Saturday, July 18, 2009

POC Group API Equality LA Will Support 2010 Prop 8 Repeal if Majority of CA LGBT Require It

Nakhone Keodara, Editor-in-Chief of the SoCal Voice spoke to my friend, the amazing Kat Khommarath of API Equality LA, one of the three groups who issued the Prepare to Prevail statement which warned against rushing back to the ballot in 2010 to repeal Prop 8.

Below was their conversation.
Nakhone Keodara: Kat, this is on record. Thanks for taking my call. Listen, I’m calling because there have been some in the community that are saying that the POCs are holding them hostage in not wanting to go back to the ballot in 2010. What do you say to that?

Kat Khommarath: We’re not holding anybody hostage Nakhone. We’re in it to win it too. It’s never been about whether or not we would go but a matter of when. Equality California has always said that 2010 is too soon. (Editor’s Note: Kat let this one slip. It seems the culprit behind this debacle is none other than EQCA.)

Nakhone Keodara: Well, their main beef is with the POCs going to the LA Times before discussing this issue with the grassroots such as OUT West coalition. Like at the July 25th Leadership Summit. And, they do have a point there. Why didn’t you guys do that?

Kat Khommarath: Yes, we could have done things differently. And, we did go to these other organizations to ask for their input.

Nakhone Keodara: Who? Honor Pac, Jordan Rustin Coalition and ACLU?

Kat Khommarath: Yes.

Nakhone Keodara: So, are you saying that the POCs will not come on board if the majority of the grassroots decide to launch a 2010 Campaign?

Kat Khommarath: No. That’s not what we’re saying. Of course we’ll come on board and help with the 2010 Campaign if that is what the majority decides. It’s never been a matter of if but a matter of when for us. We just wanted to make sure that we’re at our best before we proceed with the Campaign to win back marriage in California.

Nakhone Keodara: Thanks, Kat!

Kat Khommarath: You can use anything you want!
I'm posting this because it's important to point out that the Prepare to Prevail statement did not state that they were directly opposed to 2010, only that the issues they brought up must be addressed before returning to the ballot. Their concern indicated 2010 may not offer enough time. (Though some concede the subtitle to the statement, "Why We Must Wait in Order to Win" did indicate otherwise.)

Even more to the point, and which this conversation points out, if the majority of the LGBT population of California support going back to the ballot in 2010, API Equality LA will hop on board and go full steam ahead.

Some of the other groups that are listed in support of the Prepare to Prevail statement that I spoke to couldn't confirm they would hop on board for 2010. Most likely they will if the community demands it, but they still have to confer with their membership before making such a commitment.

Defense Secretary Gates Echoes Obama's Stance on "Changing" DADT

Recently, President Obama was recently asked about Don't Ask Don't Tell, and he kept referring to "changing" the law instead of "repealing" it, the latter a term he used before switching to "change."

Now, Defense Secretary Gates has begun to use it, too.



He does give some examples of more "humane" ways of dealing with DADT.
One example of that might be — what if we did not take into account third parties trying to harm somebody who may be gay in the service. Somebody who may have a vendetta, or hatred toward somebody, and therefore out them as a way to wreck their career. Is there a way we can not focus on those kinds of reports.


What? If authorities are made aware that a soldier is gay or lesbian, the law demands they discharge them. It doesn't matter if they're made aware of the soldier's orientation if it comes from a third party with a vendetta. So is he proposing they just ignore it?

Gates puts the onus back on Congress to get legislation through to repeal, reminding us that DADT is not just a policy, but a law. But he'll break that law if a personal vendetta is involved?

But I would like to remind him that in the interim, Obama has the authrority to put a stop-loss on discharges. And he won't.

Where's the humanity in that?

California POC Groups Issue Call for Public Education Campaign on Marriage Equality - More Groups Sign "Prepare to Prevail"

HONOR PAC, API Equality Los Angeles, and the Jordan Rustin Coalition, the three POC groups who issued the Prepare to Prevail statement, which highly recommends the LGBT population in California to hold off on returning to the ballot hastily in 2010, have issued another statement. In it, they urge more time to be taken in order to build a "robust public education campaign."
“We want to win. And winning a political campaign requires ample preparation,” says Luis L√≥pez, President of HONOR PAC. “The renewed energy and collaboration in our community will, with time and direction, become the fuel of a well-oiled campaign machine. For now, though, with little movement among voters on this issue and key components not yet in place for 2010, we need to take stock and focus on building our capacity.”

Ron Buckmire, President of the Barbara Jordan / Bayard Rustin Coalition, cites resource constraints. “We’ve got massive economic challenges in California right now. And our own LGBT service organizations are struggling. We are all being forced to make difficult decisions. Investing in a robust, coordinated public education campaign about marriage is a wiser investment than choosing to wage another very expensive electoral battle at this time.”

Proposition 8 was the most expensive ballot initiative over a social issue in California history with more than $82 million in contributions raised by backers and foes.

Doreena Wong, Co-Chair of API Equality-LA, says, “From the 2008 campaign, we know that all communities in California need to be engaged for us to win – including communities of color. And from our intensive work over the past four years, we know it takes time to build the trusting relationships and strong coalitions that make education campaigns effective. LGBT people exist in every community and have the same need as heterosexuals for respectful inclusion in marriage because marriage and family are core concepts for everyone —regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.”
Many groups have signed on to the "Prepare to Prevail" statement. Check out their website at PreparetoPrevail.com. Recently, more have joined in:

Service Employees International Union Local 1000
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
FAIR
Family Equality Council
Transgender Law Center
Tongues
Asian Pacific Islander Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (API PFLAG)
Nicole Murray Ramirez, City Commissioner and Chair San Diego Human Relations Commission (who signed on in name only)

Friday, July 17, 2009

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Signs Prepare to Prevail Statement

In a statement released yesterday, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force declared it has signed on to the Prepare to Prevail statement, urging Californian marriage equality supporters to "forego a rush to the 2010 ballot box to repeal Proposition 8."
"As a state that has often served as a political and cultural trendsetter for the rest of the country, what happens in California has national significance for the LGBT movement. That's why for well over five years the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has devoted significant human and financial resources to winning the freedom to marry in California. This commitment remains steadfast as we continue to work on the ground in California with the Vote for Equality Project of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and Equality California to build effective models of person-to-person voter persuasion about marriage equality.

"We support the soonest possible return to the ballot box to repeal Prop. 8 that gives the LGBT community a fighting chance to win. The priorities expressed in 'Prepare to Prevail' are about the hard work it will take at the grassroots to move towards a solid victory, and we look forward to continued work with our partners in California to build a strong, diverse and successful campaign for marriage equality."
The statement then continues to break down what needs to be accomplished before returning to the ballot, such as build solid majority support for the freedom to marry before returning to the ballot, show that we can move Yes on 8 supporters to marriage equality, develop persuasive messaging and build a campaign infrastructure.

Read the full statement.

TABC Chief Apologizes for Texas LGBT Bar Raid, Says, "[We] Shouldn't Have Been There."

In an interview with the Dallas Voice, Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission Administrator Alan Steen apologized for the raid on the Fort Worth LGBT bar Rainbow Lounge.

“I don’t think you have to dig very deep to figure out that TABC has violated some of their policies,” Steen said. “We know that, and I apologize for that."

On top of the apology, Steen informed that the supervisor of the two TABC agents present at the raid (the rest were Forth Worth police men) had retired last week while an internal investigation is ongoing. The two agents have been put on desk duty.

Steen went on to say that he didn't believe there was sufficient cause for the inspection, despite the fact a man had been arrested for public intoxication at the bar two days earlier, and that the officers should have been wearing plainclothes as is custom, and that along with the paddy wagon, it constituted excessive show of force.

“You can read that policy and you can figure out really quickly, TABC shouldn’t have even been there,” Steen said. “If our guys would have followed the damn policy, we wouldn’t even have been there. … We have these conversations all the time, and we don’t participate in those kinds of inspections when there’s not probable cause or reasonable suspicion or some public safety matter to be inspected.”

Steen is interested in an LGBT liaison for the TABC and said he'll have to be creative in how to pay for the position.

He said he will announce the results of the internal investigation when they're available and that he went to the Dallas Voice to the keep the LGBT community updated.

“I just think the people of Fort Worth deserve to know that we’re very interested in this and very diligently working to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

Obama Addresses Anti-Gay Discrimination at NAACP Convention; Civil Rights Group to Consider Marriage Equality Stance

At the NAACP Centennial Convention in New York Thursday night, President Obama gave a speech addressing, among other issues, discrimination and prejudice facing minority groups, including LGBT.



Excerpt:
"The first thing we need to do is make real the words of your charter and eradicate prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination among citizens of the United States. I understand there may be a temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a problem in 2009. And I believe that overall, there probably has never been less discrimination in America than there is today. But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.

On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination must not stand. Not on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America."
Read the whole speech.

The NAACP's board of directors met while at the convention to discuss their newly formed GLBT Task Force's mission statement, which would include opposing discrimination toward gays and lesbians who want to get married. This would be a major declaration from the civil right's group who up to this point has remained neutral due to the struggle within its membership to come to a consensus.

Just recently, the NAACP's president Benjamin Todd Jealous, spoke to CNN stating that marriage equality is a divisive issue within the organization, which is the reason that so far they have not taken a stand.

However in March, NAACP chairman Julian Bond gave an amazing speech at HRC's Los Angeles Gala Dinner in which he states he gives full support to LGBT equality, including marriage.

The NAACP will give full consideration to its GLBT Task Force mission statement Thursday.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Judge of Federal Case Against Prop 8 Gives Deadline for Plaintiffs to Oppose LGBT Groups Motion to Intervene

From Legal Commentary on Proposition 8 and the Right to Marry:

07/13/09 order by Judge Vaughn Walker in Perry et al v. Schwarzenegger et al., (N.D.Cal. 3:09-cv-02292, filed May 22, 2009):

According to Judge Walker's order, Ted Boies and Theodore Olson would have until August 7th to oppose a motion to intervene by the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Lamda Legal Defense, and these movants would have until August 14th to respond. On August 19th, Judge Walker will hear arguments on this and any other timely-filed motion to intervene.

Episcopal Bishops Approve Measure to Begin Crafting Prayer to Bless Same-Sex Marriages

Another amazing step forward for the Episcopal Church. A day after voting to end the moratorium on ordaining gay and lesbians Tuesday, the bishops voted 104-30 at the Episcopal General Convention to “collect and develop theological resources and liturgies” for blessing same-sex relationships, which would be considered at the next national meeting in 2012. Though this is a step short of an actual rite, the development over the next three years could lead to an official rite which will be added to the Book of Prayer.

The measure will now go to the church’s House of Deputies, which represents the clergy and lay people, and is known to be more liberal than the bishops and expected to give approval at the convention later this week.

The measure states “where same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church."

This measure is seen as a compromise to the bishops who feel their congregation is not yet ready to make this official step. However, the majority approved because, according to the New York Times, "They felt compelled to act because of their pastoral responsibility to gay couples who were increasingly coming forward to ask the church to bless their unions. Many also said they saw it as a simple matter of granting equal rights to gay men and lesbians."

The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, has added pressure to the already mounting tension within the Communion that strives to keep branches from breaking away. It remains to be seen how these current LGBT-inclusive decisions will affect the church, but many conservatives feel this will drive a permanent schism between the Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion.

“For many, this is the final straw with members of the wider Anglican Communion,” said Bishop William Love of Albany, N.Y. “It’s breaking my heart to see the church destroy itself in the manner in which we seem to be doing.”

Yet the votes show that this is a minority position.

“We certainly feel a deep need to be able to proclaim the love of God in the midst of a changing reality,” said Suffragan Bishop James Curry of the Diocese of Connecticut, one of six states that are legalizing same-gender marriage.

The Rev. Raisin Horn, the priest of Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City, told the New York Times, “If a same-sex couple comes to me and they want a marriage rite, they would go through the same premarital counseling, and have to show the same quality of relationship that I would want to see in any couple. I will not have to say to them, all the right things are in place except for your sexuality.”

Reason Behind Texas LGBT Bar Raid Revealed in Police Report - Mayor's Apology Not for Raid, But Gibson's Injury

The controversy surrounding the police raid of Texas LGBT bar Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth has led to the question, "Why did the officials raid the bar in the first place?" Given that is happened on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, suspicions have remain high.

Ft. Worth Police Department released documents that give its reasons. According to the reports, two days before the raid, police arrested an intoxicated man leaving the Rainbow Lounge after having been warned to get a ride.

Later that weekend, they returned for an inspection along with Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission officers. A police radio recording reveals that an officer called for back up.

"I need help in here," he could be heard saying. "I'm by the restroom." (See News 8 video report that contains video and radio recordings.)

That call came when officers said a customer blew a kiss at the officer, and then struggled with police as they tried to arrest him. The report also claims a woman made a sexual move at the officers with her hips and also states that Chad Gibson, the bar patron who received a head injury while being arrested, tapped an officer's genitals.

"[It] didn't happen," Gibson said. "It's a big lie."

News 8 reports:
In records, a Fort Worth officer admitted involvement in the physical struggle with Gibson inside the bar, which ended with Gibson on the ground as they arrested him. At some point, Gibson suffered a brain injury.

"We've got a guy, alcohol intoxication," an officer could be heard saying in a recording. "Also, a bruised head."

The big question is whether the injury happened inside with Fort Worth officers or outside with TABC agents. TABC agents said Gibson fell on concrete. Pictures show Gibson covered in vomit outside and his head bleeding. The sudden nausea, his family said, is evidence the injury happened inside the bar.
Officers being investigated have been relegated to desk duty.

Earlier this week, the Ft. Worth mayor was reported to have apologized for the raid, however that report is being corrected to state he did not apologize for the raid itself but for Gibson's injury.

VIDEO: Judge Sotomayor Says She Would Approach Marriage Equality With an Open Mind

This morning during the Senate hearings on the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the issue of marriage equality came up again.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) referred to the public policy exception of the "full faith and credit clause" in the constitution, which has bearing on how states treat marriage and asked Sotomayor if she understood its implications, saying "The reason these speeches matter and the reasons elections matter is because people now understand the role of the court in modern society when it comes to social change."

NOTE: CSPAN videos can take some time to load due to traffic.



Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) asked, "If the Supreme Court in the next few years holds that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, would that be making the law or interpreting the law?"

Sotomayor replies that Cornyn's question is basically a set-up and says that she would come to the issue with a completely open mind.

VIDEO: WH Press Secretary Gibbs Pressured for Obama Response to Clinton's Support for Marriage Equality

Recently, former President Bill Clinton expressed support for marriage equality, however tentatively. Yet with this being the highest-profile endorsement and from the man responsible for DOMA, it makes a big statement.

ABC's Jack Tapper pressured White House Press Secretary Gibbs for a response from Obama.



Tapper: Former President Bill Clinton recently said that he's basically in support of same-sex marriage. "I think it's wrong," he said, "for someone to stop someone else from getting involved in same-sex marriage." Has President Obama heard these comments? Does he have a reaction? And why is Bill Clinton wrong about this issue?

Gibbs: Well, I'm not going to get into anybody's opinion -- I'm not going to criticize anybody's opinion, least of all a former President of the United States, on something like this. I am not clear whether the President has seen that. I don't know where that was from, so I don't know if the President has seen it.

Tapper: But President Obama holds a different opinion?

Gibbs: President Obama holds the same opinion he has earlier today.

Tapper: Which is that same-sex marriage is wrong.

Gibbs: He does not support it. He supports civil unions.

Tapper: Why does he feel differently than President Bill Clinton?

Gibbs: Because they don't agree on the issue. (Laughter.) I've not obviously spent a lot of --

Tapper: That's not really an explanation of why he feels differently. That's another word for it.

Gibbs: Well, I mean, I'm happy to -- I mean, I think the President has answered this question a number of times. I can't form a basis for why former President Clinton -- I've obviously not had a conversation with him on this issue, so I don't know what -- it's hard for me to compare some of this because I don't have the basis by which he's making that decision.


Sources for America Blog state that it's Gibbs that's a big part of the problem when it comes to LGBT issues because reportedly, he's extremely uncomfortable with it.

He better get comfortable. Fast.

Judge Sotomayor Questioned on Marriage Equality in Senate Hearing

During the Judge Sonia Sotomayor senate hearings yesterday, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) asked her a question related to marriage equality, but she refused to answer citing that an answer could affect the cases currently in the court system that are dealing with the issue.

However, Grassley pressed for an answer and referred to the Minnesota Baker v. Nelson case, in which the state Supreme Court ruled against two men applying for a marriage license. Sotomayor remarked she would have to review the case and return with comments.



This line of questioning is not surprising since many believe that the federal case against Prop 8 and the federal cases coming out of Massachusetts could make it to the Supreme Court. Leave it to a conservative senator to first bring it up and try to figure out how a possible future Supreme Court judge would rule.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Episcopal Church Passes Resolution to Ordain Gay Bishops, Next Vote on Blessing Same-Sex Couples

In the words of the Los Angeles Times, the Episcopal Church cast "aside warnings about further alienating conservatives within its ranks" and voted Tuesday to end a three year moratorium on ordaining gay and lesbian bishops. Furthermore, this now allows them to further weigh into a measure of sanctioning blessings on same-sex couples. Voting on this measure is expected today.

The measure to consecrate gay bishops won the support of more than two-thirds of the denomination's two legislative houses - the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, composed of clergy and laity.

The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the 77-million member Anglican Communion and which has a long history of striving to keep from splintering, has already faced conservative branches breaking off. Now with the vote, a backlash is expected.

"Clearly the activists have done a good job promoting their agenda," said the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns to the Los Angeles Times, a founding bishop of the newly formed Anglican Church in North America, which hopes to gain recognition from the Anglican Communion as a rival province to the Episcopal Church.

"The generosity shown by the rest of the communion has been astonishing and has been thrown back in their face," Minns said. "There will have to be a renegotiation of how the Episcopal Church fits into the family."

Openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the only gay bishop consecrated by the Episcopal Church, holds a different view.

"I'm simply delighted at the possibility that another diocese will recognize the gifts of a gay or lesbian clergy person," he said. "I long for the day when someone who shares my experience as an openly gay bishop joins me in the House of Bishops. It has been lonely."

The passed measure states "God has called" gays and lesbians in partnered relationships to "any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church," adding that the call "is a mystery which the church attempts to discern for all people."

Rev. Irene Moore has a very interesting piece on the deep history behind the vote at Bilerico Project, titled "Let the Episcopal Church say Amen."

W. Virginia Legislature Holds Public Hearing on Possible Marriage Equality Ban



On Tuesday, a public hearing with West Virginia lawmakers was held in which a ban on marriage equality was discussed.

Groups from both sides of the issue appeared. Members of Advocates for Change and Family Policy Center said allowing voters to make this decision lets people take ownership of the Constitution.

Fairness West Virginia was there to counter the argument for a referendum on marriage equality, stating it would create a dangerous and divisive atmosphere and sends a negative message to the gay community.

The State Journal reports that they randomly approached people asking for their opinion on marriage equality.
Locally we asked residents if they wanted the state to ban marriage between same sex couples. Nearly everyone we randomly approached on the street said they didn't have a problem with it.

Some criticized the state for denying men and women equal rights.

Cookie Henderson said, "Why would you take away their right to happiness?"

Ralph Mason said he's against it. He says that marriage is sacred between a man and woman.

James Cavanaugh told wtrf.com that if two people want to say they're in love and married then it is ok with me.

Fran Kinley of Wheeling says she doesn't have a problem with it and she says people should be tolerant of one another.

West Virginia State Senator Jack Yost though tells us that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. He says though he can't say right now how he would vote if a ban of same sex marriage would come across his desk. He said he would have to see the bill and how it is worded.
The Legislature is taking time during the interim session to take a closer look at the possibility of amending the Constitution with a definition of marriage. If they vote in favor of that, voters across the state would make the final decision.

The state's Constitution has only been amended a handful of times.

Bishop Harry Jackson Writes Letter to Obama, "Same-Sex Marriage Is Not a Civil Right."

Anti-marriage equality Bishop Harry Jackson, who failed along with Washington DC councilmember Marion Barry and friends to stop the recognition of same-sex marriages in the nation's capital, has now decided to throw a tantrum about not getting his way by sending a letter to President Obama in which he spews anti-LGBT rhetoric and clearly states that "same-sex marriage is not a civil right."

Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend writes:
What has motivated he and Niger Innis of the Congress on Racial Equality, Dr. William Owens, Sr. of Concerned African-American Pastors, Bishop Dale Bronner of Word of Faith Family Worship Center in Atlanta, GA, and Pastor Terry Millender of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria, VA to write the missive are two events that weirded them out:

1. The President's cocktail party with A-Gays to mark the Stonewall Riot 40th anniversary celebration at the White House. Jackson is angry that Obama has not met with he and his homophobic black clergy friends to date. (I'm sure the invitation is coming, Harry).

2. The legal cases contesting the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)that are piling up, particularly the one out of Massachusetts last week.
And now for the ignorant letter.

Dear President Obama,

"...Although you have voiced support for marriage as defined as a union between one man and one woman, we are concerned that that your campaign promise to changing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will work at cross purposes with your pro-marriage stance.

"We believe that the central domestic problem we face is the disintegration of marriage. One of the organizations we support called Marriage Savers points out that the marriage crisis is comprised of four elements:

1. A lowering of the marriage rate
• The marriage rate has plunged 50% since 1970

2. An increase in divorce
• Half of all new marriages end in divorce

3. A rise in heterosexual cohabitation
• The number of unmarried couples living together has soared 12-fold since 1960

4. A multiplication of unwed births
• Out-of wedlock births jumped from 5.3% to 39.6% from 1960-2007

"These statistics show the fragile nature of the institution of marriage today. Changing the definition of marriage will have many unintended consequences, which will hurt generations to come. If one redefines marriage, then the family is redefined. If the family is redefined then the nature of parenting must also be redefined.

"We are concerned that an attempt to recognize and adjust to one group's sense of alienation may actually confuse future generations of children about their sexuality and blur lines of responsibility in our families. The very definitions of motherhood and fatherhood may be unnecessarily challenged in years to come.

"Same-sex marriage is not a civil right. The laws enacted by Congress during a century of struggle for equal rights for African Americans were intended to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, not on the basis of an individual's sexual preferences or personal behavior.

"Advocates of same-sex marriage want people to think that it can peacefully coexist alongside traditional marriage. But it will create a conflict between people of faith who fervently believe in traditional marriage and the law, which says marriage includes those of the same-sex variety. Those conflicts will always be resolved in favor of same-sex marriage because there can be no 'conscientious objectors' to the law.

"Mr. President, you say you desire to unify the nation and to change the politics-as-usual status of Washington. We want to believe this statement. As we have looked at both your policies and recent public affirmations, each of us has asked ourselves one question, 'Is there room enough for people like us in President Obama's America?'

Many of the people we speak for felt that your disparaging statements during the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot were directed at them. Some of the people with 'worn out arguments and old attitudes' are not bigots or homophobes; they are our cultural elders, who are rightfully saying, 'Don't tear down a fence until you understand why it's there.' Recent studies show that there is a resurgence of hope about marriage among the young people of this generation. Mr. President, let's keep hope alive..."

We also stated that the California Proposition 8 votes amending the state's constitution to protect marriage marked the beginning of a new era in American politics. For the first time in recent history, black and Hispanic voters (predominately Christians) voted for President Obama and simultaneously voted against the Democratic power structure on this social issue. In light of this phenomenon occurring simultaneously within the black and Hispanic communities, we respectfully warned the president that hooking his political wagon too closely to the gay marriage bandwagon could precipitously erode public confidence in his administration.

If you agree with our concern about marriage, it's time for you to start contacting both Republican and Democratic congressmen. Congress is where the battle concerning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will likely be fought. Importantly, many Republicans are shying away from this important social issue. Conversely, the Democratic Party (generally speaking) seems to be beholding to the gay marriage movement for its financial support in the last election.

Therefore, we must let each congressman know that he can be voted out of office if he moves the wrong way on this issue. Set aside Mondays to email, write or call saying, "We want you to support marriage and to protect DOMA." Let's make "Marriage Monday" a national movement.

The letter outlined above was signed by
Niger Innis of the Congress on Racial Equality
Dr. William Owens, Sr. of Concerned African-American Pastors
Bishop Dale Bronner of Word of Faith Family Worship Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Pastor Terry Millender of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria, Virginia, and myself.

Fort Worth Mayor Apologizes for Police Raid on LGBT Bar

Forth Worth, Texas mayor Mike Moncrief apologized for the police raid on LGBT bar Rainbow Lounge that resulted in controversy and claims of police brutality. One bar patron, Chad Gibson, incurred a head injury that kept him in the hospital for a week.

At Tuesday's meeting, 250 people packed City Council chambers while another 150 overflowed into the hallway and other rooms as city officials discussed the raid.

Someone in the audience called out for an apology. The mayor then said: "If you want an apology from the mayor of Fort Worth: I am sorry about what happened in Fort Worth." The crowd erupted in applause and stood.

The Houston Chronicle reports:
Two council members called for independent investigations into the raid, after which Moncrief started to discuss other items on the meeting agenda.

Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction, interrupted and said those who wanted to comment on the raid shouldn't have to wait. Moncrief tried to explain that public comments are always last on the agenda.

But Wilkinson and another person kept arguing with the mayor, and several people in the hallway started shouting, "Hear us now!" "Hear us now!" Wilkinson and six others were then led out of the building.
See local news affiliate KTVT news video report or WFAA report.

The Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission and Fort Worth Police Department are investigating the raid, which was conducted jointly by their agencies, but the community is demanding an independent investigation.

Also on Tuesday, Fort Worth police chief Jeff Halstead said he appointed Officer Sara Straten as the department’s liaison to the LGBT community.

Straten stated her main goal is to improve communication with the LGBT community and that she would meet with them to "try to make things better." Though the police department has said that they will have its officers undergo diversity training, she did not say if she would be leading it.

"It's a huge job, but it's doable," Straten said of her new position.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

UPDATE: 2010 vs. 2012: The Brewing Debate In California Over When to Go Back to the Ballot Boils Over

UPDATE 3: After a little digging into the consultants that EQCA is turning to on next steps for marriage equality, which are mentioned in Marc Solomon's statement (see Update 2), Unite the Fight discovered that two of them worked on the No on 8 campaign. These consultants, who are not LGBT nor have run any LGBT grassroots campaigns (that goes the same for the rest on the list), were a large part of the blame for the failure of No on 8. It's rather alarming to see that EQCA may be returning to them for advice. I understand the need for consultants, but hopefully we can find some who know more intrinsically and expertly about the issues at hand. Hopefully, EQCA will receive good advice from the other consultants on the list, but also, not let said advice be the final say on how to proceed.

UPDATE 2: Marc Solomon, Marriage Director for EQCA, just posted a response to the Prepare to Prevail statement and covers how EQCA intends to act.

UPDATE: Prepare to Prevail now has a website at PreparetoPrevail.com.

Also, the Latino Equality Alliance was listed as an endorser on Love, Honor, Cherish's statement in support for 2010, but has organizations within its alliance that are listed on the opposing Prepare to Prevail statement, such as HONOR PAC. A member of HONOR PAC issued a statement, a part of which says:
We realize that LEA, like Courage Campaign and others have "endorsed" the 2010 proposal initiated by Love Honor Cherish last May -- before the Supreme Court decision and even before the LGBT poll for equality results were known. Later organizations that were not satisfied with the results of the LGBT poll - polled each other and got a predictable answer.

HONOR PAC strongly objected on a premature endorsement by LEA and others for a 2010 ballot based on our on the ground experience with the NO on 8 campaign office in East LA. Challenged to consider and articulate why we object and to submit an alternate proposal -- we reviewed poll results (especially those for our Latino community), met with other POC and non-POC orgs and our meetings resulted in the statement we released yesterday via our database, websites and the media.

------

As for the Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) -- it is not a formal organization and key members and organizations have been outspoken about keeping it that way. The general consensus has been that it be a conduit for communication and coordination among Latino and other organizations. HONOR PAC appreciates this relationship. However, LEA does not speak for HONOR PAC or the other formal organizations that have their own boards and decision making processes. All are independent allies and individuals supportive of the LGBT movement.
But again, my objection is how the statement was released. They didn't go to opposing groups personally first to discuss the eight points - they just blasted it out to the world. A discussion could've have been had, but now everyone's focused on trying not to splinter in different directions instead of discussing the points in the statement.
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Within the last twenty four hours, the brewing debate over when California's LGBT population and allies should return to the ballot to overturn Prop 8 has begun to boil over. With a Leadership Summit scheduled for July 25 to discuss next steps for marriage equality in the state, everyone is vying to get the first word in.

It started Monday with "Prepare to Prevail," a statement released from a group of LGBT organizations, many of which are POC groups, that had many connections to the No on 8 campaign. It contained eight prerequisites or concerns that must be met before going to the ballot, heavily implying that 2010 would not be enough time.
  1. Winning requires full LGBT community support and a broad coalition of allies.
  2. We need to build strong majority support before placing the issue before voters.
  3. Campaign donors will be constrained given the current unprecedented economic downturn.
  4. Educational, voter-ID (not electoral) campaigns with specific goals should begin immediately
  5. We need time to build a coordinated data infrastructure that can support a winning campaign.
  6. Time and greater effort is needed to build trust and relationships in communities that represent the full diversity of California voters, including limited-English-speaking voters and voters of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  7. Labor, religious allies and communities of color are indispensable to winning. More time is needed to convert general support into full organizational backing to secure increased grassroots engagement, resources, and votes.
  8. More time means more “yes” votes for marriage equality.
Read the full "Prepare to Prevail" statement.

The statement appears in sharp contradiction to what many organizations have stated - mainly, the community is ready to go back in 2010.

The Courage Campaign, the politically progressive group that rallied a devastated community post Prop 8 and took the lead from the major LGBT organizations in training and organizing local community organizers and activists, came out in strong support for 2010 after polling its members and finding that 82.5% wanted to return to the ballot that year. In a response to the Prevail statement released today, they state:
"The Courage Campaign is doing its part by helping to build an electoral road map to victory, as are several other organizations that are laying the groundwork necessary to win back marriage equality. It is our responsibility to our members, who overwhelmingly told us that they want to go to the ballot in 2010, and it is our responsibility to the marriage equality community."

"That's why the Courage Campaign announced support for a 2010 initiative in May. While we respect other organizations discussing and deliberating this very important question, we have been building the infrastructure to win marriage equality rights at the ballot box sooner, rather than later. Our members are ready to do the hard work needed to win."
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"The Courage Campaign believes that by training community organizers and sharing resources like staff support and access to the voter file, we can win in 2010 -- not just in Los Angeles, or San Francisco, but in the heartland of California."
Equality California (EQCA), one of the leading organizations behind the No on 8 campaign and who had lost its foothold within the LGBT community, appeared to be in agreement with the Courage Campaign by attempting to keep up with the community and stating they were preparing for 2010. Shortly after Courage Campaign announced its support for 2010, EQCA announced its grassroots campaign and new educational PSAs showing LGBT families (who were noticeably absent during the No on 8 campaign). Though their membership also supported a 2010 ballot, EQCA never came out in official support for 2010. (Dabblepost evaluates the well-known rivalry between the groups.)

Marc Solomon, marriage director of EQCA ,who was brought in from Massachusetts to help the organization repair the damage in the community due to No on 8, told the Los Angeles Times, "We initially said we believe 2010 was the right time to go back to the ballot. We've also made it very clear we will only move forward if we have a clear road map to victory. . . . The last thing we want to do is go back to the ballot and lose."

But something smells bad here. Though many of the points in the "Prepare to Prevail" statement are extremely essential and must be discussed and met, the statement's timing and how it was released couldn't be more divisive and is being seen as attempt by the major LGBT organizations to wrestle back control of a movement moving beyond them.

Dabblepost states, "The timing is especially relevant given that the mainstream LGBT organizations have all but been left behind in the high profile federal challenge to Proposition 8 (one that many believe will lead to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage). The lawsuit was orchestrated by a small but wealthy group of individuals who managed to get two high profile lawyers to take up their cause - with the mainstream LGBT organizations seeking to undermine the suit at every turn because they 'felt it was too soon.' Sound familiar? Now the federal case is gaining steam and the mainstream LGBT organizations want on board. Of course, the original petitioners in the case are saying, 'Ummm... NOW you want in?! No thanks, we don't need you and your abundant caution and ineptitude.' Equality California likely sees the potential of the same scenario arising in the case of a ballot initiative: another organization launching a ballot campaign all on their own, and then gaining mainstream support."

Many of the groups listed on the statement work directly with many of the pro-2010 groups and some are part of OUT West Coalition, the largest LGBT grassroots coalition in California, which meets at least once a month to discuss concerns facing the community. (In an effort of full disclosure, Unite the Fight is part of the OUT West Coalition).

Though there had been rumblings that they didn't support 2010 due to timing and work that needed to be done, the Prevail statement was prepared in secret and instead of going to these groups to discuss the points, they sent it to the press blindsiding their colleagues. With the Leadership Summit just two weeks away, why couldn't they have just waited and presented these points in person?

One group in particular who is listed as a main supporter of the Prevail statement, the Jordan Rustin Coalition, an African American LGBT grassroots organization, recently went through a leadership upheaval which has caused a divide within it. In the move, the group quickly aligned itself with EQCA and not only worked together on the new educational PSAs, but are also in the process in creating a field office in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Los Angeles. Some have told Unite the Fight that they see the move as a quick fix to the problems the No on 8 organizations caused by neglecting the needs of the POC LGBT groups during the campaign.

Sources to Unite the Fight state that many in the Prepare to Prevail group felt that they wouldn't be heard if they didn't go to the press. However, some felt strong-armed into joining in on the statement, or in some cases, never agreed to have their names on it in the first place, and are now requesting that the statement be corrected without their organizations included on the list. When asked where the pressure behind the statement was coming from, they wouldn't state.

In other cases, some appear on the Prevail statement and on the support of 2010 statement (or different chapters of the same organizations appear on opposing statements) issued by Love, Honor, Cherish (LHC), an adamantly pro-2010 organization, that was sent out way before the Prevail statement. So something changed.

Yet some on the statement told Unite the Fight that if in fact the concerns on the statement are met, they will be for 2010. But what if they're not, and if we move forward - will they support it? Will they join in? The answer to that is not clear.

LHC wasted no time and yesterday prepared a detailed response to the Prevail statement. John Henning, of LHC, also spoke to Los Angeles Times.

"There is a majority of the community . . . that favors going forward in 2010," said John Henning, executive director of the pro-same-sex-marriage group Love Honor Cherish. "The fact that some favor waiting should mean only one thing: They can wait, if they need to wait, but we are going to go ahead."

As already stated, many of the points in the Prevail statement are extremely important and must be addressed. The upcoming Leadership Summit would have been an ideal forum in which to address these concerns.

However, the Prevail groups' fear of not wanting to be the bad guys by opposing 2010 in discussions, which drove them to declare their views through the press instead, has now caused them to be the target of those in support of 2010. A self-fulfilling fear it appears. They're now being viewed as holding back the community's momentum and eagerness to win back their rights. The essential and valid points being made in their statement are now in danger of not being discussed due to the fact that the community now faces the even harder task of mending the cracks in what was hopefully going to be a unified front.

QUESTIONS: Do you believe that we, the LGBT population in California, are prepared to make a decision on 2010 or 2012? Or do you think we need to spend more time in looking at all the different factors, including those mentioned in the Prepare to Prevail statement, and work on unifying our movement? If we are ready to decide, when do you think we should return to the ballot? Because in the end, it's your voice that matters.

VIDEO: National Equality March Launches - Cast of Hair Will Cancel Show to Attend

In an unprecedented move, the producers of HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, have announced they are canceling the show's Sunday, October 11th performance so that the entire cast can join the National Equality March in Washington, DC.

The entire company of HAIR had traveled from New York to Los Angeles to appear on "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien". Directly after the recording on Monday, the cast joined National Equality March organizer Cleve Jones along with Torie Osborn and Dustin Lance Black at a spirited rally in Los Angeles, for an official launch of the march and its relaunched website NationalEqualityMarch.com.





Big Day for Marriage Equality - Former President Clinton and US Sen. Patrick Leahy Voice Their Support

In the highest-profile endorsement of marriage equality to date, former President Bill Clinton has moved beyond his prior statements on same-sex marriage toward voicing support at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, DC, on July 8.

While there, he was asked if he would support marriage equality. He responded, "I'm basically in support."

In the past, Clinton opposed same-sex marriage, signing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 while in the White House. After his presidency, Clinton rode the fence, stating at Toronto's Convention Centre that his position on same-sex marriage was "evolving."

Hopefully it will continue to evolve, for Clinton added, "I think all these states that do it should do it." But he said he believed that same-sex marriage is not "a federal question."

But personally, Clinton is for full equality. "I personally support people doing what they want to do," Clinton said. "I think it's wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [same-sex marriage]."

In an interview with Vermont Public Radio, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is the fourth most senior U.S. senator and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, publicly stated his support for marriage equality by reversing his position on DOMA, which he voted for in 1996.

“If I was voting – if this matter was coming the first time, I'd vote differently than I did then,” Leahy added. “Because I think the states are now ahead of the Congress on this. I was concerned at the time I voted for it that we may be facing the possibility of having a national law that would override states and would not give Vermont to do what it want or California the freedom to do just the opposite of Vermont.”

“Well, I think now that you have states that are voting for and having same-sex marriages – Vermont has, Massachusetts has, New Hampshire, others, Connecticut – the Defense of Marriage Act is unnecessary, should be repealed,” Leahy said.

You can listen to the whole interview at Vermont Public Radio.

Leahy becomes the fifth Senator to publicly state his support for marriage equality, and joins Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, New York Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Senator Charles Schumer and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin on the list.

Monday, July 13, 2009

VIDEO: Obama Wants to See Don't Ask Don't Tell "Changed"



In the interview with Anderson Cooper, Obama said:
"Look, I've had conversations with Bob Gates as well as Admiral Mullen about the fact that I want to see this law change. I also want to make sure that we are not simply ignoring a congressional law. If Congress passes a law that is constitutionally valid, then it's not appropriate for the Executive Branch simply to say we will not enforce a law. It is our duty to enforce laws. I do think that there is the possibility that we change how the law is being enforced even as we are pursuing a shift in congressional policy.

"But look, the bottom line is, I want to see this changed, and we've already contacted congressional allies. I want to make sure that it's changed in a way that ultimately works well for our military and for the outstanding gay and lesbian soldiers that are both currently enlisted or would like to enlist...I'd like to see it done sooner rather than later. And we've begun a process to not only work it through Congress, but also to make sure that the Pentagon has thought through all the ramifications of how this would be most effective."
Notice he doesn't use the word "repeal" or "overturn" once. We began to see this shift in language ever since the White House took down some of the promises to the LGBT on their website, then after the uproar, put their DADT promise back up, but as "change" the policy, and then after lots of criticism, back to "repeal" the policy.

Obama and his advisers had begun using this new language for some time until recently at the White House Stonewall commemoration where he used the strong word of "repeal" again. Now it's back to "change" with no reference to a repeal.

Words DO matter. "Repeal" and "change" have completely different meanings. Obama is really good with words, but also really good at making nothing sound like something.

What do you mean, Obama? Repeal or change? And if the latter, what possible change to this policy can you make without still making gay and lesbian servicemembers unequal? The only solution - a full repeal.

Second LGBT Bar Raid in Texas by Officers Wearing Ninja Masks

A second Texas LGBT bar, the Eagle, was raided this weekend by the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) within weeks of the infamous raid on the Rainbow Lounge in the neighboring city of Fort Worth.

The Eagle says the TABC officials stated the purpose of the raid was to question whether or not the establishment had updated its liquor license indicating a change of address. The Eagle had moved just yards into a new building where their old parking lot used to stand and was celebrating its grand opening,

The officers came back later and shut down the bar after a drink was sold.

Pictures of the agents taken by bar patrons show the officials wearing ninja masks. The photo posted here comes from eyewitnesses posting from The Chaser Blog. You read that right. NINJA MASKS.

A TABC spokeswoman responded to the incident today, saying “Basically they were in the process of applying for a change of address, and it had not made it through the process,” TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said. “They were doing what they were supposed to be doing, but then they jumped the gun.”

“Our agents were not wearing ninja masks, and we did not make any arrests,” Beck said. “Our agents did not make any arrests, and to our knowledge … there weren’t any underage drinking violations or undercover minors. The issue at that location was that they were selling alcohol without a permit for that location.”

Beck did say that it could have been the Dallas Police Department (DPD) who wore the masks. A DPD spokesman concurred it could have been one of their officers who do at time wear masks to conceal their identities, but they do not have the authority to shut down a bar.

“We’re out there doing this same kind of thing at other locations, and people just aren’t talking about it and aren’t hearing about it,” Beck told the Dallas Voice.

She also doesn't think this new incident will result in any investigation into how it was handled.

“I don’t think we’ve seen anything that makes us think that that would be appropriate or necessary, and I don’t know that I’ve heard any allegations from anybody who was actually there that would make us believe that there’s anything to investigate,” she said.

“But for the fact that they were both gay bars [Rainbow Lounge and the Eagle], I’m not sure there’s anything that these two incidents have in common, but tell me if I’m missing something.”

Gay activist Rick Vanderslice says he is "outraged" and wants to know what is prompting the raids.

A Call to UTF Readers: Tell Us Your Stories and Give Input on California's Next Steps for Marriage Equality

Eric Nakano is an officer of OUT West, one of the largest LGBT grassroots coalitions in California. He has a special request for the Unite the Fight readership.

Dear Unite the Fight Readers:

In two weeks, grassroots LGBT rights activists and volunteers from across the state of California will descend on sleepy San Bernardino for an Equality Summit to exchange ideas, plot strategy, and plan for the future.

Last November, the county of San Bernardino, the largest by landmass in the continental United States, voted Democratic for the first time in recent memory when they voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a mere 26,791 votes. And while the county broke overwhelmingly in favor for Prop 8, residents in the County still donated $68,000 to the No on 8 Campaign and turned out to the tune of 181,280 to vote against the measure. Who were these 181,280 voters and what did they do to keep the faith while outnumbered by a 2-1 margin?

As the grassroots begins to develop a strategy for victory, I want to remind my colleagues that any winning strategy must be one where we contest for votes in each of California’s 58 counties and in all of the state’s 25,423 precincts.

When I head to San Bernardino, I want to take with me your stories of activism and your ideas for the future. I’m especially interested in hearing from people who voted against Prop 8 in cities, towns and counties that overwhelmingly supported it.

ACTION: Email me your stories by answering these questions:
  • What did you do to buck the trend?
  • What ideas do you have to support your work in the next round?
You can email me at votenakano@gmail.com. Thank you for your continued involvement in our struggle for full equality.

Sincerely,

Eric Nakano
Officer, OUT West Coalition

NAACP Struggles to Take Official Stance on Marriage Equality

The new president of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous, spoke with CNN's T.J. Holmes on the organization's struggle to take a stance on marriage equality.

In the interview below, he states they do support many issues concerning LGBT, including hate crimes, but when it comes to marriage, it's a divisive issue within their membership.



Something that struck me rather quickly in this interview was Jealous' incorrect recitation of the chant, "Gay, Straight, Black, White, Marriage Is a Civil Right." He quoted it as, "Gay, Straight, Black, White, Same Struggle, Same Fight."

This may seem like a minor detail, but it's not. Many African Americans I've spoken to or have read object to LGBT rights movement being directly compared to their rights movement. Now, I've been to countless protests, marches and rallies, and I've not once heard the chant that Jealous recited. I'm not accusing him of twisting the language purposefully to support his argument, nor that it's never been chanted, but I'm pointing out how the LGBT rights movement can be perceived and interpreted.

This is a delicate issue. I don't see the LGBT civil rights movement as being the same as the African American civil rights movement. Big differences exist, different effects of different types of discrimination. But in my opinion, it still boils down to the rights granted to us by the government, whether that be the protection of a minority or the benefits afforded to tax paying citizens. Either way you look at it, when the government is involved, it's a civil issue, and when that government discriminates, it's a civil rights issue.

The NAACP is a civil rights organization founded during the African American civil rights movement with that segment of the American population in mind. Yet to be leaders, you sometimes have to make unpopular decisions, even if it will anger those who follow you. In this case, people are looking to the NAACP to make that decision. They need to, soon, no matter what it is.

But I would like to remind them of the words of MLK's widow, Coretta Scott King:
"Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."

"We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny... I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be," she said, quoting from her husband. "I've always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy."

"Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions."

"We have a lot of work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say 'common struggle,' because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry & discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination."

Chicago Sun Times, April 1, 1998, p.18. "She said the civil rights movement 'thrives on unity and inclusion, not division and exclusion.' Her husband's struggle parallels that of the gay rights movement, she said."
Here is a quote from the Rev. Eric Lee, President of the Los Angeles chapter of MLK's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who faces being fired because he took a stand for marriage equality.

"Any time one group of people are denied the same rights as other people, it is unequivocally a denial of civil rights."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

California Bill to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed Outside State Passes Senate Committee

Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno and which addresses same-sex marriages performed outside of California and whether the Golden State will recognize them, sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a vote of 7-3 along party lines.

The bill seeks to clarify what was left unanswered by the Supreme Court in its ruling to uphold Prop 8. In it, the bill claims that same-sex couples who married outside of California before Prop 8 went into effect on November 5, 2008 are recognized as married spouses. The bill also confirms that same-sex couples who married outside California after November 5, 2008, or plan to do so in the future, must receive the same rights, protections, benefits, obligations and responsibilities afforded to opposite-sex spouses, with the sole exception of the designation of “marriage.”

"This legislation, in my view, attempts in a limited way to clarify an issue that could result in exacerbating inequality," said Assembly Judiciary Chairman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles. It is "utterly consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling in Strauss," he said.

Conservative groups say that the Supreme Court remained silent on the issue, so as consequence, it should be decided yet again by the people in a vote and not circumvent the proper process which they're accusing the supporters of the bill of doing.

Law.com reports on some of the drama at the hearing:
During Thursday's hearing, Leno took a shot at the late Sen. William "Pete" Knight, who authored Prop 22, the 2000 initiative banning gay marriage that was overturned by the state Supreme Court last year.

"He could see that change was about to hit the shores of California, and he wanted to protect the status quo, the discriminatory status quo," Leno said.

Sitting several feet away from Leno was Knight's son, Republican Assemblyman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, who serves on the Assembly Judiciary and voted against SB 54. California should not recognize out-of-state gay marriages "just like there are gun laws in other states that we do not accept," Knight said.
Democrats hold a majority of both California legislative houses, so speculation surrounds Gov. Schwarzenegger and whether or not he'll sign the bill if it reaches his desk. He vetoed two bills legalizing marriage equality in the past but has taken a public stance against Prop 8.

John Kerry Issues Harsh Statement Against DOMA

John Kerry, who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996, recently issued a harsh statement against the policy in support of Massachusetts' lawsuit against it. He also questions the authority of Congress to have had passed it.
“In 1996, I voted against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act not just because I believed it was nothing more than a fundamentally political ploy to divide Americans, but because it is unconstitutional. Thirteen years later, I still defy you to find a single Senator who can credibly argue that it is within the Senate’s power to strip away the word or spirit of a constitutional clause by simple statute. DOMA should never have passed and should never have become the law of the land. Unconstitutional and fundamentally unfair, today the human cost is especially clear and compelling. Denying same sex couples the same rights and protections under the law as enjoyed by opposite sex couples has absolutely nothing to do with defending marriage. This lawsuit is a necessary step in ensuring everyone in Massachusetts can live their lives and raise their families secure in the knowledge that their commitment to each other doesn’t make them any less an American than their heterosexual families, friends and neighbors."

(Read his full statement.)

It's a shame he didn't defeat Bush in 2004.

Change.org points out that in 1996, Kerry was the only Senator up for re-election that voted against it. We need more courageous allies like Kerry.

Makes you wonder if he had won the presidency. But more pertinent, if he'll come out in support for full federal marriage equality, or for that matter, full federal equality for all LGBT.