Straights to show support for LGBT community at equal rights vigils

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Straight Americans’ will show their support for the gay community next month.

Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights is a night time vigil organised by Soul Force and Atticus Circle, two not-for-profit organisations.

The vigils are led by families, individuals, or groups, and focus on their personal decision to speak out on behalf of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) equality.

Depending on the city, Action Leaders will either offer thanks for their state’s positive policy record or issue a call to action on issues such as hate crimes, employment discrimination, and marriage equality.

“Last year, stories of friendship and political transformation emerged across the country during the vigil, a first-of-its-kind event,” the organisers said.

“Through Seven Straight Nights, the power of straight ally voices resonated in 38 cities in 28 different states across the country.”

According to a recent Newsweek poll, 57% of adults believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry or form civil unions, up 10% since 2004.

A July 2008 Washington Post poll found that 75% of Americans now support allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly in the US military.

“We can feel the momentum of change, yet we know that much more must be done to protect our LGBT friends,” says Jodie Eldridge, Executive Director of Atticus Circle and a straight ally.

“Ironically, this year’s divisive ballot measures provide ample opportunity for straight and LGBT Americans to find common cause,” she added.

The measures on state ballots this November include Florida’s Proposition 2, which would inadvertently affect the state’s straight seniors, many of whom form domestic partnerships rather than remarry after they are widowed in order to keep essential benefits.

Proposition 2 “protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognised.”

In Arkansas, a proposed ballot measure would ban all unmarried couples, gay and straight, from fostering and adopting children.

Atticus Circle is a national organisation that “educates and mobilises fair-minded straight people to advance equal rights for LGBT partners, parents, and their children.”

The vigils will take place from 14th to 20th September.

Religious leaders are also part of Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights 2008.

Churches in cities across America will host events.

Among the clergy speaking out is Jay Bakker, pastor of Revolution NYC Church and star of the documentary series One Punk Under God.

“As Christians, if we follow the example of Christ in loving our neighbour as ourselves, then we have to realise that everyone is our neighbour, everyone deserves to be treated with love and respect and grace,” says Bakker.

Jay Bakker is the son of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner. His non-traditional approach to ministry achieved national attention in the Sundance Channel series One Punk Under God, which documented his journey to become a gay-affirming Christian.