WASHINGTON – Human Rights Campaign announced the endorsement of Ken Britt for the Georgia House of Representatives. Britt currently serves as a member of the Georgia Democratic Party State Committee and is an Ambassador for the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
“HRC enthusiastically endorses Ken Britt for Georgia House District 56,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Ken has a lengthy record of community service and political activism, as well as the experience gained during more than 30 years in executive-level law firm administration. Serving in the Georgia House of Representatives will allow him to continue his work on important issues like equality, economic development and access to quality affordable health care.”
Solmonese says Britt has an impressive track record of leadership on progressive community and political issues. In addition to his work for the state Democratic Party, Britt was recently appointed as a Community Liaison to Congressman John Lewis’ 2012 reelection effort. Both his former employer and AID Atlanta, one of the largest AIDS service organizations, have named community service awards for Britt.
"Ken's ability to represent diverse constituencies and reach across the aisle to achieve consensus is needed in the Georgia General Assembly. When Ken is elected, the people of Georgia District 56 can rest assured that their interests will be well served,” Solmonese said.
“I am honored by the support of the Human Rights Campaign,” said Britt, “especially because it has been a model of grassroots action in diverse communities. I appreciate HRC recognizing my experience and passion, the strength of this campaign and, particularly, the needs of the 56th District."
Source: HRC press release
Two-term Governor, Gary Johnson, says both parties are indistinguishable from one another. Both are keeping America broke. Both are keeping America at war. Both have trampled on the Constitution. And both are stooges to the same big money players that never change behind the scenes. It's time to put our differences and our parties aside and come together as a nation for the good of all. We The People are ready to LIVE FREE.
GOV. GARY JOHNSON:
IF REDUCING MARIJUANA PENALTIES IN NY MAKES SENSE, LEGALIZATION MAKES EVEN MORE SENSE
New York, NY - Calling NY Gov. Cuomo's proposed reduction of penalties for simple possession of marijuana "a welcome bit of sanity," Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson today applauded the proposal, but repeated his call for legalization of marijuana as a better solution to the burdens marijuana prosecutions place on the courts and law enforcement.
Johnson is in New York for a series of media appearances, including The Daily Show Tuesday night. As governor of New Mexico, Johnson gained national attention in 1999 as one of the highest ranking elected officials in the nation to call for the legalization of marijuana.
In a statement released in New York, Johnson said, "It is encouraging that the governor of one of our largest states is facing the reality that we are clogging our courts and packing our jails with Americans whose 'crime' is the individual choice to possess and use small quantities of marijuana. I would strongly suggest, however, that 'decriminalization' doesn't really solve the problem. As long as we hang onto the the failed notion of prohibition, the cartels and criminal infrastructure that thrive on supplying U.S. demand for pot will continue to prosper.
"Legalizing and regulating marijuana, as we do with alcohol, will not only take a great deal of profit away from the cartels, but put us on a path toward treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. Prohibition didn't work the first time, and it clearly isn't working today."
General Assembly Approves Strip Club Tax to Fund Rape Treatment, Prevention ServicesFrom The Office of State Representative Sara Feigenholtz
CHICAGO – The Illinois House approved a measure Thursday to raise as much as $2 million for rape and other sexual assault treatment and prevention services as well as law enforcement training on rape and assault response.
The legislation, sponsored in the House by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago)
and an initiative of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault
and Lt. Governor Sheila Simon
, creates a surcharge for strip clubs that offer or allow alcohol.
“State funding for sexual assault services has been slashed 28% over the last five years,” said Feigenholtz. “This measure helps close this funding gap to ensure that rape crisis centers can keep their doors open and continue to serve survivors of sexual violence and assault.”
Club owners could choose from two fee options: they could pay a flat fee based on annual gross receipts or instead choose to pay a $3 per patron fee.
“There is a correlation between sexually oriented businesses that combine nude dancing and alcohol that help promote the objectification of women that leads to sexual and domestic violence,” Feigenholtz said. “This is a common sense way to help provide vital services to survivors.”
The fees would only apply to adult entertainment venues that feature both live nude dancing and alcohol. There are no such venues in the city of Chicago.
House Bill 1645 has been approved by both chambers of the General Assembly and awaits consideration by the governor. For more information, please contact Feigenholtz’s constituent services office at (773) 296-4141
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman
announced agreements with three major retail chains to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to the merchandise, services, and amenities provided by each of their New York based stores. Under the statewide agreements, Century 21, JCPenney, and Petland Discounts
will take significant steps to ensure that each of their New York stores complies with the accessibility requirements and design standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
"Ensuring that people with disabilities are provided the same retail shopping experience that other customers enjoy helps make the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act a reality," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "My office is committed to combating discrimination faced by people with disabilities, and to helping promote accessibility across our state. I commend Century 21, JCPenney, and Petland Discounts for agreeing to take the steps necessary to make their stores fully accessible for all New Yorkers."
These cases are part of Attorney General Schneiderman's ongoing investigation into the accessibility of retail establishments and other public accommodations for individuals with disabilities. The Attorney General deployed undercover investigators and retained experts to examine Century 21, JCPenney, and Petland Discounts stores to determine if they comply with state and federal accessibility laws. Based on the undercover investigation and architectural surveys of the stores, the Attorney General's office identified numerous impediments and barriers for people with disabilities. Under the agreements, the three retailers have agreed to:
- retain an independent ADA compliance consultant, approved by the Attorney General's office, to assist with the implementation and enforcement of the agreements;
- conduct a survey of every store located in New York to identify changes necessary to achieve compliance with state and federal accessibility standards;
- conform all elements of each store that deviate from state and federal accessibility laws;
- train employees on the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and on the protocols used to afford people with disabilities equal access to the goods, services, and accommodations afforded to people without disabilities.
- certify that all new construction complies with state and federal accessibility laws and standards.
- Century 21, JCPenny and Petland Discounts stores agreed to pay a total of $120,000 to New York State to resolve the investigations
The Civil Rights Bureau of the Attorney General's Office is committed to combating discrimination faced by and promoting accessibility for individuals with disabilities across New York State. To file a complaint, contact the Attorney General’s Office at (212) 416-8250, firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.ag.ny.gov
Posted on May 17, 2011
by David CohenState Rep. Feigenholtz Holds Mortgage Relief Project to Help Local Residents Avoid Foreclosure
CHICAGO – Continuing her efforts to protect local residents and reduce area foreclosures, state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) participated in the Mortgage Relief Project on Saturday to help Chicago residents keep their homes and avoid foreclosures. Residents from Lakeview to Cicero came for the opportunity to meet with Department of Housingand Urban Development-certified housing counselors to ask questions about their mortgages.
The seminar marked the twentieth stop in the statewide Mortgage Relief Project, an initiative of Governor Pat Quinn to help homeowners keep their homes and avoid foreclosure. The program is administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and was co-hosted by Feigenholtz, state Sen. President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), state Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago), Alderman Tom Tunney and outgoing Alderman Vi Daley.
“The state of Illinois wants to help you keep your homes because avoiding foreclosures improves our communities as a whole,” Feigenholtz said. “Legislators are working hard in Springfield to ensure that homeowners have the tools they need to be informed about their options and prevent foreclosure. Whether we are urging Congress to place a moratorium on foreclosures or giving homeowners more time to refinance their mortgages, we must protect our residents.”
Feigenholtz is also encouraging residents to be aware of the Homeowner Protection Act, which gives homeowners who have fallen behind in their mortgage payments a grace period of up to 90 days if they seek and enter housing counseling. Homeowners can use this period to refinance their mortgage or set up a payment plan with their bank.
“Many homeowners came because they did not have anywhere else to go and felt trapped by their mortgage,” said Feigenholtz. “Having a one-stop shop where homeowners can meet one-on-one with a housing counselor, learn about mortgages and get honest answers to their questions gives homeowners valuable information to help them fight to keep their homes. Falling behind on your mortgage does not have to lead to foreclosure and I am working hard to provide as many tools as possible to help people get back on the right financial track.”
Homeowners who were unable to attend Saturday’s event may call IDFPR’s consumer helpline at (800) 532-8785 for assistance. For more information about the program, please visit www.idfpr.com
. A list of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies in Illinois can be found at www.hud.gov
Source: IL State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz office.
Posted on April 29, 2011
by David Cohen
CHICAGO–State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) is hosting a public town hall meeting this Sunday, May 1 at 2:00 p.m. in the Nettelhorst Elementary Auditorium located at 3252 N. Broadway
Feigenholtz’s office encourages residents to join her Sunday if effort to learn more about the state budget and pertinent legislation in Springfield. Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions and give their feedback on state matters, which may very well likely stand to be those relavent the local LGBT community. Apart from Lakeview-resident lifestlyle issues making up one-third of her 12th-district constituency, since taking office Feigenholtz’s political platform has strongly supported efficient and comprehensive state-provided HIV/AIDS care–as reported in PINK’s summer 2010 issue (specifically on page 20).
The event is open to the public; for more information or to RSVP, please contact Representative Feigenholtz’s constituent service office at (773) 296-4141 and/or visit her official website, www.staterepsara.com
Posted on February 15, 2011
Source: Press Release www.hrc.org
Longtime Equality Champion Will Lead City for All Chicagoans
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign announced its endorsement of Rahm Emanuel for Mayor of Chicago. The former White House Chief of Staff and member of Congress representing Chicago’s northwest side has a consistent record of support for LGBT Americans and was instrumental in enacting hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples nationwide.
“Rahm Emanuel has been a champion for equality throughout his career in public service,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “His dedication to the LGBT community and his commitment to fairness for all Chicagoans makes him a stellar choice for Mayor.”
“From passing hate crimes legislation, to extending visitation rights to LGBT couples, to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, we have worked together to advance equality for LGBT Americans. I look forward to continuing to work with HRC to advance the cause of equality in every community and neighborhood in Chicago if I have the privilege of serving as Mayor,” said Rahm Emanuel.
While in Congress, Emanuel was a consistent supporter of LGBT equality and scored 100% on the HRC Congressional Scorecard for each of the three terms he served. More recently, he was a key driver behind the President’s executive order on hospital visitation protections for same-sex couples. Additionally his campaign website points out his support for the civil unions law in Illinois and that he “continues to believe that full marriage equality, in name and in rights, should always be the goal.”
“Confronted by my family’s story, it was Rahm Emanuel who saw an injustice and brought it to the President’s attention in order to make the lives of same-sex couples better,” said Janice Langbehn, the catalyst for the hospital visitation regulations who was shut out of the emergency room as her partner Lisa Pond was dying. “I have no doubt that he will bring that same kind of enthusiasm and passion to his job as mayor of Chicago and I am proud to endorse his candidacy.”
“As a Chicagoan, I know Rahm Emanuel will be a great partner with our local LGBT community as we work together to improve the lives of all our citizens,” said John Barry, a member of the HRC Board of Directors.
From President Barack Obama:
This morning, I signed into law a bill that represents the most sweeping reforms of Wall Street since the Great Depression, and the toughest consumer financial protections this nation has ever seen. I know that I am able to do so only because the tens of thousands of volunteers who make up the backbone of this movement overcame the most potent attack ads and the most powerful lobbying the special interests could put forward.
Our special-interest opponents and their Republican allies have now set their sights on the elections in November as their best chance to overturn the historic progress we’ve made together.
Organizing for America counts entirely on supporters like you to fight back — no special interests, no corporate PACs. To keep making change and to defend the change we have already won, we need you — and at least 14 other people in your area — to contribute so we have the resources necessary going into the election.
Please donate $5 today and help Organizing for America lay the groundwork for the fights ahead.
Because of Wall Street reform, we will ensure that Americans applying for a credit card, a mortgage, or a student loan will never again be asked to sign their name under pages of confusing fine print. We will crack down on abusive lending practices and make sure that lenders don’t cheat the system — and create a new watchdog to enforce these consumer protections.
And we will put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts, giving us the ability to wind down any large financial institution if it should ever fail. The passage of Wall Street reform is at the forefront of the change we seek, and it will provide a foundation for a stronger and safer economy.
It is a foundation built upon the progress of the Recovery Act, which has turned 22 months of job losses into six consecutive months of private-sector job growth. And it is a foundation reinforced by the historic health reform we passed this spring, which is already giving new benefits to more than 100 million Americans, ushering another 1 million Americans into coverage by next year. But today’s victory is not where our fight ends.
Organizing for America and I will move forward in the months ahead on the tough fights we have yet to finish — even if cynics say we should wait until after the fall elections. This movement has never catered to the conventional wisdom of Washington. And we have fought to ensure that our progress is never held hostage by our politics.
You and I did not build this movement to win one election. We did not come together to pass one single piece of legislation. We are fighting for nothing less than a new foundation for our country — and that work is not complete. As we face the challenges ahead, I am relying on you to stand with me.
Please donate $5 or more today: https://donate.barackobama.com/WallStreetReformed
Thank you for helping us get here,
Posted on May 14, 2010 by David CohenA MESSAGE FROM HRC PRESIDENT JOE SOLMONESE
“We are confident that Elena Kagan
has a demonstrated understanding and commitment to protecting the liberty and equality of all Americans, including LGBT Americans” said Joe Solmonese
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today hailed President Obama’s selection of United States Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nominee for the opening on the United States Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens.
“We applaud President Obama for choosing Elena Kagan to become our nation’s next U.S. Supreme Court Justice,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “The U.S. Supreme Court decides cases that intimately affect the lives of all Americans. We are confident that Elena Kagan has a demonstrated understanding and commitment to protecting the liberty and equality of all Americans, including LGBT Americans.”
Issues that are critical to the LGBT community may reach the Supreme Court in the next few years, including issues related to marriage equality, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the new federal hate crimes law. When issues like these come to the Supreme Court, it is vital that we have fair-minded judges to rule on these cases.
In addition, we commend President Obama for his commitment to diversity and expanding the number of women on the Court. Diversity on the Court brings a broader view of the way that the law affects real people, including LGBT people. Once confirmed, Elena Kagan would be the fourth woman to serve on our nation’s highest court and would be the third woman sitting on the current Supreme Court, marking the highest representation of women on the Court in its history.
Elena Kagan will bring extensive legal experience and a strong background as a previously Senate-confirmed government official to the nation’s highest court. As Solicitor General in the Obama Administration, as a former legal advisor on domestic policy in the Clinton Administration and as the former Dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan has demonstrated a commitment to fairness and equality. Specifically, we applaud Elena Kagan’s vocal opposition to the Solomon Amendment and the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
HRC will continue examining the record of Elena Kagan on issues that affect the LGBT community. Moreover, we look forward to the Senate’s thorough examination of Elena Kagan’s judicial philosophy and record. To learn more about federal judicial nominations and to follow our work on these crucial issues visit HRC’s Equality in the Courts page.HRC defines a fair-minded judge as a person who demonstrates:
- A commitment to full equality under law for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans;
- individuals living with HIV and AIDS; women; people with disabilities and racial, ethnic, and religious minorities;
- A commitment to the constitutional right to privacy and individual liberty, including the right of two
- consenting adults to enter into consensual intimate relationships;
- A respect for the constitutional authority of Congress to promote equality and civil rights and provide statutory remedies for discrimination and violence;
- A sophisticated understanding of and commitment to the separation of church and state and the protection of those citizens with minority religious views; and
- A respect for state legislatures’ attempts to address discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity and other factors through carefully crafted legislation that meets the requirements of the Constitution.
Posted on May 7, 2010
by Cindy Frazier – City Editor of the L A Times and Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot
Sit down, Sarah Palin. Move over, Mitt Romney. Fred Karger would like the floor — the floor at the Republican National Convention, that is.
Karger, the Laguna Beach gay activist who has taken a multimillionaire to task for closing the Boom Boom Room and launched a nationwide effort to defend same-sex marriage against the National Organization for Marriage, is now looking at running for president in 2012.
Yes, president. As in “The President.” As a Republican — the first openly gay man of a major party (sic).
Karger announced his exploratory campaign a few weeks ago at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans — the same confab where Sarah Palin drew huge crowds as she both lambasted and cajoled members of the party she would like to (again) represent.
Despite Palin’s credibility with the “Tea Party” crowd, Karger sees himself as the only real independent in the running.
Here’s his opening salvo, which sounds very presidential: “Our nation is facing tremendous challenges right now. I pledge to put new effective leadership in place to end our nation’s economic crisis. I will work tirelessly to bring back the spirit in every man, woman and child to help remake America the land of opportunity and equality for all.”
Issues of specific interest to the gay community are central to his theme: ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; passing the federal Employment Anti-Discrimination law; eliminating the federal Defense of Marriage Act; making same-sex marriage legal across the country; and making a top priority finding a cure for HIV/AIDS and a vaccine to prevent HIV.
If this all sounds very serious and well thought-out, it is. That’s because Karger has a 35-year background in politics that many politicians would pay a lot for — and did, when he was in the political consulting business.
Karger points out that this wouldn’t be his first foray into presidential politics — far from it. As a paid political consultant, Karger has worked on numerous presidential campaigns, including that of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan-George Bush, Paul Laxalt, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush, among others. His own campaign would be his 10th.
He cut his teeth on presidential politics when Richard Nixon ran for reelection in 1972 and started out as a headquarters volunteer for Charles Percy’s U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois in 1966. He’s also worked on congressional and legislative campaigns for the likes of Maureen Reagan, Mike Curb, George Deukmejian and other prominent Republicans.
He was considered a “dark arts” political operative, managing hard-charging opposition campaigns such as the “Willie Horton” incident — the case of a parolee, released by the candidate, who went on to commit heinous crimes — that scuttled the presidential ambitions of Mike Dukakis. (He’s now using a similar incident to attack anti-gay conservative Republican Mike Huckabee.)
But for most of those years, Karger was hiding a secret that could have ended his high-flying career, and, he feared, alienated his conservative family. As a gay man, he would tremble if he found himself at a local restaurant with family or colleagues where he might meet a friend from his secret life.
Like many successful gays and lesbians, Karger kept up a charade, enlisting a lesbian friend as a “skirt” to accompany him to social events so he could pass as straight. It worked, but it took a toll.
It was only after he retired, a few years ago, that he “came out” — and came out swinging at the forces of anti-gay bigotry that led him to lead a difficult double life and that continue to this day.
This opened up a new world for Karger, who can now use his political savvy for causes he truly believes in. And as if to reward himself for taking the high road, he is finding out that his Californians Against Hate campaign is paying huge dividends.
It was, in fact, the overwhelming response to his “Five for Fred” fundraising campaign — to raise money for legal bills after the National Organization for Marriage subpoenaed all communications from the Hate campaign — that convinced him a presidential bid was the next step. He raised $25,000 in a few weeks, mostly in small donations from around the country.
“I’ve given it a huge amount of thought,” he said. “I went to New Hampshire and met with gay groups and moderate Republicans, and met with a representative of the Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C.” When he visited the gay-straight alliance at Dartmouth, he said, “I met with 40 kids, and they were enthralled. I want to make it easier for kids.”
In New Orleans, he was gratified by the attention he got from the media, but it was not without a struggle.
He had to fight to get a spot at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, after he was denied a place alongside the front-runners such as Palin. Instead, he went through the back door, rented a room in the conference hotel, and invited the media to his own news conference. Many showed up.
On Monday, he headed back to New Hampshire, where he says he plans to rent a house and begin the hand-to-hand combat of winning voters in that early-primary state.
Realistically, he says he’s not expecting to win the Republican nomination, but he does hope to win hearts and minds and move a gay rights agenda into the national spotlight.
For more information, visit www.fredkarger.com