New York State Legislature Passes Marriage Equality Bill; GLAAD Launches 'Stand with New York. I Do.' Campaign
On June 24, 2011, the New York State Legislature passed a bill that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry in the Empire State. New York joins five other states and Washington, D.C., in allowing same-sex couples to marry; effectively doubling the population of Americans living in districts where gay and lesbian couples can marry. For years, GLAAD has worked tirelessly in concert with partner organizations and marriage equality advocates across the state to secure this historic victory for the LGBT community.
GLAAD helped shape the conversation around marriage equality by training lesbian and gay couples and their allies how to speak out and share their stories with millions through placements in important media outlets. GLAAD-trained couple Farid Lancheros and George Constantinou, who own a restaurant together, were featured by the NY Daily News and BBC World News saying, "It's so exciting. I never thought I'd see this day. I grew up knowing I was gay and wanting to get married and have children… I've been to so many heterosexual weddings, and now I look forward to inviting my heterosexual friends to our wedding."
Media outlets continued to feature GLAAD-trained spokespersons with Pastor Joseph Tolton, the pastor of a Harlem-based church with a large LGBT congregation who was featured on MSNBC, WMCTV, and NY-based web site DNAinfo saying, "I'm absolutely elated… There is something to the idea of having your relationship sanctioned by the state and where your rights are not unequal or inferior. Now we can take our relationships more seriously."
Prominent GLAAD-trained couple Alicia Salzer and Leslie Miller, who broke headlines back in 2003 as the first lesbian couple in The New York Times Wedding Section, were featured on the Huffington Post in a lengthy post detailing their personal response to the marriage equality victory in New York: "Now it is 10 years later and my pride is once again matched by my gratitude. I am grateful to everyone who had the vision that gay marriage was possible and had the perseverance to follow through on such a lengthy challenge… I am grateful to my spouse who I asked last night, 'Will you marry me... again?' And she said yes. This time, our parents will be there to walk us down the aisle."
These are the stories that make all the difference. From local radio airwaves in Rochester and daily newspapers in Manhattan to national and international news outlets like CNN and BBC, GLAAD is working to make sure every American hears from these couples and allies to build support for marriage equality in other states.
Gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed in the Empire State starting on July 24, 2011. If you and your loved one, or anyone you know plan to wed on July 24 or later this year and are open to sharing your love story/wedding plans with the media, GLAAD really wants to hear from you!
On June 17, representatives from GLAAD and the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) met with the principals of Liberman Broadcasting, Inc.: Chair José Liberman; his son, President and CEO Lenard Liberman; and Chief Operating Officer, Winter Horton. The Libermans own EstrellaTV Network and a number of broadcast stations across the country that air EstrellaTV, including Los Angeles-based KRCA. EstrellaTV airs "José Luis Sin Censura," a program produced by Liberman Broadcasting.
Back in February, GLAAD filed a complaint with the FCC regarding the show which frequently shows the entire audience chanting anti-LGBT epithets and has audience members physically attack gay and transgender guests while the rest of the audience cheers. GLAAD's public call to action against the program resulted in two prominent TV affiliates to drop the program. Time Warner Cable and AT&Talso decided to withdraw their advertising from the program. As a result, GLAAD and NHMC sent a powerful message to Spanish-language media: If you showcase anti-LGBT violence as entertainment, GLAAD will be there to speak out and your advertisers will soon not be there.
While representatives from LBI offered an apology for anti-LGBT content that aired on the show, they did not take immediate action, had no response to other issues raised by GLAAD and NHMC, and offered no proposals for how to rectify this situation. Read more and follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/glaad) for future news about the ongoing campaign.
Members of GLAAD staff joined hundreds of other supporters in coming out on Friday afternoon to downtown Manhattan in support of the annual Trans Day of Action. The event is hosted every year by TransJustice, a political group of the Audre Lorde Project and underscores the importance of continued pressure and support for transgender rights. Read more.
In Connecticut, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law a bill that will prohibit discrimination in housing, credit, or public accommodations on the basis of gender identity or expression. The law goes into effect on October 1st, 2011 and will make Connecticut the 15th state (and Washington, D.C.) with a law protecting transgender people from discrimination. Read More.
Henry Velandia and Josh Vandiver broke headlines earlier this year as Velandia, a Venezuelan citizen, faced deportation after his student visa expired. The couple, who married in Connecticut last year, fought vigorously against the deportation process. GLAAD met with the couple and helped them prepare to share their story with national media outlets to aid them in their struggle to stay together. After the couple appeared on CNN, federal agents have subsequently dropped deportation proceedings after Immigration and Customs Enforcement head Thomas Morton issued a memo, encouraging federal agents to use "prosecutorial discretion in certain cases." Watch Velandia and Vandiver on CNN here.
As marriage bells begin to chime for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples in New York state, we celebrate the great strides that our community has made towards equality. As you will read in this issue, our team is working overtime to share the stories of New York couples making a lifelong promise to love and take care of each other through media outlets across the country - because we know that as Americans get to know the families at the heart of these decisions, more and more people support marriage equality.
As our movement continues to build momentum and change, GLAAD is also changing. Last month our President Jarrett Barrios resigned from his position along with several Board Members amidst media coverage that questioned policy decisions along with GLAAD's role.
As GLAAD's Acting President, I am proud to say that our staff's commitment to our mission has been, and continues to be, unwavering. Last week, I penned a letter to the FCC to withdraw support for a merger between AT&Tand T-Mobile and affirm support for net neutrality- the idea of a free and open internet. After a rigorous review process, our staff and Board concluded that while AT&T has a strong record of support for the LGBT community, the explanation used to support this particular merger was not sufficiently consistent with GLAAD's work to advocate for culture-changing LGBT stories and images in the media. We will continue to make decisions based on what we believe is best for our community, even when it might involve demanding action or disagreeing with our corporate partners.
You likely heard about our leadership changes, but might not have heard about Pastor Joseph Tolton. Pastor Tolton was a participant in GLAAD's People of Color Media Institute last month, along with dozens of other LGBT people and allies who are of African, Asian or Latino heritage. During this Media Institute, much like the thousands of local individuals who go through our Media Training Program each year, participants learned how to speak out in their communities in ways that build support for LGBT equality. Our team then began placing these voices in local and national media outlets- so that their stories and their support for our community can reach millions.
Pastor Tolton -- an advocate of marriage equality and a proud supporter for Harlem Pride this year in New York -- was profiled in the New York Daily News in the days leading up to marriage equality. This attention occurred at a time when our opponents were pushing for anti-LGBT voices of faith to speak out to New Yorkers and legislators.
Americans need to hear from people like Pastor Tolton and it's our team of media professionals who have the skills, passion and commitment to ensure Americans hear stories that inspire change. We recently expanded our on-the-ground work to more states than ever for this reason. Media Field Strategists assist local LGBT organizations by training LGBT people and allies how to speak out and build support for equality in states including Alaska, California, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon.
Americans need to hear more LGBT voices and stories, and we need your help to continue. We urge you to contact us when you see anti-LGBT media coverage, or when you hear stories that GLAAD should amplify. I look forward to meeting you at our Media and Alliance Circle events in your area. If you have any questions about our recent transitions, let us know. We have a mind to make a difference, and together, we'll do just that. Be sure to stay involved in our progress at www.glaad.org/blog, www.facebook.com/glaad, and www.twitter.com/glaad.
Because words and images matter,
GLAAD is celebrating the LGBT community with two upcoming events, GLAAD Hancock Park: Top Chef Invasion (Los Angeles) on Sunday, July 24 and GLAAD Manhattan: Carnival (New York City) on August. As members of GLAAD's Media and Alliance Circle you have a certain number of complimentary tickets to these events. If you are interested in using your complimentary tickets, please contact Major Gifts Officers Todd Kimmelman at Kimmelman@glaad.org or Jason Tseng at Tseng@glaad.org.