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RELEASE: LGBTQ Activists to Be Honored at Secular Student Conference

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July 1, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kelley Freeman, (614)441-9588 x101
kelley.freeman@secularstudents.org

LGBTQ Activists to Be Honored at Secular Student Conference

Columbus, OH – Nationally known LGBTQ activists, Marsha Botzer and Greta Christina, to be presented awards at Secular Student Alliance 2015 Annual Conference. 

The Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference is the largest gathering of nonreligious and nontheistic students in the United States. Expected attendance for this year’s event is over 250 students from around the country. This year’s conference occurs July 10-12, 2015 at the Ohio State University’s Ohio Union, with the opening session beginning at 7:30 pm Friday night.

Marsha Botzer is receiving the annual Backbone Award, an honor that recognizes an individual who is a guide and inspiration for secular students across the country. Recipients of this award have demonstrated a commitment to the Secular Student Alliance’s core values of civic engagement, community, cooperation, critical inquiry, humanistic ideals, and inclusion.

Botzer served as co-chair of The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2009-2010, a position that she also held in 2005-2006. She is a founding member of the Out In Front Leadership Project, which created a Leadership Training Program for the LGBTQ Community, and currently serves on the World Professional Association for Transgender Health board of directors. Marsha founded Seattle’s internationally known Ingersoll Gender Center, and continues to serve the organization as a co-chair.

Greta Christina is receiving the inaugural Ambassador Award, given to the Secular Student Alliance donor who best serves as a champion for the organization. Such an ambassador repeatedly and widely shares why the Secular Student Alliance matters and is worthy of passionate support with as many people as possible.

Christina holds a variety of titles with the Secular Student Alliance: she is a popular and frequently requested member of the Speakers Bureau, an Advisory Board member, and a donor at the Lifetime Membership level. She has written several books popular with students, amplifies and refines student-focused ideas through her blogging and speaking, and meets with students personally while traveling. 

The Secular Student Alliance is an organization that empowers secular students to proudly express their identity, build welcoming communities, promote secular values, and set a course for lifelong activism. Its support for grassroots organizing enables students to shape a future in which they thrive as valued members of society and provide visionary leadership committed to humanistic ideals and critical inquiry. 

More information about the Secular Student Alliance can be found at www.secularstudents.org, @SecularStudents on Twitter, and at Facebook.com/SecularStudents.

For more information on the Secular Student Alliance 2015 Annual Conference, visit www.secularstudents.org/2015con

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ADVISORY: Hundreds of atheist, agnostic students to convene at Ohio State University

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July 1, 2015

Contact: Kelley Freeman, Communications Associate
Secular Student Alliance
614-441-9588 x101
kelley.freeman@secularstudents.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hundreds of atheist, agnostic students to convene at Ohio State

Columbus, OH – The Secular Student Alliance hosts its Annual Conference, and brings some of the best experts in legal, political, and cultural activism to train up the next generation.

This year’s Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference takes place July 10-12, 2015, at the Ohio Union at the Ohio State University. Speakers include representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Think Progress, the National LGBTQ Task Force, as well as secular student leaders from around the country. The Secular Student Alliance will also be hosting their second annual blood drive on July 10 as a precursor to the conference. 

WHAT: The Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference is the largest gathering of nonreligious and nontheistic students in the United States. Expected attendance is over 250 students from around the country. 

WHEN: July 10-12, 2015, Opening Session begins at 7:30 pm.

WHERE: The Ohio Union at the Ohio State University, 1739 N High Street, Columbus, OH, at the corner of 12th Avenue and High Street. Driving directions to both the High Street and College Road entrances, from the surrounding Central Ohio areas.

WHO: MARSHA BOTZER - Nationally and internationally, Marsha served as co-chair of The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2009-10, a position that she also held in 2005-6. She is a founding member of the Out In Front Leadership Project, creating a Leadership Training Program for the LGBTQ Community, and currently serves on the World Professional Association for Transgender Health board of directors. Marsha founded Seattle’s internationally known Ingersoll Gender Center, and continues to serve the organization.

GRETA CHRISTINA - Greta Christina is one of the most widely-read and well-respected bloggers in the atheist blogosphere. She is the author of Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and was ranked by an independent analyst as one of the Top Ten most popular atheist bloggers. She is a regular atheist correspondent for AlterNet, the online political magazine with over 1,200,000 hits a week, and has been writing about atheism and skepticism for her own cleverly-named Greta Christina's Blog (now part of the Freethought Blogs network) since 2005. 

CANDACE GORHAM - Struggling with severe mental illness and financial hardships caused Candace to study the Bible even closer for answers but it only led to more questions and doubt. Today an atheist, Candace started the Ebony Exodus project out of her own pain and anguish as a highly religious black female who was not getting adequate support for her severe struggle with mental illness. Today, she endeavors to help men and women–especially black women–address and recover from the oppression they faced while in the church. 

LUCIEN GRAVES - Lucien Greaves is co-founder of, and spokesperson for, The Satanic Temple, an organization whose stated mission is to facilitate the "communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty." Presenting Satanism as a non-theistic religion, The Satanic Temple has fought to ensure plurality is respected wherever the line between church and state has been breached. The Satanic Temple is best known for its ongoing efforts to erect a Satanic monument alongside a 10 Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol building.

We think Greta & Marsha are Amazing!

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At each Annual Conference, the Secular Student Alliance presents the SSA Backbone Award to an individual within the secular movement who is a guide and inspiration for secular students and student groups. This person has demonstrated a commitment to our core values of civic engagement, community, cooperation, critical inquiry, humanistic ideals, and inclusion.

MarshaThis year's recipient of the SSA Backbone Award is Marsha Botzer. Marsha has spent her life advocating for the rights of LGBT people with a heavy emphasis on Trans rights. Although Marsha's activism has been in LGBT areas, she's long been an atheist.  She played a central role in making sure there was an expanded and highly visible secular presence at Creating Change this year and has set the stage for an expanded presence in future years. She has been someone whose secular values have inspired a lifetime of activism.

Marsha also served as co-chair of The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2009-10, a position that she also held in 2005-6. She is a founding member of the Out In Front Leadership Project, creating a Leadership Training Program for the LGBTQ Community, and currently serves on the World Professional Association for Transgender Health board of directors. Marsha founded Seattle’s internationally known Ingersoll Gender Center, and continues to serve the organization.

This year, we're also debuting the SSA Ambassador Award for the first time! The Secular Student Alliance Ambassador Award is an annual award given to a Secular Student Alliance donor (outside of our board or staff) who best serves as an ambassador for the organization. Such an ambassador repeatedly shares the story of why the SSA matters and is worthy of support with as many people as possible.

We recognize someone for giving in a manner that is personally significant while simultaneously pounding the pavement to make the SSA’s Vision a reality.

The award is bestowed by the SSA Board of Directors, in consultation with our staff. Winners receive a commemorative award, a Lifetime Membership (if they have not already earned one), and an acceptance speech at a major SSA event.

Our inaugural awardee of this award is someone we have known and loved for many years: Greta Christina. greta

Greta Christina holds a variety of titles with the Secular Student Alliance: popular and frequent speaker, Advisory Board member, and a donor at the Lifetime Membership level.

Greta is a tireless advocate for both secular students and the leading organization that supports them. She has written books that are popular with students, amplifies and refines student-focused ideas through her blogging and speaking, and meets with students personally while traveling. At the organizational level, she is a repeat donor, frequently gives much-needed perspective to the SSA’s staff members, and encourages others to give to the SSA through a variety of means.

We are so thrilled to be able to present Marsha and Greta with our awards! Thank you both for all that you have done.

Statement on Same-Sex Marriage Equality Decision

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We at the Secular Student Alliance can only say one thing - finally! 

Congratulations to our LGBTQ friends and family on their hard-earned right for marriage equality today! This is a SSALGBThistoric victory that has been a long, drawn out fight, and we are so proud of The US Supreme Court for making the correct decision. Today’s decision also means that LGBTQ persons in Ohio - the state where the SSA makes it home - can be legally married. 

While it is only the beginning for true LGTBQ equality in the United States, we want to celebrate the steps that have been made in this country. We look forward to seeing fights against employment, housing, and adoption discrimination in the upcoming months and years. There is much to be done, but we are still proud. The United States joins only twenty other countries in the world to allow same-sex marriage in every jurisdiction. 

We expect to see opposition in the form of ‘religious liberty’ and ‘exemptions’ from anti-discrimination acts that are passed. We believe that religious liberty and equality can and should exist, but just as religion cannot be used to discriminate against women or people of color, it should not be used to “justify” second-class status to our LGBTQ friends. 

There is much to be done, but we are optimistic! Thank you, US Supreme Court, and congratulations to our LGBTQ friends! Today is a day to celebrate, and we are proud to stand alongside you! 

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