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Rights for Familyblendz

Gay New Jersey couples seek marriage rights

Saturday, October 3, 2009

FamilyBlendz Training in Florida

On October 3rd, the ACLU of Florida, along with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Family Equality Council, and SAVE Dade, hosted a free training event at the Miami-Dade GLBT Expo that will provide participants with the skills to take a stand against Florida's ban on gay adoption and support litigation challenging Florida's ban by changing the hearts and minds of your friends, neighbors, and communities.

Training participants will learn how to prepare and deliver short talks on gay adoption to local groups they are members of (PTA, etc.), have one-on-one conversations with non-LGBT people, conduct media interviews, and utilize other skills to educate the public and change people's hearts and minds on this critical issue.

There will be separate, age appropriate trainings for adults (ages 18 and up) and teens/tweens (ages 9 to 17). Family Equality Council will provide programming designed for children 2 to 8, which will be offered during the adult and teen/tween trainings. The children's programming focuses on celebrating LGBT and all loving families through arts & crafts, games, stories, and more!

Familyblendz has always believed that training was essential to transitioning minors. They are a delicate balance and therefore require a soft delicate introduction into a familyblend with a same-sex couple. Training is not so much for the couple, but definitely a necessity for the children in the "family-to-be".

Having been born and raised in Miami-Dade County until I moved away for a stint in the U.S. Navy, I applaud Miami in such a big way for opening the door to familyblendz by empowering them through this form of training. Love it, Love it, Love it.

What's The Real Reason; Reid?

Well, Well, Well! So it comes out now that former president Clinton's "Don't Ask-Don't Tell" military policy for gay members of the United States military was both flawed and inconsiderate; never mind just being down-right incorrect judgement and poor government policy.

Well, today, Harry Reid, Senator from Nevada and currently serving as U.S. Senate Majority Leader said in a letter he wrote to both President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates, "At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country?"

This begs to question-What is the real reason "Don't Ask..." is coming under fire now? If I allowed myself to be skeptical for a minute, I would surmise that they are afraid of falling short of military personnel in our hot spots around the world. With Iran rearing its head, Pakistan functioning like a sobering junkie, and the balance of power still up for grabs following the recent Afghan election...digging out "Don't Ask..." maybe just the card to play.

Reid could also just be playing "Mr. Opportunistic" for a policy ultimately passed by the last Democratic president. Let's be honest, that's truly not what Bill Cllinton wanted to pass, but being in the first year of his presidency at the time, he had bigger eggs to fry and he couldn't afford to use all his political capital on a minor voting block, at that time.

With Equality back on the table and yet another, rather historical democratic president on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Capital Rotunda is poised to eat from the same plate yet again. As if the brewing Healthcare debate was not enough, President Obama is likely to do his part to assist Senator Reid by shuffling the deck, doling out a new hand and playing without the poker face.

Bill Clinton will finally get his victory, the GLBT Community will finally get its victory for equality on the front lines and the Dems will rally its voting base with one swoop of Obama's pen.

Regardless of the agenda, to reserve current troop numbers by removing "Don't Ask..." is the wrong choice. Do it because its the right thing to do Mr. Reid. Why haven't we looked at this before, Mr. Reid. How many careers have been lost, how many lives have been turned upside down and how many former servicemen live with that blemmish on their service records because of this invalid form of governmental policy?

Let's not stumble into righteousness Mr. Reid. Let's walk into justification, fairness and equality PROUDLY!

3 States Look To Reverse Equality

Voters in three states will decide this fall on whether to reverse gay rights initiatives ranging from anti-discrimination measures to marriage benefits.

Maine - Voters will decide whether or not to uphold the state's legalization of same-sex marriage.

Washington state - A so-called "everything but marriage" law that expands the state's current domestic partnership law will be on the ballot.

Kalamazoo, Michigan - Voters will decide on an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals.

Washington state, along with California, Oregon, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, have laws that either recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships that afford same-sex couples similar rights to marriage. While Maine and Washington state will get most of the focus in November's election, a gay rights ordinance in the southwestern Michigan city of Kalamazoo is getting national attention from groups on both sides as well.

The city's ordinance, which outlaws employment, housing and public-accommodation discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification, took effect July 9 but was suspended once opponents turned in enough signed petitions to force a public vote.

Equality is truly under attack folks. As soon as you think progress is being made across the country...and it truly is, we begin to somehow back-tread over the steps we've just taken. Keep your eyes on these states as I will. But don't just stop there by looking, act on it. Just as Arizona recently reversed on its provision of state benefits to familyblendz (gay families), these 3 states are attempting to back-tread as well.

No one said this would be easy, but lets get this party started!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Will Gay Divorce Be As Equal As We Want Marriage To Be?

Okay now here is where I want us to educate ourselves on the whole same sex marriage thingy. It's like fighting for the right to vote, then having to force, pay and coherce the same man to now go and actually vote.

A Texas judge cleared the way for two Dallas men to get a divorce, ruling Thursday that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law.Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he’d appeal the ruling, which he labeled an attempt to strike down the ban approved by voters in 2005.

"The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman," Abbott said in a written statement. "Today’s ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition - despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 percent of Texas voters."Abbott has argued that because the state doesn’t recognize gay marriage, its courts can’t dissolve one through divorce.

District Judge Tena Callahan’s ruled Thursday, however, that the court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction."Jennifer Pizer, marriage project director for the New York-based gay rights group Lambda Legal, said it is too early to predict the ultimate implications of the lawsuit, in which neither man is identified.But Cathy Adams, president of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum, characterized the decision as a judicial overreach."

Judicial activism is what they’re after, and it sounds as if they found someone in Dallas to participate in their endeavor," she said. "The people of Texas have spoken very strongly in opposition to same-sex marriage."Peter Schulte, an attorney for the man who filed for divorce, told The Dallas Morning News that he and his client are "ecstatic" over the court’s ruling.

Schulte said the decision was a surprise, and that he hoped to have the judge sign a divorce order in a few weeks.Gov. Rick Perry said state lawmakers and voters have repeatedly affirmed marriage as being between a man and a woman."I believe the ruling is flawed and should be appealed," Perry said.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said she also supports Abbott’s decision to appeal. Hutchison, who is challenging Perry in the GOP gubernatorial primary, said she has "consistently voted to preserve the sanctity of marriage and as governor I will continue to defend traditional marriage."

A phone message left by The Associated Press at court offices for Callahan was not immediately returned late Thursday. Callahan’s ruling was first reported in The Dallas Morning News.Pizer predicted an eventual end to bans on gay marriage in Texas and across the country."Most people do recognize that, eventually, American law will treat gays and lesbians the same as every other American," she said. "What we don’t know is how may chapters that story will be."

Your support of Prop 8 and Marriage Equality means nothing if we are only preparing for wonderful happily ever afters. Unfortunately that won't be the case, and with that Marriage Equality comes a different kind of Equal-ness at the time a marriage is dissolved. Lets make sure that we fight for the rules to change, so that those rules will not "include us", that we also don't work to change the rules to exclude us from the parts we don't like...that's not real equality.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Just A Concept?

Family was once denoted as a concept to anthropologist who believed familial relations were only bound by blood. Later to be understood as a framework for those who shared a common desire and an adopted bond with co-residence. The 'blood' bond, has now been ceded to a metaphorically imposed tone instead.

Today, we as familyblendz, are accomplishing the same goals literally as any other family. Once known and viewed as a source of procreation, families are known today to provide so much more. These terms were best defined well before what we call 'familyblendz' were as common as they are today.

So what do we do? Do we not bring definition to a common reality? Do my children's life lessons no longer matter because their parents don't look similar to what we view as traditional? Elle and I completely disagree. Our kids run, jump, and play; they enjoy their friends, their family time as well as their educational accomplishments as well. We have been extremely excited that our eldest daughter has been on Honor Roll for the last year and is currently on track to remain educationally lifted. We no longer defend our family values, but yet, we now only to define our values. As a family, we have decided to move from PRIDE to PROUD.

The religious left and conservative right, listen, folks that's all politics. No longer will we look on from the sidelines and hope for the best. There is an assault on our family and as parents, we will continue to speak out on behalf of the lively-hood of our kids just as any parent would. We were saddened to find that Arizona recently removed health care benefits from those whom they had just given them too. Thats politics. So we are pushing further than the political approach in order to get to substance.

We say it all the time, Elle and I don't want an ounce more than what is leveled. A leveled playing field and equality in the representation of our family. As I type this morning, our eldest is preparing for school and she interrupted me to ask, "daddy, so is someone going to pick me up from cheerleading practice today?" "Of course", I said. That's no concept friends.

Our special needs little boy is no concept and our three year old little girl is so proud she's finally mastered the! From a distance, sure, this appears to be an experiment of sorts, but only if there could be cameras or flies on the wall in this It's funny. It's a long road, but we will see you at the other end of the rainbow! Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

German chancellor Angela Merkel, who was reelected on Sunday, is expected to name out politician Guido Westerwelle as vice chancellor and foreign minister in her new administration, reports The New York Times. Let's get this right; a gay "Vice President"? Well, way to go Germany!

Westerwelle, 47, is the leader of the pro-business Free Democrats, which captured 14.6% of the vote on Sunday, posting the most significant gain of any political party. Merkel met with Westerwelle on Monday allegedly to negotiate the formation of a new center-right government that would partner the Free Democrats with Merkel’s Christian Democrats.Westerwelle has been out about his sexual orientation since 2004, when he took his partner, Michael Mronz, to Merkel’s 50th birthday celebration.

Mronz, an event manager, met Westerwelle in 2003, according to the German newspaper Bild.Westerwelle believes that Germany is becoming more accepting of gays and lesbians and hopes that the younger generation recognizes the progress. "I can only tell all young gays and lesbians to not be disheartened if not everything goes their way," Westerwelle told the Berlin gay magazine Siegessaeule.

"This society is changing for the good in the direction of tolerance and respect ... though slower than I would wish."Merkel expects the negotiations to move quickly and wants the new government formed by November 9, the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Arizona gives benefits & then TAKES THEM AWAY

In just weeks, hundreds of adult disabled children and domestic partners of Arizona state employees will lose health insurance coverage and other benefits as part of a budget bill passed over the summer. The new provision overrides a referendum that was voted down by Arizonians in the 2006 general election. Dude, this shit is wrong!

In August the state's legislature, which is dominated by social conservatives, passed a provision containing a more narrow definition of dependents for the purposes of determining benefit eligibility for state employees. The provision, which passed the legislature over the summer as part of a budget bill, specifies that benefits will be granted only to "a spouse, a child under the age of 19, or a child under the age of 23 who is a full-time student."

This new definition overturns an administrative order by former Governor Janet Napolitano (D) that allowed state employees who could prove at least a year-long "financial interdependence" to add dependent beneficiaries regardless of gender or age. For the record, former Governor Janet, is now in the Obama Administration. Anyone who falls outside of the new, more narrow definition, including adult-disabled children, full-time students between the ages of 23 and 25, opposite-sex domestic partners, and same-sex domestic partners, will become ineligible for dependent benefits. Don't want anyone to just run over that statement.

The new definition was hotly debated by the House Appropriations Committee in June and in August when it was redrafted and passed. There was even procedural wrangling over grandfathering benefits for those already on the rolls, but minority Democrats were outmaneuvered by majority Republicans. So they weren't even willing to let those who had benefits to keep them. Wrong as hell!

During a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Rep. John Kavanaugh (R) said if someone is still in school at the age of 23, he or she should get their own health insurance. Kavanagh told me Monday morning that adult disabled children should also not be on their parents' health insurance, saying, "Once they are adults, they need to buy their own policy. If they can't afford it, they can get Medicaid." When asked what they should do if they don't qualify for Medicaid and have pre-existing conditions that private insurance will not cover, Kavanagh responded, "I agree that needs to be reformed."

In 2006, Arizona voters became the first in the nation to vote against a ban on gay marriage. The referendum also would have blocked the state government from providing benefits for domestic partners of state employees. Donna Taylor, who stands to lose the benefits she receives through her partner of 26 years, says, "This went to the voters. They are overriding what the voters said."

"I think it's fair to say that there are many of my Republican colleagues at the Capitol who believe that domestic partner benefits support 'gay lifestyles' even though the facts are very clear that the majority of domestic partners who receive benefits around the state are straight and not gay," said state Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D). You see, in Arizona, the domestic partner law included both straight and gay couples.

Christina Vassett, who says she and her boyfriend choose an unmarried lifestyle because it is meaningful to them, asks "What would happen if the state said to married couples, we're not going to give your spouses health insurance? Are we just going to pick one sin?" adding, "It's even worse for same-sex couples because they can't get benefits unless they are married, but they don't have the choice to get married."

Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed the bill on September 4. Just days later, Brewer said in a speech that she often prays with her staffers about difficult issues like these, "And we stop, and we take that time, and we pray about it," explaining, "I firmly believe that God has placed me in this powerful position of Arizona's governor to help guide our state through the difficulty that we are currently facing."

Senate President Bob Burns (R) says the change in definition of "dependent" is important because the state is running a significant deficit. So, lets get this right, you're only taking the benefits away because you don't have any more money? These children will go back to Medicaid...and what form of currency are you using to pay for that?

According to the Department of Administration, the cost of providing health insurance to domestic partners ($3 million) is less than one half of one percent of the total cost ($625 million) of providing health insurance. Equality Arizona spokesperson Barbara says, "They have publicly couched this as part of the budget-saving measures. Of course it's not about the economics. It is absolutely targeting same-sex couples and cohabitating heterosexual couples."

When Napolitano gave domestic partners benefits, her Director of Administration Bill Bell said the state, especially universities, would save money because they would attract and retain better employees. But Senate Majority Whip Pamela Gorman (R) disputes that claim, "I haven't heard from any of those people saying they only work for Arizona for that reason."

Donna Taylor has been with her partner for more than a quarter of a century but will lose her insurance because she will no longer fit the definition. She has degenerative Rheumatoid arthritis and other related health problems. She takes 7 prescription medications; one costs $350. She says she will be able to get health insurance through one of her two jobs, but there will be a gap between policies for a couple of months, and she will not be able to afford her medications during that period.

"It is purposeful discrimination. It is unequal pay for equal work," says Sharon Keeler whose partner of 17 years will also lose benefits, "They purposely chose to take benefits away from people who work the same jobs as others because they are making a moral judgment."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gay and Seeking a Job?

Two years ago, Matthew Logan went to the Out to Work job fair for gay men and lesbians, and he met representatives for AXA Equitable. Last year, he went to the fair and decided to work for the company. On Thursday, he was back to recruit.

The Out to Work job fair was originally started as a diversity outreach project to showcase workplaces that are friendly to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees. This year, it has become an economic lifeline for thousands who are out of work. More than 2,000 people preregistered for Thursday’s job fair, which took place at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village. Last year, 300 did, though about 1,500 ultimately showed up.

This year, about 2,500 people attended the job fair. Laid-off M.B.A.’s, recent college grads and entrepreneurs waited in lines that stretched down the block in both directions. A flurry of suits, BlackBerries and résumés converged in a lavender room under disco balls.

Despite the tough economic times, the job fair had the same number of employers recruiting as last year: about 50. They represented a range of enterprises, private and public, big and small: HBO, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Pfizer. While finance and Fortune Companies were there in force, the entertainment companies — such as HBO and A&E — had notably much longer lines than the others.

The organizers looked to the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which evaluates workplaces for gay-friendly policies, like domestic partner benefits and affinity groups for to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees.

“We started with the companies that got good marks on the report card,” said Tony Juliano, the president of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, a sponsored of the fair. Some companies are known to be more friendly than others.

Those who attended the fair emphasized that it was not just about finding a job, but finding a job where they did not have to have second thoughts about putting a personal photo on their desk, bringing a same-sex companion to a corporate social event, or obtaining health insurance for their domestic partners.

Mr. Juliano, who is gay, recalled that 30 years ago, he would have a female friend come to company events when he worked at AT&T. “She was my beard,” he said. (AT&T is now a progressive company, he added.)

Mr. Logan, 42, came out to colleagues 12 years ago and was met with some surprise. “Some friends say I’m the straightest gay person they’ve ever met,” he said. “I’m a boring M.B.A. finance guy” who likes sports. (He even invests in a gay sports bar called Gym.) But he had become tired of having co-workers ask “what her name was” when he mentioned he went to a movie with someone. Finally he would just say, “Her name was Bill.”

“I’m not bashful to talk about who I wake up with in the morning,” he said. “It was career limiting,” Mr. Logan said. “They didn’t discriminate against me, but they didn’t feel comfortable inviting me to dinner.” Without the dinners and the golf outings, a person is not in line for the next promotion, he noted.

“You can’t be part of the old boys’ club,” he said. In contrast, AXA Equitable has marketing materials aimed at gay and lesbian clients. He picked up one brochure. It explained that gay men and lesbians could create trusts so as to leave inheritances for partners. “I wouldn’t have joined if they weren’t progressive,” he said.

Conservative Lutheran Church "thinks it over"?

Conservative members of the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination voted Saturday to spend the next 12 months deciding whether to split from the church after it liberalized its stance on gay clergy.About 1,200 people meeting in suburban Indianapolis approved a constitution for the conservative umbrella group Lutheran CORE and a resolution directing its steering committee to report back in a year on whether to stay within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, form their own denomination or join another.

Some members urged the assembly to more quickly sever ties with the 4.7-million member ELCA after the vote last month to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, dropping a requirement that gay clergy remain celibate."Some congregations already have voted to leave ELCA," CORE’s chairman, the Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pa., said at a news conference afterward. "Others have not voted or do not intend to leave ELCA."Spring and other CORE leaders said their decision a year from now could lead to a reconfiguration of Lutheranism in the United States and Canada.CORE’s meeting this year drew much more interest than the one in 2008, when about 300 people attended.

For this year’s meeting. CORE had to move to a Roman Catholic church that could hold about 1,000 people, and the group cut off registrations at 1,200.Participants said they believe the ELCA has reinterpreted Scripture to portray homosexuality more favorably.

"It’s totally against what’s in the Bible," said Jo Pruett, who said attendance at her ELCA congregation in Rockdale, Texas, has fallen off in recent years because of "waffling" by the denomination. "We’re interpreting the Bible to suit society today."The 71-year-old Spring, a pastor for 44 years, received a standing ovation Friday night when he said the ELCA "has fallen into heresy."

On Saturday, he said the ovation was bittersweet."That’s a very sad thing, to be a church that you belong to your entire life, that now really has fallen in heresy. This has been a great personal struggle," Spring said.Rob Myallis, 30, of Jonestown, Pa., who was ordained a year ago, said ELCA members must square a gospel of acceptance, giving a warm welcome to everyone no matter what their flaws, with a gospel of repentance, where believers confess their sins."God loves you enough to want you to change," Myallis said. "Is our own personal experience more important than Scripture?"

ELCA representatives at the meeting said the charged rhetoric reflected deep pain in the denomination."We are in solidarity with everyone in that room on the central doctrines of the Christian church," said Stephen Bouman, the ELCA’s director for outreach and mission. "We want to listen to them. We want to tend to their pain."ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson on Wednesday warned that withholding financial support to protest the gay clergy vote, as CORE leaders have called for, would be devastating to the church.

The loss of financial support weighed on the Rev. Teka Fogi, a native Ethiopian who leads Oromo Christian Fellowship in Kensington, Md. He fears a decrease in giving to ELCA will result in less support for African congregations such as his own. However, he said the denomination had rejected biblical authority when it came to homosexuality."The church has gone astray. We cannot condone this kind of apostasy," Fogi said.

Go check more of story @ (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)