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FROM SMALL STEPS TO BIG LEAPS

I received an early-morning text message a few hours ago: "Congratulations on your law going into effect today!" I already knew that the so-called Everything But Marriage Law would officially become THE LAW today in Washington, and there is a bottle of champagne waiting for after work, but I think I will be toning down the celebration.

My partner works in the construction industry and is part of a big national union with great benefits. I have been denied these benefits for many years while his union brothers and sisters have been able to insure their spouses. We assumed that starting today the union would have to offer me these same perks, but that seems not to be the case. I just got off the phone with my partner's insurance company and it turns out they have no intention of changing their discriminatory practices. They are claiming that our new law does not force national businesses based outside of Washington to extend benefits to same sex couples.

Phewy!!

This is why we need full marriage rights now. I am proud that Washington was the first to pass such a law by popular vote, but I am disgusted that it ever went to a vote at all. What did we really gain, and at what cost? The process was expensive and divisive, even in the Gay community, and the new law obviously does not go far enough. We are either EQUAL or we are NOT. We currently are NOT EQUAL and anyone who thinks otherwise is naïve.

We need to stop congratulating ourselves for our win and keep fighting for equality while we still have momentum. We need to demand more from our local political leaders (why not have the city of Seattle start the ball rolling by refusing to deny same-sex marriage applications?) and we must demand more from the Obama administration (repeal DOMA and Don't Ask Don't Tell now!). Small steps have brought us this far, but it's time for big leaps.

Don't relax. Don't give up the fight!

Andrew Cleary



THANKS FOR HONORING BOB WOOD


I am very pleased that Dr. Bob Wood has been rightfully honored on World AIDS Day.

Bob became involved with the AIDS pandemic in 1982, even before most people realized what AIDS was, even before I and two other friends helped establish The Chicken Soup Brigade, Seattle AIDS Support Group and Northwest AIDS Foundation, which years later evolved into Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

In those early days of AIDS in our community, Bob and others had little to work with. The major medical AIDS drug was AZT, a virulent virus killer that sometimes did little to help AIDS patients and was in itself a "poisonous" drug.

As time and the expansion of the virus went on to take many of our friends, treatment, health services and financial support improved, one source being my Chicken Soup Brigade "Jars in Bars" fundraising in the early financially critical years beginning in 1987.

Bob Wood's continuation toward new treatments and drugs over the years has brought AIDS to a manageable disease, but still claims many "victims" due to careless habits in the active Gay and straight community.

PS: I want to take this opportunity too, to thank the Imperial Court of Seattle for awarding me the Lady Greytop Award this year for my 18 years of AIDS funding work.

Lenny Larsen

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