Young Adults Complete 96 Mile Walk Across Phoenix

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ADVISORY: August 26, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: Meg Sneed, Arizona Right to Marry
Phone: 623-262-6696
Email: meg@righttomarry.org
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(Phoenix, AZ)–Meg Sneed and her team of six other lesbian and gay young adults have completed their pilgrimage across metropolitan Phoenix. Over the week of August 10-15, the group walked 96 miles to talk with Arizonans about how Proposition 102, a constitutional amendment on this November’s ballot, would negatively impact young people.

The average temperature during their walk was 105 degrees.

The idea for the walk came to Sneed after participating in a three-day walk for breast cancer research. As a cancer survivor herself, Sneed found distance walking both grueling and empowering. She hoped that a similar walk would inspire young people to join the conversation about Arizona’s priorities.

Proposition 102 would define marriage as between one man and one woman. Opponents like Sneed point out that state law already prohibits same-sex marriage and Arizona voters defeated similar legislation in 2006.

Along the route, the young "equality walkers" shared their perspectives with ordinary citizens, elected officials, and local community organizations, including the Tempe Community Council. They were welcomed for conversation at several churches, including the Unitarian Universalist Church in Surprise and the Church of the Beatitudes, Central United Methodist Church, and All Saints Episcopal Church in Phoenix.

"I realize now just how much difference I can make in my community," says walker C.J. Minott, who will be returning to University of Arizona campus this fall to continue his studies in Psychology.

"These young people truly amazed me," says Julie Roberts, Programs Director at Equality Arizona. "Their dedication to this walk and their sense of purpose was incredible."

Sneed and the other walkers are members of Soulforce Q, the young adult division of Soulforce, a national civil rights and social justice organization. Soulforce Q collaborated with Equality Arizona and two other statewide organizations, Arizona Together and Wingspan, in the planning and execution of this campaign.

Soulforce envisions freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.

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Religious Straight Americans Speak Up for Gay and Transgender Neighbors

JAY BAKKER LEADS 2nd ANNUAL SEVEN STRAIGHT NIGHTS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS EVENTS, SEPTEMBER 14-20, 2008

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 25, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Paige Schilt, 
Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org

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(New York, NY) "Gay and transgender Americans are our neighbors" will be the simple message of faith leaders across the nation during the week of September 14-20, 2008.

These religious leaders are part of Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights 2008, a week that will spotlight fair-minded straight people around the country. In 2007, the project’s inaugural year, nighttime vigils lit up 36 American cities in 25 states over seven nights.

This year, churches in cities as diverse as Brooklyn, N.Y., Superior, Wis., Danville, Ind., Modesto, Calif., Denver, Colo., and Portland, Ore., will sponsor Seven Straight Nights events.

Among the clergy speaking out is Jay Bakker, pastor of Revolution NYC Church and star of the documentary series One Punk Under God.

"As Christians, if we follow the example of Christ in loving our neighbor as ourselves, then we have to realize that everyone is our neighbor, everyone deserves to be treated with love and respect and grace," says Bakker.

Jay Bakker is the son of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner. His non-traditional approach to ministry achieved national attention in the Sundance Channel series One Punk Under God, which documented his journey to become a gay-affirming Christian.

Like Bakker, Michelle Garland has been on a journey to support gay and transgender friends. A Modern Orthodox Jew and married mother of three, Garland initially feared that, even as a straight woman, she would become the target of harassment.

"But I was determined to do what I knew in my heart was right. I believe we are all G-d’s children and to deny love to a fellow human is to reject the spark of G-dliness that is in each of us," says Garland, who is now organizing a Seven Straight Nights event in Ames, Iowa, for the second year in a row.

Nationally, Seven Straight Nights is sponsored by Atticus Circle and Soulforce, who are currently seeking straight people who are interested in organizing a Seven Straight Nights event in their communities. For more information, visit www.sevenstraightnights.org

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Atticus Circle is a national organization that educates and mobilizes fair-minded straight people to advance equal rights for LGBT partners, parents, and their children.

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.

 

 

 

Straight Leaders Sought for Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights 2008

2nd ANNUAL SEVEN STRAIGHT NIGHTS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS EVENTS, SEPTEMBER 14-20

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 6, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Paige Schilt, 
Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org

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(Austin, TX) – There’s never been a more exciting time for straight Americans to take a stand for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) friends and neighbors. That’s according to Soulforce and Atticus Circle, the sponsors of Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights 2008, a project that will spotlight straight Americans’ support for equality over the week of September 14-20.

In 2007, the project’s inaugural year, a week of nighttime vigils lit up 36 American cities in 25 states, providing unprecedented visibility for fair-minded straight people.

This year, Seven Straight Nights events will again provide a unique venue for straight Americans across the nation to express their support and hone their advocacy skills – now, amidst a changing cultural and political landscape.

According to a recent Newsweek poll, 57% of adults believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry or form civil unions, up 10% since 2004. In addition, a July 2008 Washington Post poll found that 75% of Americans now support allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly in the U.S. military.

"We can feel the momentum of change, yet we know that much more must be done to protect our LGBT friends," says Jodie Eldridge, Executive Director of Atticus Circle and a straight ally. "Ironically, this year’s divisive ballot measures provide ample opportunity for straight and LGBT Americans to find common cause."

The measures on the ballot this fall include Florida’s Proposition 2, which would inadvertently affect the state’s straight seniors, many of whom form domestic partnerships rather than remarry after they are widowed in order to keep essential benefits. And in Arkansas, a proposed ballot measure would ban all unmarried couples, gay and straight, from fostering and adopting children, thus harming children and potential parents.

By creating an opportunity for straight Americans to learn about discrimination and connect with LGBT equality organizations, Seven Straight Nights will provide further opportunities for LGBT and straight Americans to come together across perceived differences.

And by providing straight-organized and headlined events all across the nation, Seven Straight Nights seeks to create an empowering experience for straight Americans who believe that everyone deserves to be treated fairly, but have not yet taken a public stand for LGBT equality.

Atticus Circle and Soulforce are currently seeking straight people who are interested in organizing a Seven Straight Nights event in their communities. For more information, visit www.sevenstraightnights.org

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Atticus Circle is a national organization that educates and mobilizes fair-minded straight people to advance equal rights for LGBT partners, parents, and their children.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America

edited by Mitchell Gold with Mindy Drucker

Cover of Crisis
Order

Crisis features the Reverend Dr. Mel White, co-founder and President of Soulforce; Dr. Rodney Powell, renown Civil Rights leader and member of the Soulforce Board of Directors; Brandon Rolph Kneefel, media director for the Soulforce Equality Ride; Mary Lou Wallner, mother of a lesbian, long-time Soulforce volunteer and director of TEACH Ministries; and, Jimmy Creech, former United Methodist pastor and former Chairperson of the Soulforce Board of Directors.

Crisis is an expose of the fear, isolation, depression, and even suicidal feelings young gay people face from the time they realize they are gay until they have a healthy coming out. For many gay adults, the traumatic teenage years are buried in memory as a painful time to be left behind and forgotten. But, those who bravely recalled and contributed their stories to Crisis describe experiences that are unfortunately universal for gay youth.

In addition to the Soulforcees listed above, other well-known successful members of the gay community, such as Bishop Gene Robinson, actor Richard Chamberlain, ambassador Jim Hormel and United States Representatives Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank, share what it was like to live a lie every day, without support from family, friends, church, or school — and how they triumphed over the challenges. And a number of young people detail personal experiences that make clear the same challenges unfortunately continue today.

Crisis is designed to make parents, clergy, teachers, politicians, and the media aware of the ongoing crisis young gay people experience in our culture today and understand how to stop it.

Crisis is a transformative book! In addition to being an inspiring and helpful personal resource, it is an excellent gift for that someone you know whose heart and mind you’d like to transform from hostility to love and from rejection to acceptance.

Crisis can be ordered for $28 ($24 + $4 shipping) in the Soulforce store.

For more information on Crisis, please visit www.crisisbook.org.