We've MovedFriends — after publishing 501cWeb.com – “Tips and Tools For Nonprofits” since October 2006, I have rebranded and moved my blog.

We are now BillFreeman.org and located at the the name location Bill.Freeman.org!

The blog is a continuation of nonprofit and cause marketing materials and social commentary posts. All of the material that you have found on this blog is contained on the new blog – BillFreeman.org. I will start posting all new materials on BillFreeman.org.

I hope you like the new site. As always, you comments are welcomed!

I am repeating a wonderful post from the GLAAD blog. While I have expressed tremendous concerns that the president was backing away from his clear campaign commitment to end — read REPEAL — the gay military ban, I am thrilled to share very positive news.

TsaoLieutenant Sandy Tsao is a Chinese American woman and an army officer based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Last January, she made the brave decision to come out as gay. At the same time, Sandy also sent a heartfelt letter to President Obama urging him to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).

As part of her letter to the president Lieutenant, Tsao wrote:

Today is Chinese New Year day. I hope it will bring good fortune to you and your newly elected office. Today is also the day I inform my chain of command of who I am. One of the seven army values is integrity. It means choosing to do the right thing no matter what the consequences may be. As a Christian, this also means living an honest life.

In closing, she wrote:

We have the best military in the world and I would like to continue to be part of it. My mother can tell you it is my dream to serve our country. I have fought and overcome many barriers to arrive at the point I am at today. This is the only battle I fear I may lose. Even if it is too late for me, I do hope, Mr. President, that you will help us to win the war against prejudice so that future generations will continue to work together and fight for our freedoms regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.

This past Tuesday, May 5, Sandy received a package from the White House. As Sandy unwrapped the thick envelope and looked inside, she tearfully fell to her knees. Protected between two pieces of cardboard, the parcel contained a handwritten note from President Obama.

The President, responding to Sandy’s letter, wrote:

Obama DADT

Sandy – Thanks for the wonderful and thoughtful letter. It is because of outstanding Americans like you that I committed to changing our current policy. Although it will take some time to complete (partly because it needs Congressional action) I intend to fulfill my commitment. — Barack Obama.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of this 43 word note. No president in history has so decisively expressed a commitment to repeal DADT.

Okay, Mr. President, you’ve got my attention. Maybe I was too quick to believe that you — like so many others — would leave us behind. This is your “Get Out of Jail Free Card,” you only get one. Now, deliver on your promise to Liuetenant Tsao, and to the hundreds of thousands of brave gay men and women who had fought in silence for a freedom so long denied to them.

marriageWith the stoke of his pen today, Democratic Gov. John Baldacci made Maine the fifth state to approve gay marriage. For us who support marriage equality, this is another step in the movement toward recognizing the dignity of all gay and lesbian Americans.

Earlier today, Maine’s Senate voted 21-13, with one abstention, for a bill that authorized marriage between any “two people” rather than between “one man and one woman.” The House had passed the bill yesterday.

Opposition was surprisingly limited with Republican Sen. Debra Plowman arguing that the bill was being passed “at the expense of the people of faith.” But Democrat Senate Majority Leader Philip Bartlett II said the bill does not compel religious institutions to recognize gay marriage. “We respect religious liberties. … This is long overdue,” said Bartlett.

Let’s be clear, nothing is different in Maine for churches this afternoon than it was yesterday. Houses of worship can still reject or accept gay marriage. People of faith can continue to hate us or support us. What they can no longer do is tell the state of Maine who can and who can’t enter into a legal civil marriage.

And for that, I’m thrilled!

liar-liarThe blogosphere is on fire regarding perceived changes by the administration on repeal of DADT – the military ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Just last month the New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates stated that any repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law would have to be undertaken slowly, and suggested that it might not happen at all.

Yesterday, gay blogger JoeMyGod and others noted that the White House’s civil rights webpage was revised from eight GLBT campaign promises to three. And the language of “repealing DADT” is now revised to “changing DADT.”

This is typical Washington. Send someone out — in this case Defense Secretary Gates — to seed a policy change and then implement the change in official documents. When called on the change, say it’s “a clarification.”

When I worked with the Clinton Administration, I learned that he treated his enemies far better than his friends. We have already seen Obama totally backpedal on fixing the tax-funded discriminatory hiring of the federal faith-based initiative. He not only has continued the Bush program including all executive orders, memos and agency directives, he expanded the program.

Now it seems that we are seeing the same two-step on the gay ban.

I guarantee that there will be hell to pay if Obama does “a Clinton” and abuses the gay community and the hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian men and women who have served this country proudly — but silently — because they couldn’t be who they are.

Rachel Maddow interviewed Judy Shepard – mother of slain Matthew Shepard – last night in response to the outrageous comments by Rep. Virginia Foxx (F-NC) calling Matt’s death “a hoax,” contrived to pass hate crimes legislation (which passed the House of Representatives by an excess of 75 votes).

I encourage my readers
to contact Rep. Foxx’s office and let her know what you think about her stateement — and her “semantic” clarification.

It’s impossible to get through to Foxx’s office by phone, but I was able to fax to her DC office yesterday (twice). Foxx’s DC Office fax is: 202-225-2995.

Let her know what you think about her comments; I did!

action-alert1We just got the news: the U.S. House has passed the fully inclusive Matthew Shepard Act.

This was not an easy victory. But we WON in the House – thanks in part to the tireless, fearless Judy Shepard, who joined Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign in critical last-minute meetings on Capitol Hill today.

It happened! Now the battle moves to the Senate.

We need every Senator to know we want quick action on the inclusive hate crimes bill. You’ve emailed, you’ve called, you’ve donated – and I thank you deeply – but I hope you understand that this fight is far from over.

President Obama has pledged to sign the bill, but to get it to his desk we’ll need to pass it through the Senate first. And with the lies from right-wing groups ALREADY intensifying – one group went so far as to say the bill makes “pedophiles a protected class” and is “pro-child molester” – it’s not going to be easy.

For more information of what happened today, and what you can do to assure passage in the Senate, click here!

mattcollageToday, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Senate version of hate crimes legislation now being considered by the House. Kennedy stated that this legislation is “long overdue” and added “hate crimes are especially poisonous.”

President Obama issued a statement in support of the bill yesterday.

“This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance – legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association. I also urge the Senate to work with my Administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action,”

But there are the naysayers – from members of Congress (unremarkable from the republican party) to Cable TV pundits — who are gunning against passage.

During a House Judiciary meeting, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) asked why prostitutes weren’t included in the bill, stating that people who hate prostitutes as a class sometimes murder them for this reason. “Should there be an amendment to this to say that prostitutes are a protected class?” she said. “Why is it worse to go after someone who’s gay than going after someone who’s a prostitute?”

So why bother with hate crimes legislations, particular for LGBT folks? As some have asked, aren’t all crimes based on hate? The question deserves a response.

These are my thoughts. What makes a “hate crime” particularly egregious is that it targets an individual – solely because she or he is a member of a group that has been historically victimized and vilified by the larger majority society. Further, the characteristics that define an individual’s membership within this minority group are independent of choice. We know that gay and lesbian people don’t choose to be homosexual; it is both fixed and immutable.

Because GLBT folks have been and continue to be hated simply because of who they are, it is the responsibility of government to both provide protections and to let the wider community know that crimes against the group are a heightened offense.

Rep. Foxx’s comparison of GLBT folks to prostitutes, of course, is ridiculous and offensive (why it is so common for republicans to make such dumb-ass statements?). I didn’t choose to be gay. The choice that I made and continue to make is to life my life with some honesty and integrity – a decision that every LGBT person faces. And because I make this choice shouldn’t bring the added danger of becoming a crime victim – simply because I am a gay man.

The Washington Blade states that:

“The passage of hate crimes legislation would allow the U.S. Justice Department to assist in the prosecution of hate crimes committed against LGBT people that result in death or serious injury. The federal government could lend its assistance to local authorities or take the lead if local officials are unwilling or unable to prosecute cases. Further, the legislation would make grants available to state and local communities to train law enforcement officials, combat hate crimes committed by juveniles and investigate bias-motivated violence.”

The passage of inclusive Federal Hate Crimes Legislation won’t bring Matthew Shepard back to us, but maybe – just maybe – another young gay teen won’t have to pay with his life just for being who he is.