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News :: GLBT/Queer
I support Gay Rights, that's why I'm working for Democrat Martha Coakly for US Senate
04 Jul 2014
My wife, Jacqueline, and I are celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary this week (the 10th legal one, of course). We got involved in the marriage equality movement as leaders in the Freedom to Marry Coalition and fought hard, first in the LGBT community to get folks to realize we deserved full equality not just a handful of legal rights, and then, to convince our allies that we are equal and that our love mattered.

We celebrated a pivotal victory when the 2003 Goodridge decision allowed same-sex couples to marry. Anti-LGBT activists galvanized national support for a series of constitutional amendments to strike down this monumental decision. With laser focus, LGBT activists rallied and steadily increased support for equality to eventually defeat those efforts in the State House. Many people in our community, specifically leaders for employment and transgender equality, put their own agendas on hold while we collectively fought and won this fight.

The infamous Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) loomed over every married same-sex couple and family in Massachusetts because of its implication that our marriages were not equal; we were denied over 1,100 federal BENEFITS.

In 2009, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders bravely took on DOMA, making Massachusetts the first state in the country to successfully challenge the law. Martha Coakley made the national case for equality while many other elected officials were running away. She didn’t do it to win a political chess game or a popularity contest. She did it because she believed it was fundamentally wrong to deny thousands of married couples in Massachusetts federal marriage benefits and treat them as second-class citizens. She turned that belief into action on behalf of the LGBT community. Martha won that case in federal court and it had a ripple effect across the country that we’re still feeling years later.

Martha Coakley made the national case for equality while many other elected officials were running away. She didn’t do it to win a political chess game or a popularity contest. … Martha won that case in federal court and it had a ripple effect across the country that we’re still feeling years later.

And she did it again with the Proposition 8 case in California! Not only did she file a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8, she convinced 13 other state attorneys general to join her. This work led to the current wave of support for marriage equality in several states. Martha Coakley saw an injustice and leveraged her knowledge, skill, and position to help others, setting a national precedent that LGBT people deserve to be treated equally.

After our marriage victory in Massachusetts, many folks “leaned back” and rested on their laurels, but Martha “leaned in.” She helped move us forward, testifying in support of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill in 2011. She used her voice as Attorney General to advocate for the folks who continue to face discrimination simply because of who they are. Her continued public support for a comprehensive transgender equal rights law will end discrimination against those in our community who have been and continue to be marginalized. There are only a few elected officials other than Martha Coakley who are out front on this issue.

She helped move us forward, testifying in support of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill in 2011. … Her continued public support for a comprehensive transgender equal rights law will end discrimination against those in our community who have been and continue to be marginalized. There are only a few elected officials other than Martha Coakley who are out front on this issue.

As for our youth, she authored a tough anti-bullying bill that helps at-risk youth in our schools and gives them the support they need to feel safe. In April, Attorney General Coakley proudly stood with school climate advocates as Governor Patrick signed the bill, which enhances the current law to provide the strongest protections for LGBTQ YOUTH in the country.

Attorney General Coakley trained law enforcement officials on addressing hate crimes and providing justice to those who are victims of hate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

No other candidate in this gubernatorial race has the track record of doing what Martha has done. Some have really helped and supported us, but I have yet to see a better LGBT equality champion. She’s even laid out a plan on her website for addressing the issues that are still facing our community once she’s elected—including youth homelessness, aging issues and healthcare equality.

As for our youth, she authored a tough anti-bullying bill that helps at-risk youth in our schools and gives them the support they need to feel safe. In April, Attorney General Coakley proudly stood with school climate advocates as Governor Patrick signed the bill, which enhances the current law to provide the strongest protections for LGBTQ youth in the country.

I believe the MASSEQUALITY PAC—the leading statewide grassroots organization working on our behalf to elect pro-equality champions—has endorsed a true winner for governor. When she wins, I know that we can all live, love and thrive in Massachusetts without the threat of discrimination or oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

I have thought long and hard about whether any other candidate in the race for Governor has helped accomplish our vision of full equality as expansively as Martha has. No other candidate has DEVOTED their time and resources to support the issues facing the LGBT community like Martha Coakley. I’m working for Martha because she works for us. I hope that you will come out this campaign season and help us win!

*Valerie Fein-Zachary was a co-founder and former president of the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts and is a member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and Women in Medicine, a national lesbian physician organization. She also sits on the MassEquality PAC Board.

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Re: I support Gay Rights, that's why I'm working for Democrat Martha Coakly for Governor
04 Jul 2014
The National Football League made history earlier this month when Jeff Fisher, the coach of the St. Louis Rams, drafted Michael Sam, the first openly gay professional football player.

What was striking about Fisher’s interviews was that he spoke and acted from the heart. He believed that Michael Sam could help his team win, but his core values also made him proud to help knock down another discriminatory barrier. “I’m honored to be a part of it,” Fisher told interviewers. Jeff Fisher opened the door; other NFL coaches will now step through.

But in this, the first gubernatorial election in a post-marriage world, Martha Coakley’s leadership extends well beyond marriage. She is the only candidate with a detailed, specific program on LGBTQ issues—access to health care, school safety, bullying prevention, homeless services. …She was also the first to follow the lead of the Governor in banning anti-transgender discrimination in her office, and she continues to fight to ensure access to places of public accommodation.

Martha Coakley is the JEFF FISHER of Massachusetts. As Attorney General, Coakley—with the herculean efforts of Maura Healey (also endorsed by Mass Equality in her race to succeed Coakley as Attorney General) and Mary Bonauto (GLAD)—challenged the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—and won. The First Circuit Court of the United States struck down DOMA because they agreed that with Martha Coakley that the law unfairly denied more than 16,000 same-sex families in Massachusetts the rights and benefits they had earned and that were rightfully theirs. Coakley’s leadership inspired the U.S. Department of Justice to back away from DOMA. And when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA’s ban on federal marriage recognition last year, it echoed many of Coakley’s original arguments.

She is the only gubernatorial candidate to have testified in person in support of expanded legal protections and equal access for transgender individuals. She was also the first to follow the lead of the Governor in banning anti-transgender discrimination in her office, and she continues to fight to ensure access to places of public accommodation. Coakley also won strong court judgments against perpetrators of anti-gay and racially motivated hate crimes.

Martha Coakley’s courage and her unshakeable commitment to justice and equality is not limited to her work on LGBTQ issues. The letter she wrote last week threatening to sue the Federal Housing Finance Agency if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continued to ignore their obligations to work with Massachusetts homeowners in foreclosure, her staunch advocacy supporting the need for buffer zones to protect women accessing reproductive health services, and her widely acknowledged and unsurpassed leadership among Attorneys General across the country in the fight to hold large financial institutions accountable for their misdeeds are just a few of the issues on which Massachusetts residents benefit from Coakley’s determined leadership.

Coakley chaired the Massachusetts’ Commission on Bullying Prevention and, in partnership with MassEquality, the Anti-Defamation League, and others successfully sponsored legislation that requires schools to update anti-bullying plans to include protections for especially vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ youth.

Massachusetts voters recognize and respect courage—and they respect a candidate whose positions are guided by a strong internal lodestone—a reliable moral compass that distinguishes right from wrong—rather than by a set of talking points developed after putting a finger in the wind.

That’s why in the last election cycle Martha Coakley received more votes than any other candidate for state wide office. That’s also why she is the clear leader in every independent poll in this election cycle.

And that’s why MASSEQUALITY, the leading advocacy group on LGBTQ issues, made the right decision when it unanimously endorsed Martha Coakley as our candidate for governor. At the ten-year anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts, our world has changed—for the better—because we all worked hard to change it. The LGBTQ community can take pride in the fact that, as a result of our long years of organizing and our strong community institutions, many of our Democratic candidates for Governor now support LGBTQ issues. To continue to make history and to advance equality, we need more elected officials—more candidates—who walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. That is crucial for building the world we want—a world in which justice and equality for all is a given, not a goal.

*Elyse Cherry chaired MassEquality during its successful campaign for marriage equality in Massachusetts, served as director of the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and is currently a board member of LPAC, a political action committee created to support candidates who champion issues impacting lesbians and their families. Earlier this year she received the Susan M. Love award from Fenway Health, and she was named one of Twenty-one Women for the Twenty-first Century by Women’s enews.
Re: I support Gay Rights, that's why I'm working for Democrat Martha Coakly for US Senate
12 Jul 2014
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Barack Obama, Senate Elections and the Supreme Court

If Senate Democrats Won’t Vote for You, Why Should You Vote for Them?


As the 2014 mid-term Congressional elections are on the horizon with control of the Senate of special interest, the Democrats are on the ropes with an increasingly unpopular president – one who has squandered a golden opportunity to repair a fractured war-weary country and who no longer has the trust of the American people.

It comes as no surprise that the latest poll has deemed that the once-overly glorified Barack Obama, who has shown few real democratic (small d) bones in his body, is no longer able to lead the country – that is of course assuming he ever truly had the competence, experience or character required in the first place.

And as if that were not the worse bad news for Democrats on the eve of the mid terms, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows that the majority of Americans believe Obama to be the worst president since WWII. Edging out George W. Bush at 28% with Obama at 33%, almost half of those polled now believe the country would have been better off if Mitt Romney had been elected.

While none of this is really new news since the President’s approval rating has been sliding for the ditch since at least 2010 when Congressional Republicans trounced the President’s Democratic party on the heels of having rejected either an extension of Medicare or some sort of public health option, the truth is that Obama has richly earned such repute.

In his usual fashion of pointing the finger elsewhere, the president was reported to respond that Americans are “extraordinarily cynical about Washington right now” as if to suggest that he is entirely undeserving of public disaffection and devoid of any responsibility for his plummeting poll numbers or publicly insupportable policy decisions.

It is noteworthy that in the face of utterly disastrous polls week after week, the president , who has demonstrated less intellectual profundity than postulated in 2008, has exhibited little interest in improving his overall job performance. We see no effort to rise to the challenge of leadership, to take a weekend at Camp David and reconsider his flawed domestic, economic and foreign policies; instead, he rushes off to a weekend of golf or to another international summit.

So what we are left with is a shallow, self-satisfied president whose adoration of the Versailles lifestyle and his wife’s designer gowns with six foot long regal trains more reminiscent of the royal courts of pre-WWI Europe, is more focused on hammering Vladimir Putin for the inexcusable sin of stepping in (at Pope Francis’ request) and preventing a bombing campaign in Syria.

The American public, which supported Obama in two presidential campaigns in good faith that he would somehow, sometime step up to the plate, have finally seen through the façade, the shine and glitter to know that this president, who no longer has ‘consent of the governed,’ does not deserve to be president.

It is equally curious that Democratic members of Congress continue to be so utterly passive and silent in the face of widespread national rebuke with not one word of critique as if all is fine within the beltway and the rest of the country can go to hell – especially those Senators whose butts are on the line this November and are prepared to go down the tubes defending a president who deserves no defense, which tells us exactly where their loyalties lie – and it is not with their constituents.

To digress momentarily, this vignette from “Obama: From Promise to Power” by David Mendell published in 2007 before the presidential campaign of 2008, may provide needed insight into Barack Obama’s character.

In 1995, incumbent Illinois State Senator Alice Palmer was set to run for re-election until a Congressional seat opened up thus leaving her seat vacant for an up-and-coming ambitious community organizer. At her suggestion, Obama set his sights on her State legislative seat until she realized that she had no real shot at winning the Democratic primary for Congress against Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Her supporters met with and asked Obama to step aside so Palmer could retain her seat and, as Mendell relates the story, “Obama had no interest in ditching the effort and he did not equivocate in expressing that sentiment to Palmer’s representatives.” So to cut to the chase here, not only did Obama refuse to back-off and allow Palmer who had a reputation as a fighting progressive to retain her seat but when she filed reelection petitions, he challenged the legality of her petitions since many of her petition signatures were printed rather than script as required by law. With time running out, Palmer withdrew from the race and refused to support Obama in the fall election stating that “I’ve discovered that he’s not as progressive as I thought.”

The point of this story is that despite his call in “The Audacity of Hope” (which incidentally avoids any reference to knocking Alice Palmer off the ballot) for “a new kind of politics’ and decrying a ‘cynicism.. nourished by a generation of broken promises,” Barack Obama not only proved the willingness of any hack politician to protect his own political skin but has deliberately cultivated a sanctimonious image based on his own illusory version of the world.

All this is background for the upcoming election cycle when those standing for re-election would normally seek a sitting president to join them on the campaign trail.

As election day approaches and the Democrats begin to panic with the possible loss of previously held Democratic Senate seats in Iowa, Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina, Arkansas and Colorado (West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota are already counted in the Republican column), it can be expected that the liberal establishment will wring their hands in dread as they point to the Supreme Court as justification to elect Democratic candidates. The current lineup of the Senate is 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans with an increase of six Republican seats necessary to give the GOP a squeaker majority of 51 Senate seats.

The rationale, of course, is that if the Republicans control the Senate, only the most politically neanderthal Court nominees will be confirmed and that a Democratic majority is necessary to appoint the best qualified Justices – but that logic is frequently at best a mixed bag.

* In 1986, Antonin Scalia’s nomination was approved on a 98-0 Senate vote despite Scalia’s well-known right wing views during his tenures in the Nixon and Ford Administrations and as a US Court of Appeals Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.

* Clarence Thomas was confirmed in 1991 on a controversial 52 – 48 vote including 11 Democratic votes in support despite documented charges of repeated sexual harassment.

* In 2005, John Roberts was confirmed to become Chief Justice with a 78 – 22 vote including 22 Democrats in support.

* In 2006, Samuel Alito was confirmed on a 58 – 42 vote with 4 Democratic votes. Alito’s right wing politics were well known as a US Court of Appeals Judge for the Third Circuit and led to an abbreviated Democratic filibuster to block his appointment. A cloture vote to shut off debate was adopted on a 75-25 with 19 Democrats voting against cloture.

* President Obama’s two Supreme Count nominations, Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, garnered 68 – 31 and 63- 37 votes, respectively.

As is apparent, without Democratic Senate votes of approval, neither Clarence Thomas nor Antonin Scalia would be sitting on the Supreme Court today. Even though Scalia and Roberts coincidentally achieved approval with more than a 60 filibuster -proof vote, Alito and Thomas were confirmed without reaching the 60 vote requirement as Democrats acquiesced to the use of a parliamentary tactic that allowed the Court’s most conservative judges to be approved. Considered a legislative form of obstructionism, both of Obama’s nominees were required to meet the 60 vote filibuster threshold.

In other words, if Senate Democrats cannot be relied on to protect democratic (small d) values, since there is a thin (if non-existent) line of difference between the R’s and the Dems on too many crucial issues and if Senate Democrats won’t fight on Supreme Court appointments, what will they fight on? If Senate Democrats won’t vote for you, why should you vote for them?

Renee Parsons was a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives and a lobbyist on nuclear energy issues with Friends of the Earth. in 2005, she was elected to the Durango City Council and served as Councilor and Mayor. Currently, she is a member of the Treasure Coast ACLU Board.
Re: I support Gay Rights, that's why I'm working for Democrat Martha Coakly for US Senate
15 Jul 2014
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Senator Warren Invites Codman Square Help Her Advocate for Community Health Centers
June 27, 2014

Codman Square Health Center hosted its public Annual Meeting on Friday, June 27 at noon in the Great Hall in Codman Square. The meeting featured an inspiring keynote address from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a committed supporter and advocate of Codman Square Health Center and community health centers across the Commonwealth and the nation.

"I confess I am really knocked-out. This is terrific. The range of services here is fantastic... You understand better than anyone that good health is about more than a visit to a doctor." - Senator Warren

Senator Warren congratulated the Health Center on its good work, and also asked our community for support to advocate for community health centers throughout the Commonwealth and our nation. "I ask that you join me in demanding that the federal government make smart upfront investments in community health centers and in a healthier future." As a community that benefits from the work of community health centers and a local government that supports that work, it is important to remember that we must advocate for our neighbors across the country to have access to those services.

In addition to Senator Warren's impelling address, Health Center leadership presented on Codman Square updates since the opening of our new addition - the William J. Walczak Health and Education Center, including numerous awards the health center and its staff have received, and the results of our 2013-14 Community Health Needs Assessment. Additionally, Codman Square Health Center honored two important supporters and partners for their support and commitment to the Codman Square community.

The Honorable Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, was recognized for his continued support of the Health Center and its programs over his many years in office. Born and raised in Dorchester, Mayor Walsh is an accomplished advocate for working people and an experienced lawmaker. As a State Representative, and now as Mayor, Marty has established himself as a leader on creating and protecting jobs, growing the economy, and is a strong advocate for health centers and public schools. He was instrumental in helping Codman build our latest 34,000 square foot addition for the Health Center and Codman Academy.

Timothy P. McCarthy, Ph.D. was recognized for his commitment to the Clemente Humanities Program at Codman Square Health Center. Dr. Tim McCarthy is a Harvard lecturer on history, literature, and public policy, and more importantly for our community, Dr. McCarthy has taught an American History course to adult students at Codman Square Health Center since 2001. These college level courses are part of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, a free, nationwide course available to individuals in underserved communities. This year Dr. McCarthy received the course's first ever endowed chair in the nation, the Stanley Paterson Professorship in American History.



JUNE, 27 2014

Thank you Sandra, and thank you all for being here today. It’s a pleasure to be here along with my good friend Felix Arroyo who continues to do such great work to serve the Commonwealth. It’s an honor to speak to you today about the progress that you have all helped to make, and the work that we still have to do.

I really love being a Senator from Massachusetts. And one of the reasons is because I get the chance to meet people like you from across the Commonwealth – people who are eager to share their accomplishments, their hopes, and their dreams – and their struggles.

I hear from parents who are working hard to make ends meet while paying their student loans and their mortgages. I hear from seniors who are struggling to afford their medications. And I hear from people who share very personal stories about their experience in our country’s health care system, and how a chronic disease, or a loved one’s illness, has affected their lives.

I know that you all are familiar with these kinds of stories. People putting off the care they need, or skipping medication so that they can put food on the table. It’s not right that in America, one of the richest nations in the world – and a nation that spends more money per person on health care than any other country – hardworking families are too often shut out of the system. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to live a full and healthy life.

We’ve made great progress in Massachusetts to improve health care coverage, to improve access, to improve the delivery of care, and to bring down costs. We are just starting to make that kind of progress around the country – and community health centers have helped to drive it.

The Columbia Point Health Center right here in Dorchester was one of our nation’s first community health centers when it opened its doors nearly fifty years ago. Today, here in Massachusetts, 820,000 people receive their primary care at a community health center. We have a total of 50 community health center organizations that operate nearly 300 locations. Truly, community health centers have transformed health care across this commonwealth – something we should celebrate every day!

I’ve been to many of these health centers. They are some of my favorite places to visit because, to me, they represent what health care should look like in this country. Today was my first time at Codman Square Health Center and it’s been a fantastic experience to see the way this facility delivers highly coordinated, comprehensive, and low cost care to the community.

Each time I visit a community health center, I am struck by how each health center has its own flavor that reflects the culture of the community it serves. Codman Square Health Center saw more than 21,000 patients from Dorchester last year. Great work. And the range of services right here at one site is pretty amazing: primary care, behavioral health, eye appointments, and dental care, all of which are coordinated and delivered in a way that meets the unique needs of the patients you serve.

You understand better than anyone that good health is about more than a visit to a doctor. You understand the impact of health disparities and the real consequences of the social determinants of health. You’ve worked to bridge these gaps by offering your patients case management, social, financial, and legal services, and running programs that reach beyond these walls to help improve the health of your community. That’s the power of community health centers like Codman: you know that it takes support and caring for the whole person in order to improve their health.

When Massachusetts passed its health reform bill in 2006, more people gained insurance coverage, but that didn’t mean that people turned away from their community health centers. In fact, newly insured people stayed with their community health centers because those centers offered the care they needed in the ways they needed it. More and more people have made the switch to community health centers.

Since the passage of the ACA, community health centers across the country have provided care for newly insured Americans and helped people get connected with coverage. Thank you for all the work you have done getting people covered and making sure that no one falls through the cracks.

At every visit to a community health center, I hear about a lot of successes. But at every visit I also hear how tight your budgets are. You make so much happen with so little. You don’t turn people away because they are uninsured, or are on Medicaid, or can’t make their copay that week. That’s the right thing to do – but it doesn’t make it any easier to keep the doors open.

Let’s be honest – the federal health center funding you receive is critical to your survival. It is thanks to your leadership and the quality of health centers here in Massachusetts that the 2010 Affordable Care Act recognized the critical role of community health centers and made an $11 billion investment in them.

The ACA also acknowledged that community health centers are a good place to train the next generation of physicians by establishing the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program. This 5-year, $230 million initiative funds residency positions in health centers so that doctors can learn how to treat complex patients in team-based, collaborative settings. But all of the extra funding from the ACA runs out in 2015. We need to fix that – we can’t go back on all of the progress we’ve made. I will keep fighting for our health centers and for our communities to make sure that we extend this funding past 2015.

Some of my colleagues in Congress seem to think that we just can’t afford to spend any more on health care. That we just can’t pay for it. Or that they can only support more spending if it means deep cuts elsewhere. They want to match investments in health care to cuts to our investments in early education, nutrition programs, or meals for seniors.

We can’t pit our children’s education against their health. We can’t ask seniors to choose between access to care and a hot meal each day. We can’t afford not to invest in community health centers that we know bring down to overall cost of the health care system.

So when you hear these arguments that we just don’t have the money to pay for community health care, please push back. Reach out and tell people that our nation is already paying the price for the flaws in our system.

Our government is paying it when we treat people in Emergency Rooms for preventable illnesses. We’re already paying it when we spend Medicaid dollars on long-term care for the diabetic whose eyesight and mobility could have been saved if her blood sugar was better managed. We’re already paying for it when we lose tax revenue from people who can’t work because they weren’t better cared for, or people who had to quit their jobs to become caregivers.

Smart investments in health care and in community health centers save lives – and they save money. I’m proud to take the message of your critical, life-saving work with me to Washington and I ask that you join me in demanding that the federal government make smart upfront investments in community health centers and in a healthier future.

The work that you all do here at Codman Square Health Center – and the work going on at health centers across the Commonwealth and the country - to heal, empower and engage some of our most vulnerable citizens is worth fighting for. I am proud to fight for funding in Washington. I am proud to fight in the footsteps of Senator Ted Kennedy, and it’s an honor to be a voice for the community health centers that he fought so hard to grow and support throughout his time in the Senate.

I’m proud to be working alongside leaders like Senators Bernie Sanders. And I am proud to work alongside you. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to do everything I can to fully fund this country’s community health center program well past 2015 and expand the critical role that community health centers pay in America’s health care system.