Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Best Offense Is a Good Defense

Jan Brewer, Arizona's Governor, vetoed the legislation that would allow businesses to legally discriminate. I'm happy that the Governor made the right choice, but I wonder if she would have made such a choice if many powerful companies and organizations, including the NFL, had not put her on notice that signing this bill could bring economic consequences for her state.

Unfortunately, the fight is not over. As of right now, this is the current situation regarding legalized discrimination in America:

Now that the Arizona bill has been vetoed, the lobbyists and legislators writing these bills are going to try other methods like changing the wording to make the bills sound less threatening in order to legalize discrimination. This is why it's more important than ever that companies and organizations, including the NFL, continue to speak out against these laws.

This isn't about one state. This is about caring people of the United States coming together and saying, "We don't want this in our country and we will not support it." We have to keep telling the companies who provide us with goods, services, and entertainment that we want to know that the companies we support, invest in, and donate to, stand against discrimination.

Right now in Arizona, even though this bill was vetoed, there are still people facing bigotry and discrimination. Some of them might be so hurt by these attitudes and actions that they consider hurting themselves. Right now, in other states, people are worried that discrimination laws will be passed there. They are worried how it is going to affect them and the people they love.

Every time someone uses their voice to speak up against discrimination and bigotry, it can give them a little hope. Every time a large company or organization speaks up, it has the power to give them a lot of hope. When people see someone being strong, it helps them find their own strength. When people see powerful organizations standing up, it can help them find enough strength to speak out themselves.

I'm proud of the NFL for using their strength to help the people of Arizona. Now I hope they will use that same strength to let lawmakers in other states know that discrimination is not playing fair and that there will be consequences if their states discriminate.

As of this moment, there are 870 signatures on this petition.

That's a lot of strength. Together, we can make a difference and I believe the NFL will do the right thing and speak out against discrimination laws in all 50 states.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

They're Coming For You...

Monday afternoon, Greg Aiello of the NFL issued the following statement:

"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time."

Following the issue in Arizona is great, but why decline further comment at this time if discrimination goes against the NFL's policies and according to the Arizona Superbowl Host Committee, the NFL's core values?

If the NFL's core values indeed "embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination," then it's time for the NFL to stand up and say they will impose a penalty on states that hate by not bringing the biggest event they have to those states, just like their Competition Committee is proposing a penalty for using the N-word on the field. And while they're at it, the NFL might consider not moving the Pro Bowl to a state that hates either.

Arizona is not the only state trying to pass these bills and the same people who want to see discrimination by law made a reality in as many states as possible also want to ban anyone who is gay from playing in the NFL. 

The same people who cry out that their freedom is somehow being attacked by having to provide goods and services to fellow human beings and claim that they need laws protecting them so they can run their businesses as they choose want to tell the NFL how to run their business.

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
-- by Martin Niemöller

It's time for the NFL to speak up. They are coming for you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

An Open Letter to Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL

Mr. Goodell,

As I'm sure you already know, Arizona passed legislation allowing discrimination by public businesses and this law is now on their Governor's desk. This discrimination is specifically targeting the LBGT community. I started the following petition this past Sunday to urge the National Football League to pledge not to bring the Superbowl to any state that allows discrimination by law.

I'm 12 years old, and I know that kids and teenagers look up to football players and admire them for their strength. I'm asking you, sir, to show our nation's young people that there are many kinds of strength and one of those is standing up for people who often get bullied or are made to feel less than simply because of who they are.

The NFL once moved the Superbowl out of Arizona because they refused to adopt Martin Luther King Day as a holiday. I believe that once again the NFL will do the right thing by not bringing the biggest event you have to any state where your fans are in danger of being discriminated against by local businesses. I was very glad to see the following statement from the Arizona Superbowl Host Committee:

"We share the NFL's core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state's economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL's values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX."

I am proud to share the NFL's core values and hope you will make a public statement consistent with those values soon. I will continue this campaign for as long as it takes to get a response and if you Google my name, you will see the amount of passion and conviction I have in fighting for what I believe in. Your influence could have an impact on the decision to sign this bill and the decision of other state legislatures in their choice to attempt to pass laws allowing public businesses to discriminate against individuals. More importantly, your statement could have a positive impact on so many people, including young people, by affirming that an organization as powerful and popular as the NFL cares about their welfare.

Thank you for your time in considering your response to my petition.
Madison Kimrey

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Fight for Equality Is Not a Spectator Sport

I'm passionate about many things. One of the things I'm most passionate about is for all citizens to be treated equally no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. What's going on right now with state legislatures trying to pass laws that allow businesses to discriminate against people simply for being who they are really bothers me. It doesn't just bother me because of my political views. It bothers me as a human being.

I want to see this country move forward in my lifetime. I want to see America move past the kind of discrimination that existed when my grandparents were growing up. I know that in order for this to happen, I can't just complain about what's going on. I have to take action.

Today, when a friend of mine shared the idea of petitioning the NFL to move the Superbowl out of Arizona in 2015 due to the recent passing of legislation there allowing discrimination against other humans, I thought I would wait and see if this legislation got signed. But the more I thought about it, I thought that starting to send a very strong message now might keep this legislation from being signed at all and cause lawmakers in other states to think twice before writing these bills. Instead of focusing on a specific state or a specific piece of legislation, I thought it could make a difference if a big organization like the NFL would come out and say they won't bring the biggest event they have to any state that allows discrimination of any kind by law.

Here is the petition:

Pledge Not to Bring the Superbowl to States with Laws Allowing Discrimination

I hope that you will sign and share this petition with your friends. If lawmakers aren't going to care about basic human decency when they make laws, maybe they will act differently if they see that passing laws that allow discrimination will hurt them and their citizens financially. Given that the NFL moved the Superbowl out of Arizona when state lawmakers tried to stop Martin Luther King Day from being celebrated in that state, I think there is a very good chance the NFL will once again stand for what is right.

I truly believe that discrimination against the LBGT community is the greatest civil rights issue of my generation. I also truly believe we can overcome this discrimination and someday tell the kinds of stories to our grandchildren that my grandmother tells me about separate drinking fountains and signs in restaurants.

No freedom til we're equal. Damn right I support it.

It's That Simple

Today is Feminist Pride Day and I'm very proud to call myself a feminist. A lot of people are confused about what a feminist is, which is surprising to me because the definition is really simple.

A feminist is someone who wants people to be treated equally and with respect regardless of their gender.

That's it. It really is that simple.

Recently, a friend of mine said, "Am I the only male feminist in the world? There should be more."

Yes there should. But there are people out there who want to stand in the way of women's equality. They try to paint a picture of feminists as radical baby-killing man-hating whores. Some of them try to use religion, saying that women are supposed to be submissive to men because a book says so. Some of them deny that discrimination is even a problem and say that because women can become doctors and CEOs and such now, our work here is done in terms of equality for women.

It's really surprising how many women, especially young women, have no idea that the Constitution doesn't protect them from discrimination based on their gender. For many years, women have been working to get this protection added to the Constitution. This is the Equal Rights Amendment:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

That's it. It really is that simple.

I believe we can get this done. I believe that the girls of my generation will be able to celebrate this victory in our lifetimes. Work is underway right now to make this happen and if you are reading this, regardless of if you are male or female, you can help. Hop on the Google and look up ERA or go to this page on Facebook:


There are a lot of things you can do like calling or writing your lawmakers or simply talking to your friends and making them aware of the efforts to ratify the ERA so that when they vote, they will vote for people who support it.

One of the most important things you can do is support the feminists in your life, both men and women, is to let them know you support them. When my friend expressed the desire for there to be more male feminists in the world, it let me know that despite all the men out there who see me as an object or a radical baby-killing man-hating whore, there are men out there who understand.

Whether you are a man or a woman, take a minute today to celebrate feminism and be proud of the progress we've made in this country in terms of equality for women. Just understand we have a lot more work to do.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Defying Gravity

It has become clear to me that the Governor of NC, Pat McCrory, is not a leader. I've determined this not only by looking at which policies he supports and which ones he doesn't, but also by looking at his actions and how he treats people, myself included. I've compared his actions not only to those on the other side, but to other Republicans. Regardless of anyone's view on the issues and ideas about solutions to the problems we face, most reasonable people can agree that we need leadership who recognizes problems instead of trying to deny and ignore them and can conduct themselves with dignity and grace in the face of criticism. Governor McCrory seems incapable of neither and is a disgrace to our state and a danger to our future.

The sad fact is that NC is not alone in it's lack of leadership. All over the country, there are leaders and people seeking positions in leadership, both Democrat and Republican, who are holding our country back. Yes, that's right. Democrats are guilty of this too. A Democratic candidate for district attorney in Texas recently told a local newspaper that he thinks domestic violence is, "so, so overrated." Even though reasonable people, both Democrat and Republican, consider domestic violence a serious issue, this candidate, Lloyd Oliver, thinks that domestic violence is simply the way some couples enjoy sex and said that domestic violence victims, "maybe learn to box a little better."

Greg Abbot, a Republican in Texas who will be running for Governor of that state, thinks that Ted Nugent is a good person to help represent his campaign. Ted Nugent loves unregulated guns and apparently sex with underage girls and thinks calling women "dirty whores" is a good way to engage in political discussions.

Is this the kind of future we want for this country? Do we want our choices in the voting booth to be limited to picking between reasonable and ridiculous or do we want to have candidates who conduct themselves as leaders and give us choices between a variety of policy positions and solutions? This is what most of the American people want. They want real choices. The majority of the American people aren't hardcore Democrats or hardcore Republicans who vote for someone just because they're on their team. This isn't sports. This is democracy and the decisions we make in choosing the people who represent us have consequences in our lives and in the lives of our fellow citizens.

So what do we do? How to we create a better future? We start with the next generation, that's how. We have to start training a new generation of leaders and we train them properly. It's going to require people who belong to all political parties to do this. The Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge issued a report in which they looked at the increasing polarization in politics. The Commission concluded that when kids are exposed to issues in politics, we learn to discuss controversial topics with civility, make better use of facts, and share a deeper desire to work together to address public problems. If you want a change you can believe in and hope for a government that can come together to solve the challenges we face, believe in us. Put your hope in us. Invest in us.

We can't just sit around and complain. We have to actually do things to help this country move forward. We have to take action. This is going to require work on the part of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and people from all political parties. Let's all speak out together and promote civic engagement and activism among our young people. Let's let our representatives know that investing in helping our young people participate will help build a better America for all of us. We have to stop tolerating the things that pull us down and promote the things that will lift us up.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Moment of Silence

I shouldn't even know their names. They should be hanging out with their friends or having dinner with their families. They should be alive and I never should have heard of them. Other things I never should have heard of include the words nigger and thug. But I do know these words. I know that two young men are dead because of the reasons these words exist.

Stand your ground. Who needs a gun to help them stand? Standing with a gun means standing in blood surrounded by injury and lifelessness. Standing requires strength and there's no strength that comes from killing another person. These killers were not strong in anything but prejudice and violence.

Everyone wants justice. Does justice even exist if these young men died for nothing regardless of the sentence their killers serve? I'm angry and I'm sad. But that won't change the fact I know the names of these young men because they were taken away by hate. True justice for them will be to help stop that hate.

Two visions of the future
Rays of light
Always in my heart
Young and full of promise
Valued and loved
Only for a short time here with us
Never will I forget

Justice is love
Overcoming intolerance
Rising above prejudice
Dreaming of a better world together
A world full of color
Never will I stop standing in peace for you

Friday, February 14, 2014

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me No More

In Kansas, Idaho, and Tennessee, extremists are trying to pass laws allowing businesses to discriminate against LBGT people. Of course, they are using religion as their excuse.

What religion is this? What religion teaches a hate so strong that it's followers have to have a law making it possible to discriminate against fellow human beings? Do they get extra cool points from whatever god rules over this religion for every LBGT person they discriminate against? How do they know who to discriminate against? Do they base it on the way they look? Do they base it on the names listed on an application or other form?

Just like Veruca Salt, these people want it all and they want it now. They are a bunch of spoiled brats who have been given privilege upon privilege but it still isn't enough. Just like any other bully, they have to make someone else hurt in order to feel righteous themselves.

We have to continue to stand up to the bigots and bullies and let them know these actions and attitudes are not acceptable. But we also have to understand what drives these actions and attitudes. These people, from the time they are little kids, are taught that love is conditional. They are accepted as long as they believe what they are told, follow the rules, look a certain way, or act a certain way.

Many of the bigots who like to justify their bigotry with religion say they love the person but not their lifestyle or love the sinner but hate their sin.That's cute. It's like me telling you I love your new dress but the color is all wrong and it makes you look fat. If I loved you unconditionally, I would care about how your dress makes YOU feel and I would want you to feel beautiful in your new dress, regardless of if I personally would wear it myself.

Just because you feel being gay is wrong for you doesn't make you a bigot. Believing the god you worship thinks being gay is wrong for you doesn't make you a bigot. What makes you a bigot is wanting to deny someone else equal rights, a job, or goods and services because of who they are or because they don't believe what they are "supposed to" believe according to you.

We will overcome this new form of bigotry the same way we overcame the bigotry that forced people to sit at the back of the bus or use a separate drinking fountain. We'll overcome it because at the core of unconditional love is equality and given the choice, most people will choose love over hate.