FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2011
Press Contact: Dan Fotou (646)245-1706, firstname.lastname@example.org
LGBT Civil Rights Organization GetEQUAL to Protest Republican Debate
Activists tell Republican candidates,
“HOPE, NOT HATE! STOP KILLING US! FULL FEDERAL EQUALITY NOW!”
LOS ANGELES, CA – Tomorrow, Sept. 7, activists with GetEQUAL – a national direct action civil rights organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community – will protest the Republican Debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. Sending a clear message to the Republican candidates, protesters will gather to publicly state that, in today’s challenging economic climate, their focus needs to be on creating jobs – not contributing to the hostile environment that the LGBT community frequently encounters.
GetEQUAL activists will be staging a memorial outside the debate to remind candidates that the consequences of their intolerance and intentional hate are real and will not be forgotten, and that full equality for ALL Americans is a birthright guaranteed by our Founding Fathers.
WHAT: Protest at the Republican Debate
WHERE: Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library – at the intersection of Presidential Drive and Madera Road, down the street from 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, CA
WHEN: Wednesday, September 7, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. (PST)
“While the GOP candidates jockey for position at the front of the political pack, our youth are taking their own lives in record numbers,” said Robin McGehee, Director of GetEQUAL. “It’s time for these candidates to lead, rather than to follow the bigoted and discriminatory philosophies of fringe, right-wing activists who insist on demonizing fellow Americans for political gain.”
Fallen members of the LGBT and allied community remembered at the demonstration will include:
Marcellus Andrews, 19 years old of Waterloo, Iowa – Michele Bachmann’s birthplace – was murdered just days ago. While reports don’t confirm he was gay, his murderers used homophobic slurs during the attack.
Lawrence King, 15 years old of Oxnard, California, was murdered by a classmate for being gay. As of this week, his murderer may go free after a jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Seth Walsh, 13 years old of Tahachapi, California, was bullied to death by classmates because he was gay. His suicide resulted in public school anti-bullying legislation that was signed by the Governor today after passing the California State Senate last Friday.
Justin Aaberg, 15 years old of Anoka, Minnesota – Michele Bachmann’s backyard – was bullied to death by classmates because he was gay. After a failure of leadership by the Anoka-Hennepin School District to intercede and create a safe environment for students, Justin committed suicide at his family home.
Justin’s mother, Tammy Johnson Aaberg, says, “We need safe schools for ALL. My son had a right to be safe in school; ALL of our kids have that right. My son never hurt anyone and put happiness into so many lives, people from all walks of life, but just because he happened to be gay, and had a loving heart, many students and community members thought it was better to treat him like he shouldn’t exist and so therefore he no longer does. Let’s all be loving and caring people like Justin was and protect ALL of our students in schools. Everyone has a right to know that ‘Yes, you should exist in this world.’ As Justin would say, ‘Love the life you live, live the life you love.’”
Dan Fotou, GetEQUAL activist, states, “Republican candidates need to be reminded that they have the power to make a difference. Their party platform has, time and again, used the LGBT community for political theater to maintain their bigotry. What they fail to realize is the real impact their words carry – words that can result in death.”
“Every Presidential candidate, regardless of party affiliation, is responsible for the safety and care of Americans,” GetEQUAL activist Michael McKeon says. “It’s shameful that Governor Rick Perry refused to sign the Texas anti-bullying bill into law until all references to LGBT youth were removed – including the name of the young man, Asher Brown, for whom the law was to be named. In a state in which he and the GOP platform are calling for the criminalization of homosexuality, it’s no wonder that the safety of our community is at great risk.”
While these tragedies must serve as a reminder to Republican candidates that words have power and the LGBT community demands acceptance and love, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, there is hope that these leaders will use their power to move hate toward love and intolerance toward acceptance in order to create a bright future for ALL Americans that ensures life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
GetEQUAL is a national direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit www.getequal.org. You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at www.twitter.com/getequal, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/getequal, or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/getequal.