Saturday, May 23, 2009

US Embassy in Baghdad Celebrates Pride While Gay Men Are Tortured Blocks Away

A Washington Post article talks about how much change is coming to Baghdad with a "first-ever U.S. Embassy Gay Pride Theme Party next Friday at Baghdaddy's, which is the embassy employee association's pub", commemorated with a drag show.

An embassy spokesman told the post by way of explanation: "This is an event organized and sponsored by a group of employees. Given the lack of places to meet in Baghdad, the embassy allows groups to use its social facilities for events on a first-come, first-served basis."

As my friend at NG Blog put it, WTF?!

Literally, blocks away in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country of Iraq, gay men are being rounded up, tortured and executed.

The lack of sensitivity and couth that these Americans are showing within their cushy safety zone behind the walls of the embassy, strikes me as a slap in the face to their fellow gays struggling to stay alive nearby. As the spokesman mentioned, there's a lack of places to meet in Baghdad.

Gee, you think?

To give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they thought this wouldn't get out. But when you title it "the first-ever" such pride event at the Embassy in Iraq and have a hard time finding any Iraqi citizens able to join, you're bound to get noticed.

Instead of expending energy on figuring out what drag outfit they should wear, I would prefer that they focus on seeing how they can assist their fellow LGBT in saving their lives.

Illinois Looking to Pass Civil Unions Bill, But Is the Process Honorable?

The Illinois General Assembly is expected to approve a measure next week that would legalize civil unions, according to Rick Garcia, political director for Equality Illinois. He's "absolutely" expecting the full state House and the Senate to pass a civil union measure either Tuesday or Wednesday. The bill has support from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

However, it's not as straightforward as it sounds. (No pun intended) Instead of truly being approved as legislation, the civil unions bill is being attached as an "amendment" to an already Senate-approved "shell bill" which deals with death and estate issues. If the House approves the shell, it will return to the Senate for concurrence.

The reasoning behind this, says Garcia, is that Illinois lawmakers often use "shell bills" to pass legislation expediently when short on time. It also limits the time that opponents of civil unions can lobby lawmakers.

"We get it out of the House and then senators only have a few hours of being beat up by our opponents rather than three days or a long weekend," he said. "Since there is a perfectly legitimate way of doing it in one day, that's what we're going to do."

Should the measure become law, both gay and straight couples could enter into civil unions and religious institutions could choose their participation. As there's no explicit language regarding an effective date, couples could start entering into civil unions 30 days after the bill is signed into law.

Though I am happy this is happening, I have voiced my concerns with going after civil unions in Illinois in the first place. And now we're using a strategy to to pass a bill that, though still legitimate, opens the floodgates to criticisms that we're avoiding a true, valid debate on the issue with our opponents. Not the first time we've heard that.

Yes, I do want it to pass, but with full due process, like it was in Maine with the public hearings. I lived in Illinois for ten years, so I know how much I would've like to have this right. However, we've been accused of using slight-of-hand maneuvers before to sneak rights bills through without true opposing views being expressed. Especially if we know we could lose. So isn't that what's happening here? Aren't those criticisms valid?

This bill's process is legitimate, and there is a full vote, but like Garcia said, it hardly gives time to true debate. Or for that matter, an honorable passage. That's not how I want to win my rights. Do you?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nevada Governor Pledges to Veto Domestic Partnership Bill (TAKE ACTION)

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) has promised to veto the domestic partnership bill. His spokesperson Daniel Burns has said that:

"The governor believes that government has no business in your medicine chest or your bedroom"

He also believes there are existing contracts that can be created, so no change to the law is needed. If there are people who want to be domestic partners, they can do so under existing laws.

He is also mindful of the fact that voters of this state on two occasions have said that marriage is between a man and a woman, and it's part of our Constitution."

It is unfair to deny domestic partners equal rights, and create legal obstacles for partners to obtain the same rights when it comes to estate planning, family planning, and medical decision making.

To contact Governor Jim Gibbons:

State Capitol
101 N. Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
(775) 684-5670
Fax: (775) 684-5683

E-contact form

The good news is that there is word there may be enough votes within the state senate to override the Governor's veto. It is imperative Nevada residents contact their senators to urge for passage of senate bill 283.

Crossposted with Queers United.

US House Republicans Attempt to Cut Off DC Marriage Progress with Legislation

Well, I have to give the crazy right-wingers one thing - they're persistent. Like a gnat that just won't go away. We make progress, they'll do anything to cut it off.

Now they're focusing on the marriage progress made in Washington DC and the district council's decision to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in the states that allow it.

A Republican led group just couldn't wait until the DC resolution reached them for a vote (US Congress must approve DC measures, and they have until July to respond - if they don't, it becomes law). Instead, they introduced Thursday what is being termed the DC Defense of Marriage Act. I don't need to tell you that it defines marriage "traditionally" as one man, one woman.

The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Dan Boren (D-Okla). In a statement Thursday, Jordan said "the family is truly the foundational institution of our nation, and marriage is its cornerstone."

Some say it will be an uphill battle to get it approved by both the House and the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, but with Obama's lack of action so far, I'm not so sure. Plus, he supports civil unions, not marriage equality.

However, shortly after the DC council approved their measure, Nancy Pelosis did state, "Congress should not interfere with the internal decisions made by the District of Columbia's elected representatives — just as the Congress did not intervene in the State of New York's recognition of valid marriage contracts in other jurisdictions."

An item to note. Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend pointed out:
Former DC Mayor and current councilman Marion "The bitch set me up" Barry is obviously not in touch with the members of his Ward (8). When he showed up at the homobigot sideshow in DC with Bishop Harry Jackson, he stated that people in his Ward "are opposed to anything dealing with this issue. The ministers think it is a sin, and I have to be sensitive to that." Those residents just endorsed marriage equality last Saturday.
Just another sign of out of touch LGBT opponents are becoming with the rest of the nation. They should be embarrassed. Let's just hope they don't lie their way into victory on this one. It wouldn't be the first time.

Contact DC For Marriage to see how you can get involved.

Day of Decision Rally and March Information for Tuesday, May 26

DAY OF DECISION IS TUESDAY, MAY 26TH

The California Supreme Court announced on their site this morning that they will deliver the ruling on the validity of Prop 8 TUESDAY, May 26.

So what do you do now?
  1. Bookmark the court's website to watch the ruling LIVE Tuesday, May 26th.
  2. Sign up for Prop 8 text alerts by texting "decision" to 27336, or sign up for an email alert.
  3. Go to DayofDecision.com to find out where and when the rallies and marches will occur right after the ruling that same day. If you live in Los Angeles, several events are happening - go to DecisionDay.org.
  4. On Tuesday, watch the ruling.
  5. Go to the rallies and marches and follow Unite the Fight on Twitter as we cover the events. (If you are interested in volunteering to help the organizers of the Los Angeles rally and march, email them at VolunteerDOD@gmail.com with "RSVP Volunteer" in the subject heading.)
  6. Then prepare to get ready for Saturday, May 30th, the day of the MASSIVE statewide rally Meet in the Middle 4 Equality in Fresno, CA. (Go to the site and RSVP for trip planning help. Buses are available from major cities for transport. Check site for availability.)
  7. On Saturday, May 30th, go witness history in Fresno, CA by attending Meet in the Middle.
  8. Leave the Fresno, CA armed with next steps in the continuing struggle for full equal rights.
Feel free to contact me at info@unitethefight.org if you have any questions.

See you in the crowd!

CA Supreme Court to Rule on Prop 8 Tuesday, May 26th!

See notice on CA Supreme Court website.

Notice of Intended Filing from CA Supreme Court on Prop 8

The Dallas Principles - Common Goals for Full LGBT Equality

Twenty-four LGBT activists, allies, thinkers and donors came together in a Dallas, TX hotel on May 15-17, 2009, to discuss the urgent and pressing need for full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender people in the United States.

Together they forged The Dallas Principles, an "articulate common set of goals and principles that we hope will inspire and mobilize our community, allies, and political leaders to act individually and collectively to achieve full LGBT civil rights now," says the website.

Lane Hudson, one of the twenty-four, wrote on the Huffington Post, "It's about raising the bar for all stakeholders: LGBT people, allies, organizations, politicians, the media, any anyone else with an interest."

I have signed on myself. I urge you to do the same. The LGBT population is infamous for its internal fighting, but for the first time in years, we have been working together in unison, and now we can sign on to a document that we truly believe in and stand behind, pooling our nationwide strength to win our equality.

The Dallas Principles is burning up the internet with over a thousand signing on - join the growing chorus of Americans speaking in unison, that now is the time to provide full civil rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens, go to TheDallasPrinciples.org.

Preamble for the Dallas Principles:



The following eight guiding principles underlie our call to action.

IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE FULL CIVIL RIGHTS NOW, WE AVOW:

More...

1. Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now.
Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.
2. We will not leave any part of our community behind.
3. Separate is never equal.
4. Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny CIVIL rights.
5. The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a Non-Partisan issue.
6. Individual involvement and grassroots Action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.
7. Success is measured by the civil rights we all ACHIEVE, not by words, access or money raised.
8. Those who seek our support, are expected to COMMIT time and effort to these principles.

Read the common Goals and Call to Action of the principles.

SIGN THE PLEDGE! Join the Facebook Group.

You can download the PDF of the principles.

This is an ongoing pledge that should be fulfilled as often as possible between May 20, 2009 and May 20, 2019.

The Washing Post wrote a piece on the Dallas Principles, "In 'Dallas Principles,' Gay Group Calls Obama to Action."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Amazing New Video from 13LoveStories.com Features Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours"

UPDATE: Looks like there were some issues with YouTube on this video. I will keep this post up so that when it's resolved, you can watch.



Go to 13LoveStories.com to see more.

Murder For Everyone!- Prop 8: The Web Series- Ep. 4

UPDATE: Story Behind The Vote Against NH Marriage Equality Bill and What You Can Do

UPDATE: NH Republicans hold a press conference urging the governor to veto marriage equality bill before the House and Senate committee can forge a compromise on the language of the bill.

More and more I'm annoyed by the unexpected failure of the marriage equality bill to pass the New Hampshire House.

Annoyed especially since it passed the Senate hours earlier.

Annoyed not in its failure alone, but annoyed that none of this had to happen in the first place!

The reason it failed, after initially passing the House with its original language, is that representatives were irked with Gov. Lynch for meddling. He added superfluous language to protect religious institutions, when protections for the religious were already present.

This was a ploy to gain political points and to appease the right-wing angry at him for agreeing to sign the bill.

The irony is that the marriage equality opponents are celebrating the bill's current defeat when in fact the representatives were voting AGAINST added protections FOR them.

Are they dumb enough not to realize that it's in their best interests that this changed version be passed?

When they forced a vote in the chamber to kill the bill altogether, they were soundly defeated with a 173-202 - this should be a sign to them that the House supports the earlier version. The version with less protection for them. The version the representatives, who voted against the governor's changes, are saying they'll protect with a vote to override the governor's potential veto.

For instance, pro-marriage equality Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, commented online before the vote on the changed bill:

More...

As a long standing Republican supporter of gay marriage (one of seven), I will vote to override the Governor's veto, but I will not vote for any further changes done not in the interest of equality for all people but done for Lynch's opinion poll numbers and his attempt to be on both sides of an issue at once. If the "fix" bill fails to get Republican support, it will fail. It will not have my support. If he vetoes, we should override, not keep tinkering.
So thanks to groups like the National Organization for Marriage (not a link to their site, but an email blast they sent), this whole effort for equality will now be dragged out longer because attempts were made to appease them when they'll never be happy - ever - if LGBT people are allowed to marry.

However, there is hope. The bill is in committee where a compromise can hopefully be forged between the Senate and the House over the next ten days. If not, hopefully enough votes can be collected to override the expected veto.

ARE YOU FED UP WITH THIS? YOU CAN DO SOMETHING IN THE MEANTIME TO HELP THE BILL SURVIVE!

David Badash at the New Civil Rights Movement has an amazing list of actions that you or your friends who live in New Hampshire can perform, most importantly calling the legislators to hear your support for marriage equality.

PASS IT ALONG!

Read New York Times, "Setback to Gay Marriage in New Hampshire".

White House Answers DOMA Question . . . Kind Of

Remember this?



Another not-so-pretty moment, but amazingly enough, Gibbs did check into that and the White House responded today with the following statement:
"DOMA is a federal law passed by Congress that precludes uniform federal recognition of same-sex relationships, even those recognized as valid under the law of the state. Because the President believes that this is an issue that should be left to the states, he continues to support the legislative repeal of DOMA."
But this does answer the question? Kind of. The question:
"Now that same-sex couples can marry legally in five different states, what is the president doing to make sure those marriages can be recognized at the federal level, and what's the timeline for something like that?"
The answer addresses the first part of the question, but not the second, the part about when. So basically, he's repeating his campaign promise without anything substantive to fulfill the promise.

I feel like a teenager who keeps asking his parents for a car and keep hearing, "Sure, sure, we'll talk about it soon." And then never do.

The GLAD case though may force Obama to start talking, and very soon. And I want to know what he has to say.

Mixner Calls For LGBT Rights March On Washington DC, Cleve Jones Responds

From the Advocate:

Long-time LGBT activist David Mixner called for a March on Washington for marriage equality Wednesday on his grass-roots website, www.davidmixner.com.

"As this Administration sits in offices plotting timeline charts on what rights they feel comfortable granting us this year, clearly it is time for us to gin up our efforts and stop waiting for them to hand us our God given entitlements," wrote Mixner, whose activism roots date back to the peace movement of the '60s.

----

"I know things don’t happen over night, and I’ve been around a long time in politics," Mixner told the Advocate. "But I’ve been looking for any sign that things were in the works, that maybe a stop-loss (executive order) could be issued on 'don’t ask, don’t tell,' that they were holding public meetings with LGBT leaders – that there was any activity," he continued.

"What I have found is just the opposite – that it’s like we’re invisible with the exception of our appointments. I have to tell you, we got appointments in 1992. I’m thrilled, but what is the big deal about allowing us to serve our country."

On his website, Mixner implored the LGBT leaders to call for a march for marriage equality in November. " ... and if they won't do it, I appeal to our young to come together and provide the leadership."

Mixner said that if LGBT groups weren't willing to organize the effort, "I believe people like Cleve Jones and Torie Osborn and others are ready to step to the fore."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Today, Cleve Jones responded to the call with an exclusive post on Towleroad.

Excerpts:

"In my travels throughout California and around the country, I have been stunned and inspired by the determination and fearlessness of our young people. This is the generation that is going to win. This is the time to unite and push - as we have never pushed before - to achieve victory.

More..."Sadly, at the very moment we are poised to reach our greatest goals, President Obama and the Democratic leaders of Congress have turned their backs, forgotten their promises and betrayed our trust. In recent weeks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act is “not a priority.” President Obama has ignored the appeals of brave young people serving in our military as they are drummed out of the services for being gay or lesbian. Indeed, Lt. Daniel Choi who recently “came out” publicly, was dismissed from the army, even though he is a highly valued fluent Arabic speaker and a veteran of the Iraq war."

-----

"I applaud and endorse David Mixner's call for a national march with the following four suggestions:

— Schedule the march for the weekend of October 10 - 11, 2009. This is National Coming Out Day and the 30th anniversary of the first national march. Several subsequent marches and AIDS Memorial Quilt displays have also occurred on those dates. The Columbus Day holiday provides a three-day weekend for many and the weather is generally favorable.

— Have one demand only: “Full Equality Now - full and equal protection under the law for LGBT people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.” Let's stop settling for fractions of equality. Every compromise undermines our humanity. We must declare our equality.

— Organize the march from the grassroots with a decentralized internet-based campaign. Keep it simple; avoid bloated budgets and cumbersome structures. The primary objective must be to turn out the largest possible crowd. We don't need elaborate and expensive staging or fabulous dinner parties and concerts - we need a million or more people in the street demanding equality now.

— Encourage and enlist our allies in the broader progressive movement to build the march. Involve the labor movement, racial, ethnic and immigrant communities, progressive faith leaders, peace and social justice advocates and other supporters. LGBT people of all ages and races recognize the challenges facing our nation and our planet. We are eager to stand, as equals, with our fellow citizens in meeting these challenges.

We are on the verge of a new chapter in the history of our country and our movement. There is a bold new spirit and a powerful new resolve within our communities. Now is the time. We are equal."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm there. Are you?

Picture of Torie Osborn by my friend Marta Evry who posts at VeniceforChange.com.

San Francisco Leaders Want End to Torture and Murder of GLBT Iraqis

The Los Angeles City Council recently passed a resolution condemning the torture and murder of gay men in Iraq, and now San Francisco is chiming in.

A broad, united coalition of human rights advocates and politicians held a spirited rally Sunday, May 17, in solidarity with the LGBT citizens of Iraq.



We need to keep speaking up about these atrocities. If we're loud enough, maybe the administration will finally do something.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

VIDEO: Aahahaha! Wow, I needed a Good Laugh at the Opposition's Expense

After all the serious commotion today, including whether the CA Supreme Court would rule on Prop 8 today or not, and if Mayor Newsom had a part in it, and the failure of the New Hampshire marriage equality bill as Maine foes gear up to attack the state's new marriage bill, I figured I would postpone my other posts and give you this delightful video.



Whether or not this video is intentional, it's pretty funny. So if it is serious, they sure are doing themselves a disservice.

Oh, and can you spot the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" picture? Can anyone tell me WHY it's in there??

Maine Gay Marriage Foes Draft Question for State Referendum

The question drafted that will appear on the Maine referendum ballot if opponents of the recently enacted marriage equality bill collect enough signatures:

"Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"

Opponents need 55,087 certified signatures to force a "peoples-veto" of the marriage equality bill. Petitioners have until 90 days after the Legislature adjourns to collect and then the secretary of state then has 30 days to certify the signatures.

If the secretary of state rules that sufficient signatures have been affixed on the instrument of petition, the stay continues until after the voters decide on the question at a statewide election.

Get involved with countering these anti-gay actions by going to Equality Maine's website and seeing how you can help.

Newsom Office States He Did NOT Ask CA Supreme Court to Postpone Ruling

Statement from Nathan Ballard, Communications Director, Mayor Gavin Newsom on Proposition 8 ruling:
05/20/09 - Today a website posted an item that quoted a false allegation from an unnamed source: "Mayor [Gavin] Newsom reached out to the Supreme Court and asked them to hold off releasing their decision so it did not coincide with the White Night riots."

This allegation is not true. We have asked the website to correct the item immediately.
And the craziness continues. All I know, and all I need to know, is that that ruling is not coming tomorrow. Now we wait until Friday to hear if the ruling will come down on Tuesday.

New Hampshire Marriage Equality Bill Defeated

In an unexpected turn of events, The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in New Hampshire voted down the bill with Gov. Lynch's changes in a 188-186 vote, hours after its Senate approved the legislation 14-10 along party lines. An earlier version of the bill passed the state’s House of Representatives on March 26.

Jennifer Daler at BlueHampshire reports:
We'd have to consult the various roll calls to see who changed their votes and ask why.

I'm listening to the streaming audio as I'm typing. Shawn Jasper, a Republican, made a motion to indefinitely postpone the bill, which basically kills it for the biennium. It would then need a 2/3 vote to be brought up again. Andy Peterson did this with the Governor's first school funding amendment. The indefinite postponement is of the motion by Dan Eaton to non concur and request a committee of conference. The motion failed.

It's going to a Committee of Conference.

What will happen now?
What a crushing blow! Of course numerous conspiracy theories are already racing through my head. Did the governor, who is openly opposed to same-sex marriage, know this could happen?

BUT THERE IS STILL HOPE.

NPR affiliates WBUR reports, "A divided New Hampshire House has refused to go along with changes the governor demanded to make his state the sixth to allow gay marriage. Instead, it voted to further negotiate with the Senate. . .

Opponents tried to kill the bill, but failed. The House then voted 207-168 to ask the Senate to negotiate a compromise."

So now it goes to committee where bills usually go to die, but since votes changed against us unexpectedly, maybe things can change unexpectedly again in our favor. Another vote could happen in two weeks.

If these changes are not made, Gov. Lynch will not sign the bill.

UPDATE: Yet Again, CA Supreme Court Announces . . . Nothing

UPDATE 2: A reliable source tells me that they were intending to announce today, but high up officials aka SF Mayor Gavin Newsom, requested they postpone so that the ruling wouldn't fall on the 30th anniversary of the White Night Riots and cause a possible repeat of that damage.

UPDATE: It's official. CA Supreme Court website says, "May 20 2009 -- No opinions were announced for filing on Thursday, May 21, 2009."

Now we wait to hear on Friday if they'll rule on Tuesday.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The internet was on fire last night with the rumblings that the CA Supreme Court would announce today its decision to rule on Prop 8 Thursday.

But the clock has ticked past 10:30AM PST, the court's usual time for an announcement, and . . . nothing.

Complete psych! But a good practice drill.

But you never know, stranger things have happened.

There are now only three possible Decision Days left:

Tuesday, May 26
Thursday, May 28
Monday, June 1

Check this Unite the Fight post to find out when and where you should be on Day of Decision!

Law Demands Obama Must Effecitvely Take Stand on DOMA Within Five Weeks

Recently, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of same-sex married couples from Massachusetts employed by the federal government, being denied benefits.

DOMA bars the federal government from recognizing such marriages, but the government is not supposed to discriminate.

President Barack Obama promised during his campaign to seek repeal of DOMA, but ever since ascending to office, he's been practically mute on all LGBT rights issues.

Well now, he has to speak. The Department of Justice, which typically defends laws passed by Congress, has only until June 22 to respond.

A coalition of gay-rights groups have organized the campaign, Operation Doma Flip Flop, which urges supporters to send flip flop-shaped post cards to the White House urging Obama not to flip flop on his stance of DOMA and instruct the Department of Justice not to defend the law in court.

"Presidents have the option of refusing to defend a law they view as unconstitutional on its face, of which there is no clearer example than DOMA," the campaign website states. "President Obama himself has called the law 'abhorrent; and he’s a constitutional law professor. Given these premises, we feel that President Obama should refuse to defend DOMA and should instead instruct his Department of Justice to join GLAD in this historic lawsuit."

Go to Operation Doma Flip Flop or join them on Facebook to get involved!

Also, a petition has begun on Change.org that will go to President Obama and Congress urging them to repeal DOMA. GO SIGN IT.

DECISION DAY FOR PROP 8 IS TUESDAY, MAY 26TH!

UPDATE: CA Supreme Court to rule on Prop 8 Tuesday, May 26th.

Thursday, May 21
Tuesday, May 26
Thursday, May 28
Monday, June 1


ARE YOU PREPARED TO GO TO THE STREETS?

To find out about rallies in your area, go to DayofDecision.com.

For Los Angeles, go to DecisionDay.org.

Don't forget, the Saturday after Day of Decision go to Meet in the Middle 4 Equality, a massive statewide rally in Fresno, CA, the heart of Yes on 8 territory!

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Read old information

Please notice that Decision Day can now be on a TUESDAY because the Supreme Court will be closed on Memorial Day Monday.

All California courts will be closed on Monday, May 25 for Memorial Day. So the filing of any opinion by the California Supreme Court that would normally occur on this day will shift to TUESDAY, May 26 at 10:00 a.m.

If it happens on that TUESDAY, the Notice of Intended Filing, declaring the court's intention to rule, will be posted on the California Court site by Friday, May 22, 2009. (You can also watch the actual ruling come down LIVE on this site.)

You can be notified directly to you cell phone Day of Decision is declared. How? Text "DECISION" to 27336 for mobile alerts on the Prop 8 case. Send back your zip code to find out where to go locally on Day of Decision.


NH Senate Approves Gov's Changes to Marriage Equality Bill

The New Hampshire voted 14-10 to approve Governor Lynch’s language strengthening religious institution protections in the marriage equality bill it had passed May 6th.

Next stop - the House. That vote is expected today. Stay Tuned to this post for updates.

If Prop 8 Decision Comes Tomorrow, It Will Fall on 30th Anniversary of White Night Riots


If in fact the CA Supreme Court does rule on Prop 8 this Thursday, it will fall on the 30th Anniversary of the White Night Riots, which was sparked by a court decision giving San Francisco assemblyman Dan White the most lenient sentence of voluntary manslaughter for killing Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.

The riots in San Francisco happened on the May 21, 1979, and continued onto May 22nd, Milk's birthday.



Dozens of arrests were made.

Maddow: Decorated Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach Discharged Under DADT



Another costly discharge.

Pentagon states they believe they won't be asked anytime soon about ending Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Unreal.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rumor Has It CA Supreme Court Prop 8 Decision is Imminent

San Francisco Police Department are putting up crowd barriers in the Castro District.


It was also told to me that the police let it slip that they were informed to be prepared for a Thursday decision. I don't think they would let that kind of order be "slipped." So if it was, it was intentional.

Another source tells me the that the SFPD has NO NEWS of an announcement but that the barricades were just a contingency plan in case it was announced tomorrow.

So you just have to come to your own conclusions.

None of this is confirmed, but they are signs. Either way, the court only has until June 3rd to decide.

Not a lot of time left.

COMMUNITY POLL: Kick Out Prop 8 2010 or 2012?

Allied organizations the Courage Campaign, Marriage Equality and Equality California, is asking the California LGBT population and allies to answer the following question:

"If the state Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8... should we support going back to the ballot to restore marriage equality to California in 2010 or 2012?"

So what do you think?

Some arguments for placing a marriage equality initiative on the ballot in 2010:
  • We should take advantage of the powerful grassroots activism that has emerged following the passage of Prop 8 by going back sooner rather than later. That energy will dissipate if we wait until 2012.
  • By November 2010, we will have full marriage equality in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and very likely in New York and New Jersey. Given these developments, Californians should not wait beyond 2010 to try and restore the right to marry.
  • In November 2010, the top of the Democratic ticket -- the gubernatorial candidate -- will support overturning Prop 8 and restoring the right to marry. In 2012, it's questionable whether President Obama will take that position.
Some arguments for placing a marriage equality initiative on the ballot in 2012:
  • We have hundreds of thousands of voters to convince on the issue of marriage equality. Even if we work our hardest, it will take three-plus years to do that work.
  • On this issue, time is on our side. By 2012, an even greater number of voters will have come our way. So why risk it in 2010 when we probably have a better chance in 2012.
  • We will once again need tens of millions of dollars to run a strong campaign. Given the state of today's economy and the fact that people just gave so much to the No on 8 campaign, we should wait before going right back to the ballot.
Let your voice be heard on how we, the LGBT population and allies in California, should proceed by filling out the Courage Campaign Community Survey or Marriage Equality USA's. If you're a member of Equality California, be sure to check your email - they have sent you the poll!

DON'T FORGET! We're down to only four possible days on which the Supreme Court will rule. Check out where and when you should be for all the rallies and events!

VIDEO: Meghan McCain On the Colbert Report - Republican Party Can Be Safe for Gays

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Meghan McCain
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage


Most striking quote:
"I do believe the Republican party can be a safe place for the gay community. President Obama said he was going to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and I think me and a lot of people are still waiting for that. And the Democratic party isn’t necessarily a better place for the gay community than the Republican party is. And I think if you go to the basic beliefs of the Republican party, keeping government out of your life, why can’t that include marriage?
If the Republican party was able to ditch the extremists who are bringing them down, and they returned to their early principles, would you switch parties (if you're not already republican - hello Log Cabiners!)?

Are you equally frustrated with the Democrats? Some are so frustrated, they've called for a boycott of the Democratic National Committee LGBT Leadership Council fund raising dinner. I have to say, until I see some action from the Democrats, I'm agreeing with it.

Why should I give them my money only for them to turn around and say, "Gee, I wish you had equal rights too, but oh well, maybe next time." Times have changed. I'm not accepting empty platitudes as a reason to hand over the bucks from my already broken bank account.

If anything, we need to support Meghan McCain, because she's putting herself out on a limb for us. We need her at our rallies. We need her at our protests. We need her at our press conferences. We need to nurture that support. Because let me tell you folks, it's rare to hear such vocal support for our issues from a straight Republican.

Votes Are in Place for DOMA Repeal in Congress Committee

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat and chair of the House Judiciary Committee, informed the Michigan Messenger Saturday that all the votes in his committee are in place to advance a repeal bill of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

This is major progress since his committee would have to approve any such repeal bill first before going to the full Congress for a vote.

But could the bill pass?

“Well in my committee, yes, but in the House and Senate, that’s a different question,” Conyers said.

Asked if he supported marriage equality for the gay community, the congressman replied, “Sure. I always have.”

Conyers was one of only 67 members of the House to vote against DOMA in 1996 with eight committee members opposing, The Hill's reports.

Conyers continues to be an ally, giving voice to the LGBT frustration just last week when he asked, "Why is [Obama] becoming so conservative now that he’s got the job?”

I think we all know what he's referring to. If not, catch up and get angry with us by reading the following Unite the Fight posts:

"Obama's Silence on LGBT Rights Will Leave Him Out of History."
"Obama Remains Missing in Action of LGBT Issues."
"VIDEO: CNN On Obama and LGBT Rights, "Think 10-Foot Pole."
"White House Press Secretary F***s Up on LGBT Issues, A Bad Reflection of Obama."

VIDEO: Anderson Cooper, "Obama Breaking Promises to Gay Community?"



So what do you think? Is 100 days enough time to truly gauge Obama's support for the LGBT population? Do you think he could do more? Do you expect to do more in the future? Will it be too late?

CNN contributor Robert Zimmeran mentioned that marriage equality has to be fought from the grassroots. Couldn't agree more. And we have a lot of work to do.

PA Senator Eichelberger to Introduce Bill Banning Same-Sex Marriage

Pennsylvania State Senator John Eichelberger is announcing today his intentions to introduce a bill banning same-sex marriage in his state. According to the the Philadelphia Inquirer:
"Similar measures in the last two sessions of the legislature have failed. Pennsylvania law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But Eichelberger and other proponents of the amendment say writing the ban into the constitution would prevent a judge from overturning the law. Opponents say the measure would enshrine discrimination into the constitution. Amending the constitution requires approval from both the House and Senate in two consecutive two-year sessions before the measure goes to voters for final approval in a statewide referendum."
The Philadelphia Daily News does a good job reporting on the chances marriage equality has in a state where the demographic is highly senior (third oldest state in the nation) and Catholic (not to mention Pennsylvania Amish and other "conservative, religious sects"), with these groups overwhelmingly disapproving of same-sex marriage. Thought the support is high among those 40 and under, the demographic shift has yet to mature.

"Clearly, Pennsylvania is among Alabama and Mississippi in terms of gay rights," Malcolm Lazin, the executive director of the Equality Forum, the gay-rights-advocacy group based in Philadelphia, told the Daily News.

"Lazin and other activists say that same-sex marriage will need to wait until the issue garners more local support and that their main priority is to promote legislation that will add Pennsylvania to the ranks of a majority of other states in offering full workplace protection to gays and lesbians," the Daily News reports.

ACTION! If you live in Pennsylvania, contact Sen. John Eichelberger through his homepage email form and tell him you disapprove!

If you have friends in Pennsylvania, especially LGBT allies, call them and urge them to contact their representatives with disapproval for this discriminatory bill.

Olbermann's WTF?! Moment Rips RNC's Steele A New One on Marriage Equality



And for your viewing pleasure, Gibbs once again dodges LGBT issues, this time a question on DOMA from The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Key Maryland Senator to Co-Sponsor Marriage Equality Bill

Unite the Fight recently posted a piece questioning whether Maryland could be the next step to recognize same-sex marriages due to the fact that their law doesn't ban the state from recognizing such marriages performed legally in other states.

As a result, we called an action for all to contact the pro-gay Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Gov. Martin O'Malley to evaluate the law. (And keep this up!)

Though recognition of same-sex marriages would be great, it's looking like Maryland is taking a step closer in performing those marriages itself.

The Gazette reports that key senator and chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Brian Frosh, has announced that he plans to co-sponsor a marriage equality bill next year with Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., who is openly gay and past sponsor of the bill.

Frosh has overseen the marriage debate in his committee for three years and had declined to sponsor any bill until now.

"But after three years I think that is no longer an issue," Frosh said. "I have chaired the hearings hopefully in a way that has been seen as fair, and there have not been complaints."

But why next year? Because the issue failed to get a vote in the 2009 General Assembly.

"We could have pushed harder, of course, but at the same time we were aware there were more votes that we needed," said Kate Runyon, executive director of Equality Maryland.

Supporters in the legislature say the question isn't "if," it's "when."

Lt. Dan Choi Scheduled to Speak at "Meet in the Middle"

Lt. Dan Choi, who was recently discharged from the military for being gay, will be appearing at the massive, statewide rally Meet in the Middle.

Choi was ousted from the military after he came out on the Rachel Maddow Show and talked about Knights Out, an organization of OUT LGBT West Point alumni, of which Choi founded and is the spokesperson.

The controversy surrounding Choi escalated when a report came out that declared that under the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, President Obama still had the power to cease discharges. Choi is an Arabic linguist, and the military is in dire need of these experts, but the president has refused to invalidate his discharge.

Currently, Dan Choi has sent a letter through the Courage Campaign asking everyone to sign a pledge to be sent to President Obama, urging him not to discharge Choi.

SIGN THE PLEDGE!

Meet in the Middle, scheduled to be in Fresno, CA, the heart of Yes on 8 territory, on the Saturday after the CA Supreme Court rules on Prop 8, will be a historic moment in the equality movement, with thousands expected to attend.

DON'T MISS OUT! Go to the Meet in the Middle website to find out more.

Other speakers include Cleve Jones, Dustin Lance Black, Christine Chavez and the Rev. Eric Lee.

NH Legislature to Vote on Amended Marriage Bill Wednesday

New Hampshire's Legislature is expected to vote Wednesday on an amendment Gov. John Lynch says he must have to sign gay marriage into law. It is expected to pass.

Lynch said last week he won't sign gay marriage unless legislators adopt language to better protect churches and their employees against lawsuits if their beliefs preclude them from marrying gays.

Democratic leaders are working to add the language to a bill addressing unrelated marriage issues. The Senate would act first, then the House. If it passes, Lynch says he will sign three bills legalizing gay marriage effective Jan. 1. New Hampshire would become the sixth state to allow gays to marry.

For further explanation of the added language, go to BlueHampshire where Rep. Jim Splaine has written a post explaining it.

MUST WATCH! LGBT Folk From All Over the World Proclaim, "I'm Proud to Be Gay!"

This video was put together by the Committee for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, and Gays.com.



Maybe I'm just an emotional gay guy (wow, shock!), but this video definitely brought the tears to my eyes.

Not only did it make me proud to be gay, but it made me even more proud to be a part of the LGBT population. Some of these people took real risks to be a part of this project. One that popped out to me was the Iraqi man who risks his life going on tape, admitting that he's gay.

That's just one.

We should all be proud.

Anti-Gays Hold Much Larger Rally Than Marriage Equality Supporters in NYC

In New York City, an anti-gay rally held Sunday was held at the same time as the marriage equality rally, and unfortunately, it had a much bigger turn out.

According to the New York Times, thousands of anti-gay protesters appeared before New York Gov. David Paterson's Midtown Manhattan office, so in response, he showed up to the marriage equality rally along with Mayor Bloomberg unexpectedly and at the last minute.

He was warmly welcomed.

“We’re in a race right now in New York,” the governor told a crowd of several hundred people who gathered along Avenue of the Americas. “The time for justice, the time for equality, the time for equal rights can never be any more urgent than right now.”

The governor "urged the State Senate on Sunday to take swift action on legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry, signaling that he intends to increase pressure on lawmakers as the end of the 2009 legislative session approaches," reported the New York Times.

The bill has already passed the State Assembly, but the fate of the bill is far from certain in the senate.

Empire State Pride Agenda executive director Alan Van Capelle responded to the news of senators wanting to vote for marriage equality but feared political ramifications.

“Because they’re either lazy or complacent or cowards, they do not act. And history will never forget them. They will not be forgiven,” Mr. Van Capelle said.

The counter protest, where thousands of people lined Third Avenue, was led by the ridiculous, Pentecostal pastor, Sen. Ruben Diaz, and though his earlier protests were dire failures, this was the first success for the marriage equality opponents.

The event, was compared to an evangelical church service,

“We’re here to say to the governor: Mr. Governor, look at the people that are here, these are the people who say we don’t believe in marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman,” Mr. Díaz said in Spanish, since the protest was organized by the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization.

WE HAVE TO ACT NOW TO HELP THE PASSAGE OF THE MARRIAGE EQUALITY BILL!

Six weeks is all that is left before the senate session adjourns for the year. If it's not brought up to a vote, it will most likely die.

Contact the New York Senators and urge them to vote yes for the bill.

Pressure Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith to bring the bill to a vote! Find all his contact information for his three offices here!

Or email him at masmith@senate.state.ny.us



Sunday, May 17, 2009

Third Grader Organizes Marriage Equality Rally in Denver



From Denver Post:
Nine-year-old Ethan McNamee sat by himself Saturday afternoon on the west steps of the Capitol with his hands folded across one knee. He took in the sun, as well as the cheers from several hundred people gathered below.

This was his rally. He had been putting it together since January, reaching out and talking to "millions of political people." Now it was his turn to address the crowd.

Wearing a white collared shirt and blue jeans, Ethan stood and delivered his message supporting gay marriage.

"I believe I am doing the right thing," Ethan said. "I hope this rally will make an impact and let our voices be heard."

After his speech, Ethan, a third-grader from Montclair Elementary School, hopped onto a nearby stone railing to meet some of his supporters. Many of them came holding signs and waving rainbow flags.

----

The idea first came to Ethan thanks to his neighbors, a lesbian couple he described as "the nicest people in the world." He didn't think it was right they aren't allowed to get married.

From there, Ethan resolved to support gay couples. He approached Mindy Barton, legal director for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado, to gain support.

----

Those who stood below with their partners were impressed with what Ethan was able to accomplish, believing the message resonates more clearly coming from a child.

"Him stating this might make people see it more," said Sarah Levin, 33. "His impression seems more genuine."

Those from the other side of the argument were also impressed with Ethan's efforts, including state Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield.

"You have to admire his compassion and initiative," Mitchell said. "I'd like to think that someday he'll understand the issue is a little more complicated."
This story sure makes me emotional. Not only because a third grader is able to see through all the crap that we adults lay on top of the truth, but because it's a sign of the future.

Imagine what powerful accomplishments this kid will be able to pull off the older he gets. Scratch that. Imagine what powerful accomplishments this kid will continue to pull off, adding more as he gets older.

We all could take a few cues from him.

VIDEO: CNN Engages Sullivan's Critique of Obama on LGBT Issues, "They Want Us to Go Away."