Kitsap County World AIDS Day commemoration is
Sunday December 1st at
Norm Dicks Government Center,
You may have heard about some of the larger lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride events, like Seattle, and these are a lot of fun. However, for the past 17 years Kitsap County has had its own unique event – Kitsap Pride is a Pride event that celebrates community with Kitsap County style. The event started as a potluck picnic, and has grown into a festival attended by hundreds of community members.
This year’s event on Sunday July 21st is a chance to celebrate some big advances towards equality, such as Washington State voting in state recognition of same-sex marriage, and at the federal level the Supreme Court’s historic striking down of a significant part of the Defense of Marriage Act. Since so many folks in Kitsap County are federal employees, these two events add up to many local married gay and lesbian couples having the same employee benefits as their heterosexual married coworkers. I hope to see many happy couples celebrating at Evergreen Park on Sunday!
Even without the historic milestones, Kitsap Pride is a meaningful and affirming community event – a place to listen to local musicians, enjoy food, visit vendors, and best of all to be with friends.
For more information about Kitsap Pride go to www.kitsappride.org
or on Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/kitsappride
What does the Supreme Court’s historic ruling striking down Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) mean to married couples in Kitsap County? It was a huge step forward towards equality for same-sex couples and their families, with far reaching effects – from income taxes to immigration.
There are over a thousand federal benefits now available to married couples in states that recognize their marriages, like here in Washington. Couples in states that do not recognize their marriage will only have some of the federal benefits, and that part is a little more confusing.
The Lambda Legal website had more information about the decision and what it means.
In addition, many folks in Kitsap County are federal employees, so the US Supreme Court decision to strike down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prevented federal recognition of married same-sex couples opens up employee benefits previously only available to heterosexual married couples. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was swift to put into place an open enrollment period for any couples already married.
Here is a link to more information:
One of the many aspects of diversity is how we each get to work – many of us take the bus, others drive, carpool or vanpool. Then there are the bicycle commuters – A hardy group of folks that bicycle to work for a variety of reasons. For some folks it is actually quicker to ride a bike than it is to drive, although this is truer in a big city than here in County. Saving money is another popular motivation. However, probably the most common reason to ride into work is as part of a healthy life style. I have always enjoyed both the challenges and the invigorating start to the day bicycle commuting provides.
This Friday, May 18th, we celebrate the bicycle commuter, and encourage others to take it up, by having Bike to Work Day.
If you do ride your bicycle to work, please stay safe out there!
A group diverse in age and religious affiliation gathered on Tuesday evening at the Library in Poulsbo to talk about the importance of marriage equality and “standing on the side of love.”
Much of the discussion was around religion, even though it is the legal aspects of marriage that are likely on the line in November. One of the people who spoke was Washington State Representative Drew Hansen (23rd Legislative District). As a self-proclaimed devout Christian, he eloquently conveyed why what he sees in the Bible shows him that Christians should support marriage equality.
While there was a predominance of Unitarian Universalists attending, many Christian denominations were represented as well.
Also speaking was a young couple from Bremerton, one of which is a U.S. Navy Sailor, who both shared how heartening it was to see such a supportive group assembled. This couple is an excellent example of why marriage equality is important – One of them is fighting for the rights of all of us, the other is his supporter at home, yet they are denied equal access to the right to legally marry the person they love.
Two representatives of Washington United for Marriage explained
how they are gearing up for the fight to approve Referendum 74 if
it ends up on the ballot in November as expected. For
supporters of marriage equality there are many ways to help and
information is available on their webpage: http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/
Also, look for them at community events around the state over the next few months.
Washington United for Marriage and the North Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Church sponsored the Marriage Equality Town Hall. Standing on the Side of Love is a Unitarian Universalist Association sponsored public advocacy campaign that seeks to harness love’s power to stop oppression.
A couple of things have happened recently that I think are worth noting -
One you probably heard about…
Here in our Kitsap County corner of the world, we had a piece of good news about marriage equality, and I applaud the Suquamish Tribe for stepping up and doing the right thing – recognizing the same-sex couples in their community with the right to civil marriage. I also applaud the woman who stood up and asked for the Tribal Council’s consideration of approving same-sex marriage, which started the ball rolling towards marriage equality for the Suquamish Tribe.
The second you probably did not hear about…
Not too long before the unanimous vote of the Suquamish Tribal Council, in a distant land and in the midst of tragedy and terror, a married lesbian couple in Norway was showing that they were heroic members of their community by saving 40 youth from the shooting on Utoya island.
The Finnish capital city’s largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, published an article about what these courageous women did in Norway, which was translated into English and published in a blog post of Talk About Equality: “If a Married Lesbian Couple Saves 40 Teens from the Norway Massacre and No One Writes About it, Did it Really Happen?”
Here is the article (translated from Finnish):
Hege Dalen and her spouse, Toril Hansen were near Utöyan having dinner on the opposite shore across from the ill-fated campsite, when they began to hear gunfire and screaming on the island.
“We were eating. Then shooting and then the awful screaming. We saw how the young people ran in panic into the lake,” says Dale to HS in an interview.
The couple immediately took action and pushed the boat into Lake Tyrifjorden.
Dalen and Hansen drove the boat to the island, picked up from the water victims in shock in, the young and wounded, and transported them to the opposite shore to the mainland. Between runs they saw that the bullets had hit the right side of the boat.
Since there were so many and not all fit at once aboard, they returned to the island four times.
They were able to rescue 40 young people from the clutches of the killer.
“We did not sleep last night at all. Today, we have been together and talked about the events,” Dalen said.
Lesbians making history both near and far.