Monday, 10 November 2008

Disappointing: Armenian American LGBT groups keep silent over same-sex marriage ban in California

UPDATE (19 November 2008):
After posting this entry, I received updates from LA and NY based groups - GALAS and AGLA NY, as per in comments section below. Although this information was not previously publicised, GALAS was active during pre-voting period to ensure defeat of the Proposition 8; and AGLA NY participated in a number of post-voting protest rallies.

GALAS: “GALAS helped sponsor a fundraiser on October 23rd along with Club Nur, MJ's Bar and a few others raising almost $7000. We also submitted letters/articles to the Glendale Newspress, Armenian Reporter, Asbarez, and Pasadena Star News. The Armenian Reporter printed an open letter from GALAS directed to the Armenian Community to vote No on Proposition 8.
Letters (1 November, Armenian Reporter)
Vote "No" on Proposition 8 in California: The Armenian thing to do
Sir:
On November 4, Californians will be asked whether they want to insert within their state constitution a ban on marriage for a portion of the state's population. If passed, Proposition 8 will take away a fundamental right that the California Supreme Court confirmed in May of this year: the right of any person to marry another person of his or her choosing. No matter what you feel about gays or lesbians, it is wrong to deny a group of people a right that is so cherished by society. It is also unfair: On the one hand, gay people are sometimes accused of being promiscuous; on the other hand, when they want to form a committed, monogamous, long-lasting relationship, they are told that they cannot protect that relationship within the framework of civil marriage. And remember, the court's decision said nothing about whether churches or other religious institutions would have to recognize gay marriage. Prop. 8 has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with gay marriage being "taught" to children in schools, which will not happen. And nobody is going to get sued over their personal views on homosexuality. All these are lies that the opponents of gay marriage are spreading to scare Californians into voting in favor of the marriage ban. In fact, the opponents of gay marriage have gone even as far as to call people who are in favor of gay marriage and tell them to vote "yes" (which is the wrong way to vote if you support equal marriage rights). As Armenians, haven't we experienced firsthand what it means to be discriminated against? As Armenians, shouldn't we be promoting equality and justice for all people, regardless of our personal views of those people? As Armenians, we should not judge other people who have done nothing wrong, and we certainly should not use our vote to discriminate against them. This has everything to do with fairness and justice. On November 4, please vote no on Proposition 8.
Very truly yours,
Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles (GALAS)
Significant attempts were made to get the others printed as well.
We've had politically oriented meetings for the last three months and our last meeting was held in conjunction with The LA Gay and Lesbian centers Voting Day party at the Henry Fonda Theater.
A major outreach/awareness program is in the works with AGLA of New York to reach out to the entire Armenian American Community.”

AGLA NY: In the meantime, AGLA NY posted the following entry:
“This past week has been full of highs and lows for LGBT Armenian Americans. [...]
It is particularly disheartening that the heavily Armenian populated counties of Fresno and Los Angeles both voted to pass Prop 8 which seeks to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.
As a sign of solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters in California and recognizing that LGBT rights are universal rights, AGLA NY will be participating in at least 2 Prop 8 protests in NYC this week: one in front of the Mormon Temple on the UWS this Wednesday; and the second at City Hall on Saturday.
Please join us as we make our voices heard to those who would challenge the rights of LGBT people to marry."
***

"Proposition 8 eliminates equal rights for one segment of the population while continuing to grant that right to others," said Maria Armoudian, an Armenian-American radio personality on KPFK in Los Angeles. "We Armenians have had to endure a century of discrimination. Let us now stand together calling for an end to discrimination for all people. Vote NO on Prop 8."
30 October 2008


It’s been almost a week that historic presidential elections in the US were accompanied by disappointing voting results in California effectively banning recently introduced historic same-sex marriage ruling there.

There are protests currently going on in California, elsewhere in the US, and it seems that gay rights movement re-gaining its seemingly lost momentum.

It’s, therefore, strange and disappointing that Armenian American LGBT groups keep silent over these issues. We have at least 4 groups in the US – in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Boston. Groups in LA and NY are more advanced in terms of structural organisation.

No doubts, many individual gay (and straight) Armenians are part of the process. It is only natural to expect that organisations that are supposed to represent and support them will voice their position, or even better, get involved in more active participation, being part of the process.

Disappointingly, so far, there is no even single statement issued by Armenian LGBT groups in the US.

9 comments:

artmika said...

AGLA NY posted the following entry today; so far no words from LA based group - GALAS:

“This past week has been full of highs and lows for LGBT Armenian Americans. [...]

It is particularly disheartening that the heavily Armenian populated counties of Fresno and Los Angeles both voted to pass Prop 8 which seeks to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.

As a sign of solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters in California and recognizing that LGBT rights are universal rights, AGLA NY will be participating in at least 2 Prop 8 protests in NYC this week: one in front of the Mormon Temple on the UWS this Wednesday; and the second at City Hall on Saturday.

Please join us as we make our voices heard to those who would challenge the rights of LGBT people to marry."

Anonymous said...

You mentioned there are four Armenian LGBT organizations, including one in Boston. Does anyone know any information about this Boston LGBT group? I would be interested to be part of such a group.

-H

artmika said...

For contact info (email address) of Boston group, please have a look at my Armenia Gay Guide (towards the end):

Armenia Gay Guide

Anonymous said...

Same anon here, thank you for the reply. I had sent an email to that address last year and did not get a reply. I just tried sending them an email again, and I actually got a 'failure notice'. So I guess that email address doesn't work anymore. sad.

artmika said...

Thanks for the info. They never had organisational structures, as far as I am aware, it was more informal, but I did hope that the email is working... I will try to find out the state of Boston group, and in case of updates, will post it here.

GALAS L.A. said...

Whoever wrote that article is WRONG! GALAS helped sponsor a fundraiser on October 23rd along with Club Nur, MJ's Bar and a few others raising almost $7000. We also submitted letters/articles to the Glendale Newspress, Armenian Reporter, Asbarez, and Pasadena Star News. The Armenian Reporter printed an open letter from GALAS directed to the Armenian Community to vote No on Proposition 8. Significant attempts were made to get the others printed as well.
We've had politically oriented meetings for the last three months and our last meeting was held in conjunction with The LA Gay and Lesbian centers Voting Day party at the Henry Fonda Theater.
A major outreach/awareness program is in the works with AGLA of New York to reach out to the entire Armenian American Community.
It's disappointing for the author of this blog to publish incorrect information and unfairly accuse GALAS L.A. of not getting involved in this very important cause.
For more information please contact us directly at GALAS@galasla.org We also try to get updated information on our website GALASLA.org.
Please remember that our organization is run entirely through committed volunteers that have day jobs.

artmika said...

Many thanks for your clarifications. Before going into the subject matter, I’d like to say that I appreciate very much what GALAS is doing. By no means I wanted to make an impression that the intention of my post is to make accusations towards GALAS. Please, consider my post as friendly criticism based on the information available to me at the time of writing.

As to the post itself, I was mainly referring to the silence in terms of formal statements or activities on organisational level during the aftermath of Prop 8 voting period which sparked gay rights movement all over the country in the US. As far as I understand, based on your information provided, there were no formal statements by GALAS during that period I was referring too. Please, correct me if I am wrong.

I will certainly update my post with the news you provided on GALAS’s pre-voting activities to ensure defeat of Proposition 8. The only reason I did not reflect it in my original post was because this information was not publicly available as it should be. I specifically did not seek information via enquires for this particular purpose, as considering the importance and scale of the subject matter, I hope you would agree, people would normally expect to see these important updates at least on the website of the organisation which was not the case.

Open letter published in the Armenian Reporter was, indeed, a great example of activism by GALAS, along with other activities you referred to. However, unfortunately, it did not get picked up by search engines, and remained unknown to the wider community. Again, it would have been great to ensure that GALAS’s open letter published in time on the organisation’s website too.

Overall, sadly, news on GALAS involvement in this important cause did not become part of the information campaign within the mainstream media or gay related media and blogs. That’s one of the main reasons of writing this post to point out on these shortcomings.

Please, keep in touch and posted on updates, news from GALAS, in general. I will happily post them on my blog.

hr_g said...

I think we can all learn from this that LGBT Armenians around the world need to share more information and help each other in our struggles.

Congratulations to GALAS for working so hard on the fight and I'm sorry for the passage of Prop 8. But I hope they realize that they are not alone in this and we will ALL help them to defeat Proposition 8!

artmika said...

Here is how Armenian-heavy California constituencies voted re Prop 8 and Obama.

*via Yandunts (Emil Sanamyan)

View of city of Glendale, CA.
Washington, - Senator Barack Obama polled above state average in Southern California communities with a substantial Armenian presence, according to final election results certified and published on November 8.

As expected, the Democratic Party ticket enjoyed a comfortable victory in California, winning 61 percent (6.3 million) of the vote statewide to Sen. John McCain's 37 percent.

In Los Angeles County, the largest hub of the Armenian community in the United States, the margin of victory was wider, with Mr. Obama and his running mate Joe Biden winning more than 69 percent (1.85 million) of the vote.

In Glendale, 34,125 votes (64 percent) were cast for Mr. Obama and 17,288 for Mr. McCain (32 percent). Rep. Adam Schiff (D.) was re-elected with 31,926 votes, with his Republican challenger receiving 13,557 votes. The controversial Proposition 8 banning gay marriage was approved by 28,057 votes to 23,214 voting against.

In nearby Pasadena, 34,050 votes were cast for Mr. Obama (72 percent) and 11,914 for Mr. McCain. Mr. Schiff won 31,560 votes to his GOP opponent's 10,311 votes; while proposition 8 was voted down by 26,634 voters with 19,461 voting in support of the ban.

And in Burbank, Mr. Obama won 23,928 votes (64 percent) to Mr. McCain's 12,231; Mr. Schiff, 10,790, and his GOP opponent, 4,770 votes; Rep. Brad Sherman (D.) was re-elected with 11,466 votes, with his Republican opponent winning 4,416 votes; and Proposition 8 was defeated by 20,043 votes to 16,388.