Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Maine Gay Marriage Law Good For Children"

As earlier reported by Unite the Fight, the New England state of Maine is currently considering a same-sex marriage bill that looks promising. But as always, mounting opposition looms.

Both sides of the debate is heating up, but an amazing amount of support has recently arrived from groups representing social workers, psychologists and children's interests who have spoken out in favor of the same-sex marriage bill.

Reports from all over the place have been coming in due to this turn of events, but luckily, a contributor to Pam's House Blend has presented them here in one easy place.

It's a long read, but definitely worth the time.

Though Unite the Fight focuses on same-sex marriage, the right for gays to adopt is another big issue that's reported here. Many speculate this is the next big battle since having children in many cases is an extension of marriage. Numerous states have bills in consideration to ban gay adoption, most of them already having amendments banning same-sex marriage. Consider Arkansas. They already succeeded in banning unmarried individuals from adoption, a cover for the true intent - to keep gays from adopting.

It wasn't enough that they took away the right for gays to marry - now they're going after the children. So much for their hypocritical stance on being "pro-family."

I mention this because in Maine, it's very encouraging to hear when Dr. David Lilly of the Maine Psychological Association says the development, adjustment and well-being of children does not differ markedly whether their parents are gay or straight.

Even more:

Dr. Daniel Summers, an Augusta pediatrician who spoke on behalf of the Maine Chapter of the American Pediatric Association, which has 200 members, said he sees all kinds of families in his practice.

"No two are exactly alike," he said. "The adults in the family are united by a common desire to do the best they can for their children."

Catherine Stakeman, executive director of the Maine chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said that passing Damon's bill "will benefit children and will provide them with the same protections currently available to other families."

Of course people of the same profession have other opinions, but it's very curious to know that these people are sponsored by the before-mentioned "pro-family" organizations.

Marriage is the battlefield right now. But what are we really fighting for? Family. Whether or not we decide to have children, being married is creating a family. It can be two individuals. And in the right circumstances, that family can grow with children.

We must be prepared. We may win the marriage battle, but then we must win the war for our children.

Marriage Equality USA Issues March Newsletter

MEUSA Newsletter March 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

ACTION: Vigils Planned in Support of Vermont's Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Vermont is on fire!

With their governor's veto threat of a state same-sex marriage bill that's already been passed by the senate and making headway through the House, the LGBT community and allies intend to hold rallies and vigils over the weekend.

Organizing the vigils, Vermont Freedom to Marry's website states, "It is absolutely critical that we have a strong showing of support at every one [of the vigils]."

Go here for a full list of all the events and information.

There's even more you can do. The organization has also constructed a list of action points. Check it out! (It's located in the left sidebar)

Today's rally at the statehouse was a success with over 300 people showing up. Here's video of the rally and press conference:

On top of all this event and action planning, Vermont Freedom to Marry has also released a new ad, urging citizens to contact the governor and tell him not to veto the bill.

Utah LGBT Community Counters Mormon Conference with Good Will

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be hosting a general conference in Utah, but instead of throwing a protest, the local LGBT community, through the All for One Initiative, plans to lead by example with the General Service Weekend.

"General Service Weekend is not to detract from the LDS general conference; it is to reaffirm Christian acts of kindness in the community," organizer Jacob Whipple told the Desert News.

Occurring on April 4 and 5, the community plans on delivering much needed furniture to refugee families, cleaning parks and putting together medical packets for humanitarian causes. All members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Go to the Facebook event page if you want to attend and stay in the loop. If you want to help, All For One Initiative is in need of trucks and gardening tools. Contact organizer Jacob Whipple at

NCLR Director Says, "We're Going to Lose" Prop 8 Decision

Veteran civil rights attorney and executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Kate Kendall, told the Dallas Voice what she thinks the outcome of the CA Supreme Court's decision will be on Proposition 8. “We’re going to lose,” she said. Her organization is deeply involved with the case.

“I think it was very clear from the oral arguments that the court intends to uphold Prop 8,” Kendell added. “I’ve never seen a court so unequivocally telegraph their thinking.”

She thinks there's a 98 percent chance for the California Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8 but to affirm the 18,000 same-sex marriage performed before the initiative passed, which she thinks “requires no courage” from the court.

“On this issue, with this court, they seem almost to intentionally communicate how they’re planning to rule,” Kendell said. “The only way they can get an opinion out in 90 days is if there’s already a draft opinion.”

Kendell believes the only way Proposition 8 can be overturned is at the ballot box. She said it would be extremely unwise to pursue a federal appeal given the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, because a decision from the high court saying there’s no federal constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry likely couldn’t be overturned for 20-30 years. (See Rep. Barney Frank's opinion of the court)

The only question that remains, according to Kendell, is whether Prop 8 opponents should place a proposed repeal of the measure on the ballot in 2010 or in 2012. She said a vote next year would mean collecting 700,000 signatures this summer and raising another $40 million in a bad economy on the heels of last year’s campaign.

“My suspicion is that 2010 is too ambitious, and we certainly don’t want to be back on the ballot and lose,” she said.

Delaware Rules that LGBT People Have Rights

One bill to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage via amendment failed. Another prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations and insurance passed. All in one day in the Blue Hen State.

More than 1,000 demonstrators wearing white T-shirts with the slogan "One Man, One Woman -- That's Marriage" rallied on the steps of Legislative Hall as, inside, both chambers engaged in lengthy debates colored by accusations of discrimination past and present. They even went as far as circling the whole statehouse building so as not to be ignored.

The first bill, SB 27, sought to make an existing law that marriage was between one man and one woman stronger by amending the state's constitution, thus making it harder to overturn.

"I believe that the constitution ... should be not a place where rights are restricted but where there is a positive affirmation of the rights of all of the people of Delaware," Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, said.

The anti-gay legislation was sponsored by Sen. Robert Venables, D-Laurel, who said he wanted to make the already-illegal practice part of the state Constitution to prevent courts from being able to overturn the law.

Venables said other states have seen their legal bans overturned when courts ruled the laws were a violation of civil rights.

Far from gaining the three-fifths majority necessary for an amendment to progress, the bill was voted down 11-9.

The second pro-gay bill, HB 5, passed with a 26-14 vote which was expected since similar legislation has passed the House three times before, but died each time in the Senate without a vote.

"This is equal-rights legislation, not special-rights legislation," said the bill's chief sponsor, House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach. "This legislation is based on the very foundation on which our country stands -- that we treat all of our citizens with dignity and respect, and that includes respecting the human rights of all people."

For a blow by blow count of the hearings, read the
Delaware Online account.

Arkansas Ban on Domestic Partnership Registries Fails

As earlier reported on Unite the Fight, Rep. Barney King of Arkansas proposed a ban on domestic partnerships in an effort to keep same-sex couples' relationships from being recognized in any form in a state that already made same-sex marriage and civil unions illegal.

Good news. The bill failed this morning in a house committee on a voice vote.

Looks like extreme homophobia lost again. Too bad.

VIDEO: Prop 8: The Web Series - Episode 2 - Military

You can view Episode 1 here on Unite the Fight.

Episode 1 caused quite a stir, both with marriage equality advocates loving it and controversy stalking it. Even the entertainment news rag Variety jumped into the fray.

Without further ado, Episode 2:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is Same-Sex Marriage Headed to DC?

According to the Washington Blade, that could be a possibility thanks to D.C. Council member David Catania.

Local, gay-supportive religious leaders say an email has been circulating that David Catania is testing the waters for support if he were to introduce a same-sex marriage bill.

The circulating e-mail, sent March 19 by Rabbi Robert Saks of D.C.’s gay synagogue Bet Mishpachah, says, “Rev. John Wimberly and I met yesterday with Councilman David Catania. He is preparing to introduce legislation around April 7 which would legalize same-sex marriages in D.C.

“I am turning to you to recruit your assistance, and to ask for your guidance with the names of other ministers in the Christian community who might support this effort," Saks says in the e-mail. Saks wasn't available to the Blade for comment.

According to Catania's spokesperson, the council members has made any definitive decisions about the bill yet.

North Carolina's Day of Action a Success

North Carolina's Day of Action of lobbying legislators at the state capitol to not pass an anti-gay amendment was a success.

Hosted by Equality North Carolina, more than 250 people showed up from all over the state, more than doubling prior lobbying days.

The amazing Pam Spaulding over at Pam's House Blend gave an in-depth, first-hand account of talking to both legislators against the anti-gay amendment and those for it. Especially moving is Pam's report on talking to a fellow, female African American representative who wasn't going to vote against the amendment.

Full of pictures and videos, check out the report at Pam's House Blend.

News video coverage.

New Hampshire House Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

From WMUR:

CONCORD, N.H. -- A proposal to allow same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has passed after it initially failed by one vote in the House on Thursday.

The House originally defeated the measure 183-182. But because the House didn't kill it entirely, lawmakers were able to take another vote.

After the first vote, seven lawmakers changed their minds under a motion to reconsider, and the bill passed 186-179.

The bill now goes on to the Senate.

New Hampshire currently allows civil unions but not full marriage for same-sex couples. Arguments on the bill ranged from religious to economic issues.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only states that allow same-sex marriage.

Vermont's Governor Explains Stance on Same-Sex Marriage Bill

As earlier reported on UTF, Vermont's Gov. Jim Douglas announced he would veto any bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in his state.

Yesterday he held a press conference, and this is what he said:



And don't forget, Vermont Freedom to Marry is also calling for action. There will be a protest at the state house this Friday at 8:45am EST. Check it out!

EVENT: Ask Pres. Obama Questions on Open Forum

UPDATE: Starting this morning, 8:30 PST. Basically, now.

Set up an account at to submit a question to the president now. On Thursday morning, there will be a live streaming on of the president answering questions.

The first segment will be dedicated to the economy, but afterward, he will address other questions. Flood the forum with LGBT rights questions. Ask the president what he plans to do about DOMA and the rulings that its unconstitutional, on Don't Ask Don't Tell or on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The White House is calling this an experiment. Let's make is a success.

New Hampshire House to Vote on Same-Sex Bill Today

As UTF earlier reported, the New Hampshire same-sex bill deadlocked in a state House subcommittee and as a result is moving to the floor for a vote. TODAY.

Both sides of the issue have reasons for not supporting the bill: proponents say it's not the right time, and opponents say it's morally wrong. Naturally.

Stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

URGENT ACTION ALERT: Stop the Civil Unions Bill in Hawaii from Dying

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the bill died in the committee with a vote 18-6 to keep it from the floor for a vote, and as a result, is dead for the senate session.


Lack of support from a key senator makes it unlikely that a civil unions bill will be revived in the Hawaii legislature today, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.

State Senator Brian Taniguchi, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee, said he likely would not recall the bill from the committee, where it stalled in a 3-3 vote in February.

Although Taniguchi, a Democrat, earlier said he would recall the bill from his committee, recent appeals from the senate leadership reportedly have contributed to his about-face. He also expressed concern about the inability to garner the two-thirds votes needed in both chambers of the legislature to override a veto threat from Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican.

Contact Sen. Brian Taniguchi and tell them to support pulling the bill out of his committee!

Phone: 808-586-6460

EVENT: Remembering Martin Luther King March

On April 4th, a march in Los Angeles will be held on the 41st anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination. Hosted, among others, by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, the organization founded by MLK, its focus will be on quality jobs, quality education and safe neighborhoods.

Contrary to popular belief, many in the African American community support the LGBT community and its fight for their civil rights. We need to show equal support for the African American community. A good showing from the LGBT community at this march will be a great step in continuing our alliances.

Here to Stay, an African American LGBTQ coalition, is organizing a marching contingent. You can reach them to get involved at or at their website

For full information, review the flyer below and pass it on!

Flyer for April 4th SCLC March

UPDATE: ACTION: Urge Vermont Governor NOT to Veto Same-Sex Marriage Bill

UPDATE: Vermont Freedom to Marry is also calling for action. There will be a protest at the state house this Friday at 8:45am EST. Check it out!


Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vermont, says he will veto the same-sex marriage bill if it passes the legislature. He made the public announcement this afternoon.

The Vt. Senate gave its final stamp of approval Tuesday to a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Vermont. Passage came on a voice vote with no debate, one day after the Senate gave the bill preliminary approval on a 26-4 roll call vote. Now the issue moves to the House, where the Judiciary Committee has scheduled a week's worth of testimony on the issue. It is expected to pass.

Governor Douglas has said that he opposes the bill, and this afternoon he announced he plans to veto it. He said he made the announcement to stop speculation and to focus attention on economy.

From the Burlington Press, the Governor is quoted:

"I believe our civil union law serves Vermont well ...I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. ... I'm announcing that I intend to veto this legislation when it reaches my desk."

"The speculation about my decision has added to the anxiety of the moment, and further diverts attention from our most pressing issues, and I cannot allow that to happen. On such an intensely divisive issue as this, I expect all members will vote as their individual conscience dictates and in the best interest of their districts, and not as political leadership requires. That said, I'm sure that legislative leaders would not have advanced this bill if they didn't have the votes to override a veto. I will accept the outcome of their vote, either way.

"In the meantime, I'll turn my attention and energy away from this issue and back to the issue that matters most to Vermonters: Growing our economy and creating more jobs. I respect the passion and opinions of individuals on both sides of this debate, and hope that when the Legislature makes its decision, whatever the outcome may be, we can move our state forward and provide a bright future for our children and our grandchildren," he said.

It is unclear if the 100 votes to override his veto are available.

ACTION: Contact the Governor and tell him NOT to veto the bill. With most of the state congress supporting the bill, to veto it will be acting irresponsibly and abusing his power to advance his view that's held only by the minority.

Phone: 802 828-3333
Email the Governor

"Christianism" vs. "Christianist"

Part of Unite the Fight's mission statement is to learn about the opposition to LGBT equal rights and why they move against us. Though it's the easy route to throw all Christians under the bus and accuse them of being bigots and opponents to our cause, that is far from the case. Many Christians do in fact practice what they preach and truly do love their neighbor as themselves. Including the LGBT community.

And then there are those who wave "God Hates Fags" signs.

It is essential that we learn the difference because if we are to win this battle, we need our allies. We can't afford to group people into one lump category, just as they can't do that to us.

Equal Marriage Now, a blog aimed at providing comprehensive information on the fight for marriage equality, recently posted on identifying the differences:

While there’s some debate who coined the terms originally, it’s pretty clearly Andrew Sullivan who’s brought them into the modern conversation about religion and politics.

His basic definition splits Christianity into the Christian faith as spiritual experience versus a Christian-identified political imperative:

"the critical distinction between a Christianist and a mere Christian. One wants to infuse politics with religion; the other wants to respect both, separately, and to keep religion private. I should add I do not want to banish the word “God” from the public square. But I do want that invocation to be as thin and as empty and as formal as the Founders intended." (1)

That wasn’t the first time he used the term, however. He originally defined the idea in an essay for Time Magazine, in which he described its meaning in greater detail:


"So let me suggest that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist. Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith. Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism. The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist. Muslims are those who follow Islam. Islamists are those who want to wield Islam as a political force and conflate state and mosque. Not all Islamists are violent. Only a tiny few are terrorists. And I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all. I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike." (2)

A subsequent blog post adds a layer of nuance. It’s not just the difference between leaving one’s religious belief out of politics or not, it’s about the fundamental way that belief interacts with the uncertainties and diversities of the world:

"The thing about fundamentalism, though, is its totality. There is something in the fundamentalist psyche that not only demands complete submission to a certain “truth”; but subsequently a frenzied effort to remove and obliterate all threats to that truth - because it has become so psychologically important for your own spiritual survival. Doubt, in this view, is not a goad to faith, but a terrible threat to it - so doubt must be eradicated. That inevitably leads to the empowerment of government for the pursuit of Christianist ends, and to the loss of empirical prudence in governance."


(1) Sullivan, Andrew. “The right and religion.” The Daily Dish. 14 December 2007. (retrieved 19 December 2009).

(2) Sullivan, Andrew. “My problem with Christianism.” Time. 7 May 2006.,9171,1191826,00.html (retrieved 19 February 2009).

(3) Sullivan, Andrew. “Christianism, Debated.” The Daily Dish. (retrieved 19 February 2009).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

UPDATE: ACTION ALERT: Hawaii Civil Unions Bill May Be Revivied

UPDATE: Sen. Gary Hooser plans to pull the civil unions bill out of committee tomorrow and onto senate floor for a vote, March 25th.

And support for the bill continues to grow with clery members voicing their support by lobbying their legislators.
Last heard from Hawaii, the civil unions bill, House Bill 444, was deadlocked in a subcommittee. Yet numbers released Saturday show that 81% of Hawaii agree with civil unions.

Sen. Gary Hooser, the bill's sponsor, highly encouraged by these numbers, is now working to push the bill to the floor for a vote and get it passed the deadlocked committee.

“As the person who was the sponsor of the Senate Bill, and as the majority leader ... most would believe that I would be the appropriate person to make the motion,” said Hooser, a Democrat representing Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, in a phone interview with The “If there’s a majority consensus, I would make a motion in my capacity as majority leader. If there’s no consensus, then I’ll make the motion as an individual senator.”

Having passed the House in February and sensing that 18 of 25 senators will vote for the measure, Sen. Hooser needs to get a motion passed in the committee by one-third of its members to pull the bill to the floor for a vote.

“The preferable way to conduct business is if you have the votes to pass something, then you’d initiate a pull. But it’s not the only way. Sometimes you don’t know if you’d have the votes until the pull is initiated,” he said. “I would prefer, and my hopes are, that the bill is pulled with support from the majority. (But) as an individual senator, I have an obligation, and the right thing to do is to allow the full Senate to vote on it.”

He has until next month to successfully pull the bill, otherwise the bill could stall until next month.

ACTION: Do your part and contact the Senate Judiciary Committee to pull the bill and get it to the floor for a vote. Their constituency supports it. So should they.

Senator Robert Bunda [OPPOSED]

Senator Sam Slom [OPPOSED]

Senator Mike Gabbard [OPPOSED]

Senator Brian Taniguchi [SUPPORTS]

Senator Clarence K. Nishihara [SUPPORTS]

Dwight Takamine [SUPPORTS]

"The Ripping, Nagging, Feeling That I Am Inferior"

A 17-year old testifies for same-sex marriage in Vermont this past Friday.

Let's Not Forget Our Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance
To the Flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic
For which it stands
One nation
Under God
With liberty and justice
For all

When was the last time you really thought about the words that you had to speak everyday at the beginning of class throughout your childhood? At that time, after awhile, you spoke it by rote while barely placing your hand over your heart, not really paying attention to what you were saying, giggling with your friend at the next desk over about some joke on the playground. So over time, it lost all meaning.

But suddenly, your rights are stripped away, and you think, "How the hell did this happen?" And then you remember. "Didn't I pledge something, about a Republic?" And suddenly, that droning recital you gave every morning at school has a whole lot of meaning.

I pledge allegiance

Those of us fighting for our equal rights have been accused of being non-American, of trying to thwart the very foundation of our country. Yet, if I remember right, my history teacher told me that the very reason our country exists was because the colonists who worked their hands to the bone to establish this country (or worked their slaves' hands to the bone), believed they didn't have a voice in how they were governed. "Taxation without representation," became their motto. And if I'm not confused, am I not paying taxes NOW for numerous benefits I'm being denied? Where's my representation? So fighting for my rights, my equal rights, to those benefits, is in the exact nature of how our country even began! I'm standing by my allegiance!

To the Flag
Of the United States of America

. . . 48, 49, 50. Yep, there's still fifty stars on that flag. Meaning, all states make up the Union. Oh, wait, there's thirteen stripes, representing the original thirteen colonies that fought for their voices to be heard. So if I'm interpreting the flag correctly, those fifty stars stand in solidarity with the intent of the colonies to have equal representation.

So why is it that each state can decide for itself whether or not to allow some people marry? Why is that I can get married in Connecticut, but then drive to North Carolina and suddenly not be married? That doesn't sound like a Union to me.

And speaking of the Union as a whole - the federal government doesn't recognize some marriages while it does others? Even going as far as to discriminate against its employees? Doesn't that go against the very essence of equal representation that its creation was based upon?

And to the Republic
For which it stands. . .

A republic. A republic? What's that?

A Republic is representative government ruled by law (the Constitution). Then what's a democracy? A democracy is direct government ruled by the majority (mob rule). A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good). Of course, if everyone remembered this, or agreed with said definitions, maybe I would still have my rights. Hopefully, President Obama will remember.

One Nation
Under God


"Under God" was an addition first introduced by the Knights of Columbus. Need I say more? Their version of God is not quite mine. I do believe in a higher power, but I don't believe that the higher power is condemning me to hell for loving another person, whether or not they are of the same sex as I.


One nation. I pledged that. I'm not trying to tear us apart. I'm trying to regain my rights and fight for the rights that my fellow citizens already enjoy. If anything, that's unifying our nation. But I believe if someone is actively trying to take someone's rights away, they're trying to divide. So in effect, are they not breaking their pledge?

With liberty

I don't have the liberty to marry whom I want. I did. At least in California. But that was taken away. But a bare majority. (Re-read what a Republic is)

. . . and justice for all.

Ah. Justice. I'm still waiting to see if the California Supreme Court will issue justice here. During the Proposition 8 arguments, they kept referring to the will of the people, almost as if they had the final say. But in a republic, "people" is singular. Each individual has a say. Each. And their say is protected. In a democracy, "people" is plural, and the majority rule.

I believe I am a "people." I believe my LGBT community is a "people." And my will, along with theirs, is to have the same rights as my fellow citizens.

Having those rights is justice. FOR ALL.

Citizens for Constitutional Government, "Republic vs. Democracy"
Wikipedia, "Addition of the words 'Under God'"

Meghan McCain Believes in Gay Marriage

Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain, the Republican's nominee for last fall's presidential race, is proving to be more the maverick than her father ever was, or more than her father ever hoped to be.

Last night, the "progressive Republican" appeared on CNN's Larry King Live and proclaimed her support for gay marriage.

As I've mentioned before, and as Meghan states here, real change lies in the hands of the new generation that is now standing up and speaking out. Not that the current generation can't bring about change, but true change in the minds of the populace will occur when the young generation matures and becomes the majority. That doesn't mean we sit back and wait. The tide is turning. Let's go surf.

EVENT REMINDER: Stop a "Prop 8" from Happening in North Carolina

North Carolina is the last southern state to not have an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, but if the right-wing has any say in the matter, that will change very soon.

You can help Equality North Carolina by contacting the state's legislature and filling out ENC's form and telling them that you do NOT support such an amendment.

Another action you can perform is to attend ENC rally at the state's capitol on Tuesday, March 24th to lobby for equality. If you know anyone who lives in the state, tell them about it! Details can be found here.

Pictures of Youth March for Equality in Los Angeles, March 22 2009

Thanks to Todd of and Dahlia Ferlito of Equal Action and Socal GSA for the pictures!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Portia de Rossi Apologizes for Marrying Ellen DeGeneres

Vermont Senate Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill 26-4

The first state in the union to issue civil unions to same-sex couples is now a step closer to issuing same-sex marriage licenses, possibly joining Connecticut and Massachusetts as the only states legalizing same-sex marriage.

Impassioned pleas came from supportive senators, including Sen. John Campbell, who went to last week's public hearing, where opposition claimed that straight marriage was like a cruise ship full of heterosexual couples, and that homosexuals followed the vessel in their tiny dinghies but wanted to get on the straight marriage ship, not carrying whether or not they sank it. The underlining theme of this metaphor, said a senator, was the appalling inequality, and what was most offensive was that the opposition felt this was acceptable, and on top of that, proclaimed it.

An alternate bill was presented to the floor stating that the issue should go to the people in a referendum instead of being decided by the legislature, urged by the belief that the legislature was moving too quickly on the issue. Opposing views claimed that it could be very expensive and referred to the millions and millions spent in California on Proposition 8, and that more pressing issues, such as the economy, needed the state's full resources instead of it being distracted by the marriage debate. This was countered that if same-sex marriage was approved by the people of Vermont, then the institution would have more sound standing and acceptance than if only approved by the legislature. This bill was voted down.

The approved bill must move the House for a floor vote, and though it's expected to be a tight race, the house speaker believes it will be approved. It also must clear the obstacle of Republican Gov. James Douglas' desk where a veto threat is real. It is not clear whether or not a enough votes exist in the state legislature to overturn a veto.

If the bill does in fact clear all obstacles, same-sex marriage will begin in the state of Vermont, September 1, 2009.

2010 Initiative to Repeal Prop 8 Begins


"A group seeking to repeal Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California, is expected to begin collecting signatures this week to have the measure overturned.

The Secretary of State on Friday gave the group Yes on Equality until Aug. 17 to collect the nearly 700,000 signatures needed to qualify its initiative for the 2010 ballot.

It is one of two ballot measures to repeal Prop 8. Earlier this month, two college students were given the OK to start collecting signatures for a proposed ballot measure to strike the word “marriage” from all state laws.

The measure would repeal the ban, and define domestic partnerships as unions between all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.

The important fact to note is that Yes! on Equality does not have the signatures yet, therefore are not an official initiative campaign. They have just been released by the attorney general to collect signatures. Go to Yes on Equality to see how you can volunteer.

See full press release

Sen. Schumer Reverses Stance on Gay Marriage

According to Elizabeth Benjamin's Daily Politics blog on the Daily News, New York Senator Chuck Schumer reversed his position on gay marriage at a dinner at the Gramercy Tavern last night with gay leaders and elected officials and has called for the repeal of DOMA.

The senator's office confirmed the reverse with an official statement:

"It’s time. Equality is something that has always been a hallmark of America and no group should be deprived of it. New York, which has always been at the forefront on issues of equality, is appropriately poised to take a lead on this issue."

Schumer had earlier refused to budge from only supporting civil unions, but the NY Senator has now "evolved" to support full gay marriage. Many point to the November election for the delay on the senator's evolution due to the fact that politics kept him from "coming out" sooner.

This added support from Sen. Schumer, who is Vice Chair of the U.S. Senate's Democratic Conference and the highest ranking member of the Senate to endorse marriage equality, pushes the issue of same-sex marriage even further to the forefront of the national Congress' mind, despite all the economic turmoil and criticisms that now is not the time to deal with the prickly issue.

Civil rights should never take the backseat. This nation can take on more than one issue at a time. And thanks to Sen. Schumer, we're a little closer to equality.

A clip of Sen. Schumer's speech at last month's HRC dinner. He speaks on ENDA, DADT but doesn't mention marriage.

URGENT ACTION NEEDED! Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill

UPDATE: Vermont Senate to hold special session today to vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Live feed of vote can be seen here!

The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee Approves S.115 5-0!

URGENT ACTION: Calls Needed!

A unanimous Senate Judiciary Committee just voted to support S.115, which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. The Committee approved minor edits to the bill, and rejected a proposed amendment for a statewide non-binding referendum by a 4-1 margin. When Senator Sears called the question, each Senator in turn voted to support the bill. The full Senate is expected to debate and vote on the bill Monday at 3:00 p.m.


Attendance is highly encouraged!

Vermont Freedom to Marry urges everyone to call the senators immediately and over the weekend, since this will be the last chance to reach out to the congress.

"Our future, and history, depend on it," Vermont Freedom to Marry says on their site. "Those who oppose our full equality will be extra motivated; we must be, too. Even if you've contacted your Senator before, please do it again."

Contact information for the senators here.

For a quick rundown of this development in Vermont, read UTF's coverage here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is Ken Starr Hurting Pepperdine University?

According to many of the university's alumni, he is.

With the infamous lawyer's long track record, ranging from being the prosecutor that impeached President Bill Clinton to Solicitor General, and now his position as lead counsel for the supporters of Proposition 8, many who attended Pepperdine are not comfortable having Ken Starr as the current dean of the university. They feel his stance on Proposition 8 is "a disgrace."

So they've decided to take action. They've formed a Faceebook group, Pepperdine Law Alums in Support of Repealing Prop 8 and have addressed a letter to be sent to the dean.

In the letter, they urge the school to underscore the difference between the university's beliefs and that of its figurehead. ". . . you and the school have a responsibility to clarify where the line between your personal beliefs and the school's position differ regarding the issue of equality."

Holding degrees from a university that does not support equal rights threatens not only the school's reputation, but also their reputation and the respect that said degrees may hold.

"We believe that your representation of supporters of Proposition 8 has the potential to irrevocably damage much of the good work those who have gone before you have done in building equity in the Pepperdine University School of Law reputation unless the School of Law clearly and unequivocally states its commitment to history's move toward diversity and equality regardless of your personal position on these issues."

The alumni also acknowledge that in fact LGBT students do exist at the conservative university and empathize what they must be feeling.

"Not only does your public position and active support of Proposition 8 offend and embarrass many alumni, one must imagine that the LGBT students at the School of Law are feeling even more marginalized being subjected to their dean's public support for discrimination against them. Moreover, you are sending a very clear message about Pepperdine's culture to prospective students, not only LGBT students, but also their straight allies, and all other minority groups. Unless the School of Law clearly states its commitment to equality, prospective students will no doubt view the school as having an environment where contrasting opinions are suppressed and anyone who supports diversity and equality will be ostracized."

The school's paper, the Pepperdine University Graphic, has confirmed that Starr has received the letter but doesn't know how to respond. Until the alumni are satisfied with the university, they plan to withhold donations and instead, give to organizations that actually support equal rights.

Not surprisingly, many of the alumni that have signed the letter have only recently graduated from the school, underlining the generation gap on this issue. Salted throughout are very few who graduated more than just a few years ago.

However, one can feel encouraged that the younger generation, despite having been schooled in Ken Starr's thought and philosophy, still believe in equality for all, and in very little time, will soon be the majority.

H/T Gay Rights