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NY Marriage Equality: How Did We Get There? A Photo Retrospective

26 Jun

I moved from New York to Washington DC three weeks ago to be with my boyfriend. It’s hard not to still consider New York City home after nearly 13 years living there, but after last night – my struggle to move on became even more difficult. For the past several years, I’ve proudly fought alongside some incredible activists, lobbyists, politicians and allies in the struggle for equality. And last night in New York, we finally won.

I thought of writing a diatribe about how much we have to learn from this victory – how for one of the first times in our movement’s history, we worked together to accomplish something. I could be heavy-handed and speak endlessly at the incredible work done by this partnership of several organizations all working towards the same thing. I could even go so far as to reflect on the fact that even though we have this beautiful victory at long last, that there are still 1,138 rights not afforded to legally married gay and lesbian couples and that we MUST focus on equality on the federal level. But instead, I decided to post some photos.

For the past 3+ years, I’ve discovered a love for photography and in my own way, I’ve been documenting some of the movement from my perspective as a New Yorker. So please enjoy these photos which reflect some of my favorite moments and people involved in the recent part of our struggle for equality. Please note: there are photos here from swanky cocktail parties, from pride marches, from rallies, protests, political speeches, phone banks and even a living room or two. New York Marriage Equality happened because of ALL of it, not some.

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All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com

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PHOTOS: Chelsea Clinton, Kristen Bell, Andy Cohen, Ken Mehlman, David Mixner, Mark Consuelos and More Come Out for Friendfactor

4 May

As we’ve talked about here before, there’s a new organization that has decided to make some new strides in a whole new direction for equality. Friendfactor is dedicated to winning our equality by utilizing our strong relationships with our straight allies.

Tonight, I was proud to take part in their launch event at Lavo on East 58th Street. Their guests of honor were the true image of working together. With a sold-out crowd and dozens of New Yorkers who have long fought the war for equality, Friendfactor’s founder Brian Elliott introduced some new campaigns hoping to help win marriage equality in New York in the next six weeks. Recently outed Gay Republican Ken Mahlman was in attendance as well as recently married Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the man who signed both the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into law.

Other guests included Andy Cohen, Kristen Bell, Mark Consuelos, Miss New York Claire Buffie and Civil Rights legend, David Mixner. Please enjoy some photos from this evening and visit Friendfactor.org to find out what you can do to help win our equality! To order photos or to see more, visit Equality Photography. All photos copyright: Jamie McGonnigal.

Pop The Question: Maryland Marriage Equality

2 Feb

As some of you may know, I grew up in Maryland. Ive spent most of my life in and out of the Free State and in fact most of my friends and family live in the state still.

Having been active in the Washington, DC equality movement I was elated last year when marriage equality was finally won in the district. For myself, and a number of nearby native Marylanders, it was a bittersweet moment. Though I have marriage equality where I work and hang out, those rights evaporate on the short metro ride to where I sleep.

We now stand on the precipice of winning marriage equality in Maryland and a number of great organizations are working full steam to make this happen.

Equality Maryland is taking the lead in lobbying state legislators to pass SB 116, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act”, partnering with Freedom To Marry and others to build a grassroots movement for Maryland marriage equality. Freedom to Marry Political Director, Sean Eldridge (who recently announced his engagement to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes) did an interview with Swirl Radio outlining the state of marriage equality in the country. In it, he outlines legal and judicial strategies as well as upcoming legislative fights.

Our friends at Friendfactor have launched a click to call campaign called “Pop The Question“. The campaign empowers gay Marylanders to ask their straight friends to advocate on their behalf. Allied friends can then call Maryland legislators and voice their support for marriage equality, and their gay friends, through the passage of SB 116. Pop the Question makes it quick and simple for supporters to take this meaningful grassroots action with just a few clicks.

“Gay friends are much more important to most Marylanders than issues or ideology,” says Friendfactor
Founder Brian Elliot. “Our straight friends want to show support, but they don’t always know how or
when. Pop the Question solves those problems.”

So Friends, are you ready to make a few calls? This vote is coming up very soon and we need all hands on deck for this final push. Use the Friendfactor tool, check out the Equality Maryland wesbite for Volunteer opportunities, and take a few minutes out of your day for Marriage Equality in the Free State.

Maybe soon that short metro ride wont take me out of range of my civil rights.

All I Want for Christmas is EQUALITY, EQUALITY, EQUALITY!

7 Dec

We want to implore all of you to join us in using our holiday spending to help some of our organizations stay afloat in this current economic environment. Each of these organizations is having trouble with funding. We need to make sure that they continue on so that our rights are won!

The Ali Forney Center for Homeless LGBT Youth is an incredible organization that is currently under attack by those who oppose us, including New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Mayor has proposed unbelievable cuts that would close several help centers for these kids -many of whom have been kicked out of their homes for being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender. NYC has just cut their support of the Ali Forney Center greatly and they need your help. These kids are OUR responsibility. Help them out.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is doing incredible work on our behalf and will most certainly be responsible for Marriage Equality coming to this country through their court challenges to California’s Proposition 8.

Friendfactor is reaching out to our allies in ways we never thought possible. The new organization is focused on activating our straight allies. Very few groups are reaching outside our own community to find support, but we here at Talk About Equality believe that Friendfactor holds a special key to finding our equality. We cannot do this without our allies. We are a minority and without the help of our friends and family, we are lost.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is one of the leading organizations fighting (uphill at times) for the Employment Non-Discrimintation Act (ENDA). Though this seemed like an easy fight, ENDA has seen several setbacks, essentially from our realization that our country fails to see Transgender people as equals. The National Center for Transgender Equality is doing incredible work to educate our government and our citizens on our equality. And make no mistake, this movement would be years behind without the T in LGBT.

The Victory Fund is responsible for more than 106 LGBT candidates being elected to public office in 2010. More than any other electoral period in our country’s history.Harvey Milk once said “…you’ve got to keep electing gay people…to know there is better hope for tomorrow. Not only for gays, but for blacks, Asians, the disabled, our senior citizens and us. Without hope, we give up. I know you cannot live on hope alone, but without it life is not worth living. You and you and you have got to see that the promise does not fade.” Make a contribution if you can.

GetEQUAL is doing incredible work in activism. We may not all be cut out for cuffing ourselves to the White House fence, but this organization is getting notice. One of this organization’s leaders, Robin McGehee was arrested one day at the White House and the next day was invited to a meeting there. One of the ideas that GetEQUAL embraces is that all of us can make a difference, no matter what our tactic – just keep the pressure on, and we can make a difference.

There are dozens of other organizations out there that need our help. Please take a moment to research what is important to you and encourage your friends and family to make contributions to these groups in leiu of your holiday gifts this year. When our kids live in a world with equality, they’ll thank you for it.

Straight to the Gay Bar: Friendfactor Makes a Splash

2 Dec

Most out LGBT people I know, can recall coming out to their best straight friend or their straight brother or sister or even their parents. When we recall that moment, it’s hard not to also remember the awkward questions that followed…

“So…have you ALWAYS been this way?”

“Do you like musicals now?”

and the ever-famous…

“So…how do you…do…it?”

What many of us don’t really notice is just how easy it becomes to communicate with our straight friends and family once the big questions have already been asked. Of course this isn’t ALWAYS the case and some of us are dismissed and disowned outright, and sometimes the conversation never moves past the awkward. But for those relationships that are lucky enough to move beyond that, Brian Elliot and his pals at Friendfactor want you to take the next step.

Having started a Facebook group called “Give Brian Equality,” Brian succeeded in getting 600 of his friends to join – to learn about the inequalities he faces. Brian was shocked to see that in just four weeks, the group had grown to 19,000 people. So he started Friendfactor, a new online platform designed to assist LGBT people in communicating with their straight friends about equality. We announced the launch of the app and website just a few weeks ago.

It’s time to move past “Does this belt go with this dress?” and on to “Did you know I can be fired for being gay in 29+ states?”

Tonight, Friendfactor had it’s first Friendraiser, encouraging LGBT people to attend and bring along a straight friend or two. The event, titled “Straight to a gay bar” was a huge success with over 200 attendees and a little education mixed with a few drinks. The approach was subtle and even featured a gameshow where the straight friend had to guess if the title read by the host was the name of a gay bar or a steakhouse, and the gay friend had to guess between straight bars and day spas. Needless to say, “Mantini” and “Touch” were among the stumpers. Visit www.Friendfactor.org to find out more information. Here’s a few photos from tonight’s event:

Patty Buckley, COO and Brian Elliot, Founder of Friendfactor

 

All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal; EqualityPhotography.com