LGBTI News and Politics

Archive for the ‘Events/Announcements/Action Alerts’ Category

Discriminational Bills Pending in the Alabama House and Senate


The purpose of my message is simple –  to inform you of more discriminatory bills pending in the Alabama House and Senate.  Equality Alabama, along with other local and national partners, has outlined specific strategies in an attempt to defeat the following proposed laws:

HB 50

Under existing law, it is a Class C misdemeanor to knowingly transmit, or assume the risk of transmitting, a sexually transmitted disease to another person.  This bill would increase the criminal penalty for such an offense to a Class C Felony!

HB 56 This bill would authorize judges and other public officials who are legally authorized to solemnize marriages to discriminate based not only on the gender of the spouses, but on any basis, including race, religion, disability, or any other protected status.   That would be a huge change in Alabama law, and it would also violate the federal constitutional requirement of equal protection. 


This bill authorizes government-contract agencies to deny services, including counseling and shelter, to vulnerable children in State custody. This bill also authorizes agencies to deny children in State custody placements with families that are in their best interest – all based on the religious beliefs of the agency and not the needs of the child.

Faith leaders, government agencies and local businesses are currently being contacted to stand with us – – to send a clear message to our lawmakers  – – that these bills are discriminatory, bad for the economy and harmful to families and children.  These bills  will have devastaing consequences!

This is a critical time here in Alabama. The fight continues for marriage equality and workplace nondiscrimination protections.


 Please join us Monday, March 30, 2015 at Rogue Tavern beginning at 6:00 PM for a Legislative Update to learn more.

Warm regards,

Lambda Legal: Liberty Awards National Dinner

Lambda Legal | Making the case for equality
   Join us on:  Facebook  Twitter  You Tube March 27, 2015

NYLA 2015 - Honoree Graphic Cropped for Eblast

6:00PM Cocktails | 7:30PM Dinner & Awards
9:30PM Dessert & After-Party
Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers | New York City

The 29th Annual Liberty Awards Dinner is Lambda Legal’s premier national event. Attracting individual and corporate supporters from the New York Metro Area as well as across the country, the Liberty Awards raises $1 million for Lambda Legal. Join us for an evening of tribute to those who have made an impact on the lives of LGBT and HIV-affected people.

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Learn More about Our Honorees

Event Leadership:
Dinner Co-Chairs: William A. Candelaria & Natasha F. Haase
Corporate Commitee Chair: Daniel C. Cochran
Law Firm Committee Chair: Lisa A. Linsky
Host Committee Chair: Todd G. Sears

For more information about tickets and sponsorships,
please contact Jennifer Kunin or call 212-249-6188212-249-6188.

NYLA 15 Sponsors 1
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Tribute Sponsors
Allen & Overy LLP
Baker & McKenzie LLP
Constance Collins in honor of Mona Pittenger
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Credit-Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
Tray and Maris Davis
Dechert LLP
EisnerAmper LLP
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Hogan Lovells
Hunton & Williams LLP
Jenner & Block LLP
Jones Day
Kaye Scholer LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Mayer Brown LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Ralph L. Pellecchio and Dr. James C. Wernz
Proskauer Rose LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Reed Smith LLP
Robins Kaplan LLP
Robes & Gray LLP
Robert M. Ross
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
Andrew Tobias
White & Case LLP

Liberty Circle Amicus Sponsors
Daniel C. Cochran and Gregory B. Sutphin
Dr. Philip Devine and Dr. Theodore Kowalski
Jen Rexford and Natasha F. Haase
Paul Smith and Michael Dennis

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In-Depth: Equality Florida’s Endorsements Under Scrutiny

Equality Florida’s Endorsements
Under Scrutiny

In-Depth: Equality Florida’s Endorsements Under Scrutiny
Inconsistencies found in way state’s largest LGBT rights org backs candidates

By Jason Parsley, South Florida Gay News
March 25, 2015

(L to R) West Palm Beach Mayor Geraldine “Jeri” Muoio, Rand Hoch- President of Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Allan Hendricks- Equality Florida’s Balm Beach County rep, Scott Herman- former State House candidate.
Few people would dispute that West Palm Beach Mayor Geraldine “Jeri” Muoio is a champion of LGBT rights.
As mayor, and long before, she stood with the LGBT community on issues like adding more health benefits to domestic partnerships; adding gender identity and expression to the city’s equal opportunity ordinance; extending family leave benefits to domestic partners; and attending LGBT pride events.
Compass, the LGBT community center of Palm Beach County, even honored the mayor with their Leadership Award in 2011 for her continuing efforts.
So when the Equality Florida Action PAC endorsed Muoio’s opponent, one of Palm Beach County’s leading LGBT rights activists, Rand Hoch, was perplexed.
And then outraged.
“We worked so closely, and so hard with Jeri that for them to totally ignore her and send out this list to their 20,000 subscribers in Palm Beach County was an insult,” said Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. “I just thought ‘I can’t believe we’re going through this again.'”
After examining Equality Florida’s endorsement process, SFGN found gaps and inconsistencies in the way it determines its candidates of choice, and that it relies too heavily on questionnaires, as well as a general failure to effectively work with local LGBT organizations.
This isn’t the first time Hoch has been upset with an Equality Florida endorsement. His beef with them dates back to at least 2004.
And over the years he’s repeatedly told them to “Stay the hell out of Palm Beach County.”
In the week leading up to an election, Hoch said, it’s his job to help elect those candidates PBCHRC endorsed. Because of Equality Florida’s oversight, he instead had to shift into damage control mode explaining to supporters and candidates why another LGBT group endorsed Muoio’s opponent.
Allan Hendricks, Equality Florida’s PBC representative, admits his organization made a mistake by sending out that email ignoring Muoio, but says, it was corrected within 24 hours and so there’s no harm, no foul done.
“It was a misstep. We shouldn’t have sent it out,” Hendricks admitted. “I don’t know why it went out that way. I know we were quick to fix it though. We jumped into solution mode within the hour. I don’t think we’ll make that mistake again in Palm Beach County.”
As for Hoch he added: “I don’t know how it spiraled out of control. We’ve been doing good for the past few years.”
Hendricks, along with Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director of Equality Florida, believe Hoch is just blowing the whole situation out of proportion – again.
“Rand Hoch is well known for voicing his opinions at full volume,” Pollitzer said.
Needless to say, Hoch doesn’t see it that way.
He believes Equality Florida’s endorsements are often counterproductive.
After Hoch sent a flurry of emails to Equality Florida’s leadership detailing Muoio’s accomplishments, the organization quietly changed their online voter guide while sending out a new e-blast endorsing Muoio.
“Thank you for sharing this information with us and for immediately bringing our attention to the deficits in our Palm Beach voting guide,” Stratton Pollitzer responded to Hoch in an email. “We have taken the Palm Beach guide off of our website and will be reissuing information once the PAC board has had the opportunity to review this additional information.”
Endorsements and Recommendations and Checkmarks…Oh My! 

Equality Florida has three ways in which they endorse a candidate – even though two of them aren’t true endorsements.
Sometimes they officially endorse a candidate, such as they did with Muoio. Other times, Hendricks explained, they may recommend a candidate, or just post a candidate’s answers to their questionnaire online.
But you wouldn’t be able to tell these subtle differences on Equality Florida PAC’s online voter guide where it simply states:
“Equality Florida Action PAC is the largest organization in Florida devoted to electing pro-equality candidates to all levels of government. Each election cycle our endorsements are a valuable source for hundreds of thousands of voters statewide.”
Taking a closer look at the organization’s statewide endorsements revealed other gaps and deficiencies in its endorsement process. Only six or so – out of 67 – counties featured any endorsements at all. While it’s unclear how many elections, were or are taking place in those counties, two in particular stand out – Miami-Dade and Duval.
“The website purports to have all of this information that it doesn’t have,” said Jamie Foreman, a former board member of Equality Florida and a current member of PBCHRC.
As of press time, no endorsements have been made in Miami-Dade’s upcoming elections. The online Voter Guide only links to the county’s election website.
In Duval County though, Equality Florida did, however, recommend several candidates in the Jacksonville city council race, but you wouldn’t know it by looking online at their voter guide where none of those recommendations are even listed.
Instead it appears they were only sent out in e-blast saying “the following candidates support a fully inclusive HRO and are running highly competitive campaigns.”
In this email the word “endorsement” is not used.
The subtle differences between Equality Florida’s endorsements, recommendations and questionnaire’s may be lost on the average voter.
“When EqFL sends out notifications about elections and some candidates’ names are followed by a row of huge checkmarks in their signature green color – that makes a clear statement. Especially when other candidates’ names are only followed by barely visible dashes,” Hoch explained. “They can call it a recommendation, call it an endorsement, call it a penguin if they want to. It doesn’t make a difference. A picture speaks 1,000 words.”
Hendricks said a candidate will only get the organization’s “official” endorsement if they feel comfortable with their members giving money to that candidate.
In examining their endorsements in Broward County, two of the races had “endorsed candidates” – involving Dean Trantalis and Bryan Caletka. In three other races, only one candidate’s answers to their questionnaire are featured. It’s unclear if the other folks in the race did not fill out the survey on purpose, or it was an oversight on candidate’s part. But not filling it out doesn’t mean those people are anti-LGBT. Anything but. In fact in the case of Jeri Muoio it’s quite the opposite.
“Jeri is an outspoken advocate for us,” Hoch said.
And that is the inherent problem with a questionnaire-based endorsement process, as Hoch, and others point out.
Hendricks though defended his group’s reliance on questionnaires.
“This way we’ll have people on the record,” he said. “If they’re not willing to go on record they can tell you anything they want.”
Moving Forward

As for the solution going forward there might not be one – at least in PBC.

Hoch’s solution is for Equality Florida to simply stay out of the county. Hendricks said that’s not going to happen.
“We’re not leaving Palm Beach County, that’s out of the question. It’s all way too connected to leave. It’s not the right thing to do. That would be harmful,” Hendricks said. “It would be disrespectful to our membership in Palm Beach County. The more information we put out there – the better. People want us to work together.”
In the past Hoch has been amenable to finding a way to work together.
But not anymore.
“We cannot rely on what they say they will do in the future. Years ago they said they would contact PBCHRC Voters Alliance before they sent out anything having to do with elections in our county. I think they did that in only one or two election cycles,” Hoch said. “They also said at one time they would provide a link to PBCHRCVA endorsements on the information they sent out. But again they stopped doing that.”
As for Equality Florida’s endorsement process Hendricks doesn’t think anything needs to change.
“I am completely comfortable with our process,” he said. “I think we have some really talented people on the [PAC] board.”
But sometimes, he admits, mistakes do happen as did with the case of the botched Muoio endorsement.
Pollitzer is also comfortable with the process.
“We put our candidates through a rigorous review process,” he said. “Equality Florida has over 20,000 members in Palm Beach County who count on us to be a trusted source of election information.”
But not everyone agrees. One candidate disputed Equality Florida’s “rigorous” process.
“No one interviewed me,” said Scott Herman, an openly gay Broward politician, who has run twice for the Florida State House. “Everything was based on a questionnaire.”
That wasn’t Herman’s only gripe with the process either.
He, along with James Eddy, a candidate for Jacksonville’s city council in this election cycle, were especially upset with Equality Florida’s fundraising requirement – they were told that unless they raised at least one-third of the highest candidate’s total dollars they would not be endorsed.
“We look at a lot of things, including the candidate’s ability to raise money,” Pollitzer said. “If the candidate hasn’t raised any money then we are not going to endorse them.”
Herman shot back: “They’re letting their community down and sending the wrong message. There have been plenty of races where money did not win the election.”
Herman added that Equality Florida has forgotten the principles they were founded on.
“Two decades ago they did not have the funding, but it didn’t stop them,” he said.
The first time Herman ran for office, in 2012, he raised little money and was not endorsed – neither was his opponent.
But Herman proudly filled out his questionnaire in that election, yet it still took a phone call for them to finally post it online. His opponent in the race, a long time supporter of LGBT rights, who eventually won the election, did not fill out a survey.
The second time he ran, in 2014, he infused his own cash into his campaign and received Equality Florida’s endorsement – yet still wasn’t happy.
“I was an LGBT democrat, who supported LGBT rights across the board, but the endorsement didn’t come until I funded my campaign, ” he said. “Plus they didn’t send out an e-blast or alert the community. Even after I funded my campaign I still had to call a couple of them to find out what was going on.”
A History of Complaints

PBCHRC isn’t the only organization Equality Florida has butted heads with over their endorsement process, and more generally speaking, their involvement on the county level.

These complaints date back years, with the most public of such, being in 2010 when several local groups across the state came together and signed on to a letter
asking Equality Florida to stay out areas that had a local LGBT group and instead focus their efforts on areas with no representation.
Those groups included SAVE (formerly known as SAVE Dade), Unity Coalition, Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Broward County Council of Gay-Straight Alliances and the Leon County GSA Council.
SFGN reached out to most of the above organizations asking for an update on their relationship with Equality Florida.
The Unity Coalition sidestepped the question calling the point moot as they no longer endorse candidates. SAVE also did not comment directly on the situation, only saying they do not work with, or consult with, any outsides groups on their endorsements and were not contacted by Equality Florida about this election cycle.
However the founder of Broward County Council of Gay-Straight Alliances, Ryan Terrell, who now serves at the Florida Democratic LGBTA Caucus Region 1 Director, did have a few choice words.
“In terms of endorsements, Equality Florida for years now has been making political decisions out of the blue without consulting local activists on the ground,” he said.
Here’s a snippet of what the letter says: We are writing to again express our displeasure and frustration with Equality Florida’s endorsement process and unilateral engagement in local political races…win or lose on your endorsements, Equality Florida has the luxury of going home. For us, this is home. Since Equality Florida bills itself as a state organization, we’re not even certain why there is such a focus on local politics in our area. It would be a different matter, of course, if no local organization existed to review these important candidates and races. But this case, each of our local organizations is well established and respected.
[See end of article to read entire letter]
“Why not focus on other counties?” Jamie Foreman asked. “Develop those relationships there like PBCHRC has been doing for the past 20 years. Make a difference. Not just piggy back off of work that’s already been done. Equality Florida has the resources to replicate this model elsewhere and help new organizations get off the ground.”
When SFGN asked Hendricks if it might be a better use of Equality Florida’s statewide resources to focus on those areas Foreman mentions, he said no.
“The statewide organization needs to be a part of PBC and PBC needs to be a part of the state,” he said.
New LGBT Group in Northeast Florida Forms This year Carrington “Rusty” Mead, a Jacksonville attorney and LGBT rights activist, along with others, formed a political action committee – the Northeast Florida LGBT Leadership PAC.
Despite being such a new group they’ve already offered up a slew of endorsements in the Jacksonville area races.
“It wasn’t hard for us to do, as we all live here and are all familiar with the local politics. The board is made up of a group of very active individuals,” she said. “We just realized there wasn’t a local voice for our community or a consistent voice that could speak with knowledge and integrity. And provide a certain depth of knowledge about the candidates. We needed a more effective message to get out to folks.”
One such endorsement this cycle was James Eddy, a candidate who Equality Florida passed over, because he didn’t meet the fundraising requirement.
“He meets our definition of a qualified candidate,” Mead said. “He’s openly supportive of LGBT issues and has a willingness to advocate on our behalf. That was an easy endorsement.”
Eddy, who’s openly gay, was disappointed that he did receive an endorsement from Equality Florida.
Jacksonville does not have an LGBT-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance and so that has been a hot button issue in the city. That’s why Equality Florida’s e-blast recommendations highlighted the candidates who support an inclusive HRO and who are running – what they consider – a competitive race.
“I was definitely surprised since I work hand in hand with them. And I am on the front lines of LGBT issues,” Eddy said. “I have been fighting for the HRO since 2010.”
In 2012 one candidate who scored 100 percent on his questionnaire, Johnny Gaffney, a city councilman, later voted against the HRO.
Mallory Garner-Wells, Equality Florida’s public policy director, called it a fluke.
“We work really hard to ensure people stick to their commitment,” she told Watermark, the LGBT newspaper of Central Florida.
So who did Equality Florida choose this time around over Eddy? That would be Marc McCullough – whose history includes selling cocaine to an undercover detective, pleading guilty to motor vehicle theft, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
But, as mentioned above, these weren’t “official” endorsements anyway.
Eddy said he just didn’t raise enough money to meet Equality Florida’s threshold, even though when he spoke to SFGN, he had raised more than $6,000.
But Hendricks said the fundraising requirement isn’t actually set in stone.
“It’s not a requirement and it’s not the only thing we look at,” Hendricks said. “Do they have a ground game? What is their voting record? If there was a really big gap [in fundraising] we came up with a process where we would recommend and not endorse.
Hendricks said they also rely on information from local organizations when making their endorsements, pointing to groups such as PBCHRC and PBC National Organization for Women.
Despite Eddy’s lack of fundraising, the Northeast Florida LGBT Leadership PAC chose to endorse him.
When a pro-equality measure was up for a vote in Atlantic Beach, Mead said, Eddy “showed leadership” on the issue and was there to support the bill.
“Our endorsements aren’t based on a bank account or contributions,” she said. “The candidates have to leave us with a feeling that they’re being honest about their positions – Not just support us while they’re running.”
Nor will their endorsements be based on questionnaires.
“Checking the right box is not the way to go. We need to have an intense conversation with the candidate,” she said.
Mead added that it is important to build relationships with candidates even if they don’t get your endorsement the first time around.
Hoch agreed saying his organization builds relationships with candidates that spans years and even decades, so face-to-face interviews are an essential part of that process.
“We have a long time relationship with these people,” Foreman added. “We know their strategies. Some of these things are so nuanced you can’t really get that from a survey. This isn’t about who looks best on paper.”
Neither of the other two groups that SFGN spoke with, SAVE and PBCHRC, have a fundraising requirement.
“SAVE has a strong and transparent endorsement process that is driven by the community that includes sending questionnaires to candidates and then having panel interviews with them. Members of each endorsement panel live in the municipality that we are endorsing in. This process and methodology helps us ensure that the endorsements that we offer the community are authentic and representative of the LGBT voice in each municipality,” said Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE.
“We don’t rely on anyone else’s endorsement. Since our work is focused on the local community in South Florida, after we endorse, we continue to work with municipalities to be their resource and voice when it comes to LGBT issues. We’ve been doing this work for 22 years.”
SFGN News Editor John McDonald contributed to this report.
***A request of corrective action for the 2010 elections

We are writing to again express our displeasure and frustration with Equality Florida’s endorsement process and unilateral engagement in local political races.

As leaders of local lesbian and gay rights organizations, our membership and focus is often at the city or county level. Because of our local focus, we care deeply about who represents us in these offices and believe we have valuable experience, insights and history with many of the candidates or elected officials seeking local office.
Not for the first time, Equality Florida has issued formal endorsements in some local races in our communities without discussion or even notice, even after many of us specifically reached out Equality Florida to express the importance of your attention to certain local campaigns & candidates. In some cases, we learned of Equality Florida’s endorsements from the candidates themselves who, because they had support from Equality Florida, expected our default support. In many cases, our organizations had not even concluded our screening and support process.
In addition, we know in several cases where Equality Florida issued unilateral endorsements in local races, there was no process at all. Not all candidates for these local offices were even invited to seek Equality Florida’s support.
While Equality Florida may not see this as a problem, we have to deal with the consequences. Win or lose on your endorsements, Equality Florida has the luxury of going home. For us, this is home.
Since Equality Florida bills itself as a state organization, we’re not even certain why there is such a focus on local politics in our area. It would be a different matter, of course, if no local organization existed to review these important candidates and races. But this case, each of our local organizations is well established and respected.
In addition, when Equality Florida endorses a local candidate without collaboration or consultation it puts our organization in an impossible position. What are we to do when we reach a different conclusion than Equality Florida? Issuing our own, often more informed, endorsements will inevitably expose disagreements in our community and weaken our common purpose.
We know collaboration is possible. When national gay and lesbian organizations such as Victory Fund or HRC are considering even national endorsements in our area, they reach out to us and seek our opinion. And yet, even on local races, Equality Florida seems to reach out by press release.
To be clear, we fully support collaboration on races and political action where we have common purpose such as state legislative races in our areas. We are certain we have valuable information to share about these opportunities that we believe any thorough process would seek to include. This year, even in state legislative races, Equality Florida issued endorsements on its own exposing us to the consequences of disappointed, irate or confused candidates and office holders.
We clearly understand that Equality is not required to meet with any local group to give out endorsements, but collectively, we are again asking that Equality Florida actively seek our input on political actions and endorsements which impact us as residents and our organizations and where possible refrain entirely from issuing exclusive endorsements in local races.
With hope that Equality Florida can correct this action over the remainder of the 2010 elections and in the future, we look forward to being a continued partner in the fight for equality.
J. Ortuno
SAVE Dade Action PAC
Herb Sosa
Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida
Rand Hoch
Palm Beach County
Human Rights Council Voters Alliance
Ryan Terrell, Founder
Broward County Council of Gay-Straight Alliances
Brandon Young, President
Leon County GSA Council

PFLAG National Conference: We Are the Change

When we announced our National Convention dates a few months ago, we knew that the combination of southern hospitality and the opportunity to attend trainings, workshops, and more would be great incentive to our members and supporters to register.

But the early-bird registration prices REALLY must have been inspiring! We are filling up at a rapid rate and it’s only March 25th!  We’re so glad that word is getting out for what is promising to be the best PFLAG National Convention yet! 

The 2013 PFLAG National Convention! And we’re so excited that YOU are excited…we’re extending our early-bird registration deadline through April 30th to give everyone who wants to attend the opportunity to register now, at the best available pricing.

That’s right: four more weeks for you to take advantage of the lowest rates we’ll be offering for the 2015 PFLAG National Convention. Now’s the time: don’t miss this opportunity to come together in Nashville, Tennessee to learn, share best practices, and get a first-hand look at a city and state that is representative of so many of the successes, challenges, and opportunities facing equality in the future.

Bring your own expertise to the table, and hear from others about the work they’re doing to make sure equal really means EQUAL!

April 30th is right around the corner! Act fast and register now!

Click here to register for the 2013 PFLAG National Convention!
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Copyright © 2015 PFLAG National, All rights reserved.
1828 L ST NW STE 660
Washington, DC 20036-5112
(202) 467-8180(202) 467-8180

Equality Forum: Event





MARCH 23, 2015, Philadelphia, PA- The organizers of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights movement today announced the addition of a panel of eminent LGBT historians moderated by author, advocate and LGBT history expert Eric Marcus. The panelists are Eliza Byard, Malcolm Lazin, Michael Long, PhD., and Marc Stein, PhD. The panel will be held following a screening of the award-winning documentary “Gay Pioneers” on Friday, July 3rd, 2015 at WHYY, the Philadelphia PBS and NPR affiliate.

“Gay Pioneers” is about the first organized annual “homosexual” civil rights demonstrations held at Independence Hall from 1965-69. When few would publicly identify themselves as gay, these brave pioneers challenged pervasive homophobia. The 50th Anniversary celebration, July 2 to 5, commemorates and celebrates these Annual Reminders, made up of New York City, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia activists who organized the first sustained protest demanding LGBT equality.

On July 4, 1965, forty (40) people carried signs in front of Independence Hall supporting gay emancipation. Each Annual Reminder, their numbers grew. By July 4, 1969, days after Stonewall one hundred and fifty (150) people demonstrated at Independence Hall. The Annual Reminders were suspended as the activists marshaled their efforts to organize the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. That led to the then largest gathering for gays and lesbians when between two to five thousand people marched from Greenwich Village to Central Park. The 1970 march is remembered as the first New York gay pride parade.

“Gay Pioneers” was produced by PBS affiliate WHYY and Equality Forum. The film weaves together archival footage from these seminal demonstrations; FBI investigative files obtained under the Freedom of Information Act; Gay Pioneer interviews about the homophobia of that era, the protocol for the demonstrations and how those demonstrations impacted the movement and concludes with Gay Pioneers Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz on-camera in 2004 discussing same-sex marriage.


WHAT: screening of “Gay Pioneers” followed by panel discussion
WHEN: Friday, July 3, 2015 at 7pm
WHERE: WHYY, Independence Mall West, 150 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
WHO: Moderator Eric Marcus, Panelists Eliza Byard (Executive Director of GLSEN, Malcolm Lazin, Chair of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, longtime activist and LGBT historian, Michael Long, Ph.D., editor of “Gay Is Good, The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny,” and Marc Stein, Ph.D., author of “City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972.”

For more information, photographs and archival materials, go to and

Don’t forget to follow #LGBT50th on social media! <; <>
Like and invite your friends!

National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce: Events and News

Presented by

Suze Orman Confirmed as Keynote Speaker

Television Host – Author – Financial Advisor – Motivational Speaker
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce Suze Orman will be a keynote speaker at the 2015 International Business & Leadership Conference. Called “a force in the world of personal finance” and a “one-woman financial advice powerhouse” by USA Today, Orman is undeniably the most recognized expert on personal finance in America today.


Suze Orman is a two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, the author of nine consecutive New York Times best sellers, a magazine and online columnist, writer/producer, and one of the world’s top motivational speakers.


Orman, named by Forbes and Time Magazine as one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful and Influential People,” currently serves as Honorary Co-Chairman of  Freedom to Marry and has worked tirelessly to make Marriage Equality a reality for all.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear some of Suze’s highly sought after advice at the 2015 NGLCC Conference, August 11-14 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Registration is now open!

⇒ Learn more about Suze Orman here

Conference Registration is Now Open! Don’t Miss Out on Early Bird Specials  

After last year’s record conference attendance in Las Vegas, registration for the 2015 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference is officially open! This is your chance to be a part of the largest LGBT business development event on the planet. This year’s conference, hosted at the beautiful Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, will bring together over 800 LGBT and allied business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate representatives, government agencies, and LGBT chamber leaders from across the country and around the globe.

Get Ready for the 2015 NGLCC Conference
Be sure to check out the above 2015 NGLCC Conference promo video

Starting August 11, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a day of exciting pre-conference education, followed by three days of immersive programming, development seminars, symposia, panel discussions, special events, and world-class networking — all aimed at generating new business opportunities and fostering stronger relationships with corporate partners, government entities, and other LGBT and allied business owners.

American Airlines will again be the Presenting Sponsor of the conference, marking the third year in a row. “As a founding corporate partner of NGLCC, American Airlines is eager to support the exciting 2015 NGLCC conference in Fort Lauderdale, and to encourage members, allies and friends to join us. We are proud of NGLCC’s track record promoting innovation and economic opportunity for LGBT business leaders in the U.S. and around the world,” said Ann Spaulding, American Airlines Manager, Sponsorships and Diversity.

Register now to take advantage of early bird pricing. This is one conference you don’t want to miss. More information about the 2015 NGLCC Conference, including the conference agenda, registration pricing, and how to book your room at the Marriott Harbor Beach conference rate, can be found at The conference and the host hotel will sell out, so register today!

⇒ Information and Registration

NGLCC Calls on Senate to Confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General
NGLCC has sent a letter to United States Senators encouraging them to vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General. In regards to Lynch’s credentials, NGLCC co-founder and President, Justin Nelson said, “Lynch has demonstrated an unflinching resolve to promote civil and human rights, and we know that in the role of Attorney General she will be a strong advocate for LGBT equality and the rule of law.” NGLCC fully endorses Loretta Lynch as President Obama’s choice for Attorney General and urges the Senate to swiftly approve her nomination.
NGLCC President Discusses the “State of the LGBT Business Movement” at the Greater Seattle Business Association
Last week, NGLCC co-founder and President Justin Nelson was in Seattle to address the Greater Seattle Business Association on the “State of the LGBT Business Movement.” At the event, Nelson spoke to members of NGLCC’s local area affiliate about the huge role business has played in breaking down barriers and opening up opportunities for LGBT businesses, both locally and nationally, as well as around the globe. Sam McClure, NGLCC Vice President of Affiliate Relations & External Affairs, was also present and delivered a morning educational workshop on the importance of LGBTBE certification and the role that theNGLCC Supplier Diversity Initiative has in helping LGBT-owned businesses reach their fullest potential. Many thanks to the Greater Seattle Business Association for the invitation to speak and thanks to both GSBA and 1st Security Bank for hosting the reception that evening welcoming NGLCC leadership to town.
NGLCC co-founder and President Justin Nelson joined HuffPost Live anchor Josh Zepps and a diverse panel of LGBT leaders to discuss a new set of legislative battles facing the LGBT community.
NGLCC’s Michael Castellano spoke to Telemundo reporter Randy Serrano on the importance of workplace LGBT nondiscrimination laws and how a federal nondiscrimination law is both good for business and good for the LGBT community.
In February, NGLCC launched the LGBT Business Builder program with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Part of this partnership is to encourage closer cooperation between local NGLCC affiliate chambers and regional SBA offices. On March 17, the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce entered into a Strategic Alliance memorandum with the South Florida office of the SBA.
Take Your Business to the Next Level with Miller Lite Tap the Future Business Competition
Miller Lite Tap the Future is a business competition that lets aspiring entrepreneurs pitch for a chance to earn over $200K to turn their dreams into a day job. In the process, Miller offers business seminars, live pitch opportunities, access to business moguls like Daymond John from ABC’s “Shark Tank” and more.

PFLAG National: Policy Matters

Policy Matters from PFLAG National

Take Action

Dear PFLAGer:

Contact your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative and ask them to cosponsor the Social Security and Marriage Equality Act of 2015.

Same-sex married couples still have gaps in federal benefits, and this bill will make sure that same-sex married couples are able to access their spouse’s Social Security benefits in the same way that different-sex married couples can.  The proposed act would eliminate the requirement that same-sex couples live in a state that recognizes their marriage in order to be eligible for Social Security benefits. There is both a House version (H.R.1404) and a Senate version (S.753) of this bill.

Reach your legislator by clicking HERE.  Please remember to include your name, street address and zip code when reaching legislators, and consider using this suggested PFLAG message:

I am contacting you as your constituent and as a member of PFLAG.  I urge you to cosponsor The Social Security and Marriage Equality Act of 2015 (S. 753 and H.R. 1404), introduced by Sens. Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin in the Senate, and Rep. Ron Kind in the House. PFLAG’s values are America’s values, and that includes ensuring that same-sex married couples receive the same benefits and fulfill the same obligations as different-sex married couples.  Please cosponsor this bill, and if you have already done so, thank you very much.

Courts Matter

Granade refuses to stay order for Alabama to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses. After U.S. District Judge Callie Granade originally ruled Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, Mobile County Probate Court Judge Don Davis refused to comply and asked Granade to stay her order. Granade refused on March 16th, stating that Judge Davis did not give significant reason to warrant a stay.

Klaiber sentenced to 56 months in prison for stabbing a 15-year-old trans girl last July. Reginald Klaiber pled guilty to a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon classified as a hate crime, and was sentenced by D.C. Superior Court Judge Juliet McKenna on March 11th. According to witnesses, Klaiber taunted the girl with anti-trans slurs before the assault.

Media Matters

Presbyterian Church (USA) formally recognizes same-sex marriage in their constitution. On March 17th, after a majority vote of the churches regional bodies, the Presbyterian Church became the largest Protestant denomination in the country to formally recognize same-sex marriage by making an amendment to its constitution defining marriage as “a unique commitment between two people”. Due to tensions between different factions of the church, the amendment states that marriage “traditionally” occurs “between a man and a woman”.

New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade criticized for not being LGBTQ-inclusive enough. Though one LGBTQ organization (Out@NBCUniversal) marched in the parade on March 17th, many, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, do not feel the parade has made enough inclusive change. Irish Queers, an advocacy group of LGBTQ Irish-Americans, also applied to march in the parade, but never received a response from parade organizers. Two men were arrested for throwing toilet paper at Out@NBCUniversal during the parade.

LGBT groups march in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade for the first time on March 15th. OUTVETS, a group of LGBT veterans, and Boston Pride historically marched. Mayor Marty Walsh also marched, making him Boston’s first mayor to participate in the parade in 20 years.  The late former Mayor Tom Menino refused to march due to the long-standing former discriminatory exclusion of LGBT organizations.

Reform Judaism’s rabbinical arm installs first openly gay president, leading the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi Denise Eger was historically installed into this position on March 16th. Her rise, which she says shows the arc of civil rights, reflects the path of inclusion of same-sex marriage and openly trans people that Reform Judaism has.  It seems like light years between today and when she began a gay and lesbian student group in 1980 but held meetings in another borough of New York than where people lived.  Reform Judaism is the largest American Judaism movement.

Fort Worth newspaper The Star-Telegram publishes its first same-sex marriage announcement. The March 15th announcement honored David Hernandez and Joshua Rogers’ marriage. An anonymous donor has offered to pay for a handful same-sex marriage, engagement, and anniversary announcements through March based on need or inability to pay.

Elton John and other celebrities boycott Dolce & Gabbana after the fashion duo made comments condemning “non-traditional” families. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who were a couple for 23 years but broke up in 2005, spoke out against same-sex adoption and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in comments to Italy’s Panorama magazine on March 14th. John called for a boycott; the hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana trended on Twitter, and other celebrities, including Ricky Martin, supported the boycott. Andy Cohen is auctioning off his Dolce & Gabbana suit and donating the proceeds to the Family Equality Council.

Trans teen Jazz Jennings is the new face of skincare company Clean & Clear.  Jennings, 14,  announced March 13th that she will be part of Clean & Clear’s “See the Real Me” ad campaign. Jennings is also slated to star in an 11-part reality series documenting her life premiering this summer. Clean & Clear is a part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, the 2014 recipient of the PFLAG National Straight for Equality in the Workplace Award, and who have donated over $300K to PFLAG over the last three years, through both the Care With PrideTM and Donate a Photo campaigns.

After college denies request for planned bake sale, campus LGBTQ group raises thousands of dollars for organization serving homeless LGBTQ people. All4One, an unofficial pro-LGBT group at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, planned a bake sale to fundraise for Project Fierce. The college denied the request, saying the event would “conflict with the missions of Andrews University” in an email to the group’s president. The group set up an online fundraiser and, as of March 12th, has raised nearly $7,000.

Planet Fitness enforces trans-inclusive policy and rescinds Yvette Cormier’s membership on March 8th. Cormier complained to the front desk of the Michigan gym after seeing a transgender woman in the women’s locker room. The gym rescinded Cormier’s membership after she returned to the gym to complain daily for a week, saying that she violated the terms of her membership agreement.

Federal Matters

Sens. Ted Cruz and James Lankford introduce resolution calling on Congress to halt enactment of Washington, DC’s Human Rights Amendment Act on March 18th. The act protects LGBTQ students from discrimination at religious schools in D.C. Cruz and Lankford claim the act requires religious schools to support activities which “violate the tenets of their faith.”

Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act reintroduced in both chambers of Congress on March 18th. Sens. Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin reintroduced it in the Senate as S.773, while Rep. Mark Pocan reintroduced it in the House of Representatives as H.R.1421. The bill would require colleges and universities receiving federal aid to implement enumerated anti-harassment policies addressing harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. The bill is named for Tyler Clementi, a college student who died by suicide in 2010.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sues Obama administration March 18th for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include same-sex couples. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) changed the definition of “spouse” in the FMLA to allow same-sex married couples to be eligible for benefits, even in states that don’t recognize their marriage. If the lawsuit is successful, same-sex married couples in all 12 states that do not recognize same-sex marriage would be excluded from the FMLA..

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in Supreme Court same-sex marriage case propose splitting arguments between the four legal teams on March 17th. The lawyers have asked the court to split the marriage question between the Michigan and Kentucky teams and the marriage recognition question between the Ohio and Tennessee teams. They have not announced which specific lawyers will present arguments. Former Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch and Tennessee Associate Solicitor General Joe Whalen will argue against same-sex marriage.

Social Security and Marriage Equality Act of 2015 reintroduced in both chambers of Congress on March 17th. Sens. Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin reintroduced it in the Senate, while Rep. Ron Kind reintroduced it in the House of Representatives. The bill would eliminate the requirement that same-sex couples live in a state that recognizes their marriage in order to be eligible for Social Security benefits.  See Take Action in this issue of Policy Matters to help garner legislative cosponsors for this bill.

State Matters

Stepping up to the State of the States: Over the past year, the pace of introduction of state legislative bills has intensified, mostly trying to stop bills protecting LGBTQ people and their families from discrimination. As of this publishing, there are active bills in 31 states, with some legislatures having introduced multiple bills in this legislative session; Texas, for example, set a new record of 20 anti-LGBTQ bills currently alive in its state legislature. Thankfully, coalitions are forming or fortifying in many states, and PFLAG chapters and leaders are active, involved and determined to make equality real.

This note is to urge PFLAGers to be involved so we can improve our odds more quickly to advance equality and head off harmful bills.  No matter what issue inspires you: antidiscrimination, so-called religious liberty, safer schools including curriculum and antibullying protections for our youth, healthcare access, anti-conversion therapy or HIV and health disparities among marginalized communities — there are bills to beat and others to buttress, right now, in so many states.

As a PFLAGer, you can help by being involved locally in coalition work, organizing through your Regional Director, State Coordinator, or Field Manager.  Let us help get out your state coalition’s message via PFLAG National Action Alerts, and stay tuned to Policy Matters and PFLAG social media channels to know what’s happening and how we’re doing.

Arkansas: State Rep. Greg Leding drops his proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Arkansas’ list of employment, housing, and public accommodation protections on March 17th. Leding wants the legislature to examine the issue further, but dropped the bill due to a lack of votes to pass it. Cities and counties in Arkansas are prohibited from enacting nondiscrimination policies different than the state’s nondiscrimination policy.

Arizona: Arizona Supreme Court Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee issues an advisory opinion on March 9th instructing court officials not to discriminate against same-sex couples while continuing to marry different-sex couples. This is the first time a state’s judicial ethics advisory committee has issued such an advisory opinion. The opinion is not binding, but can weigh against a court official in a disciplinary hearing.

Florida: Bill requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that matches the sex on their government-issued documents passes second committee in Florida House on March 17th. Naomi Bradley of Trans Lives Matter Tallahassee led a protest of the bill in the capitol, starting a “trans lives matter” chant after the bill was approved. The Senate version of the bill is less specific and has yet to be placed on the legislative calendar.

Georgia: Hundreds gather outside Georgia State Capitol to protest Sen. Josh McKoon’s “religious freedom” bill on March 17th. The rally was organized by Georgia Unites Against Discrimination and the Human Rights Campaign. The bill passed in the Senate on March 5th.

Idaho: 25 protesters arrested after refusing to leave bill-drafting offices in the Idaho Capitol on March 16th. The protesters were demonstrating against state lawmakers’ refusal to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. Shortly after, police also arrested 23 others for trespassing on the House and Senate floors.

Indiana: Indiana House Judiciary Committee approves religious freedom bill that opens the door to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The bill’s language is broad, stating a governmental entity may not “substantially burden” any person’s exercise of religion. The bill has already passed the Senate and will now proceed to the full House floor. Over 100 businesses are retaliating by displaying “this business is for everyone” stickers from Open for Service.

Iowa: Iowa Senate passes bill March 17th banning “conversion therapy” for minors. The bill mirrors similar legislation that has already passed in California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. The bill will now proceed to the House.

Michigan: Michigan House passes legislation March 18th allowing adoption agencies to refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons. The three-bill package would give agencies the right to deny service if it conflicts with “sincerely held religious beliefs contained in a written policy”. The legislation will now proceed to the Senate.

East Grand Rapids adds sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination ordinance March 16th. The unanimous decision by East Grand Rapids City Commission makes East Grand Rapids the 36th city in Michigan to add protections for LGBTQ people to its ordinance.

Missouri: State Rep. Jeff Pogue files two bills to prevent the creation of gender-neutral bathrooms. HB 1338 would require all multiple-stall bathrooms be gender divided, and HB 1339 would prevent state revenue from being used to create “a gender-neutral environment” unless required by a federal or state court order

Oklahoma:Oklahoma House passes bill March 10 requiring clergy signatures on marriage certificates. Rep. Todd Russ wrote the legislation in an effort to block the state’s involvement with same-sex marriage. The bill will now proceed to the Senate.

Oklahoma Rep. Emily Virgin proposes amendment to Religious Freedom Act on March 10th requiring businesses to post notice if they refuse to serve certain social groups. The proposed amendment requires businesses to specify which groups they refuse to serve in their notice and make it visible to the public, including on business websites.

Oregon: Oregon House passes bill March 17th banning “conversion therapy” for minors. The bill was introduced at the request of the House Interim Committee on Health Care for Basic Rights Oregon. The bill will now proceed to the Senate.

Texas: Texas lawmakers file 20 anti-LGBTQ bills this legislative season, likely the most of any state in history. The bills include, but are not limited to, a “religious freedom” bill allowing business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ people, a bill barring cities from creating and enforcing LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, and a bill restricting bathroom and other public facility access for transgender people.

Utah: Gov. Gary Herbert signs inclusive nondiscrimination bill with broad religious exemption into law on March 12th. The bill bans workplace and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and was supported by both The Mormon Church, ACLU and The Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The broad religious exemption, similar to the one that PFLAG National worked diligently to have narrowed in the 113th Congress’s version of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), is not optimal, but the bill received support from some LGBT organizations because the broad language applies to all protected classes, including race and sex. Reactions and interpretations of this new Utah law are still flowing strongly.  Stay tuned to PFLAG National social media and Policy Matters as this continues to hold attention.

Global Matters

Australia Senate approves motion calling for conscience vote on same-sex marriage. The motion, proposed by Sen. Sarah Hansen-Young, calls on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow members of parliament to vote on same-sex marriage based on their personal views and not their political party’s.

Indonesia’s most eminent Islamic clerical body has issued a fatwa condemning homosexuality, suggesting a range of severe punishments including death. The Indonesian Ulema Council issued the fatwa at their assembly on March 17th. Homosexuality is currently legal in Indonesia, with the exception of local governments Aceh and Palembang which ban gay sex.

Remigijus Šimašius, new mayor of Lithuanian capital Vilnius, says he has “no problems” with LGBT parades on central streets. Šimašiusmade comments approving LGBT parades in an interview with BNS on March 16th. LGBT parades have been contentious with previous mayoral administration, including former Mayor Artūras Zuokas, whom Šimašius defeated in the mayoral election on March 15th.

Irish Sen. Fidelma Healy Eames suggests legalizing same-sex marriage may end Mother’s Day. Eames tweeted her claims on March 15th, falsely stating that celebrating Mother’s and Father’s Day is banned in some U.S. states. Ireland’s marriage equality referendum will take place May 22nd. Dublin City University has canceled exams that day to encourage students to vote in the referendum.

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea pulls online magazine from Russia due to “gay propaganda” law. Ikea announced the decision to pull its “Family Live” magazine from Russia on March 14th. According to Ikea, some of the magazine’s content could be considered “gay propaganda”, which a 2013 law bans in Russia for all under 18.

German court fines father and two uncles for detaining gay 15-year-old Nasser El-Ahmad to force him to marry a Lebanese girl. El-Ahmad was found in a car at the Romanian-Bulgarian border two days after he went missing, and he alleges he was subject to verbal threats and physical violence. The father and two uncles were fined 1,350 euros each, and none of them were present for the hearing on March 12th.

Dear Policy Matters

Dear Policy Matters:

In city newspapers and websites across the country, there seems to be more talk about LGBT homeless youth.  What is the situation, and what is being done to make it better?

Want Our Youth Housed

Dear WOYH:

PFLAG National is an active member of the Youth Homelessness Coalition and works diligently with many advocates, policy drivers, researchers and LGBTQ youth and families to address this urgent matter.

Much is being published about youth homelessness overall, especially LGBTQ youth. Approximately 40 percent of people termed unaccompanied homeless youth are LGBT according to a 2012 report from The Williams Institute and True Colors Fund titled Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless.

On March 17th, The Center for American Progress issued a paper titled 4 Ways the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Can Support LGBT Homeless Youth.  The paper highlights four actions ACF should take to work together with Congress and get the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) reauthorized.

The four priorities are:

  1. Require nondiscriminatory, culturally and linguistically appropriate services. When service providers create and modify their policies and practices, LGBTQ youth can benefit if their access to basic needs is considered, including food, shelter, medical and behavioral health, school support, skills training, and career counseling.This requires adopting service practices that allow equal access for all youth, including those who might be homeless or have precarious housing situations (e.g. couch surfers). Transgender youth are at risk of being disproportionately rejected or dismissed without proper policies in place, but it’s simple enough to ensure inclusion with policies governing restrooms, changing areas, sleeping quarters and even how a person’s name or preferred pronoun is respected and welcomed.  ACF can help ensure LGBTQ homeless youth are safer by setting guidelines for providers on when and how to engage families of origin and how their information’s privacy is determined..

  1. Broaden the definition of family. Family conflict or rejection is a common trait shared by many LGBTQ homeless youth. ACF can prioritize the physical, mental and emotional health of homeless LGBTQ youth and assess closely whether or not to return them to their parents or guardians. ACF can also expand the definition of family to honor the created families many homeless LGBTQ youth create for their best safety and welfare.

  1. Promote access to healthcare. One survey of service providers found that two-thirds of their young LGBT clients had mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety. The survey also found that more than half dealt with alcohol or substance use. LGBTQ youth are more likely to be homeless and report considering and attempting suicide at higher rates than their non-LGBTQ peers. HIV risk remains pronounced for homeless and LGBTQ youth overall. ACF can clarify that RHYA funding supports mental and behavioral health services so care can be identified, prioritized and implemented for better overall healthcare access.

  1. Foster youth resiliency. Strength-based approaches to support and care benefit all youth, including LGBT homeless youth. Improving feelings of self-worth can improve self-care, especially when considering the level of stigma LGBT homeless youth bear compared to their peers. LGBT homeless youth experience issues with body image, harm reduction and positive support networks..  ACF can guide providers to create supportive LGBT-inclusive environments open to those who are homeless or precariously housed.

We will continue to work on this priority issue. Stay tuned to PFLAG National social media channels and Policy Matters to learn how you can help.

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