Saturday, August 8, 2009

Olson/Boies File Motion Opposing LGBT Legal Groups Participation in Federal Case Against Prop 8

If you're wondering why the news and media are once again reporting on the internal conflict between the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and LGBT legal organizations Lambda Legal and NCLR, including ACLU, it's because late Friday, the legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies who are behind the federal case against Proposition 8, filed two motions yesterday. One was their case management statement, which I'll touch on later, and the second was their motion opposing the LGBT organizations (referred to as "Our Family Coalition") intervention of the case.

The legal organizations claim the need to intervene because they represent a broader swath of demographics who are affected by Proposition 8, such as PFLAG and elderly LGBT, as opposed to the two gay and lesbian couples that are currently the plaintiffs in the case.

The City of San Francisco had also filed to intervene, but this the plaintiffs did not fully reject since San Francisco already has compiled a long standing factual record in support of marriage equality. So they state if the court must allow an intervention, to only allow the city and not the organizations, but with the caveat that it not delay the trial process.

I have attempted to consolidate twenty four pages of legalese and argument into a brief summary.

(References to the "Campaign" is an intervenor, Campaign for California Families (CCF), on behalf of the defendants, or in this case, the proponents of Proposition 8.)

The Plaintiffs opposing motion, embedded at the bottom of the post, states its argument against the intervening organizations as such:

A. Our Family Coalition and the Campaign Are Not Entitled To Intervene As Of Right

1. Neither Our Family Coalition Nor the Campaign Has a Legally Protectable Interest in This Case That May Be Practically Impaired:

"...controlling authority [current Plaintiffs] suggests that Our Family Coalition’s complaint, because it lacks any allegation that any particular person actually sought and was denied a license to marry in California, is insufficient to create an Article III case or controversy."

2. The Current Parties Adequately Represent the Interests of Our Family Coalition and the Campaign:

"The interests both wish to protect are adequately represented by the existing parties to this litigation. Their motion identifies no argument Plaintiffs are unwilling to make."

B. The Motions For Permissive Intervention Should Be Denied

1. Our Family Coalition and the Campaign Are Not Eligible For Permissive Intervention:

"In the absence of a statute granting a right of intervention, a court may allow persons to intervene only if they have a “claim or defense” in common with the main action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b). Our Family Coalition and the Campaign have no judicially cognizable claim."

2. The Spangler Factors Militate in Favor of Allowing Proposed Intervenors to Participate as Amici [friend of the court] Rather Than Parties:

"The Spangler Factors [created by a prior case], are, 'he nature and extent of the intervenors’ interest, their standing to raise relevant legal issues, the legal position they seek to advance, . . . its probable relation to the merits of the case . . . whether the intervenors’ interests are adequately represented by other parties, whether intervention will prolong or unduly delay the litigation, and whether parties seeking intervention will significantly contribute to full development of the underlying factual issues in the suit and to the just and equitable adjudication of the legal questions presented.'"

Now here comes the drama that we've all been reading about.

C. Any Intervention Should Be Strictly Limited to Avoid Prejudice to Plaintiffs

"When it deferred consideration of Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, the Court stated that it would 'proceed[] promptly to trial' to reach a 'just, speedy and inexpensive determination of these issues.' Doc #76 at 9. Yet, adding parties to this already complex litigation inevitably will multiply the proceedings and jeopardize that goal. And that substantial risk of prejudicial delay is compounded by the fact that one proposed intervenor—Our Family Coalition—is represented by counsel that (1) have publicly urged against the filing of any federal constitutional challenge to Prop. 8 (2) have publicly suggested that this lawsuit should be delayed to advance a national litigation strategy (3) have opposed the development of a factual record in similar litigation, and (4) to this day, are unwilling to say that they actually support Plaintiffs’ effort to vindicate their rights in this lawsuit."

They argue that allowing these organizations to intervene compounds the harm of Proposition 8 by delaying its end:

"Delay is even more significant a problem here than in many cases. The chief legal officer of the State acknowledges that the injuries Plaintiffs are suffering are ongoing and irreparable. Doc #39 at 2. "

Olson and Boies here suggest then that if there is to be an intervention, allow it to be San Francisco alone:

"If there is to be any further intervention into Plaintiffs’ case, it should be the City alone that is permitted to join. The City Attorney’s demonstrated experience in assembling factual evidence pertaining to the constitutional issues presented in this case and its demonstrated willingness to take on Plaintiffs’ fight as its own mitigates the threats of delay and unnecessarily prolonged injury to Plaintiffs. If the Court is inclined to grant the City’s motion (or Our Family Coalition’s), Plaintiffs respectfully suggest that, to minimize duplication of proceedings and protect Plaintiffs’ right to maintain control over their own claims, Plaintiffs’ counsel be designated Lead Plaintiffs’ Counsel for this action, and that the intervenors’ participation in this action be limited and coordinated through Lead Counsel."

Today, the Los Angeles Times wrote about what we all already knew - the tension between the LGBT legal organizations and AFER. However, it did quote Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for Proposition 8. "Advocates for gay marriage are in complete disarray, not only on the political fence but on the legal fence as well. Our job would be much harder if they were all unified in their efforts."

Can you say, "Pot calling the kettle black?"

Proposition 8 and the Right to Marry blog writes:
CCF [the defendant's intervenor] previously sought to intervene in Strauss v. Horton, 46 Cal.4th 364 (2009), but Yes on 8 publicly opposed its intervention, and its attorney, Andrew Pugno, filed a letter of letter of opposition on November 18, 2008. The California Supreme Court denied CCF's intervention motion, which Liberty Counsel filed on its behalf. At the time, ADF did not represent Yes on 8, but rather filed amicus briefing for the Family Research Council.

Shortly after the election in November 2008, Yes on 8 sent its supporters an e-mail on why CCF could not be trusted to intervene. The controversy will sound familiar to those who have followed the latest AFER contratemps over gay rights organizations that initially opposed a federal challenge to Prop. 8:

"Campaign for California Families...actually campaigned against Proposition 8 until a short time before the election," the email read. "Since we are the only organization representing the official proponents and the campaign committee that was responsible for passing Prop 8, allowing outside groups to participate in the defense of Prop 8 will only harm our chances of success." (11/20/08 SF Weekly)
So for all of us who are concerned about the airing of our dirty laundry, with the squabbling and bickering, here's a little bit of comfort. We're not alone. With stakes this high, both sides are bound to have disagreements.

But let's get it out now. For we have a long road ahead of us. Let's focus on winning.

Federal Proposition 8 Case Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motions to Intervene

Live Streaming of the Next Steps Working Meeting

UPDATE: Logistics has announced that they have facilitators for Fresno and Davis and San Diego. Please email the following for information:

For Fresno: Jason Scott,
For Davis: Linda Waite,
For San Diego: Kent Hartman,

The logistics team for the Next Steps Working Meeting has issued the following, an update about their plans to stream the meeting, which Unite the Fight will host.

On Sunday, August 9 at 10:00 a.m., a diverse array of groups and individuals from around the state will be gathering at the historic Jewel’s Catch One in South Los Angeles for the Next Steps Working Meeting to plan for the ballot initiative campaign to repeal Prop 8.

The title of this meeting is intentional – this will not be a talking heads event, but an opportunity for the community to get down to brass tacks and create plans and committees to get the work done.

We know that it is not practical for everyone across the state to come in person to this meeting, but we do want everyone to have the opportunity to discuss, plan, join, and work on the next steps we need to take to gather the signatures this fall.

Therefore, we are looking for 3 locations that we can stream to. Activists who attend these streaming sessions can view the proceedings in L.A. and then discuss and plan among themselves, finally conveying a summary of their discussions to their counterparts in LA.

To make this happen, we need a location in each of the following areas: Bay Area, Central Valley/Fresno, and San Diego. And we need someone to volunteer in those locations to provide the necessary equipment, receive the stream, and facilitate the discussion. There is no budget for this – these volunteers will be providing an important service to the community out of their own goodwill.

To volunteer a location and to facilitate, please email

Friday, August 7, 2009

NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality's Opposition Issues Condescending Response to Their Call for a Fair Campaign

On Thursday, the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality issued a press release in which they announced they signed Maine's code of campaign ethics and sent a letter to the opposition, Stand for Marriage Maine, to do the same.

Today, the anti-LGBT campaign responded with the following letter.
Stand for Marriage Maine Campaign Pledge

August 06, 2009

Mr. Jesse Connolly, Campaign Manager
No on One, Protect Maine Equality

Dear Jesse:

We are aware from media reports today that you have sent a "pledge" to conduct an ethical campaign consistent with Maine practice and statutes for Frank Schubert of Schubert/Flint to sign. We are pleased that your campaign has finally responded to our long-standing call for both sides of this issue to conduct an honest, civil and respectful campaign. We are pleased you have accepted our challenge.

Stand for Marriage Maine will be signing the campaign conduct pledge form you provided.

We were delighted to see your commitment to "uphold the right of every qualified voter to free and equal participation in the election process." This is quite a change of direction given the extraordinary efforts made by Equality Maine and your allies to prevent Maine voters from having any say on this issue whatsoever during the Legislative session.

In addition to conducting an honest and forthright campaign, we hope that you will agree with us on the following principles.
  • Agree to at least one public debate with the media invited to cover it live. The voters deserve to hear from both sides of this important issue in a forum that allows for a full discussion of the ramifications of LD 1020.
  • Agree that no contributor, volunteer or staff member will be harassed due to their participation in the campaign. Regretfully, supporters of marriage in California and other states were repeatedly harassed by gay marriage activists including posting their personal information on the Web, having their employers called, and subjecting them to various forms of intimidation.
  • Agree that property will not be destroyed, as has happened elsewhere. This includes destroying or defacing campaign signs, damaging vehicles containing bumper stickers and defacing churches that are active in the campaign.
  • Agree that churches on both sides of the issue will be dealt with respectfully and no attempt will be made to interfere with their lawful expression of beliefs or discussion with their members and the public.
We hope you can join us in making this pledge Jesse for the well being and safety of all and for the opportunity to have a fact-filled and honest debate over this important issue.

In the future we urge you to address your concerns to those that are charged with the decision making responsibility for our campaign. As I think you already know, Schubert/Flint are under contract with our campaign but it is the Executive Committee, Bob Emrich, Brian Brown, and myself as chair, that make the final call.


Marc R Mutty, Chair, Executive Committee
Bob Emrich, Executive Committee
Is anyone's blood boiling yet? Mine sure is. It takes quite a bit to get me riled, but this sure did it. The blatant disregard for many, many facts pisses me off beyond belief.

However, I always say, when you're angry, STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD!

So I'll let Louise over at Pam's House Blend, do the responding. She's done a great job covering what's happening in Maine. Here are a few excerpts:
Yeah- the public hearing was held "silently". In a vaccuum [sic], with no media coverage and no open debate, discussion or participation whatsoever.

It's not as if it was rescheduled from its original location at Cony High to the Augusta Civic Center, a much larger place, and certainly it's not as if the entire public hearing, as well as the debates in the Statehouse and votes weren't available live online.

Or covered by both print and television media- locally, nationally and even internationally.

It's not as if the public were invited to testify for an entire day, and even extended an additional hour, as there were so many still waiting in line to speak.


Trying to play the "gay panic card" is repulsive. Trying to use it to damage fellow Mainers and their families is unforgiveable [sic]


....if you've hired Schubert/Flint, why are YOU being THEIR spokespersons?

They're the supposed media experts, right? Soooo.... why did neither Jeff Flint or Frank Schubert mention this point of "who is running the show" over the course of the past 2 weeks of media coverage?

Seems you might wanna renegotiate the terms of their contract...
Seriously, a public debate? They had DAYS of public debate, and they lost. The legislature voted to legalize marriage equality, a means by which the opposition once condoned to put the kibosh on same-sex marriage because that's how they succeeded in stifling LGBT rights in the past. But since that didn't work this time (a developing pattern), they threw a hissy fit and now want to put a minority group's rights up for the taking by a majority vote.

And there has been tons of confusion surrounding who is running their campaign - will it be the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland's Bishop Richard Malone, or Peter LaBarbara's "Americans For Truth" Board Chairman Mike Heath or the Christian Civic League "Maine Family Policy Council" or the Diocese' lobbyist Marc Mutty (paid for by NOM) or is it Frank Schubert of Prop 8 fame who already responded yesterday? But if it is Frank, then why is the campaign that he's supposedly a spokesperson for, responding again, without him?

Confused? Yeah, you're not alone.

So the condescending tone issued in Stand for Marriage Maine's response just highlights their lack of organization.

The NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign has been organizing way in advance of the opposition because they knew very well the potential for the new marriage equality law would be threatened by a "People's Veto" and they were right. They know their state well and will fight hard to protect the rights of LGBT to marry.

But they will need our help. Be sure to visit the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality website and see what you can do to help.

21 Couples Tell Their Stories As Part of a Washington DC Campaign for Marriage Equality

D.C. for Marriage has launched a new campaign for marriage equality in Washington where recently the city council passed a resolution allowing the district to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed outside its borders.

Now with D.C. City Council member David Catania expected to introduce a bill that will allow the district itself to perform same-sex marriages, the organization has decided to act.

Using the power of storytelling, 21 local gay and lesbian couples are speaking out, relating how important marriage equality is to them.

Michael Crawford, president of D.C. for Marriage, told the Washington Blade that a key early component of his organization’s efforts aimed at enacting same-sex marriage is working “with couples who are married — or hoping to marry — to engage in personal storytelling.”

“Then we’re going to extend it to unmarried people so we have a grassroots army of people who are equipped and trained to talk about why marriage is important, and who can spread out across the city,” he said.

“The real focus is on enabling couples to share stories about why marriage is so important to gay and lesbian families. We know that the more people get to know us the more supportive they are of LGBT equality. The best way to do that is to have conversations with people about why marriage is so important.”

You can find four of the couples stories at the Washington Blade.

Google's Blogger Also Experiencing DDOS Attack Similar to Twitter, Slowing UTF Down

Currently, Blogger, which hosts Unite the Fight, is experiencing a DDOS attacking similar to the one that crashed Twitter and degraded Facebook.

Items may take longer to load here. Blogger is working hard on fixing the problem.

Thanks for your patience!

Report Says Texas Officers Face 19 Violations, Disciplinary Action for Rainbow Lounge Bar Raid

A report released Thursday states that the two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers involved in June's raid on the Fort Worth gay bar, the Rainbow Lounge, face 19 violations for their conduct during the raid.

Agent Christopher Aller and agent trainee Jason Chapman:
  • Failed to gain their supervisor's approval to participate in the raid
  • Failed to report they used force during an arrest
  • Failed to follow bar raid procedures, disrupting business during the raid
  • Failed to wear approved attire.
  • Failed to file a complaint card against Rainbow Lounge
The Dallas Voice has the full report with all violations, which indicates Aller has the most.

The investigation found that one of the agents’ supervisors, Sgt. Terry Parsons, failed to ensure the agents submitted a report on using force during the arrest, did not take appropriate action after learning they didn’t wear proper attire during the raid and did not notify supervisors that multiple arrests had been made that night, the report states.

The officers are on desk duty while disciplinary actions are being decided and Parsons, who has taken full responsibility, has since decided to retire.

Aller and Chapman accompanied six Fort Worth police officers on a raid of the just opened Rainbow Lounge in what police initially billed as a routine liquor license inspection for a new business. The raid led to several arrests and one patron, Chad Gibson, was hospitalized with a severe head injury he suffered while in the agents’ custody, the agency and police have said.

Fort Worth Police Department is still investigating its part of the raid.

"I hope I’m not the scapegoat for some things.  . . . I’ll take the responsibility for the things I did wrong," Aller told investigators. He added that the inspection “had nothing to do with it being a gay bar.”

Chapman, a trainee, told investigators: "We conducted ourselves in a professional manner. We had some hiccups on policy. There’s no two ways about that, and that’s my responsibility."

The report does not address whether the agents used excessive force during the inspection. That investigation is continuing, and the commission will release a report later addressing that issue.

Said state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth said of the new report: "There were so many violations that one could readily assert that they had no business walking through the door."

Porterville Rejects Resolution That Would Have Opposed California Senate Bill 54

Tuesday night, the Porterville City Council Chambers was packed full with residents concerned about the outcome of that evening's session. The council was to vote on former mayor and current councilman Cam Hamilton's resolution that would oppose Senate Bill 54, a bill that, if passed, would recognize same-sex couples who were married before Proposition 8 and grant all California rights to those who married after, but would not recognize those relationships as marriages.

Porterville is the only city in California who approved a resolution in support of Proposition 8's before it passed. Cam Hamilton, who was mayor at the time of the Proposition 8 resolution, hoped to have a repeat success. He authored the new resolution which stated that SB 54 was a "blatant violation of our state constitution."

The KMPH reported:
At times, the meeting took on a strong religious tone, with pastors speaking, both sides reading Bible verses, invoking Jesus Christ, even some shouts of 'Amen' from the audience.

Ed McKervey has lived in Porterville for 25 years. He supports the council and spoke to praise them for taking up the issue.

Barry Caplan is opposed to any resolution, he'd also like to see Prop 8 completely repealed. He says the city has no business interfering in state business.
Jessica Mahoney, Porterville resident and witness to the council session, sent Unite the Fight an email in which she wrote:
...with bibles in hand people marched up to speak! What I thought was sad! . . . most of the so called pastors brought out there [sic] youth groups to the meeting!. . . and there [sic] youth groups which were mostly pre-teens to mid-teens! With bibles in hand reading verse after verse of things they . . . thought as valid I guess - it was like going to a chruch! [sic] Some even got up there and just said so called praise to there! lord and to cam! lol No one really talk about anything about law, or civil rights...all bible stuff....
After 90 minutes of public comment, council members voted 3-2 against supporting a formal council resolution. Hamilton and Vice Mayor Brian Ward voted in favor of the resolution. Mayor Pete McCracken and Councilmen Pedro "Pete" Martinez and Felipe Martinez voted against it.

The Recorder reports:
Springville resident and Porterville businessman Dennis Townsend said he would choose other words to describe the council majority's vote. He singled out Pedro Martinez for criticism, while also commending Hamilton and Ward for their actions.

Pedro Martinez, after voting against Hamilton's proposed resolution, read into the record a letter he said he will send to state legislators condemning the manner in which SB 54 is making its way through the legislative process. The text of the letter echoes points raised in Hamilton's proposed resolution.

Townsend said there's a word for saying one thing as a private person and saying something else as a public figure: "Hypocrisy."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Anti-LGBT Referendum 71's Chances of Making It to November Ballot Shrink

In order for anti-LGBT Referendum 71 to make Washington state's November ballot, the petition signatures turned in cannot have an error rate above 12.42%.

An update from the Secretary of State's office informs that the latest count of 6,140 petition signatures contains an error rate of 14.2%, shrinking the chances of the challenge to the state's recent "everything but marriage" domestic partnership law making it onto the ballot.

Overall, State Election workers have checked 23,457 names, accepting 20,335 and rejecting 3,122, for a total error rate of 13.31%, almost a whole point above the 12.42% sustainability rate. However the proponents of Referendum 71, Protect Marriage Washington, turned in 137,689 signatures, so many more are left to check.

"We always need to be wary of early counts, but prospects do not look well for them (R-71 sponsors)," Andrew Villeneuve, director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a liberal policy group, told Seattle PI.

If 14 percent error rates persist, predicted Villeneuve, Referendum 71 "is on track to be rejected" for a place on the ballot.

The full signature check is expected to be completed August 17.

Courage Campaign Gives Deadline for 2010 Fundraising Benchmark, Marriage Equality USA Accepts the Challenge

Yesterday, I posted about Courage Campaign's challenge to its membership and the greater Californian LGBT population to raise enough money to, technically, launch a 2010 campaign by raising $200,000 collectively. The money would go towards testing ballot language through research, polling and focus groups.

Today, they emailed their 700,000+ membership, 83% of whom support a 2010 initiative, informing them of the call to stand by their decision, asking them to commit by raising $100,000 towards the testing.

And, unlike yesterday, a deadline was given - August 13. Here is part of the email:
We are ready to do our part but we can't do it alone. That's why we are asking the Courage Campaign community to raise $100,000 by August 13. And we are challenging our partners in the marriage equality movement to raise the remaining $100,000 as soon as possible.

Are you ready to commit? Time is running out to launch a 2010 initiative. To put marriage equality on the ballot next year, will you help us meet this $100,000 community goal by making a contribution right now? DEADLINE: August 13.


But if the marriage equality movement is not able to raise the $200,000 necessary -- $100,000 from the Courage Campaign and $100,000 from our partners -- to pay for the research to launch an initiative campaign, then we will have to accept that our movement is not ready to repeal Prop 8 in 2010.

And we will have to wait until 2012 to bring marriage equality to the ballot again. It's as simple as that.
Marriage Equality USA chimed in today in an email newsletter to its membership, accepting the challenge.
...[we] would like to be a part of any collaboration moving ahead and today, we want to see what our collective organizational interest is in participating in this venture and has asked its members to contribute to the $200,000 goal.

In May, Marriage Equality USA polled our members and 64% expressed a desire to go back to the ballot box in 2010, 23% said 2012 and the remainder were undecided. Marriage Equality USA has also just finished organizing over 40 Get Engaged Tour events across California and feedback indicated passion on both sides of the timing debate, but no clear consensus on when to move ahead. What did come across loud and clear is that our community wants our movement to come together and collectively plan how we can WIN a marriage equality campaign in the future.

As demonstrated advocates for the grassroots community, Marriage Equality USA would like to ensure your voices are heard as we move ahead in the next campaign. Whatever you donate today through August 13th will be targeted and offered in support of this collaborative effort.
It will be interesting to see what other organizations join in on this tangible challenge. And now that there is a deadline, how quickly they and the community will hop on board with this goal.

Agenda for Next Steps Summit Released

The logistics team for the August 9th Next Steps Summit, a working meeting in Los Angeles that will tackle actual next steps for an upcoming ballot initiative to undo Proposition 8, has released an agenda in advance. It is subject to change.

I. 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.: Sign-in, Coffee-fueled Meet & Mingle
II. 10:00 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.: Introduction and Overview of Goals
III. 10:20 a.m. to 10:55 a.m.: Keys to a Successful Signature Gathering Campaign
  1. 10:20 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.: Brief Presentation
  2. 10:40 a.m. to 10:55 a.m.: Questions and Answers
IV. 10:55 a.m. to 12:05 p.m.: First Working Group Session
  1. Choosing the Language of the Ballot Initiative
  2. Media and Messaging During the Signature Campaign
  3. Outreach to People of Color (POC) Communities During the Signature Campaign
  4. Partnering with Non-LGBT People and Organizations in the Signature Campaign
  5. Role of Visibility Events During the Signature Campaign
  6. Any Other Groups (Self-Chosen)
V. 12:05 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.: Working Lunch
  1. 12:05 p.m. to 12:25 p.m.: Get Food and Commence Eating
  2. 12:25 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.: Small Groups Report to Entire Group
VI. 1:00 p.m. to 1:55 p.m.: "What It Takes To Win"
  1. 1:00 p.m. to 1:07 p.m.: Introduction by Rick Jacobs
  2. 1:07 p.m. to 1:37 p.m.: Presentation by Steve Hildebrand
  3. 1:37 p.m. to 1:55 p.m.: Questions and Answers
VII. 1:55 p.m. to 3:05 p.m.: Second Working Group Session
  1. Fundraising for the Signature Gathering Campaign
  2. Identifying and Creating Signature Gathering Events and Locations
  3. Recruiting, Organizing and Training Signature Gatherers Statewide
  4. Outreach to Religious Communities During the Signature Campaign
  5. Administering the Signature Campaign
  6. Any Other Groups (Self-Chosen)
VII. 3:05 p.m. to 3:20 p.m.: Seventh Inning Stretch (Break)
IX. 3:20 p.m. to 3:55 p.m.: Small Groups Report to Entire Group
X. 3:55 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Closing Remarks
XI. 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Happy Hour (Networking) (Optional)

California Firm Running Maine's Anti-Marriage Equality Campaign Challenged to Play by State's "Fair Campaign" Rules

In a press release issued today, Maine's pro-marriage equality campaign, NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality stated that they signed a code of campaign ethics and practices based on the 2008 Maine Code of Fair Campaign Practices (21-A M.R.S.A. § 1101(2)) and asked opponents to sign pledge.

The pledge, normally signed by candidates running for public office, was adapted to suit a ballot initiative and was faced to Frank Schubert of the California-based Shubert Flint Public Affairs, who ran the Yes on 8 campaign in California. The pledge was also sent to Marc Mutty, the public affairs director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine, who so far has donated $100,000 to ending marriage equality in Maine.

The pledge in full:
Based on 2008 MAINE CODE OF FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES (21-A M.R.S.A. § 1101(2))

We shall conduct our campaign and, to the extent reasonably possible, insist that our supporters conduct themselves, in a manner consistent with the best Maine and American traditions, discussing the issues and presenting the record and our positions with sincerity and candor.

We shall uphold the right of every qualified voter to free and equal participation in the election process.

We shall not participate in and we shall condemn defamation of and other attacks on any opposing individuals or parties that we do not believe to be truthful, provable and relevant to our campaign.

We shall not use or authorize and we shall condemn material relating to our campaign that falsifies, misrepresents or distorts the facts, including, but not limited to, malicious or unfounded accusations creating or exploiting doubts as to the morality, patriotism or motivations of any party or candidate.

We shall not appeal to and we shall condemn appeals to prejudices based on race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or national origin.

We shall not practice and we shall condemn practices that tend to corrupt or undermine the system of free election or that hamper or prevent the free expression of the will of the voters.

We shall promptly and publicly repudiate the support of any individual or group that resorts, on behalf of our campaign or by our opposition, to methods in violation of the letter or spirit of this code.
“Maine has a longstanding tradition of campaigns that do not engage in mudslinging, lies, distortions and the politics of division,” said Jesse Connolly, Campaign Manager for NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality. “Maine voters expect us to take the high road, avoid poisonous attacks, and make our case based on fact and principle. Today, NO on 1 pledged to abide by that high standard, and we invite our opponents to join us and deliver the kind of campaign that Maine voters want and deserve.”

America Blog was able to get an image of the letter sent by Connolly:

Maine's Portland Press Herald reached Schubert in Washington DC, who said "his campaign in Maine will be just like the one in California -- 'an ethical campaign based on factual information.'"


Find out how you can volunteer and donate to the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality by going to their website at

California Field Poll Shows Voters As Whole Have Become More Accepting of Marriage Equality Over Last Three Decades

UPDATE: Washington Post article on analysis, "As California Goes. . . "

CORRECTION: This is a new analysis of polling data taken in March and comparing this to the past three decades. It's not actually a poll with new raw data, though it's being mistakenly reported as such.

The Field Poll analysis released today shows a dramatic shift in support for marriage equality in California over the last three decades, and though it's close, it's not a majority yet. But it's no surprise that the Republicans are the only ones holding out versus Democrats and those who identify as non-partisan.
The Field Poll's analysis of issue trends identifies the same troubling dynamic for the Republican Party: Nonpartisans are much closer to Democrats in attitude than Republicans.

Despite the passage of Proposition 8 outlawing same-sex marriage last year, California voters as a whole have become much more accepting of same-sex marriage over the past three decades.

In 1977, opposition was 2-to-1, 62 percent to 31 percent. Now, a near majority, 49 percent, supports same-sex marriage to 44 percent that does not.

During that period, Democratic support for same-sex marriage has soared, flipping from 2-to-1 opposition in 1977 to 2-to-1 support today, 64 percent to 30 percent.

In 1977, 30 percent of Republicans supported same-sex marriages, dropping to 23 percent in 2009.

As for nonpartisans, 57 percent favor and 38 percent oppose same-sex marriage today. In 1977, opinions were reversed, 38 percent support to 55 percent opposition. Support for legal abortions has also increased significantly since the 1970s. In 1975, 51 percent of California voters favored abortion rights. In 2006, 70 percent did.

Again, Democratic support has swelled over the decades while Republican support is virtually unchanged
This analysis, which also breaks down each party and California's voter pool by race, will definitely inform the LGBT Californian population and how it determines when to go back to the ballot.

With the Next Steps Summit this Sunday, this analysis will most likely be discussed and referred to when strategizing a winning campaign. Below are the detailed findings. I'd suggest we familiarize ourselves with it.

August 2009 Field Poll

ACTION: Defend the Law Campaign Urges Connecticut Attorney General to Sue Government Over DOMA

A focus to get Attorneys General to actively defend the marriage equality law in their states where it is legal has come underway through an active campaign called Defend the Law.

Recently, Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley announced that her state would be filing a lawsuit in federal courts, challenging the U.S. government over the Defense of Marriage Act. Defend the Law has taken its cue from Coakely and is now setting its sights on Connecticut's AG Richard Blumenthal, whose state became the second to legalize marriage equality last year.

The goal of Defend the Law is pursue the other states that recently legalized marriage equality, but their focus right now is on Bluementhal. Their site states:
Marriage Equality has also been the law of the land in Connecticut since November 12, 2008. The Attorney General of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, states prominently on his website, “As the public’s lawyer, I am here to defend state laws.” Since marriage equality is indeed the law in Connecticut, we strongly urge Attorney General Blumenthal to follow Massachusetts’ lead and stand up for the citizens and laws of his state by filing a lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In addition to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal having a duty to defend state law, defending marriage equality just so happens to be the politically expedient thing to do as well. The majority of Connecticut citizens support marriage equality and those numbers continue to grow.
Why such focus on Blumenthal though? 22-year old Paul Sousa, a Boston College student who started the campaign, told the Connecticut paper the Courant, "He hasn't shied away from provocative national cases in the past and hopefully he won't in this case. He's pretty liberal and progressive and he's a friend of the LBGT community."

Blumenthal is aware of the campaign and responded to the Courant through an email, "We are monitoring Massachusetts' action and listening to views and opinions expressed by advocates on all sides of the issue."

So he's listening. Let's give him more to listen to. has action steps you can take.

Urge CT Attorney General Blumenthal to file a lawsuit against DOMA

Join the facebook event so we know you’re taking part.

Actions to take during August 10th-14th from home:

Call: (860)-808-5318 & Fax: (860)-808-5387


Actions to take during August 10th-14th in person:

The Attorney General’s office is located at:
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106 (see map below).
Feel free to stop by in person and relay your message urging Blumenthal to file a suit against DOMA.

In the coming days, Maryland AG Douglas Gansler will rule if his state's law demands recognition of same-sex marriage performed in other states legally. has a petition you can sign urging him to rule in favor of marriage equality.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act Introduced to U.S. Senate Today for the First Time in History

UPDATE: The Senate ENDA has 38 sponsors and counting . . .

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley made history today by being the first to introduce an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the U.S. Senate with bi-partisan support from long-time sponsor Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The first-term Sen. Merkley told the Washington Blade he’s sponsoring the legislation because “it stems from core conviction” about his belief in fairness and equality.

“For me, one of the huge issues that I’ve cared a lot about is equality under the law and fairness to all Americans, and this was just a core part of the way I view the world,” he said

In an official press release, Sen. Merkley wrote, "There is no place in the workplace for employment discrimination. No worker in America should be fired or denied a job based on who they are. Discrimination is wrong, period. I'm proud to join Senator Kennedy, who is a civil rights legend, and Senators Collins and Snowe, both champions for equality, in taking this next step in our ongoing effort to create a more perfect union and guarantee every American, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, the right to earn a living."

In response, Human Rights Campaign launched a lobby effort today, to rally the community to contact senators through email, urging their support.

In an e-mail blast, the HRC states, "In 29 states, you can be fired solely because you're gay – and if you're transgender, that's 38 states. It's outrageous, and it's unacceptable."

Current federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability.

Rea Carey of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, whose organization has pushed for this bill since 1974, said, "People recognize that our nation as a whole benefits when everyone is allowed to contribute their talents and skills, free from discrimination, which is all ENDA seeks to do."

Rep. Barney Frank, the lead sponsor for the inclusive ENDA bill in the House, has stated he is optimistic about its chances in the House, but is more reserved about the Senate. In order for the bill to be filibuster proof in the senate chamber, 60 votes will be needed, although 51 votes will be all it needs to pass. Right now, it's not clear if the 60 votes are in hand, and some have expressed that they do not want the bill to hit the Senate floor for a vote if it is not filibuster proof.

President Obama promised in his campaign to sign an inclusive ENDA bill if it reached his desk. With Obama being adamant that Congress be the key to protecting LGBT rights through legislation, it will be interesting to see if and how the White House pushes Congress to pass ENDA.

Courage Campaign Gives the Community a Challenging Fundraising Benchmark for a 2010 Ballot Initiative - You Game?

Today, Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs sent out a memo titled "2010: It's Time to Make a Decision." In it, he reminds the Californian LGBT community that the organization's 700,000 plus membership overwhelmingly voted to return to the ballot to repeal Prop 8 in 2010.

Now, it's up to this same membership and the surrounding community to make it a reality. Rick gives a fundraising benchmark that must be reached in order to proceed to the ballot in 2010. The money will be used to test ballot language, an extremely essential necessity for a successful campaign. If the challenging benchmark is not met, he says that we will have to work for 2012.

So what exactly is the benchmark? What's the challenge that the community needs to take on? Here's the memo in full:
I write to you today with urgency and seriousness. After months of discussion and debate, the time has come to make the tough decision.

In May, 83% of Courage Campaign members said that our organization should work with our partners to place a marriage equality initiative on the ballot in 2010. If the Courage Campaign and our allies in the movement want to initiate the repeal of Prop 8 in 2010, we must make that decision very soon.

Frankly, too much attention has been placed on the political consequences of running an election in 2010 or 2012. The bottom line is that we must begin now to convince the people of California that civil marriage rights should be made available to all people, period. None of us should have to wait one more day to achieve equality at any level.

And while I say that, I also don't want to lose this critical battle. Going to the ballot in 2010 is a decision that obviously comes with potential consequences.

Our members told us to help build the movement, so over the last several months, the Courage Campaign has mobilized 44 grassroots Equality Teams in 23 counties across California. And we've held five Camp Courage trainings in communities from the coast to the Central Valley to train people to be successful organizers. Last weekend alone, 279 activists gathered in East L.A. at the most diverse Camp Courage yet, with tremendous support from the Latino and Asian Pacific Islander communities.

We've also been working with some of the smartest, most experienced campaign professionals in America -- people who ran Barack Obama's campaign, who know California and who can help our movement chart a course to victory. They've given us tough love, great advice and helped us outline the steps necessary to a successful outcome. This team isn't telling us when to initiate the repeal of Prop 8, but they are telling us we need to start now with a persuasion campaign designed to win the hearts and minds of California voters -- no matter which election year we wage the battle.

The Courage Campaign will support a repeal of Prop 8 in 2010 if our members -- together with other major stakeholders involved in this movement -- make a strong commitment to this campaign.

I want to be clear that no one organization can dominate what will need to be an independent, but accountable campaign operation. The Courage Campaign will aggressively support the effort, not run it. A small governing structure should oversee the day-to-day operations -- giving an experienced campaign manager the latitude necessary to make smart, strategic and timely decisions. If a campaign for 2010 materializes, the governing structure should include those who did not necessarily support going to the ballot in 2010, but are necessary and fundamental partners to any campaign to win back marriage equality.

To win, we will need to run a smarter, stronger and more disciplined campaign. The first step in running a winning campaign is to ensure we use the most effective initiative language that a majority of California voters will support. This takes research - expert polling and focus group work that will help us gain the best understanding of the California electorate. And we must begin that research immediately.

Along with our allies, we need to raise $200,000 to conduct this research -- and we don't have much time to raise it. If the Courage Campaign can raise $100,000 and our partners and allies in the movement can raise another $100,000 -- for a total of $200,000 -- we can put the research effort in place and meet the late September deadline recommended by the Secretary of State for filing an initiative for 2010.

We are prepared to ask our members to raise $100,000 to meet our commitment to this goal. We are willing to ask the Courage Campaign community to make this commitment because they expressed their support for going to the ballot in 2010 by such an overwhelming margin.

If we can make this community fundraising goal, we can move forward. If we can't make this community fundraising goal, then we will have to accept that the movement is not ready to produce the funding and resources necessary to support a campaign to repeal Prop 8 in 2010. And we will have to wait until 2012 to bring marriage equality to the ballot again.

Our people-powered organization is ready to win, but we are faced with the reality of these deadlines. If we want to convince a majority of our fellow Californians to support full civil marriage rights in 2010, the marriage equality movement has to stand up and commit to the cause now.

Now this is something tangible that the community can get behind.

Part of the sound and valid objections to returning to the ballot in 2010 is that the economy will make fundraising extremely difficult and that donations will dry up. If the community can meet the goal of raising $100,000 through Courage Campaign, and $200,000 as a whole, then this could be a sign that the unity and commitment that is needed to win may just be growing.

Of course, so much more work and fundraising will still need to be completed. Courage Campaign's Sarah Callahan told Unite the Fight each volunteer would need to work 20 hours a week for the last 12 weeks of the campaign if we were to move forward in 2010 (and that's not counting all the other months.)

That's everyday folks willingly stepping up to take up the task, giving up pay from their day jobs, and time for themselves, friends and family among many other sacrifices. A 2010 ballot will demand the continual unity, hard work and commitment from the community in order for it to pass.

More benchmarks will need to be set in order to gauge the progress. This will be a subject addressed at this Sunday's Next Steps Summit, a working meeting at which Courage Campaign is participating.

Rick Jacobs told Unite the Fight that if this fundraising benchmark is not met, then "the money that is raised will be used towards the continued work of repealing Proposition 8."

So, it's a win-win situation. An email will be sent out to all members tomorrow with a link to the donation page.

You game?

A Burnt Out Activist Finds Rejuvenation at Camp Courage East Los Angeles

Contributor Anne-Marie Williams is Co-Chair of the West Hollywood Lesbian Visibility Committee, Board Member of the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, HRC Diversity & PAC member. An Angelino and activist that has been involved with POC empowerment for over ten years, she was active in the past No On Prop 8 campaign and has organized several events to empower the lesbian and POC communities.

I must share that I was not going to go to Camp Courage East Los Angeles because I was burnt out. I had grown annoyed with the know-it all-conversations. I felt exploited and unappreciated. I was sick of surveys, expensive polls, circular conversations and didactic rants of a few. I had worked so hard for an organization and the No on 8 campaign without much support from my peers. I was ad nauseam with egos. I went to certain organizations to get plugged in again but to no avail. I was done and I was tired of the complaining, the characters and the math of it all.

Yet, Camp Courage kept calling and e-mailing. The Camp Courage trainers and alumni kept contacting me and including me. Pulling me back into the folds.

Camp Courage East Los Angeles took place this past weekend. Yes, I went! It was an amazing collection of nearly 240 people from all walks of life that gathered at the L.A. County Library for training to win over hearts and minds for marriage equality.

Just in case you have not heard of Camp Courage here is the gist of it. Camp Courage is an intensive two days training designed to teach the principles and skills of community organizing to activists working to restore marriage equality in California. It teaches empowerment, team building, leadership development and grassroots organizing skills. Now that makes sense!

As a facilitator it was my job to ensure the practical skills were practiced and to guide each one in my group to find their voice. This can be very challenging at times but the reward is huge. To watch a person find their voice and story through the exercises is motivating to say the least. I watched two of my group turn from shy voices of color to roars of equality.

Ten strangers (Group 22) walked into the room and by Sunday night ten friends embraced and vowed to stay connected. The sense of community is the most important gift Camp Courage gives to its Campers. To feel that you are connected to the rest of the group and that you are welcomed to what ever Camp Courage does is more than what most organizations do. The most important assets that Camp Courage offers are the tools it freely offers you for productive activism and empowerment. They give it to you - not tell you.

I have been a personal witness from past camps and have seen many campers turn into facilitators, trainers and outstanding community activists. Camp Courage Fresno turned Fres-no into Fres-yes with Meet in the Middle (MITM). Fresno Camp Courage Alumni were the driving force behind the success of MITM.

As an advocate for POC (People of Color) empowerment, I appreciated the approach that Camp Courage East Los Angeles utilized - by the people for the people was the mode of training. Community leaders spoke about their work and shared their experiences. Roland Palenica, Kristal Vick, Javier Angulo, Derrick Mathis, Stella Wong and Lt. Daniel Choi, spoke from their hearts and histories to send a new group of activists on their path.

I must admit this weekend reignited this cynical and burnt-out-on-marriage-equality soul. I appreciated when the trainers Torie Osborn, Lisa Powell and Mike Bonin kept the 2010 and 2012 issue at bay and made the weekend about the empowerment. I was re-motivated when I listened to Stella Wong, a new Camp Courage attendee in my group, speak about her path of coming to accept then celebrate her daughter’s life and wife. My activist heart was moved by Robert Gomez’s story of self which is a story of most Latino LGBT – silence, lies, silence, lost of self, silence then discovery! To be part of his activist transformation was an honor.

Thank you Camp Courage, campers, staff and my Group 22 for putting this heart and mind back on track. Keep posted next week. I will give you an update on Group 22 of East Los Angeles Camp Courage.

Oh, one last thing: STELLA!!!

Photos by Marta Evry of

VIDEO: Israeli LGBT Say Tel Aviv Shootings Are Their Stonewall; Show Your Support

The identities of the victims of the Tel Aviv shooting have been released. The dead have been named as 26-year-old Nir Katz, a youth worker at the center where the shootings took place, and 16-year-old Liz Tarboushi, a girl described as quiet and "introverted" by her school classmates.

With the names and images of the victims available, the tragedy becomes more real for those who didn't know them. A face grounds what for many is an inconceivable act of violence and anchors the experience more, making it more personal and a shared, community experience. (Learn more about the victims.)

The Guardian has quoted those who gathered in solidarity in the streets of Tel Aviv this past weekend, saying of the attack, "This is our Stonewall."

Thanks to Care2, I was made aware of this video of the spontaneous march on the night of the shooting in Tel Aviv, depicting the solidarity that has grown out of tragedy.

On Top Magazine quoted Kadima Party Leader Tzipi Livini, who went to the scene of the tragedy shortly after it happened.
“I came here to show my support for those who live in the proud gay community and are grieving their dead. I hope that this terrible day will also give you strength and mark a turning point. This day should give children the strength to tell their parents 'I'm gay'. This day should give parents the strength to love their children for who they are. This day should give the strength to make a change within Israeli society, so that it will be proud of its gay community.”
ACTIONS OF SUPPORT: Care2 is asking the global LGBT population to sign this pledge to show support and solidarity with the Israeli LGBT community.

Tonight, New York Council Speaker Christine Quinn, LGBT Jewish groups, youth LGBT groups and others will join in remembrance of those killed over the weekend at the LGBT Center in Tel Aviv. The vigil will take place at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah at 57 Bethune Street (between Washington/West St), Manhattan.

Signature Error Rate for Anti-LGBT Measure Referendum 71 Increases

Washington's Secretary of State reported Tuesday that the Referendum 71 signature error rate for that day had risen to 14.4%, up from the 11-12% reported for the earlier days of signature checking.

Referendum 71 seeks to overturn Washington's new "anything but marriage" same-sex domestic partnership law. Due to how it's written, in order to keep the law in place, one must vote to approve Referendum 71.

State election officials say they've now checked 17,317 signatures, with 15,067 accepted.

"The error rate was the highest of any seen during the first three days of scrutiny," said Dave Ammons, secretary of state spokesman.

Referendum 71 proponents, who needed to turn in at minimum 120,577 valid signatures, submitted 137,689, which is 14% more than needed. With the error rate ticking upwards, it's still not clear whether or not it will qualify for this November's ballot.

Track the counting at the Secretary of State's website here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Op-Ed: A Great Opportunity

Note from UTF: I wanted to bring this back to the main page. It has sparked good discussion (here and on Facebook), and with the 'Next Steps Summit' coming this Sunday, I thought I'd highlight it again.

Contributor Dawn Cobalt is an independent film maker active in the fight for equality. She and her partner of 25 years Marie Cobalt work with in filming and broadcasting live web streams and both are members of the OUT West Coalition.

After returning from the Equality Summit in San Bernardino I now feel that a great opportunity for our community is at hand. Some who may have also attended can disagree but let me explain.

We’re at a crossroads about when we can regain a right we all lost this past November. Polls, opinions, past experience and fear are pulling us apart. Polls, for the most part, show that we wouldn’t win in any year in the near future.

If we add wording to protect religious institutions we may win. Wording to protect religious institutions was previously put forth in the ruling of the Supreme Court in May of 2008.

The wording on protecting children is a big debate, and rightly so. But we need to send a positive message to the LGBTQI youth that desperately look to us to see if they are “okay”. We need to remember what it was like when we weren’t out and had to live in fear. We are playing politics with peoples lives that can’t vote yet. We are the people that the LGBTQI youth is now looking up to and we must act accordingly with these responsibilities.

Opinions are everywhere and with good cause. We’re a diverse group and we’re part of every minority group out there: race, creed, religious beliefs, non-religious beliefs, etc. We must walk in many different shoes to fully understand each other. The only binding aspect of “us” is our sexual and transgender identity. Because we all belong to other groupings, minority and otherwise, this can alter our view in our fight for equality.

Fear tells us that if we lose again we’re done. No one likes to lose and losing does set things back, but we need to learn from our mistakes. We have learned this time around that the community needs to get up and do something and not be complacent.

This is our time to reach out to each other and really listen. We need to rise up and move forward. Embrace the strengths of each group, praise their accomplishments and use those strengths within our community. Educate each other and not put down the ones that are not aware of the differences that separate us. We need to show the world that we are a strong, diverse community that works together. Until we do this, the Prop 8 proponents will always win.

Here is the reality of the situation. A majority of grassroots organizations want to go again in 2010. A majority of individuals in the community want to go back to the voters in 2010. This will be the movement for the moment, whether you want 2010, 2012 or beyond. We can stalemate all the way to November 2010 or we can put our differences aside and help each other. If our communities can gather the necessary signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, then it is up to the grassroots organizations to work together towards passing the initiative. If the signatures do not add up we must work to change hearts and minds until 2012.

We can show the state, the country, and the world that as a community we can come together, win or lose. And what if we lose, what then? Then we recover and we don’t stop until full equality is ours. But in the meantime we showed everyone how important equality is to us.

And equally important we show our LGBTQI youth that they are supported and loved in this world. We may show someone who’s now struggling will turn toward the movement instead of alcohol or drugs. A gay man walking home late at night doesn’t get bashed because it is frowned upon a little bit more. A transgender person will make it home without a trip to the hospital first because we show that being different is something to embrace. A lesbian getting in her car doesn’t get raped for 45 minutes because we got right back up and said it’s not okay to treat us differently.

It takes time to win a war, as we all know. But the smaller battles along the way, the ones we don’t always know about make the bigger difference. The people that get saved will then stand up, join the ones already standing, and grow. We will embrace each other and we will win.

Let’s not let this opportunity slip away.

Dawn Cobalt

Doesn't Matter When We Return to the Ballot, the Work Must Begin Now!

Contributor Josh Einsohn has lived in Los Angeles for 14 years, working in the Entertainment Industry, and is a Dallas, Texas native. Like so many others, he woke up after the defeat of Prop. 8 and realized that he had more to give than had clearly been given in the last campaign. He founded and is producing PSAs and adding content so that his site can slowly become an educational hub for all sides of the debate. ALLorNotAtAll is also part of the OUTWest.

With all the attention paid to the Marriage Equality Summit [in San Bernardino] and whether or not we were going to go back to the ballot in this year or that year and who was going to get to decide how to decide what to decide, there was not a great deal of attention paid to an event which may prove to be more important to the health and growth of the grassroots movement, ultimately. Unfortunately, a lot of people had to catch planes and so forth, and even more people just left in a huff, but it's a shame that more people couldn't stay for the Grassroots meeting that was held in a wonderfully well-air-conditioned room just after the larger event.

A little over 30 people attended the meeting that was co-moderated by Kristi Campbell of Equality Inland Empire and myself. We had a very loose agenda, but the main point of the meeting was to get people talking about the work that has to be done. I opened the meeting by saying something like: "Imagine for a moment that the decision has been made about when we're going and it's exactly what you wanted. Ok. Now, what does that campaign look like? What do you know to do? What do you want to learn to do? How can we in this room help each other with that?"

It became a chance to share ideas of, "Hey! This worked great in our community!" and to ask questions of each other and to offer support and suggestions. Some good ideas came up and there were little nuggets of wisdom that were mentioned and suddenly you'd see someone's eyes light up and start taking notes. Here are a few of the ideas floated, advice given and suggestions made:
  • On behalf of OUTWest, I offered to share our Constitution with anyone who might want to form a coalition in their part of the state. It would have to be tailored, of course, but my hope was that other groups might be able to skip some of the growing pains with support or advice or tales from the trenches from OUTWest's formation.
  • OUTWest is also sponsoring an event called Boot will educate about some of the more advanced issues in running a campaign in terms of finances and what areas need to be targeted and how certain areas were won in the last campaign and so on. People who attend that will definitely be able to leave and go help their communities to lead. (More info to come.)
  • Robin McGehee brought up the need for the true grassroots groups to communicate together better. For example, if we know that there's going to be a major summit, we should coordinate a separate meeting for just the grassroots folks. And I know in my perfect world, there would be coalitions all over the state and reps from those coalitions would be in constant contact with each other...offering help, advice and support when needed.
  • There is a website called that is used as a sort of LGBT activists social networking site.
  • We really need to create the sense of a movement...someone proposed doing a Freedom Ride through smaller towns. (I hear Equal Roots may be working on something like this already!)
  • There were stories of having events in some of the smaller communities on the outskirts of the big cities in some of the suburbs and areas that never get any attention.
  • We need to keep all LGBT issues in the media because they all tie together and make sure the media gets that. For example, there's going to be a vigil in West Hollywood this Friday to show solidarity and support for the victims of the murders in Tel Aviv. We want the press there and we want them to see that any inequality at all makes us a different class of human that is "ok" for haters to attack. DADT, teen suicide, marriage equality...they all tie together and every time the press comes, we need to keep making that connection for them.
  • Take advantage of local public access's cheap!
  • SD Pride had an Olympic-style torch relay through all the smaller suburbs and they got proclamations of support from the mayors or officials of each one of those areas.
  • Join The Impact offered to continue to help networking and facilitating communication between the grassroots groups.
  • We had a long discussion about the trans community and how it is often marginalized...but one transgender woman also talked about how many people in their segment of the community do too much to marginalize themselves. Both sides need to reach out. The idea of a Transgender 101 sort of workshop came up to help educate groups and coalitions that may want to support them but not really know how.
  • We also had a very interesting talk about race that started with my asking: "I'm a big, tall white guy. Does it really do any good to have a face like mine canvassing in a neighborhood of people that don't look like me? I'll go anywhere, of course, but does it hurt or help?" A number of interesting points were raised after that...the main one was that it doesn't matter what you look like as long as you are well-educated and friendly. However, some good caution points were brought up that may not be getting addressed by the canvassing orgs. For example, more than just having someone in the group who is able to speak the languages of that neighborhood, is there someone who understands the cultures? Is there training going on to make sure that canvassers know that some cultures appreciate a hand-shake and some do not? Or that sometimes you need to ask to speak to the head of the household or it would be considered rude? These are the sorts of details that we need to attend to...if we want their vote and support, we should make sure that the message is delivered in such a way and with a level of respect that will engender and facilitate open dialogue and the possible changing of minds.
  • I also mentioned that I was going to be working with some local POC communities to help them produce microtargeted spots since I have the technical ability, but not the cultural know-how. I know that Eugene from ran a successful campaign for Obama doing just that and they are already talking to pollsters about how to run similar spots in California to target specific communities...cheaply, quickly and efficiently.
We spent 90 minutes talking with each other and it was friendly, respectful and supportive. It felt many people pay lip service to these ideas but never really discuss them and help each other out. After a rough day, I'd say the people who left this meeting were in a much better space than the people who left the main summit as soon as it was over.

In the week since the summit, I've started to sense a new movement...a sort of pragmatic need to start the work now, regardless of when we go. Everyone's tired of the bickering and infighting and my hope is that more creative ideas are being generated all over the state and that the work is starting already. (Speaking of which, I'll have a new PSA to share in the very near future!)

I hope we all take a breath and choose to see where we fit into the next campaign and start working on THAT...whatever THAT is...right away. 2010, 2012, won't matter when we go if we don't buckle down and start the work right now.

Good luck to us all!

In solidarity,
Josh Einsohn, Founder

Civil Partnerships Down in the UK as Couples Wait for Marriage Recognition

The number of civil partnerships in the UK have dropped by 18% this past year, from 8,728 in 2007 to 7,169, but gay rights activist Peter Tatchell told the Guardian that this was to be expected.

Tatchell said: "After civil partnerships were legislated there was a huge surge of couples who had been together for decades who suddenly wished to take advantage of the legal recognition.

"Now we've settled into a pattern of civil partnership take-up which reflects people who have recently fallen in love for the first time."

Tatchell then said that couples are waiting in hopes the law will recognize their relationships as marriages.

"Initially, most were ready to settle for civil partnerships. After years of no legal rights they were desperate to get something.

"Now the mood is shifting in favour of full legal equality – the right to get married in a register office on the same level as heterosexual couples."

Washington DC Holds Vigil for Tel Aviv Victims; Israeli Conservatives to Hold Evening of Reconciliation

The gay Jewish community and allies in Washington D.C. held a vigil Monday to express solidarity with the victims and their families of the Tel Aviv LGBT center shooting Saturday, where a masked man dressed in black entered the facility and started shooting. Currently, the attacker has not been caught.

Attendees carried signs that read "homophobia is not part of the Torah," "Jewish, out & proud," "prejudice against one is prejudice against all." They lit memory candles and sang songs in Hebrew. Gay rabbis addressed the crowd and shared their experience of being homosexual and religious.

Two have died and fifteen injured in result of the attack, but Police Commissioner David Cohen called on the public not to blame specific sectors of the community for the attack for no evidence has yet to arise that it was a hate crime.

A source of Haaretz involved in the investigation noted that "there is no clear evidence at this stage indicating that this was a hate crime." Other sources said the investigation was expected to be lengthy.

Jewish World reports:
The Masorti (Conservative) Movement will hold an evening of learning, song and reconciliation that will coincide with Tuesday evening's Jewish "holiday of love" - Tu Be'av - in response to the fatal shooting attack on the LGBT community in Tel Aviv."

Events in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba will use Jewish texts and melodies to encourage discussion about "unconditional love," "tolerance" and "bridging the divides" in society, said organizers.


Rabbi Barry Schlesinger, president of the movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel, said the events were being held because "we could not celebrate Tu Be'av and sing and dance while the families of those killed were mourning their dead.

"I thought it was much more fitting to have an evening of Torah study and introspection as a way of beginning to process of repentance ahead of Yom Kippur."
It will be interesting to see who attends the night of reconciliation. Times has done an article titled "Gay vs. Orthodox: A Deadly Turn in Israel's Culture War?", shedding light on the growing tension between the communities.

Tel Aviv is not far from some of the more "inflexible Orthodox communities in the country..." If members of these communities show, maybe a dialogue could begin.