To keep volunteers and supporters safe amid the Covid-19 outbreak, pro-LGBTQ ballot measure effort in Michigan has gone fully digital.
Earlier this year, a coalition of pro-LGBTQ civil rights, business and political leaders launched a petition to expand Michigan law by including anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender residents. Fair and Equal Michigan was created on Tuesday, January 7th, with the goal to create a citizens' bill in the State Legislature after advocates collect 340,047 citizen signatures.
COVID-19 has presented an obvious challenge to that effort. But earlier this week, the coalition announced it would move its campaign moving forward by transitioning to an electronic signature collection strategy.
"To keep our supporters safe and to recognize the stay-at-home orders by the state, we are encouraging people to sign the petition for LGBTQ equality electronically during this unique moment," said Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair Trevor Thomas. "This transition to electronic signature collection will ensure Michigan voters can continue to participate in the democratic process and exercise their reserved constitutional right to initiate legislation while doing their part to stop the spread of coronavirus."
To sign the petition, supporters can simply visit the coalition's website at www.FairAndEqualMichigan.com. The process to sign one's name takes no more than three minutes. Supporters will need a valid Michigan driver's license or state identification card number in order to contribute their names.
Already, Fair and Equal Michigan has collected more than 150,000 signatures. The group has until May 27, the state mandated deadline, to reach the 340,047 valid signatures needed. The coalition plans to collect well more than that — 542,000 signatures by the deadline — for quality control purposes. Upon the submission of signatures, the Legislature will then have 40 days to adopt the initiative as written or send it for voters to decide in the November election.
If the ballot measure passes, Michigan would join 21 other states with laws that already prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity.
After Rene suffered a brutal homophobic attack that left him hospitalized, he and his family have turned to advocacy to heal
Guest post written by Rene and Nejc
We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.
We asked our dads of daughters what they most wished for their daughters as we all continue our work fighting against the inequality they will inevitably face
Today is International Women's Day. A day to celebrate and honor the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Much like LGBTQ+ equality, gender equality has come leaps and bounds over the past 100 years, but a perfect egalitarian society still does not exist. We asked our dads of daughters what they most wished for their daughters as we all continue our work fighting against the inequality they will inevitably face. Here's what they had to say:
A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.
The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.
If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."
The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."
In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.
Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," lists the many insights LGBTQ marriages can offer straight ones.
According to a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times this week by Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," turns out the people convinced marriage equality — legal across the United States for five years now — would usher in the complete breakdown of civil society should be more worried about the health of their own marriages.
In the article, Coontz details the results of research that followed 756 "midlife" straight marriages, and 378 gay marriages, and found same-sex couples reporting the lowest levels of physiological distress — with male gay couples reporting the lowest. The reason for this, the author said, is pretty simple — misogyny. The idea that men and women should strive for parity in a relationship is still a fairly new idea, Coontz said, and traditional gender roles are still pervasive. Gay couples, meanwhile, are free from such presumptions, which often results in happier, healthier relationships.
The most interesting findings in the research relate to parenting. While gender norms tend to be even more emphasized among straight people once they have children, with the bulk of the childrearing falling to mothers, same-sex couples — once again freed from the stereotypes of the male/female divide — parent more equitably. As the author notes, "A 2015 survey found that almost half of dual-earner, same-sex couples shared laundry duties, compared with just under a third of different-sex couples. And a whopping 74 percent of same-sex couples shared routine child care, compared with only 38 percent of straight couples."
When it comes to time spent with children, men in straight marriages spent the least amount of time and the lowest proportion of "nonwork" time, with their children — while men in same-sex marriages spent just as much time with their children as women in a straight relationship. "The result?" Coontz writes, "Children living with same-sex parents experienced, on average, three and a half hours of parenting time per day, compared with two and a half for children living with a heterosexual couple."
Straight fathers devote the least amount of time — about 55 minutes a day — on their children, which includes things like physical needs, reading, playing, and homework. Gay mothers spent an additional 18 minutes each and straight mothers an additional 23 minutes. Gay fathers spent the most time with their children, the study found, an average of an additional 28 minutes a day.
Taken together, straight couples spend an average of 2 hours and 14 minutes on their children. Lesbian moms spend an additional 13 minutes, while gay men spend 33 more minutes than straight couples.
One factor, the author notes, that can help explain this difference is this: gay parents rarely end up with an unintended or unwanted child, whereas a full 45% percent of pregnancies in straight relationships in 2011 (the last year data is available) were unintended, and 18% were unwanted.
But right. Gay people shouldn't be parents.
An Uber driver in San Diego reportedly accused two gay dads of child trafficking because their child "didn't have a mother."
[An update on this story as of February 17, 2020: Uber Support has still yet to respond to James Moed and his multiple requests from further comment. The driver who falsely accused the gay dads of kidnaping their own child, in fact, continues to "drive around with a "Pro Diamond" status with a 4.93 rating," James said in a recent Tweet.]
On January 29 of this year, James Moed took an Uber with his husband, and their newborn son, to the Marriott Marina hotel in the San Diego area. As their newborn son cried in the backseat of the car, the family's driver offered this piece of helpful advice:
The baby just needs his mother.
Any queer dad has been through this scenario a million times — the dreaded "Where's the Mommy?" question. But even when the dads explained that their son had two fathers, not a mother, the driver "didn't back down," Moed said via Twitter.
Little did the couple realize just how perplexed the driver actually was. At 1:30am in the morning, the couple was greeted by a loud knock on their hotel door. Officers from the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department were on the other side, demanding to see the couple's identification — and their son's.
Last Wed, husband, infant son, and I were staying at @MarriottMarina. At 1:30 AM the @SanDiegoPD knocked on our door, demanding our IDs
— James Moed (@jamesmoed) February 5, 2020
"It turns out the Uber driver who had taken us to the hotel had called the cops – accusing us of child trafficking? Endangerment?" Moed wrote on Twitter. Though the situation was quickly resolved, the couple was nonetheless — and understandably — "freaked out."
"What if we hadn't had his passport?" Moed wrote. "Where can my queer family travel safely?"
The couple took their complaints to Uber. In response — they were refunded $10. "Keep your $10," Moed wrote. "We want proof you keep your LGBTQ riders safe."
After Pink News requested further comment from Uber, the company gave the following canned response:
"As soon as we learned of this incident we launched an investigation. Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not tolerate discrimination."
The dads, however, are keeping up the fights, demanding evidence of some sort of LGBTQ sensitivity training their drivers must undergo. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.
PL+US report has found paid family and medical leave policies more popular than ever among nation's top employers
PL+US, an organization that advocates for paid family leave policies for all families, released a report that showed paid family and medical leave policies gaining steam among the nation's top employers. In a first, the non-profit expanded its research this year to examine the largest employment sectors in the country to help show what policies look like for workers in different sectors.
Among the report's main findings:
"Mighty May Won't Cry Today" is a relatable story celebrating the LGBTQ community, kids with same-sex parents, diversity and inclusion
Check out this 'Q & A' with Kendra and Claire-Voe Ocampo, authors of a new LGBTQ children's picture book, 'Mighty May Won't Cry Today.'
Tell us a bit about yourselves!
Our story began 10 years ago in Boston when we fell in love. We got married in New Jersey in 2014, just months after same-sex marriage became legal in the state. Now six years later we are a happy family of four, moms to two daughters, Xiomara and Violet. When we're not writing or working our day jobs, you might find us eating Spanish tapas, video gaming, or debating over watching a sappy rom-com or the latest Sci-Fi flick on Netflix.
What inspired you to write the book?
Our inspiration to write the book began in 2016 after our first daughter was born and we began reading her children's books. We quickly saw that most of them featured a traditional family. It saddened us that our family was so little represented in the books Xiomara read, and we worried that she would feel like we were different (in a negative way) from other families. In fact, we learned that a study out of the Cooperative Children's Book Center of Education found that of 3,700 books surveyed, less than 1% were children's picture books containing LGBTQ+ content. It only made sense to write a children's book of our own!
What is the book about?
Mighty May Won't Cry Today tells the story of May, an imaginative and determined girl who tries not to cry on her first day of school. May's first day of school is filled with many adventures and emotions as she is faced with unexpected, embarrassing and overwhelming moments. Young readers will relate to the experiences of May's day—riding the bus for the first time or forgetting her favorite drink at home. At last May will face the ultimate challenge and she cannot hold back her tears. With the help of her two moms, she finds out why it's OK to cry and that even adults cry, both happy and sad tears!
How is this book unique from other children's books?
Not only is this book unique because it shows non-traditional families in children's books, but it also shares a unique message for kids and adults of all ages—learning that it's beneficial to cry when dealing with emotions like sadness, fear, embarrassment and frustration.
Shira Levy, School Psychologist and Positive Psychology Practitioner says about Mighty May: "I absolutely love Mighty May Won't Cry Today. It's a story about grit and perseverance, and teaches children about emotional intelligence and the fact that it's okay to experience a wide range of emotions. That's actually really good for our brains because when we make mistakes and we learn new things, our brains GROW. I highly recommend Mighty May Won't Cry Today."
What will gay, bi and trans fathers love about your book?
Fathers and kids will love the poetic rhymes, colorful designs and lovable "Mighty May." It's a beautiful story with a positive message about embracing different families and encourages an environment of inclusion from an early age. It is a great learning tool to teach kids that it's OK to cry and how to use mindful techniques to work through emotions.
When can we buy the book and how can we support it?
The illustrations for the book are almost final, but in order to fund the final illustrations and printing of this book, we launched a Kickstarter campaign on February 1, 2020. We would love it if you could join us on this journey. Please VISIT our Kickstarter page, LIKE our Facebook page and SHARE our story with your friends and family. We are counting on the LGBTQ community as our advocates and we know that together we will successfully bring this story to life.
Please post below and tell us: what are you excited about related to Mighty May? What do you think is important about telling this story? We can't wait to hear your thoughts.
Thank you for reading!
Kendra & Claire-Voe Ocampo, creators of Mighty May Won't Cry Today