Join Montana Women At the Capitol March 8th

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Jeannette Rankin, Montana State Capitol Building (Photo credit: Janellie)

Please join Montana Women Vote for International Women’s Day at the Capitol, Friday March 8th, 9:30am – 3pm.

International Women Day is an opportunity to learn more about the legislative process, try your hand at citizen lobbying, and find out more about the issues and policies that impact women and families in the 2013 Legislative Session.

International Women’s Day 2013 Agenda:

  • 9:30am – Noon, Lobbying 101, and Lobbying 201: Whether this is your first time at the Capitol, or if you have been here before, Friday morning’s lobbying training will give you the tools you need to talk to your legislators about the issues you care about most. Old Livestock Building, next to the Capitol
  • Noon-1pm , Women’s Foundation “Status of Women Lunch.” Old Supreme Court Chambers, Room 303
  • 1:30 – 2:30pm, Friday Afternoon Issues Breakouts – Health and Reproductive Rights in the 2013 Session, Old Livestock Building, next to the Capitol – Keeping the “Public” in Public Education, Room TBD

Other optional International Women’s Day activities:

  • – Getting to Helena early? Join the Montana Women’s Lobby for a Women’s Issue Briefing: 8:30am at the Montana Historical Society
  • -Want to stay late? The Montana Women’s History Mural Committee is hosting a Reception for the Montana Women’s Mural at the Governor’s Residence: 4pm, 2 Carson St. Helena.

This event is free and open to everyone. MWV will help arrange carpools if possible.

For questions or to RSVP please contact Olivia Riutta at 317-1504 or olivia@montanawomenvote.org.

We hope to see you at International Women’s Day! And don’t forget to wear your purple!

In solidarity,

Olivia

Olivia Riutta Montana Women Vote (406) 317-1504, olivia@montanawomenvote.org

How The Sequester Hits Montana

Here’s the link to the effects of the sequester for Montana.
One of the great “benefits” being the inability to pay for 117,000 HIV tests- now free for any Montana resident. And there’s more besides.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sequester-factsheets/Montana.pdf

Bozeman Men’s Group Begins March 21st

support-group-by-KLatham
Bozeman Gay/Bi Men’s Group
 
This group begins March 21, 2013
Thursday evenings, 6:30-8 pm, in Bozeman, MT
Registration Closes March 15th!
 
Laura Bailey, MS, LCPC, and
D Gregory Smith, MA, LMHC, LCPC
Facilitators
 
This 8-week group will explore
Dating ~ Relationships ~Sex~ Being Out ~ Mental Health
Community ~ Substance Use ~ Being Healthy
Whatever You Need To Talk About!
~FREE, SAFE AND CONFIDENTIAL~
 
Space is limited.
 
If you would like to participate,
please contact Laura Bailey 
406-539-8890
Feedback from past participants:

“This group changed everything for me- thank you!”
“I didn’t know that I needed support until I started attending this group- and now I have the skills to live a better life.”
“I learned more about myself in 8 weeks than I have in 25 years.”
“It’s so amazing that the State of Montana provides this opportunity for us.”
“I wish it didn’t have to end- I really look forward to this every week.” 

Demise Of National Association Of People With AIDS (NAPWA) Leaves Uncertain Future

English: A section of the Berlin Wall with Gra...

English: A section of the Berlin Wall with Graffiti regarding Act Up. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some sad (and possibly troubling) news for those of us living with HIV: NAPWA, the lobbying and rights organization for HIV+ persons in the U.S. has closed and filed for bankruptcy. John Manuel Andriote has the story- be sure to read the last paragraph.

 

From Huffington Post:

Although it wasn’t a total surprise when the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) announced on Feb. 14 that it was suspending operations and filing for bankruptcy, it felt like a shock. Exactly 30 years after its founding by the very first people to go public about having HIV, all of them gay men, NAPWA’s financial immune system finally collapsed under the weight of allegations of misused funds and the demands of creditors, employees and a landlord who wanted to be paid.

NAPWA was never exactly flush with cash, and it restructured itself several times over the decades. But a Dec. 5 open letter to the community from its board made it clear that the end was all but inevitable. Longtime HIV activist and POZ magazine founder Sean Strub blamed NAPWA’s business model and leadership that was “inexperienced or inadequate, and, in some cases, compromised or lacking integrity.” He added that “accountability and transparency were concepts largely absent from their operations in recent years. The problem was so deep-rooted that even the most dedicated and sincerely committed people on their board or staff could not fix it.”

Time (and an apparent investigation by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office) will shed light on what exactly led to this sad state of affairs. Meanwhile, a history lesson is in order to understand what NAPWA was and why its demise is a sad (and worrying) occasion for tens of millions of people.

On May 2, 1983, a small group of gay men with AIDS carried a banner during the first AIDS Candlelight March in San Francisco. “Fighting For Our Lives,” it said. A month later, several men took the banner to Denver for the Second National AIDS Forum, held in conjunction with the then-annual gay and lesbian health conference. A dozen people with AIDS met together at the forum to discuss how they might organize themselves. They agreed that the slogan on the banner would be their slogan, because it captured what it was that they were doing: fighting for their lives.

The group proposed that local groups of people with AIDS from around the country join together to form a national group. They adopted a manifesto called the “Denver Principles,” a series of rights and recommendations for health care providers, AIDS service organizations and people with AIDS themselves. The Denver Principles became the charter of the self-empowerment movement for people with AIDS. Its preamble said, “We condemn attempts to label us as ‘victims,’ a term which implies defeat, and we are only occasionally ‘patients,’ a term which implies passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon the care of others. We are ‘People With AIDS.'”

After the Denver meeting, Bobbi Campbell, Michael Callen from New York and other gay men with AIDS and their supporters formed the National Association of People With AIDS. For three decades the Denver Principles were NAPWA’s foundational document. “NAPWA was the last keeper of the flame for the Denver Principles,” said veteran ACT UP New York activist Peter Staley, “and it’s sad to think there are few if any institutions willing to defend them going forward.”

But even without the organization built around them, the principles endure because they are now woven into the world’s responses to HIV/AIDS. At the United Nations’ 2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS, 192 nations unanimously adopted the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, including the so-called GIPA (Greater Involvement of People With AIDS) Principle. GIPA essentially made universal the principles of self-empowerment and involvement first articulated by that group of brave gay men who met in Denver in 1983.

Still, NAPWA’s demise leaves a void that no other organization has yet shown the capacity to fill. Terje Anderson, who was a NAPWA board member before joining its staff as policy director in 1998 and then serving as executive director from 2000 until 2006, said in an interview that one of the group’s most important legacies is the new community leaders NAPWA trained. “Something NAPWA wasn’t credited for,” he said, “was figuring out ways to identify, train and support leaders, not just white gay men from New York but people of color, women and people in rural areas.”

The group made other major contributions too. NAPWA was one of the first HIV/AIDS groups to advocate for HIV testing as a tool of personal empowerment. Anderson pointed out that the group was instrumental in helping pass the Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act of 1999, which allowed people receiving Social Security disability benefits to return to the workforce without losing their Medicaid or Medicare health insurance. This was hugely important as improved medical treatment beginning in 1996 allowed HIV-positive people to live with the virus rather than await an inevitable death from AIDS.

“One of the things I’m proudest of,” said Anderson, “is that when I was there, we were the first domestic group that started to say we need to talk about the global epidemic. Other groups said, ‘Oh, no, that will take away from our funding. We said, ‘No, you have to worry about our African, Caribbean and Latin American brothers and sisters.'”

Tom Kujawski, who was NAPWA’s vice president of development from 2004 to 2010, said the organization “became vulnerable due to lax internal financial systems and controls further complicated by changing senior management.” He said there were contributing factors that hastened NAPWA’s end, including decreased philanthropic and corporate support due to the faltering economy and competition for that support, “fractionalization of the HIV/AIDS movement” and over-reliance upon federal grants.

Kujawski said he hopes NAPWA will endure through the Chapter 11 process “and emerge as a truly new entity.”

Sean Strub said, “I’m sad to see them go but hopeful that this will provide an opportunity for a more effective, representative and accountable national voice for people with HIV to emerge.” Although there are other national organizations run by people with HIV, including his own Sero Project, Strub said a group like NAPWA “is needed more than ever before.” He said a strong national voice is needed “to deal with rising stigma and criminalization, declining interest in and commitment to empowerment principles as embodied in the Denver Principles.” He added, “We have to do it amidst a massive HIV industry where it is sometimes difficult to sort out the real agenda driving individuals, institutions and initiatives.” If these aren’t reasons enough, Strub said, “Most of all, we need to focus on how we bring attention and effective resources to the epidemic that continues to grow amongst young gay men and especially amongst young African-American men who have sex with men.”

One big reason that NAPWA’s loss is shocking is that now gay and bisexual men, who account for two thirds of new HIV infections and most of those living with HIV in the U.S., will have no strong HIV advocates in Washington. The national LGBT organizations for years haven’t advocated forcefully for proportionate HIV prevention funding, or for anything else significant to the health and well-being of American gay and bisexual men with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. Instead, they have been focused like laser beams on marriage equality, an issue dear to the hearts of the privately insured, mostly white professionals who fund them. The young gay men of color at greatest risk and carrying the greatest burden of new HIV infections aren’t priorities. As Sean Strub put it, “Remember how angry we were with the Reagan and Koch administrations when they ignored the crisis and let it rage unabated? What about when we were abandoned by our own community’s leadership and institutions? Why can’t we be angry then as well?”

Montana HB481: A Mom’s Perspective

On Friday morning, the House Judiciary Committee with hear HB 481. This bill adds “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” to the Montana Human Rights Act.

#128 (from me and the cigar store)

(Photo credit: romana klee)

Let me tell you a little bit about who I am and why this is important to me.

I am a 3rd generation Montanan, a business owner for 30 years, a taxpayer, a community volunteer and most importantly a mom.  I am very much like a lot of Montanans, I suppose. There is one difference, however; I have a wonderful son who happens to be gay.

Like any parent, I want my son to have the same opportunities, protections and rights that his brother and his dad and I take for granted every single day. These rights are not something that we have to think about; they are always there and we know that. My son has a lot of the same opportunities as well. He goes to school, he works, and he pays taxes like the rest of us. Yet he can be denied housing, a job and other rights simply because of who he loves.

It really is that simple.

When I hear people criticize this bill, they often do so citing their religious beliefs. I respect peoples’ rights to practice whatever religion they choose, just as my family does. What I don’t understand, however, is how my son’s rights to equal treatment under the law can be seen as less important to a society than the religious beliefs of some of that society’s members. Where in the bible does it say that we should treat some of our own as second-class citizens because of who they are? And why should anyone else’s interpretation of the bible be more valuable than my own?  Our country was founded on the idea of religious freedom.  That does not mean the freedom for me to practice your beliefs but instead to follow my own.

This bill is about peoples’ basic human rights and what allows them to be safe, giving, productive citizens of this great state.  Sometimes it is pretty easy to be against something that doesn’t really affect you personally. I ask you to please think about that carefully .  Equal rights are not special rights and special rights are not equal rights.  I hope the House will consider this important bill and not be led by unjustified fear. As we move forward in Montana with couples recognition and city non-discrimination ordinances, I hope that all Montanans will educate themselves and advocate for fairness for all people.

Thank you for hearing this Montana Mom out.

See The 10 Montana Senators Who Want Gays To Be Criminals

From Cowgirl:

 

On Tuesday, the Montana Senate voted, finally, to erase our “anti-sodomy law” which makes it an imprisonable crime to be gay.  Although invalidated by our state supreme court in 1997, the law has remained on our books because Republicans have always refused to go along with efforts to scrap it.

 

But yesterday, SB 107, a measure to strike the offensive language from our statutes finally passed the senate.  That said, the vote was far from unanimous.  Ten Republicans voted no.

To see them, click here.

Montana Non Discrimination Bill Hearing Tomorrow

From MHRN:

Our Hearing on State-Wide Non-Discrimination Protection is TOMORROW!

The hearing for HB 481 to amend the Montana Human Rights Act to include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression will be heard tomorrow morning! The bill is sponsored by Rep. Edie McClafferty of Butte, here are the details:

House Judiciary Committee
Room 137
Tuesday, February 19th
8:00 AM

We received less than 24 hours notice for this hearing. That means it is difficult for people who live outside of Helena to come and testify in support of the bill. We know this is frustrating, but we are asking people who live in Helena to help us have a significant presence at this hearing!  HB 481 will protect LGBT Montanans from discrimination in a number of key areas including housing, employment, and public accommodations.  Read the bill by clicking here.

Two ways you can help!
1)      Come to the Capitol tomorrow morning and show your support! We aren’t sure how much time we will have for testimony, so bring a written copy that you can submit to the committee! Scroll down for some notes on decorum at the Capitol.

2)      Contact the House Judiciary Committee right now and urge them to support HB 481! You can do this by calling the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 and asking to leave a message for the House Judiciary Committee. You can also use the Legislature’s web-based form by clicking here and choosing to send your message to the entire committee.

Let us know if you can make the hearing by replying to Jamee@mhrn.org. We’re frustrated about the short notice, but we are going to make the best of it.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Kim

Kim Abbott

Montana Human Rights Network

Information and Reminders for Hearing on HB 481

Please do not engage opponents of LGBT equality.  Our efforts to achieve legal protections for LGBT Montanans are about dignity, fairness, and security.  We want to bring those values into the hearing room. Engaging our opponents outside, or inside, the committee room is not a good use of our collective energy!

Chairman Kerns has run a fair committee this session, but we know that our time for testimony will be limited and we want as many people as possible to be able to testify on the record. Please keep your remarks concise so that we can have as many supporters of LGBT legal protections as possible get up to the microphone. Try not to repeat testimony, be respectful, and talk about how this policy would affect you, your family, your friends, and your community. Our testimony is most effective when we stick to our values and talk about our lives!

We are asking all supporters of LGBT equality to respect decorum inside the committee room. This means no clapping, booing, or interrupting others. Lastly, we’d like to remind all our supporters to be smart, safe, take care of themselves, and to look out for one another.