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Thread: Calling in 'gay' to protest marriage ban

  1. #1
    Elite Member Moongirl's Avatar
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    Default Calling in 'gay' to protest marriage ban

    News from The Associated Press

    December 9, 2008
    Calling in 'gay' to work is latest form of protest
    By LISA LEFF
    Associated Press Writer

    Some same-sex marriage supporters are urging people to "call in gay" Wednesday to show how much the country relies on gays and lesbians, but others question whether it's wise to encourage skipping work given the nation's economic distress. Organizers of "Day Without a Gay" scheduled to coincide with International Human Rights Day and modeled after similar work stoppages by Latino immigrants also are encouraging people to perform volunteer work and refrain from spending money.

    Sean Hetherington, a West Hollywood comedian and personal trainer, dreamed up the idea with his boyfriend, Aaron Hartzler, after reading online that a few angry gay-rights activists were calling for a daylong strike to protest California voters' passage last month of Proposition 8, which reversed this year's state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.

    The couple thought it would be more effective and less divisive if people were asked to perform community service instead of staying home with their wallets shut. Dozens of nonprofit agencies, from the National Women's Law Center in Washington to a Methodist church in Fresno collecting food for the homeless, have posted opportunities for volunteers on the couple's Web site.

    "We are all for a boycott if that is what brings about a sense of community for people," said Hetherington, 30, who plans to spend Wednesday volunteering at an inner-city school. "You can take away from the economy and give back in other ways."

    Hetherington said he's been getting 100 e-mails an hour from people looking for volunteer opportunities, and that his "Day Without a Gay" Web site has gotten 100,000 hits since mid-November.

    Despite Hartzler and Hetherington's attempt to fashion a positive approach, some organizers of the street demonstrations that drew massive crowds in many cities last month have been reluctant to embrace the concept, saying that it could be at best impractical and at worst counterproductive to "call in gay."

    "It's extra-challenging for people to think about taking off work as a form of protest, given that we are talking about people who may not be out (as gay) at work, and given the current economic situation and job market," said Jules Graves, 38, coordinator of the Colorado Queer Straight Alliance. "There is really not any assurance employers would appreciate it for what it is."

    Graves' group nonetheless is arranging for interested participants to volunteer at the local African Community Center in Denver. The agency said it could find projects to keep 20 people busy, but so far only 10 have pledged to show up, said Graves.

    Scott Craig, a fifth-grade teacher at Independence Charter School in Philadelphia, had no problem requesting and being granted the day off. So many of the school's 60 teachers were eager to show support for gay rights they had to make sure enough stayed behind to staff classrooms.

    About 25 teachers plan to take Wednesday off and to have their work covered by substitutes while they discuss ways to introduce gay issues to their students and volunteer at the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Craig said. A letter telling parents why so many teachers would be out went home Monday.

    "We want to get the conversation going in the community that gay is not bad," Craig said. "For kids to hear that in a positive light can be life-changing."

    Join The Impact, the online community that launched protests last month over the passage of gay marriage bans in California, Florida and Arizona, has urged people to withdraw $80 from their bank accounts Wednesday to demonstrate gays' spending power, and to devote the time they might otherwise spend watching TV or surfing the Internet to volunteer work.

    Witeck-Combs Communications, a public relations firm in Washington that specializes in the gay and lesbian market, published a study this year that estimated that gay and lesbian consumers spend $700 billion annually.

    Bob Witeck, the firm's chief executive officer, said it would be difficult to measure the success of Wednesday's strike since gay employees occupy so many fields. And rather than suspending all consumer spending for the day, gay rights supporters would have a bigger impact if they devoted their dollars to gay-friendly businesses year-round, Witeck said.

    "Our community leaders who are running book stores, newspapers, flower shops, coffee houses, bars and many, many other things are hurting right now, so paying attention to their needs during this hard time is an effective form of activism," he said.

    Hetherington said he has been careful to design A Day Without a Gay he came up with the name after the film "A Day Without a Mexican" and liked it because it rhymed so no one feels excluded or threatened.

    He has specifically urged high school students not to walk out of their classes and assured college students they won't be disloyal to the cause if they go ahead and take their final exams. He also has listed opportunities ranging from writing letters to members of Congress about federal gay rights legislation to spreading the word about Wednesday on social networking sites for gay marriage backers who cannot miss work.

    ___

    On the Net:

    Day Without A Gay, December 10, 2008

    Join the Impact - 1 Million Plus For Equality!


    In this file photo from June 17, 2008, Eric Manriquez, left, and Juan Rivera hold their gold wedding rings together as they get married in East Los Angeles. On Wednesday, Dec. 10, supporters of same-sex marriage across the country are being encouraged to stay home and call in "gay" to work to protest the passage of Proposition 8. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)


    In this file photo from June 17, 2008, Curt Garman, left, and Richard Looke hold hands as they look for a quiet spot to hold their wedding at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday Dec. 10, supporters of same-sex marriage across the country are being encouraged to stay home and call in "gay" to work to protest the passage of Proposition 8. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
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    You may forward this article or get additional permissions by typing iCopyright: Associated Press Content Services into any web browser. Press Association and Associated Press logos are registered trademarks of Press Association. The iCopyright logo is a registered trademark of iCopyright, Inc.

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Day to 'call in gay' finds few willing to strike


    (12-10) 18:23 PST San Francisco (AP) --
    A daylong work stoppage during which employees were encouraged to "call in gay" to express support for same-sex marriage drew spotty participation nationwide Wednesday, with some gay rights activists praising the concept but questioning its effect.
    In San Francisco's gay Castro district, residents and merchants said they endorsed the message behind "Day Without a Gay" but didn't think a work stoppage was practical given the poor economy and the strike's organization.
    "If we are going to make a huge impact and not be laughed at, then we have to take the time and make the time to communicate with all the parties. We could have shut down a lot of the hotels," said David Lang, a San Francisco gymnastics coach. "In theory it's a great idea, but it's being done wrong and now that it's been done wrong, I don't think it will be done again."
    The protest, which a gay couple from West Hollywood organized through the Internet, was designed to demonstrate the economic clout of same-sex marriage supporters following the passage of voter-approved gay marriage bans in California, Arizona and Florida last month.
    Participants were asked to refrain from spending money or at least to patronize gay-friendly businesses for the day.
    Paul Ellis, 51, a manager at Cliff's Variety hardware store, said he didn't want his employer to bear the burden of his support.
    "My employers have always been there in every possible way. I didn't feel comfortable discomfiting them when they have gone out of their way to be there for me," he said.
    Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that promotes equality for gay and lesbian employees, suggested that gay marriage supporters could send an effective message beyond Wednesday by openly discussing the issue at their workplaces.
    "When people go into the voting booth and vote against (gay) rights, they often have no idea they are voting against the person sitting next to them in the next cubicle or office," said Selisse Berry, Out and Equal's executive director.
    Berry noted that only 20 states have laws to protect workers from being fired for being homosexual, making lesbians and gays reluctant to reveal themselves to co-workers in most jurisdictions.
    "Constantly lying about our weekends at the water cooler or changing pronouns, that takes up so much energy that we could be putting into our jobs," she said.
    Participants who opted to take the day off from their jobs were encouraged to perform community service, and charitable organizations across the country said volunteers showed up.
    "Visibility is really important for the gay community, so after a lot of thought I decided I would come out and be visible with my colleagues at work and use the time working for the community," said Carrie Lewis, 36, a University of California health researcher who spent the day working at the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center.
    Backers of "Day Without a Gay" organized evening rallies in San Francisco, Austin, Texas, Logan, Utah, and other cities so supporters could gather to discuss the next steps. Rallies also were held earlier Wednesday in Chicago and on several college campuses in California.
    "The movement that fought for equality and succeeded in electing Obama president is really looking to make progressive gains now," said Mark Airgood, who used a personal day to take off from his job as a middle school teacher in Berkeley. "I think we really can, and I think this is an important day for that."

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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    The hubby and I called in yesterday. We had no idea about this, but he was asked this morning if that's why he missed yesterday.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    I wonder why Drudge didn't call in.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    i've noticed that the no on 8 peeps are speaking up more now than they did before the vote. i wish they would have done all of this before it was voted down.
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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msdeb View Post
    i've noticed that the no on 8 peeps are speaking up more now than they did before the vote. i wish they would have done all of this before it was voted down.
    Interesting point, though I think it's been stated that the no on 8 side actually spent more money overall, it was more towards the latter days before the election.

    I think many people just took it for granted, that people in the end would vote no on 8. Early polls seemed to indicate that voters would vote no on 8. There has been a trend towards more acceptance of gay marriage recently. So I think a lot of people myself included had a false sense that Californians would ultimately vote no.

    That is why I think there is so much anger and fury, because there was a false sense of security so to speak. When you are led to believe one thing from polls, and that Californians are more "open" than the other states and how we'd show them, come election day and you see the yes on 8 side winning, it must feel like a slap in the face and a stab in the back.

    So what's been happening post election is a reaction to what has happened, the shock, hurt, and anger, and the shattering of the belief that Californians would ultimately vote no on 8.

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