Help Strengthen American Service!

AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps (Photo credit: St. Bernard Project)

Last week, 40 Montana Conservation Corps members deployed to New York City to help with hurricane recovery efforts.  In Montana, last year AmeriCorps members mentored 10, 970 youth. 10, 306 adults received legal support from Justice for Montanans, and 76,676 pounds of were collected for food banks. Since 2005, more than 10,000 homes have been weatherized by AmeriCorps members in all 56 counties and 7 reservations and since 1994 more than 11 thousand miles of trail have been built or maintained by Conservation Corps.

We know there are amazing community impact stories behind these numbers.  Let’s tell our Members of Congress and President Obama that service should be part of the strategy to strengthen our country.

Please sign this petition. 

We know that Montana Conservation Corps, Food Corps, Energy Corps and VISTAs positively impact our communities and our economy, now we have to let our elected leaders know.

Please post this or forward this link in an email to others who support service.

http://www.onemillionnewjobs.org/112-2/

United In Anger

I remember ACT UP as a bunch of people who would do anything to get AIDS seriously discussed by officials- hell by anybody. In the 80s and early 90s, gay men were often reviled as AIDS-infested refuse. ACT UP was founded to fight for their lives.

In his new movie, Jim Hubbard tells the story of the group. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Deutsch: Act Up Logo

Deutsch: Act Up Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Making a confrontational movement accessible without diluting its life-or-death message, Jim Hubbard‘s United in Anger: A History of ACT UP offers a straightforward biography of the activist group as seen from within its ranks.

In opening titles making a few stark assertions — 40,000 people died of AIDS in the U.S. between 1981 and 1987 (others sources offer different figures), a period during which Ronald Reagan couldn’t say the disease’s name in public — the film establishes both the immense fear within the gay community and the way that fear and anger attached itself to uninformed, foot-dragging, or oppositional politicians and institutions.

Following an onscreen timeline, the doc begins with Larry Kramer‘s call for a protest movement in 1987, using copious period footage to show how quickly New Yorkers took to the idea. Video shot in meetings and on the streets shows a movement that, in laser-guided messaging and organization, contrasts with some current protest movements — a comparison made inevitable as we hear one ACT UP member suggesting they take over an official building “by occupying it with our bodies.”

With chapters focusing on major demonstrations at the FDA, Wall Street, NIH and White House, the film charts the movement’s evolving mood and expanding agenda. If bystanders at the time saw them as mainly making a lot of noise, Hubbard and his many interviewees cite an impressive number of successes arising from these events; sped-up drug approvals, lowered pharmaceutical costs, and various bureaucratic victories, seen in hindsight, allow veteran activists to express satisfaction they couldn’t show while chanting accusations or being hauled out of sit-ins in handcuffs. They also acknowledge how central ACT UP meetings became to participants’ social lives, with some members attending meetings every night; in between the die-ins and agit-prop campaigns, we hear, “ACT UP was very sexy.”

Probably hard to watch- I can’t watch AIDS-era movies without a deep, overwhelming grief- but I will. We can’t afford to forget.

Double Anniversary

This photograph appeared in the front page of ...

This photograph appeared in the front page of The New York Daily News on Sunday, June 29, 1969, showing the “street kids” who were the first to fight with the police. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which began on June 28, 1969. It was a watershed moment for LGBT persons- when a few people at the Stonewall Inn in New York City decided they weren’t going to be pushed around anymore by a bullying city police force.

It was the beginning of the modern day gay rights movement. A movement which, I believe, has culminated in more progress in the last three years under the Obama Administration than it has in the last forty. Marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships in some states and sovereign nations; partners’ rights upheld; local non-discrimination ordinances; repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell; passing of the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Act; enormous Pride celebrations all over the land…. Much of the credit goes to activists all across the country whose tireless efforts against second-class citizenship have been rewarded by a population who now often sees discrimination against LGBT persons as archaic, draconian and just plain mean. The 5,000 people participating in Montana Pride 2012 among them.

We have a lot to be proud of, but this is no moment to rest on our laurels. The Montana Republicans may have removed the homosexual criminalization plank from their platform, but it was hardly touted as a move for equality:

According to state Rep. Keith Regier, who chaired the party’s crime committee at its convention last weekend that ultimately voted to remove the line, people were having a tough time getting the nuances of the law and subsequent court cases.

While the court’s decision in 1997 “addressed homosexuality between consenting adults,” Regier said in an e-mail, “it is still illegal with concern to solicitation, children, etc.”

“There has been confusion with this issue,” he said. “I felt the committee wanted to just remove the homosexual reference because of the confusion it caused as it was worded.”

But he added that “Removal of the reference to homosexual behavior does not mean Republicans condone that behavior.”

Like I said- not concerned with equality at all. Don’t get me wrong: I’m delighted it’s gone- but Montana Republicans have a long way to go to prove that they stand for equality- chief among them is taking the obsolete sodomy law of the books during the next legislative session. Oh, and not making homophobic ignorant remarks during testimony.

Sigh.

Oh, and the double anniversary? Today is the 21st anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Ironic, huh?