Saturday, February 7, 2009

Petition Scottish Parliament for Marriage Equality

The fight for Equal Marriage in Scotland was brought back to my attention from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Network in the UK. They are asking to bring our enthusiasm for equal rights, expressed here at home, to their shores by signing the petition by March 6th that will urge the Scottish parliament to discuss same-sex relationships.

Here is their email:

"This petition is different from many others. With enough support, the Parliamentary Committee will hold hearings on it, invite responses from different groups, and will make concrete recommendations to the Scottish Government.

"Without any Members of the Scottish Parliament as yet willing to introduce a same sex marriage bill, this is currently the only way to get the issue onto the agenda in a country where many people, both gay and straight, believe that the fight equality is over since the introduction of separate but equal Civil Partnerships.

"With the UK Government opposing full marriage rights, your support to this petition is vital. The great thing about it is that anyone from anywhere in the world can put their name to it, and that will be counted as equal to any Scottish persons’ signature. If you can not only sign this, but activate the same strength of numbers that have fought for marriage equality across US, then gay rights opponents in Scotland don’t stand a chance.

"The previous Administration in Scotland, the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition of Jack McConnell, refused to even legislate for Civil Partnerships in 2004, having been so burned by the massive homophobic outcry over their successful repeal of Section 28, the old Thatcherite law that banned discussion of homosexuality in schools.


"Then Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson stated in 2004 that laws to give same-sex couples the same rights as married heterosexuals was not "an immediate priority for the overwhelming majority of Scotland's people".

"Equality is a priority for all. There is however a real danger that the current minority government of the Scottish National Party will treat this exactly the same way. Their 2007 election campaign was funded by the same man who bankrolled the homophobic campaign over Section 28, Stagecoach boss Brian Souter. Scotland has a strong Catholic church and is generally more socially conservative than England or Wales, yet the Scottish Parliament
has equality as one of its founding values.

"Scotland has been willing in the past to make a moral point in the face of opposition from the rest of the UK. It was the first to ban hunting of foxes, and the first to ban smoking in public places, with the rest of Britain following shortly afterward.

"It can be the same with marriage equality. If we can get enough backing to show that this is a real, live issue that ignites passion among Scots and those from across the plant, then those opposing this will be forced to defend the notion that separate but equal is equal.

"But we cannot do this without the support, advice and solidarity with all those others around the world who have been fighting long and hard for Marriage Equality. We have been truly inspired by the movement for Marriage Equality in America, it made us realise that we too have the right to be treated as equals by our government and with your help, we can."

Please sign the petition here by March 6th.


Thanks to the amazing Queers United blog, I've been made aware of a petition to get the Scottish government to recognize same-sex marriage. Read Queer's United post on what you can do to expand marriage equality beyond our borders.

Friday, February 6, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Hawaii House committee advances bill to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples

From the Honolulu Advertiser:

The state House Judiciary Committee approved a bill tonight that would legalize civil unions, sending the measure to the full House for a vote.

The vote was 12-0, with four lawmakers excused.

The bill would give same-sex couples who enter into civil unions the same rights under state law as heterosexual couples. Civil unions are not the same as marriage, however, since the partnerships are not recognized as marriage under federal law.

Lawmakers agreed to amend the bill to prevent partners who have entered into reciprocal beneficiaries under state law from joining in civil unions.

Read the rest of the article at the Honolulu

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Courage Campaign's "Fidelity: Don't Divorce Us" Video

It speaks for itself.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Two Judges Rule Against the Defense of Marriage Act

UPDATE: For detailed information on Judge Reinhardt's ruling and legal argument, go to The Volokh Conspiracy.

More reports: LA Times

The Los Angeles Daily Journal reports that Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled on behalf of a gay LA federal public defender, citing that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars gay federal employees' spouses benefits, is unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Reinhardt wrote:

"The denial of federal benefits to same-sex spouses cannot be justified simply by a distaste for or disapproval of same-sex marriage or a desire to deprive same-sex spouses benefits available to other spouses in order to discourage exercising a legal right afforded them by the state."

Another ruling by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, on behalf of claims by a 9th Circuit staff attorney, also shoots down DOMA and the problems it inflicts.

DOMA, having passed Congress back in 1996, left it to the states to define marriage while forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages. These judicial orders, in favor of the gay employees (Deputy Federal Public Defender Brad Levenson, who married Tony Sears last July 12, and 9th Circuit staff lawyer Karen Golinski, who is married Amy Cunninghis) directly dispute DOMA. If the gay employees' spouses do in fact receive the benefits, it will be the first federal recognition of a same-sex relationship.

Wyoming Advances on Anti-Gay Marriage Bill

On a vote 5 to 4, the Wyoming House Judiciary Committee passed an anti-gay marriage resolution to go to the House floor for debate. If two-thirds of the Wyoming House of Representatives approve the resolution, the state's constitution would be amended and marriage in the state would be defined as only between a man and a woman. The state would also not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries where it is legal.

The main sponsor of the bill is Senator Curt Meier, who believes the current Wyoming law stating the marriage is for opposite sex couples isn't strong enough.

The national conservative organization, Focus on the Family Action has already started a phone bank campaign lobbying for the resolution to pass. They have been targeting voters, asking them to contact their representatives in support of the bill.

So what can you do to fight LGBT discrimination in Matthew Shepherd's home state?

First, contact Sen. Curt Meier and voice your disapproval of his blatant discrimination, and let him know to keep it out of the state's laws.

Second, contact Rep. Joseph M. Barbuto, who staunchly opposes the bill and voice your strong support in his efforts to keep it from passing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Freedom to Marry Day: Nationwide Information

On National Freedom to Marry Day, Thursday, February 12, 2009, at local marriage counters in cities all over the country, same-sex couples will request marriage licenses at their local County Clerk’s Offices to raise awareness of the harms and impact the inability to marry causes on their families.

“Whether we are married, domestic partnered, civil unioned or legal strangers under our particular state law, all same-sex couples are denied the 1,138 federal rights of marriage,” says Join the Impact. “With the support of President Obama and with the growing sea change towards supporting protections for same-sex couples, we are hopeful that we can finally turn our attention to overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, and work together to uphold the American tradition of fairness and equality by ending marriage discrimination once and for all.”

“Since 2001, Marriage Equality USA chapters have engaged in these annual marriage counter actions to render visible the discrimination that is enforced every day. It is an affront to our basic dignity as fellow human beings when same-sex couples are turned away from the marriage counter, but it gives us the opportunity to tell our stories and show that we live in every community and want to honor and protect our families like everyone else,” said Geoff Scowcroft and Peter Wolf, Marriage Equality USA, Los Angeles County Chapter Leaders. “Marriage discrimination is wrong and harms real-life families. All Americans deserve equal treatment under the law. The time has come.”

“There are already 18,000 same-sex couples married in California. We want to honor those marriages and encourage the California Supreme Court to extend this opportunity to others who wish to marry, but will once again be turned away until Proposition 8 is repealed.” said Geoff Scowcroft. Straight allies, supportive clergy and married same-sex couples are invited to support the couples seeking licenses

However, due to the holiday and some offices being closed, other parts of the country will have their actions on different days. A complete list of days and times are listed in the document below:

Valentine Events 09

More Valentine's Day actions are being planned. See the Unite the Fight calendar at the bottom of the blog.

Mormon Church Reimbursed Members for Time Spent Working on Prop 8

In yet another eye-opening scandal surrounding the Latter Day Saints Church and Proposition 8, it has been revealed that the church actually reimbursed members for their time and effort spent working on the anti-gay initiative.

Some of them include Gary Lawrence of Lawrence Research ($528,877.35); Glen Greener, former Salt Lake City Police Commissioner ($50,236.42); and
Sonja Brown, communications director ($41,844.00) among others.

To see more, visit the CA Secretary of State.

Why is all this now just coming to light? Only now are some new reports on campaign expenditures coming in and being disclosed, as the law dictates. So stay tuned for the continued drama that the LDS Church keeps providing.

CA Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument on Prop 8 March 5

The California Supreme Court gave notice yesterday that it will hear oral arguments on Prop 8, Thursday, March 5, 2009 and must issue its decision within 90 days.

The court agreed to hear the legal challenges to Proposition 8 last November and due to the nature of the case, set up an expedited schedule. Briefing in the case was completed on January 21, 2009.

On January 15, 2009, 43 friend-of-the-court briefs, from bar associations, religious groups, and legal scholars, urging the Court to invalidate Prop 8, were filed, arguing that the proposition drastically alters the equal protection guarantee in California’s Constitution and that the rights of a minority cannot be eliminated by a simple majority vote.

In May 2008 the California supreme court held that laws that treat people differently based on their sexual orientation violate the equal-protection clause of the California constitution and that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right to marry as other Californians. Prop. 8 eliminated this fundamental right only for same-sex couples. No other initiative has ever successfully changed the California constitution to take away a right only from a targeted minority group.

California attorney general Jerry Brown is also asking the court to invalidate Prop. 8 on the grounds that certain fundamental rights, including the right to marry, are inalienable and cannot be put up for a vote.

Proposition 8 passed by a bare majority of 52 percent on November 4. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU filed this challenge on November 5. The California Supreme Court has also agreed to hear two other challenges filed on the same day: one filed by the City and County of San Francisco (joined by Santa Clara County and the City of Los Angeles, and subsequently by Los Angeles County and other local governments); and another filed by a private attorney. Serving as co-counsel on the case with NCLR, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU are the Law Office of David C. Codell, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. The case is Strauss et al. v. Horton et al. (#S168047).

For more information, go to the CA Supreme Court website and see the case docket.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why We Fight

Earlier, I had posted about the outrageous Christian Anti-Defamation Commission and their audacity to claim that they're victims of bashing because of their faith.

My friend Rob responded eloquently with a video that was also in the post.

A few days after posting the "bashing" video response, Rob received a Facebook email from a girl. Finding it motivating to keep the fight for equal rights going, Rob shared it on his blog Waking Up Now.

The message:

"I don’t even know if you are going to read this, but I thought it was worth a try.

"I watched your video on Christians and how they use bashing and how gay people truly know what it means, and I have to say I cried. This isn’t a sob story or anything…But I go to a Christian Private School in [location removed], and if you know of that area it’s a very conservative area.

"I’m 15 and I’m gay but at my school you are not allowed to be or you can be expelled because “that is not what God intended”. I accidentally came out to most of my class while we were in the midst of a heated discussion of why gay marriage was wrong, me being the only one who thought it was good. My words exactly were “Well I’m sure my girlfriend would agree with me.”

"I figured that somehow my parents would find out about it so I began to talk to my mom about what she thought about being gay, and that stuff. She told me she didn’t agree with it, and if I was gay she would not come to my wedding, and she would take me to a therapist. I responded by telling her that I wouldn’t need a therapist, but did not tell her because I was honestly afraid she would hate me or something.

"At school, I am constantly being called a faggot, faggot lover, etc, and at first i just ignored it because I thought of it as stupid immature highschool [sic] talk and I still had a few good friends who stuck around. I guess I found out who my real friends were. I have also received detentions for calling a guy who was calling me a faggot…during class…an asshole. When having conversations with teachers they tell me how homosexuality is something I may be suffering from or choosing, but I need help, and I need to ask for forgiveness or else I won’t be able to achieve heaven. I don’t understand how a Christian, who says that you should love everybody and care for them, is honestly going to decide who gets to go to heaven. Unless any of them talk to god on a regular basis I don’t think they can tell me that.

"Also, since when are they legally allowed to kick someone out of school based on their sexual orientation?

"I am just so sick of people’s ignorance and unwillingness to open their eyes and see that people have feelings and something like the gender somebody likes has nothing to do with who they are. We are all people, we all have feelings, and we all love.

"It’s rediculous [sic] how stupid it’s all becoming. I’m sorry for this long message, but it felt good to type out. I really want to start advocating gay rights, and talk to people who go through what I am now, the parents that don’t understand, losing a lot of friends because of it…but in the end I feel happier, because I’m not hiding myself anymore.

"Okay, I’m done…I swear.

Keep up the fight.

Monday, February 2, 2009

FedEX Refuses to Recognize Legal Same-Sex Marriages

Citing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), FedEX has refused to recognize legal same-sex relationships, including marriages, and will not offer their married gay employees the benefits offered to their straight, married co-workers.

One Massachusetts gay employee asked the shipping company for insurance coverage for their spouse, and in response, FedEX sent this letter:


To make matter worse, Fortune Magazine just listed FedEX as one of its "100 Best Companies to Work For 2009." and cites that the company does in fact offer domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples. The HRC is taking the matter to task.

Contact FedEX and voice your disapproval.

Contact the editor of Fortune at and ask them to print a retraction.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

American Family Assocation Boycotting, But Says We Can't

The American Family Association, whose name let's you know it's a US organization, is still obsessing over what they call the homosexual agenda and are now targeting their homophobia at the UK and Pespi's ad that's playing only there.

UK Pepsi Ad:

The AFA is now organizing a boycott against Pepsi (and many other gay friendly companies - more on that below). This is the same organization closely tied to Protect, who led the Yes on 8 Campaign and gave them over half a million dollars to fight gay marriage in California.

What's extremely hypocritical is that the Protect Marriage people recently sued the state of California because of its campaign donor full disclosure law which makes it mandatory that donors' information for any campaign be made public. The reason why they sued? Because they said they were being harassed for their "support of traditional marriage," and by harassed they mainly meant that their businesses were being "boycotted." (Thankfully the state disregarded their complaint and said the LGBT had a right to boycott and was protected under free speech.) To put it simply, the AFA thinks it's swell for them to boycott, but that it's completely wrong for us to do so, going as far as suing a state to stop us. Didn't Jesus say something about hypocrisy? Mark 7:6 - “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.’”

The LGBT community must, at all costs, protect our allies from such hypocrisy. PepsiCo has been a staunch ally for LGBT people, donating $500,000 to the Human Rights Campaign and another $500,000 to Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). After the AFA threatened to boycott them if they didn't stop supporting the LGBT, PepsiCo flatly told them, in other nicer words, to shut up.

To thank PepsiCo for its support, contact them at (914) 253-2000 or email. And be sure to keep buying their products.

Another company on the AFA's target list is Campbell's Soup. And why? Because the company issued a print ad for one of its soups portraying two mothers and their son. Even though they felt pressure of a boycott from the AFA, Campbell's refused to stop running the ad.


To show your support of Campbell's Soup, contact them through their website.

Unfortunately, there are companies buckling under the AFA's scrutiny and scorn. One in particular is McDonalds. After joining the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, they received scorn for "supporting the gay agenda" and, naturally, the AFA boycotted. As a result, McDonald's Vice President Richard Ellis resigned from the NGLCC, appeasing the right-wing organization and ending the boycott.

This decision is in direction contradiction to the company's core values. Here's an excerpt:

McDonald's Values

We are committed to our people
We provide opportunity, nurture talent, develop leaders and reward achievement. We believe that a team of well-trained individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences, working together in an environment that fosters respect and drives high levels of engagement, is essential to our continued success.

We give back to our communities
We take seriously the responsibilities that come with being a leader. We help our customers build better communities, support Ronald McDonald House Charities, and leverage our size, scope and resources to help make the world a better place.

We strive continually to improve
We are a learning organization that aims to anticipate and respond to changing customer, employee and system needs through constant evolution and innovation.

McDonald's Employment Experience

Support for fundamental human rights for all people is part of our global Standards of Business Conduct. We comply with all employment laws in every market where we operate, and we will not employ underage children or forced laborers. We respect the right of employees to associate or not to associate with any group, as permitted by, and in accordance with, applicable laws and regulations.

Respect - Create a diverse and inclusive culture where everyone feels valued and respected.

Contact McDonalds and show your disapproval of their joining in on the hypocrisy. And until they change, don't buy any of their products. FYI: McDonald's no longer owns Chipotle Mexican Grill, having sold its shares in 2006.

UPDATE: NPR Report: Groups Seek To Shield Gay-Marriage Ban Donations

UPDATE: A federal judge denied the plaintiff's request to keep the donors' names of the anti-gay initiative, Prop 8, confidential. The state also noted that most of the activity the plaintiffs called harassment was actually protected free speech, such as threats of boycotts. See full report.

NPR has done a report on the Protect Marriage, Yes on 8 campaign and allies' push to change the California law that demands donor information be fully and publicly disclosed. Citing harassment as their main reason, they're asking a federal judge in Sacramento to rule.

Go here to read and hear the report.

Here is the court filing:

Prop 8