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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 29, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 30
HRC launches nationwide LGBT equality bus tour
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HRC launches nationwide LGBT equality bus tour

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization, announced this week their nationwide bus tour, 'On the Road to Equality,' which hopes to spread the message of equality by educating the American public and empowering LGBT people to become advocates for themselves and their families.

The 12-week tour will travel to 17 cities in 11 states and the District of Columbia, with particular emphasis on the Midwest and South, where there are limited legal protections for LGBT people and living openly and honestly can be difficult, said HRC officials in a press release.

Events will include everything from educational seminars on legal documents for families to community forums about family acceptance to participating in the University of Nebraska's 'Big Red Welcome.'

'We are in the midst of a cultural tipping point on LGBT issues and our job is to push the scale as far and as fast as we can toward fairness,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese. 'The tour will serve as a powerful visibility tool and support the work of creating real and lasting change in these communities.'

HRC also released a nationwide poll that found Americans widely support LGBT equality issues but more work remains to be done - particularly in the South and Midwest.

The poll shows support for equal marriage at 51% (43% in the Midwest and South), in line with other national polls on the issue. Support for non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodations is strong nationally at 79%, as is support for protections against bullying in schools at 73%. Respondents also overwhelmingly say anti-Gay discrimination is a problem (79%) and anti-Transgender discrimination is a problem (74%).

Aside from policy questions, 57% of respondents say they would not be bothered if their child or grandchild were Gay. Seventy-seven percent of men say they could be close friends with a Gay man and 81% of women say they could be close friends with a Lesbian. Overall, 64% say they could be close friends with someone who is Transgender. Relating to the current debate over so-called 'pray the Gay away' therapies, only 24% of people think Gay people can be made straight through psychotherapy or prayer.

Full poll results can be found online at www.hrc.org/EqualityTourPress.

'The poll shows Americans believe in fairness but also that we have a long way to go in realizing that goal,' said Solmonese. 'Our efforts on the road this summer and fall are a first step in bridging the gap between where LGBT people are now and achieving the dream of equality to which the vast majority of Americans aspire.'

At each tour stop, HRC will work with the local community to hold a variety of events. The bus will be accompanied by an exhibit offering primers on everyday life topics, including your family, your health, your rights, your community, your faith, your workplace, and your story. Separate from the bus, HRC will also offer a variety of workshops and educational seminars with particular emphasis on workplace and healthcare equality, schools and bullying issues, and religion and faith.

The tour will visit Salt Lake City, UT; Omaha and Lincoln, NE; Lawrence, KS; Kansas City, MO; New Orleans, LA; Austin and College Station, TX; Little Rock, AR; Louisville and Lexington, KY; Washington, DC; Atlanta, GA; Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, AL; Jacksonville, FL; and Orlando, FL.

Among the 11 states the 'On the Road to Equality' tour HRC will visit, none has a statewide non-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation or gender identity.

Additionally, none has any form of state relationship recognition and all have passed discriminatory laws or constitutional amendments to ban marriage for same-sex couples. Many have laws prohibiting the positive discussion of Gays and Lesbians in schools and few have safe-schools laws that explicitly protect LGBT students.

More on the legal landscape in these states is at www.hrc.org/EqualityTourPress.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBT equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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