Friday, April 24, 2009

Utah Gov. Huntsman on Equal Rights. NOM Irrelevant.



From Chino Blanco:
General impression: NOM is in serious trouble - derision hurts, but irrelevance is fatal.

Random notes:

Interesting framing from Richard Piatt of LDS-owned KSL: "Given the past power of the ultra-right on this issue ..."

Huntsman: "If it equates to equal rights for all of our citizens, it's a conversation we need to have."

Lisa Riley Roche (Deseret News): "Do you support that [NOM] campaign that seems to be suggesting there's an increasing threat to the American way of life by people seeking equal rights?"

Huntsman: "I haven't given that [campaign] a second's thought."

Ouch.

Irrelevance.
Read the rest at Chino Blanco.

BREAKING NEWS: New York Senate Committee to Take Up Marriage Equality Bill Tuesday

New York's Senate Judiciary Committee will take up Gov. David Paterson's same-sex marriage bill on Tuesday, despite the governor's apparent backpedaling.

Tuesday is also the day Empire State Pride Agenda plans to hold its Equality & Justice Lobby Day.

Thousands of supporters of marriage and LGBT equality are expected to arrive at the state capitol, Albany, NY, to rally and hold one-on-one conversations with legislators, urging their support for equality legislation, an event that's been in the planning for months.

Perfect timing! (Or maneuvering, but who cares!)



Tuesday is going to be a big day for marriage equality in New York. Stay tuned!

CA State Solicitor General's Letter Reminds Supreme Court of Iowa's Decision

Thanks to Good As You, a letter from California's State Solicitor General reminding the state Supreme Court of Iowa's decision on same-sex marriage has been made available. It cites Iowa's equal protection clause behind the ruling

Hooper Jeremy ResAttach 04-23-09 Hooper Jeremy ResAttach 04-23-09 goodasyou

Though I'm sure the court appreciates the reminder, I'm also sure they're very well aware of what occurred in Iowa. The question is, will it affect their decision?

EVENT: Camp Courage Spreading Empowerment in Oakland, CA May 2-3

If you're a regular reader, I don't need to tell you how big of a fan I am of Courage Campaign's Camp Courage, a two-day weekend event that trains equality activists in community organizing based on the principals that drove Sen. Barack Obama to become President Barack Obama.

I gushed about Camp Courage, Los Angeles and later wrote about how being a facilitator at Camp Courage, Fresno became more of a learning experience than a teaching experience for me. And just this last weekend, I facilitated again in San Diego.

Now Camp Courage is making its way to Oakland, CA in the Bay Area, Saturday, May 2 (8:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.) AND Sunday, May 3 (8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.).

Camp Courage will cover basic community and political organizing skills, including:
  • Finding your voice by telling your “story of self”
  • Leadership development
  • Principles of successful organizing
  • Developing collaboration and building effective teams
  • Techniques of voter persuasion
  • Organizing a phonebank
  • Canvassing
  • Tabling
  • Throwing house parties
  • Online organizing
You may rightfully ask, "Why do I need to learn all this?"

The California Supreme Court is about to issue a ruling any day now on the validity of Proposition 8, which endangers the rights of every minority group.

If they uphold it, we will need to create an army of equality activists to support a new initiative campaign to overturn it, and you will need these skills.

If they do the right thing and throw it out, you'll still need these skills to help fight other discriminatory measures here in California and in other parts of the country.

Apply to Camp Courage, Oakland, CA. Get involved! I'll see you there!

VIDEO: What Do Texans Think of Marriage Equality?

DocuBlogger Pat Kondelis delves into the controversial topic of gay marriage in Texas, asking everyday people about their stance on the issue.

Very surprising indeed. Especially with all this talk about Texas seceding from the Union over its dissatisfaction with the direction the country is taking. Don't forget, Texas was once its own country. And if you went to visit, they wouldn't let you forget it!

New York Marriage Equality Bills Officially Introduced to Legislature

Sponsors of the marriage equality bills introduced the legislation to the state Legislature on Wednesday.

From LoHud.com:
Here’s the main change in the language:

The domestic relations law is amended by adding a new section 2 10-a to read as follows:
3 § 10-a. Sex of parties.

1. A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex. No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage, whether deriving from statute, administrative or court rule, public policy, common law or any other source of law, shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being or having been of the same sex rather than a different sex. When necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law, all gender-specific language or terms shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner in all such sources oflaw.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, has 18 Democratic co-sponsors: Adams, Breslin, Dilan, Espada, Craig Johnson, Klein, Krueger, Montgomery, Oppenheimer, Parker, Perkins, Savino, Schneiderman, Serrano, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins and Thompson.

It will need 32 votes in the Senate.

The Assembly bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Manhattan, has more, 53: Gottfried, Glick, Titone, Kellner, Silver, Bing, Rosenthal, Jeffries, Dinowitz, John, Kavanagh, DenDekker, Schimel, Sayward, Alessi, Aubry, Boyland, Bradley, Brennan, Brodsky, Cahill, Cook, Duprey, Eddington, Englebright, Farrell, Fields, Gianaris, Hevesi, Hoyt, Jaffee, Lancman, Latimer, Lavine, Lentol, Lifton, Lopez V, Lupardo, McEneny, Millman, Nolan, Ortiz, Paulin, Peralta, Pretlow, Rivera J, Rivera N, Sweeney, Towns, Weisenberg, Weprin, Wright, Zebrowski.
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-North Country) became the first Republican in history to cosponsor a marriage equality bill.

New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee Rejects Marriage Equality

The Granite State's Senate Judiciary Committee proposed the senate kill both the marriage equality and transgender anti-discrimination bills that passed the house last month.

Though this recommendation is not binding to the full senate, it is unlikely either bill will see the floor for a vote next week.

The vote split 3-2 on the gay marriage bill with Democrat Chairman Deborah Reynolds of Plymouth shifting the vote by joining Republicans Bob Letourneau of Derry and Sheila Roberge of Bedford in voting to kill it. Democrats Bette Lasky of Nashua and Matthew Houde of Plainfield opposed the move.

The committee then voted 5-0 to recommend that the full Senate kill the transgender rights bill. The bill adds the term "gender identify or expression" to state anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws.

Three hours of public hearing testimony earlier this month didn't sway the opponents with Letourneau stating that the state's adoption last year of a law allowing civil unions was adequate.

"Marriage is something between a man and a woman and has been for time immemorial," he said.

Reynolds, who sided with the Republicans, said she "struggled" with the issue, but said the state "made great strides" with passage of the civil unions law.

On Tuesday, former governor and current state Republican party chairman John Sununu referred to both bills as "garbage."

Read more at the Union Leader. And for a more local, personal level, read Blue Hampshire.

Contact New Hampshire Senators and ask them to push for a vote on the bills! The Senate Judiciary Committee only gave a proposal to the senate to rejects the bills. The senators can still vote themselves because the committee cannot keep the bill from the floor for a vote.

Sign the HRC action letter!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Follow Unite the Fight on Twitter and Facebook!

Always on the go but want to stay in the loop? Unite the Fight can text the latest to your cell phone through Twitter! Or easily keep track on the Twitter website. You can find Unite the Fight under @unitethefight.

You can also stay on top of Unite the Fight through Facebook with feed notices and top headlines.

Be sure to check out April's Top Posts (so far) and Recommended Reading articles located on the sidebar.

Contact Maine's Senate Judiciary Committee to Pass the Marriage Equality Bill

From Queers United:

The Maine Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing yesterday on LD 1020 the bill to reverse the state ban on same-sex marriage and open up the institution to gay and lesbian couples. 3,000 people packed the University of Maine campus to speak as proponents or opponents of the bill, in a heated 14 hour long event.

The committee will convene again on Tuesday, April 28th, and it is critical that they hear more testimonies and opinions of those in favor of full marriage rights.


Maine residents can send a message to their representatives through the Equality Maine
form.

All Americans should also contact all 14 reps on the
Senate Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote in favor of LD 1020.

Check out the footage from Maine's public hearing on the bill.

Dolores Huerta to speak at "Meet in the Middle"

The amazing Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers of America with civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, will be speaking at the major event Meet in the Middle in Fresno, CA. It will take place the Saturday after the California Supreme Court rules on the validity of Proposition 8.

Huerta, who is currently nominated as a Voice for Equality, has a long, stellar history of community organizing and recently spoke at the Courage Campaign's Camp Courage in Fresno, CA.

In the following video shot during Camp Courage, she clearly states her support for LGBT equality.


She is also the President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a "non-profit organization whose mission is to build active communities working for fair and equal access to health care, housing, education, jobs, civic participation and economic resources for disadvantaged communities with an emphasis on women and youth."

A strong supporter for equality, Huerta has a long track record of fighting for human rights, including 22 arrests from civil disobedience.

A powerful speaker, you don't want to miss this opportunity to hear her live at Meet in the Middle.

Read the Advocate's article on her appearance at the 21st Creating Change Conference this past January.

Iowa Atty. Gen. Orders County Clerks to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has warned county clerks in that state they do not have the authority to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Unfortunately, such an order became necessary when Republican state Sen. Merlin Bartz and the Iowa Family Policy Center started a petition drive to convince the county clerks to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses in defiance of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling. They're urging citizens to deliver the signed petitions to all 99 county recorder offices on Monday, the day the ruling takes effect, telling them they're justified to refuse licenses as a "matter of conscience." (Read the heinous petition - PDF download)

“We expect duly-elected county recorders to comply with the Iowa Constitution as interpreted unanimously by the Iowa Supreme Court, the highest court in Iowa,” Miller said in a statement to the Iowa Independent. “Our country lives by and thrives by the rule of law, and the rule of law means we all follow the law as interpreted by our courts - not by ourselves. We don’t each get to decide what the law is; that would lead to chaos. We must live by and follow what the courts decide.”

Miller also said that any county recorder that doesn’t abide by the Court’s ruling would be in violation of the law and face removal from office. “Recorders do not have discretion or power to ignore the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling. If necessary, we will explore legal actions to enforce and implement the Court’s ruling, working with the Iowa Department of Public Health and county attorneys.”

Read the attorney general's full statement.

More...
From 365gay.com:

"The Iowa Department of Public Health, which registers marriages in the state, has begun sending county clerks new gender neutral marriage license application forms.

"Same-sex couples can begin issuing the forms on Monday, the date imposed by the Iowa Supreme Court when it struck down the state ban on gay marriage on April 3.

"The old forms had spaces for the “Groom” and “Bride” to fill in. The new forms refer only to “Party A” and Party B”.

"But the forms will also provide an option for traditional opposite-sex couples - allowing them to tick off a box identifying them as bride and groom."

PETITION: Demand the US Tell Iraq to Stop Persecuting Its LGBT Citizens

REMINDER: With the recent executions of gays in Iraq, this petition to the President and Congress to put a stop to this NOW is more important than ever. Change.org only has 481 signatures and need 1,000!

Spread the word! Help this atrocity come out of the shadows and demand something be done!
More...
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Periodically, UTF will address concerns outside same-sex marriage, including focus on the treatment of LGBT individuals internationally and the lack of U.S. involvement.

Another case of extreme persecution has come up in Iraq, where the U.S. holds the most influence over any other nation in the world.

And now there's a call to ACTION.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From Change.org:

Targeting: the President of the United States, members of the US Senate and members of the US House of Representatives

Started by: Michael Jones of Change.org.

In recent weeks, reports have surfaced that the LGBT community in Iraq is facing dire safety concerns, with many reportedly scheduled to be executed by the Iraqi government. The situation in Iraq has gotten so egregious for LGBT citizens, an underground network has started to escort gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Iraqis out of the country.

These abuses need to be investigated by the U.S. government. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during her recent trip to Europe: "Human rights is and always will be one of the pillars of our foreign policy. And in particular, the persecution and discrimination against gays and lesbians is something that we take very seriously. It is terribly unfortunate that right now in unfortunately many places in the world violence against gays and lesbians, certainly discrimination and prejudice are not just occurring but condoned and protected. And we would hope that over the next few years we could have some influence in trying to change those attitudes..."

The U.S. has the power to help change these attitudes in Iraq, and we should focus on doing so before one more LGBT Iraqi is sentenced to die.

Read and sign the petition by June 28, 2009.

Despite NOM's Efforts, New Poll Shows New Jersey Supports Same-Sex Marriage


The National Organization for Marriage keeps trying to scare the populace with a storm front coming their way that will rain gay weddings on their heads. But New Jersey, after being hammered with the "Gathering Storm" ads, says "Bring it on!"

A new Quinnipiac University poll reveals 49%-43% in support of a same-sex marriage law expected to be submitted after November's gubernatorial election. This is a drastic change from December 2007 when 50% opposed.

The argument that same-sex marriage threatens traditional marriage doesn't fly in the Garden State either with 66% not agreeing with the illogical statement.

"Legislators, take note: No matter what lies our opponents throw on television, New Jersey stands by marriage equality and will stand by you when you vote to end discrimination in marriage in 2009," said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality.

When given three options, New Jersey responded:
  • 42% say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry;
  • 30% say same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions, but not marry;
  • 20% oppose any legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
Two years ago, New Jersey's civil union law took effect, and in the interim, support for same-sex marriage has shifted 6 points against it to 6 points in favor.

This further underlines the belief that much of the resistance to same-sex marriage lies in fear of what is different and unknown. For many, religion is the scapegoat used to mask their deep-rooted homophobia. Many truly believe their resistance is based on their beliefs, blurring the line between blind faith and prejudice, because many have been raised in religious communities where questioning is discouraged. As a result, they're not challenged to think outside the box and anything posing contradiction is a threat.

Until the apocalypse of civil unions and same-sex marriage comes and they realize the world isn't going to end. They may even begrudgingly admit that these gay families are actually, well, "OK."

Exposure is a great antidote to ignorance.

Read about other new marriage polls at Bilerico.

UPDATE: NY Gov. David Paterson Backpedals on Same-Sex Marriage Bill

UPDATE: New York newspaper, the Post-Standard, has issued an editorial, "A Civil Right: Legislature has no reason to delay on same-sex marriage", a MUST READ.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
After unveiling same-sex marriage legislation last week in a widely watched press conference, New York Gov. David A. Paterson seems to be backpedaling on his strong hand approach.

Wednesday he announced that he would follow State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith plan not to put the bill to a vote without knowing it would pass.

"I'm very concerned about putting a bill on the floor that's going to be symbolism and not pass. . . . I'm going to count until I know that I have 32, if not 34, votes," he said last week.

Smith has been a strong supporter of same-sex marriage legislation and was working on introducing a bill until the governor came along demanding immediate action. The governor's action starkly contrasted New York tradition of not introducing controversial legislation without knowing the outcome of the vote. The bill is expected to pass the House.

Currently, the Democrats hold the majority 32-30 in the state's Senate, but four Democrats said they would vote against the bill. Smith was working on getting more votes from across the aisle.

"On this particular bill, there are a lot of other issues related to it," Paterson told reporters Wednesday. "Senator Smith knows the inertia of the Senate better than anyone else . . . I'll stick with his final judgment."

After Paterson's comments Wednesday, Smith was asked for a response. Before he could reach the microphone, the governor quipped, "Senator Smith agrees with me completely." Smith replied, "Absolutely."

Looks like were back to square one.

Connecticut Bill Makes Room for Same-Sex Marriage in the Law Books

The new bill, which passed 28-7 in the Senate and 100-44 in the House, will update the Connecticut's marriage law books to conform to the state's Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in the state. Before, the law defined marriage as a union between a man and woman.

The bill wasn't needed to allow same-sex marriage, but supporters said it was needed to phase out civil unions. The bill calls for such unions to be transformed to marriages on October 1, 2010, unless the couple applies for a marriage license beforehand.

Naturally resistant to the end, same-sex marriage foes, ignorant of the protections that they already have, were given added protection for their religious liberties through an amendment to the bill. It states religious organizations and associations are not required to provide services, goods or facilities for same-sex wedding ceremonies.

"We wanted to make it completely clear that the state of Connecticut fully embraces not only the rights of same-sex couples to marry, but we fully embrace the rights and protections afforded by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Connecticut Constitution to the free exercise of religion," said openly gay Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Take Up the IDAHO Challenge!

From Gays.com:

The Idaho Challenge is a community project by Gays.com to produce a user-generated video to be released 17 May 2009, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

While 67 countries have signed the new United Nations statement to decriminalise homosexuality worldwide, anti-gay discrimination remains a reality in many parts of the world.

This year, with your help, we want to create a video that sends out the message that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people are just like everyone else. We come from all over the world and we come in all shapes and sizes and colours. And we want to send this message to the people of the world in every language that's out there!



Submit your video here!

Congressman Jared Polis’ Letter to Embassy in Iraq on Gay Executions

Thanks to Mike Tidmus and journalist Rex Wockner, I have been able to obtain a copy of the letter that Congressman Jared Polis’ letter to the chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Iraq about the recent executions of gay men in Iraq.

Congressman Jared Polis’ letter to the chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Iraq.

Congressman Jared Polis' statement on the investigation on his website.

Is Marriage Equality Headed to Louisiana?

Louisiana faces a challenge to its constitutional amendment that bars same-sex couples from marrying within its borders. The amendment, which lawmakers and voters overwhelmingly approved in 2004, was reinstated by the state's Supreme Court in 2005.

Kristoffer Bonilla, 33, and John Thomas Wray, 18, a New Orleans gay couple, is suing over being denied a marriage license in Louisiana, and their suit asks a federal judge to strike down the amendment.

"By failing to articulate a legitimate, compelling and secular interest for the restriction on marriage, the state has necessarily established a wholly religious civil institution," the suit says.

Claiming the state's amendment violates their First Amendment rights "by curtailing the right to marry based upon a religious interpretation of the nature and purpose of marriage itself," the men filed the lawsuit against several state and local officials on April 2, the same day they said they were denied a marriage license.

Defendant Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine and advocates on both sides of the suit believe this is the first case of its kind in Louisiana.

"This has the potential to be a pretty important case," said Levine, who received a copy of the lawsuit on Monday. But he says the law and state amendment is solid. "There's no argument. The law is crystal clear in Louisiana," he added.

Randy Evans, an attorney for Forum for Equality, which had initially challenged the amendment in 2004, said the case decided by the state Supreme Court in 2005 didn't delve into any federal constitutional issues.

"The earlier case really has no controlling effect on this lawsuit," he said.

Alliance Defense Fund attorney Mike Johnson, who argued for the amendment when the Supreme Court heard the case, called the new lawsuit frivolous.

"Our marriage amendment is comprehensive in its scope and definitive in its meaning, and there's no question that our state Supreme Court has upheld it," he said.

Overcrowded Maine Hearing Brings Standing Ovation for Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Excerpts from the AP:
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- A legislative hearing to extend gay marriage to Maine took on the atmosphere of a religious revival Wednesday as ministers made impassioned speeches for and against the bill before thousands of cheering spectators packed into a civic arena.

Gay couples also took turns pleading for recognition of their partnerships, while opponents warned that state sanctioning of same-sex marriages would fracture a basic building block of society.

The Judiciary Committee hearing drew so much interest that traffic became snarled early in the day. Gay marriage supporters hoping to build on momentum in the region arrived wearing red, and they gave a standing ovation to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Dennis Damon, as he opened the hearing. Police said it drew 3,500 to 4,000 people.

"This bill is fair. This bill's time has come," Damon, D-Trenton, said to a roar of approval. "It recognizes the worth and dignity of every man and every woman among us."

Damon's proposal - backed by more than 60 legislative co-sponsors - would repeal a state law that limits marriage to a man and a woman and replace it with one that authorizes marriage between any two people.
And on the bill's chances:
The marriage effort's prospects in Maine are uncertain. The Legislature could approve it or reject it, or the state's voters could have the final say. Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, who previously opposed the idea, now says he is keeping an open mind.

The Legislature has the option of sending the issue to voters in a referendum. Or, if the measure becomes law, opponents could initiate a "people's veto" effort.
Read the rest of the AP article.

One of the most dramatic moments in the public hearing that I witnessed was when an older man took the mike and said, "Marriage will give homosexuals unfettered access to children to molest them."

At this point, every supporter wearing red, including those who oppose same-sex marriage but didn't want to be seen in support of such a bigoted statement, stood up from their seats and turned their back on the man.

Now only if we, the LGBT population, could help those who oppose the bill but stood up realize that their refusal to recognize LGBT relationships as equal to marriage is as hurtful to us as that bigoted man's statement.

The hearings will continue until 8pm EST/5pm PST. If you live in Maine, go now! Equality Maine just sent out a call that they need more support.

You can watch it LIVE on Unite the Fight.

Image: AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach

GLBT Executions in Iraq Have Begun

A cross post with Mike Tidmus, a San Diego blogger.

A few weeks back I wrote about the pending executions of GLBT Iraqis. [UTF's post] According to reports from Colorado Congressman Jared Polis and international human rights organizations the executions have begun. Veteran journalist Rex Wockner has this up at his blog:
Polis: Iraqi GLBT executions have begun

By Rex Wockner

Of the five or six members of Iraqi LGBT who reportedly have been sentenced to death in Baghdad for belonging to a supposedly banned organization, one has escaped custody and one has been executed, says U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.

According to Polis, the “egregious human rights violations” are “being carried out by Iraqi government officials from the Ministry of the Interior.”

“While I do not know if these executions are being sanctioned at the highest levels of the Iraqi government, it is nonetheless disturbing that government officials and state-funded security forces are involved in the torturing and execution of LGBT Iraqis,” Polis wrote to Patricia Butenis, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

Polis said the U.S. government “appears to be largely unaware that the executions of gay and transgender Iraqis have been able to occur in Iraq” and has expressed an “unwillingness to seriously consider these allegations and examine the evidence (from) international human rights watchdog organizations.”
Contact the US State Department and demand an investigation. Find and contact your US Representatives here, and find and contact your US Senators here.

Image: On July 19, 2005 the government of Iran executed teenagers Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in Iran (aged 15 and 16-years-old, respectively, at the time of their arrests), apparently for the “crime” of having gay sex.

One Iowa Launches New TV Ad for Marriage Equality

In Iowa, the state Supreme Court didn't end the fight for marriage equality, it practically incensed it.

With constant protests at the capitol from anti-gay demonstrators, to death threats against gay senator Matt McCoy, to letters to a justice claiming "You are, after all, only a lawyer in a black robe," and now a call for civil disobedience to Iowa county recorders to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples, there's much more work to be done to protect our new found equality in Iowa.

As we all know in the equality movement, true and permanent change begins with the hearts and minds of the public. One Iowa, the state's largest LGBT organization, is already prepared to portray to the Iowa masses the truth behind the love driving marriage equality with a new TV ad to run throughout the state.



Keeping it on the air is not a cheap endeavor, and One Iowa needs help. In order to keep the ad running as long as needed, you can go to their website and donate.

Read a round up of Iowa equality news.

Hear and View Maine's Public Hearing on Same-Sex Marriage Bill Live!

Hear live Maine's public hearing on the same-sex marriage bills.

Online TV Shows by Ustream

See poll showing a deeply divided Maine over marriage equality.

NY Republican Leadership Won't Pressure Its Legislators to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage Bill

As Unite the Fight has already observed, a shift in the GOP towards backing off of same-sex marriage opposition is small but growing. Yesterday's announcement from the Log Cabin Republicans that the GOP's New York leadership won't pressure legislators to vote against Gov. David Paterson's same-sex legislation supports this observation. This decision will allow legislators to give a "conscience vote," which contrasts the 2007 vote on identical legislation when Republicans were pressured to vote against it.

Jeff Cook, legislative adviser for the Log Cabin Republicans said this was "significant" that "the center of gravity in both parties has shifted on this issue to where Republicans now feel like their conference needs to be neutral and Democrats feel their conference needs to be emphatic in support."

The Advocate reports:
"The development may be particularly important in the senate, where Democrats hold a slim 32-30 majority, four Democrats have already said they will vote against the marriage bill, and equality advocates will need to pick up several GOP votes in order to pass the legislation. Strategists expect the legislation to sail through the assembly, which already passed an identical bill in 2007 by a vote of 85 to 61."
Here's to hope.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg Responds to Rudy Giuliani's Anit-Gay Statements

Unite the Fight earlier reported on former New York City mayor Rudy Giuiliani's ridiculous statements against same-sex marriage. And ridiculous they are given that he has a less than stellar track record in this "sanctified" institution.

The current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, recently responded and expounded on his support for same-sex marriage.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

NOM Issues Letter to Supporters Urging Donations for New Media Blitz

The National Organization for Marriage's executive director, Brian Brown, has issued a four-page letter to supporters urging them to donate to a media blitz that will counter President Obama's supposed repealing of the Defense of Marriage Act, which could allow the federal government to recognize same-sex unions.

He says the Washington Democrats are sneaking in a radical agenda with "far-reaching social policy changes as part of the economic stimulus package. If they think we're asleep at the wheel, they could try the same thing with marriage during the first few months of this new administration."

The letter also requests donations to the DOMA Defense Fund because it needs $1 million for the ads, and it goes on to refer to judges "forcing same-sex marriage on an entire nation" and also refers to California governor candidate Gavin Newsom's infamous quote, "Whether you like it or not."

"We don't have tens of millions of dollars from a handful of gay billionaires funding our efforts," Brown wrote. "This time it's up to supporters."

No, they only have the LDS Church, though the church recently denied using NOM as a front.

"Bullying and intimidation is at the heart of [the LGBT equality] movement's tactics because silencing your voice is the only way that lies and hatred can prevail over truth and love," Brown goes on to say. But with "NOM's powerful new technology" supporters will be able to make their voices be heard loud and clear "with a few clicks of the mouse" and together speak "for God's truth about marriage."

Don't get me started on that last line. I've already ranted about people speaking on behalf of God.

Brown also says the equality movement's goal is to make them look like "hate-filled bigots."

When the sole purpose of your job and donation is to keep people who love each other from marrying, and defend this by twisting Biblical scripture and the theology of a loving (yes, loving at its core) religion like Christianity, to support blatant discrimination and hate, then our supposed "goal" of making you look like "hate-filled bigots" has already been met. And we didn't have to lift a finger.

See the whole letter below, thank to GoodAsYou.org.

National Organization for Marriage letter

Project Classifieds (aka Project Equality Wanted)

SOMETHING YOU CAN DO:
Want to get the same-sex marriage issue back in the media in a positive way? Want to make a memorable statement in a way that’s never been done before?

DO SOMETHING:

Join us in taking over statewide newspapers on Sunday, May 3rd!

WHO:
The LGBT community and their allies

WHAT:

Taking over statewide classifieds in the CA newspapers

WHEN:

The ads will need to be in the May 3rd paper, so make sure you submit yours with enough time to meet the deadline. Make sure your ad is not printed early!

WHERE:
All publications in CA that have classifieds

HOW:

We need as many people as possible to submit marriage equality classified or personal ads to publications in CA. Be as creative as you can, but make sure it is obvious you are talking about marriage equality. If you can submit multiple ads or hit numerous publications, please do so. We want to make sure no one will miss our ads, so the more that are submitted the better. If you want to submit half page or full page adds, please do that as well. If you can write in a foreign language, please consider submitting ads in newspapers that are published in different languages.

WHY:
Classifieds are read by numerous people across the state. This is our chance to reach out to people in a humorous, non-confrontational way that will be remembered. While protests are great, they can’t be the only way we fight back. In order to keep our issue in the media, we will need to be more creative.

SAMPLE ADS:

LOST AND FOUND
Lost - my right to marry the person I love. Last seen on November 4th, 2008. If seen, please return to law abiding, taxpaying citizen. It is dearly missed.

FOR SALE
My Rights

FOR SALE
Equal rights for minorities.

WANTED
The right to marry the person I love. If anyone has a right to marry that they are not using, please let me know. This right must be non-revocable and available to all people regardless of their sexual orientation. Please call ASAP if you can help me secure equality for all.

TEMPORARY HOME NEEDED

My right to marry the person I love needs a good home since I am temporarily displaced from my Constitutional Protections. If you know of a place where I can protect my dream to marry him/her until I can get my rights back, please contact me.

PERSONALS

Seeking responsible committed right to visit my spouse in the hospital when I travel out of state, ability to give my social security benefits to my spouse and seeking the 1,138 other federal rights denied my spouse at present . No flakes or substitutes need apply!
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Larry King Interviews Perez Hilton About Miss California USA

I'm not really interested in reporting on this much more because, honestly, it's pretty petty. And though I don't agree with Carrie Prejean, Miss California USA, at least she's sticking by what she believes, even in the face of opposition. (This story sure gives her so much more exposure than the winner. Can you even name Miss USA 2009?)

One of our jobs, as the LGBT population, is to communicate to those who disagree with us, to show them the truth about who we are. If they still disagree, then so be it.

At least Perez offered Miss Calfornia a coffee date to talk, to which Miss California responded, "No comment!"

See Perez's vlog right after the Miss USA Pageant. He first apologized to Carrie for this rant, but just now on CNN, he told Rick Sanchez he took it back saying, "I'm Perez Hilton! I don't represent the LGBT community. I'm supposed to be controversial!"

The best embedding clip available so far of the Larry King interview afterward. You can see the whole clip on PerezHilton.com.



More...





VIDEO: Gavin Newsom Announces Run for California Governor

Gavin Newsom, known throughout the country for his strong support for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, announced today that he will be running for California Governor.



SF Gate article.

VIDEO: Marriage Equality & Religion - The Massachusetts Experience

Empire State Pride Agenda is gearing up for the brewing battle in New York state over marriage equality. It is critical in such a campaign to frame the debate first and to steer the conversation.

They are prepared for the arguments by the religious right-wing, and in order to silence the religious debate before it even sets in, they have released the following:
One of the most dominant myths used by forces opposed to marriage equality is that allowing same-sex couples to marry would somehow negatively affect religious institutions or apply restrictions to their freedom to worship as they choose.

Although this myth is patently false, that has not stopped some opponents from using the claim to lead people to believe their religious freedom is in danger. Fortunately, in New York, we do not need to speculate on how religious institutions, spiritual life and the freedom to worship will be affected if the state passes a law allowing same-sex couples to marry. New York needs only to look to our neighbor to the east, Massachusetts — where marriages for same-sex couples have been legal since 2004 — to see that the worries about such a law negatively impacting people of faith have been unfounded.


MSNBC's Countdown Responds to Giuliani's Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

Unite the Fight reported yesterday on former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani's opposition to same-sex marriage and how ridiculous it is that this man, who's been married three times and brought scandal to the headlines through his affairs, believes he has the right to judge on who can and cannot get married.

Well, I'm not alone on that thinking. MSNBC's Countdown chimed in as well:

Opponents Plan to Flood Maine's Marriage Bill Hearings Tomorrow

Unite the Fight earlier reported that tomorrow's Maine public hearing information on same-sex marriage legislation had changed and that the venue moved to the Augusta Civic Center to accommodate more people. Details and RSVP info here.

One bill, LD 1020 to be discussed tomorrow, would repeal Maine’s 12-year-old so-called Defense of Marriage law, which bars same-sex marriage, while a second bill would make marriage gender-neutral. Both were filed by Democrat Sen. Dennis S. Damon. The bills affirm that religious institutions continue to have control over their own religious doctrine and teachings regarding who may marry within each faith.

You can view downloadable PDFs of the bills here.

A third bill, LD 1118, filed by Republican Rep. Leslie Fossel would create a domestic-partner registry while maintaining DOMA. This bill would provide "registered domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, court rule, government policy, common law, or any other provisions or source of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."

Members of the public may listen online through the Legislature's Web site, Legislature.Maine.gov.

The committee will hear testimony from opposing sides in half-hour increments. Individuals will have three minutes to present their testimony. The committee is scheduled to take two 45-minute meal breaks during the day, and the hearing will adjourn no later than 8 p.m.

Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage have been trekking across the state, voicing their side of the issue.

As reported on Pam's House Blend: "The Kennebec Journal had (on section B page 3) a nice big photo of 4 young white men in white shirts, ties and blazers with perfect Republican Hair (TM). One is holding some sort of banner and the others a sign. Their sign reads: "God's Marriage= 1 man & 1 woman":

DEMONSTRATORS HOLD BANNERS AND SIGNS and wave at traffic in a traffic island at Memorial Circle on Friday afternoon. John E. Ritchie said the demonstrators were from The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, a Catholic group headquartered in Pennsylvania. He said that they were traveling across the region opposing proposed bills that would allow same-sex marriage. The eight men started their demonstration in the middle of the Memorial Circle but an Augusta police officer asked them to move to a traffic island.
This is why it's so important for many supporters of same-sex marriage to show up to tomorrow's public hearing. We need to show our opponents that we exist in plenty, too.

Equality Maine "learned that the opposition has chartered buses to deliver their supporters to the public hearing this Wednesday at the August Civic Center. We cannot let them outnumber us on this critical day." If you can, go! This is a very important day for marriage equality in Maine and for the country.

You can RSVP to attend the event at april22@equalitymaine.org.

Rev. Eric Lee of the SCLC to Speak At "Meet in the Middle"

It's been confirmed! The Rev. Eric P. Lee will be participating in the march from Selma, CA to Fresno, CA for Meet in the Middle and will then speak at the following rally.

The Rev. Lee is President/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles and Chairman/President of the California Christian Leadership Conference. The SCLC was co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shortly after the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Reverend Lee is one of Los Angeles’ most vocal and visible civil and human rights activists. From addressing the right of African-American security guards to organize into unions to addressing homophobia, Lee is leading the SCLC into the 21st Century.

A message from the Rev. Eric Lee:
"Never before has there been a proposition or a ballot initiative that has generated as much controversy and division as California's Proposition 8.

"Families, friends, neighbors and communities were divided on the issue of marriage equality, often to the point of heated arguments or purposeful avoidance.

"Marriage equality is a civil rights issue. Anytime one group of people is denied the rights another group of people enjoy, it is a fundamentally a denial of civil rights."

The reverend has written a book, "Proposition 8: The California Divide" which is to arrive on the shelves April 25.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Californians Against Hate Ad Campaign Counters NOM Ads in New England


Californians Against Hate (CAH) are launching their own ad campaign in the US Northeast to counter the NOM ads that ran in the region with their anti-gay messages.

“We believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) established the National Organization for Marriage as its front group in order to qualify Proposition 8 for ballot last year in California,” said Fred Karger, Founder of Californians Against Hate. “After spending several million dollars in California, NOM recently moved into 7 Northeast States considering marriage equality."

In reference to the 234th anniversary of Paul Revere's famous midnight ride, the CAH ads rewrote Longfellow’s famous poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” which contains the famous refrain "The British are coming!" and have reworked it to read, "The Mormons are coming!"

“Our modern day Paul Revere is warning of TV commercials (using bad actors trying to play real people), radio ads, and robo--calls -- all full of deceit and lies,” said Fred Karger. “Their ads are fueled by millions of dollars, which we believe comes primarily from the Mormon Church and its members.”


“We want all fair-minded people to know who is behind NOM’s effort to stop equal rights," ads Karger. "We will continue to pound away at this front group until everyone knows exactly who is behind the creation of the National Organization for Marriage.”

The ads launched April 18th.

Majority of NY Residents Support Same-Sex Marriage Poll Says

With all the scuffling going on between New York state's leadership over same-sex marriage, one can easily forget about the people they're representing and what they believe.

Luckily for us, Siena College hasn't forgotten and released a poll Monday indicating that 53 percent of voters approve of same-sex marriage, while 39 percent are opposed.

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda said, "In the past three years, Siena polling has shown support for marriage equality growing from 43% in 2007 to 46% last year to 53% this year and opposition dropping from 47% in 2007 to 40% last year to just 39% now...It’s time for State Senators who still aren’t with us to look at these results and ask themselves this simple question: 'Do I want to be on the right side of history or the wrong side of history when the story is written about how marriage equality came to New York State'?"

It's hard not to miss the reference to the temper tantrums that Sen. Ruben Diaz has been throwing ever since Gov. David Paterson introduced same-sex marriage legislation last week.

Hopefully, this poll will shut the senator up. But somehow, I doubt it.

Sienna Collge Poll NY State Same-Sex Marriage

09 April SNY Poll Release -- FINAL