ThePowerOnline.org Launches Online LGBT Civil Rights Movement
New York, N.Y. (PRWEB) June 30, 2009
As President Obama prepared to host a cocktail reception at the White House for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) leaders on Monday, June 29, prominent activists and fundraisers returned to the Stonewall Inn on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots to launch ThePowerOnline.org’s nationwide petition drive and online campaign to expand the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include LGBT Americans.
To launch the effort, Jeffrey H. Campagna, founder of The Power, presented U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, with signed petitions gathered during Pride month from all 50 states and 36 countries demanding expansion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As he presented the signatures to Nadler, Campagna requested that the Congressman put his colleagues on notice that this was just the beginning, and that The Power would eventually present signatures to all 435 members of the House after what Campagna states will be a “massive” signature gathering campaign.
The Power ( http://www.ThePowerOnline.org ), an online organization that empowers grassroots and netroots activists across the globe to fight for equal rights for LGBT people, is spearheading the petition. The petition has been endorsed by a number of prominent leaders, organizations, and elected officials, including the National Black Justice Coalition, Mel White, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, major DNC fundraiser David Mixner, 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Mandy Carter, The Washington Blade, The New York Blade, HX, Pam’s House Blend, Edge, The Saint at Large, Fire Island Pines, Tommy Boy Entertainment, Star69 Records, ChrisRyanNYC.com, Vance Garrett Productions, Steele Luxury Travel, and others (see http://www.ThePowerOnline.org ] for a complete list).
“On the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, the movement is mature enough to finally achieve what it asked for in the early 1970s, which is an LGBT Civil Rights Act,” said Campagna. “Neither the president nor Congress has any plan to give LGBT people the full legal equality we are due. This is outrageous. It is time for LGBT people to be their own fierce advocates to demand change now.”
On accepting the first petition signatures, Congressman Nadler said, “I have already begun the formidable task of reviewing the body of our federal civil rights statutes to identify the precise laws… that would need amending in order to properly protect all individual LGBT Americans, and we have begun drafting the outlines of a new bill toward that end.”
“Discrimination against LGBT Americans is the last legally and socially accepted form of discrimination in this country,” said U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). “This is an abomination and cannot continue. We will never be a fully democratic, fully humane, fully just nation of laws until all of our citizens–whether gay, straight, transgendered, black, white, Asian or otherwise–are granted full civil rights and equality before the law.”
Speakers at Monday’s event included Congressman Jerrold Nadler; Congregation Beth Simchat Torah senior Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum; civil rights attorney Liz Abzug (daughter of feminist, anti-war, and LGBT activist and Congresswoman Bella Abzug); New York City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez; Soulforce founder (and “The Amazing Race” participant) the Rev. Dr. Mel White; and The Power’s Jeff Campagna.
The petition reads in part (full text available at http://www.ThePowerOnline.org ):
“We the undersigned call upon you and your colleagues to pass legislation amend the Civil Rights Act… to declare it the public policy of the United States that discrimination based on LGBT status is prohibited…”
According to the group, four decades after the Stonewall rebellion, there are no federal laws protecting the civil rights of LGBT Americans. And there is precedence for expanding it–Title VII was amended in 1972 to strengthen protections for women. Adding LGBT people would be a natural progression.
Although the current Congress has introduced several pieces of legislation regarding LGBT rights, such as the Hate Crimes Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), there has been growing concern over the Obama Administration’s failure to take speedier action to fulfill his campaign promises to the LGBT community, says the group. Frustration among the LGBT population was inflamed this month by a Department of Justice brief that defended DOMA in language comparing same-sex unions to incest and arguing that the federal government could save money by discriminating against LGBT Americans.
Monday’s Stonewall action builds upon this momentum, as well as on the June 28 Pride March in Manhattan, which honored the Stonewall rebellion, and on the increasing national attention on ENDA, DOMA, DADT, Hate Crimes and the United American Families Act (UAFA), which provides immigration equality for bi-national same-sex couples.
“Even if each of the pieces of legislation passes, they don’t represent the entirety of what it means to be a full citizen with full civil rights,” said The Power’s Campagna, a fundraiser for Democratic candidates and was on Obama’s LGBT Steering Committee.
Several LGBT leaders who were invited to the White House Pride cocktail event have endorsed or supported The Power’s petition drive. Examples include New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, political consultant Dr. Sylvia Rhue (acting executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition); David Mixner; National Stonewall Democrats board member Babs Saperstein; and Melissa Sklarz (the director of New York Trans Rights Organization (NYTRO).
Please see http://www.ThePowerOnline.org/blog for a complete list of leaders providing statements of support.
The Power is an online organizing network that empowers grassroots and netroots activists nationwide and globally to fight for equal rights for LGBT people, not on some arbitrary and convenient schedule created by politicians and lobbyists, but right now. For more information, visit thepoweronline.org.
Quotes, endorsements, complete statements of Congressman Nadler, Jeffrey Campagna, and Rev. Dr. Mel White, and press conference audio are available at http://thepoweronline.org/blog .
Photos and interviews available via email request.
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