'When we have a direct conversation with the American people, stereotypes evaporate and fairness wins,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign announced today that its new president, Joe Solmonese, will launch HRC's "On the Road to Equality" tour on April 12, visiting Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City, Kansas Detroit Dallas and then Birmingham, Ala., in his first two weeks on the job.
The tour, which will continue throughout the year, is designed to help reintroduce gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans to the public.
"We have to engage the American people and the GLBT community in a conversation about equality," said Solmonese. "When we have a direct conversation with the American people, stereotypes evaporate and fairness wins."
Solmonese will visit Kansas in his first stop to inspire hope for fair-minded Kansans and Americans following the passage of a discriminatory constitutional amendment there on April 5. He will hold a town hall meeting in Lawrence to talk about the harmful effects of the amendment and the need to educate the American people about how inequality hurts gay families.
The year-long tour, which includes town hall meetings, roundtables with religious leaders, meeting with corporate leaders and employees and conversations with the American people, including the GLBT community, will continue throughout 2005 in Nashville, Tenn. Columbus, Ohio Georgia Salt Lake City New Orleans Florida Orange County, Calif. Nevada and Minnesota.
NOTE: The following is a tentative schedule of events Solmonese will attend. Reporters interested in covering events should contact the HRC press office for details about availability.
TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2005
12:30 p.m. - Lunch with Topeka Mayor James McClinton and Councilwoman Tiffany Muller, the only openly gay public official in the state. Topeka residents voted in March not to repeal a non-discrimination ordinance passed by the city council.
2:00 p.m. - Meeting with the Mainstream Coalition, an organization of religious leaders that supports fairness. The group actively opposes Fred Phelps, one of the most aggressive and vitriolic anti-gay figures in America. The coalition demonstrates that many mainstream religious leaders support fairness for GLBT Americans and the coalition represents the kind of organization important to moving the conversation about equality forward.
4:30 p.m. - Coffee with local families and community members.
7:00 p.m. - Town Hall Meeting at the University of Kansas Hall Center for Humanities where Solmonese will meet with students and local residents in a conversation about equality. KU is in Douglas County, which was the only Kansas county to vote against the constitutional amendment.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13
9:00 a.m. - GLBT Community Leadership Breakfast - Solmonese will meet with local GLBT and allied group leaders.
11:00 a.m. - Press conference with Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, where Solmonese will recognize Kansas City's and the mayor's commitment to equality.
12:00 p.m. - Hallmark Cards - Meeting with executives and the GLBT employee group at Hallmark corporate headquarters to discuss the company's positions on GLBT equality.
2:00 p.m. - African-American Community Leaders Meeting. Solmonese will meet with representatives from the Urban League of Kansas City, the Kansas City chapter of the NAACP, the Black Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas City Association of Black Journalists.
6:30 p.m. - Day of Silence event - Rally with GLSEN, an education organization ensuring safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
THURSDAY, APRIL 14
11:30 a.m. - Meetings at Ford Motor Company, which has a 100 percent rating on HRC's Corporate Equality Index, a rating of corporate GLBT policies.
5:00 p.m. - Tour of Ruth Ellis Center, one of only four agencies in the nation dedicated to helping homeless GLBT teens and young adults.
7:00 p.m. - Roundtable with religious leaders representing diverse faiths and ideologies.
FRIDAY, APRIL 15
8:30 a.m. - Breakfast with GLBT community leaders at the Triangle Foundation, the leading Michigan GLBT group.
11:00 a.m. - Coffee with GLBT youth and young people in conversation about equality.
SATURDAY, APRIL 16
3:00 p.m. - HRC Open Forum - Meeting with GLBT leaders and local community.
SUNDAY, APRIL 17
9:00 a.m. - Services at the Cathedral of Hope, one of the largest GLBT religious institutions in America.
10:00 a.m. - Cathedral of Hope meeting with the Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, pastor, and parishioners.
TUESDAY, APRIL 19
12:00 p.m. - Donation of books to Birmingham Public Library, in light of bill in Alabama state Legislature that would ban certain books.
3:30 p.m. - Coffee with local students and young people at Highland Coffee House.
6:30 p.m. - Community Forum at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20
8:30 a.m. - Breakfast with local GLBT leaders at The Original Pancake House.
10:00 a.m. - Meeting with HIV/AIDS advocacy service providers and tour of facilities.
12:00 p.m. - Tour Civil Rights Institute and 16th Street Baptist Church.
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