Oct 29, 2009

Schwarzenegger and other Republicans backing Health Insurance Reform

Earlier this month, the Huffington Post reported that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the latest Republicans to publically announce his support for Health Insurance Reform. Other republicans working in a bipartisan manner include former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Why are so many republicans backing the bill? Aside from recognizing that it’s necessary, it’s because, since day one, President Obama and supporters of Health Insurance Reform have been communicating values. When speaking about this issue, values such as equality, opportunity, change, the future, quality and well-being are regularly stressed. It’s hard for people to disagree with such values, because it would almost feel inhumane to admit to not wanting all people to have quality and well-being.

Oct 27, 2009

Attending President Obama’s signing of hate crimes bill

I have been invited by President Obama to attend the signing ceremony of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes bill this Wednesday, Oct. 28 at the White House.

After 14 votes in Congress over the course of 10 years, Congress finally has passed landmark legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from violent hate crimes. I am proud to see our country’s hope for progress and change become a reality. This historic victory offers protection for all Americans, including right here in Arizona.

Nearly 80 percent of Americans support the passage of hate crimes legislation that expands the current law to include crimes against people based on their gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity and for 10 years, Americans have been lobbying Congress to expand the definition of hate crimes to include LGBT people who are victims of hate crimes.

Upon the President’s signature Wednesday, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will allow the federal government to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies investigating hate crimes committed against LGBT people.

Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student, was brutally beaten and tied to a frozen fence to die in 1998 in Wyoming, and James Byrd, Jr., an African-American man, was dragged to his death in Texas in the same year.

The Act also allows the Justice Department, to take the lead, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, in investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. The legislation also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, to train law enforcement officers or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias motivated crimes.

President Obama and members of Congress have taken a first important step toward ensuring security and equality for all people in this country. I look forward to continued work with Congress and the White House to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Americans realize that these outdated policies hurt our national and domestic security, while doing nothing to protect families in our country. By repealing these misguided laws, President Obama and Congress will show again their continuing commitment to the security and equality of all American families.

Oct 26, 2009

Unite and Conquer at the Capitol

Unite and Conquer has been making its way around the Arizona State Legislature. Many of my colleagues, including Jonathon Paton, Karen Johnson, Eddie Farnsworth, Andy Biggs, Russell Pearce, and Lauren Hendrix, have received and read it and are passing the book around.

Have you read it? Post a comment letting me know what you think of the book so far and how you've used it.

Oct 21, 2009

Report Card for CURE: D-

The Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education sounds like something we could all support, right? However, take one look at their website, and you’ll probably hit your “back” button.

Even if you support the same issues (anti-abortion, anti-welfare, anti-same-sex marriage), the way the organization is talking about them, as you can see above, will probably leave you wanting to disassociate.

CURE attacks every single opponent of the issues they support. Whether it’s saying that Obama used “bait and switch” tactics to get elected or taking a tip from progressives and playing the numbers game when it comes to health insurance reform, they’re not making friends and they’re not appealing to people’s values.

Which is exactly why they’re at the bottom of my class.

Oct 19, 2009

Center for Community Development and Civil Rights forum with Reverend Al Sharpton and Raul Yzaguirre

I joined Reverend Al Sharpton and Raul Yzaguirre, former CEO of spanish activist group La Raza, during ASU's Center for Community Development and Civil Rights forum, which was an intimate dialogue on contemporary civil rights.

Oct 14, 2009

Meeting with President Obama on health reform today

Today, I will be joining a handful of state legislators representing more than 1,000 colleagues in meeting President Obama today at the White House at 9:30 a.m. Arizona time. I will also meet with Senators and Congressional leaders throughout the day, bringing the message to Capitol Hill and the White House of broad-based support from the states for real health reform. 

I know that President Obama understands that state leaders are asking for federal health reform that assures quality, affordable health care for all, and that Americans, including right here in Arizona, deserve better than the status quo. 

Which is why I want to know the reasons why you support health reform. Feel free to tweet me your reasons, post a video response or write them on my Facebook wall.

Oct 13, 2009

Arizona Together, Part Two

In this video, I discuss how our Arizona Together campaign focused on the real loses that the initiative implied - domestic partner benefits that would be lost for 100,000 straight and LBGT Arizona residents. By focusing on this we formed unlikely allies, including Arizona Fire Fighters, the residents of Sun City, the Arizona Association of Retired Americans and educational institutions, and some likely allies such as the LBGT community.

To see more videos about Unite and Conquer, please subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

Oct 12, 2009

Arizona Together, Part One

In this video I talk about how my book came to be. I was approached by a publisher to write "Unite and Conquer" after traveling around the country speaking about how we beat an anti-same-sex marriage initiative in Arizona - and were the only to do so in the country. As you will see, we chose to focus less on the inequality that the initiative would bring and instead focus more on who would truly be effected - 100,000 straight and LBGT residents of Arizona.

Oct 7, 2009

Send a copy of Unite and Conquer to Michael Moore

Whether you agree with his political ideals and arguments or not, the award-winning documentary filmmaker could use a copy of Unite and Conquer if he really wants to advance his message.

While, yes, we’re often drawn to controversy and shocking stories (which is undoubtedly why three of hid films fall within the top five highest-grossing documentaries of all time), it doesn’t create a positive message that people want to associate with.  In his films, he’s often attacking the people behind the issues he’s against, and as I’m sure you’ve learned in life, that’s not the best way to go about making friends.

While he proclaims he isn’t a political activist, it’s obvious through all the films, commentary and endorsements that it is one of his main goals.  If Michael Moore really wanted to see change within the issues that he feels strongest about he would start communicating values, such as compassion and transparency, instead of trying to make people look unintelligent and cold-hearted. While his viewership would decline, he’d have a lot more friends that might be willing to listen to what he has to say and see how they can work with him.

Oct 6, 2009

Cynicism is what divides us

In this video, the Watson Twins, before the historical inauguration of President Barack Obama, talk about the positives behind this last election.

Chandra and Leigh talk about how they and their tour-mate recognize that the most positive thing that came out of the 2008 election, despite the unknown outcomes at the time, was that people really got motivated, banded together and got involved. We saw the most politically active nation this election in comparison to the past few decades.

I love the quote that they state in this video, and that’s a favorite of President Obama. All three, and myself, agree that, “cynicism divides us.” It’s so important to look on the positive side of things and stay rational and approachable. Otherwise, people aren’t going to want to work with you, instead they’d rather work against you.

They also make a great point, although I would apply it a little differently. They urge fans and viewers to keep that sense of community alive and keep getting involved politically, long after the election is over. I think that this is extremely important, although I wouldn’t divide the community and involvement between sides. It’s important to recognize that we’re all in this together, despite if we agree on a single issue or not. We need to apply that same sense of community and motivation to working together, in a bipartisan manner and across varied issues.

Oct 1, 2009

One of the fastest routes for widespread LGBT acceptance: The media

Imagine your life without a cell phone or PDA. Ask anyone who’s lost theirs and they’ll tell you that they felt out of touch while they were without their mobile device. Now imagine your life without the Internet, toothpaste, or transportation. Literally everything we have today, as a species, we were once without. All of these things that are now considered necessities are only that because they’ve become mainstream, a part of everyday life.

While the acceptance of the LGBT community has grown considerably in just the last decade, we still have a ways to go. Rose Venkatesan, India's first transgender TV anchor and celebrity, realized that the quickest way to reach widespread acceptance was through the media. 

Her show, “Yours, Rose,” reaches an audience of 64 million people in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and covered topics ranging from divorce to sexuality, but in a family-friendly manner. Often called India’s Oprah, Rose, a poised, 30-year-old, American-educated former Web site designer with a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, has been garnering more and more acceptance for transgendered people in India.

Proof that her show might be turning the tides? Well, she’s just now getting set to produce and direct her own show, “This is Rose Hour.” But even more so, the Delhi High Court recently made a historic judgment on Section 377, decriminalizing homosexuality. "I think now the Delhi High Court has clearly made it a point and stated that these people are also humans and they also deserve the same kinds of rights as other people," she said.

A big step for a country that banned television channels that showed “too much skin,” and has fringe political groups that like nothing better than to stir up raucous (and often fake) outbursts of moral outrage.