As our colleague and friend GLBT Commissioner Chris Mason tours the contiguous 48 states we are reporting on his adventures each Sunday. In reporting what Mason is doing I'd ask that you allow me to give you a sample of his report here and click on the link to read the rest at his website: DrivingEquality.com
We spent the day in Tampa, Florida with our amazing friend Roger. Finally we had a beautiful day in the hot sun, away from the rain. I spent most of the day updating the website. Notice the “News” tab up top and the revamped “Track our Trek” feature. You can now see our current location and a map our where we’ve been.
I was also able to get down to Venice, Florida to visit my grandmother...
Memorial Day is a time to remember our soldiers that have died in battle. It goes without saying that there have been thousands of LGBTQ men and women that have died for our country. The vast majority of these people had to live their lives in the closet because of our military’s policy against homosexuals. This is wrong. When an LGBTQ person dies in war, their partner is not eligible to receive any of the benefits that a spouse in a heterosexual relationship would receive...
We started off the day in Mobile, Alabama. We couldn’t find any LGBT activists to meet with, so we stood outside a gay bar and did street interviews with anybody walking by who was willing to talk. We met some great folks who shared with us their take on the struggle for LGBT equality in Alabama. Thanks to all who stopped to talk on camera!
We left Mobile around 2:00PM, headed toward New Orleans, where I had been organizing a protest in response to the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Prop 8. I realized last week that I would be in New Orleans on D-Day and, checking the website, saw that there was nothing planned yet. I really wanted to be in a city that was going to have a protest on the day of the decision, so I organized one. We spent the two hour drive from Mobile to New Orleans on the phone with local activists, press, and the police. Thanks to everyone who emailed me offering their help...
We love New Orleans! Today we met with Mary Griggs and Kenny Tucker from Forum for Equality; and Crystal Little from the New Orleans LGBT Community Center. These were great interviews that gave us a better understanding of the struggle for queer equality in Louisiana.
The Forum for Equality is doing great work in New Orleans and throughout the state. Currently, the city of New Orleans is the only place where LGBTQ people are protect from job discrimination. But the Forum for Equality is working to pass ordinances in cities across the state. Unfortunately, a state-wide employment non-discrimination bill doesn’t seem likely any time soon, as Louisiana has an socially conservative governor.
Crystal talked to us about the transgender community in New Orleans and across the South...
This morning we left New Orleans and headed toward Jackson, Mississippi. We weren’t able to set up an interview with any local LGBTQ organizations in the state, so we decided to try our luck in the State House. I wanted to find a representative or senator willing to talk to us on camera about LGBTQ equality in Mississippi. I wasn’t sure how this would work out...
We woke up today in Hot Springs, Arkansas, boyhood home of President Bill Clinton. This is a cute little town with a really cool National Park for the natural hot springs and old bathhouses. We had breakfast and headed up to Little Rock for an interview with the Center for Artistic Revolution (CAR). CAR is an amazing organization doing incredible work in Arkansas. These folks make the connections between all oppressed people and work for justice for all.
“CAR’s work is creating progressive movement building that facilitates opportunities for individuals and communities to create change for a just and peaceful society that respects the value of all people and provides equitable access to civil rights, a democratic process and economical and environmental justice.”
We spoke with Randi Romo, the current Director and Co-founder of CAR. She shared with us some of the hardships facing LGBTQ people in Arkansas. She does a lot of work highlighting the interconnectedness of racism, sexism, and homophobia. I admire her work and the organization’s goals.
We also interviewed Joseph LaFountaine from the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats. We spoke about the state’s battle with Act 1 that passed last November. Act 1 made it illegal for any single people (i.e. same-sex couples) to adopt children. This is a horrible law that must be repealed...
You can communicate directly with Mason on Twitter.com and you can see where in the country they currently are via this link. Leave any questions or feedback here as to what you want to see for next week's report, and leave your feedback for Mason on DrivingEquality.com.