You are not an actual family member."
With those words, the cruelty of exclusionary laws became tragically clear to Eric.
Eric Breidenbaugh knew something was wrong.
His partner and his partner's parents were all missing – hours overdue from a family flight aboard a small private plane.
Eric called his local airport, near Pinellas Park, Florida, to see if they had any information. They did, but they wouldn't give it to him. They said he was "not an actual family member," so they couldn't tell him whether his partner was alive or dead.
He searched the TV news, where he soon saw footage of the plane he himself had ridden in many times. That was how he found out that his life partner of six years, Joseph Bellamy, had been killed with his parents in a plane crash. Watch Eric speak about the experience »
It's simply wrong that GLBT Americans should be treated like second-class citizens, denied the right to care for their loved ones. Yet even in Eric's' own state of Florida, anti-GLBT groups won't rest. They're trying to write a ban on marriage equality into the constitution, and get right-wing voters to the polls while they're at it.
We need to strengthen our field program so we can fight this battle and others, including electing fair-minded candidates and passing key legislation. Your activism and your commitment are critical, as is the financial support so instrumental to our efforts.
The coming weeks are critical. In Florida, the referendum to enshrine discrimination against GLBT couples in the constitution has officially qualified for the November ballot, and opponents are already gearing up and spending cash. A dirty campaign is likely. And in California, right-wing groups are collecting signatures for a similar measure, with a deadline of mid-April.
If either measure passes, our community could be unable to pass laws preventing heartbreaking stories like Eric Breidenbaugh's. Basic information or access to your partner denied in an emergency. Right-wing extremists that much closer to making inequality permanent nationwide.
So HRC is already mobilizing NOW with help from supporters like you, including:
- Sending in full-time field staff to recruit and train hundreds of volunteers.
- Donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to state groups in Florida and California.
- Helping staff a "Decline to Sign" campaign in California that is already gumming up right-wing signature gathering efforts.
- Mobilizing our 700,000 supporters to fight anti-GLBT amendments nationally.
- Electing fair-minded candidates who will help oppose initiatives like this.
Think for a moment about the pain and suffering experienced by countless people like Eric Breidenbaugh every single day. Then, resolve to make those injustices a thing of the past by renewing your commitment to this ongoing struggle.