Dear Stonewall Democrat,
As our year draws to a close with the signing of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010,” by President Obama, which will effectively end our military’s discriminatory prohibition of gays and lesbians serving openly, the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York reflect on a year filled with many historic and hard fought victories on the path to equality. With your continued support, we look forward to continuing our work together in the year ahead.
After the New York State Senate’s 2009 defeat of the Marriage Equality bill, our Stonewall Democrats began 2010 with the goal of attaining the equality from our government that had previously been denied to us. This spring, SDWNY worked with the City of Buffalo’s Common Council to pass domestic partnership legislation. After years of lobbying the Buffalo law-making body, SDWNY members testified in front of the council and personally lobbied our lawmakers on the importance of domestic partner legislation. The result was a victory directly attributed to each and every one of you who worked this issue. Because of you, the City of Buffalo has established a city domestic partner registry, and passed legislation which extends domestic partner benefits to all city employees in same-gender domestic partnerships.
This year also saw the long-over due passage of the Dignity for All Students Act. This bill was made a reality by the hard work and dedication of our Stonewall members, and by our representatives Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and Senator Antoine Thompson. Because of this act’s passage, all our New York children will be justly protected from bullying in schools.
In 2010, SDWNY also participated in Marriage Equality New York’s Lobby Day, when again we directly lobbied our state legislators on the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community. Always, we have been there to educate our legislators. This election cycle brought us the chance to show at the voting booth the power of our pink votes, and what it means to support or not support our families. WNY sent a strong message with the election of Senator Tim Kennedy, our new representative in the 58th Senate District, who will be a pro-equality vote for GENDA and Marriage where we before had a no vote. Equality saw additional Stonewall victories in the past elections with the reelection of Assemblymember Hoyt, one of the LGBTQ community’s fiercest advocates in Albany, the election of our Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and all three of our endorsed New York State Supreme Court Candidates: Judges Eugene Fahey, Hank Nowak and Catherine Nugent-Panepinto.
However, with our great victories came unfortunate defeats. We thank, from the bottom of our hearts, our pro-equality, progressive champion Senator Antoine Thompson for his great service to Western New York. SDWNY promises to hold the new Senator accountable for his actions, as we will the Senate’s new Republican leadership.
The last year also brought incredible opportunities for SDWNY. This summer, we were honored to have our Stonewall Democrats chapter represented at two national conferences in Washington, D.C. We traveled to the Democratic National Committee’s Day of Pride and the National Stonewall Democrats conference, and met with activists, representatives from other nation-wide Stonewall chapters, and Congressional and White House staffers on issues of bettering our individual chapters, and working with our Congress to pass our legislative priorities. At the Erie County Democratic Committee’s reorganizational meeting this fall, I personally had the opportunity to address about 1,500 Erie County Democratic Committee members on the work of SDWNY, our pro-equality issues, legislation and candidates. This election saw our community increase our representation on the Erie County Democratic Committee, which is a hugely important way to work and advocate for our pro-equality legislators and candidates.
As we begin 2011, I look forward to continuing our great and productive work together as Stonewall Democrats. Our organization as we stand now could not be the force we are without the involvement, activism and support of each and every one of our members. I am proud that our membership has increased in terms of numbers and activism this past year, and anticipate our organization to only grow stronger as we work to achieve the goals of the civil rights movement: Gender Expression Non-Discrimination and Marriage Equality in New York State, and Employment Non-Discrimination and the Uniting American Families Act at the federal level. Without you, the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York would not be what we are. I thank you for your support and involvement, and look forward to working together in the year to come.
Stonewall Democrats of Western New York
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