Soulforce Q Seeks Young Adult Applicants for 2010 Equality Ride

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 26, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Caitlin MacIntyre, Equality Ride Director, 908-319-3565
Carlos Perez de Alejo, Soulforce Media Director, 321-948-3423
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(Austin, TX) In March 2010, young adults from around the country and around the world will embark on the fourth annual Equality Ride, a youth bus tour visiting religious colleges and universities across the United States to challenge on-campus discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students. Guided by the principles of nonviolence, Equality Riders will engage in critical dialogue, direct action, and in some cases civil disobedience, to press for much-needed changes for LGBTQ students.

“The Equality Ride is an opportunity for young adults to come together in the struggle for social justice,” says Asher Kolieboi, co-director of the Equality Ride.  “It’s a way for both LGBTQ folks and straight allies to work together to address religious-based oppression and create safe spaces for queer youth on campuses across the country.”

For two months Riders will stop at a variety of religious colleges and universities to meet with campus administrators and students, and engage local communities on a range of issues from the relationship between faith and sexuality to the intersections of race and gender.  “Like past Equality Rides, we hope to open dialogue on campus about issues affecting LGBTQ youth,” says Caitlin MacIntyre, Director of the Equality Ride. “But we’re also looking to build relationships between campus and the surrounding community to keep that conversation alive.”

Inspired by the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, the Equality Ride began in 2006 to address the over 200 U.S. colleges and universities with explicit policies that discriminate against LGBTQ students.  Developed by Soulforce Q–the youth-driven arm of the national LGBTQ social justice organization Soulforce–the Equality Ride has stopped at nearly seventy academic communities since its inception, leading vigils, classroom presentations, worship services, and an assortment of direct actions to draw attention to the dangers of religion-based discrimination. 

Soulforce Q is now seeking applications for the upcoming ride.  For information on how to apply, visit: www.equalityride.com. 

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance.

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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) votes to recognize same-gender couples

Allows those gay and lesbian people in relationships to serve as church leaders!

Today the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) passed a resolution stating that it will commit itself to find a way to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.  Additionally, the voting members passed another resolution stating that the ELCA is committed to find a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of the church.

“We are thrilled with these historic decisions,” said Jeff Lutes,Soulforce Executive Director, “God is smiling and the ELCA will benefit greatly from the spiritual gifts of those who can now love, worship, and serve with integrity.  I hope every Lutheran congregation will see the rightness of today’s decisions and open their hearts accordingly.”

Soulforce has a long history of working for change within the ELCA. In 2001, fifty Soulforce volunteers were arrested outside the Indianapolis Convention Center during civil disobedience after the ELCA voted to continue requiring gay and lesbian clergy to vow celibacy to be eligible for ordained ministry.  In 2003, Soulforce maintained a visible presence at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee by leafleting and vigiling to educate ELCA voting members. In 2005, Soulforce partnered with Goodsoil in Orlando where approximately 100 people walked silently to the front of the hall and stood between Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and the 1,018 members after they rejected a proposal to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to be ordained as members of the clergy.  The action created tension within the hall and forced ELCA voting members to face the injustice of their vote.

After nearly a decade of waiting, Soulforce rejoices over today’s decisions and commends Lutherans Concerned, Goodsoil, and so many others who have also worked tirelessly for many years to bring about this change.  Now more than ever, Soulforce is committed to the practice of relentless, nonviolent, resistance until all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are free from both political and religious oppression.

                                                                                         

Arizona Youth Lead Rally at State Capitol after 97 Mile Walk Across Phoenix

Equality Walkers” and community allies call for marriage equality

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 15, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Meg Sneed, Right to Marry: Arizona, 623-262-6696
Carlos Perez de Alejo, Soulforce Media Director, 321-948-3423
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(Phoenix, AZ) After a week-long, 97 mile walk across metropolitan Phoenix, Meg Sneed and five other young adults from Right to Marry: Arizona concluded their pilgrimage at the State Capitol Building–meeting with elected officials and leading a spirited rally in support of marriage equality.  Throughout the week of August 9-15th, the group brought the discussion of same-sex marriage to religious leaders, public officials, and a wide variety of citizens across Phoenix.

Despite an unwelcoming summer heat, averaging over 100 degrees, the Equality Walkers found a receptive audience.  “Conversations with groups on porches, or with those sitting on benches with their coolers will stay with me,” says Melissa Halverson, co-director of Right to Marry: Arizona.  “Cars stopped on their way to work to ask, ‘what ARE you all,’ as we carried our rainbow umbrellas, and gave an encouraging ‘good luck and good work!’”

The rally at the State Capitol marked the end of the second annual Right to Marry walk in Phoenix.  The idea for the campaign emerged from Sneed’s participation in a three-day walk for breast cancer research.  As a cancer survivor herself, Sneed found the walk inspiring and decided to adapt it to the controversial debate over marriage equality in Arizona, walking a mile for every year the state has denied equal rights to its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

“We walked for all those couples who are denied the right to love,” says Sneed.  “We walked for all those LGBT people who dream of the day that they will fall in love and the day that they will want to commit their lives to someone else.”

From Phoenix City Hall to the Arizona State Capitol, community allies walked the final mile with the Equality Walkers, closing the journey with a loud cry for marriage equality.  “We’ll be back every year until all the citizens of Arizona enjoy equal rights,” stated Sneed.  “We’ve waited over nine decades.  It’s time for us to stand up and say enough is enough!”

Sneed and her fellow Equality Walkers are members of Soulforce Q, the youth-driven arm of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization.

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, visitwww.soulforce.org/righttomarry    

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Young Adults Reach Halfway Point in 97 Mile Walk Across Phoenix

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 12, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Meg Sneed, Right to Marry: Arizona, 623-262-6696
Carlos Perez de Alejo, Soulforce Media Director, 321-948-3423
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(Phoenix, AZ) On Sunday, August 9, six young adults from Right to Marry: Arizona began a 97 mile walk from the Bible Church in Scottsdale to spark dialogue on marriage equality with religious leaders, city and state officials, and everyday citizens of Arizona.  With over 40 miles covered and dozens of challenging conversations behind them, the “equality walkers” have reached the halfway point in their journey.  Despite the heat, Meg Sneed and her team of six young equality advocates are determined to press on, promoting equal rights for Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

“We’ve had a great walk so far,” says Melissa Halverson, co-director of Right to Marry: Arizona, a campaign developed by Soulforce Q, the youth-driven arm of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization.  “It’s tough conversations like the one’s we’ve had on the walk that will help bring marriage equality to Arizona, a state that has denied equal protection for LGBT folks for over nine decades.” 

This year marks the second annual Right to Marry walk in Arizona.  Sneed developed the campaign after participating in a three-day walk for breast cancer research.  As a cancer survivor, Sneed found the walk inspiring and decided to adapt her experience to the marriage equality debate in Arizona, walking a mile for every year the state has denied equal protection for its LGBT citizens.

“This year we’re focusing on the organizations and individuals who have spoken out strongly against marriage equality,” says Sneed.  “We’re stopping at churches, parks, and city hall to say enough is enough; it’s time to recognize and respect the rights of all the people in Arizona.”

The walkers have four days left in their trip, and will take on the following route:

  • Day 4: Wednesday, August 12th: Dayspring United Methodist Church to Cesar Chavez Park
  • Day 5: Thursday, August 13th: Cesar Chavez Park to  Glendale City Hall
  • Day 6: Friday, August 14th: Glendale City Hall to Catholic Bishop
  • Day 7: Saturday, August 15th: Catholic Bishop to Phoenix City Hall 

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, visit www.soulforce.org/righttomarry                                                                                                   ###                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                             

Arizona Youth Make Great Strides toward Marriage Equality

LocalEquality Walkers” span 97 miles to build awareness around same-sex marriage

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 9, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Meg Sneed, Right to Marry: Arizona, 623-262-6696
Carlos Perez de Alejo, Soulforce Media Director, 321-948-3423
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(Phoenix, AZ) Beneath a sweltering summer morning sun in Scottsdale, Arizona, six young adults from Right to Marry: Arizona embarked on a week-long 97 mile walk from the Bible Church in Scottsdale to the state capital in Phoenix, seeking to engage religious leaders, city and state officials, and everyday citizens on the thorny subject of same-sex marriage.  Carrying rainbow umbrellas to ward off the sun’s rays, the Equality Walkers will walk a mile for every year Arizona has failed to provide equal protection for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

This year marks the second annual Right to Marry walk in Arizona, a campaign developed by Meg Sneed of Soulforce Q, the youth-driven arm of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization.  “The walk is long, but it’s all worth it,” says Sneed.  “It’s time for youth to weigh in on the importance of civil rights and social justice for everyone.  Part of that process requires tough conversations, and that’s why we’re out here talking to as many different people as we can.”

Sneed crafted the idea for Right to Marry after participating in an inspiring three-day walk for breast cancer research.  As a cancer survivor herself, Sneed found long-distance walking both challenging and empowering.

“Walking 97 miles in August may seem crazy, and yes maybe it is a little crazy, but it is also crazy for the state of Arizona to deny people the right to marry the person they love for the last 96 years,” says Sneed.

While last years Right to Marry walk centered around Proposition 102, Arizona’s “defense of marriage” legislation which passed last November, this year the Equality Walkers will take their pilgrimage to those communities which had the highest number of votes in favor of marriage inequality.  Sneed and her fellow travelers will make periodic stops on their journey to lead discussions at churches, city halls, and parks across the Valley.

“We’re prepared to add a mile every year until all the people of Arizona have the right to marry,” says Luis Garcia, a longtime resident of the Phoenix community and a fellow Equality Walker.

The walkers will follow this route:

Day 1: Sunday, August 9th: Scottsdale Bible Church to All Saints Catholic Newman Center   

Day 2: Monday, August 10th: All Saints Catholic Newman Center to Parish of the Diocese of Phoenix Saint Mary’s                                                                                                                   

Day 3: Tuesday, August 11th: Parish of the Diocese of Phoenix Saint Mary’s to Dayspring United Methodist Church                                                                                                                         

Day 4: Wednesday, August 12th: Dayspring United Methodist Church to Cesar Chavez Park  

Day 5: Thursday, August 13th: Cesar Chavez Park to  Glendale City Hall                                 

Day 6: Friday, August 14th: Glendale City Hall to Catholic Bishop                                            

Day 7: Saturday, August 15th: Catholic Bishop to Phoenix City Hall 

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, visit www.soulforce.org/righttomarry                                                                                                   ###                                                                                                                                                       

Young Adults Reach Halfway Point in 97 Mile Walk Across Phoenix

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: August 12, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Meg Sneed, Right to Marry: Arizona, 623-262-6696
Carlos Perez de Alejo, Soulforce Media Director, 321-948-3423
******************************************

(Phoenix, AZ) On Sunday, August 9, six young adults from Right to Marry: Arizona began a 97 mile walk from the Bible Church in Scottsdale to spark dialogue on marriage equality with religious leaders, city and state officials, and everyday citizens of Arizona.  With over 40 miles covered and dozens of challenging conversations behind them, the “equality walkers” have reached the halfway point in their journey.  Despite the heat, Meg Sneed and her team of six young equality advocates are determined to press on, promoting equal rights for Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

“We’ve had a great walk so far,” says Melissa Halverson, co-director of Right to Marry: Arizona, a campaign developed by Soulforce Q, the youth-driven arm of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization.  “It’s tough conversations like the one’s we’ve had on the walk that will help bring marriage equality to Arizona, a state that has denied equal protection for LGBT folks for over nine decades.” 

This year marks the second annual Right to Marry walk in Arizona.  Sneed developed the campaign after participating in a three-day walk for breast cancer research.  As a cancer survivor, Sneed found the walk inspiring and decided to adapt her experience to the marriage equality debate in Arizona, walking a mile for every year the state has denied equal protection for its LGBT citizens.

“This year we’re focusing on the organizations and individuals who have spoken out strongly against marriage equality,” says Sneed.  “We’re stopping at churches, parks, and city hall to say enough is enough; it’s time to recognize and respect the rights of all the people in Arizona.”

The walkers have four days left in their trip, and will take on the following route:

Day 4: Wednesday, August 12th: Dayspring United Methodist Church to Cesar Chavez Park   Day 5: Thursday, August 13th: Cesar Chavez Park to  Glendale City Hall                                 Day 6: Friday, August 14th: Glendale City Hall to Catholic Bishop                                            Day 7: Saturday, August 15th: Catholic Bishop to Phoenix City Hall 

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, visit www.soulforce.org/righttomarry                                                                                                   ###