Saturday, March 21, 2009

SUNDAY EVENT REMINDER: Youth Today, Walking for Equality

WHAT: March against homophobia, discrimination, abuse and homelessness of queer youth and for marriage equality! This event is for LGBTQ youth AND supporters. RALLY AT CITY HALL!

WHEN: Sunday, March 22nd at 12pm

WHERE: Meet at the Gold Line Station in downtown Los Angeles, near the intersection of Spring St. and College St.

MORE INFO: and at Unite the Fight's full coverage.

Youth+Today Event flyer

Withers: There is more to freedom than marching

An op-ed on

Withers: There is more to freedom than marching

What do you think? Is there something more you can do?

Friday, March 20, 2009

HRC Helps You Expose the Lies of the Right Wing

HRC's End the Lies website "is a campaign . . .to expose the lies and fear-tactics of anti-LGBT voices and counteract them with respectful dialogue and grassroots action."

The site allows users to nominate radical right-wingers to their "Voices of Fear" wall, a highly interactive tool which educates viewers on the opposition and helps keep tabs on what they're doing in order to counter all of their lies and tactics to bring about more inequality.

Currently, the website is focusing on Ken Starr, Lead Counsel defending Proposition 8 before the CA Supreme Court, by driving a petition condemning him for his part of malicious discrimination against the LGBT minority. You can sign the petition on the home page.

Camp Courage Coming to San Diego, CA and Oakland, CA

Over 150 leaders attended Camp Courage Fresno on March 7-8 with amazing results. Fresno is humming with activity, gearing up for the continued fight for LGBT rights.

Wishing you were there? Well now you have another chance. Camp Courage is headed to San Diego next on April 18-19 followed by Oakland, CA, May 2-3. If you're interested in attending, contact for more details. You don't want to miss this!

VIDEO: Gay Education - Help the Right Wingers Learn a Thing or Two

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rep. Barney Frank is Blunt on LGBT Rights

UPDATE: Full clip of Rep. Barney Frank's blunt assessment of LGBT rights under this Congress and President Obama.

New Hampshire to Vote on Marriage Bill Next Week

Because New Hampshire's House Judiciary Committe deadlocked on two bills 10-10 that would allow same-sex couples to marry and one extending the state’s human rights laws to include protections for transpeople, it will go to the House floor next week for a vote without any recommendations.

If passed, it will then go to the Senate.

Rep. Jim Splaine, who sponsored the state’s civil unions law, said he believes there will be enough votes to pass his same-sex marriage bill and to block an attempt to amend the constitution to bar same-sex marriage.

To find out how you can get involved locally, or how you may help from a distance, contact New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition.

Marriage Battle in Minnesota Brewing

In recent years, Minnesota Republicans and social conservative groups have failed three times to amend the state's constitution in an effort to strengthen an already existing law that states the marriage is between one man and one woman.

They're trying again, and this time they think they'll win because earlier this month, a proposal was filed to make marriage gender neutral, and the legislation would void the so-called Defense of Marriage law. For them, this is the final straw.

“Not only is this an assault on the traditional definition of marriage, this is an assault on all religious beliefs in the state of Minnesota,” said Sen. Warren Limmer (R).

Limmer also said an amendment was needed because DOMA could be overturned by the courts. A same-sex couple denied a marry license in Hennepin County are expected to file a legal challenge to the law.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but no hearings have been scheduled.

Though Democrats control the state congress in both houses, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty would likely veto the bill should it pass.

To make matters worse, state Sen. Paul Koering, Republican and openly gay, does not support any same-sex marriage effort.

Contact the senator and tell him to support the bill:

Phone: 651.296.4875

Contact Sen. Warren Limmer and tell him how you feel about his efforts to amend the state's constitution.

Phone: 651.296.2159

Contact Gov. Tim Pawlenty and tell him not to void the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Telephone: 651.296.3391
Toll Free: 800.657.3717

See news story.

For a full history on same-sex marriage in Minnesota, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library where they recently updated the issue.

UPDATE 3/19/09: Hearings on Vermont Same-Sex Marriage Bill Begin Today

UPDATE 3/19/09: "Gay Marriage Hearing Draws Crowds in Vermont"

UPDATE: An update on the hearings in Vermont.

Vermont, the first state in the country to offer civil unions, is now turning its attention to gay marriage. On the heels of numerous high-profile endorsements for gay marriage from different professional groups in Vermont, and a new study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law that predicted gay marriage would generate $31 million for the Vermont economy over the next three years, it seemed the natural step to consider a bill allowing gays to marry.

Senate Judiciary Committee in Vermont will open five days of hearings on gay marriage legislation today. Later this week on Wednesday evening, a public hearing will be held at the statehouse in Montpelier. (Full schedule of hearings here)

Democratic leaders in the legislature are confident they have enough votes to pass the legislation; however, it remains unclear whether they can obtain a veto-proof majority. Governor Jim Douglas, a Republican, has said he opposes the legislation.

The senate judiciary committee expects to vote the gay marriage legislation out on Friday.

Get involved at Vermont Freedom to Marry!

Grassroots Equality Network Says, "Tell Obama to Repeal DoMA!"

The Facts:

President Obama was presented with an order from CA Judges on behalf of two Federal employees who are in a Same-Sex relationships. The employees are being denied health insurance for their spouses by the Federal Government under the protection of the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA). The President has two options, ignore the order and let DoMA stand, or use this order to make the first step in keeping his promise to the LGBTQIA Community by repealing this outdated law.

The Plan:

Print out the Insurance Claim Form found here.

After filling out some information on the form, write "REPEAL DOMA!" in big red letters on the front of the form, and then mail it to:

Attn: Repeal DoMA
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Facebook Event Page

Web-Address for Action

The Grassroots Equality Network released this Call to Action last Friday. This action is unique and more powerful due to two facts:

1. The time it takes to actual print and send this off yourself makes much larger of an impact on the government. They tend to look at one individual letter as representing 100 opinions. Any letters or petitions where there is a mass signature list is viewed differently, being that they view it as the exact amount shown on the letters.
2. If people all over the country send this form in, they will start bulking the letters together, and it will make a large bulk impact.

Spread the word! With a united front we can make this be a jumping off point that forces Obama to keep his promise to our community. We will not let this opportunity pass us by!

For more information, go to Grassroots Equality Network.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Judge Judy and Her Supportive Views on Same-Sex Marriage

(The video starts out funky)

Her thoughts on the voter confusion over "No" vs. "Yes" during the Prop 8 vote/campaign is interesting, given that historically, it is much harder to win a "Yes" campaign than a "No" campaign. Voting "No" usually means keeping status quo, while voting "Yes" is voting for a change. Which makes the loss of the No on 8 campaign harder to swallow (voting "No" meant keeping the THEN status quo of keeping gay marriage in California legal).

With that in mind, many argue that doing a "do-over" through a ballot initiative is a bad move because we would have to win a "Yes" campaign to change what Prop 8 did. But Judge Judy thinks otherwise.

Encouraging words from the stern judge.

UPDATE: Scottish Same Sex Marriage Update from the LGBT Network

UPDATE: (March 17, 2009) Scottish Parliament Committee unanimously backs same sex marriage

The Scottish Parliament Public Petitions committee have agreed that the Scottish Government should be asked to amend the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977, and if not, details the reasons for its refusal.

Speaking in support of the petition, Shirley-Anne Sommerville said she feels that the law as it stands, is 'unfortunate' and she wishes her support to be 'put on the record'.

Marlyn Glen MSP said she wishes Scotland to take a lead in Europe, and avoid waiting on the outcome of the Ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

Declaring membership of the Episcopal Church, Robin Harper MSP, confirmed that he agrees that the Scottish Government should be asked to state its situation on the amendment of the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977.

Speaking about a ceremony he attended, John Wilson MSP strongly feels that the Marriage legislation should 'encompass the whole of society'.

Nanette Milne MSP is 'open minded' and has 'no objection' to the Scottish Government being contacted.

Marlyn Glen MSP adds that the Equality Network should be asked for a submission of evidence.

All in all - This was a great outcome, the petition is on hold and a number of religious and non-religious groups will be asked to submit evidence. The Scottish Government will be asked to clarify its situation and will be asked if it intends to amend the legislation, if not, to explain its reasons for not amending it.

You can view the entire transcript of the committee here.

Thanks to the LGBT Network in Glasgow, Scotland.


European and Scottish political leaders, international marriage equality groups and church leaders all back same sex marriage petition.

West Midlands Labour MEP Michael Cashman today signed the petition in the Scottish Parliament calling for same sex couples to have the right to register a civil marriage, or a religious marriage should the relevant religious institution consents.


His support comes as the petition gathers momentum, attracting support from Scottish Labour MEP Catherine Stihler, London Green MEP Jean Lambert, Scottish Labour MSP George Foulkes, and the leader of the Labour Group in the European Parliament, Glenis Willmott MEP.

Support from across the world has been pouring in, as groups such as Australian Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality Ireland, and the US movement Blue4Equality all back and publicise the campaign.

Equal Marriage Rights, the group set up by Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger, litigants in the High Court same sex marriage case Wilkinson v. Kitzinger, and Peter Tatchell's OutRage! have also publicised and supported the petition.

The Reverend John Penman, from Christ Church Falkirk, and the Reverend Ruth Innes from St Marks Portobello have added their names to the petition.

The Very Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Marys Episcopal Church in Glasgow said:

"This is something which directly affects my ministry. The existence of Civil Partnerships has been a big step forward. They have given a whole new set of images to society of what gay people are like and that has been great."

"However, Civil Partnership is not Marriage and that inequality is discrimination. This is important - I've had people approach me asking me whether I can do a legal ceremony for them and I've had to say that though I'd like to, the law doesn't allow me to do so. Indeed, the current law specifically forbids people from registering Civil Partnerships in church or using any religious expression in their legal ceremony. What that does, is imply that gay people can never be as holy as straight people. And the ugly consequences of that kind of prejudice are visible in all kinds of places, not least in the suicide statistics of young men."

The LGBT Network will be visiting the LGBT group of St Marys church on Monday and speaking to the LGBT Society of St Andrews University to promote grassroots support of the petition.

To find out the latest on the campaign, check out the LGBT Network website or follow our updates on Twitter. Sign the petition here.

You can contact Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth by calling +44 (0) 141 339 6691 or emailing

Contact the LGBT Network on +44 (0) 871 2456 100 or emailing

UPDATE: ACLU Files Suit Against Arkansas Adoption Ban

UPDATE: An Arkansas Judge has ruled that the lawsuit challenging the state's ban on unmarried couples adopting can proceed, ruling in favor of the ACLU and against Arkansas Deputy Attorney General Justin Allen.

The attorney general said that no one had the intrinsic right to adopt, and as a result, the lawsuit didn't deal with said rights and shouldn't proceed because nothing could be challenged on constitutional grounds.

The ACLU countered that it did because the ban violated federal and state state constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

Over a dozen families, along with the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU, have filed suit on Tuesday against the state's law banning unmarried couples from fostering or adopting children.

According to Little Rock attorney, Marie-Bernarde Miller, "Act 1 violates the state's legal duty to place the best interest of children above all else." Claiming the act's language was confusing and that voter's were misled, 29 adults and their children signed on to sue.

The supporters of the ban, the Arkansas Family Council, admitted that the ban was targeted toward gay couples, but acknowledged it would affect straight people as well.

For my information on the law suit, Cole, et al. v. Arkansas, et al, go to ACLU Parenting.

The ACLU is asking anyone in Arkansas worried that they will be hurt by Act 1 to email or call (212) 519-7835.

MY THOUGHTS: What a shock that the Arkansas Family Council would be willing to strip away SOME straight people's rights in an effort to strip away ALL gay people's rights. These people are beyond obsessive - they're delusional to think that this is right in order to stop a few people they don't agree with from acting on their right to start a family. It sickens me. It's beyond my rational ability to understand those who voted for this - in a sense, they stripped away their own rights to keep others from being happy. If you want to rant, please add a comment and go for it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

UPDATE: The United States' UN Controversy

UPDATE: Sources: US to sign UN gay rights declaration

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that the Obama administration will sign a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that President George W. Bush had refused to endorse.

U.S. officials said Tuesday they had notified the French sponsors of the declaration that the administration wants to be added as a supporter of the declaration. The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only Western government that refused to sign.

The officials said the administration had decided to sign the declaration to demonstrate that the United States supports human rights for all around the world.


This blog is dedicated to the fight for same-sex marriage, but once in awhile, I will diverge. For instance, now.

Proposition 8. No more rights to adoption. Rick Warren. And our own government rejecting the UN proposal to decriminalize homosexuality throughout the world. That's right. If you missed the news about that the last injustice, I don't blame you. Amongst the media's fixation on the economy and Obama's cabinet picks, and our justified uproar over Rick Warren, it's no surprise that some of us might have missed this.


Based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and proposed by the French, the nonbinding statement would make throwing gays into prison just for being gay, and in 77 countries, executing them, unacceptable and no longer tolerated by the UN. 66 countries, along with the whole European Union, has signed.

So why would our government, known for human rights leadership, align itself with China, Russia, and all of the Arab nations, who have a long rap sheet of human rights infringements? What's the lame excuse of our lame duck White House? It would contradict our "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. I make a call to action that we as a community contact the United States' permanent UN Ambassador, Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, and loudly voice of disapproval of this ignorant act by our country.

phone: 212-415-4050

An Insightful Report on the Manipulation of Truth by the Religious Right Wing

The People for the American Way is "dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way."

Recently, they issued an insightful report titled "Marriage Equality Opponents Blur Distinction Between Civil And Religious Marriage". The full report is embedded below.

A part of the report worth quoting:

"In focus groups conducted by People For the American Way Foundation in 2008, a number of churchgoers who strongly backed the general principle that gays and lesbians should be free from discrimination on the job, and should have the same rights and legal protections as other Americans, stopped short of applying that principle to marriage, largely because they saw marriage as a religious institution, a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. Helping people understand the difference between civil and religious marriage is crucial to winning broader support for the right of same-sex couples to be legally wed.

In 2006, the American Values Survey, an in-depth poll on religion and values conducted by People For the American Way Foundation, found that when given a three-way choice between allowing same-sex couples to get married, allowing them to form civil unions but not marry, or not providing any legal recognition, 28 percent of Americans supported marriage, 32 percent supported civil unions, and 36 percent supported no recognition. But when those who did not initially support marriage were asked as a follow-up, “If the law guaranteed that no church or congregation would be required to perform marriages for same-sex couples, I would support allowing gay couples to legally marry,” overall support for marriage jumped to 40 percent of the public – a 12 point increase -- and opposition to any recognition dropped to 33 percent.

In 2008, when the same follow-up question was asked on the Faith and American Politics Study by Public Religion Research, the impact was even stronger, with support for marriage equality jumping from 29 percent to 43 percent overall, with a 52 percent majority among mainline Protestants and 47 percent support among Catholics."

This is both encouraging and disheartening. The encouraging aspect is that many people, once realizing the true definition of civil marriage, support the right of gays and lesbians to marry. The disheartening part is how they've been lied to and purposefully confused by the religious right-wing, and even worse, how the No on 8 Campaign was unable to clarify this point for Californian voters.

If we are to win any sort of equality, it's going to be an educational campaign, clearly showing the delineation of the separation of church and state, and to counter every lie anti-gay groups sling at the populace. (Ironic that they preach lying is wrong and then turn around and do it constantly).

As the report summarizes, "The core constitutional value of religious liberty requires that churches and other religious congregations maintain the freedom to decide, in accordance with their religious beliefs, which couples they will marry.

And the core constitutional value of equality for all requires that civil marriage, as a legal institution with significant rights and responsibilities, be available equally to same-sex couples as to opposite-sex couples."

Clearly communicating this will be the core of our victory.

PFAW Report

NAACP National Chairman Julian Bond Speaks at HRC Gala

National NAACP Chairman Julian Bond gave a powerful speech in support of LGBT rights at HRC’s Los Angeles Gala Dinner on Saturday, March 14.

From his speech:

"When someone asks me, “are gay rights civil rights?” my answer is always, “Of course, they are.” Civil rights are positive legal prerogatives: the right to equal treatment before the law. These are the rights shared by everyone. There is no one in the United States who does not, or should not, enjoy or share in enjoying these rights. Gay and lesbian rights are not special rights in any way. It isn’t “special” to be free from discrimination. It is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship. "

"People of color ought to be flattered that our movement has provided so much inspiration for others. That, it has been, that our movement has been so widely imitated. That our tactics, our methods, our heroes, our heroines, and even our songs, have been appropriated or served as models for others."

"Now, no parallel between movements is exact. African-Americans are the only Americans who were enslaved for more than two centuries and people of color carried the badge of who we are on our faces. But we are far from the only people suffering discrimination; sadly, so do many others. And those others deserve the law’s protection and civil rights too…"

"Like race, our sexuality isn’t a preference. It is immutable; it is unchangeable. And the constitution protects us against prejudices and discrimination based on immutable differences."

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Will Obama Do?

Through the Courage Campaign, Cleve Jones has written a letter on whether or not Obama will raise the ban on federal benefits for employees in same-sex relationships, asking everyone to sign a letter to the president to keep his campaign promise:

"I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law." -- Senator Barack Obama, in a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, March 2008

The Letter:

President Obama has a unique opportunity to give hope and equality to thousands of same-sex couples across America.

No matter what happens in the fight to overturn Proposition 8, same-sex couples will not enjoy full equality until the federal government recognizes all of their rights, starting with the repeal of the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) and the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Right now, the President can take an important first step towards full equality by allowing the same-sex partners of federal government employees to receive health benefits, just like their straight colleagues. Currently, same-sex partners are banned from receiving these important benefits.

As the New York Times reported on Thursday, "two judges of the federal appeals court in California said that employees of their court were entitled to health benefits for their same-sex partners under the program that insures millions of federal workers." But, citing DOMA, the federal Office of Personnel Management has instructed insurers not to provide the benefits ordered by the judges.

President Obama now has a choice -- to uphold the benefit ban or to keep his campaign promise to provide same-sex couples all the benefits that their fellow federal employees receive.

Please show your support for federal same-sex equal rights by signing the Courage Campaign's letter to President Obama. Ask him to keep his promise and allow the federal government to provide health benefits to all same-sex partners and spouses of federal employees:

The right-wing is already preparing to launch a major attack on President Obama over this issue.

Gary Bauer, a long-time leader of the religious right, told the New York Times last week that Obama would "provoke a furious reaction" among conservatives if he does the right thing by reversing the benefit ban. As we saw last fall, the right-wing will stop at nothing to promote inequality.

That's why we need to show President Obama that he has our strong support.

Please sign the Courage Campaign's letter to President Obama asking him to keep his promise and allow the federal govenment to provide health benefits to same-sex partners and spouses of federal employees. And please invite your family and friends to sign the letter as well:

Together, we will ensure that all committed couples enjoy full equality at the state and federal level.

Cleve Jones
Founder, the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and historical consultant for the film "MILK"

P.S. Asking President Obama to keep his promise to the LGBT community is the right thing to do. That's why I am working with the Courage Campaign. I believe they understand what it will take to restore marriage equality to California and bring full equality to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people across America. If you agree, please take a minute to sign this important letter to the President:

A Laugh-Out-Loud Video Series on Prop 8

A shout out to Queers United for showing this video:

GUEST POST: F.A.I.R. Opens Shepard Fairey Online Store

A Unite the Fight guest post from the co-founders of F.A.I.R.:

Andrew Oldershaw and I, Dayna Frank, worked together as fellow members of Homotracker to produce the anti-Prop 8 parody Mac/PC PSAs. After the election, we co-founded F.A.I.R. (with a dozen other energized young activists) in the aftermath of Prop 8. F.A.I.R. assists and develops high impact initiatives to create bridges between communities and maintain the media focus on the movement.

With the support and encouragement of Obey & Shepard Fairey, F.A.I.R. is privileged to announce the debut of the Shepard Fairey DEFEND EQUALITY / LOVE UNITES image merchandise online store at

All proceeds will go directly to fund grassroots efforts and actions within our community, related to LGBT civil rights in California and across the country. Our press release is below with more detail. We’d appreciate and welcome the support of your organizations in sharing the link, the release, and start gearing up!

LOS ANGELES -- March 12, 2009

Freedom Action Inclusion Rights (F.A.I.R.), a Southern California-based grassroots organization fighting for marriage equality And the repeal of California's Proposition 8, today announced it has formed a new partnership with famed street artist Shepard Fairey - whose iconic poster of President Barack Obama is now featured at the Smithsonian - to use Fairey's 'Love Unites' marriage equality poster to raise money for the battle for marriage equality in California.

"We are so honored to have Shepard as a partner in our effort to ensure we have the financial resources we need to secure marriage equality in the State of California," said FAIR co-founder Andrew Oldershaw. "Every cent we raise through this partnership will be invested in this fight."

Through its partnership with Shepard Fairey, F.A.I.R. has created an online store which provides supporters of equal rights with the opportunity to purchase t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, and other items featuring Fairey's ' Love Unites ' image, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward efforts to repeal Proposition 8 and secure equality for all in the State.

"Everyone should have the right to marry the one they love, in this State, and throughout the nation," said Fairey, who has so generously granted F.A.I.R. the right to use the Love Unites image to benefit the fight for marriage equality. "I look forward to working with F.A.I.R. and others in the grassroots LGBT equal rights movement to move us toward realizing the dream of true equality for everyone."

FAIR (Freedom, Action, Inclusion, Rights) was formed in the aftermath of Proposition 8 by a group of young LGBT advocates fighting for legislative equality and judicial freedom in California and beyond. FAIR aims to harness the unity and cohesion of this movement by bringing awareness to marriage equality and helping to bridge social and geographic gaps of other LGBT organizations through the execution of high impact events and programs.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Courage Campaign Announces Sponsorship of "Meet in the Middle for Equality"

Anticipating Supreme Court Ruling on Prop 8, Grassroots Activists Plan Kick-off of New Marriage Equality Movement in Fresno

LOS ANGELES - The Courage Campaign announced today its official sponsorship of the Fresno-based "Meet in the Middle for Equality" -- a day of dignity planned for the first Saturday after the California State Supreme Court rules on the legal challenges to Proposition 8, regardless of the outcome. The goal of Meet in the Middle for Equality is to support the communities of "middle-America" in the struggle for marriage equality.

"No matter how the Court rules, the fight for marriage equality will be won or lost in places like the Central Valley," said Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, a California-focused online organizing network with more than 700,000 members. "It's simple math, if we want to win marriage equality at the ballot box, we have to organize in each region of California equally."

On March 5, the state's highest court heard oral arguments on three lawsuits challenging Proposition 8. Within 90 days, the court will issue its ruling on whether Prop 8 was enacted improperly as a constitutional revision to revoke the right of same-sex couples to marry. The court also will determine if 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted between June and November of 2008 will remain valid.

"We are Californians living, working, loving and raising families in Central California," said Robin McGehee, a resident of Fresno and the founder of Meet in the Middle for Equality. "Our purpose for the event is to unite all equality-loving people in California on one day to celebrate the dignity and value of every human being."

According to the Secretary of State's breakdown of the 2008 general election vote by county, Proposition 8 was defeated in San Francisco by a 3 to 1 margin. However, voters in Fresno County and the rest of the Central Valley approved the measure by nearly the same 3 to 1 margin.

"Communities like Fresno are more reflective of national attitudes toward gay and lesbian issues," added McGehee, noting the differences between progressive communities on California's coast and the conservatives of the Central Valley. "Until we put down roots in the Valley and learn to engage the people of our own hometowns, we will not gain full equality."

This past weekend, the Courage Campaign held the second in a series of skills-building training institutes called "Camp Courage" in Fresno. The training gives grassroots activists the practical, hands-on skills to organize in their communities to restore marriage equality for same-sex couples, should the court fail to overturn Prop 8. "Camp Courage" is a major step toward repealing Proposition 8 and building a permanent progressive majority in California.

"Events like Meet in the Middle and Camp Courage are designed to bring communities together through grassroots organizing and one-on-one conversations," continued Jacobs.

More information about Meet in the Middle for Equality can found at:

More information about Camp Courage, including video, pictures and news coverage of the event, can be found at: