Soulforce Calls for Inclusive ENDA

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: September 27, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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On Wednesday the Washington Blade reported that House Democratic leaders are "strongly considering dropping anti-discrimination protections for transgender persons from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA."

Today Soulforce joins other national LGBT organizations in opposing the removal of protections for transgender Americans from ENDA.

Statement from Jeff Lutes, Soulforce Executive Director

"Religious right organizations such as the Traditional Values Coalition have used the same old tactic of misrepresenting social science to lobby against gender identity protections in ENDA."

"Soulforce urges members of congress not to compromise on workplace equality. Now is the time to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’"


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org

Denver Sit-in Sparks Arrest; Lesbian Couple Who Sought Marriage License Charged with Trespassing

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: September 25, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
Colorado Contacts: Kate Burns & Sheila Schroeder, kateburns303@comcast.net, 303-806-8444
Christopher Hubble, Soulforce Colorado State Organizer, 303-241-3225, cahubble05@yahoo.com
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(Denver, CO) — At approximately 5 p.m. on September 24, 2007, Kate Burns and Sheila Schroeder of Englewood, Colo., were arrested and removed in police custody from the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building. The couple had entered the Denver Clerk and Recorder Office to demand a marriage license. After requesting an application and being denied on the basis of state and federal law, Burns and Schroeder refused to leave, insisting that marriage laws which deny full equality to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are an example of religion-based oppression and undermine America’s tradition of religious pluralism protected by the U.S. Constitution.

The event drew at least 20 supportive observers. One anonymous bystander made a point to enter the office and thank Burns and Schroeder for taking this stand.

The two were issued citations for trespassing and were released without bail at 5:26 p.m.

During an interview preceding her arrest, Burns said, "As a life-long Unitarian Universalist, I seek to practice my religion by marrying my life partner in the church where I grew up.

Kate and Sheila’s minister, Rev. Mike Morran of Denver’s First Unitarian Church and a strong supporter of full marriage equality for LGBT people, accompanied the couple into the clerk and recorder’s office. "I am proud to stand on the side of love in support of Kate and Sheila. From a church point of view, marriage is a sacrament and the state should stay out of it. This civil right — the freedom to marry — should apply to all citizens."

When asked about her decision to participate in this action, Schroeder explained that the couple has faced numerous acts of discrimination since their commitment ceremony four years ago.

"We experienced panic when I had a potentially dangerous health crisis and we had no security that she could attend to me in the hospital," said Schroeder.

This marriage equality direct action is one action in the ongoing FOCUS ON THE FACTS campaign, a nonviolent campaign which Soulforce launched at the beginning of 2007. FOCUS ON THE FACTS seeks to end religion-based oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Coloradans. To learn more about Soulforce and FOCUS ON THE FACTS, visit www.soulforce.org.

Photos of this action are available here.


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

First Unitarian Society of Denver seeks "to create a loving and welcoming spiritual family, embracing all who enter in search of solace, inspiration, knowledge, and growth… we bring our gifts to build a strong religious community… we venture into the wider world, working to build a just and nurturing society for all." The UUA’s support of equal treatment for bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender persons is long-reaching and extensive. For more information, go to www.firstunitariandenver.org.

"All reforms owe their origin to the initiation of minorities in opposition to majorities… Those who believe that they are not bound to obey laws which are repugnant to their conscience have only the remedy of [nonviolence] open to them." –Gandhi

Focus on the Facts: Colorado Marriage License Sit-in

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On September 24, 2007, Kate Burns and Sheila Schroeder of Englewood, Colo., were arrested and removed in police custody from the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building. The couple had entered the Denver Clerk and Recorder Office to demand a marriage license. After requesting an application and being denied on the basis of state and federal law, Burns and Schroeder refused to leave, insisting that marriage laws which deny full equality to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are an example of religion-based oppression and undermine America’s tradition of religious pluralism protected by the U.S. Constitution.

News coverage by 7NEWS.

Court Trial May 7, 2008

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Groundbreaking Project to Feature Straight People Standing Up for Gay Americans and Their Families; Events Across the Nation October 7-13, 2007, Reflect Growing Support for Equal Rights

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: September 19, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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(Austin, TX) — On October 7-13, 2007, straight people across the nation will "come out" as supporters of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans.

From Santa Rosa, California, to Montgomery, Alabama, to Augusta, Maine, overnight vigils will light up American cities over the course of seven nights, providing unprecedented visibility to heterosexual men and women with the conviction to stand up for their gay and lesbian friends and neighbors.

This grassroots groundswell, dubbed Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights, was initiated by Soulforce and Atticus Circle, two Texas-based organizations with members across the nation. With their support, straight community leaders are organizing vigils in towns like Greenville, South Carolina, Shreveport, Louisiana, Duluth, Minnesota, and Salem, Oregon.

To date, straight equality advocates in twenty-seven cities have stepped forward to hold vigils over the course of the week. The October 7 kick-off will feature an opening night vigil at The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Anti-gay Ballot Measures Create New Breed of Equality Activists

Many Seven Straight Nights vigil organizers were motivated to become more involved after divisive marriage discrimination amendments made it to the ballot in their states.

In Arizona, where fair-minded voters defeated a marriage amendment in 2006, Seven Straight Nights organizer Susan Hurley and her husband William Reber were spurred to a new level of political involvement. "When the marriage amendment was introduced, we went from being the kind of people who make phone calls and write letters to being the people standing on street corners with signs in our hands," says Hurley.

And in Texas, Anne Wynne was shocked into action by the November 2004 elections, when eleven states voted to add a ban on gay marriage to their constitutions. "When I saw the margins these propositions passed by, I thought, ‘Where were the people who think like my husband and me?’" When she couldn’t find an existing political organization that represented her interests, Wynne took matters into her own hands, founding Atticus Circle to educate and mobilize straight supporters of equal rights.

Motivated by Faith to Speak Up for Equality

Faith traditions also provide inspiration for many families and individuals who are organizing Seven Straight Nights vigils. In Raleigh, North Carolina, the vigil organizer is Rev. Jack McKinney of Pullen Memorial Baptist church, a local institution with a long history of involvement in civil rights struggles. The Raleigh vigil will feature church choirs and offer thanks to North Carolina corporate leaders who have taken progressive stands on domestic partner benefits.

Julie Morgan, vigil organizer for Duluth, Minnesota, is active in an interfaith committee called Standing on the Side of Love. Of her involvement with Seven Straight Nights, Morgan says, "my faith as a Unitarian commands me to be active in the world, to take my values and live them."

In other states, vigil organizers represent a variety of other faith traditions, including Judaism and Native American Shamanistic traditions.

"These fair-minded straight folks are showing their elected officials that equality is not a secular issue, not a gay issue, not an urban elite issue, not an east coast or a west coast issue — it’s an American issue" says Jeff Lutes, Executive Director of Soulforce.

Remembering Matthew Shepard; Organizing Against Hate

On October 12, 2007, the nation will mark the ninth anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a brutal hate crime that shocked many Americans out of complacency. With the fate of the Matthew Shepard Act still unclear in the Senate, this year’s anniversary looms with particular poignancy.

Shepard’s mother, Judy Shepard of Wyoming, has officially endorsed Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights, saying "All of us – gay and straight alike – need to act. Hate affects each and every one of us."

Vigil leader Susan Crain of Greenville, South Carolina understands the importance of hate crime laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity. On May 16 of this year, tragedy struck Greenville when twenty-year-old Sean Kennedy was attacked and beaten to death by a stranger spouting anti-gay epithets.

At the Greenville Seven Straight Nights vigil, South Carolinians will light 1,138 candles in the City Plaza to symbolize the 1,138 rights and responsibilities denied to gay couples by denying them marriage equality. Students from a local Gay-Straight Alliance will read aloud the names of victims of hate crimes.

Other Highlights

In Wisconsin, where a marriage amendment passed in 2006, First Lady Jessica Doyle has stepped forward as the leader for Seven Straight Nights in Madison. According to Doyle, "We are at our very best as a state when we are open, inclusive, and actively dedicated to equal rights for all."

And in New York, where a marriage equality bill remains stalled in the state senate, Seven Straight Nights participants will vigil outside the home office of Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, which is located in Saratoga Springs, New York.

For more information, visit www.sevenstraightnights.org

Albuquerque, NM………..Tue Oct 9
Albuquerque, NM………..Fri Oct 12
Atlanta, GA………………Sun Oct 7
Augusta, ME……………..Sun Oct 7
Austin, TX………………..Wed Oct 10
Champaign, IL……………Wed Oct 10
Denver, CO……………….TBA
Des Moines, IA……………TBA
Duluth, MN……………….Tue Oct 9
Greenville, SC…………….Mon Oct 8
Harrisburg, PA…………….Fri Oct 12
Houston, TX………………Thu Oct 11
Humboldt Co., CA…………Fri Oct 12
Indianapolis, IN…………..Fri Oct 12
Lansing, MI……………….Sat Oct 13
Madison, WI………………Wed Oct 10
Montgomery, AL………….Tue Oct 9
New York City, NY………..Tue Oct 9
Phoenix, AZ……………….Thu Oct 11
Raleigh, NC………………..Fri Oct 12
Sacramento, CA…………..TBA
Salem, OR…………………Sat Oct 13
Salt Lake City, UT…………TBA
Santa Rosa, CA……………Fri Oct 12
Saratoga, NY……………..Sat Oct 13
Seattle, WA………………TBA
Shreveport, LA……………Sun Oct 7
St. Paul, MN………………Mon Oct 8
Tuscon, AZ……………….Wed Oct 10
Washington, DC………….Tue Oct 9


Atticus Circle is a national organization dedicated to achieving equality for all partners, parents, and their children regardless of sexual orientation. Soulforce is a national social justice organization that advocates freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.

Lesbian Couple Seeks Marriage License in Denver – Local Faith Leader Supports Demand for Civil Marriage

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: September 19, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
Colorado Contacts: Kate Burns & Sheila Schroeder, kateburns303@comcast.net, 303-806-8444
Christopher Hubble, Soulforce Colorado State Organizer, 303-241-3225, cahubble05@yahoo.com
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(Denver, CO) — In an effort to achieve basic fairness and marriage equality for all of Colorado’s families, local nonviolent advocates will again seek to elevate this issue in the public mind. On Monday, September 24, committed same-gender couple Kate Burns and Sheila Schroeder will enter the Denver Clerk and Recorder Office to request a marriage license. When denied, they will risk arrest by refusing to leave.

Who: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Families and their Allies, including Rev. Mike Morran of the First Unitarian Society, Denver.
What: Marriage Equality Direct Action: press conference, vigil, civil disobedience
When: Monday, September 24, 2007 3:30 p.m. MST
[A training in nonviolence to prepare for Monday’s action is scheduled on Sep 23 — RSVP with Christopher Hubble (cahubble05@yahoo.com) for more information.]
Where: Denver Clerk and Recorder Office, Wellington Webb Municipal Administration Building, 201 West Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80202, (Court-Colfax block on 15th Street)

 


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

"All reforms owe their origin to the initiation of minorities in opposition to majorities… Those who believe that they are not bound to obey laws which are repugnant to their conscience have only the remedy of [nonviolence] open to them." –Gandhi

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