This evening, SDWNY participated in the WNY Light the Way to Justice Rally, a national movement to rally and hold vigil while the Supreme Court hears the Proposition 8 and DOMA cases this week.
A special thanks go out to SDWNY VP Kitty Lambert-Rudd for planning the event, Jamestown Council President Greg Rabb for attending and speaking and everyone who came out and participated this evening!
During the program, I spoke on the non-partisanship of Marriage Equality. My prepared remarks are below-- we hope, if you are able, to see you tomorrow night at 5:30PM in Niagara Square as we continue our vigil for equality!
Light the Way Remarks; Tuesday, March 26, 2013
"'Gay rights are human rights. And human rights are gay rights' declared Hillary Clinton, as United States Secretary of State, to the United Nations a few short years ago. Speaking on behalf of President Barack Obama’s administration, that moment—“human rights are gay rights”—was a monumental moment in America’s history. We the people, through the leadership of President Obama, made a serious commitment to take the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people seriously; as a matter of both foreign and domestic policy.
These last few years have seen the culmination of the work of so many years by so many. When Proposition 8 was passed in California in 2008, and human rights were dealt similar blows across these United States, much seemed so hopeless. But we were not deterred. As Dr. King said, “the moral arc of the universe is long… but it bends toward justice.” Since Prop 8, since a majority was able to deny civil rights to a minority in California, our community and our allies have become stronger, and achieved victories we always knew possible. And the LGBT community could not have done this alone.
As the head of the Stonewall Democrats of WNY, a Democratic civil rights organization, I am proud of my party: the Democratic Party. I am proud of what my party stands and fights for. I am proud that my party considers me as a gay American every bit as equal as any other person. But what makes me all the more proud is when I see the issues of my party transcend partisan politics—because they are above partisan politics.
Here in New York State, we showed the nation—and the world—how civil rights victories are achieved. With our Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, our Republican Senate and Democratic Assembly—we showed the nation what you can do when you work in a bi-partisan manner, for the people. We have Marriage Equality here in New York not only because of the Democrats. And we have Marriage Equality here in New York not because of the Republicans. We have Marriage Equality as New Yorkers because of the Democrats and the Republicans working together in order to deliver a government truly by the people and for the people. New York showed when we passed our Marriage Equality bill through that divided legislature that civil marriage rights for all is a non-partisan issue. On the wave of historically soaring approval rates, national figures on both sides of the aisle have shown us what we knew all along: the idea that every woman and man is created equally, and should be treated as such under the law, does not belong to the Democrats, the Republicans, or any one group. It belongs to us all.
In recent weeks, much has been made over Rob Portman, the Republican Senator from Ohio, coming out in favor of Marriage Equality. And perhaps that is because his simple act—supporting the civil rights of his gay son-- says it all. As more and more of us live openly and proudly, and demand from our government that our families be treated equally under the law, we are heard. Our families hear us, our friends hear us, our representatives hear us and our children hear us. And when we are heard, we are not denied our place in the world. When we are heard, our families, our Senators, our Presidents take up our cause alongside us. And when that happens, great things are possible. When we are heard, our state legislatures protect families. When we are heard, we win referendums and votes on equality. When we are heard, we are free to create families and live our lives with the protections of any other. When we are heard, we send a message to every LGBT youth out there that they are real, valued people who will be treated fairly by their government. When we are heard, we can begin to create justice for Edie and Thea and the countless American families who have been denied equal rights and protections throughout our history. And when we are heard, we have leadership—of all gender, race, class, creed and party affiliation—our true leaders hear us, and stand for us.
Whatever decision the court reaches, there will be no single solution for the inequality of LGBT families. If DOMA and Prop 8 are ruled unconstitutional, legislation will have to be passed to repeal the whole of the DOMA legislation. The patchwork of civil rights laws that exist throughout our states will have to be made equal. Legislation will have to be passed at the national and state level to ensure that LGBT people be free from discrimination; equal in human rights, marriage, employment, tax and immigration law. But when the court decides our families have a right to be created and treated equally, it will make the work ahead –for both parties—all the more possible. I thank you all for your time, for coming out tonight and being a part of what it is to work together and light the way to justice. Thank you. "
NYS Assemblymember Sean Ryan, speaking at the Light the Way Rally this evening.
February 24, 2008
Republican Assmbelymember Jane Corwin, who has begun her campaign in the yet-uncalled special election for NY's 27 Congressional district, released a statement earlier today condemning President Obama for his administration's decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
Her statement, which seeks to criticize Pres. Obama for standing up for LGBTQ equality, reads as follows:
"“The President of the United States swore an oath to uphold the laws of our great country and as a member of the Executive Branch he needs to enforce those laws, including the Defense of Marriage Act. It is the Supreme Court’s job to consider the constitutionality of the law and the President should not usurp the authority of the Supreme Court... DOMA "was signed into law nearly 15 years ago by President Clinton – he himself a Democrat like President Obama – who understood that marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman," she continued. "While more Americans lose their jobs every day, the Obama Administration is blatantly ignoring the law of the land for a political stunt, and I hope the Administration will reconsider this wrong decision and focus on strengthening the economy and creating jobs, the number one issue the majority of Western New Yorkers care about.”
If you are one of the many New Yorkers who lives in Assemblymember Corwin's district, or NY-27 we urge you to contact her and let her know that you are a Western New Yorker who cares about civil rights and equality. Corwin has a history of not supporting civil rights, voting against the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and Marriage Equality in the State Assembly.
Yesterday, the Obama administration courageously made headlines by telling the Justice Department to stop prosecuting cases related to the bigoted DOMA legislation. SDWNY commends Pres. Obama for this development, and recognizes Pres. Clinton, whom Corwin mentions in her statement, for realizing the error of DOMA and supporting civil marriage rights for all Americans.
Assemblymember Corwin's Offices:
8180 Main St.
Clarence, NY 14221
Albany, NY 12248
Source: NY Daily News
June 24, 2010
This past Tuesday, Kitty Lambert—Vice President of Community Affairs and President of Outspoken for Equality—and I had the great fortune to attend the Democratic National Committee’s “Day of Pride.”
The event, held in Washington, D.C., came to us by way of a recommendation from the Erie County Democratic Chair Len Lenihan, recognizing the great work that every one of you does, as Stonewall Democrats and Outspoken for Equality members.
It was an honor to have been chosen to represent our organizations at the federal level during this conference. Kitty and I were invited because of the great work our organizations do, and that great work could not be accomplished without each and every one of you, your dedication and your unyielding commitment to the civil rights movement.
And as many good things often do, the invitation to travel to DC and attend a conference where we could meet with national party leaders and policy makers gave us a limited timeframe to work on finding out how we could get to D.C. We held a fundraiser on Saturday to help defray our travel costs, and were extremely humbled by the support we received. We thank you, so very deeply, with our utmost gratitude for your help and support in making our attendance at this conference possible.
On Tuesday, our “Day of Pride” started promptly at 8:30AM. Somewhat tired from previous day’s (and for some of us night’s) travel, we were eager to jump into what the day would bring. Right away, we were able to network and meet people from LGBT groups across the country. We talked proudly of our members and volunteers and the work they do, and compared notes on how LGBT organizing is done throughout our United States, as well as discussing common problems like Democratic officials who don’t support our civil rights.
And then the speakers got underway. We heard from a diverse, wide-ranging cross-section of LGBT Democratic Party players. Given that our political party is such a big tent, and—shall we say—more willing to agreeing to disagree than other parties, there were some speakers who appeared to just shy away from calling for full civil rights, and seemed to gloss over Marriage Equality. However, when true progressives like Senators Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) took the stage, we came to see that our party does care about all of our issues. These speakers championed Marriage Equality, repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, repealing DOMA and passing ENDA and the Uniting American Families Act.
Perhaps the most reassuring speaker of the morning was Diego Sanchez, a man who works for Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) The first openly transgendered individual working on Capitol Hill, he talked about the concrete plans and strategies already underway for getting the votes to pass urgently needed legislation like ENDA, and gave us a truer view of the dedication which exists in Congress for passing this legislation. It was through speakers like Sanchez, Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Michael Mitchell and Brian Bond, the White House’s Deputy Director for the Office of Public Engagement, that we were able to discuss, first hand, our commitment to legislation such as UAFA, ENDA and ending DADT—and enlist that support from key players in Congress and the administration, who stressed to us their own commitment to seeing this legislation through.
While we were there, we also met with Senator Gillibrand’s office regarding these critical issues, and measures such as Sen. Franken’s Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition on bullying in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and forbid schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior.
All in all, Kitty and I had a terrific morning discussing these issues and listening to people like DNC Chair Tim Kaine, Executive Director Jen O’Malley-Dillon and others reaffirm our Democratic Party’s commitment to our issues.
We were incredibly moved and inspired to have been chosen to represent all of our absolutely fantastic members and Stonewall Democrats of WNY on a national level, and we thank you all for allowing us the opportunity to participate in this event. With the passing of Dignity for All Students by the State Legislature, it has been a terrific week to motivate us to even further action on the work ahead.
Recent days have been dark ones for pro-equality citizens, as we experienced great disappointment with the recent failure of GENDA in the State Senate. And yet, when I listened to the others who attended the conference, and watched our state legislature vote to defend and protect the dignity of all our children, I felt that hope which I know will get us across the finish line. I know as an organization we have what it will take to ensure we are successful, at all levels. We will continue to work to elect and protect our pro-equality Democrats who have and will go on to do the work needed to advance our rights. The campaign season is already well underway, and I look forward to the reelection of our officials who champion our causes, and new ones like them in seats where their predecessors did not.
With the great leaders and true progressives we have in elected office and throughout our country in grassroots organizations such as our own, we have in place what it will take to pass ENDA, defeat DADT and DOMA, grant us Marriage Equality and pass GENDA in our state. I thank you, and look forward to continuing our great work together.