Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"You're Likable Enough, Gay People"

Frank Rich, an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, recently wrote a piece titled "You're Likable Enough, Gay People" about Obama and, not only his choice for Rick Warren to do the invocation at his inauguration, but his hubris which could bring more trouble ahead.

"Obama may not only overestimate his ability to bridge some of our fundamental differences but also underestimate how persistent some of those differences are," Rich writes. "The exhilaration of his decisive election victory and the deserved applause that has greeted his mostly glitch-free transition can’t entirely mask the tensions underneath. Before there is profound social change, there is always high anxiety."

And in regards to Warren, Rich states, "Bestowing this honor on Warren was a conscious — and glib — decision by Obama to spend political capital. It was made with the certitude that a leader with a mandate can do no wrong."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hello Readers

I am traveling today and will be returning home from the holidays. I've been delayed from posting the last couple days but will be at it strong again starting tomorrow. Sorry for the delays and hope you all had a great holiday season.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Get the First Openly Gay Chief of Military Appointed

Equal Rep.com has made a CALL TO ACTION to the community to help get William White appointed Navy Secretary and to become the first openly gay chief appointed to a military branch.

As quoted from their site: "In more than 200 years, the United States military has never included an openly gay chief. Growing national focus on GLBT civil rights has therefore made the Secretary of the Navy appointment a national issue in the struggle for equal representation. Also, it highlights the antiquated policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which needs to repealed."

Go to their site to see his qualifications.

What can you do?

Starting: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 7:00am
Ending: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 8:00pm

STEP 1. Call Obama: 202-540-3000 (press "2")
STEP 2. Email Obama
STEP 3. Email the GLBT liaison: parag.mehta@ptt.gov
STEP 4. Repeat on Jan. 1st and 2nd

For more info, go to their Facebook Event Page.

Courge Campaign Calls for You to Put a Face to the Fight

The Courage Campaign is CALLING FOR AN ACTION. In an email I received, they've asked the following:

Is your marriage . . . threatened by Ken Starr's action? Do you know anyone who may have their marriage nullified? Or would you just like to express your support for those couples who may be forcibly divorced?

If so, please take a picture with a plain 8.5" by 11" piece of paper that sends a special message, like "Please don't divorce us," "Please don't divorce my mothers," "Please don't divorce my friends, Name and Name," or "Please don't divorce Californians." Print it out, or write it clearly in big, block letters. Then send your pictures to us at:


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

The fight for our equal rights never takes a holiday. However, many of us who are fighting need to stop and reflect and remember what we do have and be grateful.

Many bad things happened this year for the LGBTQ community, but many good things have happened as well. Remembering these is part of that fight, to motivate us to cross the finish line.And though I may not post as much these next couple days, I'll still be working. Lots of things are happening, and I will do my best to keep up as I visit family. I'll will return fully afterward, starting December 26th. Until then . . .


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunday's Rick Warren Protest

Organized by Gays United Network, a protest was held in front of Rick Warren's church this past Sunday, December 21st.

Founder of the Gay UN, Nakhone Keodara, gave the following account:

"We had about 20 people show up for the. . . peaceful protest. The only people who were abusive were the church attendees that gave us the finger on the way in or out of the services.

"One lady came out to meet us on the sidewalk and spoke with one of the attendees and based on what I was told they had a civil conversation. . . He mentioned that she even got teary-eyed during the course of their conversation.


"One thing that stuck out in my mind was this older gentlemen driving by us twice and giving us the finger and telling us God doesn't love us. That too seems to be a common theme among the believers. He proceeded to yell at us saying that we should respect other people's beliefs.

"This protest was in response to the Obama transition team's announcement that Rev. Rick Warren has been invited to deliver the invocation at President-elect Obama's inauguration. As disappointing and painful as the news was, we wanted to send a message to Rick Warren to debate with Rev. Eric Lee. . . and to tell our president that we expected more from our President who happens to be a Constitutional lawyer, and we hoped for more from our president who's a visionary and we, too, also believed in the beauty of his dream, that change has also come to Gay America."

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Drop Rick Warren" Campaign

Thanks to our friends over at Queers United, I've been informed of a call to action to drop Rick Warren. For more information on what you can do, view the Queers United post and go to it!

Light Up the Night Coverage

As I keep finding more coverage for Light Up the Night, I'll update this post. If you have videos or local news coverage, please feel free to send it to me and I'll post it.

UPDATE: Be sure to click on "SEE more" at the bottom of the post to see more coverage!



SEE More...






Sunday, December 21, 2008

Atrocities US Allows by Not Signing the UN Resolution

I was forwarded an article about Saudia Arabia and its treatment of homosexuals being some of the worst in the world. I was going to do a post about this article to follow up my UN Community Call to Action when I found this post on Be One City, "We Are Being Beheaded and Beaten." It sums up the article and its context very well.

It's a long read, but I feel necessary to fully understand how horrible homosexuals are being treated far from our borders. This distance doesn't excuse our government from turning a blind eye, however. If we're suppose to be leaders in human rights, how can we not easily add our signature to the UN's resolution to put an end to this?

It boggles my mind.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Attorney General Jerry Brown on CNN

The Attorney General, whose job is to protect state laws, has declared that the Supreme Court should void Prop 8. (Read Article)

He will appear on CNN to defend his position Sunday, December 21st, 4pm ET/1pm PST.

In the meantime:

Sen. Barbara Boxer on Prop 8 and Rick Warren

The Advocate.com posted an exclusive letter from Sen. Barbara Boxer that addresses both Prop 8 and Rick Warren.

Saying that her "views on marriage equality have evolved over time," she now believes "in order for full equality to exist for all of our people, you cannot have different standards when it comes to making the lifelong commitment to honor and love."

Calling the controversy over Prop 8 and its campaign "understandable," she goes on to say "[it] was not fought on the basis of the court case. It was sadly focused on false issues surrounding education in the schools, which had nothing to do with Proposition 8."

As for Rick Warren: "It is also unfortunate and perplexing that religious leaders such as Pastor Warren. . . chose to make extremely hurtful statements in support of Proposition 8. The struggle over marriage equality doesn't involve the church -- it involves civil law. The religious community can make its own determination about which marriages to perform."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren's Response to the Controversy

UPDATE: My Two Cents on Rick Warren

UPDATE: As I stated below in my opinion piece, I felt strongly that we as a community ask Rick Warren to attend a forum to respectfully debate our differing opinions. Thankfully, the Courage Campaign has done just that, and they're asking the community to sign on the invitation to send to Rick Warren. Amazingly, Rev. Eric Lee, President of the Southern Christian Leadership (founded by MLK), is a supporter of gay marriage as well as the organization. So add your signatures to the invitation by going here. Be sure to pass this on!


Since Obama announced that Rick Warren would be doing the invocation at his inauguration, I've been flooded with phone calls and emails about how we should react. In some cases, I was flat out asked what I think we should do as a community. There just isn't an easy answer to these questions.

After mulling it over, I decided to try and figure out what it is we're reacting to - Rick Warren's stance on Prop 8, or how he's used the pulpit and the Bible as a weapon? Many of us know people who voted Yes on Prop 8, and we've had lively yet respectful discussions with them. I don't think anyone of us would take anyone's right away to vote in a free, democratic country, or to express what they believe. Yet when it comes to Rick Warren, I believe we're reacting to his offensive words and how he uses the Bible and his religion against us. It's not about his opposition to same-sex marriage, it's about his blatant disrespect of us.


So how do we respond? Protest his church? Bite back? Lose faith in the change that Obama has promised? I believe signing the petition that Equality California is sending to Obama, showing the President-Elect the numbers that disagree with his choice, is effective to a point. I believe contacting Obama's teams and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and voicing our opinions is effective to a point. So what do I think is most effective? In the spirit of Harvey Milk, reach out to Rick Warren's church, ask them to send representatives to an open forum where we can all respectfully discuss the issues that we disagree on. Or volunteer in the church's good-will efforts and outreaches to their community. Join them in their services. Involve ourselves with them.

BUT THE MESSAGE TO THEM NEEDS TO BE CLEAR. We're not confronting them on their stance about same-sex marriage or LGBT rights. We're confronting them on their use of religion as a weapon to further bigotry and discrimination. Two can respectfully disagree. But in this case, one forgot the respect.

Actions speak louder than words, and I whole-heartedly support direction action. But that's just one tool of many to create the bridge we must cross in order to legalize same-sex marriage. Without engaging our opponents directly, respectfully, and peacefully, and showing them our faces and those they directly affect, we're going to remain a faceless, angry mob, and that will only motivate them more to squash us.

Build bridges. Rise above. Show your face. ACT. And do it all with the respect that we don't always receive. Otherwise, will we be no better than they?

Should We Be Angrier at Obama or Warren?

UPDATE: Though I'm still mulling the editorial over, I want to add that Obama's pick for the benediction (not the invocation) is Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., of the Southern Christian Leadership, and has been outspoken in his support for gay marriage. This should not be overlooked while we decide how we feel and then react about Obama and his choice over Warren. Read USA Today.
If you're angrier at the latter, you're not alone. Read this editorial from Time.com titled, "The Problem for Gays with Rick Warren - and Obama".

One of the more scathing quotes:

"Obama has proven himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the non-pedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships."

I'm still mulling this over. What are your thoughts?

Also, check out the poll on Time.com's home page. It asks, "Is Rick Warren a good choice to give the invocation at Obama's inauguration?" Right now, only 51% say no.

Two Protests Being Planned at Rick Warren's Church

To avoid confusion, I wanted to post that two protests (that I'm aware of) are being planned at Rick Warren's church. Both can be found on the calendar at the bottom of the blog.

The first is being organized by Gays United Network for this Sunday, December 21st. Check out the event details on Facebook here.

The second, organized by All Or Not At All will be held January 18th, and you can find details on Facebook.

If you know more in regards to events surrounding the Rick Warren controversy, please contact me at info@unitethefight.org and I will be happy to add it to the calendar.

Statewide Canvassing to Repeal Prop 8

On March 15, 2009, Gays United Network is "hosting a statewide canvassing day where we go out into outlying communities--especially those that voted for Prop 8--to collect signatures for a Petition drive on behalf of the Courage Campaign to restore the integrity to our Constitution and dignity to our Community by putting our own Constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2010."

They call for us to show our faces and have direct contact with those who have opposed us, to educate them on who we are, and to dispel any falsehoods that they may have against us. This is true grassroots. Door to door, person by person outreach. Changing the individuals mind to impact overall change.

To find out more, visit Gays United Network Facebook Event. Time to take some action.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

CNN's Inauguration Dust Up over Rick Warren

UPDATE: More information.

Rick Warren's endorsement of Prop 8:

I think many of us agree that the issue here is not that Rick Warren is against same-sex marriage, but his using the pulpit, the Bible and his religion as weapons. So want to do something about it?

Gays UN is calling for a call-in protest. They give specific instructions on how to contact the Obama team through the phone or through email, or the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. See their event instructions here on Facebook.

You can also join a peaceful protest outside of Rick Warren's church on January 18th, hosted by All Or Not At All. See details on Facebook here or on the events calendar on the bottom of this blog.

Sign EQCA's petition to President-elect Obama. Ask him to immediately rescind this despicable invitation: www.eqca.org/actioncenter

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Put Your Money (per se) Where Your Mouth Is

UPDATE: This survey is closing on Friday, December 19th, at midnight, PST. It's your last chance to get your voice heard!

Have you griped (like me) about how the No on 8 campaign was run? Do you feel like no one is listening to what you have to say? Feel like the community has been ignored?

Well, it's time to be heard. Take a moment to fill out this survey from Marriage Equality USA, a grassroots organization that's been fighting for marriage rights since 1998. It's asking YOU, a member of the LGBT community or the straight community, for your input on the No on 8 campaign. But not just that. They want to know what you think we should do next.

It's a bit long but essential. Stop griping and do it.

Poll: Connecticut Voters Support Same-Sex Marriage

Source: Advocate.com

A new poll shows that a majority of registered voters in Connecticut support same-sex marriage, which the state's supreme court legalized in October. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 52% of voters support the ruling, 39% oppose it, and 9% are undecided, Newsday reports.

A stronger majority -- 61% -- oppose banning same-sex marriage via a state constitutional amendment, the paper reports. Marriage-equality foes had hoped voters would approve a constitutional convention so state legislators could discuss the matter, but the proposal failed at the ballot box on Election Day.

The poll surveyed 1,445 registered voters between December 11-15 and includes a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.

Newsweek's Religious Debate

Last week, Newsweek printed an amazing pro same-sex article titled "Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy" which stirred up a lot of reactions, for and against.

In response to the large amounts of reaction, Newsweek decided it was only right to have two biblical scholars debate the topic, showing both sides of the argument. Bill Wylie-Kellerman, a United Methodist serving as pastor at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Detroit and for same-sex marriage, and Dr. Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, against same-sex marriage, engage each other in an email debate.

You can read their exchange on Newsweek, "The Good Book and Gay Marriage".

It doesn't stop there - the comments from readers on-line spark a lively debate among them, including yours truly. It's important to voice our opinions, to let them know that we are many. For those who don't participate in the Christian religion, we will never truly agree to base our government's rule on the Bible and not the Constitution, so for us, this debate is rather moot (sort of). For those who are Christian homosexuals, please speak up even more. We need you. It's time to build bridges.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Atlanta, GA Protest

This past weekend, a "moving protest" was staged in Atlanta, GA, organized by activist Jeff Schade, who sent me this account of events:

"Basically our protest was a 'moving protest' and we had people crossing the street when the light changed (which prevented some people from turning making our protest a bit of a traffic disruption and forced people to see our signs etc). We had a steady stream of honks from traffic and people were generally supportive (thought there were several drivers who flicked us off or one who got irate and started swearing (he appeared to be but his wife rolled up the window) -- two of the protesters responded by blowing him kisses and wishing him a Merry Christmas.

All in all it was very peaceful, the cops were very supportive and though we did a great job organizing and keeping people peaceful and there were no major incidents. We hope to have future events in this vein in the near future."

Here's local coverage of the protest:

Artists Joining the Fight

More and more, artists and writers from all walks of artistic philosophy and perspectives, are joining forces against such injustices as Prop 8. Using their collective power for good, they have begun to fight back, donating their services to grassroots groups that, in the true spirit of grassroots, have no money.

One such artists' group, the Uncompany was recently highlighted in the Advocate. Though their scope goes beyond LGBT issues, they plan on completely tackling the repeal of Prop 8 in February.

Another group, focused on kicking out Prop 8, has popped up on Facebook, called Art Against H8, and every artist who posts in the group consents that anyone can use their artwork for non-commercial purposes. More of their artwork can be found on their Flickr site.

So are you going to a rally? Marching down a street and need a sign? Doing a grassroots ad or viral campaign? Need art? Look no further. You've got creative power at your fingertips.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Got Milk?

The Real Gay Agenda

Activist couple, Lynne and Gail, have put together a list of items they feel make up the Gay Agenda.

Equality on Campus Day

Students for Equality, who hosted the student walk-out earlier this month, is now organizing a peaceful protest and fundraiser for students to wear the same pro-LGBT t-shirt the same day, to show their support for same-sex marriage.

Posted is their press-release with details. This is a great opportunity for artists and creative thinkers alike since they're holding a competition for the t-shirt design. Here are the essential dates:
  • 12/05/08 - Start working on your t-shirt designs!
  • 12/21/08 - Deadline for submitting your design. Send them to eross@studentsforequality.com
  • 12/22/08 - Visit Students for Equality and start voting on your favorite design.
  • 12/31/08 - Deadline for voting.
  • 1/1/09 - Start ordering your t-shirts!
  • 1/1/09 - 1/26/09 - Help out by becoming part of the street team. Promote the event on your blogs, through Facebook, MySpace, passing out fliers, etc.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Light Up the Night in One Week

Light Up the Night For Equality is in one week and more events are in development. Check the calendar below for details.

In Los Angeles, after the vigil, our friends at the Antebellum Gallery are extending the Prop 8 - inspired artwork exhibit, "Who Do You Love, Who Do You H8?" for all, lasting from 8pm-10pm. See the calendar for further details on where.

If you know of more activities in your area, please contact us and we'll be more than happy to add it to the events calendar.

Friday, December 12, 2008

According to Pat Boone, We're "Sexual Jihadists"!

Pat Boone, crooner, TV star and evangelical is, believe it or not, still around. And though I normally wouldn't want to make that fact any more prominent in our collective cultural consciousness, the man has grabbed my attention with a pretty ignorant albeit innocuous editorial. See his insipid remarks here.

Boone's attempt to anger us and stir a response is sadly apparent. So why do I bother even posting this, you ask? Because it made me laugh, and as a recent study found, happiness amongst friends is contagious. I want to further the epidemic.

11 Facts About Rights

This was sent to me in an email:

In November, California voters approved Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage, thereby overturning the state Supreme Court decision that gave gay couples the right to wed just months ago.

Why are civil unions not enough for gay rights activists? The federal government accords 1,138 benefits and responsibilities based on marital status, not on civil union status. A few of those benefits are unpaid leave to care for an ill spouse, social security survivor benefits and spousal benefits, and the right not to testify against one's spouse, among others.

The District of Columbia and 47 states have anti-hate crime laws, however only 24 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation in their legislation.

According to FBI hate crime statistics, there were 7,163 reported hate crimes in 2005. 14.2% of which were based on sexual orientation. Most were violent in nature.


Last year, both houses of Congress passed a historic hate crimes bill known as the Matthew Shepard Act, which would have outlawed hate crimes based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. But the legislation never made it to President Bush's desk because of his veto threat.

While 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, and many cities offer similar protections, federal law didn't offer such a shield until November of 2007, though it did bar discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, sex, age, disability and pregnancy. The bill, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, was the latest version of legislation that Democrats have pursued since 1974. To ensure passage of the bill, Democrats were forced to remove language that would have granted protections to transsexual and transgender individuals by barring discrimination based on sexual identity, a move that infuriated some gay-rights groups.

In the U.S., 75% of students have no state laws to protect them from harassment and discrimination in school based on their sexual orientation. In public high schools, 97% of students report regularly hearing homophobic remarks from their peers.

Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youth, between 20% and 40% identify as LGBT. In one study, 26% of gay teens who came out to their parents/guardians were told they must leave home; LGBT youth also leave home due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Also, LGBT youth report they are threatened, belittled and abused at shelters by staff as well as other residents.

While gay couples are seen on TV shows more often than in the past (eg. Luke and Noah, the young gay couple on "As The World Turns"), affection between the two is restricted to holding hands, playing with one another's neck scarves and sharing meaningful looks. This wouldn't be odd if heterosexual couples were not shown kissing on a regular basis.

Despite the shortage of blood at banks across the country, gay donors are being turned away. Men who have had sexual contact with a man, even once, since 1977 are automatically disqualified. The agency has had its policy on men who have sexual contact with men since 1983, when the risk of AIDS through transfusion was recognized. The FDA reaffirmed the policy in May of 2007, despite improvements in testing and increased susceptibility of heterosexuals to HIV. All donated blood is tested for HIV, but the virus can go undetected until the immune system has produced a testable amount of antibodies. That window period, according to the FDA, would pose a "small but definite increased risk to people who receive blood transfusion if the policy were changed."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Threat of Being Unorganized

Newsweek continues to cover the resurgence of the gay rights movement, calling it "Gay Rights 2.0". I regularly find more LGBT coverage at Newsweek than any other on-line news source, and recently I found this article, "Gay Rights 2.0", examining the new activist generation, and whether or not they're prepared to take over the leadership role from the older generation.

I read this article and took it as a warning that if we do not organize ourselves soon, in particular Southern California, the hot bed of this new movement, we're going to lose momentum and lose any grounds that we have gained. Or, even worse, have less than when we began.

As I already reported earlier this week, two town hall meetings were held in Los Angeles this past weekend. Though very effective and well done, the attendance could've been better. And as I have already discussed with the coordinators, more now needs to be done about what's next, keeping the community motivated with action and less talk. We're running out of time.

Plans are already in the works for early January ACTION meetings and coalition building (stay tuned - the cogs are indeed churning). We need the community to remain involved and motivated, including leaders and founders of all the different groups to put time aside to come together and form a coalition. As already stated, there are plans to reach out to you and inform you of these meetings, so stay tuned and participate.

This is a grassroots movement, and without a community, there is no grassroots. During hard economic times, holidays and political setbacks, it's hard to keep going, to make the sacrifices needed, to find the strength and energy to keep up the fight. Yet, these are historical times, and it's our chance to make a world of difference, not only for us, but for future generations. We need new leadership, we need this fresh blood to keep flowing. Are you prepared to join the fight?

A Good Reminder of Our Activist History

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thank you, Jon Stewart!

Today is DAY without a GAY

To find out what's happening in your area, visit Day Without A Gay website or check out the calendar below.

For Los Angeles, check out Equal Roots events for details.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Iowa Court Hears Same-Sex Marriage Case Today

UPDATE: This morning Lambda Legal sent out this message, inviting everyone to a teleconference regarding the Iowa Supreme Court hearing their cases for same-sex marriage.

BREAKING NEWS: This morning, Lambda Legal argued our historic marriage case, Varnum v. Brien,
before the Iowa Supreme Court. "We hope that the Court breathes life into the Iowa Constitution's promise of equality," said Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff Attorney and chief architect of the lawsuit.

The case was argued this morning on behalf of Lambda Legal's six plaintiff couples and their children by co-counsel Dennis Johnson, former Iowa Solicitor General and partner at the firm Dorsey and Whitney.

Lambda Legal would like to invite you to a telephone briefing this Thursday, December 11, at 2:00 pm EST (1:00 pm CST, 11:00 am PST) to learn more about this landmark case. We are making history again, and we would like for you to share in this historic moment on the road to marriage equality.

In August of 2007, a district court ruled that denying marriage to same–sex couples violates the Iowa Constitution. But the court granted a stay of the decision pending appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. In March of 2008, we filed our brief with the Iowa Supreme Court, which was joined by 15 friend–of–the–court briefs supporting same-sex couples seeking the right to marry and the right of their children to have their families treated fairly.

Ingrid Olson and her partner Reva Evans are plaintiffs in the case with their son Jamison. Today Ingrid said: "My grandparents were married 68 years and Reva's grandparents were married 57 years. My family values the importance of marriage and commitment, and I learned that lesson very early — it's a lesson I want to pass on to our son."

Please join us for our one-hour briefing Thursday, December 11 at 2:00 pm EST (1:00 pm CST). Our Senior Staff Attorney and architect of the marriage case, Camilla Taylor, and Dennis Johnson, former Iowa Solicitor General and partner at the firm Dorsey and Whitney, will provide an overview of this latest case for marriage equality in Iowa.

Here are the call-in instructions:

Step 1: Call 888-640-7748

Step 2: Enter code 958621#

Questions can be emailed before and during the call to libertycircle@lambdalegal.org.

(We will not be able to respond to all questions during the call, but we will try to respond later in writing to any questions that we do not have time to address.)

With your support, we are making history. Please consider making a year–end donation and join us this Thursday, December 11, to hear how your support is making a difference!


The Iowa Supreme Court will hear a same-sex marriage lawsuit brought against the state today by six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses because they were gay. This case "could echo throughout the nation" says USA Today.

If the judges rule in favor of the plaintiffs, Iowa law would make it much more difficult to overturn through a ballot initiative than in California, making Iowa the first mid-western state to allow same-sex marriage.

See local station KCCI article and video on today's session. Also, visit local LGBT Iowa advocacy group, One Iowa for more information and how you can get involved and offer support.

A Letter from Sen. Barbara Boxer

In response to Mr. Freidman's imploring of Sen. Barbara Boxer to support same-sex marriage, the US. Senator sent this encouraging letter.

Dump DOMA!

Want to tell the federal congress how you feel about the Defense of Marriage Act? Well, you can! Go to DumpDoma.org and tell Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that it's time to get rid of it!

A New TV Ad Campaign

As many of has have already said (or yelled), we were pretty upset with the No on 8 tv ads that ran prior to the election. The ads showed no LGBT people, nor our kids, which would have showed Californians that in fact, we're not much different than they. The Yes on 8 campaign was about protecting the family - well, what about our families?

We're finally going to address this, and it will be made possible through the Get to Know Us First ad campaign that will start airing in January.

This is our chance to show our faces, our kids, our families. The campaign needs your stories, your help in spreading the word, and donations. Go to their site and contribute in any or all of these capacities. It's time to show the world who we are.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The El Coyote Showdown - My Blog Report

UPDATE: Marjorie Christofferson, of the El Coyote, has tendered her resignation, and as of Saturday evening, was no longer employed as manager of the restaurant nor on its board of directors. She turned her resignation into her mother, Grace Salisbury, whose sister-in-law founded El Coyote in 1931.

Today's open brunch at the El Coyote (see post), hosted by Marjorie Christofferson, co-owner of the famous restaurant and popular hang out of the gay community, was intended for Marjorie to have a civil, open discussion with the gay community. She wanted to explain how she ended up donating to the Yes on 8 campaign, but many of the restaurant's gay regulars who attended and make up a majority of the establishment's patrons, vocally expressed their betrayal.


To put Marjorie's appearance in context, the meeting opened with one of the managers pleading with the group to realize that the restaurant is a separate entity than Marjorie, that is does NOT support Prop 8 and that it's more than 89 employees, several who are gay, have families that depend on their patronage. He mentioned that he has received three days of nasty phone calls, at work and at home, and he wanted to reiterate that Marjorie's personal decision did not reflect the restaurant's nor his.

The group immediately voiced its objection. One shouted, "She took our money and used it against us." And though they recognized the 89 employees and their families, "What about the 18,000 gay families disrupted by Prop 8?"

Bill Schoeppner, General Manager, informed that the restaurant itself intended to donate to both LAMDA and the Gay & Lesbian Social Center, and though this received applause, it was quickly pointed out that this wouldn't undo the harm of what Marjorie's personal donation had caused.

I don't believe this miasma was what they were hoping to bring Marjorie into, but they couldn't delay much longer. Marjorie, normally healthy and smiling, was overwhelmed with nerves. The past few days seems to have been torture, for she appeared frail and near hyperventilation, requiring the assistance of her two daughters to enter the room. After drinking some water, she apologized for needing to read from a prepared speech.

Marjorie began saying how "emotionally taken with all this," she has been, "sick at heart if I offended anyone in the gay community." Her voice shaking, she continued to say that the gay community was a "treasure to me and has been throughout my whole life." However, she went on to say that not everyone agrees with each others viewpoints, especially her own, even within her own restaurant.

Marjorie continued to defend the employees of her restaurant, begging the community to not take its anger out on them, for their livelihood depended on their patronage. It was she who donated, not them. "I've been a part of the Mormon church all my life. I responded to their request. It was a personal donation."

She went on to say that her aunt, Blanch March, founded the El Coyote to "create a caring atmosphere" for its patrons. Early on, before it was even well-known, she was aware of the "challenge and plight of gay individuals and always responded with love and empathy." El Coyote was to be a "healing place."

At this point, I noticed one of the employees, sharply dressed in a button down and tie, began to cry. His name is Alberto and has been waiting tables at El Coyote for over twenty years. As a gay employee, he feels a lot of confliction. "I feel bad. I'm with the gay community. But I'm a homeowner and I don't want to lose my job." When I asked about Marjorie, he told how she donated $2,000 for the AIDSWalk and went on to say, "I think she made a mistake, but she has apologized."

Yet the group never heard an apology from Marjorie before being walked out by her daughters, hardly fielding any questions. They said all they heard was an explanation. And it appears that wasn't enough.

Rocio, a waitress, tried to appease the group with tears in her eyes, saying when she started working at El Coyotoe years ago, it was "where I first saw so may gay people. They were nice." She believes she was led there by God, because just a few months later, her brother came out to her and working at the restaurant made all the difference in her response to his coming out.

Though the attendees expressed a lot of empathy towards the employees, they felt what Marjorie had done couldn't be changed. Or ignored.

Regan DuCasse stood up and spoke to the group. "As the only black person in the room, I feel betrayed." She said, just as Marjorie had always come up to them at their tables while they ate, smiling and asking how they were, many white people had smiled and treated her well only later to stab her in the back. She feels what Marjorie has done is just another betrayal. This last sentiment applied to what the whole group felt at that moment.

"Marjorie was in and out," Regan continued, referring to Marjorie's quick departure after her speech. "Her actions were cowardly. She didn't want to face the serious damage" she helped create.

So will there be a boycott? Though a consensus wasn't officially reached, one of the vociferous attendees was already out in front of the restaurant, holding up a sign and chanting the sins of Marjorie Christofferson, and in effect, El Coyote, for all on Beverly Blvd. to hear. And with the KTLA cameras recording it all nearby, it looks like all of Los Angeles is going to hear, too.

What are your thoughts? Should there be a boycott? Let's discuss.

Two Town Halls Held in LA This Past Weekend

Two town halls were held in West Hollywood, CA this past weekend, hosted by Equal Roots and Marriage Equality California consecutively.

The first, held at Plummer Park, featured speakers Robin Tyler, a pioneer in the gay civil rights, grassroots movement and is currently Executive Director of The Equality Campaign; Richard Zalvidar, President and Founder of The Wall Las Memorias Project; and Marshall Wong of API Equality.

Robin was one-half of one of the same-sex couples to sue the State of California for the right to marry, which brought about the May victory in the state. She spoke about her history in the gay rights movement, starting out when she was 16 in Canada holding up signs on streets corners that said, "Gay is good" to Manhattan, where she was beaten and accidentally arrested for being a "female impersonator." Along the way, she worked with Harvey Milk, helped organize several historical marches on Washington, and took on Anita Bryant. She called for the LGBT to flood the streets in March when the Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8 is given - either to say thank you for the repeal, or to protest Prop 8 being upheld. She spoke about handing off the torch to the younger generation, saying, "The Milk Generation and the new generation are now in sync. Welcome to the streets."


Marshall Wong, a native of Silver Lake, CA, a subdivision of Los Angeles, spoke about how his father wanted to buy a plot of land there in the 50s, and was told the realtor company's policy forbid the selling to non-whites. His father fought back and won, and the family moved in despite the locals filing a petition for them to leave. Marshall asked his father why he would still want to live there, and he responded, "Overtime, as they get to know us, they will see past their fears."

Marshall related this story to the LGBT community, saying now is a critical time where marching in West Hollywood won't change anything, but one-on-one contact and conversations will. Forming API to educate the Asian community, he said history was on our side, and that the LGBT community needs to focus on building bridges, even with those who do not appear to be our allies. He ended saying, "Victory will be ours."

Richard Zalvidar spoke next, focusing his message on mobilizing the LGBT community to build coalitions with other minority and straight groups. He said, "It's a give and take." The No on 8 campaign failed to reach out to the African American and Latino communities, and as a result, they've been branded homophobic, when in fact, they are not - they were just not asked to help. He said that we will never have enough votes unless we build a coalition, and to build coalitions, we must support others. He called on LGBT leaders to march with immigrant rights groups, to support other minority initiatives, so that when we need their support, they will be there for us. He called on the community to talk, to reach out and go beyond LGBT neighborhoods.

After the speakers finished, the attendees of the town hall split up into different committees of choice, including media, outreach, and leadership. (To find out how you can be involved, visit Equal Roots website.)

The Marriage Equality town hall, held the next day at West Hollywood Auditorium, was conducted in classic town hall fashion, with many from the community given a chance to speak up from the beginning. The meeting was split into two sessions: the first half was a venting session about what went wrong with Prop 8, the second half focused on actions and the future.

Many vented in the first half, one in particular saying, "Fancy ads aren't going to convince anyone [to change their minds]. It's going to be one-on-one. They need to see us," a reference to the No on 8 campaign ads that featured no gay people.

A Log Cabin Republican faced an irate audience when he stood up before them saying that gay Republicans are essential to victory, saying that in spite of the fact that they may not vote for the candidate of choice in the gay community, many still voted No, and that future campaigns shouldn't lean so far to the left.

A quick rebuttal was given that the No on 8 campaign was too conservative, tailoring itself to make conservatives happy by not fighting back, not getting in the face of our opponents, and keeping gays out of sight.

In the second half of the session, the focus was on the future and actions that should be taken. Many spoke about the groups they were forming, actions, and how to counteract what our opponents are working on now. Issues such as No Mob Veto ad, gay adoption, boycotts, sit-ins, LGBT community indifference or complacency, volunteering and manpower, and strategy were raised.

After the meeting ended, the energy did not die. And though a Christmas play was to be performed at the auditorium after the town hall, it was difficult to get the attendees to leave, many staying behind to network, discuss issues and even broke out into smaller meetings, going to coffeeshops or standing in circles, exchanging info, forming groups and planning actual actions. Many felt this was the birth of real strategy and action, and not just marching and rallying.

A panel of grassroots leaders were in attendance, including Robin Tyler again, Terry Leftgoff, Richard D. Jacobs of the Courage Campaign, Tori Osbourne, and Dr. Sylvia Rhue of the National Black Justice Coalition.

For information on more town halls, please see the calendar at the bottom of this blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Religious, Anti-Gay Full Page Ad in NY Times and MY Response

A religious coalition called NoMobVeto.org has placed a full page ad in the NY Times condemning "the violence and intimidation being directed against the LDS or "Mormon" church, and other religious organizations - and even against individual believers - simply because they supported Proposition 8 . . ." calling it "an outrage that must stop."

They go on to say that, in regards to the LGBT demonstrations that "far too many, however, seem never to have been demonstrations in the first place, but more nearly mobs, seeking not to persuade but to intimidate." Even better: "Those who fail to condemn or seem to condone that intimidation are at fault as well."

BUT MY FAVORITE LINE OF ALL: "Let's be clear: even the crudest anti-religious propaganda isn't illegal, and may not constitutionally be outlawed. But IT'S NEVERTHELESS WRONG. IT HAS NO PLACE IN CIVILIZED SOCIETY."

OK, after reading this and being ENRAGED, I have calmed down SLIGHTLY and realized, wow, they have made this way too easy.

So now I have a message to YOU, the religious coalition that posted this ad:

First off - your name. No mob veto? We're a mob? We're a minority! We don't have enough to be a mob! Sure, there are a lot of us, and we do get attention, but our numbers don't even come close to yours. Actually, the constitution protects minorities, that would be us, from MOB RULE, which you are now a part of! You have acted as a mob to strip us, who don't have as much power as you, of our rights. And you try to make it sound as if YOU'RE the victims?!! You heartlessly and ruthlessly imposed your religious beliefs on us, and then turn around and act as if you're innocent victims?

Second, you decry some of the demonstrations, which I will remind you, are legal (just as your right to believe what you want to believe). Sorry if it's not up to par in your perception of civility, but if your right to worship was stripped away, would you just sit by quietly to maintain the civility of society? I already know you wouldn't. The history of religious wars tells me so. You refer to "thugs" who sent "white powder to terrorize a place of worship." You're right. They were thugs. So were the people who vandalized property. But out of THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS who protested, all you have to point to are a very few incidents. Miniscule number of people compared to the thousands that pointed out YOUR bigotry. So then you turn around and say that the whole movement is violent and out of hand? (And don't get me started on the Vatican's stand not to endorse the UN measure to decriminalize homosexuality, basically supporting the execution of gays just for being gay) Not only is that illogical, it's a lie, and doesn't that break one of the ten commandments that many respectful people hold dear, including you?

Third, you have the audacity to say that speaking out against religion is "wrong. It has no place in civilized society." Suddenly, you have the right to dictate what is right and wrong and what is civilized? Newsflash! This isn't a theocracy! You speak against religious wars as "wrong" and "dangerous". How very hypocritical. I guess religious wars are OK as long as you're the winning majority, right? What you're doing is forcing your beliefs on someone's personal life by stripping away the rights their government has already promised them, the government that has said they are a protected minority, based on your religious beliefs. You broke the law by going around the legislature, lied to the public in order to further your campaign of religion against a weaker group that doesn't agree with you. That sounds like a war to me.

I believe Jesus said, "Turn the other cheek." And though I wouldn't want you to step away from this situation so you can face what you did, your mission of "exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry-against any faith, on any side of any cause, for any reason" is the exact behavior for which you're condemning the LGBT community.

You have the audacity to act above the fray that you caused and to feign victimization. We, the LGBT community, have experience victimization for thousands of years. We know victimization when we see it. And you, the actual bigots in this case, are not victims.

An Amazing Newsweek Article on the Bible and Marriage

I was working on an essay about what the Bible actually says in regards to homosexuality and its remarks on marriage. Having gone to a fundamental Christian college, where I had to study the exegesis and hermeneutics of the scripture, I thought I could dig through my old notes, reread an amazing book on the Bible and homosexuality, cobble something together that would inevitably get torn apart due to my admitted lack of knowledge, and come up with the essay.

This Newsweek Article, titled "Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy" just saved me a lot of work and criticism. I'll let it speak for itself.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

For the artists and art lovers, an art exhibit

For more information, check out the calendar at the bottom of the blog.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Keith Olbermann's Thoughts on Gay Marriage - A Follow Up Interview

Today, the Advocate.com posted this interview with Keith Olbermann regarding his commentary below and his motivation behind it. More great thoughts from this great man. Check it out.

Black Women's Vote

In an effort of continual education on those who voted for Prop 8, I've decided to post an interesting NY Times Op-Ed piece written by columnist Charles M. Blow, which discusses some theories on why black women, who were twice as likely as black men, voted for Prop 8.

An intriguing read that can inform our efforts to repeal Prop 8. Also a graphics editor, Charles M. Blow posted this graph below which is a great visual of statistics. It gets lost amongst the busy layout of the website, so I wanted to be sure to post it here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

An Ex-Mormon Missionary's Story

I have been contacted by Mormons who are ashamed of their church's involvement with the passing of Prop 8 and the direct negative impact that they have had on thousands of lives. Many have become actively involved to repeal Prop 8, volunteering their time to fight as our allies, some even resigning from the church and are now facing ostracism from their families and friends. Some have even started a website, Mormons for Marriage. Check it out and give your support.

We need to remind ourselves that not all Mormons are the enemy and that building these bridges with Mormon allies is essential to our success. We also need to take advantage of the resources within our own LGBTQ community because a substantial amount of our numbers were Mormons at one point.

An account of an ex-Mormon missionary gives a great insight to the Mormon church, its history on homophobia and its present situation of being under the microscope due to their involvement with Prop 8. It's a fascinating read and you can find it on PR Watch.org.

After reading this, what are your thoughts? How can we use this information to our advantage, shaping our strategies with it in mind?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Equality California Urges Us to Write our Representatives


Urge Your Representatives to Support the Invalidation of Prop 8.

The proponents of Prop 8 usurped the role of the Legislature by putting the right for same-sex couples to marry directly on the ballot.

Two Equality California-sponsored resolutions introduced today will make it official state policy, when they are approved by the Legislature, that Prop 8 should be overturned. Write your legislators now to urge them to support the invalidation of Prop 8 and vote for Leno's Senate Resolution 7 and Ammiano's Assembly Resolution (number to be assigned).

Prop 8 eliminates the fundamental right to marry and allows a slim majority to take away the equal protections of a minority, which violates one of the founding principles of our Constitution. The resolutions state the measure should have been approved by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature before going to voters. Urge your representatives to support these resolutions.

On December 19, proponents of Prop 8 will file their briefs with the California Supreme Court.

EQCA will do its part to make sure we have broad support for these resolutions. But we need you to do yours.

So, ask everyone you know to write their representative by going here by December 19.

Ask your friends and family join you. California lawmakers need to hear from you—their constituents—that our state should be a state of hope, prosperity and equality for all.

A Star-Studded Must See on Prop 8!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

A Positive Poll in Favor of the LGBT Community

An article posted today on Advocate.com included a poll commissioned by GLAAD and conducted by Pulse of Equality suggesting that many Americans favor laws protecting gay and lesbians.

The results:

•Three-quarters of U.S. adults (75%) favor either marriage or domestic partnerships/civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Only about two in 10 (22%) say gay and lesbian couples should have no legal recognition. (Gay and lesbian couples are able to marry in two states, and comprehensive civil union or domestic partnership laws exist in only five others and the District of Columbia.)

•U.S. adults are now about evenly divided on whether they support allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry (47% favor to 49% oppose).

•Almost two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults favor allowing openly gay military personnel to serve in the armed forces. (The current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law bans military service by openly gay personnel.)

•About six in 10 (63%) U.S. adults favor expanding hate crime laws to cover gay and transgender people. (Hate crimes laws cover gay and transgender people in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and an additional – 20 states' laws cover sexual orientation but not gender identity.)


•A slight majority of U.S. adults (51%) favor protecting gay and transgender people under existing laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. (Existing non-discrimination laws cover gay and transgender people in only 12 states and the District of Columbia, and eight other states' laws cover sexual orientation but not gender identity.)

•Nearly seven out of 10 U.S. adults (69%) oppose laws that would ban qualified gay and lesbian couples from adopting children. (In several states, gay and lesbian couples are banned from adopting.)

Yesterday's post pronounced my fears of adoption rights be stripped away. This poll does help calm those fears, and it is very encouraging, but it doesn't change the fact that we still have work to do to protect those rights amongst others. Yet, if we continue this work and look back on civil rights history, we can conclude it's only a matter of time that our fight for equal rights will be history too.

To read the rest of the Advocate.com article, go here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New York's Fight for Same-Sex Marriage

The New York Times printed a report that the New York state congress may delay a vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage until 2011. Why? The reasons are not anything new to our ears - it basically boils down to politics.

The pro-gay governor is newly in office, and many feel that if they delay the vote to 2011, the by-then second term governor will be cleared of political threats and be more active in signing a bill if passed by congress.

Also, the current Democratic congress holds only a slight majority, and they hope if they wait, they can gain more seats for a more assured victory.

The cons of waiting are pissing off us, the same-sex supporters, who donated lots of money to the Democratic campaigns based on their promise of getting this bill to the floor. But also, more striking, if they do bring the bill to the floor and fail, it could set back the movement decades.

Naturally, my inclination is to go for it. After the setback here in California, I'm thirsty for a victory and some encouragement. Yet, if they do go forward, they face obstacles, one of the big ones being three conservative Democrats who will go against a majority leader who supports same-sex marriage. Our allies are going to need our help and support.

Queers United blog has a Call To Action for today, to contact these three Democrats and urge them to vote with the New York Democratic Party. Check out the blog for more information.

World AIDS Day

STOP AIDS. Keep the Promise - Lead - Empower - Deliver

This blog is focused on the same-sex marriage fight and equal LGBTQ rights, and I believe the fight against AIDS is a part of that. In the 80s and 90s, due to many reasons, one of the big ones being the ugly head of discrimination, anti-HIV drugs were all but inaccessible to those who needed them, many of those in need coming from the LGBTQ community.

Many amazing people fought against this discrimination, taking the issue to the forefront of the nation's mind, not letting them forget that each day, people were dying and in need of medication. Luckily, today we benefit from their fight, with access to much needed medical attention.

Unfortunately today, not all get treated, and much still needs to be done. We need to take this day and remember this ongoing fight. Take a moment to learn our community's history, our present situation and what can be done NOW.

World AIDS Campaign

CNN Article, "Much Accomplished, Much to Do"

Even on a holiday . . .

. . . we're not on a holiday. While away on a small holiday get away to San Diego, I came across this SUV. It was just a reminder to me that many hold strongly to their beliefs just as strongly as I hold onto mine. No matter how irate I get over their willingness to take away my rights in the name of their beliefs, I have to accept that some won't ever change their minds. It's difficult to accept, and though it made my enjoyment of Shamu a little more difficult, I was also grateful for this Thanksgiving reminder - I needed a boost in motivation to keep up this fight.