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Testimony: Take a Stand project – my video on the state of equality for LGBT North Carolinians

In my earlier post I discussed bloggers at Netroots Nation contributing to the It Gets Better video project. That wasn’t the only video I took part in.

The Courage Campaign Institute also attended NN11 and collected personal statements on video for its Testimony: Take a Stand project. So all of you out there — LGB and T — have a venue to talk about how discrimination has affected you, and how legislation and legal cases that are in play affect you personally, and why it matters. Share your stories. You can view videos of people who have contributed so far here.

I contributed my testimony just before I served on the marriage equality panel at Netroots Nation, and I chose to focus on the state of equality in North Carolina, where,  to be honest, marriage is a back burner issue — we’re in a fight to keep an amendment off the ballot and we have no state-level ENDA.

From “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell” to California’s Prop 8 trial (Perry V. Schwarzenegger), historic trials on LGBT equality are happening across America right now and only a handful of people get to testify. If you could Take A Stand, what would you say? What would your Testimony be?

Conceived by legendary activist Cleve Jones as the online extension of the NAMES Project Memorial Quilt, Testimony seeks to create a map of stories from LGBT Americans and allies across the country. In collaboration with partner organizations, and using the stories of the American public, Testimony seeks to show the shift in public acceptance of gays and lesbians as many of these equality cases make their way to the Supreme Court.

In 2011, Testimony: Take a Stand will give us all the chance to testify to the destructive power of discrimination and about the joys of full equality. These stories are the foundation for true and lasting equality in the court of public opinion, for the bonds that strengthen families and communities, and are an essential antidote for the animus and isolation that opponents of equality relentlessly cultivate.

Merging innovative online organizing with social media platforms, Testimony provides everyday Americans — both LGBT and straight allies alike — with the tools to share their own personal experiences on love, family, marriage, discrimination, bullying, social stigmatization and many other related issues, not unlike the heartfelt testimony given by the plaintiffs in the Prop. 8 trial.

Through Testimony: Take a Stand, thousands of Americans will be able to upload a family photo, a video deposition, or a written description of their experiences to a central online repository organized by subject and geography. These stories will be a constantly-updated resource for activists, opinion leaders, the media and others engaged in equality battles across the country, including legislative fights, ballot initiatives, and battles for the hearts and minds of families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and communities.

As important legislative changes move through Congress, and cases like the Prop 8. trial wind their way toward the U.S. Supreme Court, Testimony will humanize decisions all too often made in the legal abstract, giving voice to the millions of marginalized Americans who will never get their day in court by attaching names, faces, families and experiences to the continuing struggle for equality.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding