Matthew Shepard- 15 Years Later

Hard to believe that it’s been 15 years. I still remember the horror, the fear, the nearness of it all.

I remember thinking, “This could happen to any of us. This could happen to me.”

And fear ruled my heart for a longer time than it might have had this not happened.

From The Matthew Shepard Foundation:

MatthewAt 12:53AM on Monday, October 12, 1998, Matthew Shepard died surrounded by his family.

15 years later, we all have the opportunity to be Matthew’s family and remind the world of what hate can do.

Today, we ask you to join us in this work because we, as individuals, must stand up by the millions and say that we will not live in a world with hate.

 

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

MSU Sexual Assault Reported

From the MSU Email alert system: MSU Timely Warning: Sexual Intercourse without Consent

A sexual assault awareness poster.

A sexual assault awareness poster. (Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery)

On July 24, 2013 at approximately 4:15 p.m. the Montana State University

Police Department responded to a report of sexual intercourse without
consent which occurred at an unknown residence, possibly near campus. The
victim reported partying with new acquaintances and that alcohol and
marijuana had been consumed. The victim reported that she became
incapacitated and woke at approximately 2:00 p.m. to the perpetrator
sexually assaulting her. The perpetrator was described as a white male,
approximately 5’6” to 6’ in height, weighing approximately 220 to 240
pounds with short “buzz cut” blonde hair. The perpetrator was also
described as having a goatee and brown eyes. This incident is currently
under investigation.If anyone has information related to this incident, please contact the MSU

Police Department immediately at 994-2121. For anonymous reporting, email
correspondence may be sent to MSU Police at: switness@montana.edu

The MSU Police Department reminds all students, faculty, staff, and campus
visitors to use caution when consuming alcoholic beverages and/or present
in areas where intoxicating substances are being used. Furthermore, it is
recommended that individuals not accept open drinks from strangers or in
large group environments. Always exercise caution when in the company of
new acquaintances at social gatherings.

The MSU Police Department offers crime prevention presentations and
provides escorts which are available on campus 24 hours a day for any
student, faculty, staff or visitor.

This Timely Warning message was sent via the MSU ALERT E-MAIL system to
all students, faculty and staff at MSU Bozeman. All students, faculty, and
staff are automatically enrolled in the MSU ALERT E-MAIL system.

MT Board of Regents approves adding sexual orientation, gender identity to non-discrimination policy

From KXLH:

The Montana Board of Regents unanimously approved the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the Montana University System’s non-discrimination policy.

The policy change will affect all campuses within the MUS and provide protection to staff, faculty, and students, according to a press release on Monday.

Clayton Christian, the MT Commissioner of Higher Education, said, “That is our hope that we send the right message that they are welcome and embraced and part of our overall state community, one that certainly has open doors and welcoming doors for the Montana University System.”

Read the full story here.

 

Act Now to Secure ENDA’s Passage‏

PrideflogovertBeing honest about who you are could cost you your job in the majority of the country.

Right now, there are no state laws protecting lesbian, gay, or bisexual people from being fired from their jobs in 29 states, and the same is true in 34 states for transgender Americans. Three of the states that Pride Foundation works in: Alaska, Idaho, and Montana, are among those where you can be terminated from your job simply for being yourself.
Tomorrow, in the United States Senate, we are expecting a vote on the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees simply based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Recent polling has found that 73% of the American public, across political parties, support protecting LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination.
We need our Senators to do the same by voting for ENDA.
Please take action today!
Contact your Senators by phone and email, share your story, and urge them to vote yes on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 815).  
Senator contact information as well as templates for calls and emails can be found here.

Thank you.
With Pride,
Kris Hermanns
Executive Director
http://www.pridefoundation.org | info@pridefoundation.org | 1.800.735.7287 | Headquarters Mailing Address: 1122 E Pike St PMB 1001 | Seattle, WA 98122 US

President Obama’s Official Statement On DOMA, Prop 8

Yes we can!!

Yes we can!! (Photo credit: TijsB)

 

Obama: “I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

 

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

 

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

 

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.

 

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free. “

 

Montana Congressional Delegation Statements About DOMA, Prop 8

In stark contrast, here are the statements issued by Montana’s Congressional delegation in light of the historic DOMA and Prop 8 rulings today:

Gay Rights in America

Gay Rights in America (Photo credit: Poldavo (Alex))

Daines “I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling today. Marriage, as the union of one man and one woman, matters for our children, and I remain a strong believer in defending the family.

While I do not agree with the Court’s ruling concerning the application of federal benefits, I am encouraged that the Court did not rule against states’ rights, ensuring that the voice of the people, not a ruling from a court, is the driving force behind marriage laws in Montana and the other states.”

Tester: “The Supreme Court today made the right decision.  The federal government has no place telling Americans who they can love and who they can marry.”

Tester affirmed his support for same-sex marriage earlier this year, saying “how Montanans define a family should be their business and their business alone.”

Baucus: “Today is a proud day in American history when we can say to all Montanans, Americans and their children: your love and your family are just as good as everyone else’s under the law.  For too long, same-sex couples and their children have been denied more than 1,000 federal rights and obligations that married couples enjoy. That was wrong. In the United States of America, no one should be treated as a second class citizen simply because of who they choose to love.

I believe each of us has a moral obligation to leave this place in better shape than we found it, and today’s decision puts our country on the right side of history. Now it’s time to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and guarantee all Montanans the same opportunity to succeed in the workplace.”