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Tag: New York

“This land was made for you and me”: More on the Albany NOM rally and counter-protest

(Danny Segura, Courage’s Outreach Coordinator, shares a reflection piece below on what happened in Albany, New York, on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Providence, Rhode Island, rally and counter-protest is happening right now. More to come… — Eden)

By Danny Segura

Yesterday, the LGBT activist community provided yet another example of a creative and customized response to the NOM tour.

Every stop so far has been creative, of course — from Augusta, Maine to Manchester, New Hampshire, to yesterday in Albany, New York. LGBT activists in Maine opted not to be in the same space, but inhabit their own positive and healthy space (a strong response). LGBT activists in New Hampshire shared the same space with the NOM rally but stayed back (a strong response as well). And yesterday LGBT activists in New York held a positive alternative marriage picnic and then surrounded, literally, the NOM demonstration with a quiet canopy of rainbow umbrellas held up by stoic and strong second-class LGBT demonstrators (scroll down for pictures).

The Albany event was powerful. It was a brave response amid uncomfortable circumstances for both sides. As indicated by the pictures, the LGBT demonstrators were just a couple of feet from the NOM speaker podium. This LGBT response fueled the debate, as Brian Brown called the LGBT protesters “inspiring” as their reaction was only uniting the NOM side more. Brown then used words of love in his response at the counter-protest, telling NOM’s supporters that they should “stand up in love. Be kind. Be loving. This is not going to change what we do. If anything it will make our work stronger.”

Of course, it is safe to say that NOM’s rally also united the LGBT community in New York. The tour inspired eighteen groups to support and carry out the counter-protest. When I asked the demonstration’s lead organizer, Alicia Ortiz of Albany Queer Rising, what the message to NOM was, she replied, “We want to let NOM know that the LGBT community stands together: we stand for marriage, we stand for love….It is about the quality of a family. Not the structure of the family.”

As if Ortiz and the Albany activists did not inspire enough today, their picnic also served as a fundraiser where food, raffle tickets and rainbow cake, were sold as a benefit for In Our Own Voices, an LGBT organization fighting for the health and well-being of LGBTQ people of color. The money collected from the event is being donated to the Rising Star Scholarship, a scholarship for a LGBTQ young adult of color pursuing a college education which was awarded later on in the evening, just hours after the NOM rally at In Our Own Voices’ ‘Jazz in July’ benefit.

The alternative marriage reception was purposely held in the stunning and symbolic Empire State Plaza. A passionate Ortiz, standing with her supportive partner Kiki, pointed out to me the significance of that area. We were in front of capital building and the legislative office buildings, where last December, the New York senate denied New Yorkers that were seeking same-sex marriage the right to marry. Ortiz then optimistically pointed out — with a genuine sense of hope — that the New York State Senate did pass, last month, the “Dignity for All Students Act’ to protect bullied, harassed, and discriminated youth in schools (more often than not LGBT youth).

After the reception the demonstrators opened their rainbow umbrellas and walked to the park next to the Capital building where the NOM rally occurred. Here, they stood in quiet protest for most of the NOM rally.

From the podium, NOM yet again continued their narrative of being a persecuted minority group and linked their effort to the ideals of freedom exemplified by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, with one speaker saying that “we must rise up and proclaim the truth of human dignity and equality.”

Though the LGBT activists did not vocally disturb the rally as soon as the rally ended they chanted as they marched off “Martin Luther King supported equality for all.” The chant was soon drowned out by NOM playing Woody Guthrie’s classic ‘This Land is Your Land’ loudly over NOM’s sound system.

And, as we all know, the last line of Guthrie’s soulful plea for equality is: “This land was made for you and me.”

UPDATE: In the comments, Jay posted this video of the “This Land is Your Land” moment Danny described above:

Pictures from yesterday’s post on the Albany event are below, for those who haven’t seen them:

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59 Comments July 18, 2010

“Do you see my love, NOM?” A beautiful Gathering Storm rains on NOM’s parade in New York

By Eden James

Wow. You’ve got to hand it to the equality movement.

Our collective response to the NOM Tour just keeps getting better and better with each tour stop.

First, the Equality Maine and GLAD organizers of the Maine counter-rally to NOM actually attracted more people to their event than NOM’s kickoff event on Wednesday (102 to 76 by our hand-count). Then the New Hampshire counter-rally organizers held a brilliant “silent witness” event across the street from the Manchester event on Thursday.

And now the amazing Albany organizers, led by several wonderful organizations, have taken counter-protesting to a whole new level, surrounding the NOM event with one of the most brilliant actions I have ever seen.

Check out the gathering storm of rainbow umbrellas held aloft by equality movement activists silenting protesting NOM while asking a simple question adorned to their t-shirt:

“Do you see my love?”

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NOM Executive Director Brian Brown (above) doesn’t look too happy, does he?

How could he? It’s fair to say that Albany turned into yet another NOM FAIL, due to the beauty of creative counter-protest and the paltry NOM attendance (Danny hand-counted 57 attendees).

Courage staffers Danny and Robert will be writing up their reports later, but for now, take note of this Albany protest. One thing is for sure — local organizers at subsequent counter-protests are going to have a hard time topping this poignant and powerful action. Can’t wait to see what they can do.

Again, here are the amazing organizations that made this counter-protest possible today (from a press release):

Marriage Equality New York
In Our Own Voices
Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Council
Albany Queer Rising
HomoRadio on WRPI 91.5fm
Empire State Pride Agenda
Freedom to Marry
Courage Campaign
Social Responsibilities Council of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood
Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club (ERDC)
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) Capital Region Chapter
Albany Law School Civil Liberties Union
Choices Counseling & Consulting/The Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity & Sexuality
GAES Magazine: Gay Arts, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The Women’s Building
Christians Responding with Equality, Diversity and Openness (CREDO) of the Capital District
National Organization for Women (NOW) Albany Area Chapter
Capital District Area Labor Federation

276 Comments July 17, 2010

New York Fights Back for Equality

By Julia Rosen

After 38 New York Senators voted down the marriage bill last year, it became clear that marriage equality wouldn’t become a reality unless things changed in Albany.

A new group launched yesterday called Fight Back New York, which is focused on creating the political landscape needed to bring marriage equality to New York. There are a number of great organizers behind this effort, including several friends of mine. Fight Back New York got its initial seed money from major LGBT political donor Tim Gill, but this project is designed to build a larger movement and base of support for independent expenditures in opposition to those who voted against equality.

Gay and lesbian New Yorkers have waited too long already for full equality. Committed activists have worked diligently for years to educate the public and our elected officials about the need for marriage equality. Last year a group of New York State Senators voted against marriage equality, neglecting the will of their constituents. Now a great group of progressives are fighting back.

To find out more and join the fight go to: http://fightbackpac.com/fight.

Their first target is former Senatore Hiram Monseratte, who is quite a piece of work:

Fight Back New York’s first campaign is aimed at defeating expelled State Senator Hiram Monserrate. Sen. Monserrate is currently running in a special election (scheduled for March 16) to regain his seat. Sen. Monserrate was expelled from the state senate in February following his conviction for misdemeanor assault of a female companion.

Following the March 16th special election, Fight Back New York will engage in a strategic examination of the political landscape and—together with allies and partners—determine where to channel its significant energies and resources in the rest of the 2010 New York election cycle.

It’s not long until that special election, but it will be interesting to see what Fight Back New York is able to accomplish in that window and how they build upon that to catapult into the rest of the election year.

126 Comments February 27, 2010