Stonewall Democrats of Western New York are proud to announce our endorsement of Mike Amodeo for the New York State Senate. In the Democratic Primary for the 60th Senate District currently held by Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti, the choice before our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community-- and the Democratic Party-- could not be more clear.
Mike Amodeo-- a young, progressive attorney-- is the forward-thinking candidate in this race, who has what it will take to realize the future of WNY and the Democratic Party. Mike’s opponent, former Erie County Legislator Chuck Swanick, could not be more of a contrast. Chuck Swanick emerged early on in this race as the choice of the Conservative Party, and an opponent of LGBTQ equality. Mr. Swanick has been endorsed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-equality hate group, famously designated as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center-- and he has since received considerable campaign funding from NOM.
“Mike Amodeo stands for the progress of our community, and I am proud to support him in this election to become our party’s nominee for State Senate,” said Bryan Ball, president of SDWNY. “Mike Amodeo understands the needs of the LGBTQ community, and will support the Marriage Equality Act and become a needed voice in the fight for the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) in Albany. I am proud our Erie County Democratic Party has endorsed his candidacy, and opposes the hate of Chuck Swanick. Mr. Swanick and his supporters attempt to claim his position on Marriage Equality is irrelevant because Marriage Equality is now law. This could not be more wrong. While in his arrogance Mr. Swanick may try and cast the issue of marriage as resolved, the reality-- as I have told him to his face-- the LGBTQ community faces is that the struggle for our families to achieve full equality and civil protections under the law is far from over. Even with our victory here in NY, any same-gender marriage granted by our state remains invalid in the eyes of the federal government, and denies our families the vitally needed rights and protections of full legal and tax equality, Social Security and immigration. And in our state senate where a Republican senator recently began carrying a bill to repeal the Marriage Equality Act--a senator funded by the hate group NOM should have no place, and should never be supported by any part of our great Democratic Party. I am proud that our party is standing against the hateful values of Chuck Swanick, and for the of the people values of Mike Amodeo.”
SDWNY strongly encourages Stonewall Democrats and all pro-equality allies to do all we can to ensure Mike Amodeo is our party’s nominee for the general election. In every election, the candidate put forth by our great party should support the equal rights of all people he or she seeks to represent-- and in no other year or office is this more important than for the State Senate in 2012; especially when the incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti has set such a high standard for ensuring all women and men be treated equally under the law, with his vote in favor of Marriage Equality.
At our endorsement meeting, many Stonewall members stressed the importance of being involved in this Democratic Primary. In no way, should any attempt be made by our community to allow anti-LGBT candidates support in Democratic primaries. The importance of considering all LGBTQ issues was also stressed-- considering a candidate's support of Marriage Equality equally as important as a candidate's support of transgender civil rights.
I encourage all Stonewall Democrats to be involved in this primary, and stand for GENDA, for Marriage and for the values of the Democratic Party to elect Mike Amodeo.
Now that designating petitions are beginning to be filed, this year's elections are becoming clear-- and, clearly, again this year there is so much to be won, and so much to be lost for the LGBTQ community at the ballot box.
Back in February, former Erie County Legislator Chuck Swanick made headlines when he announced his endorsement from the Erie County Conservative Party, and that he was once again a member of the Democratic Party. Having abandoned county Democrats to become a Republican in years prior, the new candidate Swanick also made headlines with the radically conservative positions his coming campaign would hold. In a Buffalo News article regarding the early endorsement, Swanick stated his opposition to Marriage Equality
. While SDWNY works hard to educate Democratic candidates and beyond on the need to support equal rights for all people, this took many by surprise that because WNY appeared, at least in part, ready to take a step back on civil rights issues. Although we have several members of our delegation-- on both sides of the aisle-- who oppose equality, WNY has made headlines (again, from sides of the aisle), most recently with pro-equality Sen. Tim Kennedy's primary victory against an entrenched anti-equality incumbent, and subsequent general election win. Only days after Swanick announced his Conservative endorsement, the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced their endorsement of Chuck Swanick, and pledged to support his candidacy financially.
In no way, should this stand. The Democratic Party is the party of progress, and change. There is no room in our party for a candidate who actively promotes the segregation of civil rights and protections for American families. In the halls of Albany's legislature, in the days before the Marriage Equality Act was passed, I and other Stonewall Democrats were there, and endured the demonstrations and counter demonstrations put on by supporters and opponents. Members of NOM spat on us, tried to pray over us and told us we were not created equal. This is the true face of hate groups such as NOM, who exist to preach the word of hate-- the same word which so many LGBTQ youth hear, and are unable to overcome. By siding with NOM in such a direct way, the candidacy of Chuck Swanick is a threat to all families-- in WNY and beyond. Immediately, we took action, and I wrote to the NYS Senate Democratic Campaign Committee expressing the LGBTQ community's unconditional opposition to candidates such as Mr. Swanick.
When the Erie County Democratic Executive Committee, of which I am a non-voting member, met to interview candidates in this race, Mr. Swanick and I had a rather intense exchange. During this exchange, he would not commit to refusing the support-- financial or otherwise-- of NOM, and even at various points would not admit to positions he had taken in the earlier Buffalo News article. At one point during our exchange, when he would not answer my question of why, as a gay American, he believed I am not entitled to the same civil rights which he enjoys in his marriage with his wife, he pointed his finger at me, and said, "But you gave all that money to Mark Grisanti!" To which, I honestly replied, "I have not given any money to Mark Grisanti." Mr. Swanick then responded: "But YOU PEOPLE gave all that money to Mark Grisanti."
Needless to say, the way in which he referred to the LGBTQ community as "YOU PEOPLE" and the way in which Mr. Swanick treated myself and any mention of the LGBTQ community's equal rights, is troubling. What is also troubling is the prospect of any support Mr. Swanick might receive from any part of the Democratic Party. While the Erie County Democratic Committee has endorsed another candidate in the Democratic Party, local attorney Michael Amodeo,
who is running on a pro-equality platform, a petition I started on Change.org, directed to the NYS Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, is still going strong. We recently reached 100 signatures, and I hope that you will take the time to sign, and ask your friends, family and community to, as well, to show the Senate Democrats that, under no circumstances, should the hate of candidates such as Mr. Swanick ever be supported by our party.
The NYS SDCC has done such great work for progress and change on behalf of all our true progressive values here in NYS,
As a Stonewall Democrat, I am proud to stand against the brand of hate Mr. Swanick stands for, and I am proud of each fellow SDWNY member, ally and person who has stood up to be counted in solidarity with the equal rights of our community. As Stonewall Democrats, I invite everyone to be a part of this complicated election, and involved in the best ways we all can be for the betterment of our community's civil rights movement.
With Sen. Kennedy, June '11, Albany, NY
Dear Stonewall Democrat or Ally,
2011 has been a year unlike no other. As this year draws to a close, it is so easy to look back and reflect upon the victories which were won, the history which we all had a hand in making. We passed Marriage Equality. We went to the White House. We repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the United Nations in adamant advocacy of the Obama administration for the humanity and civil rights of LGBTQ people the world over. And in 2012, we will go on to do more.
I remember back in January, as we began another year of working for Marriage Equality in New York. The outlook was bleak. While we'd had huge victories like Sen. Tim Kennedy defeating his anti-equality opponents in both the Democratic Primary and General Elections, we lost supporters such as former Sen. Antoine Thompson to a candidate who ran for election opposing equal marriage rights. Our new governor was Andrew Cuomo, but our State Senate was in Republican hands. But none of that was going to deter us or stop us from lobbying and pushing for the legislation that would make equal our state's marriage contract laws.
Months later, in June, after countless car rides back and forth to Albany, multiple lobby bus trips with Buffalo contingents for the Empire State Pride Agenda and Marriage Equality New York lobby and education days, victory came. After gathering literally thousands of letters in support of Marriage from Western New Yorkers and beyond (I remember one woman we stopped outside at the Lady Gaga concert earlier this year, who lived in West Virginia but wanted her sister to have marriage equality here in NY so badly she wrote a letter to her sister's Senator Patrick Gallivan); after Kitty Lambert, Cheryle Rudd, myself and other members endured hate group the National Organization for Marriage in the state legislature's halls as we counter-protested in the days leading up to the vote-- where we were literally cursed at, spat upon and harassed-- after months of waiting, a vote was held. In the Assembly, our champions like Sam Hoyt and Danny O' Donnell delivered a passed bill. In the Senate, a late night vote made Buffalo proud with Sen. Kennedy's vote as promised, and Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti changing his stance with his vote, and joining the ranks of the brave few in the Republican Party who will stand up to the party's discriminatory platforms-- and he stood up for New York families, voting for Marriage Equality.
A historic victory, winning Marriage Equality in New York was the work of so many generations of Stonewall Democrats and WNY LGBTQ civil rights advocates; so enormously well-deserved, far long overdue. Because of the work of each and every one of you, New Yorkers are now free to marry who they love. Sadly, our federal marriage laws remain in need of equality, with the Defense of Marriage Act remaining law. But the act of New York State legislating Marriage Equality, the most populous state yet to do so, we have won one of the most important battles we will along the road to full LGBTQ equality. I thank each and every one of you who helped, came to Albany or a district office to lobby with us, who wrote or signed a letter and all who-- most importantly-- made their voices heard. Without you, we would not have Marriage in New York.
Fresh off the victory in New York, I had the distinct honor of being invited to the White House for President Obama's LGBT Pride Month Celebration. To attend a national gathering of LGBT rights activists, with Kitty Lambert-Rudd, was an incredible thing. Because of the incredible work SDWNY and all our WNY civil rights activists had done, we were recognized and respected by the President who has done more for LGBTQ rights than any other. It was the experience of a life-time to take you all with us to the White House and President Obama, in such a place of American history, and bring attention to LGBTQ rights issues and grassroots activism.
And September brought the desperately long-awaited repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy-- finally, allowing our best and bravest women and men who are lesbian and gay to serve their country the way America deserves: openly, honestly and with complete integrity.
Tragically, with these best of times came the worst. With September came another heartbreak of losing a youth to suicide because of bullying. Every time we lose a youth to this senseless problem is a tragedy hard to comprehend-- and each time it hurts more. In Jamey Rodemeyer's case, the pain was local and so personal; having made a video for the "It Gets Better" campaign himself, Jamey had so many of the strengths needed to overcome the bullying of his peers, society and beyond-- and in the end, it was not enough. Each LGBTQ youth who finds no recourse but to take away the gifts of their owns lives feels, to me, such a personal failure, a failure of society. Because there's nothing that we can do, and so much we, others and society could have done. All we can do, in my opinion, is to continue to live openly and proudly-- advocating for the full equality of our community to become a reality in the world, and live as an example for our youth that it got better for us-- and it will get better for them, too.
Electorally, 2011 brought more of the highest victories and the most heartbreaking losses. In Erie County, SDWNY ally Mark Poloncarz soundly defeated incumbent Republican, anti-LGBTQ county Chris Collins, who had refused to add LGBT persons to the county's Equal Employment Opportunity policy, based on the fact it include non-discrimination of gender identity and expression. SDWNY member Greg Rabb was reelected as Jamestown City Council President, and Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli, long-time SDWNY ally member, was also reelected. With sad hearts and bittersweet emotions, we said goodbye to Assemblymember Sam Hoyt, when he accepted a position with Gov. Cuomo's administration this summer. Sam Hoyt's service for his community and particularly to the LGBTQ community was staunch and fierce, and we will forever be grateful for his advocacy, and his essential help in the passage of Marriage Equality. Fortunately, we now have Assemblymember Sean Ryan, also an ally member, who is firmly supportive on all issues of LGBTQ equality.
I would also like to thank outgoing Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Maria Whyte for her distinguished service in the legislature. During her terms as legislator, it was always nothing but an absolute pleasure to work with Legislator Whyte and her staff member Melissa Cummings on a wide-variety of progressive issues, not the least of which was LGBTQ equality. Always, Maria Whyte has been the absolute golden standard of a public servant. Maria's dedication to issues of what is right is unfailing. Always there, always right and always a fighter-- that is Maria Whyte. We congratulate Maria on her close, well and hard-fought campaign for Erie County Clerk-- and look forward to the great things which will come from her public service in years to come.
In closing, 2011 has been a year when so much work for the civil rights movement culminated in amazing victories. But there remains so much work to be done. To have full LGBTQ equality, we must-- as soon as possible-- pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act to allow that no New Yorker be discriminated against because of gender identity or expression. Federally, we must repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well as the Uniting American Families Act, to bring equality to our immigration laws. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all you do to make Stonewall Democrats what we are-- and for all you will do to continue our good work. Every phone call you make, every door you knock on, every event you attend and every letter you sign brings us a step closer to GENDA, closer to the day when all Americans will be equal under the law. We have come so far, and will go the rest of the distance-- with your help. I thank you for being a Stonewall Democrat.
Yours in equality,
PS: If you have not already done so, you may sign a GENDA support letter on our website, www.SDWNY.org. Thank you!
Jamey Rodemeyer memorial after vigil, September 2011
Kitty and Cheryle Lambert-Rudd become the first same-sex couple to marry in NYS; July 2011.
SDWNY at the White House; June 2011.
Now is an exciting time for LGBTQ civil rights in New York State. With the passage of Dignity for All Students last year, and Marriage Equality only this past summer, the future for the Gender Expression-Non Discrimination Bill in NYS is bright.
Here in Western New York, SDWNY and our great community of advocates have been actively lobbying all our state senators—and having an open dialog regarding the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination. As part of our lobbying, we have been running our GENDA letter campaign, focusing on the State Senate. If you have been one of the many who have signed one of our different form letters or taken the time to write a handwritten note to your legislators, we thank you. If you have not, or are willing to go the extra step and gather more signatures and notes for equality, we encourage you to download the letters below, print them out, gather signatures and send them into your State Senator. However, SDWNY is ready and able to help with mailing, and we encourage you to contact us (by email or calling 716-541-5557) should you wish us to come pick up your letters and notes and mail them to our Senators.
All information collected on this letter project is stored in an individual database. Each Senator receives a letter, and the database will only be used when it is know the legislation is coming to a vote in the Senate. You may receive an email and/or a phone call, letting you know a vote is coming and asking you to put a phone call into your Senator’s office asking him or her to support this legislation.
If your Senator is Sen. Kennedy, please thank him for championing the GENDA bill. If your senator is Sen. Mark Grisanti, please thank him for his heroic support of Marriage Equality and ask he come out to support transgender civil rights for all New Yorkers, as well.
SDWNY is thrilled that our Vice-President of Community Affairs Kitty Lambert and her partner, Cheryle Rudd, may become the very first legal New York State same-gender marriage later this month. Congratulations, Kitty and Cheryle!“The Buffalo News: “Gay wedding in Falls may be state’s first”
Early July 24, with hundreds, if not thousands, of people on hand, Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd will stand next to Niagara Falls in hopes of becoming the first gay couple married in New York State.
“Prince William and Kate didn’t have as many people at their wedding as we will,” Lambert, one of the region’s most prominent gay rights activists, said Tuesday. “It’s going to be amazing. We’ve joked that we’re inviting 1,800 of our closest friends.”
And yes, Lambert and Rudd promise to be the first couple legally married under the state’s historic marriage equality law, which takes effect that day.
And what a party they have planned.
The celebration will start with a reception on Goat Island at 7 p.m. July 23 and end with a civil marriage ceremony on Luna Island shortly after midnight. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster will officiate.
“Everyone is invited,” Lambert said. “We’re doing this because of what it will do for Western New York, and media is coming from all over the world to see it.”
For Rudd, the wedding marks the end of a more-than-eight-year wait.
“I’m thrilled,” she said. “We’re finally getting the same rights as everyone else. Nobody can take that away from us anymore.”
Lambert and Rudd are not the only ones with out-of-the-ordinary wedding stories.
Rick Crogan, head of the Main Street Business & Professional Association in Niagara Falls, finds himself in the unusual position of having to choose between politicians competing to officiate at his upcoming wedding. He said both politicians — Niagara Falls City Judges Diane L. Vitello and Angelo J. Morinello—believe strongly in the rights of gays to marry.
“They’re both arguing over who’s going to do it,” he said. “It got to the point where Judge Vitello’s mother grabbed my cheeks and said, ‘You have to let Diane do it.’ ”
Buffalo’s Unitarian Universalist Church is going out of its way to publicize its elation over the new law and its eagerness to marry gay couples once it takes effect.
“We’re going to throw the doors open,” said the Rev. Joel Miller. “These are people we’ve been taking care of for a long time, so its nice to see the state finally doing that, too.”
Miller said the church has hosted about 50 gay weddings since he arrived there 11 years ago and would love to see each of those couples return now that their marriages are recognized by the state.
For Lambert and Rudd, the new law marks the end of a struggle that often tested their personal relationship.
And for those who know them, it’s more than appropriate that they will be among the first, if not the first, to wed under New York’s new law.
As president of OUTspoken for Equality, a local gay rights group, Lambert was instrumental is getting the State Legislature to allow gays to marry.
“There’s a certain justice to that,” Dyster said of the wedding. “And I’m honored that she thought of Niagara Falls and agreed to shine the spotlight on Niagara Falls.”
To pave the way for the big event, Lambert persuaded a local municipal clerk to be on hand to sign their marriage license after midnight and a local State Supreme Court judge to waive the normal 24-hour waiting period, which will put them a day ahead of most couples.
She also called on former Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, a Buffalo Democrat and longtime friend, for help in securing Goat Island for the party.
“There may be other weddings that day,” Hoyt said, “but I don’t think there will be another wedding as well-attended or as happy and enthusiastic as this one.”
As she often does these days, Lambert is quick to mention the people who made her big day come to be, and State Sen. Mark Grisanti is often at the top of her very long list.
Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican, cast one of the deciding votes in the law’s passage.
“I’m happy for them,” he said Tuesday. “It’s important that they can finally realize that they count and that they matter to New York State.”
Lambert said the wedding is open to the public and suggested the guest list will include a fair number of VIPs. She stopped short of naming names, but when asked about reports that comedian Ellen De- Generes might come, she confirmed the possibility.
“All I can tell you is that she was invited,” Lambert said. “Wow, wouldn’t that be something if she came.”
It is with tremendous joy that Stonewall Democrats of Western New York celebrates the passage of the Marriage Equality Act by the NYS Legislature. At long last, New York will cease to segregate civil marriage rights based on gender. Families throughout our state today have been validated by our government, and given the civil rights once denied them. When same-gender marriages begin in New York, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer (LGBTQ) New Yorkers will have access to the state rights that come with a civil marriage.
We commend our Governor Andrew Cuomo for his soaring leadership on this issue. Gov. Cuomo made good on his promise of bringing marriage equality to our great state, and without his non-partisan leadership, we would not have this great victory today.
I thank—from the bottom of my heart—SDWNY Vice-President of Community Affairs and Outspoken for Equality President Kitty Lambert for her powerhouse leadership on Marriage Equality. For the last several years, Kitty and her partner Cheryl Rudd have worked their lives for this issue. Kitty Lambert has been the voice of the Marriage Equality movement in WNY, and all fair-minded New Yorkers will forever be grateful for her role in Marriage Equality’s passage.
New York State could not have gained this victory for the civil rights movement without the ceaseless work and unfailing dedication of our Stonewall Democrats of Western New York members, allies and incredible community of local, grassroots advocates. It is because of each letter you signed or delivered, each phone call you made, each lobby visit you attended and each neighbor you talked about equality that we now have Marriage Equality in NYS. Thank you to the many SDWNY members and activists who have, throughout the years, worked so passionately for this issue. We thank Carol Speser, community leader and co-founder of SDWNY, for her astounding leadership and advocacy for Marriage Equality. We thank SDWNY Vice-President for Political Affairs Bruce Kogan for his heart and endless drive to work for equality. We thank SDWNY Secretary Thomas Peglowski and Treasurer Ronald Groth. We thank James Bragg, Rita Sanchez, Paul Morgan, Mark Nowak, Jamestown City Council President Gregg Rabb, Ari Moore, Thomas Gleed, Madeline Davis, Wendy Smiley, Andrew Randazzo, Terry Purdue, Edwin Martinez, Douglas Charles, Sean Cooney, Cynthia Appleton, Christopher Sasiadek, Michael James, Gail Wojtowicz, former NYS Sen. Antoine Thompson, Timothy Maggio, Melissa Breckenridge and Jennifer Diagostino, among many, many others.
SDWNY extends a special commendation to NYS Assemblymember Sam Hoyt. Throughout his career in the Assembly, Sam Hoyt has fiercely championed the civil rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers. Always, Sam Hoyt has stood with the LGBTQ community. Marriage Equality is now law in NY because of his great work and advocacy.
We also proudly extend our utmost gratitude to NYS Senator Timothy Kennedy. A pro-equality voice where previously we’d had none, Sen. Kennedy has proven to be among the most-staunch supporters of LGBTQ rights in the state legislature. As Andrew Cuomo did with his own election, Sen. Kennedy has made good on his promise of Marriage Equality, and SDWNY could not be more proud.
We also extend our immense gratitude to Senator Mark Grisanti. With his vote in favor of Marriage Equality, Sen. Grisanti displayed a true profile in courage by standing up for what is right. Throughout our lobbying and working with Sen. Grisanti, he has proven himself to be a man of great wisdom and heart—a Republican willing to listen to the needs of our community, open to learning and, in the end, champion the cause of civil rights. Our state and country would be a much better place if we had more heroic legislators like Sen. Mark Grisanti.
And we thank our WNY pro-equality Democratic legislators who helped pass Marriage Equality with their votes and advocacy—Assemblymembers Crystal People-Stokes and Mark Schroeder.
We thank all our outstanding pro-equality elected officials: Congress members Rep. Higgins, Hochul and Slaughter; Erie County Legislators Majority Leader Maria Whyte and Lynn Marinelli; Buffalo Common Councilmembers David Rivera, Michael LoCurto and Michael Kearns. And we thank the Erie County Democratic Committee for their support—Chairman Len Lenihan, Executive Director Jeremy Zellner and Melissa Bochenski, as well as the Erie County Young Democrats.
It is with this great happiness that we look to the next chapter of our involvement in the civil rights movement: the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. We remain saddened that our state has not extended protections from discrimination to our transgender sisters and brothers, and has not outlawed discrimination—for employment, for housing—based on an individual’s real or perceived gender identity and expression. We celebrate the victory of Marriage Equality today, and look forward to the day when every single LGBTQ American is afforded all her or his equal, civil rights.
Today, Gov. Cuomo continued to make good on his promise of passing Marriage Equality for New York State, by introducing the Marriage Equality Act to the NYS Senate and Assembly (READ the bill here.)
Yesterday, Sens. Carl Kruger, Joseph Addabbo and Shirley Huntley announced their support for civil rights, bringing the entire Senate Democratic conference to support equality, with only one exception. And in the last 24 hours, two Senate Republicans have announced their support of the bill. We commend Sens. Jim Alesi and Roy McDonald for having the courage to be the first of their Republican conference to take a stand for civil rights.
Now is the time to keep acting! We need to keep the pressure on Albany to pass the bill and make Marriage Equality law. Today, WNY Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) announced he was now undecided, rather than opposed. After months of lobbying by SDWNY, Outspoken for Equality and local open and affirming clergy, Sen. Grisanti is now undecided. Call him now at 716-854-8705 and let him know the true, incredible support civil marriage rights have in his district!
Sen. Pat Gallivan (R-Elma) has been another one of SDWNY and Outspoken’s focuses during the past several months. He also needs to keep hearing the incredible support Marriage Equality has in his district! Call him now at 716-656-8544!
We have never been closer to Marriage Equality! We would not be here if it were not for the hard, dedicated work of you and all our Stonewall Democrats.
If Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) is your senator, call him at 716-826-2683 and thank him for the support he has for Marriage Equality becoming law!
Also, please remember to thank our pro-equality Assemblymembers who have championed Marriage Equality, such as Assemblymember Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) 716-885-9630 at and Assemblymember Mark Schroeder (D-Buffalo) at 716-826-0152.
Today also brought fantastic news for the GENDA legislation, as the bill passed the Assembly once again. Please, in your phone calls for Marriage, thank the Assembly for passing GENDA and urge the Senate to follow suit!
Photo: Bryan Ball, Artist of piece: Kitty Lambert
Come show your pride and celebrate Buffalo Pride this weekend with the Stonewall Democrats of WNY. We will be marching, with Outspoken for Equality, in the Pride Parade and Dyke March, and will be having our Pride Raising Rally for LGBTQ civil rights this Saturday. Join SDWNY as we rally on Saturday with our community, allies and pro-equality elected officials such as Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and Sen. Tim Kennedy for Marriage and GENDA in NYS—and join us again on Sunday as we march in the parade to show our pride!
Friday, June 3
· Madeline Davis GLBT Archives will have a show at the Karpeles Museum at Elmwood and North (not the one near D’Youville). The opening is Friday, June 3, 7-9 and SDWNY member Madeline will be in attendance. People can browse items from the museum collection as well. The show is being put on by the Museum Dept. at Buffalo State College.
Saturday, June 4
· Pride Raising Rally: At 2PM on Saturday, June 4, in Niagara Square in front of Buffalo City Hall and Sen. Mark Grisanti’s (R) Buffalo office, we will be showing our pride in our community by rallying for our civil rights. Join Stonewall and Outspoken for Equality as we rally with our community, allies and elected officials in support of Marriage Equality Gender Expression Non-Discrimination—and call on our State Legislature to pass Equality. Among our scheduled speakers, we will be joined by NYS Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and NYS Senator Tim Kennedy. We will be rallying to show all of WNY’s elected officials the tremendous support that exists in Buffalo and WNY for Marriage Equality and GENDA! You can also RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=153341324734082
- 10th Annual Dyke March - Come out and march in the Dyke March! Participants are asked to line up at 4 PM at Belmont Housing, located at 1195 Main St - by Main & Dodge. Step-off will be at 5 PM, and the march will travel down Summer Street and end at the Allen Street Festival, between Franklin and Pearl on Allen. For more information on this or the Festival, visit the Pride Center's website: http://www.pridecenterwny.org/site/
- Pride Raising Exhibit - El Museo Gallery (91 Allen St, Buffalo) is having a Pride Raising Exhibit to commemorate the first outdoor Pride Celebration in Buffalo and a long history of Pride and Politics in our city. We will have buttons, banners, miscellaneous memorabilia and the original proclamation for Buffalo's first outdoor Pride celebration in 1991, donated by Stonewall co-founder Carol Speser. The gallery will be open from 6 to 9 PM.
- Boy Toys - After the festival you can see one of our own, the handsome Randy Strokes, as he performs at Adonia's bar (Allen close to Main) at 10:30 PM. In fact, you won't want to miss any of these kings and queens. Come show some appreciation for LGBTQ performance artists from Buffalo and Rochester!
Sunday, June 5th
- Pride Parade! - We want you to march with us! Stonewall Democrats and Outspoken for Equality are marching together, and we will all be wearing Marriage Equality New York t-shirts in different colors to show off our rainbow. The parade is traveling from Lafayette and Elmwood down to Chippewa and Delaware, and line-up is at 11 AM. Step-off will be at 1 PM. If you would like to march, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your T-shirt size and meet us at Lafayette and Elmwood. We're not sure yet if we will have a float due to budget constraints, but if you would like to help with that you can contact Kitty at the email above. Every bit will help so that ALL of our members can march. Can't wait to see you all there!
Wednesday, June 15
· Femme Finale - Reading by Madeline Davis: Madeline will be reading from her newly completed Memoir, Femme Finale, at 7:30pm on Wed, June 15 at The Screening Room, 3131 Sheridan Drive . It is at the eastern end of the little mall behind Northtown Plaza and used to house the offices of the DMV.
Tuesday, June 21st
- Summer Solstice Celebration of Spirit in Honor of Gay Pride: The traditional solstice to celebrate Pride Month will be held at 7 PM at Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware Ave. It will be an affirming night centered on community and calling on clergy to preach love and end bullying from their pulpits. The Keynote Speaker is Buffalo Councilmember Darius Pridgen, and the event is hosted by Rainbow Spirit Rising. All, from all faiths, are welcome!
For Immediate Release: Saturday, March 5, 2011
WNY LGBTQ RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS THANK LADY GAGA FOR LOCAL MENTION DURING CONCERT
Stonewall Democrats of Western New York and Outspoken for Equality would like to thank Lady Gaga for the statement she made during her concert in Buffalo last night. From the stage, Lady Gaga mentioned the need for NYS Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) to come out in favor of supporting the civil marriage equality bill.
Also during the concert, the artist and outspoken activist took to her Twitter and Facebook accounts with the message to Sen. Grisanti, writing: “Buffalo, we need SEN. GRISANTI to help pass NY STATE MARRIAGE BILL email email@example.com #IWasBornThisWay”
Stonewall and Outspoken took part in the night’s events by stationing members outside and prior to the concert, collecting signatures for the Marriage Letter Project, a joint effort between the two organizations to gather letters addressed to state senators from NY constituents stressing the need for equality. “Our goal is to help our Senators understand how very important this issue is to all New Yorkers, not just the lesbian and gay ones,” said Kitty Lambert, president of Outspoken for Equality.
Outspoken and Stonewall members collected signatures from concert goers in the hours before the concert. “We were extremely excited and proud to be a part of the Lady Gaga atmosphere last night,” said Bryan Ball, president of the Stonewall Democrats of WNY. “Lady Gaga represents great individuality, self-empowerment and total equality. It was a fantastic experience to gather signatures from hundreds of people from all walks of life—LGBTQ people, their parents and families and straight supporters. We were absolutely thrilled that Lady Gaga used her power and influence to encourage Western New Yorkers to lobby our new Sen. Mark Gristanti on why it is crucial he support civil marriage equality in New York.”
Outspoken for Equality and the Stonewall Democrats of WNY deeply appreciate the attention Lady Gaga was able to bring to the need for marriage equality in New York State, by reaching out to her masses of fans at the concert, on Facebook and Twitter and beyond. We also thank the Human Rights Campaign, which has a history of working with the singer on issues of LGBTQ equality, with a special thanks to HRC’s local representatives, WNY field operatives James Bragg and Errin Doyle for all their contributions to the night and event.
The Stonewall Democrats of Western New York would like to thank Senator Antoine Thompson for his service to Erie and Niagara counties in the 60th Senate District. Senator Thompson has always been a steadfast, true progressive voice and a champion of equality for all New Yorkers. In all of Western New York, Antoine Thompson will go down in history as the only Senator in our region on the right side of history for his historic vote in favor of Marriage Equality last December, and his constant support of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. It was with the dedication and hard work of Senator Thompson that we achieved the tremendous victory for our children with the passing of the Dignity for All Students Act earlier this year. A great many elected officials in WNY and beyond—in both major parties—could learn a great deal from Senator Thompson’s commitment to standing up for that which is right.
It is with heavy hearts that we confront this loss of our pro-equality champion in the State Senate. The new Senator-elect in the 60th District ran a steadfastly anti-equality campaign, which promised to deny the constituents he will now serve their civil rights. The Stonewall Democrats of Western New York promise to hold the new Senator accountable for his actions, as we will the Senate’s new Republican leadership, should they continue the course of failing to serve all New Yorkers.
President, Stonewall Democrats of WNY