In 2004 eleven states passed Marriage Discrimination Amendments, denying same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities of one of the most fundamental civil institutions afforded to the straight world. For many otherwise politically savvy heterosexuals, the passage of these amendments served as a wake-up call for LGBT civil rights. They knew gays and lesbians experienced inequality and were not proponents of it, but to find out eleven states voted against someone else's rights was outrageous! Where were all the straight people in those states who believed that discriminatory laws were inexcusable? How did these amendments pass by such overwhelming margins?
Same-sex couples and their children are systematically denied the protections and responsibilities afforded to other families. We can no longer sit by and find out after-the-fact that our friends, co-workers and family members are being stripped of their rights. We cannot sit on the sidelines and expect a marginalized minority to fend for themselves against lawmakers and voters made up of the privileged majority.
It is time to break the silence and stand side-by-side with our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) neighbors as allies/advocates for equality. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird did so, and supporters of Atticus Circle take the same stand.
Atticus Circle, a national non-profit organization run by and for straight people, based in Austin, Texas, brings a mainstream straight voice to the LGBT equal rights movement . In the two years since its inception, it has identified over 3,000 supporters from around the country, advocated in local and national legislative bodies and collaborated with many LGBT and progressive national and local organizations.
Through the Caring for All Children project, Atticus Circle developed a resource that explains in plain terms the kinds of discrimination children of same-sex couples face. The Campus Circles program works with the "Gay? Fine by me." T-shirt Project to bring in thousands of self-identified allies on high school and college campuses across the country, and put them into action to make their schools and communities safer places for lgbt students.
One of the largest new initiatives Atticus Circle is working on is Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights. This program, developed in partnership with Soulforce, organizes overnight vigils in major cities across the country during the week of October 7 through 13, 2007. Straight families and individuals are mobilizing to spend a night educating their communities and elected officials about the discrimination LGBT individuals and families face. Some of the vigils will be "thank yous" for progressive policy changes, while others will be critiques of current state policies. Several states have already signed on, but Atticus Circle would love to get more straight families involved!
If you are interested in helping to organize one of these vigils or simply want more information about the organization, please contact Atticus Circle at firstname.lastname@example.org! Or visit the website at www.atticuscircle.org.
Mmo : august 2007