Pride Foundation: An Investment In Montana’s Future

PrideFlogo

You may have noticed that I’m a big fan of the Pride Foundation.

I’d like to explain why.

When I was growing up in Montana in the 70′s, there were no resources for kids like me- no gay role models, no resources, no way for me to combat the prevalent message that I was deformed, debilitated or disordered. I just assumed that I was. It’s a painful way to live. In fact, it was so painful I attempted suicide.

I survived.

Some of our kids haven’t.

When I moved back to Montana as a reasonably well-adjusted gay man, I made myself a promise: I would do everything in my power to make sure that kids growing up here would have role models and support and resources to stand against the messages of hate and bigotry that still find a place in our culture.

Pride Foundation is a big part of that for me.

When I worked at Seattle Counseling Service, Pride Foundation was a major supporter of our mental health and substance abuse work with LGBTIQ and HIV-infected people. They are proud partners in creating community health. That makes Pride Foundation a natural partner for my life goals as a gay man in Montana. Pride Foundation has made it a point to create a culture of giving and support for organizations and individuals to create safe and sustaining places for LGBTIQ people- and our allies- in Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Oregon and Washington. Creating better and more inclusive communities for all.

Since 1985, Pride Foundation has given more than $39 million dollars to thousands of organizations and scholars across the Pacific Northwest.

If you’ve been looking for a way to be involved, here’s your chance. Volunteers serve on grant and scholarship review teams, work at local events and provide important input for our mission in every state across the region.

And, if you’re looking to get an amazing return on your philanthropic dollar, I hope you’ll consider a gift that will keep on giving for decades to come.

I currently serve- with Shelley Hayes from Billings- as one of Montana’s Pride Foundation Board Members. I’m also the Pride Foundation Montana Leadership Action Team Chair, and I’m doing everything in my power to ensure that Pride Foundation’s generous culture of philanthropy and stewardship continues to benefit Montanans and LGBTIQ persons in the Pacific Northwest for years to come.

I’d like you to join me.

Here’s the Pride Foundation donor link. It’s very easy. Ken and I give $50 every month- and it’s simply taken from our debit card. Plus, for every dollar you give to Pride Foundation over $3.00 comes back to Montana! That’s unheard of in this day and age.

https://www.pridefoundation.org/giving/give-online/

  •  All donations from Montanans stay in Montana supporting grants and scholarships here.
  • For every $1 raised in MT last year, $3.80 came back to the state.
  • Caitlin has driven over 10,000 miles since being hired as the first staff on the ground two years ago.
  • We’ve given away nearly $500,000 in Montana total, including nearly $50,000 this past year.  

We plan to award even more this next year thanks to our supporters- people just like you.

Whatever you can offer is deeply appreciated. We appreciate your time as well as your resources. Seriously. We treat all of our donors and volunteers as part of our family.

Thanks in advance for helping make the future brighter for LGBTIQ people under the Big Sky!

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Welcome, Kim!

Kim Leighton, Regional Development Organizer in Montana
Pride Foundation is pleased to welcome Kim Leighton as the new Regional Development Organizer in Montana!
Kim was born and raised in Helena, Montana and graduated from the University of Montana in 2003. Throughout her career in Montana, she has worked with many of our closest partners and allies first with the YWCA of Missoula Domestic Violence shelter as an advocate and also with the ACLU of Montana. Most recently, Kim has served as the Program Director at NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, working both on the policy level as well as doing grassroots advocacy throughout the state to ensure that reproductive freedoms remain protected in Montana.
“As a queer woman with a background in organizing, networking, and volunteer coordination, I am thrilled to join the Pride Foundation team and represent the great state of Montana. I am excited to be a part of an organization whose mission, vision, and values resonate strongly with my own.”
Kim has seen firsthand how issues affecting the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups overlap, and in turn, how these intersecting concerns inform strategy and alliances. She is very passionate about this work as it affects her own life, but also that of so many others in Montana.
Kim is looking forward to further building a strong community with all of you. She is also eager to dedicate time to creating collaborations with organizations, businesses, faith leaders, and other foundations to continue moving equality forward in the Treasure State.
We are so delighted to have Kim as part of the Pride Foundation team! Please join us in welcoming Kim.
Thank you. Please be in touch if you have any questions.
Kris Hermanns
Executive Director

Missoula Registry Passes

Dear Greg,

Thanks so much for your support of the registry. I’m happy to report that it passed unanimously last night at Council. Your email made a big difference. I’ll be in touch with how you can register once we solidify the timeline with the Clerk’s office…hopefully we’ll be up and running Aug. 1.

Best, Caitlin

More here: http://www.kpax.com/mobile/news/missoula-council-passes-domestic-partnership-resolution/

Why the Missoula Registry Matters

by Caitlin Copple

Tonight, Missoula’s City Council will vote to establish a domestic partnership registry open to same-sex couples across the Treasure State. But let’s be honest, domestic partnership registry doesn’t sound very sexy.  It doesn’t carry as much weight as full marriage equality, or even civil unions at the state level. So why even do it?

Let me be clear: No one should settle for mere city-level domestic partnership recognition. I’m certainly not going to. That’s why I hope you will join me in continuing to support these great organizations working on non-discrimination ordinances in Montana cities (www.mhrn.org, www.forwardmontana.org, http://www.fairisfairmontana.org) as well as statewide relationship recognition through the newly refiled Donaldson v. Montana case (www.aclumontana.org).

So if full marriage equality and non-discrimination is what LGBT Montanans and our allies really want, why bother with this little domestic partnership registry in Missoula? Does it even matter? Yep, and here’s why:

  1.  It’s called an LGBT movement for a reason. We can and should be moving forward at every level of our democracy until LGBT Montanans are treated equally under the law and our families are valued and respected in our culture – From Missoula to Miles City.  Incremental and inadequate as a registry may seem, it is an important step on the path to full equality.
  2. It sends a message to the State of Montana that cities will do everything they can for LGBT residents despite discriminatory laws. Municipal domestic partnership registries are proven to pave the way for more meaningful statewide change. We’ve seen this in the 58 other cities across 23 states, many which lacked any relationship recognition prior to the establishment of a local registry. You know how Minnesota defeated a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage last fall, and how their legislature just passed marriage equality this session? Well, before any of that happened, Rochester and Minneapolis were leading the way by recognizing all families at the city level. This is not a coincidence.
  3.  Municipal domestic partnership registries help same-sex partners get health insurance coverage, as well as better treatment from first responders and hospitals. It’s not a replacement for statewide mandates or getting an advanced medical directive (Click here to make sure you have all your bases covered: http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/protecting-your-visitation-decision-making-rights). However,  Cathryn Oakley, director of the Municipal Equality Index project at HRC (her aunt lives in Billings – love that!) has provided me with countless examples of how this is happening in cities with registries across the country.  The wallet card offers proof for employers that want to do the right thing despite bad state law, and something that emergency and hospital personnel can point to in your time of need.

Here’s a link to the text of the Missoula resolution that will govern how the registry operates: http://missoula.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/najfwbk13nw4n5achjhsqw54/7845907152013011316448.PDF. It’s open to all Montana couples.  Let the council know you support this effort by emailing us at council@ci.missoula.mt.us.

Remember, this registry is completely voluntary, and it is public information under state law, so if it’s not for you, don’t sign up. Coming out is always a risk, and as LGBT people, we make the decision every day about how out we want to be at work, at school, to our families and our faith communities. This is one more way that couples who want to can come out as domestic partners, and get at least some of the recognition and dignity they deserve, at least at the city level. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Together, by advocating at every level of our democracy, we can bring equality to all Montanans and our families.

“Unacceptable Levels” Tonight at The Emerson

Women’s Voices for the Earth is proud to host the Montana premier of “Unacceptable Levels,” on Wednesday, June 26th at the Emerson Theater in Bozeman. Doors open at 7:00pm; Program begins at 7:30pm. Admission is free.

Evening Details.

This evening screening will host families, educators, small business owners, and community leaders alike in premiering one of the most innovative and exposing documentaries ever made on the role of chemicals in our modern-­‐day lives. Following the film will be a short panel discussion, in which WVE is honored to host the filmmaker, Ed Brown (Los Angeles); WVE Executive Director, Erin Switalski (Missoula); Richard Eidlin, of the American Sustainability Business Council (Denver); and business and individual community representatives from Bozeman.

About the Film.

Unacceptable Levels is an innovative documentary that opens a dialog about the effects of chemicals in everyday products on the environment and on our bodies. The film dissects the lack of regulatory oversight of industrial chemicals in consumer goods — from cosmetics to household cleaning products to industrial farming — and inspires consumers to push for changes that protect us all.

Shot and edited almost entirely by independent filmmaker, Ed Brown, it is the result of three years of arduous travel and research. “I made this movie because I couldn’t ignore the effects of chemicals on my family. I had to find out more,” said Ed Brown. The interplay of facts and personal history is central to the success of Unacceptable Levels as a film and an educational tool, combining the weight of expert interviewees with the universality of family.

Unacceptable Levels comes at a time when growing awareness of chemicals on human and environmental health has met a stronger call for safer products and regulatory legislative efforts. Montana is a leader in this movement, with two of our own senators co-­‐sponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act: a bill reintroduced to the Senate this spring to patch gaping regulatory holes in the only existing chemical legislation, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

About Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Based in Missoula, Montana, Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies. WVE is proud to call Montana home, where recently we secured co-­‐ sponsorship from our two Senators – Tester and Baucus – for the Safe Chemicals Act that passed it through the Senate Sub-­‐Committee last year, effectively taking the first step to amend toxic substances legislation in over 50 years.

 

You’re Invited

Pride Foundation - Celebrate!
JOIN THE CELEBRATION – YOU ARE INVITED! 

Announcing a special reception to honor the 2013 Montana Pride Foundation Scholars and the 20th Anniversary of the Pride Foundation Scholarship Program! 

Twenty years ago, Pride Foundation received a special request to memorialize a family member by starting a scholarship fund in his honor. Growing from that first, single scholarship award to six scholarships awarded the following year, we never could have imagined the growth and joy that would follow. This year, Pride Foundation will support the educational dreams of more than 100 students from across the region—bringing the total number of students supported since 1993 to over 1,000. In partnership with and with great thanks to the thousands of volunteers, fund-holders, and donors of the Scholarship Program, nearly $3 million has been awarded.

We will be celebrating this special anniversary as well as honoring the 2013 Pride Foundation Scholars at events across the region. Please join us as we celebrate our scholars, acknowledge family members, teachers, and mentors in their lives, and also thank our generous donors and volunteers for their support.

Please join us:

  • Missoula, Montana
  • Friday, May 10
  • 5:00 PM
  • The Florence: 111 North Higgins Avenue | Missoula, Montana 59802

This event is free to attend. Hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine will be hosted.

It is important that you RSVP to Caitlin at caitlin@pridefoundation.org or by calling 406-546-7017 by May 8. Space is limited.

We look forward to seeing you there!

With Pride,
Kris Hermanns
Executive Director

PS: If you cannot join us but would still like to support the Scholarship Program, pleaseclick here to make a secure gift online.

There’s Still Time To Take Care Of This….

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Being gay or lesbian isn’t a crime!

It’s time to pass SB 107!

 

Senate Bill 107, carried by Missoula’s Sen. Tom Facey, was tabled by the House Judiciary Committee today on a 12-8 vote.

 

We need you to take a moment and contact your Representative immediately and ask them to support the “blast motion” on SB 107 to put this bill on the House floor for a simple yes or no vote! Click here to email representatives in your area, or call 406-444-4800 to leave messages for up to five representatives in your area!

 

This bill would finally remove unconstitutional language from Montana law that labels gays and lesbians felons, punishable by fines of up to $50,000 and/or up to ten years in jail. It was ruled unconstitutional by the Montana Supreme Court in 1997, but remains on the state’s law books because of homophobia and fear. Despite perennial attempts to eliminate this hurtful language from our laws, and the passage of this bill by the full Senate this session and back in 2011, we consistently come up against a brick wall in an ideologically driven and extremely conservative House committee.

 

But this is not the end of SB 107 this session! 

 

We think there are reasonable members of both parties on the floor of the Montana House that believe language criminalizing gay and lesbian relationships is wrong! We want to see this bill move forward with a “blast motion,” a special procedure that allows a bill that has been tabled in committee the chance to have an up-or-down vote. The catch?We’ll need a supermajority of legislators to agree with us – and that’s why we need your help! 

 

We need you to take a moment and contact your Representative immediately and ask them to support the “blast motion” on SB 107! Click here to email representatives in your area, or call 406-444-4800 to leave messages for up to five representatives in your area! 

 

 

  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at  (406) 444-4800  to leave a message for up to five legislators in your area at a time. 

Thank you for your continued support for equality.

Sincerely,

 

Jamee Greer

Montana Human Rights Network

Pride Foundation Scholar Helps Draft Montana Civil Unions Bill

Beth Burman Frazee, Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) and Paul Vestal, and it is from Ellie’s swearing in ceremony during the 2011 Montana Legislature.

Pride Foundation supporters, Beth Burman Frazee, Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) and scholar Paul Vestal at Hill’s swearing-in ceremony for legislators.

Paul Vestal received a scholarship from Pride Foundation last year to help him pursue a career as an attorney. His passion for civil rights issues made him a standout in the highly competitive process. And Paul is already giving back to the community who supported him by drafting a bill to allow civil unions for same-sex couples in Montana. The bill will be introduced during the upcoming Legislature in Helena.

A third year law student at the University of Montana, Paul enrolled in a legislative drafting class last fall. It was taught by David Aronofsky, former University of Montana legal counsel, Mike Halligan, former legislator turned director of the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, and John Bennion, who serves as counsel to the Montana Chamber of Commerce.

“I went in knowing what I wanted to do,” Paul said. “I decided to go the civil unions route due to our constitutional ban on marriage equality for same sex couples. Even though it may die, I feel something like this should be presented every session. If we are silent, nothing will happen.”

Paul’s good friend and Pride Foundation supporter, Representative Ellie Hill (D-Missoula), is co-sponsoring the bill, along with Pride Foundation Leadership Action Team member and first openly gay man to serve in the Legislature, Representative Bryce Bennett (D-Missoula).

“Equal access to civil unions was not pursued last legislative session, and it probably would not have been introduced this upcoming session, if not for the courage and academic fortitude of Pride Foundation scholar and Montana law student, Paul Vestal,” Hill said.

The Montana Legislature hasn’t seen a civil union bill come up since 2009. Paul is hopeful the “conservative angle” he tried to take in crafting the bill will help give this version a longer life than past efforts.

“It’s not to amend the marriage code,” he explained. “My rationale going into this was to create a new chapter rather than even touching marriage. I tried to stay away from associating it with marriage as much as possible. There’s a bigger tent for folks who support the rights associated with marriage but don’t want to change marriage.”

While this tactic may not please all activists in the movement, Paul says it’s not the liberals and the LGBTQ community that need convincing, it’s the conservatives.

“When we go at it as human rights or gay rights, it falls on deaf ears,” he said. “Opponents of equality know all the arguments at this point. I tried to address how the bill will be aligned with some of their own libertarian beliefs, such as keeping government out of people’s lives, the need for equal property rights, that you can transfer your property to your person. Equal protection is still a big part of it.”

Paul said he also hopes that legislators will see that the writing is on the wall in terms of marriage equality. Passing this bill could pre-empt future challenges, especially if the U.S. Supreme Court decides the so-called Defense of Marriage of Act (DOMA) or Proposition 8 court cases in ways that favor equal marriage rights. For example, Paul wonders what will happen when same sex couples in Missoula drive three hours to Spokane, Washington to get a marriage license. What will that mean for jointly owned property and paying taxes in Montana?

“I would ask [opponents], do you want to be like New Jersey and have equality come down from the court, or do you want to draft a Montana solution that would actually strengthen the ban more because it would give equal access without changing marriage.”

Paul will graduate this spring and hopes to stay in Missoula, where he will continue to be involved in nonprofits and politics, regardless of the type of law he decides to practice. He also is considering working as a lobbyist.

Better Know a Legislator: Rep. Bryce Bennett & Rep. Champ Edmunds

Last week I profiled two legislators who are diametrically opposed in their legislating philosophies, Rep. Edie McClafferty and Rep. Kris Hansen.

Today, I’ll look at the records of two Missoula legislators, Rep. Bryce Bennett (D) and Rep. Champ Edmunds (R).

Rep. Bryce Bennett, HD 92

Rep. Bryce BennettRep. Bryce Bennett will be serving his second term representing the people of the Rattlesnake area of Missoula and the Seely-Swan area. This session, Rep. Bennett will also serve as part of the leadership team as the House Democratic Caucus Chair.

When elected, Bryce became the first openly gay male elected to the Montana legislature, and because of his work in the legislature and in his regular job, he was named to Out Magazine’s Power List.

While Bryce has been a champion on LGBT issues in the state, he’s also spearheaded efforts to improve access to voting and led the charge against attempts to make it harder for Montanans, particularly students, veterans, Native Americans and seniors, to vote. He was responsible for adding to voter registration forms the option to opt in to subsequent absentee ballots.

When not serving the people of Montana, Bryce works as the Political Director at Forward Montana, a progressive organization based out of Missoula that seeks to get young people involved and make sure they have a voice in politics.

This session, Bryce will serve as the vice-chair of the State Admin committee, as well as serving on the Education and Rules committees.

You can follow Bryce on Twitter @BryceBennett.

Rep. Champ Edmunds, HD 100

Champ EdmundsWhile Rep. Champ Edmunds also comes to the legislature from Missoula, that’s where his similarities to Rep. Bryce Bennett end.

Edmunds has led many of the efforts to make voting harder for Montana students, seniors, veterans and Native Americans. Last session he introduced a bill that would end the ability to register and vote on the same day. If he were successful, he could have kept thousands of legally eligible Montanans from casting their votes.

Edmunds went even further when he accused University of Montana students of attempting to steal ballots to fraudulently cast votes.

Edmunds also extended his absurdity beyond the access to the ballot, when he was one of the few legislators to vote against honoring Montana’s Vietnam War veterans and he also voted against naming a stretch of road after a fallen State Trooper, because it was a “slippery slope” towards naming all roads after people.

In his non-legislative life, Edmunds works as a mortgage broker for Wells Fargo Bank in Missoula.

This session Edmunds will serve on the Rules Committee, as well as the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government, and perhaps the most important committee Appropriations–the committee responsible for drafting the budget.

Greer Among Young NW LGBTQ Leaders Invited to The White House

So proud of my friend Jamee….


VP Biden and Dr. Biden to celebrate the next generation of LGBTQ leaders
 
Jamee Greer has been told in public meetings that his kind deserves to be sentenced to death and ridiculed as “Tinkerbell” by a prominent gun lobbyist. Last week, the White House confirmed what members of the LGBTQ Montanans and their supporters have long known: That Greer is one of the finest leaders in the country, and his policy and organizing expertise is essential to ensuring dignity and fairness for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
 
Greer will join other Northwest LGBTQ leaders including Josh Parrish of the ACLU of Idaho, Heather Purser of the Suquamish Tribe (Washington), and Kyle Rapiñan of Seattle Queer Youth Center for a tour of The White House, LGBTQ policy roundtable, and end-of-summer BBQ reception in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, September 19. A fifth community leader, Christian Baeff of CAUSA (Oregon), was invited but is unable to attend.
 
“Jamee’s work on non-discrimination ordinances in Missoula, Helena, and Bozeman, and his steadfast advocacy for all the underdogs in our society made him a clear choice for this invitation,” explains Kris Hermanns, Executive Director of Pride Foundation, the Northwest LGBTQ community foundation that was asked by The White House to suggest people that are leading change in their LGBTQ communities.
 
“Each of these young leaders inspire change by working with their local communities—their dedication to and passion for full LGBTQ equality is inspiring,” adds Hermanns.
 
Greer is employed as a full-time community organizer and lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network, a longtime grantee and partner to the foundation.
 
“It’s an incredible honor and very humbling to be chosen for something like this when there are so many qualified LGBTQ Montanans working every day for equal treatment under the law, and I couldn’t even think of this sort of opportunity happening without their help, including from the folks at Pride Foundation,” Greer said.
 
Greer was born and raised in Bozeman and has worked for the Montana Human Rights Network since the 2009 Legislature. He was lead organizer on the campaign to pass Montana’s first LGBTQ non-discrimination protections through the Missoula City Council in 2010 and is currently leading the campaign to pass a similar ordinance in the state capital of Helena. During legislative sessions, Greer lobbies for MHRN, working on policy related to social and economic justice, including reproductive freedom, LGBTQ equality, immigrant rights, and access to health care.
 
Greer previously worked as an HIV/AIDS tester and counselor with the Montana Gay Men’s Task Force and as a volunteer organizer through the Western Montana Gay & Lesbian Community Center.
 
 
Founded in 1985, Pride Foundation is dedicated to inspiring a culture of generosity to connect and strengthen organizations, leaders, and students who are creating LGBTQ equality across the Northwest states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. To learn more, visit www.pridefoundation.org or email Caitlin@pridefoundation.org.