Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance Launches LGBTQ Hotline

 

A new helpline launched by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance will offer LGBTQ-informed support and advocacy services and can be reached free of charge at 1-866-356-6998 or by chat here 7 days a week, 24-hours a day.

The LGBTQ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline is part of the Richmond Area Partnership to Enhance Services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Survivors and Raise Awareness of Violence in LGBTQ Communities (RAP). RAP is a collaborative project between the Action Alliance, Virginia Anti-Violence Project, Southerners on New Ground (SONG). Safe Harbor, ROSMY, the Gay Community Center of Richmond, and the Health Brigade.

LGBTQ Virginians are significantly impacted by sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and hate- motivated violence. The State of Violence in LGBTQ Communities of Virginia Report (2008) by the Virginia Anti-Violence Project (VAVP) finds:

  • 41% of respondents had been in an abusive relationship at some time in their lives.
  • 30% had been stalked;
  • 36% experienced sexual violence as children or youth (17 and younger);
  • 26% experienced sexual violence as an adult.

Twenty seven percent (27%) of respondents to the Transgender Health Initiative Study (2007) by the Virginia Department of Health experienced sexual violence2.

The VAVP report indicates LGBTQ Virginians do not feel that supportive services are readily accessible; 84% of respondents thought that domestic violence agencies primarily serve heterosexual non-transgender women. Eighty-four percent (84%) of respondents also agreed that they would feel comfortable calling an LGBTQ specific hotline for services. This is especially important considering 92% of respondents believe that LGBTQ people might not access services because they would not want to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to the service provider.

Equality Virginia Statement on Supreme Court Rulings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – JUNE 26, 2013

 

RICHMOND, VA – Equality Virginia applauds today’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and its dismissal of the Proposition 8 case. EV believes the Supreme Court’s actions will continue to lay the groundwork for marriage equality in more states, including Virginia.

“Since 2006, Virginia has had a constitutional amendment that prohibits the legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said.  “While we continue working to lift the ban on marriage here at home, we can celebrate today’s decision from the Supreme Court, affirming that all loving and committed couples deserve equal respect and treatment.”

Today’s DOMA ruling means thousands of married gay and lesbian couples will now have access to federal benefits to protect each other and their children.  Same-sex couples married and living in one of the now 13 freedom-to-marry states or the District of Columbia will clearly be eligible for the federal protections and responsibilities afforded to all other married couples.

“For legally married same-sex couples, and widows or widowers, who live in a state like Virginia that discriminates against their marriages, access to those federal marital protections is less clear and will require some work,” Parrish explained.

Today’s dismissal of Hollingsworth v. Perry restored marriage to Californians, and now nearly one-third of the U.S. population will live in a jurisdiction that has the freedom to marry.  Thirteen states plus Washington, DC will have marriage equality.

In Virginia this past weekend, couples hosted house parties to support marriage equality and to celebrate their own relationships in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decisions.  Over fifty events were held across the state.  Photos and stories of Virginia’s married gay and lesbian couples can be found online at EqualityVirginia.org.

Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

 

Equality Virginia Supports Actions Taken by the Virginia ACLU and Lambda Legal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 9, 2013

James Parrish | [email protected] | 804.643.4816

The ACLU of Virginia announced today that it will be filing suit in federal court to challenge the constitutionality of Virginia’s laws denying same sex couples the freedom to marry or to obtain legal recognition of any kind for their unions. Lawyers from the ACLU of Virginia will be part of a team of lawyers from the national ACLU and Lambda Legal that will be arguing that the Virginia constitution and statutes denying the freedom to marry violate the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

“Since the Supreme Court’s ground breaking ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, it remains unclear what exactly the decision means for loving gay and lesbian couples in Virginia,” said Equality Virginia’s Executive Director, James Parrish. “We applaud and support the actions of the ACLU and Lambda Legal to help bring all of the benefits, rights, and responsibilities that come with marriage equality to every family in Virginia.”

As part of our mission of changing hearts and minds, Equality Virginia is working with the ACLU of Virginia and Lambda Legal to identify Virginia couples and families who are willing to share their stories publicly as part of the freedom to marry initiative. Stories are being collected through an online survey at https://action.alcu.org/couples.

As Equality Virginia supports the work of the ACLU in litigation cases such as this, EV will continue to work with the General Assembly to bring the repeal of the Marshall Newman marriage amendment to Virginia voters.  Either way marriage equality is coming to Virginia.

Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

 

Nate and Debbie’s Story

wedding

We have supported marriage equality for years and are honored to be an Equality Virginia ally and to share our wedding story with you. We feel that marriage equality for all only makes our own marriage stronger.

Sara
Nate’s sister Sara

We met at an outdoor screening of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” held on the National Mall.  Since our families are both in upstate New York, we were married in Albany, NY on March 18, 2007.

We have a personal connection to our commitment to full marriage equality: Nate’s sister (who was killed in a sky diving accident in 1997) was a lesbian and in a committed relationship at the time of her death.  Our wedding invoked Sara’s memory throughout the ceremony. (The prayer shawl around Nathan was purchased by Sara in Israel for his bar mitzvah.)

During Nate’s toast he again invoked Sara’s memory and used part of his groom’s speech to advocate for marriage equality. He cited Jewish law and principles that teach that as long as one person is enslaved no one can be free.

This message is a central part of the Passover celebration that occurred two weeks after our wedding. He added that he did not think it was right for us to celebrate our wedding while his sister would not be able to do the same.  He encouraged his guests to contact their elected representatives if they agreed with him and had arranged with Empire State Pride Agenda for brochures and legislative contact information to be available at the reception.  We also used part of our wedding gifts to make a contribution to Empire State Pride Agenda’s lobbying campaign in Sara’s memory.

We heard that Nate’s speech offended a couple of the more conservative friends of our parents.  None of them approached us directly and if they did they would have to challenge Nate’s religious beliefs and his filial love and duty against their bigotry and narrow-mindedness.  We were however personally thanked by a number of people including LGBT guests, parents of LGBT people, and their friends. In addition, three family members have come out since our wedding.

Our son Isaac was born four years ago and following Jewish tradition we named him after Sara’s memory.  We plan to teach him about his namesake and that in her name he should continue to seek and demand justice.

We feel confident that in a few years we will be able to celebrate Isaac’s wedding irrespective of the gender of his spouse or the state in which they are living.

We wish Equality Virginia and all of you Godspeed to the day when that can happen.

– Nathan D. Ainspan, Ph.D. & Debbie Ann Doyle Ainspan, Ph.D.

Virginia Celebrates DOMA’s Repeal

When the Supreme Court announced its decision to strike the Defense of Marriage Act on June 26, citizens across the Commonwealth gathered to celebrate.  See photos below from events in Hampton Roads, Charlottesville and Richmond.

Thank you to Hampton Roads Pride, GayRVA.com, Amy Marshall, and India Lipton for sharing your photos and capturing the day.