Out4Immigration: “The Most Important Petition We’ve Ever Done”

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On Monday, same-sex binational couples and our supporters heard some incredible news from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – moves were finally being made to recognize gay and lesbian citizens with foreign partners.

As most Americans know, if you marry someone from another country, your spouse immediately qualifies for a green card. The two of you can stay here legally, without any threats of separation, exile or deportation, and pursue what the Constitution guarantees – life, liberty and happiness. However, if you are in a same-sex relationship, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits your marriage from being recognized by the federal government, and thus, immigration.

When those of us who work to change this policy heard on Tuesday that the USCIS was going to continue to deny our relationships – we got angry. Out4Immigration teamed up with Change.org and put this petition out this morning.

As a grassroots group, Out4Immigration has put out numerous petitions and run a weekly campaign on Change.org throughout the 111th Congress seeking support for our relationships through the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). We have teamed up with our allies in the marriage equality movement to work to repeal DOMA. But never in the history of our 5-year-old organization have we been this incensed – and this adamant – to call out the federal government and demand, once and for all, that they do something to stop tearing apart loving and committed couples.

Please add your name to this call for justice for gay and lesbian American citizens with foreign partners and our families. Simply click on the widget above. Please circulate this petition through your social networks. To find out how you can be more involved, please visit www.out4immigration.org.

First Steps on Same-Sex Binationals Path to Green Cards

Today’s breaking story in Newsweek that two USCIS districts—Washington, DC and Baltimore—have informed attorneys from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that cases in their districts involving the green card applications of married gay and lesbian couples would be put on hold is the second major step this year toward green cards for same-sex binationals. (The first step was the February 23 decision by the Obama Administration that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional.) Prior to the DOMA decision, these applications were routinely dismissed and deportations were carried out because DOMA rendered same-sex married couples “legal strangers”.

What does the USCIS announcement really mean to you if you are a married same-sex binational couple? First, seek the advice of a competent and trusted immigration attorney. And, if you are uncomfortable with the advice you receive, get a second opinion – or even a third. The best place to start is with the law firm Masliah and Soloway, they are the founders of Immigration Equality, have co-authored the original PPIA legislation and now run the Stop the Deportations Project. Lavi Soloway has been the attorney for a number of the couples whose cases have recently been put on hold by immigration judges, who, following President Obama’s order to stop defending DOMA, have decided that they cannot make a ruling against a same-sex binational couple’s green card case without using DOMA to block it. As a result, the decisions in these cases have been delayed.

Second, note the key word here is “delayed”. The optimists among us like to believe DOMA will be gone by the end of the year. Pessimists think it will take 10 years and there will be numerous setbacks along the way. The reality is none of us know how long this will take, but if we look at any civil rights history, once a movement gains momentum, and that momentum becomes relentless, barriers tend to come down faster than expected. And that’s where all of us come in – whether we are a married same-sex binational couple supported by an immigration attorney’s advice to file the I-130, or a couple advised against marrying and/or filing right now, we need to tell our stories at every opportunity. (Read more)

21st Century Royal Wedding Ditches Commemorative Plate for an App

Back in the day, we dished up our royals about to say “I do” with a commemorative plate. But in case you doubted 1981 was a really, really long time ago, look no further than to your left at young Prince Charles and the late Lady Di, currently selling on a site called eBid for $3.25.

To commemorate next month’s wedding of their son, Prince William to long-time sweetheart Kate Middleton, no crappy plate that won’t appreciate will do. Instead, the nuptials for these next-gen royals will be celebrated with an app for your iPad from the Apple Store.

According to MSNBC, the app will “turn your iPad into a guide for the royal wedding,” and be “arranged like a digital magazine…[to provide] access to a real-time feed of photos and articles. There are video features, a virtual guest book which you can sign, a feed of recent tweets about the royal couple, and plenty of interactive content.”

The app will be available on April 9, just three weeks before the royal wedding on April 29. By then, of course, shortages should abate and you will doing your royal watch on your shiny new iPad 2.

Has Tweeting About How Cool You Are Jumped the Shark?

Heeeeee-eeey, as The Fonz would say, Twitter is still cool, but sharing how cool you are all the time on Twitter – well, some of us are getting tired of it.

Today’s New York Times has a story called On Twitter, ‘What a Party!’ Brings an Envious ‘Enough Already!’

With another SXSWi (aka “spring break for geeks”) now history, the story does a round up of annoying tweets from the festival where digital media types hang out side by side with folks from the film and music industries. Obviously this is a recipe for clogging up Twitter with Tweets about celebrity sightings and Twitpics of crowded clubs where folks are eight-deep at a bar trying to score a Shiner Bock. (I know, I was at SXSWi last year – when the rumor at the time was that the interactive part of the fest itself had jumped the shark.)

Sure, some of this is jealousy on the part of those of us who didn’t make it down to Austin this year (or other events like TEDx and the World Economic Forum in Davos). All of these types of conferences were one-time places where gathering new information from industry thought leaders was the objective. We used to “live blog” these things in the mid-2000s to impart what we were learning back to friends and colleagues who might not be at the conference, or at another session. But 140-character Tweets have replaced lengthy real-time blog missives and that’s the complaint.

It’s a lot easier (and more attention-getting) to Tweet “And … I’m eating a taco next to Danny DeVito. #sxsw” than to try and condense the key points of a keynote. And, like the Fonz and his Happy Days sitcom, for a couple of years, eating a taco next to Danny DeVito was very, very cool. But now it seems that the taco has donned a pair of water skis and is midair – jumping the shark.

Source: New York Times, On Twitter, ‘What a Party!’ Brings an Envious ‘Enough Already!’ by Amy Harmon.

Video: Rebecca Black Explained

What do you get when you combine social media, a cheap synthesizer, easy-to-use (and affordable) video editing software and half a generation that thinks getting on American Idol means you have talent? Answer: An instant teeny popper named Rebecca Black with a viral YouTube video that vies for top trending honors with the Japan tsunami and earthquake for most important story of the week. Haven’t seen that Rebecca Black video yet? Click here then – but if you want this latest phenomenon of online culture broken down for you, watch our pick for Video of the Week (above).

Note: Apparently this video violated some YouTube rules and has been yanked. We’ve found this alternative that explains the Rebecca Black phenomenon. Not as amusing, but every bit as informative.

When Twitter Accounts Collide…

It’s not uncommon for those of us in new media marketing to manage several Twitter accounts for various clients. Having been at it awhile, it’s not that we’re immune to mis-Tweets, it’s just that we made our mistakes back in 2008 or 2009, before anyone really noticed. The most common problem is posting a tweet meant for one client to another client’s account. That can be remedied by logging out of Twitter whenever you are done working for one client and re-logging in when you start work for the next, logging out after each Tweet and/or always making sure when you use TweetMeme or any other share device that what you are about to Tweet goes to the right account. (If you’re not sure, don’t click on the button!)

The possibility of colliding Twitter accounts gets more difficult to manage when more than one person from the company has permission to Tweet and/or you and those other company Tweet-ers also have your own personal Twitter accounts. While you, as a new media marketer, have trained yourself to manage multiple accounts and understand the essentials of brand promotion and messaging (even when that brand is you and the message is yours), it can be difficult to get clients to understand this game.

Two recent high-profile incidents are profiled in the New York Times today. Both Chrysler and Aflac have had to fire employees/spokespeople over crossing the line between personal beliefs and corporate brand. The Aflac case is an easy one to sort. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried has long provided the company with the voice of its mascot – the Aflac duck. Because of this nice payday Gottfried was receiving from Aflac, he had a responsibility to represent the company not only in its promotions, but also all the time. Whether this was written in his contract or merely implied by common sense, Gottfried was probably sensible enough to not get on stage and make untoward jokes about Aflac or its duck – but when he Tweeted jokes about last week’s earthquake in Japan on his personal Twitter account he was fired. The jokes didn’t mention Aflac (which has big business in Japan), but they were in poor taste. And whether people who follow Gottfried on Twitter immediately associate him with Aflac or not – that’s beside the point. The point is, eventually someone out there in the Twitterverse will connect the dots. Spokesperson Gottfried made fun of a tragedy and if Aflac stood by and did nothing, then, in the minds of some customers at some point, Aflac is complicit in that behavior. Sayonara, Gilbert!

In the Chrysler case, an employee for a new media marketing firm Tweeted on the @Chryslerautos account:

“I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to drive.”

According to the New York Times, “between “to” and “drive” was a vulgarity.”

This employee was fired, and Chrysler canned the marketing firm. Double-ouch.

We’ll have to assume that this was not an accident of the employee confusing the corporate account with his/her own personal account or the case of a hapless comedian left alone with Twitter. Instead, this may have been more of a misguided attempt by the marketing firm to deliver what Chrysler had asked for to “promot[e] Detroit and its hard-working people.”

Last time I checked, hard-working people had a sense of humor and probably would have found this funny (think Roseanne and Dan back in the day laughing if little Darlene or DJ posted this). But a tweet like this might have been more appropriate for the promoters of a local bowling alley or a sub shop – not a prestigious brand like Chrysler. In the Twitterverse this is known as a #fail. Forget the #winning.

Source: New York Times, “When the Marketing Reach of Social Media Backfires,” by Stuart Elliott.

Photo of Gilbert Gotfried and the Aflac duck, property of Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency.

Oporto Aussie Chicken Burgers Arrive in SoCal

Cue up Men at Work’s “Down Under”, Oporto – an Aussie chicken burger chain that serves “Portuguese-style chicken sandwiches” has opened its first store in Rancho Cucamonga, a town with a silly enough name that if you didn’t know better, you might assume it was located west of Woolagong or maybe north of Woolamaloo. The Australian-based chain that started at Sydney’s Bondi Beach in 1986, plans to open two more shops in Southern California later this year.

Local SoCal press has taken the opportunity to claim Oporto has a cult following in Australia similar to In-and-Out Burger (hmmmm?), as well as to cast a pox on the bigoted Chick-fil-A chain that has plans open in Hollywood later this year. (Weight-conscious starlets will note that Oporto’s chicken sandwiches are grilled, not deep-fried.)

The Oporto in America campaign is led by a former executive for the Del Taco chain, so there is some US-fast-food know-how at work. Invading the sacred ground near where the first McDonald’s was launched, and the only nearby cult with more followers than In-and-Out is Scientology will certainly pose its challenges. Two things in Oporto’s favor, though. (1) It will provide an Aussie brekkie sandwich featuring real Australian bacon. And (2) Portuguese-inspired sandos, or not, Oporto is authentically Australian – it is no Outback Steakhouse.

Sources: FastCasual.com and LA Weekly