Update: No on Prop. 8 and The LGBT Community Call to Action

Last week, I issued an LGBT Community Call to Action in efforts to help strike down Proposition in 8 in California, which would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state if passed on November 4th, 2008.

The LGBT Community Call to Action encourages all members of the LGBT community and those who support them to “get out and about” in their community every weekend until Election Day, if possible to a McDonalds and preferably wearing No on 8 gear. The idea behind this Call to Action is to encourage voters to interact with those in the LGBT community directly in an effort to “Personalize Prop 8 across the State”, hoping that voters will think about how their vote affects us on a personal level. Kathryn Kendell, executive director of San Francisco’s National Center for Lesbian Rights, says that gays, lesbians and their straight allies need to educate their friends and neighbors about the importance of voting. “There are heterosexuals out there who might love their gay next-door neighbors, but not bat an eye at voting for Prop 8″, said Kendell. “You have to engage them in the harm” she said, adding that if the issue isn’t personalized, “it’s easy for them to think the harm doesn’t exist.” By participating in this Call to Action, we are giving voters a chance to see members of the LGBT community out and about participating in daily life, and show that we are the same as everybody else – human beings who deserve equal rights. McDonald’s is a business that is present in many communities, and serves as a common ground for voters from every community to be seen out and about over the weekend.

McDonald’s is also a member of the NGLCC and this is what they had to say when I emailed them about The LGBT Community Call to Action:

“Hello Julie:

Thank you for contacting McDonald’s. We appreciate this opportunity to share information regarding our commitment to our employees as well as the communities that we serve.

First, it’s important to note that McDonald’s respects and values people. Diversity and inclusion are business imperatives and integral components of McDonald’s culture. We believe that by embracing our differences we are better enabled to value and respect other people as well as understand differing points of view.

We have a long and proud history of leadership in these areas. We continually strive to maintain an environment in which everyone feels valued and accepted. We encourage employees to recognize and appreciate the contributions that all diverse groups and individuals bring to the McDonald’s system.

Thank you for sharing your personal point of view on this topic with us.

McDonald’s Customer Response Center”

I also sent The LGBT Community Call to Action to all of the major TV and radio stations in California, newspapers from the top of the state to the bottom, all of the major activism organizations and gay and lesbian centers in the state (including the ones on a college campus and a few of their radio stations), and as many blog owners, podcasters, and LGBT online business owners as I could find emails for, plus all of my personal LGBT friends and supporters. I sent out over 600 emails! I posted Call to Action on many gay and lesbian social networking websites and message boards online such as GLEE, Our Chart, Olivia, Curve Magazine Online and After Ellen; I submitted Call to Action to social news sites such as Mixx, Propeller, and Yahoo! Buzz; and I even submitted to the homophobic news site Digg for more visibility. I also issued my first ever press release! I am not a professional but I am very proud of myself for all of the hard work. You can read the press release I submitted here, and you will see that The LGBT Community Call to Action generated coverage from others on social news sites like Topix, QueensSpeech, Top Out News, Buzz Tracker, and Congoo. I also gained support from organizations, bloggers, and LGBT business owners around CA, the US, and the rest of the world who passed along the message to their network of people!

Here is a list of the endorsers and supporters of The LGBT Community Call to Action efforts:

About Lesbian Life
Ask Gay Dr Bill
Bi The Way UK
Breast Cancer Wall of Courage
Card Carrying Lesbian
ComeTogether Gift Baskets
Curve Magazine on MySpace
Discovering Pride
Emanuel Xavier
Fiesty Charlie
Gay Link News
Gay Persons of Color
Grow By Love
Queers United
Rainbow Wedding Network
So Cal GSA on MySpace
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
The Outskirts
Unapologetically Female
and Wicked Gay Blog

Since I issued The Community Call to Action I have been keeping my eye on the Prop 8 news and am happy to report that like me, many are coming out to show support for the ‘No on 8’ side by starting their own initiatives and efforts.

A Freedom to Marry march was held last weekend in NY and CA where supporters marched for Marriage Equality over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Straight supporters of the LGBT community are currently holding events around the nation, called Seven Straight Nights ‘08. The events are endorsed by Judy Shepard, the mother of Mathew Shepard who was murdered in 1998 because he was gay; and are promoted by the group Atticus Circle. One sign held at the Seven Straight Nights event in Austin, Texas quoted civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. who said “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Many contributions have also come through to the ‘No on 8’ campaign recently as well such as a $100K donation by actor/activist Brad Pitt and $250K from PG&E. Republican Mary Cheney also made a donation and Joan Rivers is performing on October 12th in San Diego and donating a portion of the proceeds to ‘No on 8’.

Lesbian activist couple Robin Tyler and Diane Olson have created an ad campaign, which features gay and straight celebrities speaking out against the proposition, telling others to “Stop the Hate and Vote No on 8”.

The couple is encouraging the media to feature the ads at no cost, which can be found on YouTube on The Equality Campaign Channel.

Here is one of the videos featured on the channel:

Celebrities featured in the ads include legendary organizer Dolores Huerta who commented on Prop 8 saying:

“When I speak to Latino audiences in particular, I always refer to our great president of Mexico, Benito Juárez. He had a saying: Respecting other people’s rights is peace — as individuals and in nations. And when I repeat that phrase, people understand.” She goes on to say “every single family has someone gay or lesbian or bisexual in their family. Everybody does. I can say that about my own family.”

Many well known politicians and other organizations are speaking out against Prop 8 as well, and you can find the entire list of endorsements to the No on 8 Campaign here.

Recent polls show that support for the California gay marriage ban is slipping with a majority of 55 percent of voters against Proposition 8, but we still need more help to “Personalize Prop 8 Across the State” and strike the measure down.

I am only one person and can only do so much. I was only able to email those with a public email address, and the No on 8 campaign volunteers are working endlessly to spread the word and secure the No on 8 vote. We still need YOUR HELP, no matter where you are in the world this is a cause that affects us all!

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom says :

“I don’t think its hyperbole to say that this is the second most important election in the United States of America. Let’s not look back and say we could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. We know this is going to be close. I’ve got polls, they’ve got polls that are very good, and I’ve got some polls that have this right on the bubble. So as far as I’m concerned, this thing is a dead heat. So we are going to have to work harder and absolutely are going to have to work smarter than our opponents. If we succeed, we will not only change history in California, we will change the tone and tenor of this debate across not only America but the rest of the world. People are counting on us. This is a big deal. This is a BIG deal. We have done so much, we have come so far. We have changed the way people feel and the way people view members of the LGBT community, but we have not finished the job.”

There are fewer and fewer days left until Election Day and those that are for Prop 8 are pulling out all the stops to get the measure passed, such as going door to door and hanging ‘Yes on 8’ door signs.

According to Lorri L. Jean, Chief Executive Officer of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, ‘Yes on 8’ supporters also bought time to begin running “misleading and discriminatory” TV ads a full week before mail-in ballots are sent to voters.

Jean says that:

“Analysis of undecided voters tells us that they may well make up their minds based on the first TV ads they see. We cannot afford to let them get on the air first, especially when the race is so close! That means we need to raise millions more to purchase an additional week of time. And, the longer we wait, the more expensive it gets to buy that time. So, we need money and we need it fast so we can get the biggest bang for our bucks.”

If you are financially able to give to help fund more TV time for No on 8, then go to the campaign website right now and make the largest donation you can afford! (**Enter referral code 536 to help track donations resulting from The LGBT Community Call to Action.) The No on Prop 8 campaign has created a Community Finance Council, which gives each and every one of us the opportunity to personally fundraise for the cause. You could create your own fundraising page, host a home party, and more.

There are many ways to get involved, and if you can’t afford to donate to No on 8, that’s okay too – you can help with your time!

Anyone around the world can do their part to help the cause online by re-posting The LGBT Community Call to Action on their blog, sending the message to their friends, or visiting the post on your favorite social networking websites below and making a comment:

Proud Parenting
After Ellen
43 things
And MiGente

Or you can vote on the The LGBT Community Call to Action on the following social news sites:

Yahoo! Buzz
Top Out News
Buzz Tracker
and Congoo

If you are in California and are looking for a way to get involved in the efforts in your local community, you can volunteer to participate in activities that are going on in your neighborhood.

Your presence is a big help especially if you are in the Orange County or San Diego areas which boasts the biggest contributors to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. You can find opportunities to get involved in your neighborhood at the No on 8 Events Page. If you can’t volunteer for going door to door or waving signs at an event, you can also help with the Phone Banks in an effort to reach out to voters. Aside from television advertising, a phone call from a committed volunteer is one of the best ways to persuade undecided voters.

Even if you are not able to donate or volunteer, you can still help our efforts if you live in California by making it a point to get out and about in your community every weekend until Election Day.

There are many events planned which help raise awareness of the need to Vote No on 8, and your presence at these events or simply out and about in your community can do wonders for the cause, especially if you are a member of the LGBT community. Hopefully you can sport some of the No on 8 gear for sale at the No on Prop 8 website here. (You should also know that twenty-five percent of each sale goes towards the TV ad campaigns!) Find your local No on Prop 8 events here, or you could participate in the Seven Straight Nights event if you are looking for something to do this weekend. On September 25th Rialto Cinemas in Elmwood is showing the movie about the attempt to ban gay marriage in California called ‘Pursuit of Equality’, and October 12th is the Joan Rivers event in San Diego which benefits the No on Prop 8 efforts. There are also pride festivals over the weekend in Stanislaus on September 27th, in Oceanside on October 11th, and in Palm Springs November 1st. Plus, one person who left me a comment reminded me that there are Gay Days at Disneyland in Anaheim which are from October 3rd to October 5th. Feel free to leave a comment on this post with info about other opportunities to get out and about over the upcoming weekends and thru Election Day!

Hopefully we can change the opinions of those who are for eliminating the rights of same sex couples, such as was the case with San Diego Mayor Sanders.

A year ago today, Sanders officially announced that he would sign a resolution to direct the city attorney to file a brief in support of gay marriage. Sanders initially did not support gay marriage, but did support civil unions and domestic partnerships. After Sanders took some time to ‘reflect and search his soul for the right thing to do’ he announced in an emotional statement that:

“I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community that they were less important, less worthy, or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else simply because of their sexual orientation.” He goes on to say that “the concept of a ‘separate but equal’ institution is not something that I can support.” He ends his announcement by saying “In the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana.”

About the Author: Julie Phineas is a work at home mom of 2 who lives in Southern California. You can find out more about her and view her photos by visiting her page on MySpace.

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