mom wasn’t in danger of being fired just because she’s gay. Imagine a little kid having to worry about this sort of thing. Makes you sick. Makes you angry, doesn’t it?
ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate this week, and we want you to add your voice to Joe’s by asking your legislators to co-sponsor ENDA.
No one should have to come home and tell their kids that they can’t put supper on the table because they were fired for who they are or who they love. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender shouldn’t mean living in fear of losing your job for no reason.
Stand with Joe and his moms and working people all over the country. Take action today and tell your legislators that it’s time to do what’s right by co-sponsoring ENDA.
We’re thrilled to announce that Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey has been selected to participate in the Prime Movers program as a 2013 Prime Movers fellow. The Prime Movers fellowship program supports emerging and established social movement leaders working at the national level. Its goal is to allow leaders to think beyond their organizations and take on broader, more pivotal roles within their movements. You can read more about the program and the other 2013 fellows in the Huffington Post.
Watch the video featuring this year’s fellows: