Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The Columbus Dispatch says the possibility of the resolution even reaching voters on a ballot is slim because it would take 3/5 majority from both chambers of the state legislature. It went on to claim that if every Democrat voted for a repeal, which is unlikely, there still wouldn't be enough votes. But if fate were on the side of repeal, the initiative would be voted on in May.
Recently, Basic Rights Oregon launched an educational campaign that will lay the foundation for 2012 initiative to repeal the state's marriage equality ban. And recently, Michigan's Rep. Pam Byrnes introduced legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage.
RELATED: Ohio legislator introduces resolution to repeal state's super-DOMA amendment; another reflection on super-DOMA challenges
My little terrier mix, Ethyl, is sick. She usually loves to eat, but lately she's been nauseous, constantly trying to eat grass (which they say is a sign of an upset stomach) and not doing her, uhm, "business."
I'll be taking her to the vet in an hour, so my blogging today will be interrupted and sporadic at best.
In the meantime, you can ohh and aww over how cute Ehtyl is. :)
The Catholic Church in Washington D.C. has threatened to pull out of all social services in the District if the City Council moves forward with the currently proposed marriage bill. Their concerns stem from the fact that though they will be exempt from having to provide wedding day services, they will be forced to recognize the relationships afterward through employee spousal benefits and other consequences of marriage equality.
Such a threat if followed through could affect tens of thousands of residents, reports the Washington Post, because of the assistance the church provides for adoption, homelessness and health care.
"If the city requires this, we can't do it," Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem."
However, it appears to me that the Church's biggest problem is with existing legislation, the Human Rights Act, which demands that discrimination against gays and lesbians not be tolerated.
The church is not the dominant provider in the district for its charitable services, though if they pull out, it will have an impact. But WaPo is saying that the church's influence is limited, with the marriage bill's sponsor, councilmember David Catania, who claims to have been a big supporter of their charitable work, says he'd rather part ways with the Church than to give into their threats.
"If they find living under our laws so oppressive that they can no longer take city resources, the city will have to find an alternative partner to step in to fill the shoes," Catania said. He also told WaPo that the Catholic Charities was involved in only six of the 102 city-sponsored adoptions last year.
Marriage equality advocates are telling the paper that this is the first that such a heated falling out has occurred over a marriage bill and public services.
But this has been a long-time coming. Who doesn't remember the Yes on 1 campaign crying foul that a Catholic adoption agency in Massachusetts, which was receiving government funds, chose to shut down instead helping same-sex couples adopt?
It's the same thing here. What the church is really objecting to is LGBT citizens receiving equality and as a result, more standing in society. This forces the church to deal with them publicly instead of keeping the status quo, which is acting like the LGBT population doesn't exist (unless of course to use us as a scapegoat for pedophile priests).
The crux of the problem is that the existing Human Rights Act, which is separate from the marriage bill, already demands that the church offer its public services to all residents if these public services are receiving public money. I've already objected to the fact that the current religious exemptions in the marriage bill violate the Human Rights Act, but now that the church is demanding even more coddling and special treatment, they're beyond reproach.
Let's face it. The Catholic Church will soon argue itself into non-relevance, exposing its hypocrisy to the point where society will have no interest in any of the actual good that it performs. Which is a shame because Jesus ordered that they feed the hungry and shelter the poor, something that the Church is good at doing. Jesus didn't say anything about gays or lesbians. Unfortunately, the Church has interpreted that as persecute and then ignore them.
So much for charity.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
DON'T ASK DON'T TELL
The effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will likely come next year as an amendment to the Defense Department spending bill, rather than through a standalone bill, according to gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).Currently, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) sponsors the standalone version of legislation in the House, but there is no equivalent for the Senate.
Frank said in an interview with the Blade that repealing the 1993 law barring gays from serving openly in the military would happen as part of the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill.
“The House will take up and the Senate will take up ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal,” he said. “That will again, like hate crimes, even more so, will have to be done, I believe, in the context of the defense authorization. You can’t do the standalone bill. It belongs in the defense authorization.”
David Stacy, HRC’s senior public policy advocate, noted that Congress enacted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1993 as part of a defense authorization bill, so repealing the law via the same vehicle would mirror the process.
So look for Congress to take on DADT in the summer of 2010.
EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT
"Action on other pro-LGBT legislation seems more imminent," reports the Blade. "Frank said Congress could advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act . . . in the near future."
Frank, sponsor the the House version of ENDA, says the bill is in good shaped and headed to the House Education & Labor Committee would mark up ENDA before year’s end and then will hit the floor for a vote in February and then to Senate voting in Spring.
Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, is more optimistic and believes it could all happen before the end of the year.
Frank has concerns though on obtaining the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster for ENDA and DADT.
DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP BENEFITS & OBLIGATIONS ACT
This bill would provide partner benefits to LGBT federal employees.
“That one I’m the most confident is going to become law because I think you have Senate support for it — enough to get to the 60” votes needed to overcome a filibuster, Frank said.Herwitt believes this bill can be taken up along with ENDA.
Lieberman is sponsor of the Senate version of the legislation while Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the only out lesbian in Congress, is sponsoring the House version of the bill. Baldwin was recently quoted in The Hill as saying she “absolutely” believes there are enough votes to pass the bill in the House.
“The critical question is, given the Republicans getting worse and worse on LGBT issues, whether we’ll get any Republicans voting,” Frank said. “I assume we would have safe senators — [Sen. Olympia] Snowe and [Sen. Susan] Collins, maybe [Sen. George] Voinovich or one or two others — but that’s the key.”
UNITING AMERICAN FAMILIES ACT/IMMIGRATION REFORM
This standalone bill, if passed, would allow LGBT citizens to sponsor a foreign partner for residency.
Immigration advocates hope provisions can be added as part of comprehensive immigration reform that are equal to UAFA.
Steve Ralls, spokesperson for Immigration Equality, said his organization is pushing for inclusion of the provision in immigration reform legislation that Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are expected to introduce later this year.
“They are still operating on a timeline of introduction around the end of the year,” Ralls said. “All indications that we have so far is that it’s probably late December, early January in terms of introduction of an actual bill.”
RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT
The full-DOMA repeal, which has 104 sponsors, was introduced by Rep. Jerrold, Nadler. There is no Senate equivalent, though Sen. Russ Feingold has been approached. No hearings or markups have been scheduled.
“I think there’s three or four gay rights bills that are cued up,” said John Doty, a Nadler spokesperson. “The Respect for Marriage Act is a little bit further down that list. It hasn’t been talked about as long or debated as long … as the other bills.”
Frank is not a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act and said he’s not optimistic about the bill’s chances because “marriage is the toughest of these issues.”
“That’s why I do not see any chance of any success on marriage in the Congress this year,” he said. “Neither does anyone else, by the way, no matter what people pretend to make people feel better. But that’s why we’re focusing on these other issues.”
EVERY CHILD DESERVES A FAMILY ACT/ADOPTION BILL
This bill, introduced by Rep. Pete Stark, would restrict federal funding to states that have adoption restrictions, including those that bar same-sex couples from adopting. Frank intends to sign on as co-sponsor, but right now the bill has none.
Frank's optimistic, but - “Even people from certain states who don’t agree with that policy will be reluctant to vote to deny money to their states. Plus, you have Republican opposition in general. Remember, the Republicans are now almost monolithically against us.”
“I think this bill needs to be seen and viewed positively, most importantly, by the child welfare professionals and have the support of the leading child welfare and children’s rights organizations,” Herwitt said.
I've got gay family and friends, he exclaims. How can I be a homophobe? Since I already said my piece about his interview (and on his other ignorant actions against LGBT citizens), I'll let Nathaniel Frank at the Huffington Post say more.
Díaz never offers an argument against gay marriage. "The people of the nation don't want gay marriage," he told the Times. But then he argues the issue should not even come to a vote. If the people don't want equality, why shouldn't their representatives be able to express that will democratically, after debate, in the senate chamber? More to the point, why should the rights of a minority be granted only at the whim of a majority vote? Was it right in an earlier era to deny blacks and women equal rights just because the majority of the nation wished to do so?But it wasn't just Hawthorne and me who were pissed yesterday. After it became apparent that the Senate was going to ignore the marriage bill AGAIN, some people had a few choice words for the senator as he left the chambers.
In addition to the majority tyranny argument, Díaz offers his Pentecostal religion as the reason for his effort to deny gay couples the right to marry. "My religion doesn't allow me to dance," he says, "but that does not mean I don't go to the party. My religion doesn't allow me to drink. But that doesn't mean I can't hang around with my friends. My religion is against gay marriage. It means, I don't agree with what you do. But let's go out. Let's go to the movies. Let's be friends."
Okay, where to start? It's fine, Senator Díaz, for you not to dance, but are you leading the effort to make dancing for others illegal? It's fine for you not to drink, but where is your fierce leadership on reviving that super popular and effective age of Prohibition? It's fine for you not to get gay-married, but why insist on denying others the rights you enjoy? And where is your outrage about all the Jews and Muslims and atheists who are legally allowed to get married even though, according to your religion, they're all going straight to hell? And where is your righteous effort to outlaw Jews' right to observe the Sabbath on the "wrong" day, or to keep Kosher? Might that seem a bit anti-Semitic? And maybe a bit absurd?
So, about this notion that you can ban others' rights because your religion "doesn't agree" with what they do: Have you ever given a moment of thought to how stupid this sounds? Millions and millions of people get married every year in this world. You have no idea what they all do and I bet you don't really care, so long as they're straight. But one thing you can be sure most of them do at one point or another is violate the tenets of their own (and your) religion. To be morally and intellectually consistent, don't you need to give a litmus test to all of them, about "what they do," to determine if you support their right to marry? Or just the gays?
Like Hawthorne, I don't usually support the use of the word bigot against those who may feel they have valid reasons to vote against us. But in the case of Diaz, who can't seem to find a valid reason or even one that's masked in false logic, the word just may be appropriate.
The August 19 hearing focused on the different LGBT legal and advocacy organizations; and the City of San Francisco's requests to intervene as plaintiffs in the case to argue against Prop 8. The organizations were denied, but San Francisco was permitted to join the Olson/Boies power team.
Aug 19 Prop 8 Hearing, Motion to Intervene
During the now famous October 14 hearing, Judge Walker considered the defendants' request for summary judgment. In other words, those defending Prop 8 wanted to avoid going to public trial.
It was during this hearing that attorney Charles Cooper, who is representing the defendants, argued that the state has a rational basis to promote opposite sex marriages, in order to further procreation.
How does permitting same sex couples to marry adversely affect that interest, asked Judge Walker? Cooper had argued procreation is the interest of the state.
After some back and forth, Cooper eventually conceded: "The answer is, I don't know. I don't know."
"Does that mean if it's not rational basis review, you lose?" Walker asked.
"You just haven't figured out how to win on that level," the chief judge surmised.
Read the rest below!
Oct 14 Prop 8 Court Hearing Transript on Request for Summary Judgement
“Camp Courage Sacramento was and inspirational and transformative weekend for me.”
Hearing that statement from a Camp Courage attendee is nothing new. However, for me, it carries an entirely different meaning as this was not my first Camp. After attending the Camp Courage in East LA and seeing a number of my friends share the experience with their families, I immediately ran home and signed up to come to the Camp in Sacramento with my Mom and Dad.
See, I grew up in Sacramento and moved to LA for college and have stayed there ever since. When I first came out to my parents, they were very supportive. However, I, like many young LGBT people was still either too nervous or too ashamed to fully share my life with them. It took me a good 3-4 years before I was comfortable enough with myself to share the details of my life, my cause, and my relationships with those I was close to. Slowly, that changed for me as I started to fight for LGBT rights and that shame dissipated. The result is that I am now as closer to my family than I have ever been and the culmination of this was bringing my parents to Camp Courage.
The weekend played out as most Camp Courage’s do – effectively teaching hard and soft skills, educating participants on where the movement stands and inspiring action. Having been through Camp before, the main focus for me this weekend was on my parents and how they were feeling and what they were learning. And they genuinely seemed to enjoy themselves and were really engaged in the materials. However, for me, the crowning moment came on the car ride home. My Dad told me he had three reflections on Camp and what he had learned there that I will share with you now:
- He had no idea the pain that LGBT people had felt over discrimination and losing initiatives like Proposition 8 and Question 1 until he saw people speaking about them openly and honestly at the Camp. See, I have always been a more stoic, let’s “focus on what we can do in the future” type of person, so for my Mom and Dad, they had never truly appreciated the pain this had inflicted on our community until they heard the stories of personal pain from others.
- My Dad shared with me his “Story of Self.” He had a gay cousin who had died of AIDS when my Dad was in his 20s. He had a lesbian sister who had come out to him and was now married with her wife. And he had me, his gay son, who was fighting for equality and who he hoped could one day get married in front of friends and family. LGBT issues had slowly intertwined their way thought his life and had always handled them decently (very supportive of me and his sister), but now realized his previous actions had been woefully inadequate and that he could no longer sit on the sidelines while people he cared about suffered and were discriminated against.
- He needed to get involved today. He wanted to sign up to canvass and to join California Faith for Equality, provided they had a means for him to contribute to meaningful action.
However, I missed an important opportunity in East LA, when I went to Camp but neglected to recruit my straight friends and family in LA to attend with me. This experience is not just a meaningful skills training for gay people - it is an opportunity to teach, empower and share ourselves and our struggle more fully with friends, straight allies and family. It is an opportunity to bring new faces and perspectives into the fight for equality.
And perhaps within this there is a greater lesson for our movement. Winning true equality in CA and beyond is going to be complex and will take a lot of hard work. It is not something we can win on our own, but we will need the help of those people who love and support us. And much the same way, my Dad now realizes that his response to his LGBT family was good, but inadequate – I realize my work during Proposition 8 was the same. I was happy to call voters, fund-raise money and talk to strangers – yet I neglected to have real conversations with the people I could most easily move on the issue.
The Briggs initiative was largely defeated by LGBT people “coming out” and talking to their friends and family. Winning marriage equality will require us to do the same thing. No longer can we be afraid that we might cause some discomfort with friends, family or strangers by having candid conversations about why we NEED equality. That discomfort is not because of anything that is wrong with us, but is because of a lack of knowledge or familiarity on the part of others. And if we are too scared or too ashamed to push through those difficult moments and make this an issue that can be a normal and comfortable part of conversation, then we are doomed to keep failing at the ballot box no matter how good our commercials are and how flawless our field campaign is.
So thank you again to Courage Campaign for all they do with these Camps. They are giving us the skills and the keys to gain full equality in California and beyond. And now, it is up to us to use them.
For more on Camp Courage Sacramento, read Syd Peterson posts on LGBT POV: Day One, Day Two
Crowd Image by Courage Campaign.
For an excellent blow-by-blow, check out Jeremy Hooper at Good As You.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
UPDATE 3 4:35pm PST: The AP is now reporting that Gov. Paterson is pushing for a vote on the marriage equality bill next week for special sessions on November 16 and 17. So it appears will be going through this process yet again.
UPDATE 2 10:40am PST: I must say, this does not come as a surprise to me. The New York Times is reporting that the state senate will not take up the marriage equality bill today.
Republicans and Democrats said that as of Tuesday afternoon the measure was still several votes short of the 32 necessary for approval. About five Democrats remained either opposed or noncommittal, meaning that Republican votes were needed to secure passage.
It was unclear when the Senate would take the issue up. Wednesday is Veteran’s Day and a holiday, meaning that it would be at least the end of the week before they could vote on the bill. "It sounds like today is just not going to be the day," said Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat from Manhattan who has been one of the same-sex marriage bill’s main proponents. "There are a lot of us who want to see it voted on and passed as soon as possible. So if today’s not the day, I think our views on the overall strategy don’t change."
This does not mean the bill is dead. The NY Times reports that a vote could come next week.
UPDATE 9:10am PST: It's not looking good for marriage equality. The New York Daily News is reporting:
As of this moment, the outlook for the same-sex marriage bill is not good, and it appears likely that the measure will not come up for a vote when the Senate convenes at noon for a-------------
A source involved in the negotiations said definitively: "It is not coming to the floor."
See my post on the steep climb this bill faces.
Though I reported yesterday the Democrats, who control the chamber, were negotiating late into the night Monday on whether or not to submit the bill for a vote, Newsday reports that no final decision was made. The state's $3.2 billion deficit may take up the whole session.
This day has been a long time coming (if it happens at all). One of the many reasons it took so long is the bill's biggest foe, Sen. Ruben Diaz (D), who I've posted on before about his ridiculous hypocrisy.
New York Times wrote a profile on him today. Diaz objects to being called a homophobe.
Two of his brothers are gay, he murmurs, one of them recently deceased. So is a granddaughter. There is an old friend who works for him in the Senate. And a former campaign aide.
“I love them. I love them,” says Mr. Díaz, who grew up one of 17 children in Puerto Rico. “But I don’t believe in what they are doing. They are my brothers. They are my family.”
His voice rises again. “So how could I be a homophobe?"
Uhm, easily. Suppressing the rights of LGBT citizens from living full lives so they're not equal to yours is homophobia.
He's one of those hurdles we have to clear. The Democrats have control of the chamber 32-30. Obviously Diaz, who is Democrat, won't vote with most of his party. So we need some moderate Republican support.
ACTION: If you're a New Yorker, contact your Senator and tell them to vote for marriage equality!
Her main defense? Christians are not perfect. She claims she never was perfect and says so in her no book that she's desperately trying to sell.
Funny. She blames her ex-boyfriend sold the tape and exclaims, "People will do anything for money." Like write a book about a life no one cares to read about? And let a bigoted, anti-LGBT organization hire you as a pawn?
No, Carrie, we all know Christians aren't not perfect. That's what we've been saying all along. But we've also been saying that being a Christian isn't a hall pass for doing whatever you want (sex tapes, pre-marital sex) while condemning others and supporting the stripping of their rights.
For months now, the growing discontent between the DNC/Obama Administration and the LGBT population has been boiling, and not so much under the surface. But with America Blog's announcement on Monday of the "Don't Ask, Don't Give" DNC donation boycott, the tension has erupted.
Though many have already decided not to give to the DNC, and big names demonstrated their annoyance by declining to attend the DNC LGBT fundraising dinner after the infamous DOMA brief from the DOJ comparing same-sex relationships to incest, this is the first organized action where people will sign their names and pledge not to give.
But for how long?
We are asking voters to pledge to withhold contributions to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, and the Obama campaign until the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is passed, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) is repealed, and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed -– all of which President Obama repeatedly promised to do if elected.And why now?
Joe Sudbay and John Aravosis give a long list of reasons to do this now, some of which I agree with, some I don't. But a majority is undeniable fact and reading the list sure stokes the embers of anger I've been feeling for some time.
I believe the tipping point came when Obama refused to acknowledged the ballot initiatives in Maine and Washington and the controversy that erupted when the DNC sent a pre-election email out to supporters telling them to support Democratic candidates, but failed to mention the LGBT issues. Even worse, the email went to Mainers urging them to go to New Jersey to help incumbent Gov. Corzine keep his office. (He didn't.) The email did not urge Mainers to vote NO on Question 1 nor to volunteer for the campaign.
So who's behind this boycott, or a more accurate word, "pause"?
News of the pause has burned up the internet since the announcement yesterday and already many more are joining up.
Joe and I are launching today a donor boycott of the DNC. The boycott is cosponsored by Daily Kos, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Paul Sousa (Founder of Equal Rep in Boston), Pam Spaulding, Robin Tyler (ED of the Equality Campaign, Inc.), Bil Browning for the Bilerico Project, Andy Towle and Michael Goff of Towle Road, and soon others.
It’s really more of a “pause,” than a boycott. Boycotts sounds so final, and angry. Whereas this campaign is temporary, and is only meant to help some friends – President Obama and the Democratic party – who have lost their way. We are hopeful that via this campaign, our friends will keep their promises.
Long-time activist David Mixner, who originally made the call for the National Equality March, said on his blog today, "How many times has the LGBT civil rights movement been told over and over and over again to wait until after the next set of elections? Do they really believe we are that dumb? That we don't realize that politics and elections change can change the political complexion of a nation overnight? We know that in the near future we will not see a time again when we will have sixty Democratic senators and a comfortable margin in the House. What makes our Democratic leaders think it will be better in 2011? Won't we be told then to wait until after President Obama is re-elected?"
"This craziness has to stop and it has to stop now," Mixner continued. "This is not about politics, it is about freedom and justice."
Emmy Ruby-Sachs wrote on the Huffington Post:
...for gay voters, the two party system is particularly offensive. Republicans are outwardly horrible on gay issues and the bulk of the gay vote will, automatically, go to Democratic candidates. There are no alternative candidates ready to take a stand for equality and thus, there are no consequences for Democrats when they fail to promote the equal rights agenda.Even more surprising, the HRC, which is usually not for rocking the boat especially when it comes to the Democrats, has given "tacit endorsement" says David Dayen at Fire Dog Lake.
It's a scary thought: taking dollars away from the not-so-bad guys only helps the really bad guys on election day. But the boycott has its timing right and that might make all the difference in this fight: there is still an opportunity for the Democratic Party to take concrete strides towards eliminating the legal discrimination against LGBT Americans before the campaign dollars really matter. If they show progress, the boycott (or the "pause" in fundraising as AMERICAblog calls it) will end.
I think the freeze in fundraising is a great idea. I also think the problem with the gay rights agenda in Congress has more to do with the political system than the particularly spineless nature of most Democratic representatives.
Asking them what they thought of the pause, HRC responded to Dayen, "Individual donors should always make their own careful assessments of how to spend limited political contributions. We all need to focus on the legislative priorities identified by AmericaBlog and with whatever tactic individuals decide to employ, the ultimate objective needs to be securing the votes we need to move our legislative agenda forward."
So if you want to put some good ol' grassroots pressure on the Democrats, go sign the pledge "Don't Ask, Don't Give."
The Washington Post is reporting that a D.C. Council Committee is bowing to the pressure of the Archdiocese of Washington and other religious organizations because they don't like the language of the original marriage equality bill.
The current language states that religious officials who offer services to the public would have to offer those same wedding-related services to same-sex couples as well. This will restrict charitable services argue the religious institutions.
The proposed revisions mean, for example, that church officials do not have to rent reception space to a same-sex couple for a wedding, even if heterosexual couples can access that space. But churches would still have to abide by other aspects of the city's Human Rights Act, including not discriminating against gay employees who choose to get married.Proposition 8 and the Right to Marry breaks it down.
"It was just clear, as a result of the testimony and as a result of the result of the public process, there were some fixes that needed to be made," said Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At large), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.
D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) released Monday a revised draft of the same-sex marriage bill ... [The] original bill noted that “a religious organization, association or society, or a nonprofit organization which is operated, supervised, or controlled by” a church or religious group “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities or goods” for the purpose of performing any marriage “unless the entity makes such services, accommodations, or goods available … to members of the general public.” The revised bill removes the “unless the entity makes such services, accommodations, or goods available … to members of the general public” language. In a 22-page report that accompanies the bill’s new version, Mendelson’s committee says it “removed this language … after considerable comment from both secular and non-secular organizations ... Including this language would have had the undesirable impact of religious institutions closing their spaces to community groups and organizations, as there would otherwise be civil [liability] stemming from any refusal to solemnize or celebrate a same-sex marriage.The changes will be revealed Tuesday afternoon after the committee votes on the proposed amendments, then it will be sent to full council.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. Though I understand the need to protect religious liberty and adamantly support it, I don't know of any legislation exempting religious institutions who offer public services to anyone from discrimination laws protecting African American couples, interracial couples, old couples, couples who have divorced and are remarrying. Why is it necessary to write legalized discrimination against same-sex couples into the legislation? Why single us out?
I hope that this is just a way to get the bill passed with less controversy and the plan is to go back and revise. But again, why is this necessary since 10 out of the 13 coucilmembers are co-sponsors and intend to vote for it?
Another major change will allow domestic partnership in the District to continue alongside same-sex marriage, making the capital the first jurisdiction in the country to offer both institutions. Many LGBT advocacy groups argued to keep marriage separate from domestic partnerships, and that one should not supersede the other.
The bill is expected to be approved before Christmas.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Dear Friends –
A year ago, Marriage Equality USA asked you to share your personal stories about the Prop 8 campaign, its harm, and our hopes for the future. We received over 3,000 responses and produced a series of reports using your feedback that you can find on our website. These reports have influenced organizations as they reflect on how they run their campaign operations and have been used in many forums to illustrate the harm that come from these anti-gay campaigns.
Last Tuesday evening, it was déjà vu again as we witnessed same-sex couples in Maine having their fundamental right to marry stripped from them by a mere majority of voters. But Marriage Equality USA and dedicated volunteers will not stop, we will continue to reach out to more and more Americans to share our stories on why marriage matters and why these campaigns are so destructive. We know that marriage equality will be a reality, it is just a matter of time and we ask you to continue to stay engaged on this journey.
As follow up to last year’s survey, Marriage Equality USA is launching a stories project. We want to encourage same-sex couples, their families, straight allies, and other community members to share their experiences on the impact and importance of extending the freedom to marry to all loving, committed couples. The stories we collect will be presented through a digital stories project that we will release during February's Freedom to Marry month.
If you could take 15 minutes to sit down and share your story we would appreciate it and we will use it. To facilitate this effort, we have created an on-line survey at http://www.marriageequality.org/marriagestories/
The diversity of our experiences is important to share because there are so many people to reach. We must reflect the reality that we are truly everywhere, in every community and demographic. No one will do this for us, we must be the change we want to see in the world and it begins with sharing our truth. Your story may be the one that will make a difference for some conflicted but potential marriage equality supporter. So send in your story today and please spread the word.
Thank you and take care,
Pamela Brown and all our dedicated volunteers at Marriage Equality USA
UPDATE 2 2:52pm PST: Openly gay NYC City Council speaker Christine Quinn spoke on the senate marriage vote. See video of the press conference at the bottom of the post.
UPDATE: Making things worse, the National Organization for Marriage just announced plans “to build a $500,000 war chest to fund a primary challenge to any Republican senator who votes for gay marriage – regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s vote in the State Senate.” Read the press release and more at LGBT POV.
Tomorrow, November 10, New York state's senate may finally hold their long-delayed vote on the marriage equality bill that Gov. David Paterson has been pushing. The special session tomorrow will include much needed votes on other state business, but the governor also added the bill to the agenda in the hopes that it will finally get voted on.
Yet the ugly head of doubt has reared, casting a shadow over tomorrow and the possibility of marriage equality passing. Democratic leaders in the Senate are expected to negotiate late into the night Monday on whether or not to place the bill up for a vote.
Democratic Senator Diane J. Savino from Staten Island supports the bill and believes there's a 70% chance of it reaching the floor, she told the New York Times.
“I’m pretty confident,” she said, adding, “I hope that I am right.”
Advocates on both sides of the issue lobbied senators over the weekend, but it was still unclear on Sunday whether the measure could attract the 32 votes needed in the State Senate for approval. (The Assembly has already passed the bill.)“I think we’re starting from a position of strength,” Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, told the New York Times. He opposes the bill. “I don’t believe they have the votes, and it’s an act of desperation. Our position is to maintain the votes we have, and people are certainly in contact with our senators and we are encouraging that. This is not going to pass.”
In New York, Democrats hold a shaky 32-to-30 majority in the Senate, and some senators oppose allowing the legislation to come to the floor for a vote.
Those who favor the bill say they realize they are risking another significant defeat but are determined to get legislators on record on the issue. They also say that now may be the best time to push lawmakers to take up the bill, given that next year all 212 members of the Legislature will face re-election.
Estimates vary, but supporters of the bill believe they can count on about 25 votes for the legislation at this time.
Another obstacle facing the marriage bill lies in Sen. Pedro Espada, who earlier in the year defected to the Republicans, causing the Senate to have a power split 31-31. This coup caused the turmoil that delayed the bill in the first place.
He's back with the Democrats and supports marriage equality, but Elizabeth Benjamin at NY Daily News says he has a plan that could cause problems.
Espada suggested linking the marriage bill, which Gov. David Paterson has put on the calendar for Tuesday's session, with the farm workers' rights bill that he (and the DN) have been championing for some time."Sen. Pedro Espada is linking the two, and I am writing to the governor, dismayed as I am that migrant workers is not on, and I think there's probably more support for that," the majority leader told me, lapsing into that rather odd habit he has of referring to himself in the third person.For those trying to get a read on whether the marriage bill will come up for a vote Tuesday, this cannot come as good news. It seems to be that Espada is setting himself up with an out should the bill come to the floor - or, at the very least, an excuse for voting "no".
So with the odds stacking against the passage of marriage, why take a vote? Supporters say it's important to know where the legislators stand and that next year, the chances of it passing could be worse.
Towleroad talked to Gov. Paterson in an exclusive interview, asking him why it's important to vote now.
Says Paterson of the marriage equality bill: "People who've lived together for 10, 20, 30 years are waiting, hoping that this legislation will pass while they still have the breath to elicit an 'I do' on the altar, and I think it's time that it happens, and if I have to see legislation fail so I can identify who voted against it to better persuade them, then I'll take that chance."ACTION: Empire State Pride Agenda has called on New Yorkers to contact their Senators and urge them to vote for marriage equality. Click on the image below or on this link to get your Senator's information and call NOW!
Of the bill's fate should Senators vote on it, Paterson says: "In this case, I have a feeling if it got on the floor it would be voted up."
Paterson also says people should see opportunity in defeats like the ballot measure in Maine: "I think there's this feeling that if legislation fails that it's this colossal loss for the cause. I find it to be motivational. I think that the public referendum in Maine should inspire us that there's more work to do, more persuasion to be made, more understanding to be reached, and more sensitivity to be displayed, and those of us who have been a catalyst for marriage equality have to regroup and work harder."
The day after Tuesday's elections, Michigan Speaker Pro Tempore Pam Byrnes introduced her plans to undo the state's same-sex marriage ban.
Byrnes' proposal would be an amendment to Michigan's Constitution to repeal the Proposal 2 same-sex marriage ban and and would need a two-thirds vote by the Legislature in order to be placed on the ballot in the November 2010 election.
If voters approved it, the amendment would legalize same-sex marriage in the state, recognize marriages from other states and include a provision to allow clergy members to deny certifying a marriage at their place of worship.
However, marriage equality in Michiganhas quite a few challenges. Michael Ginsborg at Proposition 8 and the Right to Marry reports, "Michigan has constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage. Its constitution has a 'super-DOMA' amendment (Art. 1, § 25) that also bans recognition of unions similar to marriage "for any purpose." In National Pride at Work, Inc. v. Governor of Michigan, 748 N.W.2d 524 (Mich. 2008), the state Supreme Court ruled that the city of Kalamazoo could not extend benefits to the qualified domestic partners of city employees."
"This is ... an economic issue," Byrnes told the Detroit News. "Young people want to go to cities and communities that are progressive, accepting of people and have good quality of life. That's something that Kalamazoo is now going to have."
"I know it's going to be a struggle," she said. "(But) we have seen some very significant changes in a short period of time; the ordinance in Kalamazoo is an indication.
"If (people) have a gay daughter or son, they think they should be able to enter into a committed relationship," Byrnes said. "We're going to keep pushing this until we have enough votes to do it."
Dave Maluchnik, director of communications with the Michigan Catholic Conference, doesn't believe the Kalamazoo vote has anything to do with marriage equality. His organization was a major proponent of Proposal 2.
"We've made our position on the issue of marriage loud and clear and will continue to do so," Maluchnik said. "Michigan voters are concerned right now about the state's economy and anything that (distracts) the Legislature from that issue is not in Michigan's best interest."
Though no state has ever approved marriage equality at the ballot and has banned it in 31 states, Byrnes believes what has happened in Maine and all the other states shouldn't keep her from trying.
“The fact that another state didn’t do the right thing, that doesn’t prevent us from trying to do the right thing,” Byrnes said."This bill boils down to treating people with the dignity and respect everyone deserves,” Byrnes said at a press conference Wednesday at the Capitol.
“So many of us were raised to treat others how we would want to be treated, so it’s about time we started acting that way as well.”
The antigay group Focus on the Family was not only happy with the outcome in Maine – but with the election in New Jersey as well, where conservative Christopher Christie defeated Jon Corzine in the gubernatorial race. Corzine has promised to sign a marriage equality bill if the state Legislature gets it to his desk before Christie takes office Jan. 10, 2010. Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of Garden State Equality, says there is a new urgency to the push for marriage equality in New Jersey. Focus on the Family is lining up to stop it. Watch this – then go to the Garden State Equality website to see how you can help.
UTF Note: See the NJ marriage equality ads and the discussion surrounding them.
Bishop Richard Malone of Maine's Diocese actively campaigned for the Yes on 1 campaign, sending DVDs of himself to parishes around the state to be played at services, imploring parishioners to donate to the campaign. In all, the church gave $550,000.
This past week in Maine, several protests took place against the passage of Question 1, but on Sunday, a silent protest took place in front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, organized by the Facebook group Demand Equality Now.
But what's different about these protests compared to last year's against the Church of Latter Day Saints is that Catholics are either joining in with them or voicing their support.
(See WGME news report.)
America Blog's Joe Sudbay states that he was baptized in this particular church and that his mother still attends there. "That's the church my parents attend, where I was baptized and confirmed and where we had the funerals for my grandparents," he said on his blog. "The Facebook crowd was organizing the protest, but when I told my 73 year old mother about it (and she's not the Facebook crowd), she said, 'Oh, I wish I knew.'"
This echoes the larger, growing divide within the Church.
In its article "Victory over same-sex marriage comes at high price", the National Catholic Reporter looks into the turmoil that Question 1 has caused.
. . . Malone chastised "a group of self-described Catholics who have chosen to dissent publicly from established Catholic doctrine on the nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
Malone was writing about 140 people whose names appeared in a newspaper ad titled "Statement of Conscience by Maine Catholics Regarding Marriage Equality." Malone wrote, "A Catholic whose conscience has been properly formed by scripture and the teachings of the Catholic church cannot support same sex marriage."
But hundreds of Catholics disagreed with the bishop.
"It is a sad day, as the leaders of the Catholic church in Maine relish, in delight, that they have succeeded in keeping the homosexual families of Maine outside of the walls of society where they must beg to maintain their very existence, much like the lepers and blind in the Bible were kept outside the city walls in days of old," said Jack Dougherty of Eliot, Maine, a member of Catholics for Marriage Equality.
Portland attorney George Burns, who helped draft the Catholic statement on equality, said "The bishop won at a great price -- whether he cares about that price or not. He has divided his flock."
One Catholic, Pamella Starbird Beliveau of Lewiston, Maine, was removed as a lector and eucharistic minister after her pastor read an opinion piece she wrote for the local newspaper approving of same-sex marriage.
She told a rally outside the Portland cathedral Nov. 1, "I am sad but not surprised by what happened. … The Catholic church has every right to determine who can and cannot serve as ministers in the church. I respect that. We must keep our eyes focused on the issue and that is equality for our gay and lesbian citizens."
It will be interesting to see what effects this chasm within the body of the church creates. Though this story in particular deals with the consequences of Question 1 in Maine, currently New Jersey is considering a marriage equality bill of its own, and the Catholic Church in the Garden State has already actively stood against it. Worse, I've reported on how the church plans to spend $2 million on fighting marriage equality nationwide.
With all of its past problems, can the Catholic Church sustain its momentum against LGBT rights amongst growing criticism?
Patricia Brinkman said it best in her letter to the Portland Herald Press' editor. "Newsflash to Bishop Malone: civil rights are not 'values.' And, as the multitude of successful lawsuits against the church on behalf of exploited children will attest, you long ago surrendered your legitimacy to dictate morality regarding sex."
Images by Kimberly Robinson
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Only if I had a spoonful of sugar handy . . .
The hardest part about what Maggie says is that a chunk of it is true. We had a big leading advantage in Maine and we lost it.
So what are we doing wrong?
As I have said before, Equality Maine has done amazing work in the state, building a strong grassroots infrastructure while doing the everyday task of educating residents on LGBT issues.
On top of that, the NO on 1 campaign did learn from the defeat in California and applied most but not all the lessons learned expediently.
We still lost. And hearing Maggie point out these facts is equivalent to sticking ice picks in my ears.
It's a sad fact we need to face: our messaging is not working.
Terry Leftgoff, who formerly served as the highest ranking openly gay officer of the California Democratic Party and oversaw numerous campaign efforts, wrote in an email (shared with permission by Rex Wockner) about our messaging from the NO on 1 campaign:
"I believe it is clear: we must radically reinvent our messaging, tactics and strategy...I have to agree with what Terry says and I have been saying so for some time. Again, this is not a criticism of the amazing, hardworking people behind the NO on 1 campaign, but an evaluation of us as a whole, the LGBT population and allies, as we struggle to define the message that we know innately - that we deserve equal rights - and translate it to the masses so that they will be motivated to vote with us.
"Most importantly, there was no effective response to predictable lies about children and schools, the identical lies made a year earlier during Prop 8.
"The response both times was to validate the implied homophobia by denying/agreeing that we don't teach about marriage or gays in school: 'Oh no, we should never talk about those gays because they're bad.' This validates and surrenders an emotionally charged subtext with an specious intellectual response; taken in isolation, it is a loser. Rather we need to develop strong proactive and affirmative messages that completely redirect the debate and reach higher to universal American principles and human respect. And we need to hit early and hit hard."
It's no easy task. Otherwise, we wouldn't have lost 31 states. But where do we begin?
"There are a number of ways to accomplish this," Terry believes. "One way is to effectively portray the real effect denigration and rejection has on us and our children. It is about gut empathy. Many voters can get that and it is completely missing from our arsenal."
Just as the Yes on 1 campaign showed children acting sad for the cameras while at school, "suffering" from "homosexual marriage being forced upon them," we need to show our very real families really suffering from being treated unequally and forced to live with state sanctioned discrimination.
I believe New Jersey takes a big step in the right direction with their new marriage ads. This ad is so powerful, so raw, it should have been our strategy from day one.
(View the other ad)
The direction this ad takes can also be applied to countering the opposition's school argument about how LGBT students and children of LGBT families suffer at schools simply because of who they are.
We have lost in 31 states. But you can view that from a different angle. The ball is in our court in 31 states. We can now choose when to go back to the ballot. This time we won't be on the defense, forced to forge a campaign with little time. We'll be on the offense. We can now learn from our 31 defeats and turn them into victories. It takes time, diligence, sweat and tears - it will be scary, but we can do it. The power is on our side now.
We must use this power wisely.
EVENT: Learn about messaging from some of our top experts. Vote For Equality is hosting, "Why Messaging Matters." Limited seating. First come first serve. Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 7pm.
I highly recommend this. It will dissect our campaign ads and the opposition's and evaluate what worked and what didn't. Arm yourself with this knowledge. It's so important moving forward a this crossroad in our movement.
Dan Savage: "President Obama is a fierce advocate of gay rights the same way I'm a ladies' man. He isn't, and I'm not."
Savage refers to an email from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sent out to all supporters directly before elections, urging them to get involved in a number of issues, but failed to mention any of the LGBT ballot initiatives attempting to take away rights.
Even more infuriating, they sent an email to some Mainers asking them to go to New Jersey to help the Democratic Gov. John Corzine win re-election. He did not. And the DNC did not ask them to vote No on Question 1 nor volunteer for the NO campaign.
America Blog has been covering the issue extensively, even having it out with the DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias. It's an interesting development during a time when the LGBT population is growing more and more disillusioned with President Obama.
Since it's appearing that the DNC did in fact urge its supporters to act but left the gays out in the cold and that President Obama is continuing to avoid specifically naming our issues to avoid the fray, the passage of Question 1 in Maine is only going to deepen this divide.
Washington state voters have ushered in a new moment in LGBT history by approving the state's new "everything but marriage" domestic partnership law.
With 69% of the expected vote counted Thursday, Referendum 71 lead 52% to 48%, roughly the numbers of the votes in Maine, but there, residents voted against marriage equality. This is great news for LGBT rights after that crushing blow.
"This moment in history is simply unprecedented," says Joe Mirabella on Seattle PI. Joe worked tirelessly with many bloggers, including Lurleen at Pam's House Blend, as part of the netroots team for the Approve Referendum 71 campaign.
"Referendum 71 was only the 6th referendum in Washington history to ever be approved by Washington voters. It is far easier to reject a referendum than approve one. In only 6 weeks we changed the conversation from the decline to sign campaign, to one of approve," Joe continued. "We faced an off year election, when older more conservative voters have a far better voting record. An LGBT referendum has never been approved by voters anywhere in the United States, that is until November 3 when fair minded voters from throughout the state said, "yes we want equality for all Washington families."
National gay-rights groups concur, saying the passage of Referendum 71 marks the first time a state's voters have approved a gay equality measure at the ballot box.
"This victory promotes fairness, supports families, and is good for Washington state and the country. This victory sends the message that no family should be left vulnerable and without basic protections because of someone else's prejudices," said Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
"This is a wonderful victory for all those who value fairness and equality," said Josh Friedes, Approve Referendum 71 campaign manager. "Washingtonians have defended fairness and taken a strong stand for all families. We would not be celebrating this victory if it were not for Washingtonians' commitment to civil rights, our amazing campaign staff, our volunteers, our community and allies, and the support of organizations like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The Task Force spent time with us on the ground to train our campaign field team and contributed financially to help us ensure this victory."
Lurleen remarked on the voter map posted to the left, pointing out how much has changed in Washington in such a short amount of time.
"The last time Washington voters had the opportunity to ratify a pro-equality law at the polls was in 1997. Initiative to the People 677 proposed an employment non-discrimination law," Lurleen said. "The ballot title read Shall discrimination based on sexual orientation be prohibited in employment, employment agency, and union membership practices, without requiring employee partner benefits or preferential treatment?
"The measure was rejected 59.7% to 40.3%," she continues. "Contrary to the current image of the Puget Sound area of Washington as progressive, not one single county - not even Seattle's home of King County - voted to approve I-677. Contrast that with the current election where the electorate as a whole approved R-71 and majorities in 10 of Washington's 39 counties have approved R-71. But the truly stunning statistic is that the rate of ballot measure approval increased between 1997 and 2009 in all but one county."
This should make anti-LGBT forces quake in their boots. After their victory in Maine, they have continually declared that the tide is in fact not turning against them but in fact moving with them. Sounds like they spoke a little too soon.