Defying Convention, Ordinary Straight Americans Back LGBT Civil Rights

Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights Ends, Soulforce and Atticus Circle Launch "Straight Takes"

******************************************
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: October 17, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
******************************************

(Austin, TX) — In the 1970s, Tim and Cindy Morris attended an anti-gay rally at the Indiana State Capitol.

Last Friday, October 12, the Morrises were back at the Indiana capitol to attend a vigil–but this time, in support of equality–as part of Soulforce and Atticus Circle’s Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights, October 7-13.

"Because of the friendships that we have, we feel driven to validate what they are," Tim Morris said about his gay friends in the Indianapolis Star. "The love that we have for our friends is real."

The Morrises’ journey is one of many stories of friendship and political transformation that emerged across the country during Seven Straight Nights, a week of straight-led vigils to support civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

This Wednesday, October 17, Atticus Circle and Soulforce will launch Straight Takes, an online, do-it-yourself video campaign. Conceived as a continuation of Seven Straight Nights, it is designed to give straight allies to the LGBT community an ongoing venue to tell those stories.

Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights was timed to coincide with National Coming Out Day. In a YouTube statement produced by Michigan Equality, Amy Buttery, straight mother of two, speaks about coming out as a straight ally.

"There is a sense in which the term ‘coming out’ applies really well to allies, because it involves choice, and it involves action, and the power of it is also incredible," says Buttery, who helped organize a Seven Straight Nights event in Lansing, Michigan.

At the vigil in Greenville, South Carolina, straight allies experienced the immediate power of their convictions when they were confronted by protesters from Zachary Baptist Church, who shouted that gays and lesbians are "doomed to hell" and brandished signs that read, "God Abhors You."

In spite of the efforts to intimidate them, the Seven Straight Nights participants held their ground, lighting 1,138 candles to represent the rights and responsibilities denied to same-sex couples in the state. Some participants attempted to engage the anti-gay protesters and to question the conflation of anti-gay bigotry with religious belief.

Communities of faith across the nation participated in Seven Straight Nights. In 18 cities, Seven Straight Nights vigils were organized or co-sponsored by communities of faith. Alana Zavett, co-organizer of the Atlanta vigil, completed her undergraduate degree at Emory University, where her rabbi was Rabbi Josh Lesser, an openly gay man.

"Having him as a mentor definitely molded me into a straight ally," says Zavett.

Through Seven Straight Nights, the power of straight ally voices resonated in thirty-eight cities and towns across the country, from the Deep South to California and New York, two states where marriage equality is being considered by the state Supreme Court and the State Senate, respectively.

In twenty-six states, Seven Straight Nights events helped straight allies connect with political organizations dedicated to LGBT equality. Soulforce and Atticus Circle, the national sponsors of the event, partnered with more than 30 national and state equality organizations, including American Civil Liberties Union, Faith in America, Marriage Equality USA, GLAAD, Love Makes a Family, Hands-On Atlanta, Equality Maine, Upstate United, and Equality Texas.

Seven Straight Nights at a Glance:

Number of Vigils: 38
Number of States: 26
Number of Participating Organizations: 32

To find out if Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights activities are planned in your community, go to: www.sevenstraightnights.org.


"Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights" is a joint project of Atticus Circle and Soulforce. Atticus Circle is a national non-profit that is dedicated to achieving equality for all partners, parents, and their children regardless of sexual orientation. Soulforce is a national social justice organization that seeks freedom for LGBTQ people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, visit www.sevenstraightnights.org.