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Join the Impact holds town hall
by Jamie Anne Royce

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Members of Join The Impact Chicago (JTIC) and the LGBT community gathered at Merlo Library in Boystown for a town-hall meeting March 24.

When Proposition 8 passed in California in 2008, constitutionally banning gay marriage in the state, a website called Join The Impact spurred activists across the country to organize rallies in solidarity. JTIC was born out of the Chicago rally, and members have been organizing on a local and national level since.

The group is excited to have kept the momentum from the Prop 8 rally going to continue grassroots organizing for queer rights.

"There's a rising tide of LGBTQ rights in this country on all levels," said Rachel Miller, a JTIC organizer. "There's been a lot of fights. It's all very exciting to watch and be a part of."

Past actions have included nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, like a sit-in at Sen. Dick Durbin's office, and organizing buses to the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. JTIC often works in cooperation or in solidarity with other organizations, groups and causes.

The town hall served as an open discussion for community members to voice concerns or needs, and as a platform to propose ideas or directions for new projects.

Members wanted to have a queer presence at protests of the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago, work on moving the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through Congress, show solidarity with the working class by supporting unions, and provide safe housing for homeless LGBT youth.

"We don't just need homeless shelters. We need to find them a safe and affirming home," said Danelle Wylder, a JTIC organizer.

Some attendees wanted to pressure non-inclusive or unfriendly organizations that aid homeless people to change exclusionary policies and reform services to make homeless LGBT youth welcome. Others wanted to engage more financially privileged members of the community to open their homes to homeless youth through a hosting program like UCAN.

JTIC members also wanted to engage the LGBT community in more of their events, actions and organizing, explaining why they are community organizers.

"The [big] reason I'm an LGBTQ rights advocate is because I want to ask, 'Was I there?' When we stepped out of the closets. When we elected gay politicians. When we demanded our rights. I want to be able to say, 'yes,'" said Miller.

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