My Life from there to Here

This question was asked in my Development Psychology class and hit me more than I thought it would.

Are there any issues you had with your parents, your school work, your friends, or your romantic involvements in the last year of high school that continued to be issues for you in college? Reflect on your own personality, interests and cognitive abilities at the time you graduated high school. How did these personality characteristics and abilities manifest themselves in subsequent years? How have they changed since your high school days, if at all?

I felt like, “wow how in the world do I answer that with the journey I have been through thus far.” I felt like it was almost impossible for me to explain it all in words. But this was my answer.

There was so much that happened back then in that year and the following year that I would need to write a book to describe it all. That last year in high school, I turned 19 years old and lost my health insurance (Nebraska Medicaid) while still living with with cystinosis (a fatal genetic disease). After I reapplied, Medicaid claimed that they would not cover me because of my pre-existing condition. The condition I have had my entire life, the condition I had when I was first added to Medicaid.

Thus, while attempting to be a high school student and complete my senior year, I needed to figure out how in the world I was going to get health insurance. I needed the insurance to cover all of my medications that kept me alive and keeps the disease at bay. I appealed Nebraska Medicaid four times and lost each time. Therefore, I stopped and decided to focus on graduating and hopefully moving on to college.

At this point, I was working at J.C. Penny but not nearly making enough money to cover for private health insurance. Not to forget, I was beginning my process of coming out as transgender and finding my political affiliation as a socialist Democrat. This caused several other issues or benefits. I guess it depends on how you look at it. I had to fight for myself constantly at school, at work, at the hospital, and at the Health and Human Services office. It was never ending or it seems like it is never ending. While many of my friends where talking and laughing about who they were dating, talking about what college they planned to attend, and what classes they would take.

Nope not me, they actually made me feel angry, hurt, and mad at the world. However, they also made me understand the “real world” much more clearly. I guess they all may have made me stronger. I am now different, yet the same. Those experiences and trials made me stronger, they made me into the person I am today, although I believe they damaged me. They caused me to make sacrifices that I did not want to make, but I knew I needed to, so that it would protect me and get things done. They made me into a cold person who must work hard at being sociable and warm. I am so different from four years ago when I graduated from Millard South High School in 2010.

Now, I would like to fill in the blanks between 2010 and now, with a little extra.

I was diagnosed with cystinosis around age 10 months old. Cystinosis is a rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells. As the cystine accumulates in the cells, it slowly damages organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, muscles and brain. An orphan disease is a disease that has not been “adopted” by the pharmaceutical industry because it provides little financial incentive for the private sector to make and market new medications to treat or prevent it. Almost 7,000 rare or “orphan” diseases in the United States collectively affect nearly 30 million people. In the case of cystinosis, only 2,000 in the world are affected.

Cystinosis has been a struggle. It has been a challenge for me and those who care about me. Yes, I maybe a so-called survivor; however I’m living with it every day. When I was a kid, I was always seen as different. Every day, I went to the nurse’s office to take medications. Many days I had bad breath and body odor from the Cystagon, and I felt sick to my stomach that usually ended in me vomiting. Elementary and middle school were especially difficult for me because of this. Not to forget all of the doctor appointments and hospitalizations I had to go to which caused me to miss a lot of school. Growing up with cystinosis is difficult and quite the journey.

Cystinosis has been difficult on my family, too. I cannot even comprehend how heartbreaking it must have been for them to get the news that cystinosis is an incurable disease. Then, to see me go through all of the hospital visits, side effects from the medications, and just daily life with cystinosis. However, I am proud because I am one of the only cystinosis patients to make it to 19 years old before needing a kidney transplant.

In 2010, my senior year in high school, I turned 19 and lost my health insurance. This happened because in Nebraska, you are an adult at age 19 and you must re-apply for Medicaid. I did just that and was denied. I was told that I was not eligible for coverage for having a pre-existing condition (cystinosis). I tried applying four times with the same results each time. With no avenue to appeal their decision, I decided to focus on graduating high school and going to college until my scheduled trip to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that fall. I went most of that year without any of my medications. This resulted in me going into end stage renal or kidney failure and it probably cut a few years off my life. I went from needing a kidney transplant in 2-4 years to needing one in six months to 1 year. If I would have had health insurance, I might have been able to wait until after college to get a kidney transplant.

599457_111877858954314_119659440_nWhen I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to contribute to society in any way possible and work to create the change I seek. However, because of having cystinosis and going on dialysis, it forced me to stop working. To stay busy, I volunteer on issue and political campaigns, such as fighting for Full LGBT Equality, voting rights, and health care for all. I am passionate about these because I look forward to a future where everyone has the right to vote, has full and equal human rights, and access to high quality health care. For me, these causes are important because I know first-hand how not having access to health care can cause a chronic disease to get worse like my disease did.

I was on dialysis for almost three years. I began dialysis in May of 2011, when I was a patient at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) or Nebraska Medical Center (now: Nebraska Medicine) being evaluated for kidney transplant. I first was on hemodialysis, a form of dialysis that is usually performed with a catheter placed in the chest that is used as an access to cycle large amounts of blood into a machine that cleans the blood and returns it to the body. Fortunately, I was only on this form of dialysis for nine long months, until I switched to peritoneal dialysis.

I started peritoneal dialysis in March of 2012, because I was denied getting a kidney transplant at the Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) from my living donor and would need to be on dialysis much longer, in addition to hemodialysis not working out for me. I had many complications with hemodialysis and cystinosis. For example, cystinosis patients are not your typical kidney failure patients because we still need access to water and potassium. This is why our specialists recommend having the kidney transplant as soon as possible and never going on dialysis. Most health care professionals are not fully educated on cystinosis. Therefore, cystinosis patients like me must take it upon us to help educate our health care professionals.

Even with the additional education sometimes, mistakes are made. While I was on hemodialysis, it caused me to continuously become dehydrated, have hypotension (low blood pressure) and tachycardia (fast heart rate). In addition, I had other complications like the catheter itself falling out of my chest and a couple of times where there were infections. By the end of the period of me bing on hemodialysis, I had seven hemodialysis catheters placed in my upper right chest. I can show those afterwards.

Peritoneal dialysis is performed using a catheter placed in your abdomen that cycles a dextrose mixture fluid into your peritoneal cavity that uses the wall of the cavity as a natural dialyzer that cleans your blood. Peritoneal dialysis was much better for me because I was able to better control how much fluid I take off my body and my health care was more in my own control. It also was done at home. This way I did not have to go to a dialysis center. It gave me more of my life back. I was on peritoneal dialysis until May 30, 2013, when I received the Gift of Life from my living donor. I had the kidney transplant at the wonderful University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), in Iowa City. At UIHC, I received excellent care and compassionate treatment. I personally feel they are the best in the Midwest.

Today, I am living with a new kidney, which I named Serenity after the ship on FireFly a scifi show, and doing wonderfully in aspects of my kidney health. The transplant team at UIHC was impressed with how well my body accepted the kidney and recovered from surgery. My creatinine level, which determines how well the kidney is doing, is 0.9. This number is awesome! I am now down to only having blood drawn once every other month to check my levels and only need to visit UIHC once a year.

Currently, I am not employed because even though my kidney issue is resolved for the moment. I still have cystinosis; remember it affects my entire body. Because of cystinosis, I have Fanconi Syndrome, where I constantly must fight the loss of water, important minerals, salts, and nutrients. I have issues with my eyes being extremely sensitive to sunlight and light in general. I also have some issues with my heart and frequent headaches. This all leads to a lot of stress and still feeling sick.

I must point out, I don’t only have cystinosis. I have nephropathic or infantile cystinosis. There are three forms of cystinosis: nephropathic (infantile), late-onset (intermediate), and ocular (adult). The most common and severe form is nephropathic cystinosis. Patients with nephropathic cystinosis appear normal at birth. However, before one year of age have excessive thirst and urination, and failure to thrive. They are smaller than others are their age and often tend to be in the lowest percentile or even off the pediatric growth chart. There may be delays with walking and bearing weight. With late-onset cystinosis, cystine crystals are present in the eyes but kidney function remains normal.

Fortunately, we have the drug cysteamine to slow the progression of cystinosis by removing the cystine from the cells. There are two forms of cysteamine Cystagon and Procysbi. The FDA approved Cystagon for the treatment of cystinosis in 1994. Cystagon must be taken every six hours, every day. I was on Cystagon during the trial and had been taking it for nearly 21 years of my life. It caused me to feel sick almost every day.

Last year, the FDA approved Procysbi, a delayed-release capsule for the treatment of only nephropathic cystinosis in adults and children 6 years and older. I was lucky enough and started Procysbi about eight months ago and I have nearly no side effects. There is only one medication to treat the corneal cystine crystal accumulation in patients with cystinosis, Cystaran. Cystaran must be used every hour while awake in order to remove the cystine crystals from the cornea. Patients who begin cysteamine treatment early enough, and are compliant in taking cysteamine as prescribed, generally delay the need for kidney transplantation for several years.

We must find a cure. Thus, I am participating in a long-term clinical research study at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. In the study, I see Dr. William Gahl, one of the leading researchers in the world on cystinosis. Dr. Gahl’s study was one of the first studies of its kind on cystinosis. I currently see him for the specialized study of the progression of the disease in my body and to aid his research in the long-term effects of the disease, which I hope will assist in finding a cure. I began seeing Dr. Gahl when I was a baby, shortly after I was diagnosed with cystinosis. I spent several weeks at a time there. Basically, I grew up there from 1992 to 1996.

In addition, I have participated in several other studies, including at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center, where they studied the neurological and psychological effects of cystinosis. I was also a participant in the study at the NIH, which proved to the FDA that the eye drops work to reduce the cystine crystals on the corneas.

Today, I am back in college working on my psychology degree, however it won’t matter if there is no cure for my terrible disease. There is an organization that is working on this issue, the Cystinosis Research Foundation (CRF). CRF is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that was started by the amazing Stack family in 2003, after Natalie Stack their daughter, made a wish on the eve of her twelfth birthday,

to have my disease go away forever

CRF today supports bench and clinical research that is focused on developing improved treatments and a cure for cystinosis.

CRF has funded every bench and clinical research study that led to Procysbi, allowing cystinosis patients like me to take the drug every 12 hours instead of every 6 hours, which greatly improves our quality of life. They established the CRF Cystinosis Gene Therapy Consortium, whose mission is to bring stem cell therapy to clinical trial. The CRF is currently funding investigator in eleven countries. Some of the areas of focus include stem cell and gene therapy, effects of cystinosis on neurological function and cognitive development, causes of muscle-wasting and potential therapies, etc.

Finding a cure may save my life, as well as others with cystinosis including my sister Mary, or even persons with other diseases. Knowledge discovered by studying one “orphan” disease often leads to advancements in other diseases.

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Here (2014):

I am working on my Associates Degree at Iowa Western Community College in Psychology. I was in college in 2010-2011. However, I had to leave because of my health and being on dialysis. This fall semester of 2014 was me getting back into the hang of it. Next semester I will be taking a full load of classes or at least what I consider a full load four classes three of them are 3 hour credits and one is 4 hour credits.

Moving forward from the elections I plan to work on issues and help the Democratic party the best I can. I plan to work on issues on topics of feminism, workers’ rights, and full and equal human rights.

Videos:

These are videos on topics that I will be working on in 2015 and I will be writing about. Check them out!

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New Nationwide Campaign Demands: LGBT Rights Be Added to 1964 Civil Rights Act.

New Nationwide Campaign Demands that LGBT Rights be added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Vigil June 30th @ MLK Memorial Will Launch Campaign.

Add-4-WordsThe LGBT Equality Pledge Network – a new nationwide campaign for full LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) equality backed by over 240 organizations – will officially launch with an LGBT Civil Rights Vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C. beginning at 8:30pm, Monday, June 30th. the event theme is “Add 4 Words” reflecting a call for four words to be added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act: “sexual orientation – gender identity” (SO-GI). The event also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Act, on July 2nd, marking 50 years and counting until the day LGBT Americans are equally protected from the scourge of discrimination.

A new organization, www.LGBTequalityNOW.org, has been created to facilitate the Network, led by a wealth of veteran experience and diversity, including Erica Keppler, Chair of the Arizona Stonewall Democrats; Cathy Marino-Thomas, former chair of Marriage Equality USA; Veronica Eady, a straight-ally and African-American civil rights attorney currently at the Conservation Law Foundation; Josef Pons de Jesus previously with ACT-UP New York, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Latino Lesbian & Gay Organization; Pablo Colon, former community outreach and advocacy director at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis New York; Attorney Yetta Kurland, former candidate for City Council in New York City and a human rights advocate; Michael Miller, formerly with the AIDS Action Committee of Boston and Harvard AIDS Institute; and Executive Director and Board Chairperson, J. Todd Fernandez, Esquire, former Ombudsman to the Governor and General Council and Legislative Director for Economic Affairs of Massachusetts.

Building a powerful team, the new network is uniting the grassroots and state groups like never before, breaking the corporate insider mold with direct empowerment of local expects. Over 40 activists in 22 states are serving as volunteer state leads, including Attorney Peter Sergienko working with his gay son Eugene in Oregon; Richard Noble, from the Walk Across America; Attorney Stephen Zollman of the National Equality March; Jeff White-Perkins from Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center; straight-ally Jean Kryean of Pennsylvanian, and Mika Covington and Ken Riter, who have joined forces in Iowa and Nebraska (quotes below).

The unifying statement of principle for the over 240 groups in 44 states is the Pledge for Full LGBT Equality, which calls on the LGBT Caucus to file a one-bill strategy to add SO-GI to all the civil rights laws at once. The breadth of this community mandate spans sixteen statewide equality organizations from Equality Hawaii to Equality Illinois to Equality South Carolina; transgender groups such as Gender Rights Maryland and the Tennessee Trans Political Alliance; People of Color groups including LGBT Caribbean and the NYC Black Justice Alliance; PFLAG chapter from Pasadena to Ann Arbor; the ACLU of Mississippi, the Unitarian Universalists Association; Metropolitan Community Churches; the United Church of Christ; LGBT Democrats of Virginia, Palm Springs and Florida, 23 LGBT Community Centers from New York to San Francisco; LGBT Pride groups from New Orleans to Los Angeles to the Outer Banks; and InterPride, and over 11 City Council Proclamations from West Hollywood to New Orleans and Tallahassee.

The new strategy is in sharp contrast to the Human Rights Campaign’s push for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, now embroiled in community dissent because of the religious-exemptions that would leave our most vulnerable children behind. Groups including the ACLU, Lambda Legal, Equality California, Queer Nation, Equality Illinois, and others, strongly oppose the Senate version of ENDA, which would ensconce in federal law anti-LGBT discrimination in taxpayer-funded programs, as a concession for Republican votes, that entirely misses the point of organizing for social change.

“Seeking full equality is not just a legislative agenda, but is the antidote to the vast harm LGBT Americans endure under discrimination, which causes children to commit suicide, and keeps 53% of LGBT workers in the closet, living in daily fear,” said Todd Fernandex, campaign manager for the Equality Pledge Network. “The ENDA compromises are a sign of our movement’s strategic weaknesses, and they should not be accepted until we have first united in full force nationwide. We won this debate in Arizona with Republican Senators’ support, and it’s the debate we need to have as a nation to heal homophobia and transphobia in our culture.”

The Network’s information-filled website advances two main arguments: 1. That international law requires Congress to outlaw SO-GI discrimination, and 2. that the vast harm caused by discrimination, known as “minority stress,” makes this a public health emergency. As support, the site includes the United Nation’s Free & Equal campaign, the historic speech by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaiming “gay rights are human rights,” and congressional expert testimony of Dr. Illan Meyers of the Williams Institute, backed by official reports of the United States Civil Rights Commission, the American Psychological Association, and others.

The 2014 Campaign goals include 1. Increasing Pledge support from 245 to 500 organizations, 2. Establishing state leads in all 50 states, 3. Conducting a 2014 Equality Poll to map support in Congress, and 4. Mounting a PSA campaign about “minority stress” impact including suicide and mental health disparities, such as depression, anxiety, and hypervigilance. LGBT Americans are suffering from these, unaware that societal discrimination is the cause, and this simple awareness could save lives and prevent suffering, while changing hearts and minds.

The vigil will feature pictures of LGBT Americans lost to suicide and murder, also honored on the website, to prevail upon the greater conscious of our nation to outlaw this societal abuse. Activists and religious leaders will carry rainbow falgas and herald the contributions of LGBT civil rights heroes Eleanor Roosevelt, who led the way on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights,  and Bayard Rustin, the gay human rights leader who was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work leading to the passage of the 1694 Civil Rights Act, which his community yearns to join.

Statements of Network State Leads & Board Members


Massachusetts: Veronica Eady, Board Member, LGBTequalityNOW.org, Civil Rights Attorney

“As an African American woman, I understand why only fully inclusive nondiscrimination laws meet the standard for basic human dignity in our nation. The inclusion of LGBT Americans in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is right and necessary.”

Mississippi: Jeff White-Perkins, President Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center

“We in Mississippi support this pledge because throughout the history of our state, we have learned the lesson of how inequality can cause the destruction of the human spirit and how that can last for hundreds of years within the hearts and minds of our citizens. We hope to end that here and now.”

New York: Cathy Marino-Thomas, Board, LGBTequalityNOW.org, former Board Chair, Marriage Equality USA

“Marriage equality, although important for our families, is not full federal equality. The time to be fully equal is now!”

Nebraska: Ken Riter, Nebraskans for Equality

“Nebraskans for Equality is proud and excited to be part of a new dialogue for LGBT equality. It is time LGBT people learn about other areas of their rights as Americans that deserve full equal attention under the law.”

Louisiana: Marcino Savant, Entertainment Chair, Equality Pledge Network

“The Pledge [LGBT Equality Pledge] is a no-brainer. There is no gray area, in equality. Either we are EQUAL, or we’re not. The constitution has already answered in the letter and the spirit of the document. I choose equality. Equality now.”

California: Attorney Stephen Zollman, formerly of the National Equality March

“As Northern CAlifornia’s State Lead for the Equality Pledge Network, and Founder of Guerneville’s Next Steps Towards Full Legal Equality, I would like to say that everyone needs to do this for your youth! None of our youth should ever feel lesser than. Full Federal Equality Now!!”

Arizona: Erica Keppler, Chair, Arizona Stonewall Democrats, Board Member, LGBTequalityNOW.org

“For too long we have settled for pursuing piecemeal solutions to systemic cultural bigotry. It is time to deal with the entire problem head on. It is time for full federal equality.”

Texas: Joyce Arnold

“With the state of inequality the reality for millions of us, residing in every state (including here in Texas), full equality at the federal level is crucial to advocacy efforts.”

Florida: Keri Kidder, Florida State Pledge Lead

“Jacksonville, Florida is still behind in Equality and we will continue to fight until everyone is equal.”

Iowa: Mika Covington, Iowa State Pledge Lead

“As an new Iowan, I have come to experience equal rights here in Iowa. They are awesome. However, they are constantly under attack and we have to constantly fight to keep them. This is why it is more important than ever to get full federal human rights for everyone no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. The fight forward is not over until all humans have full and equal human rights.”

New York: Pablo Colon, LGBT Activist, Board Member, LGBTequalityNOW.org

“We LGBT people, your sons, daughters, brothers and sisters demand to be equal under the law as we are under God! Join the Equality Pledge Network and be on the right side of history.”

Pennsylvania: Jean Kryven, Pennsylvania State Lead

“Friends and family suffering discrimination and violence inspired me to volunteer with Equality Pledge Network. As a middle-aged straight ally, I was alive when Americans were killed while working for Civil Rights. From child labor laws at the turn of the century to the EQual Pay Act, mobilization and legislation are what expand good health, joy, and prosperity for all Americans.”

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The Equality Pledge Network
Website: www.LGBTequalityNOW.org
Twitter: @EqualityPledge
Facebook: http://bit.ly/Add4WordsDCjune30

IDAHOT Day of Action Highlights

4579Last Saturday May 17, was the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia or IDAHOT, a day where communities stand up against violence and oppression. It is also a day to promote freedom, diversity, and acceptance. In 2013, IDAHOT was celebrated by events held in 113 countries and was officially recognized as a National day in Belgium, United Kingdom, France, Luxemburg, Spain, Brazil, Croatia, and by the European Parliament.

Facts about LGBTQIA Issues around the Globe:

  • 81 countries still criminalize being LGBTQIA
  • 4.9 billion or 2/3 of the world’s population have their right to information or expression around sexual and gender diversity systematically violated by their State. (IDAHOT)

IDAHOTrally

In Omaha, Nebraska – IDAHOT was celebrated by a rally at the intersection of 72 and Dodge Streets where LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) community and allies gathered to take a stand against hate and violence.

At the rally, we also called for full federal equality and encouraged people to take the Full Equality Pledge because the LGBTQIA community is entitled to equal human rights.

  • In 29 states, you can be fired based on your sexual orientation and in 32 states based on your gender identity.
  • In 29 states, you can be denied public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, etc.) based on your sexual orientation and in 34 states based on your gender identity.
  • In 33 states, there is no law giving protection to K-12 students who are bullied and harassed based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

It was awesome and uplifting to see the reaction by the people driving by. I full heartedly believe that we made a big impact on the hearts and minds of people in Omaha who saw us saturday rallying against hate and standing up for full federal equality. From the child sitting in the backseat of his mother’s car seeing people standing up for human rights, to the sister who will get a picture of her brother and his daughter standing with protesters fighting for her rights. It was a powerful rally. I am glad to have been a part of it and NO ONE can take that away from me.

This year, IDAHOT was celebrated by events held in over 120 countries and events were even held by activists in countries that still criminalize being LGBTQIA. For instance, in Russia activists organized balloon release “flashmobs” in 13 cities and in Khabarovsk and St. Petersburg, activists were attacked. In several other countries, events had been cancelled under pressure from their governments. (IDAHOT)

Highlights from around the Globe on IDAHOT:

  • Global Leaders spoke out, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,

“Millions of people around the world observe the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17. (…) I believe in and strive to achieve a world rooted in tolerance, freedom, and equality; a world where we are ALL free to live a life of dignity. There are no exceptions. Human rights are for everyone, no matter whom you are or whom you love.”

  • United Nations office of the Commissioner for Human Rights released a video campaign for the day.

  • United States President Barack Obama released a statement,

“As we commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we recommit ourselves to the fundamental belief that all people would be treated equally, that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, and that no one should face violence or discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love.”

  • President of Costa Rica raised the rainbow flag outside the Presidential Palace.
  • President of Mexico tweeted,“Because we are making Mexico a country of equality, today we celebrate for the first time the National Day Against Homophobia.”
  • In several countries where LGBTQIA people face severe stigma and public persecution, the embassies of many countries, including the United States, Canada, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Finland, German, and France flew the rainbow flag. (IDAHOT)

 

LGBTIQA Community Rally Against Homophobia & Transphobia

IDAHOT14EqualityPledgeOMAHA, NEBRASKA – On May 17, 2014 LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) activists and community members will rally at the 72 Dodge Street intersection against homophobia and transphobia. The rally will begin at 2pm. May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). IDAHOT is a day, which communities stand up against violence and oppression; it is also a day to promote freedom, diversity, and acceptance.

Go here to RSVP: Stop Homophobia Stop Transphobia! 

In 2013, IDAHOT was celebrated by events held in 113 countries. In 32 of those countries, activists took action despite laws prohibiting expression of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The day is officially recognized as a National Day in Belgium, United Kingdom, France, Luxemburg, Spain, Brazil, Croatia, and by the European Parliament. IDAHOT continues to be necessary because even in the United States there is a lot of hate and violence.

  • In 2012, there were 1,318 confirmed hate crimes offenses based on sexual orientation bias.  – Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • 8 U.S. States have laws banning the promotion or discussion of homosexuality in schools, Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. – Washington Post

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In addition to rallying against homophobia and transphobia they will be advocating for full federal equality through an omnibus bill, or one-bill strategy. They will ask individuals and groups who believe in full federal equality for the LGBTQIA community to take the Full Equality Pledge. The Full Equality Pledge began in 2009 and was embraced by the 2010 National Equality March that drew over 250,000 people demanding “full federal equality.” The current Equality Pledge document was drafted by Act On Principles, Get Equal, The American Equality Bill (AEB) Project, Marriage Equality USA, Out4Immigration, and others. The document contains a list of all existing nondiscrimination laws that protect race, sex, national origin, and religion, and calls for sexual orientation and gender identity to be added. It also calls for federal marriage equality, and includes immigration and family leave for same-sex couples.

*For more information on this rally or the Equality Pledge please contact Ken Riter (NE) at phone: 402.686.6389 email: omahamaverick@yahoo.com or Mika Covington (IA) at phone: 712.314.8258 email: mika.j.covington@gmail.com

Full Equality Pledge – Equality Now!

PledgeLogoFinalEquality is most important to me and because of that, I decided to help the Full Equality Pledge team by doing what I can in Southwest Iowa by donating some of my time to be a team leader.

The Full Equality Pledge began in 2009 with eQualityGiving.org, an association of LGBTQIA major donors that created the first proposal for an omnibus bill, or one-bill strategy for full equality. The concept was even embraced by the 2010 National Equality March that drew over 250,000 people demanding “full federal equality.”

Act On Principles, Get Equal, the AEB Project, Marriage Equality USA, Out4Immigration, and other drafted the Equality Pledge. The document they created contains a list of all existing nondiscrimination laws that protect race, sex, national origin, and religion and calls for sexual orientation and gender identity to be added. It also calls for federal marriage equality, and includes immigration and family leave for same-sex couples.

The Pledge for Full LGBTQIA Equality:

IN ORDER TO FULFILL the promises of life and liberty, and to ensure equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the United States Constitution;

TO PROTECT the inalienable human right to be safe from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as required by international law and treaty; and

TO END the systemic stigmatization, cease the societal rejection and heal the suffering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans as mandated by conscience;

WE, the undersigned, pledge our support for the passage of omnibus LGBT equality legislation that grants full non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity equal to those accorded other statuses under existing civil rights and Supreme Court jurisprudence, specifically including:

  1. Public Accommodations (Title II, 1964 Civil Rights Act)
  2. Public Facilities (Title III, 1964 Civil Rights Act)
  3. Federally-Funded Programs (Title VI, 1964 Civil Rights Act)
  4. Employment (Title VII, 1964 Civil Rights Act; 1978 Civil Service Reform Act; 1991 Government Employee Rights Act; 1995 Congressional Accountability Act; 10 U.S.C. Ch. 37)
  5. Housing (Title VIII, 1968 Civil Rights Act, aka the Fair Housing Act)
  6. Education (Title IX, 1972  Education Amendments Act)
  7. Credit (1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act)
  8. Federal Marriage Equality (based on gender, sexual orientation)
  9. Immigration, Disability, and Family Leave (Uniting American Families Act (proposed, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act)

We call upon the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to lead the way by filing an omnibus LGBT equality bill by July 2014 that includes all of the provisions enumerated above. We further call upon Congress, and all candidates for elected office, to sign, this pledge to pass such omnibus LGBT equality legislation immediately, but no later than 2014 — the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act — fulfilling both their individual duty and that of the United States government to ensure justice, equality, and the fundamental human rights protections for all Americans. 

 

The Equality Pledge has already received endorsements from over 225 groups from 44 states and the District of Columbia. These groups represent the full array of advocacy, direct action, faith-based, statewide, local, marriage, immigration, pride, transgender/gender-nonconforming, community centers, and other community constituencies. 

As a team leader with the Equality Pledge team, I wish to work with local leaders who are our greatest asset to grassroots organizing and to empower the LGBTQIA and allies community to continue to push forward for fairness and equality. It is my hope to work with all advocates to get as many groups as possible to endorse the Equality Pledge and to call on our elected officials to stand up for the rights of all humans.

Our first day of action for the Equality Pledge is on Saturday, May 17, 2014. It is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. This day of action is going to do two things call for the end of hate and call for full federal equality. The event will be in Omaha, Nebraska at 72 Dodge Street Intersection the northwest corner at 2pm. During and after will be a time to discuss the Equality Pledge, how to get involved, and what to do next. Go here to RSVP: Stop Homophobia/Transphobia! Full Federal Equality NOW! Event 

Please join me in standing up for and organizing for Full Federal Equality for our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters.