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.

action-alertAction Alert:

The U.S. House votes tomorrow on the Matthew Shepard Act – the federal hate crimes bill. Judy Shepard and millions of others have been waiting for ten years for fully inclusive hate crimes legislation.
Text, CALL, or dial 202-684-2471 and urge your representative to vote YES.

It just takes a minute – do it now!

board1Anyone who has read my blog for any period of time or has been a nonprofit grad student of mine knows how I feel about nonprofit boards. Most are just deplorable – wasting precious staff energies and bringing nothing to the board table.

We need a “Jack Kevorkian” for nonprofit boards – cutting the oxygen and giving a merciful death since beheading is so “old world”.

While Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) has minimal requirements for nonprofits, the fact is that most organizations have no agreed upon metric for evaluating board performance.

I do like the Junior League’s motto, “give, get, or get off.” Whitman-Walker Clinic, Metropolitan Washington DC’s AIDS-service organization, requires an annual $10,000 donation from each of its board members whether through a personal gift, an arranged contribution of money or services, or a combination of both.

But a board’s responsibility doesn’t even start – let alone stop – with financial support. In principle, nonprofit boards are the “eyes and ears” of the community. They’re there to make certain that the organization is true to its stated mission.

In a recent email from the Nonprofit Times, there is a blurb about a few board groundrules stated as questions:

  • Does the adoption of good governance practices lead to the desired outcome? What is that outcome? How is performance measured?
  • If you assume a practice is a “best practice,” how do you deal with offenders? How do you establish those practices across a diverse nonprofit sector that includes grantmakers, such as private foundations, social service organizations, educational organizations, hospitals and others? How can you establish the predictive ability of “best practices?”
  • Does a nonprofit with high marks provide any assurance that the nonprofit is, in fact, a good organization?
  • Will good governance practices, over time, assure superior performance based on operating measures or other characteristics?

The email states that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tells us “a well-governed charity is more likely to obey tax laws, safeguard charitable assets, and serve charitable interests.” This reminds me of the opening line made by an IRS auditor to a minority business owner: “I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help you.”

What do you think?

stop-hate-crimeThe Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is slowing working its way through Congress. It’s been ten years since hate crimes legislation was first introduced; it’s been a slow, painful process even suffering a veteo at the hand of Bush (the lesser). This year with a majority in Congress and a supportive President, we have a real chance of passing a fully-inclusive hate crimes bill.

If you haven’t contacted your members of Congress asking them to support the bill, please do so. The Human Rights Campaign has put together a tool that makes it easy to send a message to lawmakers in support of the bill.

It’s rare that I republish material from other venues, particularly since I also did yesterday, but there is an excellent op-ed piece in the “On Faith” section of today’s Washington Post.

Hate Crimes are Message Crimes
By Steve Gutow, Michel Kinnamon and Sayyid M. Syeed

The American experience of a pluralistic democracy is unique in the human story and the source of our nation’s strength. The unprecedented freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy make the United States the world’s most dynamic and diverse society. Many of our family members came from disparate parts of the globe to make America their home. Many sought a life free from the shackles of oppression. Many fled intolerance. For too many however, the promise of America has been tarnished by hate and bias. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the case of hate crimes. These horrific and degrading acts are anathema to the principles on which our country was founded. Our national hate crimes laws should be improved so they can to more effectively deter hate crimes and protect vulnerable populations.

As people of faith and as Americans committed to social justice, we know that hate crimes are message crimes. They send the message not only to the victim, but to entire communities that they are neither welcome nor safe. This impact is felt beyond political lines and geographic boundaries.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is a crucially important piece of legislation. This bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to include crimes targeted at people on the basis of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability – categories not covered under current law. It would also remove restrictive provisions that allow federal action only if the hate crime victim was engaged in a narrow range of federally protected acts.

Today, the Department of Justice is too often prevented from providing necessary assistance in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. If local authorities are unwilling or unable to provide an effective investigation or prosecute these alarming crimes, it is critical that the federal government be empowered to assist local jurisdictions and independently pursue justice.

In too many cases, victims of a felonious hate crime witness their attacker’s offense reduced to a minor misdemeanor charge, resulting in a mere slap on the wrist with no prison time. And far too often, local law enforcement officials lack the ability to prosecute hate crimes as hate crimes, even when the evidence overwhelmingly suggests the crime was motivated solely by bias against a group in which the victim is believed to belong. Violent hate crimes create fear among members of a particular group in our society, something that no American deserves.

Take, for instance, the murder of 18-year old Scotty Joe Weaver. In 2004, he was robbed, beaten, stabbed, strangled, partially decapitated, and set on fire in a manner described by the local prosecutor as being “suggestive of overkill, which is not something you see in a regular robbery and murder.” The Alabama District Attorney added that there was “no doubt in my mind” the murder was motivated by Weaver’s sexual orientation. However, because of the structure of Alabama’s law, this act could not be tried as hate crime. In 2003, Billy Ray Johnson, a mentally disabled man, was ridiculed, assaulted and left for dead on a desolate country road in Texas. Johnson’s assailants received only misdemeanor charges. In both cases, the federal government was prevented from investigating and prosecuting these horrific crimes. It’s no surprise that virtually every major law enforcement organization in the country and state attorneys general support the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

A nation’s laws are a reflection of its social contract with all of its citizens. Effective enforcement of strong laws addressing crimes based on prejudice will send a powerful message. Hate-based violence is an anathema to the principles of freedom and equality, which form the cornerstone of our American democracy. Now we have a historic opportunity to make this legislation law. We need to build a society, government, and justice system that reflect our best values – freedom, pluralism, the rule of law, and justice.

Rabbi Steve Gutow is the president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Rev. Dr. Michel Kinnamon is the general secretary of the National Council of Churches; and Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed is the national director of the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances for the Islamic Society of North America.