Resources

Resource: Immigration Equality – Couples and Families

Posted on October 22, 2013. Filed under: Resources |

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down a core provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), lesbian and gay Americans will now be eligible to apply for green cards on behalf of their foreign national spouses, the organization Immigration Equality announced today. The court ruled on July 26, in United States v. Windsor, that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from conferring benefits to married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. That provision of the law made it impossible for lesbian and gay couples to receive immigration benefits, including green cards.

For more information visit their web site:  http://immigrationequality.org/issues/couples-and-families/

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Most Common Questions (FAQs) – Everyday Immigration Equality answers immigration questions.

Posted on November 30, 2011. Filed under: Resources | Tags: , , , , , |

Most Common Questions

http://www.immigrationequality.org/issues/immigration-basics/most-common-questions/

Everyday Immigration Equality answers immigration questions from the thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender immigrants and their families. We also provide support for immigration attorneys throughout the United States. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions. Please read through these first, and if you don’t see the answer, then email Immigration Equality.

This site has a wealth of information for those needing information related to LGBT Immigration.

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Working with Metaphors in Counseling

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: Resources | Tags: , , , , |

By Ash Rehn

I work with metaphors and many of my clients are gay men and lesbians. The approach I use in counselling /psychotherapy is based on the principal that we interpret and make meaning of life through the stories we tell ourselves and others. These stories about the events and experiences of our lives employ metaphors.

The ‘journey’ metaphor (life as a journey) is very common in counselling work as are pedagogic metaphors (life as learning). But rather than come up with the metaphors myself, I am interested in the metaphors people bring to the counselling session. As a therapist I do not set about making interpretations but assist people to make their own interpretations.

For example… Say I am meeting with a client who talks about not being able to find any satisfaction in life. He has been searching for satisfaction for a long time. He knows it exists because he knows some other gay men who seem to have found it, but he was always told when he was growing up that satisfaction came from having a family and finding a loving partner. He hasn’t been able to find satisfaction and has often thought about giving up (the giving up took the form of suicidal thoughts), but something leads him to keep pursuing it.

This story could be seen as a kind of a quest metaphor: the quest for satisfaction. In telling me the story of this search he uses words like ‘finding’, ‘searching’, ‘existence’, ‘giving up’ and ‘pursuing’.

So I can pick up this metaphor and start using it with him, using his own language and interpretation of the events and experiences of his life to find new clues, signposts etc to explore the origins of this quest with him. Quest metaphors are not uncommon of course and we see them regularly in films such as The Wizard of Oz, and Lord of the Rings etc.

Someone else might come to me with a problem of ‘Not knowing How to Make Friends’. So there is a metaphor here in the ‘making’. This person has ‘almost given up’ because it requires ‘too much effort’ and he has ‘nothing to see for it’. When I ask about what he has heard about making friends he tells me that he understands it takes ‘Time, Trust and Effort’. And from his experience already he has decided that it is quite hard to build on ‘one night stands’ or random hook ups’ because the whole thing is liable to ‘come crumbling down’ too easily.

This sounds to me like a construction metaphor. I can follow this up with him by asking about plans and dreams of what kinds of friendships he wants to build. Are they great edifices or cosy hideaways? If random hook ups don’t seem to work, what sort of foundations might work? What is the cement of friendship? What are the building blocks? Does he know of any ‘finished products’ or ‘works in progress’ he can get ideas from?

I find metaphors really stimulating. Firstly, I don’t come up with them, others do, but I can help develop the preferred story and plotlines. Metaphors also speak to the hopes, beliefs, commitments and values people have. And hearing about these is just as important as hearing the ‘problem story’.

www.forwardtherapy.com

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The Marriage Metaphor – Why we should know the meaning behind words

Posted on March 9, 2010. Filed under: Collective Wisdom, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By: Beau Williams
Date: March 8, 2010

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Immigration Stories, A Collective Wisdom. I wish to know more about, and conduct research at a later date, on the challenges and experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender immigrants. My reason for approaching the issue in the manner is that I think story telling as an educational tool can be very powerful. So, what I am proposing and am doing is putting out requests that give the identified population a chance to share their stories as well as am searching far and wide for stories that have already been captured and am putting them together to create a collective wisdom. My reason for approaching the subject in this manner is to give a nurturing space for creating community and providing access to information that will support others during a time that could potentially be one of the most stressful and difficult transitions in their lives.

 In collecting these stories there is one issue that seems to stand out to me more then most of the others. As of January 2010 there are over 36,000 bi-national couples dealing with additional stress on their relationship due to the fact their country of origin has failed to legally recognize their relationship. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act allow permanent residents to sponsor their spouses and their spouse’s immediate family for the purposes of immigration. However, same-sex partners of permanent residents and U.S. citizens will not be taken into consideration as spouses and their companion/partners are not permitted to sponsor them for family based immigration. As such many bi-national same sex couples are kept apart or forced to live in others countries where same sex marriage is recognized (Human Rights Campaign, 2010).

 With the many different elements in my project this element was most surprising to me. Not that I did not believe it to be true but rather it simply had not occurred to me. The idea that a couple’s relationship is ignored or not acknowledged seems to disturb me more and more as I come across these stories. 

 For as long as I can remember many gay couples who lived together would apply a term to their relationship that did not literally apply but metaphorically it did, that term being the word marriage. Personally, I consider myself to be married to my partner of 10 years. He and I have never celebrated our union through a wedding ceremony nor in the eyes of the federal government are we legally permitted to call our relationship a marriage, to include all of the benefits there of. The legal acceptance is not that important to us personally as we have legal documents in place to cover many of the important issues we want to be addressed should something happen to either or both of us. However, many other couples do not have this luxury. One such example: “J.W. Lown is the former mayor of San Angelo, Texas. Earlier this year he was forced to choose between his home and the community that had just re-elected him as mayor, and his partner. He now lives in exile in Mexico because his relationship with his same-sex partner is not recognized under US immigration law (See Appendix D).” Had Mr. Lown and his partner been given the legal option of marriage this would be a non-issue, they could have lived happily in the U.S. and San Angelo would have been able to keep the mayor they had reelected. However, that is not the case because the metaphor of marriage means different things to different people and the under lying belief systems are likely to keep this difference in understanding in place for the near future.

 The use of the word marriage is millennia old and steeped in tradition. Marriage as metaphor can mean many things. Such as, any close, intimate association or matching of different elements, components, and words. Currently that most popular understood and broadly accepted use of the metaphor is the social institution under which a man and a woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments and/or religious ceremonies (Dictionary.com, 2010), this is the more commonly accepted as the conservative western view. It is in this difference that I will dive in and examine the metaphor more closely to better understand the conflict and suggest a use of language that is intended to support the ‘marriage’ metaphor and of the differences in the understandings, how it is used in mainstream culture for heterosexual unions, the conservative worldview, and how the metaphor is used with in the gay and lesbian culture to gain a resemblance of the union of marriage privileged to the heterosexual class, more commonly accepted as the liberal western view or worldview.. 

 “In the Untied States we generally try to think of values as being equal for everyone but in reality things are not and as a result we often end up with conflicts within our metaphors associated with those values (Lakoff, 2003, pg 23).” These conflicts arise from a theory of truth based on a worldview and not one through which a ‘pure objective truth’ of which Lakoff would suggest does not exist and is also of the opinion that it is pointless to try and give theory to the truth  “Because so many of the concepts that are important to us are either abstract or not clearly delineated in our experience (the emotions, ideas, times, etc.) we need to get a grasp on them by means of other concepts that we understand in clearer terms (Lakoff, 2003, pg 115).” To better understand this argument let us look at the two world views that are current dominate in the Untied States, that being the conservative worldview and the liberal worldview.

 The accepted conservative worldview of marriage is heavily influenced and interpreted through our conceptual understanding the Christian bible. Beagle explains this foundational briefly by referring to various sources from said bible that has led to the conservatives understanding of the truth:

  • In Matthew 25:1–13, Jesus is the bridegroom and we are virgins who are waiting to attend the wedding.
  • In Jeremiah 2:32, He is the bridegroom and we (the church) are the bride.
  • Ephesians 5:28–30, He [Jesus] refers to the church not only as His bride, but also as His body.

“He apparently took as a given that those of us learning from His marriage parables would understand the different roles for the male and the female in a marriage. In Ephesians 5:22–33, Paul spells out those roles (Beagle, 2002-2010).”

  • The wife is to be subject to the husband in everything (verses 22, 24).
  • The husband is to sacrifice himself for His wife (verse 25).
  • The wife is the body of her husband, and
  • The husband is the head of that body (verses 23, 28).
  • The wife is to respect her husband (verse 33).
  • The husband is to love his wife as himself (verses 25, 28, 33).   

 Beagle takes the discussion farther by interrupting the above verses the mean as follows:

  • The church/bride is subject to her divine Husband (God) in everything.
  • The divine Husband already sacrificed Himself for her.
  • The church/bride is the body of her divine Husband.
  • The divine Husband (alone) is the head of that body.
  • The church/bride is to respect her divine Husband.
  • The divine Husband has already loved her as Himself—enough to die for her!

 Lakoff would offer it is our tendency to build metaphorical concepts and our understanding of those concepts that leads us to believe metaphors as true or false (Lakoff, 2003, pg 179). It is this understanding that establishes the baseline of beliefs for the relationship in the conservative worldview of heterosexual marriage.  The foundation for this belief system is known as The Strict Father Model and explains it as follows: “A family has two parents, a father and a mother. The family requires a strong father to protect it from the many evils in the world and to support it by winning those competitions. Morally, there are absolute rights and wrongs. The strict father is the moral authority in the family; he knows right from wrong. Is inherently moral, and heads the household. The mother supports and upholds the authority of the father but is not strong enough to protect the family or the impose immoral order my herself. She provides affection to the children to show love, reward right conduct, and provide comfort in the face of punishment. Children are born undisciplined. The father teaches them discipline and right from wrong. (Lakoff, 2006, pg 57)” He takes this farther to explain the conservative right leads the country in this same manner by what he calls ‘The Nation as Family’.  It is through this worldview the conservative party has and is still changing state and federal laws to define marriage according to the closely held beliefs held near and dear to them.

 However, all is not lost yet for those bi-national couples. Fred Parrella argues that “while it is not likely that … [Christian] … theology will sanction same sex marriage relationships in the near future, two significant changes have taken place in the last half century in our understanding of marriage.”

 First, the concept of marriage has moved from a legal contract to a personal covenant between two people in the pres-ence of God. Marriage is rooted, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, in ‘the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent.’ Second, the act of procreation within a marriage (until recently seen as a duty so the race may survive) is no longer the only purpose of marriage. In marriage, the partners, as the Council says, also ‘render mutual help and service to each other through an intimate union of their persons and their actions (Parrella, 2004).’

 There is another world view significantly different from the conservative view. The liberal party, or the left, has a more progressive worldview of term marriage. One that is more inclusive of every one. This progressive worldview defines marriage is a social union or legal contract between individuals that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found. Such a union may also be called matrimony, while the ceremony that marks its beginning is usually called a wedding (Wikipedia, 2010). This broader understanding establishes a baseline intended to give couples of all differences the chance to partake and enjoy the union of marriage with out discrimination.

 The liberal party has a more accepting and inclusive belief system intended to bring out the best in everyone or what Lakoff defines as Nurturant Parents or leader, who are authoritative without being authoritarian. The nurturing leader sets fair and reasonable limits and rules, and takes the trouble to discuss them with the people of the Untied States. Obedience derives from love for the leader and country, not from fear of punishment. Open and respectful communication takes place between political leaders and citizens. Political leaders explain their decisions in order to legitimize their authority. Political leaders accept questioning by citizens as a positive trait but reserve the ultimate decision making for themselves (Lakoff, 2006, pg 52). 

 Currently the liberal party has compromised with conservatives in getting legislation passed in various areas of the United Stated that is intended allow same sex couples to emulated some aspects of the marriage metaphor, some of the benefits, and some of the so called equality. The term popular term currently being used is civil unions. Yet, it is not equal to marriage. There are many other relationship metaphors being used by same sex couples and by those referring to same sex couple, partnered, significant others, or my favorite one used my neighbor “That ‘funny’ couple that lives over there.”

   So, the question that is coming for me is what are these differing arguments conflicting so strongly? And again, Lakoff does a nice job explaining this. There are two primary types of metaphors. There are primary metaphors and complex metaphors. The primary metaphors are those beliefs believed to be universal to everyone because we tend to have the same types of bodies, same types of brains, and we tend to live basically the same types of environments as they relates to metaphors. And, the second type is complex metaphors. The complex metaphors have roots in our primary metaphors but also make use of conceptual frames stemming from our cultural beliefs. It is through these cultural understandings, or worldviews, that we differ some much and through the differences conflict does arise (Lakoff, 2003, pg 257).

 It is through complex metaphors that differing opinions of the conservative and progressive worldviews on marriage that much debate is now occurring on who should have the right to marry. The liberal part want marriage for same sex couples and the conservative party are of the argument stating that marriage is intended to be only between one man and one woman. To this end the conservative government representatives have gone so far as to pass the legal legislation, Defense Of Marriage Act or more commonly known as DOMA. There are two main sections to this law. The first being, No state needs to treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state. The second states that the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. This law was passed on September 21, 1996 as Public Law No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419. The bill was passed by Congress by a vote of 342-67 in the House of Representatives and a vote of 85-14 in the Senate, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996 (Wikipedia, 2010).

 I would like to take a moment to mention historical documents indicates gay marriage has existed in the past. Example: “From 310 to 395 AD it is believed male to male Christian marriage ceremonies were performed which involved the burning of candles, the joining of right hands, the binding of those hands by the priest’s stole, the Lord’s prayer was recited, communion was given and a kiss occurred between the two men. It is believed these ceremonies were performed in the thousands through out the centuries. It was not until the second half of the seventh century that there began a large change in the way Western society became homophobic in a rather short period of time. It is believed this shift was a result of the rise in Puritanism which has it origins in England around the same period of time. (Spencer, 1995, pg. 171).” It is also documented the marriage as we know it now and what is once was has changed. In various parts of the world marriage has and to some extent still is used to combine wealth and position of two families. Where as romantic love was some to could occur out side of the marriage whether it be with male or female companions (Spencer, 1995, pg 36).

 To take this back to the challenge currently being presented to tens of thousands of bi-national couples, due to the defined meaning of one word we are putting thousands of couples through unnecessary hardship. Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado (see appendix F) are a prime example of how the meaning of this one word has had significant impact on their lives. Jay, an American woman, and Shirley, an immigrant from the Philippines have lived together for 24 years. They have a 12 year old twin boys and live very happily in the greater San Francisco area. Because they could not take advantage of the metaphor of marriage they had to come up with creative ways to keep Shirley in the country. As do many immigrants Shirley came here on a tourist visa and did not leave. In 1995 she tried to apply for asylum for two reasons. One she wanted to live with her ‘life partner’ and she feared for her life if she were to go back to the Philippines. She was not aware her asylum case was denied until officers came to her door to arrest her and took her away in hand cuffs. These two ladies are happy together. They have a wonderful family. Yet, because a segment of our government has defined the marriage metaphor as between a man and a woman these two ladies are forced to be ‘domestic partners’ and as such are not permitted to legally marry, which in turn eliminates all the legal problems being experienced by this family.

 There is legislation currently being debated by our governments that if passed would allow Shirley and Jan to remain together. This piece of legislation is The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) (see Appendix C), it does not interfere with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as it uses a different type of language. The UAFA uses the term permanent partner and in so doing creates a new class of citizen. If passed, this would allow US citizens to sponsor their same sex partner but does so in a way that still treats them as second class citizens by institutionalizing discrimination.

 Legislation of this nature is good in so much that over 36,000 couples would be given the right to legally live together in the United States as a ‘partnered’ couple. Some would no longer be in fear of being deported as a result of one person in the couple being in the country illegally, the financial burden would be lifted from those traveling frequently to be together or paying to stay in school to qualify for a student visa, It would allow individuals to visit and rejoin their extended families that they are currently unable to due to travel restrictions, or force individuals to choose between a husband and wife or caring immediate family.

 Until UAFA is passed we will continue to have bi-national couples struggling to stay together. We will continue to have loving couples in exile from their country of origin and their extended families. We will continue to force couples into hiding as a result of illegal immigration. All this is the result of reluctance to allow a metaphor that means so much to such to so many to be defined for a less number of people because of differences in belief systems between the conservative and liberal parties.

 In order to get passed the barriers in these belief systems I would prosing a progression of language changes that is intended to eventually give equality for everyone involved. I think the language being proposed in The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is right on track with where we need to go, currently. These changes will happen bit by bit. I propose we continue to make changes through the legislative branch of our government and through our judicial branch, federal court system. I do not believe this effort will that be accomplished through any one branch of our government. Nor will it change just because people start saying it. The pressure for change must happen from all 3 angles. We must continue to work with our congressional leaders so that over time when they think of same-sex couple the only term that comes to mind for a man is husband and the only term for a woman is wife. We must continue to work through our judicial branch of government to redefine marriage so as to prevent it from being only a man and a woman.

 In short, I think we need to adopt the language of the oppressor and make it our own. They we continue to use the word family when we refer those who live in all of our homes. We must adopt the term husband and wife. We must continue to use these terms until they not only become second nature to us but are second nature to everyone. When this is accomplished we will have embedded ourselves in to the subconscious of our oppressors in a way that blurs the lines between heterosexual couples and homosexual couples.    

 However, I suspect there are some among the LGBT community that disagree with me. Given that fact a portion of the community has a resistance to any such activity requiring conformance. And, worse yet, I too may well have some trouble using this language because it does not flow effortlessly from my own mouth.

 However, we have got to start somewhere, so why not start with us and why not start now.   

 Works Cited / Bibliography

Beagles, Kathy (2002-2010). Mixing Marriage Metaphors. http://cqbiblestudy.org/article.php?id=79

Dictionary.com (2010). Definition of marriage. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/marriage

Human Rights Campaign (2010). International Rights and Immigration. Immigration. Retrieved from http://www.hrc.org/issues/int_rights_immigration.asp

 Lakoff, George (2003). Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision. Union Square West, New York.

 Lakoff, Geoge (2006). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago, Illinois.

 Perrella, Fred (2004). Gay Marriage: Theological and Moral Arguments. http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/ethicalperspectives/gay_marriage.html

 Wikipedia (2010). Definition of Marriage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage 

 Wikipedia, (2010). The Defense of Marriage Act. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOMA

Appendix A

 111TH CONGRESS

1ST SESSION House of Representatives 1024

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.

Complete text of amendment: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h1024ih.txt.pdf

 Appendix B

 111TH CONGRESS

1ST SESSION Senate 424

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.

Complete text of amendment: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s424is.txt.pdf

 Appendix C

 The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)

 UAFA Keeps Families Together – The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) offers remedies the current injustice in our nation’s immigration laws and allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration. No one should have to choose between their country and their family.

 More information is located as: http://www.hrc.org/issues/int_rights_immigration/13114.htm

 Appendix D

 J.W. Lown is the former mayor of San Angelo, Texas. Earlier this year he was forced to choose between his home and the community that had just re-elected him as mayor, and his partner. He now lives in exile in Mexico because his relationship with his same-sex partner is not recognized under US immigration law. US family reunification law does not yet include gay and lesbian families – something groups such as Immigration Equality are working hard to change via the comprehensive immigration reform bill expected in 2010.

 This article is located at: http://loveexiles.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/to-a-mayor-from-a-mayor-in-exile/

 Appendix E

 Jennifer (U.S.) & Ellen (Taiwan)

 This story is located at: http://www.out4immigration.org/immigration/page.html?=&cid=1196

 Appendix F

 Lesbian couple inspires US immigration reform

 Various Articles related on the journey of Shirley Tan (Philippines) and Jay Mercado (Philippines) as they face deportation from US.

 This story is located at: https://lgbtculture.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/shirley-tan-and-jay-mercado/

Side Note: I am still working this story and updates will occur as needed.

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Gay Rights – The History Of A Social Movement In America

Posted on January 8, 2010. Filed under: Resources |

A high level view

Milestones in the Gay Rights Movement in America

Source: Excerpted from The Reader’s Companion to American History.
Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Late in the [19th] century, as large cities allowed for greater anonymity, as wage labor apart from family became common, and as more women were drawn out of the home, evidence of a new pattern of homosexual expression surfaced. . . .

At first, these individuals developed ways of meeting one another and institutions to foster a sense of identity. . . . By 1915, one participant in this new gay world was referring to it as “a community distinctly organized.” For the most part hidden from view because of social hostility, an urban gay subculture had come into existence by the 1920s and 1930s.

1924 – The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country’s earliest known gay rights organization.
1948 – – Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.

This new visibility provoked latent cultural prejudices….Firings from government jobs and purges from the military intensified in the 1950s. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued an executive order in 1953 barring gay men and lesbians from all federal jobs. Many state and local governments and private corporations followed suit. The FBI began a surveillance program against homosexuals.

1951 – The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization, is formed by Harry Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the gay rights movement.

1956 – The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering national lesbian organization, is founded.

In the 1960s, influenced by the model of a militant black civil rights movement, the “homophile movement,” as the participants dubbed it, became more visible. Activists, such as Franklin Kameny and Barbara Gittings, picketed government agencies in Washington to protest discriminatory employment policies. In San Francisco, Martin, Lyon, and others targeted police harassment. By 1969, perhaps fifty homophile organizations existed in the United States, with memberships of a few thousand.

1962 – Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.

1969 – The Stonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.

….[In 1975] the Civil Service Commission eliminated the ban on the employment of homosexuals in most federal jobs. Many of the nation’s religious denominations engaged in spirited debates about the morality of homosexuality, and some, like Unitarianism and Reformed Judaism, opened their doors to gay and lesbian ministers and rabbis. The lesbian and gay world was no longer an underground subculture but, in larger cities especially, a well-organized community, with businesses, political clubs, social service agencies, community centers, and religious congregations bringing people together. In a number of places, openly gay candidates ran for elective office and won.

1973 – The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.

1977 – Harvey Milk was elected to public office.

1978 – Harvey Milk was assassinated while serving in office.

The onset of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, although it intensified the antigay rhetoric of the New Right, also stimulated further organizing within the gay community. AIDS made political mobilization a matter of life and death. With a large majority of the cases striking male homosexuals, the gay community in short order created a host of organizations, such as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City, to provide services and assistance to those infected. Local and national gay civil rights groups also grew in size and number, as the community sought to increase funding for research and education and to win protection against discrimination. A personal and social tragedy of immense proportions, AIDS paradoxically strengthened the political arm of the gay movement.

1982 – Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

1993 – The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is instituted for the U.S. military, permitting gays to serve in the military but banning homosexual activity. President Clinton’s original intention to revoke the prohibition against gays in the military was met with stiff opposition; this compromise, which has led to the discharge of thousands of men and women in the armed forces, was the result.

1996 – In Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court strikes down Colorado’s Amendment 2, which denied gays and lesbians protections against discrimination, calling them “special rights.” According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, “We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These protections . . . constitute ordinary civil life in a free society.”

2000 – Vermont becomes the first state in the country to legally recognize civil unionsbetween gay or lesbian couples. The law states that these “couples would be entitled to the same benefits, privileges, and responsibilities as spouses.” It stops short of referring to same-sex unions as marriage, which the state defines as heterosexual.

2003 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws in the U.S. are unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.”

2003 – In November, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring gays and lesbians from marrying violates the state constitution. The Massachusetts Chief Justice concluded that to “deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage” to gay couples was unconstitutional because it denied “the dignity and equality of all individuals” and made them “second-class citizens.” Strong opposition followed the ruling.

2004 – On May 17, same-sex marriages become legal in Massachusetts.

2005 – Civil unions become legal in Connecticut in Oct. 2005.

2006 – Civil unions become legal in New Jersey in December.

2007 – In November, the House of Representatives approves a bill ensuring equal rights in the workplace for gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals.

2008 – In February, a New York State appeals court unanimously votes that valid same-sex marriages performed in other states must be recognized by employers in New York, granting same-sex couples the same rights as other couples.

2008 – In February, the state of Oregon passes a law that allows same-sex couples to register as domestic partners allowing them some spousal rights of married couples.

2008 – On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. By November 3rd, more than 18,000 same-sex couples have married. On November 4th, California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8. The attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, asked the state’s Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The ban throws into question the validity of the more than 18,000 marriages already performed, but Attorney General Brown reiterated in a news release that he believed the same-sex marriages performed in CA before November 4th should remain valid.

2008 – On October 10, 2008 the Supreme Court of Connecticut rules that same-sex couples have the right to marry. This makes Connecticut the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples. The court rules that the state cannot deny gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry under Connecticut’s constitution, and that the state’s civil union law does not provide same-sex couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.

2008 – November 4, 2008, voters in California, Arizona, and Florida approved the passage of measures that ban same-sex marriage. Arkansas passed a measure intended to bar gay men and lesbians from adopting children.

2008 – On November 12, 2008 same-sex marriages begin to be officially performed in Connecticut.

2009 – On June 3, New Hampshire governor John Lynch signs legislation allowing same-sex marriage

2009 – On June 17, President Obama signs a referendum allowing the same-sex partners of federal employees to receive benefits

A few additional facts:

from www.hrc.org

LGBT Americans wield more than $700 billion in buying power and

are more likely than straight folks to spend money with companies that support

them (makes sense, no?).  But combing through a company’s discrimination

policy is no one’s idea of a fun pre-shopping activity.  Enter: the Human Rights

Campaign (HRC).

  The HRC keeps tabs on how well corporate America treats its LGBT employees, consumers, and investors.  This week it synthesized data on 590 companies into an easy-to-use Buying for Equality guide, scoring companies on a scale of 0 to 100 and awarding them a rating of green (shop away!), yellow, or red.  The scores are based on such criteria as whether the company provides domestic-partner benefits, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or identification, hosts diversity training, and supports LGBT causes.  And the HRC

is rolling out an iPhone app early next month, so shoppers can decide whether to swing into Gap (100) or Anne Klein (45) while on the go.

  Most of the HRC’s scores are heartening and pretty unsurprising: 100’s all around for Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Nike.  But it’s the stinkers in the list that caught my eye: Cracker Barrel scored the worst of the bunch, with a paltry 15 (hashbrown casserole be damned, that number’s low enough to knock them off my next road-trip itinerary).  Wal-Mart and Radioshack both scored a 40, John Deere earned a 33, and Office Depot and Humana came in at 45.

  Of course, a low score doesn’t mean that a company is actively hostile to its

LGBT workforce, whether that means only promoting straight people or encouraging homophobic remarks around the watercooler.  But it does reflect a certain passivity or apathy to equality.  When I spoke with Corliss Fong, VP of diversity strategies at Macy’s, about her company’s recent decision to officially ban discrimination against transgendered employees, she asked, “If this is what we, as a company, are already doing in practice, what argument is there to not put it in writing?” That proactive mentality earned the retailer a Perfect 100–which may snag them more shoppers this holiday season.

Copyright 2009

Mansueto Ventures LLC.  All rights reserved.  Fast Company, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195

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LGBT Immigration Stories is now available on twitter

Posted on December 27, 2009. Filed under: Resources |

LGBT Immigrations Stories is doing our best to make ourselves easily available. We are now available on twitter at: http://twitter.com/lgbtculture

You can now get updates or our stories sent right to your phones.

Enjoy and have a wonderful day.

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Tips for Writing a Personal Narrative/Story

Posted on November 1, 2009. Filed under: Resources |

http://teachers.sduhsd.k12.ca.us/kburke/tips_for_writing_a_personal_narr.htm

Purpose and Audience –
Personal narratives allow you to share your life with others and vicariously experience the things that happen around you. Your job as a writer is to put the reader in the midst of the action letting him or her live through an experience. Although a great deal of writing has a thesis, stories are different. A good story creates a dramatic effect, makes us laugh, gives us pleasurable fright, and/or gets us on the edge of our seats. A story has done its job if we can say, “Yes, that captures what living with my father feels like,” or “Yes, that’s what being cut from the football team felt like.”

Structure –
There are a variety of ways to structure your narrative story. The three most common structures are: chronological approach, flashback sequence, and reflective mode. Select one that best fits the story you are telling.

Methods –
Show, Don’t’ Tell: Don’t tell the reader what he or she is supposed to think or feel. Let the reader see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the experience directly, and let the sensory experiences lead him or her to your intended thought or feeling. Showing is harder than telling. It’s easier to say, “It was incredibly funny,” than to write something that is incredibly funny. The rule of “show, don’t tell” means that your job as a storyteller is not to interpret; it’s to select revealing details. You’re a sifter, not an explainer. An easy way to accomplish showing and not telling is to avoid the use of “to be” verbs.

Let People Talk –
It’s amazing how much we learn about people from what they say. One way to achieve this is through carefully constructed dialogue. Work to create dialogue that allows the characters’ personalities and voices to emerge through unique word selection and the use of active rather than passive voice.

Choose a Point of View –
Point of view is the perspective from which your story is told. It encompasses where you are in time, how much you view the experience emotionally (your tone), and how much you allow yourself into the minds of the characters. Most personal narratives are told from the first-person limited point of view. If you venture to experiment with other points of view, you may want to discuss them with Miss Burke as you plan your piece.

Tense –
Tense is determined by the structure you select for your narrative. Consider how present vs. past tense might influence your message and the overall tone of your piece.

Tone –
The tone of your narrative should set up an overall feeling. Look over the subject that you are presenting and think of what you are trying to get across. How do you want your audience to feel when they finish your piece? Careful word choice can help achieve the appropriate effect.

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Questions for Prompting a Story

Posted on November 1, 2009. Filed under: Resources |

Basic bio information
When / where were you born?
What is your ethnic background?
Where have you lived?
What occupation(s) have you worked in?
When did you come to the US (Western Culture)?

Coming out
When were you first aware of sexual identity? How did that happen?
How do you define coming out?
to self
to other gay people
to your family
to straight people (how and when did you first tell them?)
What influenced your coming out?

Family background / growing up
When / where did you grow up?
What did you want to be when you grew up? Do you remember what inspired those dreams?
Any early signs about later orientation? (being a tomboy, playing w. kids of opposite sex, preferring opposite sex games and activities)
Acceptance/rejection of these activities, or of emerging expressions of identity, by family members?

Immigration
When did you decide to immigrate?
What made you want immigrate?
What were the biggest cultural differences you noticed?
What were your expectations of being an immigrant?
What was you biggest learning moment as an immigrant?
What would you like to share with others about being an immigrant?

Race/ethnicity
Did it make a difference? how?
Social acceptance/rejection within gay community (re race)? — within one’s ethnic community (re sexual orientation)?
Interracial relationships or friendships? If yes, what did you learn from that Experience, or from people you knew? What were the attitudes of others you knew to such relationships?
Did being part of the GLBT community bring you in contact with people of different ethnic backgrounds? How did that affect your circumstances and/or outlook?
Religion / spiritual learnings
Did your religion/spiritual learnings make a difference? how?
— family background? own (personal)?
— can you identify sources or other influences of your beliefs?
— changes/evolution of personal beliefs; relation to sexuality?
— membership in GLBT religious/spiritual groups or organizations?
— what aspects of one’s religious background carried over into one’s life as a gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgendered person? what aspects changed, and to what extent?
Class / economic background
Were your circumstances comfortable when growing up, or not?
— opportunities available (for education, work, career)? did you feel these to be limited or not?
— effects of any of this on personal outlook?
— did your circumstances change as you got older? how? what were the causes?
— were class issues important in your political views and/or activities?
— did being part of the GLBT community bring you in contact with people of different class backgrounds? how did that affect your circumstances and/or outlook?
Education
— to what level? where? when?
— Were there opportunities to meet other GLBT people in educational settings? college or school organizations?
— Did some departments or subjects have a reputation for attracting GLBT students or faculty? Which ones? In your opinion, was this true?
— Did fellow students discuss homosexuality? In your opinion, was their information correct? Did you learn from it?
Social life
What were the clues to find/identify other that were LGBT?
— dress?
— language? body language?
— other?
How did you meet other GLBT people at first? Did this change over time?
Where did you meet others (bars, meeting halls, music venues, halls in supportive churches, etc.)?
Did single people and couples socialize differently?
Were there private social networks or organizations? If so, were these urban-based? (Were there opportunities for gay or lesbian social life in suburban or rural areas?)
Were there class- or race-specific groups or subcultures?
— mixed gender groups or friendships?
— friendships / social contact between lesbians and gay men?
— lesbians or straight women who hung out with gay men: what were these friendships like?

Career
Were you out at work? What were the results?
Were there opportunities to meet kindred spirits at work?
Relationship history
— marriage? (het or gay)
— long term relationships?
Children
— if yes, a result of previous straight relationships, or within gay/lesbian community?
— how do you think your identity affected them?
Major historical events in your lifetime
Examples: WWII, McCarthy era, Civil Rights movement, JFK/MLK assassinations, Vietnam war, hippie era, Stonewall, etc.
— How old were you during these times? Which ones were significant to you, and why?
Political movements / activism
— what were the political values you grew up with? (family’s, peer group’s, etc.)
— political activism/causes before gay involvement? which ones?
— influences of other movements (non-violence, anti-war, Civil Rights, hippie counterculture, etc.) on your political values?
— involvement in GLBT political activism? which ones?
— how did political thinking/climate affect your involvement in or support of gay rights?
Role models
— when young? older?
— personal acquaintances? teachers/adults? or famous people?
General feelings about identity/orientation
Did you ever feel depressed about it? limited? special? enlightened? etc.
Have you ever felt threatened? Ever been in physical danger?
What things have made you feel proud?
Humor
What things made you laugh? Can you recall specific examples of gay/lesbian/drag humor, parodies, send-ups? Pranks? In-jokes? Fooling or getting back at straight people?
Stories from elders
When you first came out, did you hear older members of the community talk about what times were like in their youth? Do you remember specific stories?
Unwritten codes of conduct
— When you first came out, did you get any advice from “elders”, or from anyone else “in the life,” on how to act or how to be?
— When you first came out, did you meet others you knew right off that you wanted to emulate? That impressed you strongly? Why? What was it about them that made you feel that way?
— social taboos? / no-nos? (What was not cool?)
— who was especially or generally admired? for what reasons? if some were unpopular, for what reasons?
— did you or friends act / feel differently when in one another’s company, as opposed to being with straight people? if yes, explain the differences
— what role models did popular culture provide for gays/lesbians? (ex. bikers, movie personalities, others?)

Experience with / knowledge of subcommunities within gay culture
— drag (Are you familiar with “drag queen honor”? Can you provide examples?)
— “women’s community” (1970s+)
— separatism
— political or intentional communities / collective houses / land trusts and collectives
— leather/S&M
— others

Try to identify the times and places of stories or incidents that have been discussed, for example, by relating them to approximate time periods or historical events (“before the war,” “the 70s,” etc.)
Summing up
— Other topics that you want to cover?
— If you could live life over, is there anything you would do differently?
— Significant changes you’ve witnessed over time?
— What would you say to young GLBT people today, or to those who will come along in the future?

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