Saturday, August 15, 2009

California Assembly To Hear Testimony On Resolution Supporting Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)

Crossposted with Lez Get Real.

The California Assembly Judiciary Committee will be hearing testimony on AJR 15, a California resolution to support the federal Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

The resolution, introduced by Assembly Member Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and co-sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE), formally requests that the US Congress pass and that President Barack Obama sign the Uniting American Families Act. Under current federal law, American citizens are permitted to sponsor an opposite-sex spouse. LGBT partners do not have the same right and are specifically excluded even if married under State law, sue to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA which defines marriage as between a man and a woman only). The UAFA would extend this basic right to committed same-sex couples, who can prove they are in a committed relationship.

More specifically, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, H.R. 1024, S. 424) is a U.S. bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.

Binational same-sex partners suffer enormous hardship due to this inequity in the law. In April this year a case received national attention; Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado, from Pacifica California were granted a reprieve when Shirley’s deportation was in effect stayed for the duration of this 111th Congress. A Private Bill from Senator Feinstein was introduced and will have to be reintroduced each new Congress, unless it is voted upon.

But that is a private bill – how can we obtain private bills for all the LGBT binational couples? The only recourse is UAFA and that is why Tuesday’s assembly resolution hearing is so significant. It would be California’s way of saying – …”you have to give all Americans the same rights regardless of relationship orientation. ” It would also hopefully send a message to Senator Feinstein who has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor of UAFA; and hopefully those who are signed on and all advocates will stop hanging their hats on the yet to be seen, maybe to happen, mega issue of comprehensive immigration reform. We must push NOW for UAFA.

So much talent has been lost to our State because so many of our Californians have had to leave home to be with their partners.
Amos Lim, founding Board member of Out4 Immigration, noted “It is important to get California on record as supporting the passage of Uniting American Families Act because our state has the highest number of same sex binational couples living here. According to the studies conducted by Williams Institute, there are about 30% or 10,000 binational couples living here and our representative needs to take a stand for equality and pass this important bill.”
I for one believe that UAFA must move faster and could if it was given enough attention. Now is imperative because it has a lot of support in Congress and the momentum could be there as a result of heightened advocacy and visibility. The Uniting American Families Act had its hearing in DC and now California want to see it happen.

The community is very grateful for the hearing next week and California representatives are urged to vote in favor. It is simply the right message to send to DC.

Notably. Senator Barbara Boxer is a Co-sponsor of UAFA/ and Senator Dianne Feinstein is not.

PRESS: On-site interviews will be available : Providing testimony :

Melanie Nathan, of Marin County and a Commissioner on the Marin County Human Rights Commission who could not Petition for Israeli partner for residency in the U.S. interviews

Gina Caprio cannot Petition for British partner for residency in the U.S

Alice Kessler, Government Affairs Director, Equality California

Santosh Seeram-Santana, Legislative Advocate, Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality

Amos Lim, Founding Board Member and Treasurer, Out4Immigration

When: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Where: State Capitol, Room 4202

Blogged by MELANIE NATHAN, CEO of Private Courts, Inc. Consulting, mediation & private advocacy ; motivated by injustice, I blog about family law/mediation, politics, news and LGBT equality and anything that ‘tickles my fancy.’ Otherwise blogging as O-blog-dee-o-blog-da. Websites and blogs include:;;

CNN Coverage of Bill Clinton's Netroots Nation Showdown with Blogger Lane Hudson Not Very Forgiving

CNN covered the now widely talked about interruption of Bill Clinton's keynote speech at Netroots Nation. Blogger Lane Hudson stood up and shouted, "Mr. President, will you call for a repeal of DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Right now?"

Clinton snapped back, placing blame back on the LGBT population. However, CNN calls Clinton's take "classic Bill Clinton version of history - 'It wasn't my fault.'"

CNN isn't alone.

Blog Godless Liberal Homo takes extreme umbrage with Clinton's portrayal of Don't Ask Don't Tell's passage.
Let's start with the military ban. Bill Clinton claims that the problem with his deceptively labeled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was with its implementation despite the fact that he deliberately designed it to increase the number of discharges and witchhunts. Queer veterans groups at the time were warning people that this version was even worse than the version Reagan put in place as an Executive Order.

Clinton also lied about congressional support to sustain a veto of a military ban. In 1993, 35 Senators voted to lift the ban completely with no support from the Clinton White House. It only takes 34 Senators to sustain a veto.

Here are a couple of facts about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that you may not know.

1) Military commanders are allowed to launch investigations of sexual orientation without anyone coming out based on any or no evidence. These witchhunts even have involved placing undercover military police in gay bars.

2) If a soldier tells her mother she is a lesbian, she is violating "DADT" and is subject to discharge.

3) If a marine tells his boyfriend he is gay, he is violating "DADT" and is subject to discharge.

(That's why it pisses me off when people call it "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" itself is one of Bill Clinton's homophobic lies.)

Bill Clinton also lied about DOMA. He said he didn't want to sign it, yet he ran campaign ads in 1996 on fundamentalist Christian radio bragging about signing it. Oops!

Given now that we have another president who claimed to be a "fierce advocate" in his campaign but shows less action while in office, this debate about Clinton's legacy seems very timely, especially with talk that Obama hesitates making moves on LGBT rights because he fears making the same mistakes Clinton did.

It's all about context. Like Clinton said at Netroots Nation, that was 16 years ago.

Referendum 71 Signature Error Rate Increases; Final Count Delayed

Washington's Secretary of State's office reports that 58,493 of the 137,689 signatures turned in for anti-LGBT Referendum 71 have been counted as of Friday. The error rate has increased from Thursday's 10.68% to 10.99%. In order to qualify for the ballot, the rate can't exceed 12.4%.

Secretary spokesman David Ammons says the total counted "includes 51,645 signatures accepted and 6,378 rejected – 5,502 because they weren't found in the statewide voter registration database, 30 with signature images pending from the voter's home county, 501 where the petition signature doesn't match the one on file, and 345 duplicates."

The Examiner reports that the process is taking longer than expected, and that instead of being completed on the original deadline of August 17, it probably won't be finished until the end of August.

"Meanwhile supporters of Washington’s domestic partnership law, Washington Families Standing Together, are moving forward with their campaign," the Examiner said. "This will be the first election that Washington voters will vote entirely by mail. Ballots will arrive in October, which gives both campaigns less time to campaign than previous elections."

ACTION: Go to the Washington Families Standing Together Action Page to see how you can get involved.

Remember, to keep the domestic partnership law inclusive for same-sex couples, you must vote to APPROVE REFERENDUM 71!

Friday, August 14, 2009

VIDEO: A Speech in Support for the National Equality March

I am happy to be with all of you on a day when America witnesses our call for the greatest affirmation of freedom, equality and justice in the history of our country.

Forty years ago, a great awakening occurred, as our brothers and sisters began to open their closet doors following a demonstration of pride and liberty that was seen in New York City at the Stonewall Inn but whose seismic waves were felt across our country. On a night that stretched back two hundred years ago to the birth of our nation's independence, we as LGBT people began to feel the warmth of hope from the morning sun, and our American dream to be full and equal citizens was born.

Forty years later, we have come very far to realize this dream, but we know that our quest for freedom and equality is still a dream. Our people still live with the fear of being attacked if they show their true colors. Our workers still live with the fear of being fired just for being themselves. Our servicemen and women still live with the shame of re-entering their closets in order to defend this great nation. Our relationships still live with the disgrace of being stripped of our dignity and respect compared to other relationships. Our families still live with additional hardships in helping develop our next generation compared to other families. It is this fear, this shame, this disgrace and these hardships that bring all of us to stand here and show ourselves to all of America and each of its 50 states, each of its 435 congressional districts.


We are here today at our nation's capital to ask our country to deliver on its promise for freedom, equality and justice for all of its citizens, not just regardless of race, age, creed, gender and national origin, but also regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. This American promise was born from the demand made by our forefathers for the guarantee of equal and unalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This promise has been fulfilled for so many Americans, but to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, it remains a promise. But we also know that our quest for the fulfillment of this promise can only be met with the price of a struggle. We have seen past struggles felt from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement, the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Civil Rights Movement, and our own LGBT Civil Rights Movement. We come from ancestors who valiantly struggled in these previous movements, in these pivotal moments of our American history, and we proudly join together and follow in their footsteps, struggling to come to Washington D.C. to be here today, knowing that the struggles we face will not stop us on our quest to fulfill our American promise. And we must struggle today, because now is the time to take our American dream and make it a reality, to emerge from our closets of captivity into the open fields of freedom, to rise from the shifty terrain of imbalance and stand on the firm soil of equality, to not just feel the warmth of the morning hope but to bask in the illumining light of uncompromising justice.

We struggle with each other for our American promise, but we also struggle inside of ourselves with the anger we feel from being denied this American promise. We are keenly aware that this anger can manifest into hate, and we must resist the temptation of hatred and honor our pride that is manifested from the understanding that we are good people. I can not tell you how much more difficult it is to have to overcome not just the oppression of being different but also the anger we feel from being oppressed and the ensuing fear, pain and suffering. But I can tell you that we will become stronger people in our attempts to overcome both our oppression and our anger. And we need to understand that the combativeness that has permeated our LGBT community should not lead us to turn our backs against Christians and other religious people, for many of them understand that we are tied together in our freedom and destiny, and their presence here today affirms that we will move forward and move together.

We march on Washington today, but our march continues on for equality across America, and in our quest for the American Promise, we must promise to each other that we will continue to march on. And we must march, not just with pride and hope, but also with courage. In the words of our great Maya Angelou, "Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtues consistently. You see? You can't be consistently kind or fair or humane or generous, not without courage, because if you don't have it, sooner or later you will stop and say, 'Eh, the threat is too much. The difficulty is too high. The challenge is too great.'"

There are some of us here today who have seen challenges that many of us have heard about but can only imagine. Some of you have come face to face with violence and suffered injuries. Some of you have had your property vandalized. Some of you have been kicked out from your own families. Some of you have been called pejorative names. Some of you have been stopped from seeing your significant other at the hospital. Some of you have been faced with deportation away from your significant other. Some of you are close to others who are no longer here, because their lives were ended by others. And some are no longer here, because they have ended their own lives, because their despair was too great to bear.

I tell you all, there is hope for us. And there is hope, not just because we embody the virtues of pride and courage, but because we are also armed with what I consider as the greatest virtue of all, and the virtue that defines us as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight people. That virtue is love.

It is love that binds us together in our relationships, through both good times and in bad, when we are healthy and when we are sick, for as long as we shall live. It is love that drives us to raise our children, providing them loving and nurturing homes, guiding them on a path to be a good person, and cultivating our future generation. It is love that compels us to contribute to our communities, making life better for all of us, and helping all of us be safe and secure in our surroundings. It is love that teaches us that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It is love that answers the question of the very meaning of our lives And it is love that will fuel our struggle and answer our American promise to our American Dream.

If we are harassed, we answer with love.
If we are insulted, we answer with love.
If we are silenced, we shout with love
If we fall down, we rise back up with love.
If we are told that we are a threat to America,
We tell them back what we think about America
Divided We Fall, United We Stand.
Divided We Hate, United We Love.

And for those in America who still believe that we do not know what love is, I ask you to tell them to hear our song:

When you're in doubt take my hand
I'll stand by your side tonight cause
We will be better when we are together and
We are united in love

When in despair take my arm
As I hold you close to me and
We will go farther when we are together cause
We are united in love

When you're feeling good
I'll capture the time
When you're feeling sad
I'll help you remember
When you're feeling fine
We'll stay on our path
When you're feeling bad
I will be there for you and

Our love will sing loud and strong
Our love will keep going on

When you're in fear take my heart
I'll give you a hug tonight cause
We will be better when we are together and
We are united in love

When you're in angst take my lead
I'll show you the way today cause
We will go farther when we are together cause
We are united in love

When we're feeling rich
I'll never let go
When we're feeling poor
I'll help you recover
When we laugh away
I'll give you a smile
When we shed a tear
I'll comfort you gently and

Our love will sing loud and strong
Our love will keep going on

When you don't know take my word
I am here to stay with you, cause
We will be better when we are together and
We are united in love

We are united in love
United we love

EQCA Announces Matching Dollar Donation Challenge to Support Maine's NO on 1 Campaign

In its announcement Wednesday that it will support a 2012 campaign to bring marriage equality back to California, Equality California indicated that it would put resources behind the marriage equality "ground zero" fight in Maine.

Well, they didn't waste time. In an email sent out to its members today, EQCA's Executive Director Geoff Kors announced a matching-dollar fundraising drive to support the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign.
Dear EQCA Member,

The same people who ran the right-wing effort to take away our rights here in California have a new target: Maine, which will be voting in less than 80 days on whether or not to protect marriage equality.

Frank Schubert, who ran the Yes on Prop 8 campaign, the National Organization for Marriage, producers of the "Gathering Storm" video, and Focus on the Family, have banded together to overturn the right of same-sex couples to marry in Maine.

This group of extremists have raised more than $340,000, more than twice the amount raised by NO on 1 / Protect Maine Equality.

We must fight back. Make a donation now to protect Maine's Freedom to Marry now and Equality California will match your donation dollar for dollar, up to $25,000.

A victory in Maine is essential for victory in California. We are all connected so we need to continue the national momentum toward marriage equality.

Everyone deserves the right to marry the person they love. Please, make a donation now so same-sex couples in Maine can retain their right to marry.

In solidarity,

Geoff Kors
Executive Director
Equality California
Whether or not you support EQCA's decision on the California marriage equality struggle, you will be hard pressed to be against this generous offer to help those in Maine.

The Los Angeles Times has already reported on this fundraising drive, saying that California's marriage equality battle has a new target: Maine. The phrasing may imply we're not focusing our efforts here anymore, which is not true, but its message is correct. We DO intend to support our community in Maine.

Donate here if you want your dollars to be matched by EQCA.

Washington DC Official Calls for Referendum on Marriage Equality

Recently, the District of Columbia passed a resolution allowing for the recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed outside its jurisdiction. It faced stiff opposition by those crying for a public vote, but the resolution prevailed by overwhelming support from the D.C. Council and a decision by the election board as well as a D.C. Superior Court Judge ruling that a referendum would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act.

Considered a first step towards full recognition, a resolution is expected this fall that would legalize the performance of same-sex marriages within the capital itself.

However, opponents believe that this shouldn't left to public officials but should be decided by the people, an argument used against the earlier resolution.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Robert King of Ward 5 has sent a proposed resolution to each of the city’s 236 commissioners calling for a D.C. ballot initiative next year to decide whether same-sex marriage should be legalized or banned in the nation’s capitol, and he hopes a majority will sign on.

“The definition of marriage is too serious and too important an issue to leave in the hands of the politicians without consulting the will of the people,” King wrote in an Aug. 4 letter to his fellow ANC commissioners.

King's resolution doesn't take a stand on whether marriage equality is harmful, just reinforcing the argument that the people should decide.

Michael Crawford, chair of D.C. for Marriage, doesn't buy that.

“So really, what this is, is an attempt to go around our elected officials in order to attack gay and lesbian families,” Crawford said. “This has nothing to do with democracy or people having a vote because they clearly had a vote when they elected the members of the City Council and the mayor, the vast majority of whom supported us on marriage recognition.”

It's Just Another Day in Vermont as Few Same-Sex Couples Apply for Civil Marriage Licenses

Unlike fellow New England state Maine, the issue of marriage equality in Vermont has caused very little upheaval as the state's new marriage law goes into effect on September 1.

This month, Vermont town clerks began offering civil marriage license applications to gay and lesbians couples, but little fanfare has accompanied the historical moment. reports very few same-sex couples have lined up for the applications, although the new law becomes active in as little as two weeks.

"I picked up mine today," said Jace Sheppard of Colchester who plans to marry his civil union partner Michael Sheppard on Sept. 1 after the two get out of work for the day. "We're going to sign it soon and probably return it tomorrow."

The city of Rutland reports that only one couple had picked up an application, and in the capital of Montpelier, the battleground site for the marriage equality law passage just a few months ago, no couples have applied, said City Clerk Charlotte Hoyt.

"We had one phone call, but we never heard back after that," she said.

Vermont was the first state to offer civil unions, so it could be that civil marriage isn't that big of a deal, something the far right-wing doesn't want people to believe.

Bill Clinton Interrupted During Netroots Nation Keynote Speech - Answers Demanding DADT and DOMA Questions

While giving his keynote speech at the Netroots Nation plenary in Pittsburgh Thursday night, former president Bill Clinton was interrupted by blogger and activist Lane Hudson, who stood up from the audience and demanded, "Mr. President, will you call for a repeal of DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Right now?

Clinton didn't take long to respond by saying that Hudson should to go the unruly town halls on health care. "You'd do really well there," which was met with laughter and some applause.

But Hudson was not deterred and interrupted again. Clinton's tone quickly changed and gave the most direct and painfully honest answer I've ever heard him give, placing a lot of the responsibility of the passage of DADT back on the LGBT population.

"You wanna talk about ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. You couldn’t deliver me any support in the Congress and they voted by a veto-proof majority in both houses against my attempt to let gays serve in the military and the media supported them. They raised all kinds of devilment. And all most of you did was to attack me instead of getting some support in the congress. Now, that’s the truth."

See a video from the view point of the audience by Jeremy Hooper of G-A-Y blog.

Thanks to reporter Rex Wockner, here's a full transcript of the exchange. It also includes Clinton's reasoning behind signing DOMA.
Lane Hudson (screaming from the audience): Mr. President, will you call for a repeal of DOMA and Don't Ask Don't Tell right now? Please.

Bill Clinton: ... You want to talk about Don't Ask Don't Tell, I'll tell you exactly what happened. You couldn't deliver me any support in the Congress and they voted by a veto-proof majority in both houses against my attempt to let gays serve in the military, and the media supported them. They raised all kinds of devilment. And all most of you did was to attack me instead of getting me some support in the Congress. Now that's the truth.

Secondly -- it's true! You know, you may have noticed that presidents aren't dictators. They voted -- they were about to vote for the old policy by margins exceeding 80 percent in the House and exceeding 70 percent in the Senate. The gave test votes out there to send me a message that they were going to reverse any attempt I made by executive order to force them to accept gays in the military. And let me remind you that the public opinion now is more strongly in our favor than it was 16 years ago, and I have continued supporting it. That John Shalikashvili, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under me, was against Don't Ask -- was against letting gays serve -- is now in favor of it. This is a different world. That's the point I'm trying to make.

Let me also say something that never got sufficient publicity at the time: When General Colin Powell came up with this Don't Ask Don't Tell, it was defined while he was chairman much differently than it was implemented. He said: 'If you will accept this, here's what we'll do. We will not pursue anyone. Any military members out of uniform will be free to march in gay rights parades, go to gay bars, go to political meetings. Whatever mailings they get, whatever they do in their private lives, none of this will be a basis for dismissal.' It all turned out to be a fraud because of the enormous reaction against it among the middle-level officers and down after it was promulgated and Colin was gone. So nobody regrets how this was implemented any more than I do. But the Congress also put that into law by a veto-proof majority, and many of your friends voted for that, believing the explanation about how it would be eliminated. So, I hated what happened. I regret it. But I didn't have, I didn't think at the time, any choice if I wanted any progress to be made at all. Look, I think it's ridiculous. Can you believe they spent -- whatever they spent -- $150,000 to get rid of a valued Arabic speaker recently?

And, you know, the thing that changed me forever on Don't Ask Don't Tell was when I learned that 130 gay service people were allowed to serve and risk their lives in the first Gulf War, and all their commanders knew they were gay; they let them go out there and risk their lives because they needed them, and then as soon as the first Gulf War was over, they kicked them out. That's all I needed to know, that's all anybody needs to know, to know that this policy should be changed.

Now, while we're at it, let me just say one thing about DOMA, since you -- the reason I signed DOMA was -- and I said when I signed it -- that I thought the question of whether gays should marry should be left up to states and to religious organizations, and if any church or other religious body wanted to recognize gay marriage, they ought to. We were attempting at the time, in a very reactionary Congress, to head off an attempt to send a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the states. And if you look at the 11 referenda much later -- in 2004, in the election -- which the Republicans put on the ballot to try to get the base vote for President Bush up, I think it's obvious that something had to be done to try to keep the Republican Congress from presenting that. The President doesn't even get to veto that. The Congress can refer constitutional amendments to the states. I didn't like signing DOMA and I certainly didn't like the constraints that were put on benefits, and I've done everything I could -- and I am proud to say that the State Department was the first federal department to restore benefits to gay partners in the Obama administration, and I think we are going forward in the right direction now for federal employees. ...

But, actually, all these things illustrate the point I'm trying to make. America has rapidly moved to a different place on a lot of these issues, and so what we have to decide is what we are going to do about it. Right now, the Republicans are sitting around rooting for the president to fail, as nearly as I can see.
On UStream, you can listen to the rest of Clinton's speech which touches on the healtch care debate, the Obama administration, the involvement of bloggers and activists and their role in ensuring a progressive future for the nation. (Click on the tag marker to skip directly to Clinton.)

Lane Hudson, the blogger activist who stood up and challenged Clinton, has written a piece on the Huffington Post, "Why I interrupted Bill Clinton's speech at Netroots Nation."

So what do you make of Clinton's response? Did we, the LGBT population, drop the ball when it came to DADT and DOMA? I don't think that anyone can argue that Clinton didn't stick his neck out for us, but has history twisted the story a bit, putting the blame more on him for the passage of DADT and DOMA? Or should we be equally to blame, if not more, for not going full force in stopping them, since those laws directly affect us?

Can we learn something from this? Both HRC and Equality Across America have campaigns (the latter kicking into gear after the National Equality March) in place for us to lobby our representatives. If a DADT or DOMA repeal actually hit the Senate and House floors, will we have learned enough from history to do everything we can to garner support from Congress?

Despite this amazing resurgence of grassroots activity, there's still lots of complacency within our communities. How can we get them to call and email their representatives? What can we do to get them more involved?

At this critical juncture for our rights and the hope of a progressive future, we can't take any chances.

Photo by Andrés Duque of Blabbeando. Additional photos here.

New NOH8 Campaign Celebrity Video Released

See an earlier video.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Protector of 'Traditional Marriage' and Supporter of Prop 8, Doug Manchester Left Wife, Faces Divorce

Hotelier Doug Manchester, whose Manchester Hyatt in San Diego is under boycott for his contribution of $125,000 to Prop 8's signature campaign, which ultimately led to its success, is divorcing his wife of 43 years.

At the time of his donation, he told the New York Times that his reason was because of his “Catholic faith and longtime affiliation with the Catholic Church,” which prefers marriage to be between a man and a woman. He should probably ask what the church thinks of his divorce.

The San Diego City Beat reports:
On Oct. 9, 2008, Manchester ended 43 years, eight months and nine days of marriage to Elizabeth Manchester by moving out of their La Jolla abode. The couple spent the next several months trying to reach a quiet settlement on how best to distribute millions of dollars in cash and other assets. In July, those talks totally broke down, and Doug started playing financial hardball with Elizabeth, allegedly draining the couple’s shared accounts and stealing her mail. On Aug. 6, Elizabeth filed a petition for redress in family court.
No "quiet settlement" now. This bitter divorce is getting worse, with accusations of signature fraud, mail stealing and hiding assets.

Doug wrote an email to Elizabeth, which the petition for divorce cites, saying he “wish[es] to pursue all rights to protect all of [his] separate property and wish[es] also to litigate vigorously any and all spousal support.” (Brackets quoted from the petition).

Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

The Manchesters will next meet in court on Sept. 17, 2009.

Judge Walker Demands a Redo on Federal Prop 8 Case Management Statements

After reading the federal Prop 8 Case Management Statements filed Friday from both the Olson/Boies team and the Yes on 8 crowd, including several others from interested parties, Judge Walker decided to wipe the slate clean and demanded they start over.

The AP reported that the judge, who will ultimately decide the fate of the case, said the statements "fail to get down to the specifics of how we are going to proceed in this case" and that he wants detailed information about what effects Prop 8 has on the couples suing as well as "opposite-sex couples and others not in same-sex relationships in California."

"He said wants names and titles of the witnesses expected to testify and what legal standards should be used to decide the case, among other details he said were missing from the original filings," reports the AP.

The lawyers on both sides of the case couldn't agree on anything about how to proceed, but the main crux of the conflict centers around whether or not a public bench trial was necessary, which Olson and Boies demand should occur since it has never happened in a marriage equality case before. A public trial will allow a record to be created that will be needed in the appellate courts, where this case everyone agrees will wind up.

Attorney General Jerry Brown, as well as the governor, who are supposed to defend Prop 8 but do not agree with it, also submitted their own filings but have allowed the conservative Alliance Defense Fund to take a lead on the case.

A hearing is scheduled for August 19 to decide the course of the case.

Maine's Grassroots NO on 1 Campaign Relaunches Website, Receives Help from HRC

Maine's Freedom to Marry Coalition, created by the state's grassroots, had recently refashioned itself into the NO on 1 Campaign/Protect Maine Equality to battle the impending November referendum that would strip gays and lesbians of their newly won right to marry.

Now, they have relaunched their website, making sure that anyone who stops by will know how to vote this November.
On May 6, 2009 Maine ended discrimination in marriage for same-sex couples. This victory was the result of thousands of people who came forward to support marriage for all Maine families. The legislature and Governor followed the people's lead and passed this landmark legislation.

But the fight is not over. Opponents of marriage equality want to turn back the clock. They are working to place a measure on the ballot - modeled after California's Prop 8 - to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry in Maine.

This November, voters will be asked:

"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?"

Answer: Vote NO on 1.
Maine has become the new California in that they find themselves in a position to defend their new rights from those wanting to take them away, and the culprits sound oddly familiar. Actually, the same. Frank Schubert of the California-based Shubert Flint Public Affairs, who ran the Yes on 8 campaign in California, is also behind this anti-marriage equality campaign, as well as the National Organization for Marriage which has given $160,000, $100,000 from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and Focus on the Family, who despite budget shortfalls, has given $31,000.

So Maine needs all the help they can get. And we can win this time.

Lez Get Real reports:
The Human Rights Campaign, has delivered a check today for $50,000 to Maine’s ’No On 1 – Protect Marriage Equality’ campaign… bringing the HRC’s total contributions to the campaign to $75,000.

They have also dispatched staff members to Maine to assist with the campaign, which intends to keep the new law allowing Maine’s same-sex couples to wed off the ballot this November.


Marty Rouse, National Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign, said, “We don’t need to match our opponents,” and added. “But we do need to raise significant funds. This campaign is a grassroots campaign and we feel confident this campaign will be won by the grassroots, but we must try as best we can to raise a significant amount of money.”
Even more good news, WBZTV in Maine reports that the NO on 1 campaign has opened a third office in Lewiston to help broaden their work.

The stakes are high. A win in Maine will mean for the first time ever, the voters will decide to support marriage equality. A loss can set our movement back.

Check out NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality and get involved. No matter where you live, there's something you can do.

Vote For Equality: How You Can Help Change Voters' Hearts and Minds for Marriage Equality

The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center's Vote for Equality (VFE) campaign is working to build the political power of LGBT people and allies in Los Angeles County to advance marriage equality.

Through door-to-door canvasses, phone banks, leadership development, voter education and other actions, VFE works to change the hearts and minds of those who voted for Prop 8.

But they need all the help they can get. That's where you come in! And don't worry - no experience is needed. They'll give you all the training you need. (And if you're a Camp Courage alumni, you already have the training!)

This upcoming weekend, they will be doing a door-to-door canvass in South Los Angeles and two weeks after in Pasadena/Glendale.

WHAT: South Los Angeles Voter Canvass
WHEN: Saturday, August 15, 10am – 3pm (PST)
WHERE: Holy Faith Episcopal Church 260 N. Locust St. Inglewood, CA 90301 (Map)
Sign up at!

WHAT: Northeast LA/Pasadena/Glendale Voter Canvass
WHEN: Saturday, August 29, 10am – 3pm (PST)
WHERE: Launch Location TBD (Keep an eye out for updates.)

VFE also has weekly actions to prep for the canvasses. This is great training to prepare you (and the friends you bring!) to speak with voters one-on-one.

WHAT: Canvass Prep (Turf Cutting, Packet Prep)
WHEN: Thursdays 6:30 – 9:30pm (PST)
WHERE: The Village 1125 N. McCadden Pl. Los Angeles, CA 90083 (Map)

If you're interested in helping VFE recruit more volunteers who support marriage equality, VFE has weekly phone banks set up so you can do just that!

WHAT: Volunteer Recruitment Phone Banks
WHEN: Tuesdays 6:30 – 9:30pm (PST)
WHERE: The Village 1125 N. McCadden Pl. Los Angeles, CA 90083 (Map)

For all actions, VFE provides full trainings, so no experience is needed. And dinner or lunch is provided. To RSVP, you can contact Laura Gardiner at or 323-770-3188.

Be sure to join their Facebook page, too!

UPDATE: Numerous Maine "No on 1" Viral Videos Have Hit the Web - Keep Them Comin'!

UPDATE: I will keep updating this post with new videos as they are made.

Maine Freedom to Marry, now known as Protection Maine Equality/No on 1, switched into full campaign mode recently when anti-marriage equality groups, headed up by those who successfully passed Prop 8 in California, turned in petition signatures to put the new marriage equality law on this November's ballot.

In no time flat, viral videos in support of marriage equality and urging Maine voters to vote No on 1 have hit the web. Please pass this around!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

UTF EXCLUSIVE: EQCA's Marc Solomon Talks About Juggling Plans for 2012 While Working With 2010 Supporters

Today, the Courage Campaign announced that it had raised enough money to take a first step towards a 2010 campaign. An hour later, Equality California (EQCA), the largest and most powerful California LGBT organization, announced that it was going to move forward and work towards a 2012 campaign.

Right now, the California LGBT population is experiencing whiplash and fears that these announcements will drive the wedge of division that already exists deeper into the heart of the community.

Courage Campaign has been steadfast in its support for 2010, and early on, so was EQCA, but with the latter's decision to now focus on a 38 month campaign, many are wondering what does this spell for the community's next steps? Will a consensus ever be reached?

Last weekend, those who would become the California Coalition for Marriage Equality held a Next Steps Working Meeting, and though it was billed as an inclusive meeting for all view points, it was a decidedly pro-2010 planning event with very few 2012 groups attending.

Unite the Fight spoke with EQCA's Marriage Director Marc Solomon, who attended the event. In a one-on-one interview in Marc's sparse office, I asked how EQCA was going to move forward in a community whose grassroots is charging ahead with or without his organization, especially in light of today's announcement and the release of "Winning Marriage Equality Back in California: Analysis and Plan," their pro-2012 road map.

“I don’t view this as the end of discussion and conversation," Marc said about the announcement right off the bat. "We promised the LGBT community that we would let them know what we think the wisest course of action is. It's our responsibility. That’s why we put something out today. But we’re not saying that it’s our way or the highway. We certainly can’t force anyone to adopt our position."

"We hope people read [the analysis] and use interactive sites like Unite the Fight and others to discuss it," he said. "I encourage everyone to read it and think about it."

I asked Marc what he hopes will come of the road map, and he spoke of the motivation behind its release.

"There are two things we wanted to do. One, we wanted to get the work started. We know there's work that needs to happen in moving people our way on marriage. Two, we wanted to do a lot of due diligence on what we think the smartest approach is for moving forward to overturn Prop 8.

"A lot of factors came into play. One that isn’t talked about a lot is moving people on this issue of marriage equality happens best in a cultural context, when people can let their guards down and really listen. In a political context, it’s a lot harder to do – it's a 'he said, she said' political battle. People put up their defenses in a political campaign, instead of realizing, 'Oh, I didn’t know this couple lived down the street from me.' Trying to condense this down to 14 months is really hard, in the midst of a political campaign, when there’s a lot of going back and forth."

It's safe to say that almost all of the community can agree that winning is about changing hearts and minds of voters, but no one is clear about how to unite the LGBT community to come to a consensus and to go out and do exactly what is needed to win.

I asked Marc about what he thinks needs to happen in order for this to come into fruition.

"One thing that is clear to me that Unite the Fight pointed out after [the summit in] San Bernardino, is how much hurt and pain there is in our community post Prop 8. And it sort of dawned on me, 'Oh my god, I get it.' All these people, including myself, are sort of wounded from this loss and we’re acting it out in lots and lots of different ways. I think we need to acknowledge that.

"When I first got out here, I thought, 'Of course we’re going back in 2010. We can’t wait.' And I heard people say, 'Well are you sure? Does that make sense?" From funders and more."

Marc paused. "And then I really started listening. I listened carefully. I think the people need to listen carefully to the POC LGBT groups who feel they are being steamrolled. I think they felt steamrolled when we first came out for 2010.

"There’s this feeling that when it’s convenient, that people will listen to what [the POC groups] have to say and when it’s not, they won’t. I think we all have to think about that. Think about what these communities went through after Prop 8 passed and the blaming of POC communities. I think it’s important that people listen to that perspective, that they're thinking 'Our communities got blamed for Prop 8.' And after, people said a lot of work will happen, and now the work hasn’t happened and we’re saying we’re going right back to the ballot. That’s an important perspective to keep into account."

Marc rebuffed the claim that those who support 2012 are wanting to "wait."

"We all want to win back marriage as quickly as humanly possible. The question is, 'Can we get it done by 2010 or not?'"

Marc then addressed the philosophy of returning to the ballot each election year until we win.

"We [EQCA] don’t believe we can go back to the ballot in [2010 and 2012] - it’s one or the other. If we lose, it will be very hard to go back to the ballot before 2014, 2016 or 2018. The thought of spending 150 million dollars three election cycles in a row is totally unrealistic.

"If you keep going back to the ballot over and over, you appear to the movable middle, to the people you need to persuade, as a zealot. Regular people will say, 'Oh my god, they’re back again. Haven’t we already decided this?' And we say, 'We’re fighting. We’re fighting to win.' But we have to think about who needs to come our way and who we need to move."

I then pushed Marc again about the practicalities of how we can all work together with a mobile grassroots coalition already moving forward on 2010, and the largest LGBT organization in California announcing it's for 2012, not to mention the vast array of organizations in the Prepare to Prevail coalition who also support 2012.

So I got to specifics. Will he or someone from Equality California attend the California Coalition for Marriage Equality convention in San Francisco, the objective of which will be to hammer out a campaign governing structure.

“I would like to be there. If not, Andrea Shorter, who is our Deputy Marriage Director and who lives up in San Francisco, will be."

I asked him if he, as a representative of EQCA, could help get the pro-2012 POC groups involved in planning the structure.

“First of all , I think they feel dissed. They weren’t engaged. I don’t blame them at all for sort of taking a step back. I think they feel they were disrespected.

"I'm brainstorming here. Maybe there should be a session where it isn’t a debate, but where they explain what it's like to work in the Latino community, what it’s like working in the African American community, and people really agree to listen instead of writing the position off. We have plenty to learn from groups who are working in communities of color. So I think how we’re going to pull together – we need to listen to each other more, respect each other more."

I pushed for more specifics about developing some sort of governing structure that will be flexible enough for any campaign year.

"For practicalities," he said, "There are a few different divides. There’s the 2010 vs. later divide. (As an aside, we’ve made very clear the we're not the “or later” position but the 2012 position. We are prepared to play an active role in a 38 month campaign to win back marriage.) There’s also a divide between grassroots and more established organizations, and I think that’s something we need to figure out. It’s complicated.

"One the one hand, I don’t think it makes sense for an unincorporated group to have the same vote as EQCA on something, or the same vote as the Courage Campaign or Marriage Equality USA. At the same time, we’ve all listened and heard loudly and clearly, that the grassroots voice needs to be an active voice."

Marc made it clear that they will not ignore the movement that is being made. "We’re taking all of this seriously. We’re engaging seriously everywhere with as many hours as there are in a day, we’re engaging. I believe in doing something in a united kind of way. With as many waking hours that I have, I will engage and I will talk. It’s important for me to be accessible.”

Will he support a 2010 signature campaign?

"Will I go out and urge people to go collect signatures? Probably not. But I respect people who are going to go out and collect signatures. And I really mean that. I wish we were all on the same page. That’s what I hope for."

“We are not going to get in anyone’s way of anything," Marc added. "And people who want to move forward in 2010 have every right to. Of course you can make an argument that by putting our point of view out there, we’re getting in their way. I don’t think that’s a fair point. I heard some point-of-views that if you’re not with the program, then just be quiet and don’t say what you think because otherwise you’re getting in the way. That’s not a definition of getting in the way that makes any sense.”

On the EQCA conference call with reporters and bloggers about the 2012 announcement, Rex Wockner pushed hard on Executive Director Geoff Kors and Marc Solomon, asking how they couldn't think it was going to be a PR disaster for EQCA to not support the grassroots. Kors responded he didn't see it that way at all. So I asked Marc, who works with and deals with the grassroots everyday, the same question.

“I think that we owe it to the community to let people know our best thinking," was his response. "And if we’re going to take some hits for it, it’s OK."

"Nobody likes to take hits," Marc quickly added. "I would feel a hell of a lot worse not saying what we really thought the smarter approach was. To lead our community in another direction just because we were concerned about the flak we would take - I couldn’t live with myself for doing that.”

So what if the California Coalition for Marriage Equality gets enough signatures for a 2010 ballot?

“If something is on the ballot, we are going to do what we can to help it succeed. If our rights are on the ballot, that’s our job. Even if we don’t think it’s the right time, it’s our job to fight for the LGBT community to help support it. We have committed to doing that work - the persuasion work. We have 18 full-time organizers across the state - the purpose of that work is to move voters our way. That work is valuable whenever there is an initiative on the ballot. The work on the ground is not out of sync.”

But is it in sync?

“We all need to talk about how this works," he responded. "We just put something out there [their road map]. We want to engage in conversation now."

Marc delved into what he thinks EQCA's role could be in the upcoming days, working with those who support 2010.

"[EQCA]'s work moving forward is going to be persuasion work at the door for marriage equality. We think community wide, working with our coalition partners, we need to do some messaging work to see what will move specific demographic voters our way. That’s what we need to do together. Every consultant I’ve talked to has said you need to have more consistent messages when it comes to marriage equality. Our opponents are really disciplined that way. I think having knowledge of what’s most effective will be helpful."

Will EQCA encourage its donors to give to a qualifying 2010 campaign?

"If our rights are going to be on the ballot, we will do everything we can to succeed," Marc firmly stated. "Everything we can. We really do think we only get one shot at this in 6-8 years. And if the community decides this [2010] is the shot we want, then we’ll support it. We will absolutely encourage donors, staff, everybody."

I asked him for a response to Courage Campaign's membership raising over $100,000 before its given deadline. Did he see that as an encouraging sign for 2010? Though he applauded the amazing feat and enthusiasm behind the money raised, he said -

“We need to raise $700,000 a week until next November to go in 2010."

Marc thought for a moment. "It’s been said [in the community], 'All we have to do is get the signatures and then EQCA will open the spigots and the money will flow.' No, that’s not what’s going to happen. All you have to do is look what’s going on in Maine right now. The last reporting showed our opponents were out-raising our side more than 2-to-1.”

But now that Courage Campaign and Marriage Equality USA are near their fundraising goal for ballot language research, will EQCA kick in support some way?

“We said we will help Courage Campaign and Marriage Equality USA and others to come up with campaign messaging. We will help with ballot language too with respect to wording. If someone is going to introduce ballot language, we want to be best. The school’s curriculum discussion – someone has to figure that one out.”

Marc continued, “We want to be sure it’s the smartest best ballot language we can put forward. I do think the messaging piece is also very important. We’re going to need good, crisp messaging. We’re going to need to know what our best case is to present to the voters. The piece that makes sense for us right now is general message. Let’s explore if we can do that together because I think it can be.”

Marc wanted to conclude by reiterating that he wants to work with everybody. Just because he may not agree about when to return to the ballot, doesn't mean he'll now disappear. He also expressed his excitement about what is happening.

"I’ll truly listen to everybody. I think one of the most exciting things about being in California right now is all this new energy and new groups," he said. "I think it’s so exciting, being an activist working on this issue 8 years now. It’s such an incredible moment. The perspectives from One Struggle, One Fight and Equal Roots and a whole slew of others is really neat and good, and I have plenty to learn from people who are inspired post Prop 8.

"For the first time in California and in the country, our community isn’t playing defense. From the Briggs Initiative to Prop 22 to Prop 8, our opponents picked the election they thought was best for them and they moved forward with a plan to do it. This time we get to choose when we think we can put or best effort forward."

Marc added one finishing thought.

"One thing I would ask people to do is give a good, close read to what we’ve put out there," he said, referring to their "Analysis and Plan" for 2012. "And if they have questions, send them to me and let’s discuss them.”

Equality California will continue soliciting feedback from community members and will hold a virtual town hall via livestream moderated by Bay Area Reporter Editor Cynthia Laird on Thursday, August 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. PDT. To join the town hall, visit at that time.

Maryland's First Muslim State Delegate Supports Marriage Equality

Maryland's first Muslim politician, District 39 state delegate Saqib Ali, came out in support for marriage equality recently in an op-ed for Maryland's community newspaper, the Gazette.
Proposition 8 was probably the single biggest electoral setback in the history of the gay rights movement. However Proposition 8's passage may have sown the seeds of its own demise. And I am hopeful that in the long run, it will be seen as a pyrrhic victory for opponents of equal rights.


My stance on this issue isn't politically expedient. I am the first Muslim in the legislature. Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Islam. As such I have evinced much grief from my most conservative supporters.

But I recognize that I represent people of all faiths and no faith at all. If I tried to enforce religion by law — as in a theocracy — I would be doing a disservice to my both constituents and to my religion.
Saqib Ali goes on to say that due to "nakedly political calculations," he believes Maryland won't see marriage equality until October 2011. In the meantime, the state's attorney general, Douglas Gansler, may interpret Maryland's law as allowing the state to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed outside its borders.

Yesterday, Ali was interviewed on NPR with Michel Martin.
What I feel is that people have elected me to not only do what is popular but to do what is right, and I think that's the real definition of a leader. If they just wanted me to do the popular thing, there would really be no point of me being there. I could just, you know, run some polls and put a finger up to the wind and vote that way. But if people always did what was popular only, we probably would never have had the Civil Rights Act in the '60s, and lots of other good ideas would not have become the law of the land. So personally, it's against my religion.


I represent people who are of all faiths and of no faiths, and if I simply try to force my religion onto all these people and the people of Maryland, as they do in a theocracy, I would be doing a disservice to my constituents and a disservice to my religion, in fact.


Well, to the members of the clergy and to my family members who are very upset at me, I say, look, I understand that you disagree, and if you are opposed to this, I strongly urge you not to perform same-sex marriages. If you're uncomfortable with it, do not perform them in your church, do not approve them personally, but let those people in this state who want those same rights and protections that come with civil marriage, let them have that. Because it doesn't affect my marriage, it doesn't affect anybody else's marriage, it doesn't harm us in any way.
Thank delegate Saqib Ali by contacting him and expressing your support for his stance.

Equality California Announces Support for 2012 Ballot Initiative to Win Marriage Equality Back in California

UPDATE 2: Log Cabin Republicans respond to EQCA's announcement.

UPDATE: EQCA's Marriage Equality Director Marc Solomon posts on their blog.

Related news: San Francisco Gate reports that Mayor and California gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, is "not convinced" challenge to Prop. 8 will succeed in 2010.


In a conference call with reporters and bloggers (which is still going - live blogging here!), Equality California's Executive Director Geoff Kors and Marriage Equality Director Marc Solomon announce the organization's support for a marriage equality ballot initiative in 2012.

Marc Solomon stated that they considered four different options when making their decision.
  • Return every two years until we prevail.
  • Wait until we know we can win.
  • Use November 2010 as deadline and engage 14 month campaign.
  • Use November 2012 deadline and a 38 month campaign.
Some of the reasons cited for their decision to support 2012:
  • 30 month campaign gives time to launch an educational campaign
  • 60% of those younger than 30 are solid supporters for marriage equality. Those who are 16 or 17 now will be able to vote in 2012, shifting the demographics in our favor.
  • Major donors are more interesting in supporting a 2012 campaign and not interested in contributing to a 60 million dollar 2010 campaign.
When asked about Courage Campaign's announcement today that they will move forward with a 2010 ballot initiative since they have raised enough money for ballot language testing, Geoff Kors said, "It’s great to see that they’re moving forward with research."

He said they reached out to support research and would like to see many LGBT organization, including allied organizations, coordinate their efforts in regards to research.

In regards to timing, he said, "If people want to move forward with 2010, they’re welcome to. It's a democracy . . . if something qualifies, we will support it . . . This is our view that we’re sharing."

Addressing the momentum for 2010, Kors said if we lost, we don't have the resources the keep returning to the ballot every two years.

Solomon said, "I wouldn't feel comfortable leading people down that path." He went on to say he felt more confidence in a 38 month campaign in which he could do more one-on-one work with organizations and volunteers so that they could win more voters with a strategic plan.

"We support committing our energy, resources and leadership (for) the November 2012 election," he said. "The work is slow-going but doable." He added, "Donors want to make sure their investments to win back marriage are wisely invested. Monolithically, they are not supportive of returning to the ballots right now."

Recently, Steve Hildebrand said that if he had listened to the pollsters and the pundits who were saying Obama would never be in the Oval office, he would never have committed two years of his life to helping being Obama's Deputy National Campaign Manager. With that in mind, he asked a group of marriage equality activists this past weekend, with 47% in support for marriage equality in California, what are they waiting for?

When asked about this quote, Marc Solomon said that a social issue campaign is completely different from a candidate campaign and that it must be handled and approached differently.

Reporter Rex Wockner pushed Kors and Solomon, asking how they could stand by and watch the many grassroots activists work hard for 2010, saying that it would be a PR disaster. Kors was adamant that he didn't see it that way and that they do support any effort to bring marriage equality back to California.

Kors announced that EQCA will be donating to the NO on 1 campaign in Maine and asking its members to do the same. They will also be urging volunteers to go to Maine in October for the last stretch of the campaign. "Having our rights taken away in a second state ... would really be harmful to the movement."

Below is the just released Equality California road map and time line to winning marriage equality back in California.

Equality California Winning Marriage Back Plan

A one-on-one interview with Marc Solomon to come very soon.

Equality California will continue soliciting feedback from community members and will hold a virtual town hall via livestream moderated by Bay Area Reporter Editor Cynthia Laird on Thursday, August 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. PDT. To join the town hall, visit at that time.

Courage Campaign Membership Surpasses 2010 Fundraising Goal; Steve Hildebrand Issues Call to Support Maine

In an email sent out today, Courage Campaign's founder Rick Jacobs announces that he's "shocked and amazed" that the organizations membership raised $77,905 in just 24 hours. Yesterday, an email was sent out, reminding the membership that they had less than 60 hours to raise $41,967 to meet the $100,000 goal with an August 13 deadline.

The membership beat its deadline by two days, raising a total of $135,998 that the organization "will immediately invest in research, polling and focus groups to repeal Prop 8."

"Of course, we can't do this alone," Jacobs writes. "That's why we also challenged our friends in the marriage equality movement to raise an additional $100,000 to place the most effective initiative possible on the 2010 ballot. With confidence that the shared costs of this research will be paid for, we are pushing ahead to file a ballot measure."

In the same email, Steve Hildebrand, who was Obama's Deputy National Campaign Manager, expresses support for a 2010 ballot initiative, but also reminds the membership that Maine is "ground zero in the fight for marriage equality."
But before we can take this pivotal battle for marriage equality to the ballot in California in 2010, we have to win in Maine in 2009.

Yes, Maine. Right now, our friends at the pro-equality "No on 1" campaign in Maine are working around the clock to defeat a referendum on the November ballot that would strip LGBT couples of marriage rights just granted by Maine's state legislature and governor.

Sound familiar? Well, it gets worse. Guess who is running the anti-equality "Stand for Marriage Maine" campaign? Frank Schubert and Schubert Flint Public Affairs, the same front group for the religious right that ran the Proposition 8 campaign to strip LGBT couples of their marriage rights in California.

Maine is now ground zero in the fight for marriage equality -- and the first statewide battle for civil marriage rights since Prop 8 passed. That's why I need Courage Campaign members to dig deep right now and donate $25, $50, $100 or more on ActBlue to our friends at the "No on 1" campaign in Maine.

Emboldened by their victory in California, the religious right is now moving on Maine -- and building an early fundraising advantage. The same right-wing groups who funded Frank Schubert's fear-mongering TV ads in California are now the largest donors to his "Stand for Marriage Maine" campaign:
  • National Organization for Marriage - $160,000
  • Knights of Columbus - $50,000
  • Focus on the Family - $31,000
Clearly, what happens in Maine will have serious consequences for the fight in California.
Whether or not you support going back to the ballot in 2010 here in California, Maine doesn't have a choice on timing. They must defend their right to marry this November, 2009! And they can use all the help they can get.

You can either donate or visit the NO on 1 campaign's website to see how you can get involved. There are plenty of ways to help, no matter where you live.

Momentum Building for October 11 National Equality March

Equality Across America, the new grassroots network calling for Federal action to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, has moved forward with plans for a massive national day of action on Sunday, October 11, 2009. Major national LGBT organizations including the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), along with participation and support from the Human Rights Campaign, have endorsed the march as have local and state grassroots organizations like Join the Impact Chicago, One Struggle One Fight and Freedom Democrats of Miami-Dade.

October 11 has been observed as “National Coming Out Day” since 1988. As well, this year commemorates the 30th anniversary of the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. “We’re marching this October to demand action from the Federal government to protect our rights in all fifty states,” said Kip Williams, one of the organizers. “Real equality can only come from the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court.”

Equality Across America brings together veteran movement activists such as David Mixner, Torie Osborn, Cleve Jones, Anne Northrop and Nadine Smith, with new organizers like Williams and Robin McGehee, who lead the successful “Meet in the Middle” rally in Fresno, California following the California Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8. “We’ve got people from the Stonewall generation to the Facebook generation working together to win real equality,” said McGehee. “We’re tired of compromises and delays.”

The march in the nation’s capital is necessary to help supporters of equality focus their attention on the Federal government after decades of work at the state and local level according to Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. “The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law, but LGBT Americans are still denied that protection, now is the time to push for real equality, in all matters governed by civil law.”

Lt. Dan Choi, also a member of the march steering committee, is working to ensure a strong presence by LGBT and straight veterans at the march. “The majority of Americans reject discrimination in the armed forces, it’s time for Congress and the Administration to move on this and all issues of equality for LGBT Americans.”

Equality Across America pledges more than a march and has begun recruiting volunteers in all 435 US Congressional Districts to pressure members of the House of Representatives. “We want to bring together all the different groups that support equality: young and old, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, people of all races, faiths and backgrounds from every corner of this country” said Corey Johnson of New York. “We want every member of Congress to know that there are LGBT people and our allies in every single district.”

Equality Across America has also reached out specifically to HIV/AIDS activists, interfaith leaders and Youth organizers to create independent events during the weekend in DC, as well as to state equality associations to build local actions throughout the US in conjunction with the march for those who cannot travel to DC on October 11.

"The LGBT struggle for equality is the civil rights movement of the 21st century," says pioneer activist and City Commissioner Nicole-Murray Ramirez of San Diego. Ramirez who has been a part of every national march for LGBT rights, since 1979 says, "history has proven for us to achieve full equality we must be engaged in the suites of political power and the streets of activism."

The National Equality March is scheduled to begin at 12 Noon on Sunday, October 11. The exact route of march is still being negotiated with the DC authorities. Organizers are building partnerships with other groups to create workshops, trainings, seminars and teach-ins throughout the weekend. Parties, concerts and other entertainment are being actively discouraged. “It’s not about another party, it’s about getting to work,” said Kip Williams.

The march and district lobbying campaign are directed by a national Steering Committee of over 60 members from throughout the nation, reflecting the diversity of the LGBT community. Operating under the auspices of the Tides Center, Equality Across America is a not-for-profit, tax exempt organization.

VIDEO: Colbert Interviews Maine's Rep. Chellie Pingree, Discusses Marriage Equality and Lobster Marriage

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a District - Maine's 1st - Chellie Pingree
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMeryl Streep

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Both Sides of Federal Prop 8 Suit Diametrically Opposed on All Aspects of Case - No Common Ground Found in Submitted Court Statements

Not surprising, the Plaintiffs in the federal case against Proposition 8, Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, and the Defendants (aka the defendant "Intervenors" aka the Yes on 8 campaign) do not agree on any of the stipulations or case schedules that the Court (aka Judge Vaughn Walker) asked them to discuss in order to submit a joint Case Management Statement (CMS). This helps set the agenda of sorts on how to proceed and what to argue. As a result, two diametrically opposed statements were issued on Friday.

The Plaintiffs want a public bench trial, something that was never done in any marriage case so far. The Defendants do not want to proceed to public trial but want to proceed through dispositive motions, which are written arguments submitted to the judge based on pass rulings, a precedent set by prior marriage cases.

Charles Cooper, the defense attorney, wrote, "This Court should follow the course set in each of the many gay marriage cases that have been litigated over the course of the last decade. In not one of these cases has a trial been held."

The core of his argument hinges on legislative facts based on prior cases involving broad subjects versus adjudicative facts, which “are simply the facts of the particular case.” He believes legislative facts can conclude the case.

He goes on to site the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1972 dismissal of a challenge (Baker vs. Nelson) to Minnesota's refusal to recognize any sort of same-sex relationship. Cooper claims this ruling is enough for this Court to rule against the Prop 8 challenge after hearing a motion in September. If the Court does not accept this argument, then Cooper proposes a late May deadline for opposing sides to submit complete reports and depositions with final briefs filed b July 2010. Final arguments and a decision would follow.

Olson disagrees with the Minnesota claim, writing, "The issue decided in Baker—a State’s complete refusal to recognize same-sex relationships—is different from the issue presented here, namely whether California may constitutionally reserve marriage for opposite-sex couples and relegate same-sex couples to the lesser and unequal status of domestic partnership."

He also states that, "The issue in this trial will not be, as Intervenors would have it, whether 'same sex marriage' is deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition. Rather, the issue will be whether the deeply rooted right to marry has been denied to a single, disfavored group without a compelling state interest for doing so."

Olson wants a trial to get everything on record for the appellate courts. For the record, he wants the statements made by campaign workers as they labored for Prop 8’s passage, the historic and continued discrimination against gays and lesbians, the value gay Americans offer society - including the ability to procreate and raise children in same-sex relationships, and the ever changing definition of marriage.

Olson's proposed schedule would have the case finished seven months earlier than Cooper's. Fact discovery, the exchange of evidence and rebuttal submissions would occur in September through October, a hearing on these motions in November, and a trial in front of Walker by December 14.

Olson's reasons for an expedited trial: "Given the importance of the issues raised by Plaintiffs’ claims, the Court’s decision to defer ruling on Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, and the fact that Plaintiffs suffer irreparable harm each day that Prop. 8 remains in effect, the Court should not impose a schedule that takes more than a year to get from the filing of Plaintiffs’ Complaint to a Judgment."

Cooper balked at Olson's schedule, calling it "breakneck" and "patently unrealistic."

As for the stipulations, what were the facts that Walker asked them to discuss to see if anything can be agreed upon in order to streamline the process? Basically, all you have to do is look at the Table of Contents of the CMS statements embedded below. However, most of these Olson wants to prove through witnesses and expert testimony to have it on record while Cooper does not.

But it boils down to this (outline taken from Plaintiff's CMS Table of Contents):

I. Facts Pertaining to the Appropriate Level of Scrutiny

How deserving are gays and lesbians of being a "suspect class", which the CA Supreme Court ruled gays and lesbians deserving of when they struck down the same-sex marriage ban? In other words, what is the appropriate level of "scrutiny" do they deserve for protection against discrimination, similar to African Americans and other minority groups? By definition, a suspect class must meet four criteria or reviewed for:
  1. Whether the group at issue has suffered a history of purposeful discrimination
  2. Whether the characteristics that distinguish the group bear any relation to the group’s ability to participate in and contribute to society
  3. Whether the distinguishing characteristic is immutable
  4. The political power of the subject class
Specifically in regards to the Prop 8 case, these four issues are termed:

A. The History of Discrimination Faced by Gay and Lesbian Individuals
B. Whether the Characteristics Defining Gays and Lesbians as a Class Might Affect Their Ability to Contribute to Society
C. Whether Sexual Orientation Can Be Changed and, If So, Whether Gay and Lesbian Individuals Should Be Encouraged to Change It
D. The Relative Political Power of Gay and Lesbian Individuals, Including Successes of Both Pro-Gay and Anti-Gay Legislation

The Defendants won't dispute the A or B; however, they do intend to "present evidence demonstrating that such discrimination has decreased significantly in recent years, both in governmental and non-governmental contexts."

They also will dispute C and D. Obviously, they believe sexual orientation can be changed. But what is alarming is their belief "that gays and lesbians wield substantial political power."

So "decreased" discrimination and "political power" (yeah, right) make current discrimination ok? We should all write the Defendants and thank them for proving our point in their CMS.

Moving on.

II. Facts Pertaining to Whether Plaintiffs’ Claims Involve a Fundamental Right and Warrant Strict Scrutiny on That Basis
A. The History of Marriage and Why Its Confines Have Evolved Over Time

As already quoted, Olson states this case is not about tradition, but "whether the deeply rooted right to marry has been denied to a single, disfavored group without a compelling state interest for doing so."

III. Facts Pertaining to Potential State Interests Raised by Intervenors

A. The Longstanding Definition of Marriage in California (being between a man and a woman)
B. Whether the Exclusion of Same-Sex Couples from Marriage Leads to Increased Stability in Opposite-Sex Marriages or Whether Permitting Same-Sex Couples to Marry Destabilizes Opposite-Sex Marriages
C. Whether a Married Mother and Father Provide the Optimal Child-Rearing Environment and Whether Excluding Same-Sex Couples from Marriage Promotes This Environment
D. Whether and How California Has Acted to Promote These Interests in Other Family Law Contexts

COOPER: "[Plaintiffs] essentially must prove that it is inherently irrational to maintain the bedrock social institution of marriage in the form it has always taken."

OLSON: "Plaintiffs will show that none of the supposed interests offered to justify Prop. 8 provides even a rational basis, let alone a compelling basis, for its unequal treatment of gay and lesbian individuals."

IV. Facts Pertaining to Whether Prop. 8 Discriminates Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender, or Both
A. The History and Development of California’s Exclusion of Same-Sex Couples from Marriage
B. Whether the Availability of Opposite-Sex Marriage Is a Meaningful Option for Gays and Lesbians
C. Whether the Exclusion of Same-Sex Couples from Marriage Meaningfully Restricts Options Available to Heterosexuals
D. Whether Requiring One Man and One Woman in Marriage Promotes Stereotypical Gender Roles

OLSON: "Plaintiffs will demonstrate at trial that Prop. 8 discriminates both on the basis of sexual orientation and on the basis of gender. It discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation because it prohibits gay and lesbian individuals from marrying the person they love. It discriminates on the basis of gender because it either allows or does not allow a person to marry a particular other person based solely on the first person’s gender."

Cooper states that they will disagree on the significance of certain facts on the history leading up to the ban in regards to the case. He also states it's an undeniable fact that gays and lesbians have married the opposite sex, but Olson counters that it's not about a "meaningful option" but about the choice to marry the one you love.

Cooper believes C and D above are irrelevant to the case, but Olson disagrees.

V. Facts Pertaining to Whether Prop. 8 Was Passed with Discriminatory
A. The Voters’ Motivation or Motivations for Supporting Prop. 8, Including Advertisements and Ballot Literature Considered by California Voters
B. The Differences in Actual Practice of Registered Domestic Partnerships, Civil Unions and Marriage, Including Whether Married Couples Are Treated Differently from Domestic Partners in Governmental and Non-Governmental Contexts

The two sides argue this stipulation based on different interpretations of the Romer vs. Evans case (Plaintiffs use more than one case to prove their point for argument, though Defendants focus on this one), which dealt with a referendum that passed an amendment to Colorado's constitution that would have prevented any city, town or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect homosexual citizens from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court struck down this amendment as unconstitutional stating it was "inexplicable by anything but animus toward" gays and lesbians.

OLSON: "Plaintiffs will demonstrate that Prop. 8 lacks any compelling justification or even rational basis, and was driven by discriminatory intent, animus, and moral disapproval of gay and lesbian individuals individuals."

COOPER: "The Plaintiffs attempt to liken Proposition 8 to the Colorado constitutional amendment struck down by the Court in Romer. This is a false analogy . . . the Court did not direct its attention toward determining the subjective motivation of Colorado’s voter . . . Proposition 8, like Colorado’s Amendment 2, should stand or fall on the law’s relationship to legitimate governmental interests." The trial court in the case held a trial of facts, but the U.S. Supreme Court did not rely on the factual record to reach its conclusion about discriminatory intent.

Proposition 8 and the Right to Marry blog writes:
Two points bear mention on the disagreement over a factual inquiry about Prop. 8's discriminatory intent. First, ADF and Cooper attorneys devote extended argument to why Judge Walker should not have a trial of the facts in this matter. Why? They appear anxious to preclude a factual inquiry that would support the argument that several gay-rights groups, and the San Francisco City Attorney, hope to make if they are allowed to intervene. This is the argument that Prop. 8 was adopted for no other reason than animus against same-sex couples, and that it thus advances no legitimate government interest. Second, if these parties had already been allowed to intervene, they would have not only dispatched arguments about Romer, but would have also explained why the Court needs a well-developed, factual record about the unique circumstances of Prop. 8's adoption.
A hearing is scheduled for August 19 to determine how this case will proceed.

Plaintiff's Case Management Statement

Yes on 8 Case Management Statement