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National Organization for Marriage Launches NOH8 Campaign???

January 02, 2011 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People, Youth Issues

The National Organization for Marriage, (NOM), learned a new strategy in 2010: steal the phrases used by the movement pushing to legalize marriage for same sex couples. It started with “Hate is Not A Family Value.” More recently, they have been offended by the FCKH8 videos, whose purpose is to counter the rhetoric  put forward by groups like NOM.

If you’ve seen them, you’ll notice that, yes, the F word is used and in one particular video,  it is used by children.

NOM has decided to use this as their next marketing campaign. Their slogan? NOH8. Perhaps, in their infinite ignorance, they have never heard of the NOH8 campaign started by Adam Bouska, where people have NOH8 printed on their cheeks, wear duct tape, and are photographed.  I can’t wait for the copyright infringement battle to begin. Better, I can’t wait for NOM to wear duct tape over their mouths. Permanently.

Setting aside their continued lack of originality and twisting of every word, methinks NOM doth protest too much. If you read their blog you would think that the children in these videos are taught to use the F word in every sentence, their parents are awful, and a lawyer should be called to check into child abuse.

NOM has conveniently ignored the true message in this video. That would mean acknowledging the logic, courage, and compassion in the message of equality for all families. Yesterday I checked YouTube. The video has almost 2 million hits and the “Likes” outweigh the “Dislikes” 10 to 1.

NOM as an organization is doing everything in its power, and bank account, to appeal to fear and hate. When asked to back up their position that marriage is between one man and woman, all they have now is “it is special.” When interviewed publicly, they have been forced to retreat from religious arguments that God made it so, marriage is for procreation, or it has been this way for 5,000 years since none of those requirements are present in the law now for heterosexuals.

They have attempted to claim that they do not hate gay people, that this is only about the special institution of marriage. Yet in their blog and their Facebook group, Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman, they continue to promote a misinterpreted Biblical view that homosexuals choose their sexual orientation, they are sexual deviants, pedophiles, and are out to convert all of our children to homosexuality.

When has NOM stood up to protect any LGBT person? When the rash of suicides hit the mainstream media in September, they refused to support actions to stop bullying. If NOM were truly worried about what children are exposed to, they would pay attention to the statistics on bullying of youth and start a campaign to stop bullying and abusive behavior. Do they know that four out of five youth who are called homophobic slurs are actually straight?

Here are statistics on bullying for 2009 from GLSEN, The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. As a mother, I am far more concerned about the real harm that is being done to our children every single day in our schools and communities. It is far more traumatic than the use of the F word in a video. A video that comes with a warning label, by the way.

  • 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  • 63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.
  • 72.4% heard homophobic remarks, such as “faggot” or “dyke,” frequently or often at school.
  • Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • 29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8.0% and 6.7%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.
  • The reported grade point average of students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was almost half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed (2.7 vs. 3.1).
  • Increased levels of victimization were related to increased levels of depression and anxiety and decreased levels of self-esteem.

I read Brian Brown’s Christmas letter on the NOM blog. He even included a photograph of his family with all of his children. One gay person who commented on the blog, trying to be calm and engage in productive discourse, stated that he disagreed with NOM but wished Brian’s family a Merry Christmas and commented that his children are beautiful. They are.

And so are the children of so many same sex couples that I know. I wonder what Brian would tell one of his children about the value of marriage and family, how special and important it is if that child turns out to be gay. Will he want his  child to have the same rights and happiness as his other children? Perhaps Brian would understand if he had to explain his prejudice to one of his own children. Or will he turn on his child, the same way that NOM has tried to dehumanize and marginalize all people attracted to someone of the same gender?

Note: Tune in for the debate between Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry and Maggie Gallagher, NOM; brought to you by The Economist. Starts January 3rd online.

The Proper Role of Government is to Protect Equal Rights, not to Ensure Equality

August 06, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Commentary

Gay RepublicanThis isn’t part of my usual series on LGBT Lessons for Straight People. It’s my own personal commentary on the Iowa GOP Platform. A while back, Jay posted comments about the Texas GOP Platform. Well, I have news folks. The Republican party is pretty much the same everywhere.  And it’s not just “homosexuals” that they want erased. Don’t believe me? Check this out for yourself. I had to restrain myself from publishing the entire document. If you don’t want to keep reading, here’s the summary.

God and guns in our schools. English only. No Social Security. No Department of Energy, No USDA, No IRS, No Department of Education,  No government supported healthcare. Judges cannot interpret law.

But my favorite is ” The role of government is to protect equal rights, not to ensure equality. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

So. Here we go. I’ve trimmed this way back. But do not interpret that to mean I selected a few bad items and most of it was good. Actually, most of it is monotonously repetitive. I selected a range of items to demonstrate that the Republican party is a “My Way or The Highway” kind of group. And since you might give up before you reach the end, I’ll tell you the Gay Agenda.

Equal rights.

Declaration from “We the People” of Iowa

The Republicans of Iowa still believe that The United States of America is a special place, blessed by our Creator.


1.     In the eyes of God, all men are created equal. And they do mean just men. In fact, they mean white men. Keep reading. White, straight men.

3.     The family is sacred. The husband and wife are the ultimate authority, not the government.

4.     The core unit which determines the strength of any society is the family; therefore, the government should foster and protect its integrity. Unless you are gay.

5.     The government works for the people. “We the people” do not answer to them, they answer to us. This really says the people must answer to the Republican party.

8. The purpose of the law is to restrain evil. To prevent injustice from reigning. Justice exists only when injustice is absent. I like this sentence. Too bad their platform isn’t built on this.

10. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of a person’s God given rights. Life, Liberty, and the right to property (pursuit of happiness). Watch how they interpret the pursuit of happiness as the right to property.

16. The proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not to ensure equality. Um, I’m very confused. Equal rights are different than equality?

19. Our founding fathers were very clear in their writings that the United States of America was to be a Republic and not a Democracy (a government of the law and not of the masses).Unless you want to vote against gays getting married. Then it is a government of the masses. Keep reading.

1.11 We believe in “conscience clause” legislation so that no physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider can be penalized for refusing to prescribe, dispense, or participate in the procurement of abortion or anything contrary to the conscience of the healthcare provider. So my healthcare providers can deny me legal, FDA approved treatments? I thought the government worked for me, not the other way around. It’s my body, not my healthcare providers.
2.03 We believe laws and rules affecting agriculture must be based on sound proven science. But later we will see that sound proven science is not what they believe in.
2.20 We call for the abolition of the Federal Department of Agriculture, returning control to the state and local governments. Good luck the next time peanut butter is tainted with Salmonella or ground beef is tainted with E.coli and people are dying.
3.16 We call for the repeal of all mandatory minimum wage laws.
3.24 We call for the elimination of the Federal agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Eliminate safety. Great idea. British Petroleum is going to love this. So when people are dying from being poisoned or injured in their work place, what is your proposal GOP?

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

We believe parents, not the government, are responsible for and fully in charge of the education of their children
4.03 We support the State of Iowa continuing to allow freedom to home school, and continuing to support Home School Assistance Programs that already exist.

Why should MY tax dollars support an educational curriculum over which I have no influence? If parents want to home school, they can do it on their own dime.

4.06 We call on the General Assembly to provide for tuition vouchers or tax credits to permit parents a choice of schools (private, public, parochial, or home school) to educate their children without government intervention in the school curriculum.

So my tax dollars should go to parochial schools? But I can’t have proper sex education taught in public schools? GOP, your agenda has one direction only.

4.07 We believe money should follow the child in education, whether children attend public or private institutions. Therefore, we support tax deductions that are provided without religious discrimination to assist parents financially in educating their children using the option best suited to their family’s educational needs.

Tax dollars support public schools. Any other schools should raise funding on their own.

4.16 We support the elimination of the Iowa Department of Education and of the U.S. Department of Education.
4.18 We call for the removal of Kevin Jennings, now head of the United States Office of Safe Schools (Safe School Czar). America’s schools would be safer without him.
4.19 We oppose “No Child Left Behind”.

Wasn’t this a Republican idea? Granted, it’s been a failure. But I read this as “Yea, let’s leave some children behind.”

4.20 We believe Educators at all levels shall have comprehensive communication skills in American English, and that American English should be the official language used in the Iowa educational system.
4.26 We oppose teaching multicultural based curriculum.

This means that only white, Christian culture matters. And you better speak English too.

4.27 We believe that Intelligent Design theory, or Creationism, should be included with all science instruction along with the Darwinian theory. No theory should then be taught in public schools to the exclusion of the other.

The concept of creationism is not science. If they want to teach religion, why not teach about every faith, from Christianity to Islam to Hinduism to Native American faiths. Oh, and I’m rather fond of Druids.

4.29 We support displaying the Ten Commandments and the American flag along with the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in its entirety in Iowa Schools.

This absolutely offends me beyond belief. Displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools?  Freedom of religion for Republicans means freedom to express only one religion. The Puritans came here to escape religious persecution. (Then set up their own persecution of others of course, but you get the idea.)

4.30 We believe that Judeo-Christian values and Scripture should not be excluded from the public schools.

What about other religions? Or atheists?

4.31 We support the free speech right of students to write and speak about God and religion in public schools.

All religions? Can they speak about atheism? Wiccan? Scientology.

4.32 We believe that voluntary teacher or student led prayer shall not be restricted in public schools.The use of the Bible as a textbook should be allowed.

THE BIBLE AS A TEXTBOOK? FOR WHAT SUBJECT? Reading? Writing? Arithmetic?

4.36 We call for the repeal of the nationalization of the student-loan industry.

Good bye student loans. Good bye college. Yes, you are being left behind.

4.38 We believe the state should prohibit school based health clinics and external organizations from providing or recommending abortion or birth-control services or referrals, including the distribution of condoms.

Welcome more children born out of wedlock to teens.

4.39 We believe that sex education should not be taught as a mandatory course in public schools. Because the GOP doesn’t really believe in proven science. The teaching of sex education in any form, at any grade level to any student shall be with written parental consent only. When taught it should stress abstinence outside of marriage as the surest way to prevent pregnancy, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and associated psychological problems.

We’re back to sound proven science. Abstinence only programs do not work.

4.40 We oppose the teaching of homosexual behavior as a normal or acceptable lifestyle in our public schools.

It isn’t a lifestyle. And what this really says it “We support saying that homosexual behavior is abnormal and unacceptable.”

4.41 We believe that sexual orientation should not be allowed to be a basis for any school clubs, such as the Gay Straight Alliance, at any level of the public school system.

This is repulsive, discriminatory and re-enforces bigotry.

4.42 We oppose the “Bullying Law”. This is also disgusting. But now that I know that they feel this way, I will enjoy my freedom to bully Republicans.
5.04 We believe that claims of human caused global warming are based on fraudulent, inaccurate information and that legislation and policy based on this information is detrimental to the well being of the United States.

Is global warming real? I believe it is. But let’s say it isn’t. The things we are doing – driving less, reusing bags – those are detrimental?

5.12 We call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Energy.
6.01 We believe that traditional, two-parent (one male and one female), marriage based families are foundational to a stable, enduring and healthy civilization. Therefore, policy must always be pro-family in nature, encouraging marital and family commitment, and supportive of parental rights and responsibilities.

But not for LGBT people.

6.02 We call for the repeal of sexual orientation in the Iowa Civil Rights Code and we oppose any other legislation or executive order granting rights, privileges, or status for persons based on sexual orientation. Somehow I think straight people are not the ones getting the shaft here.
6.03 We support an amendment to both the U. S. and Iowa constitutions that states that all marriages should be traditional one natural male and one natural female, omitting transgendered.

Back to proven science. Transgender biology is the best understood and well documented. But let’s just erase them instead of acknowledging them as human.a

6.04 We support allowing the electorate to vote on the marriage amendment.Wait, what happened to we are a Republic, a government of law and not the masses?
6.06 We oppose the State of Iowa, its Courts, and its political subdivisions creating or recognizing a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.

This is aimed toward LGBT people, not straight people.

6.07 We favor improvement, strengthening, and simplification of adoption laws, and oppose adoption by homosexuals.

Despite many studies showing that gay people are just as good at parenting as straight people.

6.08 We believe no-fault divorce laws should be repealed.

Spread this one around. Get more votes for Democrats.

6.14 We support a parental rights amendment to the United States Constitution that parents have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

No, you don’t. You must speak English, you must be exposed to only Christianity in schools and you cannot learn about multi-culturalism or your own body and your own sexuality. Not in Iowa Schools.

7.02 We resolve that the Constitution of the United States is the authority for the basis of law in this country, as intended by our Founding Fathers not as a “living breathing document.”

Ah. Just like the Bible. Fixed in time yet able to foresee the entire future. Because the Founding Fathers could see forever into the future. Let’s roll back the clock, allow slavery and take away women’s right to vote.

7.26 We believe no group or individual should be accorded “minority” or protected class status, or given the existing statutory benefits that come with the designation. All American citizens should be treated equally as called for by the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Great. Give everyone equal rights. Including LGBT people.

7.27 We oppose unconstitutional “hate crime” laws.

No one complained about hate crime laws protecting people of faith. But protect gays? No way. Ok Republicans. Then give up all laws that protect any group of individuals. And how is it unconstitutional?

7.29 We support the public display of the Ten Commandments.

This is forcing one religion on all of us. We are a country based on freedom of religion. All religions, not one. Including the right not to believe in God.

7.30 We resolve that church representatives and pastors be allowed to speak on any subject from Scripture, whether moral or political, at any time without disturbing the 501c3 status of the church.

Churches should pay taxes. Why should they be exempt? What makes them special? I thought we weren’t going to let anyone be protected anymore?

7.31 We oppose further attempts to remove any mention of God from the Pledge of Allegiance, the Declaration of Independence, and other documents from our governmental buildings, monuments or currency.

Not everyone believes in God. Not everyone believes in the same God. Will you put up symbols for all beliefs? Will you put up an A for Atheists?

7.33 We oppose the appointment of “Czars”.

A new low. Opposing a title that doesn’t exist.

7.35 We believe that the judicial branch should not be allowed to interpret law to accommodate certain factions.

The judicial branch interprets laws. That is their job. This really means “we don’t want judges interpreting law when it goes in a direction that we don’t like.”

7.45 We insist that a candidate prove that he or she meets all requirements for that office prior to being placed in nomination, including proof of United States citizenship.

Birther crap.

7.54 We believe English should be the only official language for governmental purposes in Iowa and throughout the United States.

Yes. Because we can’t understand what you are saying otherwise.

7.59 We demand that the Iowa Legislature take action to impeach, and to remove from office, judges for legislating from the bench bypassing the Iowa Constitution.

Ever heard of case law?

8.02 We believe that health care is a privilege and not a right. Therefore we strongly oppose any mandatory national health care system including managed care.

Are roads, bridges, schools, parks privileges or rights?

8.17 We believe, with the eminent failure of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Republicans should take any and all necessary actions to abolish these programs, over time, and replace them with private solutions.

Please AARP – let your seniors in Iowa know about this one.

9.05 We support profiling to identify possible terrorists.

Can you define the profile of a terrorist for me? Someone from Wisconsin maybe?

10.11 We believe public university, college, and school buildings should not restrict possession of firearms by those legally possessing a concealed carry permit, as this endangers our children.

Yea. Let’s allow people to carry weapons into our schools. Great idea. As a parent, can I have my subsidy now to home school? Guns and God in school. The Republican motto.

10.15 We believe that the term “assault weapon” should not be used as a term applicable to a semiautomatic weapon.

They really want their guns. Big guns.

11.08 We support “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

78% of Americans disagree with you. Oh wait. This is one of those times when we DON’T rule by the masses.

11.20 We want the United States out of the United Nations and the United Nations out of the United States.

We are part of the world, not rulers of the world. Way to make friends and influence people, Republicans.

12.01 We support maintaining an environmental policy that protects the rights of humans before animals, insects, and other creatures. We deplore extremist scare tactics not based on scientific evidence.Except when it means denying global warming, the fact that abstinence doesn’t work, and gay people are born that way. “We want to choose the science that suits our agenda. It says so in the Bible, which is a text book you know. “
13.09 We support the abolition of the IRS.

I could go either way on this one. But, no taxes, no government programs, no roads, no schools, no Social Security, no Medicare, no Smithsonian, Nothing. Nada. Zero. In fact, how would we pay Congress or our military?

13.40 We strongly oppose government monies being given to private organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, AARP, ACORN, ACLU, and other citizen groups.

But they want the government to give money to faith based organizations and allow them to keep their tax free status. Even AARP is a threat. The GOP is afraid of people over 50. Wait. I’m over 50. GET OFF MY LAWN.

What’s next GOP? What rights will you take away next? What rules will you force on others?

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Ridicule and Oppression is not Tolerance.

July 29, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Headline, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons for Straight People - Why Equality MattersThe National Organization for Marriage, with its key speakers Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher and Louis J. Marinelli III, are touring the country.

Their rhetoric has changed and I am the first to admit that there must be a genius, albeit it one without morals, on their team. They tried, and succeeded, in taking away marriage from California and Maine by telling lies. Do we all remember the Gathering Storm video? Letting gays marry will mean that:

  • homosexuality will be taught in schools (wrong),
  • will force churches to marry them (wrong),
  • gays will make bad parents (wrong), and
  • since gays are pedophiles, we will condone that sort of thing (very wrong).

The arguments went on:

  • Gays cannot procreate. [Well, procreation is not a requirement for marriage.]
  • Homosexuality is a choice and is deviant behavior (wrong).
  • If we make gay marriage legal, where will it end? We’ll legalize pedophilia and bestiality.

What they are really saying is that they believe gay people are sick.

Pedophilia is abhorrent and is mostly committed by people that identify as heterosexuals. Just ask the Catholic Church, they are experts in this area.

What they fail to recognize is that being gay is not a mental illness, it is not a choice. Couples who want to marry are simply trying to make a commitment so strong that they are willing to commit to each other legally and financially. Marriage is what stabilizes families; all families.

Their Biblical arguments are a failure. Again and again, they ignore the points about other sins in the Bible. They cannot seem to remember that adultery made it to the Ten Commandments, not being gay. They cherry pick from Bible verses. Proven wrong at the Prop 8 trial, they have now resorted to two strategies.

The first is that there is something special about the union between a man and a woman. We can all see this right? Special. I don’t remember the word special anywhere in our Declaration of Independence or Constitution. I have not seen our country evolve to take away rights. We have always read more deeply into our founding documents to expand rights. Should we have stayed in 1776 when white male property owners were the only ones who could vote and slavery was legal? We have come a long way in over 200 years. But we are not done.

Their second strategy is playing the victim card. NOM is now the face of tolerance. They want civil dialogue. Those who disagree should be civil. Yes, if someone wanted to take away my rights, I’m sure I would just sit by politely and calmly and let them. [Sarcasm].

Everyone’s love is special. Tolerance? That is what they call denying rights now? Tolerance?

Do you want to know what NOM supporters really believe? Visit their Facebook page Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman. Here are some lovely screen shots of the discussions that occur there:

Judge for yourself, is this tolerance?

Protect Marriage: One Man One Woman

Protect Marriage: One Man One Woman

Protect Marriage: One Man One WomanNational Organization for the denial of Marriage to Loving Couples (a/k/a NOM)

National Organization for the denial of Marriage to Loving Couples (a/k/a NOM)
And if you still see “tolerance,” take a look at this video of Larry Adams, a NOM supporter and Rally attendee from Equality on Trial:

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: National Organization for Marriage

July 14, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons for Straight People - Why Equality MattersIf you haven’t heard of Maggie Gallagher, you aren’t gay. Maggie Gallagher was the face of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that has poured millions of dollars into a battle to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. Now, NOM is on tour this summer, the Summer for Marriage Tour. Today, July 14th,  is their first stop in Augusta, Maine. From sea to shining, um, cornfields. Yes. They won’t cross the Mississippi River.

Maggie’s argument is that same sex marriage will destroy the traditional marriage. Of course, there is no evidence for this. The Prop 8 trial proved that.  Maggie and Brian Brown are simply damaged people with a twisted way of trying to solve their own dysfunctional issues.

Maggie was a single mom. Now, I have a lot of sympathy for single parents. Parenting is hard work. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been for me if I had not had my husband.

Ironically, Maggie is the President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. I have absolutely no idea if this organization is legitimate or has anyone with any intelligence working there.

But let’s pretend for the sake of this post that they do. I’ll tell you why. On their website, you can find a report called “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and All Fifty States.” I have not read every word. But I’ve scanned it and cannot find one word about same-sex marriage.

Instead, this is what I found. Something that LGBT activists have been pointing out. Only this time, with numbers.

Let’s look at the highlights of this report.

These important changes in family structure stem from two fundamental changes in
U.S. residents’ behavior regarding marriage: increases in unmarried childbearing
and high rates of divorce.1 More than a third of all U.S. children are now born outside
of wedlock, including 25 percent of non-Hispanic white babies, 46 percent of
Hispanic babies, and 69 percent of African American babies.2 In 2004, almost 1.5
million babies were born to unmarried mothers.

Evidently it is important to point out the racial breakdown of these statistics.

78.5% of children living in single parent families live with their mother.

The Institute mined available public data for government costs associated with different types of households.

Here are a few examples:

Families receiving       Food Stamps                           Assistance                   Medicaid

Married                                        3.9%                            3.6%                            15.4%

Single Male Parent                   8.6%                            7.8%                            27.9%

Single Female Parent              26.%                            17.2%                          45.6%

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, in general, women earn less than men, and that often times both parents work in a two parent home. So is this really a surprise to anyone? Not to me.

The Institute went further and looked into other forms of government aid. These numbers are for single parent female households only. I do not know how they calculated the impact on the justice system, other than to state that kids in single parent homes are more likely to get into trouble. The actual number isn’t my point though. So, let’s just assume again that these numbers are real.

These numbers are in billions

Justice System                                                                                              $19.3

TANF – Cash Assistance                                                                            $5.1

Food Stamps                                                                                                  $9.6

Housing Assistance                                                                                     $7.3

Medicaid                                                                                                          $27.9

SCHIP                                                                                                                $2.8

ChildWelfare                                                                                                   $9.2

WIC                                                                                                                     $1.6

LIHEAP                                                                                                             $0.7

Head Start                                                                                                        $2.7

School Lunch and Breakfast Program                                                   $3.5

Additional U.S. Income Taxes Paid                                                        $6.1

Additional FICA Taxes Paid                                                                       $9.4

Additional State & Local Taxes Paid                                                       $6.8

Total U.S. Taxpayer Cost of Family Fragmentation        $112.0

That’s a nice tidy sum of $112 billion. You’ll notice that they call this family fragmentation. Here’s what I call it:

  • An opportunity to educate people about birth control. In school. When they are teenagers. Not abstinence.
  • Make the morning after pill available. Make condoms available.
  • Provide more opportunities for education for women and minorities.
  • Provide more job opportunities for single parents. Encourage employers to provide part-time jobs and child care subsidies.
  • Last, but not least, as a society we need to support couples when they are going through rough times. We all benefit from extended families, even when we argue about breast feeding versus bottles, spanking or not, church or not. Families have bonds, despite their differences.

Here’s what else I have to say.

What is the rate of unwanted children among gays and lesbians? I’m guessing fairly low if your sex partner is of the same gender. Kudos, you aren’t contributing to this government expenditure.

Maggie and her friends need to focus on heterosexuals. We are a huge problem. We cost the government billions of dollars. We behave irresponsibly and we expect our government to bail us out. Right Maggie?  We endanger our children when we cannot provide for their physical and emotional needs. We tear our children apart with our 50% divorce rate. We tear our spouses apart with our adultery or domestic violence.

Now let’s think about this. How will keeping couples of the same gender from marrying solve any of these problems? How does banning same sex marriage reduce this huge government expenditure?

NOM? What is your answer?

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Gay Hypocrisy

July 12, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons for Straight People - Why Equality MattersThe Today Show recently changed the rules of their wedding contest to allow same sex couples to enter. This change came about pretty quickly through civil discussions and reminders that same sex marriage is legal in several states. While it is not legal to get married in New York, New York will recognize a same sex marriage performed in a different state.

The Today Show had to know that this decision would create a firestorm from people who do not approve of same sex marriage. The comments on The Today Show Facebook page and The Today Show website went wild.

I like to follow reader comments. It’s hard to find something new. I still haven’t heard one logical argument against same sex marriage. In these discussions, there are plenty of Bible thumpers and those that insist homosexuality is a choice and a lifestyle. And there are always the pro-equality folks with something to say. Inevitably, someone will use words like bigots or haters.

Their newest response is:

Gays are all about tolerance and acceptance except when it comes to people who don’t agree with them.

Gay hypocrisy. What an interesting claim. You want gay people to accept your desire to keep them from having rights? I think you are missing the point. Returning tolerance and acceptance would be gay people accepting that you are straight, accepting that you deserve the same legal rights as LGBT people.

No one who supports marriage equality is ever going to buy your arguments. Did you follow the trial in California on Proposition 8? My bet is that you didn’t. The right wing groups did a remarkable job of preventing it from being televised. They also were a miserable failure, with all witnesses dropping out of the case except for one, who ended up saying that legalizing same-sex marriage would probably benefit society. The transcripts are online.

There are no arguments that hold water. The Bible was written by people hundreds of years ago. Your belief that it is the word of God does not make it so. Your cherry picking is obvious. You can’t disguise your bigotry behind religion. There is no proof that gay people are pedophiles or desire to recruit your children. It isn’t a lifestyle. It isn’t a choice.

There is no proof that legalizing same sex marriage will open the door to polygamy or marrying sheep. The implication, of course, is that gay sex is deviant. Otherwise, why don’t we have legal heterosexual polygamy and legal heterosexual marriages to animals? Why will this happen only if we legalize same sex marriage? Ah. It’s about sex.

I have to say, my respect for Mike Huckabee went up. For years he hid behind religion to argue why he is against gay rights. He finally came out and said that he finds gay sex icky. Kudos Mike, for having the courage to be honest. Now get over it. No one is asking you to engage in gay sex, which by the way is legal. They are asking for equal rights. 1138 rights given to married couples under Federal Law. Equality, as guaranteed under the 14th amendment.

Now try this. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals are just like you and me. They want the same things. The list could not be more normal or more boring. The right to a legal commitment to their relationships: to provide for each other and protect their families; to go to work; to be treated fairly and with respect; to serve in our military; to become ministers. It’s so boring it sounds conservative.

Acceptance and tolerance. You aren’t giving it – yet you expect it in return? Be careful who you demean and degrade. It could be someone you love. Open your mind. Open your heart. You do know someone gay. I assure you that you do. Stretch beyond your assumptions. Take the challenge to get to know a gay person Today.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

You Have the Right to be Fired

June 27, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Discrimination, Featured

The Equality SummerYou have the right to be fired. You have the right to remain silent. You do not have the right to an attorney. Anything you say will not help you and will most certainly be used against you. Unless you are straight. You have the right to be straight and cisgender.

You don’t know what I am talking about? Read on.

HELP WANTED: I am recruiting you to end straight, cisgender privilege. I am a very well employed, with all rights granted by the US government, married, straight, cisgender, white collar, white woman. And I need you. That’s right. I have everything. And I need you. In fact, it’s not just me. It’s we. Who are we? Keep reading.

Did you know that you have the right to be fired just for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? In 38 states you can be fired for your gender identity or gender expression. In 29 states you can be fired for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.  Let’s put that in a different perspective. In 12 states out of 50, you are protected if you are transgender. Twelve. That’s a little more than 20% of states. In 21 states out of 50, you are protected if you are LGB. Twenty one.

You can give up this right. You can fight. You have the right to relentlessly advocate for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. You remember ENDA, don’t you? That legislation that has had various forms for at least 16 years, probably more? But isn’t ENDA dead? It is if we let it die. A small group of activists started talking. We know that if ENDA does not pass in this term, and if Democrats lose seats in the Senate or even the House, then ENDA will die. Again. We decided to do something about it. Who are we? Keep reading.

We are pushing ENDA this summer. How will we do this? We will not march on Washington D.C. Washington D.C. will come to us. We need one to five people from every state to visit their Senators. We need one to five people from every Congressional District to visit their representatives. Every summer, Senators and Representatives are back home. We are going to make appointments. to visit with them or their staffers. We are going to publish the schedule. And when I say we, that includes you.

We are asking YOU to volunteer to visit your Senator or Congressperson. If you choose to volunteer,  we will train you on what to say and do. We are asking every group out there that supports ENDA to speak up. We invite all LGBT groups. We invite straight allies. We invite people who have never spoken up, never made a phone call. We do not care if you are Gay, Inc, GetEqual, GLAAD, a blogger, NEM, Equality Across America, PFLAG,  or just an individual. We are not enemies with each other, no matter what our differences.

As a straight woman, a straight ally, I am going to tell you this. There is a wide range of thinking about strategies in the LGBT activist community. The strategies range from not rocking the boat to rocking the world. Working inside the system, disrupting the system. These discussions are all valid. You know why? Because none of us has the magic answer to what will create change. So we try different approaches. The sad part is that we argue about them, sometimes in non-constructive ways.

But I know one thing. If you do nothing, nothing will happen. I know that it cannot hurt to go directly to our representatives, face to face. I know that it cannot hurt to call them, email them, fax them. How do we know this? Because we have seen it work for other groups, including our enemies.

We do have a top priority list. Senators who are on the fence. Why? Because we know the House will pass ENDA. It has 202 sponsors. The problem is the Senate. And until the Senate votes are there, the bill will stay in committee.

In order to break this cycle of insanity (and it is insanity), we must intervene.

We must get the votes from the Senators. We will be publishing our strategy soon. I can hear you now. You have called your representative. You have emailed, written letters, sent faxes. You have attended protests. You think marriage equality is more important. You think DADT is more important. Here is news for you. DOMA and DADT can fall. But their fall does not ensure protection from being fired.

Who are we? We range from Washington insiders to radicals who believe in direct actions. We range from straight to gay to lesbian to  transgender. (Wanted: Bisexual to join our team.)  We range from atheists to ministers. We range from college students to ready-to-be grandparents. We are a small group of people. We have no name. We have no money. We are not asking you to stop using other strategies. We are not asking you to be assimilated or pledge allegiance. We believe in the power of voices. All voices.

I cannot guarantee success. We have no magic wand. We are not delusional. We understand the system. We understand the need. And we understand that some Senators are afraid. But we are not afraid. We may fail. But if we do not try, failure is guaranteed. It’s that simple.

What do I, as a straight, cisgender woman, gain from this? Nothing for myself. Everything for the world.  I cannot be fired for being straight. So I do not want to hear that you are protected in your state, that your employer has protections or that you feel it cannot happen to you. I do not want to hear that you do not have time for a phone call or an email. Because this is a community. If one is not equal, none are equal.

I want you to volunteer. One simple mission. Tell our representatives we need ENDA. It’s time. It’s long overdue.

Your right to be fired will remain guaranteed. Unless we pass ENDA. So where do you sign up? Reply here – or go to the Facebook group ENDA Summer 2010 for more information.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

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LGBT Lessons for Straight People: What Do You Tell A Seven Year Old About Homosexuality?

June 14, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Headline, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Representative Ike Skelton from Missouri is against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (“DADT”), which bans service in the military by openly gay people, because he doesn’t want to open a national dialogue about homosexuality. Specifically, he doesn’t want to have to force families to explain homosexuality to their children. Setting aside the absurdity that repealing DADT will come up at the dinner table with our children, let’s talk about the real issue here. Homo-ignorance.

Was there ever a moment in the LGBT movement more perfect than this for Geekgirl to speak out?

Mr. Skelton sounds like he is, what I call, homo-ignorant. Let’s be honest here and take off the politics. A lot of straight people don’t know what to say to their children about gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender individuals. Heck, many of them don’t know what to say about straight relationships.

We’ll talk about what to say. But first a little story. When I was in 5th grade I watched two boys fighting and one of them said the word fuck. I didn’t know what it meant. Being the straight A student that I was, I turned to my dictionary. No word. So I asked my mother. She slapped me across the face and sent me to my room without an answer. I remember sitting there thinking, “hmm, whatever this word means, it must be good because it has power.”  My parents never told me about sex. Imagine my horror when my best friend told me that sperm go into your stomach through your belly button and that is how you get pregnant. She never did say where the sperm came from.

The point of that little story is that parents don’t know what to do when they feel uncomfortable. Having grown up to be a biologist, I was determined not to make that mistake with my own children. When my son was born, I read a lot about how and when to explain sex and sexuality to a child. I wanted my son to grow up healthy – both physically and psychologically when it came to sex. I remember when our son was four years old. He knew that my friend Sandra liked girls. She didn’t have a partner at the time, but I had already explained this to him. I remember he said to me, “So, it’s ok if girls love other girls?”

I said, “Of course, love is important.”

His answer came in the form of a four year old experiencing relief, “That’s good. Because I love Sandra and I want her to be happy.” I’m proud to say that Sandra and Kim have been part of our family’s life to this day. They adore our son and he adores them.

Explaining gays and lesbians to a 7 year old can be this simple. Some people are born attracted to the same sex. Two girls can feel the same love for each other that a girl and a boy can. The same is true for two boys. Love is love. Children instinctively understand love and family. It makes them feel safe.

People have a tendency to make sexual orientation about sex acts. But do we ever explain straight couples this way to our children? “Well, Johnny, meet your Aunt Sue and Uncle Bob from California. You haven’t met them before. They are married. And when they have sex, Uncle Bob puts his penis inside Auntie Sue’s vagina. Oh Bob, do you also have oral sex?” Of course we don’t explain it that way. That’s absurd.

So, am I saying don’t explain how gay people have sex?  Children do need to know about the physical acts of sex. Part of that conversation must include preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, how sex and sexuality affect us psychologically. Children need to know about “bad touches,” respecting and being respected.

But if you never talk about gay sex, it’s fine. That isn’t what they need to learn from you. They need to learn that all humans, all couples, experience love. They need to learn that commitment and respect are very important in all relationships. Our children are not born with prejudice or discomfort. It is learned.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.  More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

I am dangerous for believing in LGBT Equality.

March 18, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Thursday, March 18th,  three LGBT activists were arrested. Lt. Dan Choi, Captain Jim Pietrangelo and Robin McGehee. It made more news than the 200,000 LGBT equality supporters made when they marched on Washington D.C. last October.

This is only the beginning. I will not wait any longer for my friends to have the equality and protection that they deserve.

I am not willing to wait for a world where LGBT children can grow up in a society where all of us know that they are normal. Where being LGBT is as different as being a redhead or left-handed.

I’m imagining a day where LGBT activists go into every legislative building in this country.

This is not a call for violence. This is a call for demanding equality. Citizens have the right to peaceful assembly to protest the actions of their government. We did that last October. Very little changed.

Some have called this a juvenile act that will set back the LGBT movement. A circus. A stunt.

Do we remember Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Lech Walesa, Mahatma Gandhi as juveniles?

If refusing to move off the White House lawn, Capitol Hill, an elected official’s office, a government building in order to stand up for what is right, results in me being arrested, I will wear that as a badge of honor. I will have accomplished something with my life. I will make my family proud of me. I will have harmed no one. I will be living my values, not just writing words on the Internet.

I’m straight. I’m a child of the sixties. Civil disobedience is in my blood. I’m going to be wearing comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes, have my cell phone, some cash and a jacket just in case. My civil disobedience survival pack is ready to go.

I would like to see the embarrassment on a politician’s face when an older, average looking, slightly overweight, mom-type gets hauled off by the police. Because I am so dangerous for believing in LGBT equality.

Now. Who do I visit?

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: The Quota System for the Right to Marry

January 14, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Like many others, I have been following reports from the courtroom of Judge Walker. I’ve really appreciated the highly detailed reporting at Empty Wheel from Fire Dog Lake.

I could not help but be both bewildered and intrigued by the line of questioning regarding the percentage of straight relationships and gay relationships that are stable, the percentage of couples that want to be monogamous and how long these relationships last. Even more odd, the defense attorney wanted to compare relationships in domestic partnerships compared to marriage. So, the anti-gay marriage crowd wants proof that gay people want to be married, will stay married and will stay monogamous. That’s going to be tricky IF YOU DON’T LET THEM GET MARRIED.

Sorry. I had to get that point about the twisted logic out of my system.

Are we going to apply this same standard to heterosexual couples? Are we now going to legislate whether or not to grant marriage based on how long people stay married? Because if we are, a 50% divorce rate is a failing grade in any class I ever took.

Are we now going to legislate whether or not to grant marriage based on the number of people that want to get married? “Sorry gays, we need for 99% of you to want to get married, stay married and promise to be monogamous, or we won’t give you the right to marry.” Will we have this same quota system for straight couples?

Monogamy? The line of questioning contains a section about a study that shows that not all gay men want to be monogamous. First, the studies are very old. Second, the gay men mentioned having open relationships.  Hmm, so the gay men who answered this study, twenty years ago, were being honest with their partners? We straight people have a better method. It’s called cheating. In other words, adultery. You know, that act that right wing conservatives always seem to be caught in. Mark Sanford? Hiram Monserrate, State Senator of New York? Can someone please tell me the last time somebody went to jail for adultery? Are there even laws against it anymore? Oh yes. Biblical law, right there in the Big Ten Commandments. Yet, that one seems to be ignored by groups like National Organization for Marriage, a well known anti-gay marriage group.

Straight people decide if they want to get married. If you are above the age required in your state and meet the requirement for however biologically unrelated you need to be (i.e. not first cousins), you can get married. No one asks if you intend to be monogamous. No one asks how long you plan to stay married. No one asks why you want to get married. There’s no training, no test. It’s a whole lot easier than adopting a dog from a shelter. Just fill out the paperwork, wait a few days, get married. No church required.

None of  these standards have ever been applied to heterosexual marriage. A 50 percent divorce rate could be an excellent argument for getting rid of marriage all together. Yet, somehow, I think straight people would be up in arms if anyone suggested this.

If only one gay couple wants to marry, that is enough for me. If that couple wants an open relationship with others, that is their business and theirs alone. If one cheats, that is their business and theirs alone.

If their relationship doesn’t last, how is that the government’s business? Britney Spears was married for less than three days. If the government can process a marriage and a divorce in three days, why is it taking 40 years to give same sex couples the right to marry?

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

ARE YOU SPEAKING? Information on How to Speak Out.

December 07, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

congressLady Gaga asked President Obama at the National Equality March “ARE YOU LISTENING?”

I ask you. “ARE YOU SPEAKING?”

Today the Examiner reported that Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jared Polis (D-CO)

….said the House is set to pass bills to provide health coverage for the same-sex partners of gay federal workers and to protect all gay and transgender employees from job discrimination. They said they expect a domestic partner benefits bill to come up for a vote by the end of the year and the employment bill to reach the floor early in 2010.

Baldwin and Polis said they are also confident that the House will include a provision in the military spending bill to repeal the Clinton-era “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, which prohibits LGBT people  from serving in the U.S. military.

Both Baldwin and Polis go on to say that President Obama strongly supports all three of these bills. They make the point that Congress must be persuaded and that it is our job to lobby Congress, not just the President. While there is debate about what President Obama could or could not do regarding DADT, one fact remains certain.  We have more work to do. Whether we want to do it or not.

The LGBT community donated a lot of money to Obama; many campaigned for Obama. We’ve had this mentality that we voted for him, he won, now it will just happen. It didn’t happen. Now people are mad and I understand why. I’ve read statements that we shouldn’t have to fight for equality. It’s true, we shouldn’t, but the reality is that “Plan A” has not been working so well. We can’t continue to just talk to ourselves. We can’t continue to be outraged only when a law is defeated or repealed. We can’t sit back, thinking that our donations to activist groups will take care of this for us.

We must be proactive.

Stop for just one minute and really think about this: a candidate campaigns on many issues, people vote. When that candidate wins, does she or he know what issues matter the most to which people? You might say, “They should know by polls.”  While that sounds logical, a poll does not tell your legislator how strongly you feel about an issue. It is naive to assume that votes and money alone are what persuades the way a representative will vote.

We just watched the New York Senate vote against same sex marriage. If you haven’t read the story of why Sen. Joseph Addabbo voted no, then you need to. As reported Rod on rod 2.0 beta

“I felt that I would get a clear indication of where my district stands on this issue,” said Addabbo, who said that he received more than 400 communications from constituents, 74% of whom opposed marriage equality.

Whether or not Addabbo is using this statistic to justify his vote or as a smokescreen, is unknown. But it led me to research the idea of how to persuade Legislators. In the fight for equality for LGBT people, we must convince legislators to pass laws.

So what do we do?

We must lobby Congress and we must do it now. The best time to lobby is when new legislation is being considered.  We must continue the purpose of the National Equality March. October 11th was the start of a long term commitment to equality, not a one day event. We must start a grass roots campaign of phone calls, emails, letters to the editors. We must encourage very blogger, every LGBT group, every straight ally to raise their voice. We must fund people to set up meetings with their Congresspersons. Face to face, in their offices.

I’ve looked at websites of organizations that lobby Congress and pulled together suggestions. They made sense to me. Perhaps they will make sense to you. If you have other suggestions, please leave a comment. Do Senators and Congresspersons listen to their constituents? You bet they do. But they are bombarded with communications. Be brief, specific and knowledgeable. Tell them what action you want them to take. The best time to communicate with them is when legislation is about to be presented or is on the floor.

From OpenLeft.Com

There are significantly more phone calls from conservatives than from progressives on virtually every issue. Oh wait–it isn’t difficult to fathom why constituent phone calls play a role in congressional decision making. Conservative media outlets and advocacy groups completely dominate progressives when it comes to mobilizing on phone calls. The examples of the public option and cap and trade are just two examples, but across all issue areas conservative domination on constituent phone calls is a general rule.

What can we draw from this statement? Learn tactics that work. We have all seen poll numbers on issues where the American public will have an overwhelming majority opinion on a topic, yet Congress votes the other way. Why? Because if you aren’t speaking, they will assume the issue is not important to you.

How to contact your legislators.

USA.gov can point you to your Senators and Congressperson, and how to contact them.

How to find impending legislation

The Thomas Legislative System

Does your vote matter to that legislator?

It is usually best to send letters to the representative from your local Congressional District or the senators from your state. Your vote helps elect them — or not — and that fact alone carries a lot of weight. It also helps personalize your letter. Sending the same “cookie-cutter” message to every member of Congress may grab attention but rarely much consideration.

Telephone Calls

Be specific, brief  and courteous.  If you are comfortable giving out personal information, that will add to the legitimacy of your call. If you are contacting your representative, be sure to let them know that you live in their district or state. The same logic applies to a telephone call as with a letter; check out the suggestions under writing a letter.

If a real person answers the phone, and they do, ask them to please WRITE DOWN your message. Ask for their name. Follow up your telephone call with an email, thanking “Mary Jones” for taking the time to write down your message.

Hello. My name is Jane Smith and I live in Topeka, Kansas. I am calling to ask you to support H.R. 3017 Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In this economy, no one should have to worry about being fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Please encourage Chairman Miller to bring this to the Senate floor quickly.

Writing a letter or an email? Keep it Simple

A personal letter shows you are sincerely interested. Use your own words, not a cookie-cutter letter. Email is also effective, but again write the email in your own words. Your letter should address a single topic or issue. Since all mail is screened due to security reasons, some legislators actively encourage email as a way of reaching them.

Typed, one-page letters are best. Write on personal letterhead (if you have it) and be sure to sign your name if the letter is typed. Put your return address on your letter. Envelopes get thrown away.

Many Political Action Committees recommend a three-paragraph letter structured like this:

  1. Say why you are writing and who you are. Be sure to let them know if you are in their district. Provide your name and address so they will take you seriously. If you want a response, you must include your name and address, even when using email. List your “credentials.”  Do you belong to an activist organization? Are you a physician, lawyer, clergy, parent, human resource director, teacher? Use your occupation or activism to lend credibility to your position.
  2. Provide more detail. Be factual not emotional. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others. If a certain bill is involved, cite the correct title and number whenever possible.
  3. Close by requesting the action you want taken: a vote for or against a bill, or change in general policy.

The best letters are courteous, to the point, and include specific supporting examples.

Addressing Members of Congress

To Your Senator:

The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

To Your Representative:

The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative:

To Conclude

Here are some key things you should always and never do in writing to your elected representatives.

  1. Be courteous and respectful without “gushing.”
  2. Clearly and simply state the purpose of your letter. If it’s about a certain bill, identify it correctly. If you need help in finding the number of a bill, use the Thomas Legislative Information System.
  3. Say who you are. Anonymous letters go nowhere. Even in email, include your correct name, address, phone number and email address. If you don’t include at least your name and address, you will not get a response.
  4. State any professional credentials or personal experience you may have, especially those pertaining to the subject of your letter.
  5. Keep your letter short — one page is best.
  6. Use specific examples or evidence to support your position.
  7. State what it is you want done or recommend a course of action.
  8. Thank the member for taking the time to read your letter.


  1. Use vulgarity, profanity, or threats. The first two are just plain rude and the third one can get you a visit from the Secret Service. Simply stated, don’t let your passion get in the way of making your point,
  2. Fail to include your name and address, even in email letters.
  3. Demand a response.


Petitions are not as effective, especially cookie cutter petitions. At least that is what I have read. I don’t know that they hurt. I think the message here is that when you take the time to contact your legislator directly, they know you really mean it. It is your voice and you feel strongly about an issue. Think about what persuades you more.

For your legislators to represent you, you have to tell them what you want and what will make you vote for them.  The squeaky wheel can get the grease.

Last, but not least – some current legislation before Congress relevant to the LGBT Community

H.R. 3017 Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

H.R. 1283 Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

H.R. 2132 Family Medical Leave Act, amend to include same sex couples and other family members.

H.R. 3001 Ending LGBT Health Disparities Bill, including eliminating the taxation of medical benefits.

H.R. 2517 (also S.1102) Benefits for Domestic Partners of Federal Employees.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.