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HRC weekly update October 23, 2006 1:55 PM

Dear Friend, This week, HRC is mourning the passing of Congressman Gerry Studds. Gerry was the first openly gay member of Congress and a true pioneer. He is remembered for breaking new ground for GLBT Americans as well as for his loyal devotion to his district. He was a strong advocate for his constituents and the fisheries industry that was so vital to many of them. He was also an early advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS and in opposing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Mary Breslauer, the co-host of my XM radio show "The Agenda with Joe Solmonese," wrote a moving personal tribute to him that appeared in the Boston Globe. You can read it here. Gerry's death is a stark reminder that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act guarantees that we are treated as second-class citizens. Even though Gerry was legally married in Massachusetts, his husband, Dean Hara, will not be able to receive his congressional pension. This is outrageous and horribly unfair. Keep in mind that Congressmen Tom Delay and Bob Ney will get to keep their own pensions even though they are leaving Congress in disgrace. Even as we make progress in various states, DOMA remains a serious and harmful barrier to full equality. This week, we are also mourning the death of a gay New Yorker, Michael Sandy, who was the victim of a brutal hate crime. His attack and subsequent death coincide with the latest annual FBI statistics that show that bias-motivated crimes continue to be a serious threat to the GLBT community. Our condolences go out to all of his loved ones. For more about this story and HRC's response, visit here. Brokeback Auction Today is your last chance to bid on Brokeback Mountain memorabilia! All proceeds benefit HRC. Bid now at www.seenon.com The Agenda Political insider and author Mark Halperin joins us in taking a look at the political landscape. Tune in live Monday from 6-8 p.m. Eastern on XM Satellite Radio channel 200. On Wednesday, in New York City, we held a reception, hosted by Citigroup, for the companies that scored a 100% on our Corporate Equality Index. It was a huge success -- far surpassing our expectations. Nearly 200 people representing 70 companies were at this third annual event. Once again, the turnout shows that corporate leaders truly understand that GLBT inclusion and equality are good for their companies, their employees, and their customers. Take a moment to view the companies that support equality here. Meanwhile, our Religion and Faith Program has been extremely active this month. Last week, we held a successful Faith and Fairness Town Hall event in Minneapolis. We teamed up with Minneapolis' Voices United and had more than 200 people at the event. Many inspirational local faith leaders were present, and HRC's own Religion and Faith Program Director, Harry Knox, moderated a panel discussion. This weekend, HRC is proud to be a supporter of a historic Interfaith Transgender Conference, taking place in Corvallis, Oregon. The conference is jointly sponsored with the Community of Welcoming Congregations and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies. For more information, go here. This weekend, I will be in San Antonio for their annual black tie dinner. This year's theme is "Viva Equality!" and honorees include State Senator Leticia van de Putte and comedian/writer Bruce Vilanch. It should be a great time down by the Riverwalk. Other wonderful HRC events this weekend include the Detroit dinner and the Boston dinner. A special congratulations goes to the HRC Boston dinner on its 25th anniversary! Finally, we continue to mobilize for the election. There are 18 days left! Congress has one of the lowest approval ratings in twelve years, at an astonishing 16 percent according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Wednesday, and momentum is strong for monumental change. I cannot overstate the potential we have to elect a huge new class of fair-minded Representatives and Senators -- if we do our part. I encourage everyone to join our "4 Days 4 Equality" program where we place volunteers in targeted races around the country for the last 4 days before the election. We really can be the decisive presence in races all over the country. For more information, go to: http://hrc.org/nov2006/4days4.htm. Have a great weekend! Joe Solmonese signature Joe Solmonese President, Human Rights Campaign P.S. Only a few hours remain in the auction of the entire wardrobe from Brokeback Mountain -- the proceeds of which benefit HRC. This is your chance to own the very cowboy hats, boots and jeans worn on screen by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. Go to www.seenon.com to start bidding. Good luck!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
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