Saturday, April 11, 2009

Recap for the Week of April 6-10

Just like last week, this week was full of historical moments and surprises. For many, it was almost too much to keep up with, or at the very least, keep it straight in the head (no pun intended).

So I'd like to help with a basic recap.


Emily Nelson of the Burlington Free Press showed the face of LGBT Vermont with a beautiful piece, but Gov. Jim Douglas didn't empathize and responded with a veto of the state's same-sex marriage bill instead, placing him on the wrong side of history. But not to be deterred, the Vermont legislature refused to lag behind its stellar civil rights record, and showed the governor where he could stick it with a veto override. Keeping true to its nature, Vermont is now the first state in history to legalize same-sex marriage through the legislative process.

The anti-gays were not happy. More on that below.


It didn't take long for pundits to predict the future of Iowa's 2012 marriage amendment since the state's Supreme Court essentially legalized same-sex marriage the week prior, but anti-gay groups didn't care about 2012 because they began to push for an emergency legislative session to amend the state's constitution NOW, the whole while the governor remained silent on his stance. Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal told them to shut up and go away. To make the anti-gays even madder, the Gov. Chet Culver finally spoke up and said, "Nah, I won't support any discriminatory amendment". This sent the anti-gays into a tizzy, so about 400 showed up at the capitol in protest when the legislatures began to meet, calling out rudely for an amendment from the session's gallery seating. Luckily, the legislatures followed the Senate Majority Leader's example and told them once again, "Shut up!". I have a feeling that's not the last we'll hear of them though.


The District's council members, on their own but judiciously picking a great week, voted that the nation's capitol would recongize same-sex marriage legally performed else where. It still needs to be approved by the nation's congress. (Their way of governing is a bit difficult to explain) They hope to introduce legislation so that the district itself can perform same-sex marriages. Go D.C.!


NOM, the group that funded lots of Yes on Prop 8 ads in California (and from what I hear, are funded themselves by the Mormons), reacted to all this equality spreading throughout the country by releasing early a $1.5 million ad in battleground states. The media and bloggers (including myself) immediately reacted by talking about it, interviewing everyone and mocking the ad. Even Maggie Gallagher of NOM, and Joe Solmonese of HRC, had it out. Results pending. Unfortunately, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri decided to join the dark side by allying himself with NOM. Thankfully LGBT community stepped into the fray more than once.

Of course, other things happened during the week, like calls to action (you can see those by clicking on the "action" tag at the bottom of the post) and events, but this is the main run-down. To see older recaps, click on the "recap" tag.

If you liked this recap, let me know, and I'll keep doing this each Saturday. But you got to let me know. This takes a lot of time!

But stay tuned. New Hampshire, Maine and New Jersey are gearing up for another equal rights showing. Next week is gearing up to be another wild ride!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wisconsin High Court Asked to Review Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The Wisconsin Supreme Court was asked Thursday to decide whether the state’s 2006 ban on gay marriage was properly put to voters.

The case, having initially been dismissed by a county judge, was sent to the appeals court who side-stepped it. They said the case presents several new legal issues that should be decided by the state’s highest court.

“The validity of the marriage amendment is a matter of significant public interest with statewide implications,” the three-judge panel wrote.

William McConkey, a 66-year old who describes himself as a “Christian, straight, married," man with a gay daughter is a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh political science instructor. He claims the referendum illegally put two issues to voters at the same time: whether to ban gay marriage and whether to outlaw civil unions.

Either way, nearly 60 percent of voters approved.

More work would need to be done to legalize same-sex marriage in Wisconsin even if a ruling struck down the Wisconsin amendment because state law still defines marriage as a union between husband and wife. However, it could pave the way for lawmakers to eventually allow it or advocates to file additional lawsuits seeking that right.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle has a plan being considered by the legislature that would create a domestic partnership giving same-sex couples 43 benefits granted to married couples in an attempt to undermine the amendment.

A Rundown of the Recent Responses to the NOM Ads

Because I can't possibly keep up with the continual responses in the media to the ridiculously thwarted NOM ads, I'm going to keep updating this post with more videos and links to other articles that pop up. When I add new items, I'll put them at the top.

You can pick and choose which ones you wish to enjoy.

FOUND MORE? Let me know and I'll post it! (Thanks to Danny who left a comment, you can find "mocking", hysterical responses to the ads at The Big Gay Storm blog)

NOTE: If you want to see my older posts about the NOM ads, scroll to the bottom of this post and click on the tag "National Organization for Marriage" and the blog will direct you to them.

NEW: Time: A Storm Over Gay Marriage
NEW: Pam's House Blend, "NOM's Talking Points Revealed", "Fear the Rainbow!



Explosion of Hate Mocks Christian Values

Part of Unite the Fight's mission is to identify the true opposition to LGBT rights. And by "true opposition", I mean the people who actively work hard against us and twist the truth to fit their agenda. This excludes many Christians.

Michael-in-Norfolk blog has done a great post titled, "Explosion of Hate Mocks Christian Values" which separates true Christian values that unfortunately have been mixed up with these "Christianist values" who have truly forgotten what Christianity is all about.

Here's the post:

Since the Iowa Supreme Court ruling a week ago, which was soon followed by the legislative triumphs for gay marriage in Vermont and Washington, D.C., the explosion of hate from Christianists and the dehumanizing and untruthful things that they are disseminating about LGBT individuals in my view are a travesty and make a mockery of Christ's message. After all, Christ said that the two great Commandments were to love God and to love thy neighbor as they self.

Moreover, the Gospels repeatedly show Christ as condemning the self-righteous and sanctimonious who smugly judged and condemned others in contravention to the command to love thy neighbor. The Christianists claim to believe the Bible is inerrant and must be followed verbatim as "the word of God." Why then do they pick and choose what they want to follow as if the Bible were an al carte menu?

Let's be candid - from the National Organization for Marriage and it's bogus ad with paid actors pretending to be real ordinary citizens, to commentaries in National Review and statements by Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention - what we have seen is unbridled hatred for other humans merely because we do not subscribe to a particular set of religious beliefs. The statements are truly hate filled and - in my view - will provide another basis for more citizens to look at the Christian message and walk away shaking their heads in disgust.

Andrew Sullivan has it right when he says that these folks hold gay lives in contempt. Here are some highlights of the "love" being disseminated by professed Christians. I begin with the National Review comment:
Few social goods will come from recognizing same-sex couples as married. Some practical benefits may accrue to the couples, but most of them could easily be realized without changing marriage laws. Same-sex couples will also receive the symbolic affirmation of being treated by the state as equivalent to a traditional married couple — but this spurious equality is a cost of the new laws, not a benefit. One still sometimes hears people make the allegedly “conservative” case for same-sex marriage that it will reduce promiscuity and encourage commitment among homosexuals. This prospect seems improbable, and in any case these do not strike us as important governmental goals.
Then we have Richard Land at the SBC who is rapidly becoming as extreme a homophobe as Peter LaBarbera and Fred Phelps making Southern Baptists as a whole appear to be a most unloving crowd. Land's official title is "President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith." Here are Land's incendiary statements:
Once again, it was the judiciary branch of state government rending the nation’s moral fabric, bent on rewriting our country’s social construct. With no residency requirements, the [Iowa] court’s opinion means at the end of April when the order goes into effect, same-sex couples will be free to travel from other states to exchange “vows” in the Iowa Heartland.

This ruling turns Iowa into a destination for same-sex “marriages.” No doubt there are weekend travel packages already being planned. Iowa will soon be the Las Vegas of same-sex “marriage” for America. And you know those folks won’t be resettling in the Hawkeye State, but will be heading back home–perhaps to your state.

The Iowa Supreme Court couldn’t have ruled that an amendment to the constitution is “unconstitutional.” If they had done that, then a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” would be imperiled. If the California Supreme Court does this in the case they are currently considering, then we’d have to say that our entire system of government is coming to a tragic end.
Another comes from the Baptist Press where Eric Schumacher pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, maintains that gay marriage is more catostrophic than a 500 year flood and will"eternal damage" that cannot be repaired and which will "erode" civilization. Here are some highlights:
On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a state law limiting marriage to one man and one woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. Licenses will be issued to homosexual couples April 27. It is not hyperbole to say that this ruling has the potential to be the worst disaster to strike the state of Iowa.

Flood waters destroy houses, ruin offices buildings and displace families. Yet, recovery happens. Houses are rebuilt. Businesses relocate. Families eventually find housing. Legalized "homosexual marriage," on the other hand, does far more pervasive and irrecoverable damage. Civilization itself is eroded as marriage, the central building block of culture and society, is redefined. Soon, our sons and daughters are confused about what it means to be male and female, as "homosexual marriage" gains both legal status and visibility in neighborhoods and the classroom.

Flood waters erode the soil. "Gay marriage" erodes the soul. A flood impacts for a decade. "Same-sex marriage" destroys generations. A flood draws a community together. "Homosexual marriage" tears the family apart. Communities recover from floods. The promotion of un-natural unions has an eternal consequence.
As I have said in prior posts over the nearly two years I have been actively blogging, messages like these are akin to how the Nazi regime dehumanized and denigrated Jews in the run up to the Holocaust. How many people will hear these messages and feel totally justified in violence against LGBT citizens. It is bigotry and religious based discrimination of the worst order.

Will Oregon Be Next on the Same-Sex Marriage List?

With the full steam ahead feeling behind the marriage equality front lately, it's not far-fetched anymore for the LGBT population to start asking themselves, "Well, what about my state? Why not?

That's exactly what Basic Rights Oregon, an LGBT rights organization is asking in a new post on their site.
"Oregon voters passed ballot measure 36 in 2004, which wrote marriage discrimination into our state constitution. This means our state legislature can’t fix this for us, like Vermont lawmakers did.

"Immediately after Measure 36 passed, Basic Rights Oregon filed a legal challenge to the measure, the Martinez v. Oregon case. In December 2008, the Oregon Supreme Court sidestepped this challenge, and let Measure 36 stay on the books - effectively ending our options on the legal front.

"All signs indicate that the only way to win marriage equality in Oregon is to run a proactive ballot measure to remove Measure 36 from our constitution.

"Our movement has never done this kind of thing before. What would it be like? What do you think it would be like to work on this campaign?

"Should we move forward as soon as possible, even if it means risking losing? Or should we lay a solid foundation to make sure we can win?

"You decide."
Karol Collymore over at Blue Oregon responded:

"The only way to achieve marriage equality in our state is to run a ballot measure campaign. Are Oregonians ready for that? I don't know. Is it time? Yes. It's time for all of us to do the right thing (It's not just a Spike Lee joint, people). This is not an endeavor just left for activists. Every last person who supports GLBT rights has to open their mouths and their wallets to pass a ballot measure putting equality back into our Constitution. Go to BRO's blog and tell them how your feel or say it here. Let them know to move forward and that we've got their backs.

"Basic Rights Oregon, go for it; and let me know where to sign up."

The question of when seems to have been decided. has reported that Basic Rights Oregon is going to wait until 2012.

What do you think? Keep in mind, a ballot initiative asking for a "YES on Same-Sex Marriage" has never won. California is bracing itself for just such a campaign, most likely in 2010. Should Oregon wait and learn from California, win or lose? Or should they ride the current wave?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Iowa Expedited Marriage Amendment Attempt Fails!

One Iowa reports:
Fair-minded Legislators stand strong: BIG win for Iowans!

Resisting divisive attempts by the extreme right, the Iowa House blocked movement on a Constitutional amendment that aimed to take away the freedom to marry in Iowa. With your help, our fair-minded legislators stood strong, voting 54-44 to get back to work on issues of common concern to Iowa families!

Please thank ALL 54 fair-minded legislators!

We couldn't have done this without you. Let's celebrate this victory and prepare for the work ahead!

"One Day Equals" Releases Campaign For NY

One Day Equals, which produced the video below, is rallying the pro-gay troops for April 28th, Empire State Pride Agenda's Equality & Justice Day. Thousands of New Yorkers will travel to Albany to meet one-on-one with their lawmakers and tell their stories.

This is also when New York Gov. David Patterson intends to introduce new legislation to legalize same-sex marriage for the state.

From their One Day Equals website:

"For the first time in history, we have a pro-LGBT majority in Albany. We are mere votes away from true justice and equality for the LGBT community in New York State.

"This is your chance to tell your elected representatives, face-to-face, why equality is important to you and the people you love."

Still Mad About Those Ads? Another Action Against Them!

The now infamous National Organization for Marriage ads that spew anti-gay lies about same-sex marriage are now headed to Iowa where the organization's agenda to end all same-sex marriage rights suffered a major defeat.

Watching the ads is like watching a child throw a hissy fit.

One Iowa is starting a petition opposing out of state groups from using their money and influence to take away the rights of Iowans. Which makes sense, since NOM is the same group that pumped tons of money into ads supporting Proposition 8 in California.

Use your anger productively. Sign One Iowa's petition and let it be known that NOM is not welcome in the Hawkeye State.

Yesterday, I also told how you can fight back in a more strategic since by supporting Camp Courage, or even better, by attending. The more tools we have to fight with, the less we'll see of groups like NOM.

Vigil for Executed Iraqi Gay Men

United the Fight earlier reported on the persecution of gays in Iraq. Unfortunately, six gay men were recently executed in the US-occupied country solely because of their sexual orientation.

Two vigils are being held in remembrance of the persecuted LGBT Iraqi community - one in New York City, and one in London.


What: Vigil of Remembrance & Solidarity With LGBT Iraqis
When: Friday, April 10, 12pm EST
Where: Iraq Mission to the UN
14 E 79th St
New York, NY 10075
Contact: Brendan Fay
P: 718-721-2780

They will gather later this week to remember our murdered brothers in Iraq, at a vigil in front of the Iraqi mission to the United Nations. They will light candles, lay a wreathe with rainbow ribbons, and also speak out against homophobic violence everywhere. A letter of protest will be delivered to the mission.

For London information, go to Gays Without Borders.

There has been criticism against the LGBT leaders, and even the community itself, for its apparent apathy for the plight of the LGBT community in Iraq. Show your support. If you can, go to the vigil. If not, sign's petition to the President and Congress urging them to act on this crisis.

CNN Interivews Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry about NOM

UPDATE: 400 Gather at Iowa Capitol to Protest Same-Sex Marriage

UPDATE: House Speaker Pat Murphy ruled the House cannot suspend rules it has enacted jointly with the Senate. House members can only suspend their own rules.

The only way to suspend the joint rules is for someone to introduce a resolution in the Rules and Administration Committee. If it starts in the House, then there’s a vote in House committee and in the full House. If it passes, it goes to Senate committee then a vote of the full Senate.

Meaning: no amendment process today.
It's being reported by the Desmoines Register that at least 400 same-sex opponents have gathered in protest at the Iowa Capitol.

When a Republican call for a state constitutional amendment, which would effectively ban same-sex marriage, was ruled out of order, shouts came from the gallery, "Let us vote!"

"Security was stepped up considerably at the Statehouse this morning," reports the Desmoines Register. "Troopers are standing guard outside the chamber doors, in the balconies and around the Iowa Capitol."

Iowa Family Policy Center, a conservative group that opposes same-sex marriage and who are pushing beyond state rules for an amendment, said they would work to vote elected officials who support gay marriage out of office.

“You can let them know today that this issue is different. This is not about taxes or spending and regulations. This is about morality and the word of God,” said Family Policy Center Board Chair Danny Carroll, a former Republican representative from Grinnell.

Fortunately, One Iowa, the states largest LGBT rights group, also made an appearance, handing out stickers and flyers in opposition to the Iowa Family Policy Center.

House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, has said he will likely rule the bill to begin the amendment process out of order. The bill, House Joint Resolution 6, did not meet certain legislative deadlines.

Even if the bill were to pass this year, it would also have to pass the legislature in 2011 and couldn’t be on the ballot until 2012.

UPDATES from the Desmoines Register:

At 9:26 a.m. Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen asked for a call of the house. It’s a procedure in which all lawmakers at the Capitol are to report to their desk and are not to leave the House chambers. Such moves are often made when controversial votes come before the legislature to help prevent lawmakers from leaving.

At 9:55 a.m., legislative leaders were continuing to talk about a motion to lift legislative rules and immediately consider House Joint Resolution 6. The talk includes Murphy, Paulsen, Gronstal, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines and Chief Clerk of the House Mark Brandsgard.


NY Governor to Push for Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

New York Governor David Paterson said on Wednesday that he would re-introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. This would take marriage equality a step further than the directive he signed last May which allowed New York to recognize same-sex marriage performed legally outside its borders.

It's been reported that the legislation would resemble a bill introduced in 2007 by the former governor which stalled in the then Republican controlled Senate. Paterson intends to introduce the new bill for the annual gay rights lobby day this April 28 in Albany.

"We'll put a bill out and let the people decide one way or the other," the governor said on WHCU-AM (870) in Ithaca.

To pass the new bill, senate leaders say they remain a few votes short of the 32 needed for passage, although Democrats now control both chambers of the legislature.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that 41 percent of New Yorkers believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, while 33 percent support civil unions, and 19 percent think there should be no legal recognition.

Maggie Gallagher of NOM and Joe Solmonese Face Off on Hardball

Maggie Gallagher of National Organization of Marriage, the organization behind the "Brewing Storm" ads faces off with HRC's Joe Solmonese.

The HRC had immediately responded to the ads exposing the lies they told.

The NOM called the response an "attack." Here's Maggie's statement:
"NOM Responds to HRC Attack!

"HRC's record of truth and honesty about their intentions is not that impressive. They once said marriage amendments weren't necessary because there were no federal court cases. Now there is one."

"They called us liars when we said public schools will teach about gay marriage if its the law--but they do in Massachusetts. Serious religious liberty scholars from Eugene Volokh to Doug Laycock to Robin Wilson acknowledge the central driving idea behind gay marriage--there is no difference between same-sex and opposite sex unions and supporters of marriage are engaging in discrimination if they think differently--will have consequences for the freedoms of traditional faith communities. To pretend otherwise is to be profoundly unserious--if not deceptive--about what gay marriage means."

Maggie Gallagher
President, National Organization for Marriage
So what are your thoughts on Maggie's response? Who do you think won the Hardball debate?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mega-Church Pastors, Joel & Victoria Osteen - "I Don't Understand"

Joe & Victoria Osteen of Houston's "mega-church," Lakewood Church, appeared on Larry King Live last night. King asked them, ". . . why not make marriage a religious institution, and have the state bonding that the non-marriage state issue. So we can have two kinds of getting together."

Joe kept responding, "I don't understand."

Exactly. He doesn't understand. He doesn't take the time to actually learn that people that live in the same world as he, actually do exist outside his religious bubble and don't agree with him. They believe in something else.

"I know God's best is for a male and a female to have a marriage and raise their family," says Joe.

He knows? Really? God came down to him and told him personally? Because the God I believe in loves me as I am, because guess what? He/She/The Higher Power made me this way. So how does he reconcile this? He doesn't. He doesn't understand . . .

Wait. You know, I bet you he does understand. They BOTH understand. They understand that they are one voice in many but are trying to enforce their "sanctified" view on the government. And are losing. And refuse to acknowledge that their religion won't be hampered in anyway. Which pisses them off. Because EVERYONE should believe as they do.

"I don't know if I'm 100 percent clear on it all," says Joe.

Yeah, right. That lame excuse isn't working on me.

HRC's Joe Solmonese and Iowa Rep. Steve King Discuss Same-Sex Marriage

Adamantly anti-gay, Iowa Rep. Steve King debates with the HRC's President Joe Solmonese on CNN.

Because Iowa Gov. Chet Culver will not support a marriage amendment to the state's constitution, which would eliminate same-sex marriage, Rep. King announced he may run for governor in 2010 to defeat him.

Fight Back Against the Anti-Gay Marriage Ads

The Dolby Family of Dolby Sound is challenging the LGBT community to raise $25,000 for a matching grant to support Courage Campaign's Camp Courage.

"Why?" you ask. The answer can be found in an email from Rick Jacobs, Chair for the Courage Campaign:
"This morning, the National Organization for Marriage launched a disturbing ad using actors to push lies claiming that marriage equality threatens personal freedoms. The ad is going up on the airwaves across America -- eight times a day in California -- as NOM seeks to build what they are calling a "rainbow coalition" against equality.

"We need your help to fight back right now against this deplorable ad. With many legal experts expecting the California Supreme Court to uphold Prop 8, our only option will be to place an initiative on the ballot to restore marriage equality. To repeal Prop 8, we will need to build a grassroots army for change in every county of California.

"In response, the Dolby Family is challenging our community to raise $25,000 as a matching grant to fund Camp Courage trainings for marriage equality activists."
Readers will know that I wholeheartedly support Camp Courage and believe that it is extremely effective in building an educated and trained grassroots army to combat the type of bigotry found in the NOM ads.

Camp Courage survives off of donations. If you want to help meet the Dolby Family challenge, click here to give to Courage Campaign.

See you in the field!

Rhode Island Governor Joining Anti-Gay NOM

Unite the Fight reported earlier today about the National Organization for Marriage and their new anti-gay ad campaign riddled with falsehood.

Now Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri and his wife Sue, who call themselves "traditionalists", have joined the local chapter of NOM. With legislation in the pipeline that would allow married same-sex couples to divorce in the Ocean State, his support for NOM is a big boon for the right wing organization.

"In Massachusetts it was the court. In Vermont it was the legislature. I believe it should be done with citizens. Let them decide," Carcieri said.

Despite joining the adamantly anti-gay NOM, he claims he is not anti-gay himself. Has he not seen the ads? That's a hard statement to support.

ACTION: Sign Petition to Support Domestic Partnership Expansion in Washington State

As earlier reported on Unite the Fight, Washington State is considering a domestic partnership bill that would expand the benefits of this institution to equally resemble marriage under state law. It passed the Senate and is posed to appear in the House.

However, Larry Stickney of the right-wing Washginton Values Alliance is having none of it. Washington law defines marriage as only between a man and a woman and the state Supreme Court has upheld it. But Stickney feels sure this bill, if it becomes law, would be used to again try to legalize same-sex marriage by judicial fiat.

So he's planning an initiative to ask voters to repeal it before a judge gets hold of it.

ACTION: Sign Equal Rights Washgington's Petition that will go to the legislature asking for their support of domestic partnerships benefits expansion. This will help us identify who our strong supporters are in case an initiative actually does reach the voters.

Time to build our support base now.

Don't Watch This Ad by NOM if You Don't Want to Get Angry

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the fanatical right wing (and yes, religious) group is desperate now that the Iowa Supreme Court has decimated every one of their religious arguments against same-sex marriage in their court ruling. (Read the ruling after the jump here)

So without being able to use religion as an excuse to oppose same-sex marriage, NOM is now using lies and scare tactics to get their way. Here's their new ad:

Amazing. Just amazing how they can get away with such bold-faced lies. The lies may even be laughable, but to those who don't know enough about the facts or who are not familiar with the LGBT community, can easily be swayed by such deception.

Luckily, our smart friends over at Good As You (GAY) have already prepared a response:

We may have had a great week in the marriage equality/equal rights movement, but we still have a long way. Our biggest hurdle is undoing the damage that such lies that NOM promotes by being brave enough to talk about the truth to those who discriminate against us. Or more importantly, those who are not sure what they think and feel.

One-on-one conversations, one person at a time, telling our stories, is the only true path to change.

(Interesting: see the actors audition for this ad at NG Blog. These people in the ads aren't real!)

HRC's response to the ads.

Iowa Govenor Unikely to Support Marriage Amendment

Another blow to the right wing yesterday as Iowa Governor Chet Culver broke his silence on Friday's Supreme Court ruling and issued a statement that he is unlikely to support an amendment to the state's constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

“The Court also concluded that the denial of this right constitutes discrimination," Culver said. "Therefore, after careful consideration and a thorough reading of the Court’s decision, I am reluctant to support amending the Iowa Constitution to add a provision that our Supreme Court has said is unlawful and discriminatory.”

Same-sex marriage opponents have been pressuring the governor and legislators to call for a special legislative session to amend the constitution.

Though Culver has mentioned his belief in heterosexual marriage, he recognized that the court’s decision reaffirmed a church’s role to conduct their own religious marriages. He distinguished between a religious marriage and a civil marriage.

“The Court does not have, nor should any court ever have, that kind of power over our religious lives. Our churches and places of worship are free to decide for themselves, as they were before, who may enter the sacred covenant of marriage. As the Supreme Court’s decision states, ‘The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past,’ ” Culver said.

Contact Gov. Chet Culver and thank him for his support of civil marriage and the separation of church and state.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Need a Ride to "Meet in the Middle"? A Place to Stay?

This week has been exciting for marriage equality! But California is still waiting to hear from its Supreme Court about Proposition 8.

But either way they rule, Meet in the Middle is going to be a big event, with people from all over California and beyond converging on Fresno, CA the Saturday after the ruling. It will either be a rally to motivate us to work on undoing Proposition 8's damage, or a celebration of its overturn and a rallying of troops to take it to the federal level.

The organizers of Meet in the Middle realize it may be difficult for you to get there. So they're making it as easy as possible. There are several things you can do.

1. Go to their RSVP and Trip Planning page. If you RSVP, they can help you with all aspects of your trip from transportation to housing. If not, simply peruse their Trip Planning tips.

2. Check out the buses they have reserved from San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Better hurry - limited seats!

3. For accommodations, they have LGBT friendly hotels listed. But even better, if you RSVP, Meet in the Middle may be able to find some homes that have rooms or couches available for a few equal rights activists like you!

Don't miss out on this historical event!

But don't be upset if you can't make it. Unite the Fight is the official blog for the event. Just keep checking here the day of Meet in the Middle, and you won't miss a beat!

Camp Courage in San Diego April 18-19

Frequent readers of UTF will know how enthusiastic I am about Courage Campaign's effective Camp Courage. Its community building essentially coalesces the equal rights movement in a way that I haven't seen elsewhere, and I have had the pleasure of being both an attendee and a facilitator.

Taking many cues from the Obama Campaign, Camp Courage does hands-on training in empowerment, team building, leadership development, and grassroots organizing skills.

Having started in Los Angeles, CA, followed by another successful session in Fresno, CA, both events received phenomenal reviews from participants, with evaluations averaging 9.36 (on a scale of 1 to 10) in Los Angeles and 9.56 in Fresno.

Camp Courage is now coming to San Diego, CA!

Here's a glimpse of what you can expect. In this video you'll witness Lisa Powell, the amazing lead facilitator, doing what she does best.

I urge you to go. Not only do you gain practical tools, you'll leave inspired and connected to many other individuals eager to work alongside you in the growing equal rights movement.


WHAT: Camp Courage, for marriage equality activists and organizers
WHERE: San Diego, venue TBA
WHEN: Saturday, April 18 (8:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.) AND Sunday, April 19 (8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

Camp Courage is free but donations are accepted. Application for Camp Courage, San Diego can be found here.


If you can't make this session, Camp Courage for the Bay Area is in the works! Stay Tuned.

Another Victory Today: D.C. Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

UTF earlier reported about the efforts being made to bring same-sex marriage to the United State's Capitol.

This effort just received a major boost today.

The D.C. Council voted today 12-0 to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, on the same day that Vermont became the fourth state to legalize same-sex unions.

Though domestic partnerships are already legal and those who move to the city with partnerships from other parts of the country are recognized, today's approved legislation explicitly recognizes them as married couples. This is a huge milestone.

And it puts marriage equality right at the White House's doorstep.

According to the Washington Post, "The unanimous vote sets the stage for future debate on legalizing same-sex marriage in the District and a clash with Congress, which approves the city's laws under Home Rule. The council is expected to take a final vote on the legislation next month."

Gay council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) believes the council will soon take up a bill to legalize same-sex marriage for the District itself.

"It's no secret that I have been working on legislation that would take us further," he said. "This is the march toward human rights and equality. This is not the march toward special rights. This is the equal march and that march is coming here."

Vermont Same-Sex Marriage Bill Conquers Governor's Veto!


With the Senate's vote to override 23-5 and now the House with a vote 100-49, there is now officially same-sex marriage in Vermont! It now joins Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, becoming the fourth state in the country to allow same-sex marriage. (Four states! That's double the number in less than a week!)

Struggling to keep his voice from cracking with joy, Vermont House Speaker, Shap Smith, proudly announced that Gov. Jim Douglas' veto to keep same-sex marriage out of Vermont had been overridden.

This override is historical for many reasons, but one major reason is that this is the first time in history that marriage equality has come to existence in a state not through the courts, but through the legislature. And not only that, but survived a veto.

Vermont yet again stands by its history of progress and civil rights legislation.

Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton voted not to override because he believed that this bill doesn't "radically helps the lives of same-sex couples" or their families. He said he extended courtesy to those who were on the other side of the issue, but he said he didn't receive the same treatment in return.

"I am tired of being told how to vote either way," said Rep. Scott Wheeler, R-Derby, "Serving the Vermont House does not define who I am." He went on to focus on the economy and that the state needed to reunite to take care of these pressing issues and move on past the marriage debate.

Rep. Greg Clark, R-Vergennes "Anyone who is disrespectful in their comments to me, or what I thought was disrespectful, I could easily but those aside. I will remember the sincerity. I will remember the sincere passion on both sides of the issues. Those. . . are goods thing for a country boy like me to remember."

In the end, the vote was 100-49 to kill the veto. Let's go celebrate with some maple syrup!

Much thanks to Burlington Free Press for their amazing live coverage and pictures.

Vermont Senate Votes to Override Governor's Veto 23-5

Next in the veto process will be the House and its vote to override. Unlike for the senate, it is not clear whether or not there are enough votes.

Their vote begins 10:30am EST/7:30am PST. Watch for live coverage at the Burlington Free Press.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Rejects Marriage Amendment Attempt

As reported earlier, Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center, has been pushing hard for a marriage amendment to Iowa's state constitution, pressuring the state's legislature, thus making the Supreme Courts ruling null and void.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs told reporters, "It will not come up," said Gronstal. "I have no intention of taking it up."

Sen. Minority Leader Paul McKinely, R-Chariton, lashed out, accusing Gonstal of "pure obstruction" to the amendment process and demanded action on a resolution so the process could commence. He reminded Gronstal that the majority leader had voted to ban gay marriage in 1998.

Gronstal conceded his earlier vote but said he'd changed his mind.

"I've learned a lot. I've talked to a lot of people," said Gronstal. "I see a bunch of people who merely want to profess their love for each other. I don't think that's so wrong."

Here's video of his amazing response:

Read a great summary on the events in Iowa at the

Live Video of Vermont Senate Vote to Override Same-Sex Marriage Bill Veto

Provided by Burlington Free Press here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas Vetoes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

As expected, Governor Jim Douglas vetoed Vermont's same-sex marriage bill. His full statement:

Gov. Jim Douglas Veto Statement

Don't get me started on how angry this statement makes me. The argument that even if the bill were to become law, federal benefits would still be denied to same-sex couples in Vermont (and state benefits would be denied in other states that don't recognize such marriages) and as a result, no point to the bill, is such a cop out.

Isn't the governor responsible for only Vermont? He needs to fix his own state before being concerned about what's outside his borders. But like so many who oppose same-sex marriage, the governor hides behind children and grandchildren, in the last paragraph of his statement, to mask his prejudice. I feel badly for those children.

Tomorrow, both the Senate and House are expected to vote on overriding the veto. Though the Senate should easily do so, it is unclear whether or not the House has enough votes.

Many House Democrats have expressed their intention to vote to override the veto because of the disrespectful actions of Governor Douglas with regards to this bill. That could mean that all eleven of those who voted against the initial bills will vote to override Douglas’ veto. Opponents of same-sex marriage have been lobbying hard for the six Republicans who voted in support of the bill.

See a quick video of the governor making a statement at NG Blog about his faith and religion being the factor in his veto.

Vermont Freedom to Marry is urging people to contact Vermont representatives to urge them to override the veto.

Also, they are planning to rally at the statehouse tomorrow morning.

The veto override vote is expected at 9am EST/6am PST for the Senate and 10:30am EST/7:30am PST for the House.

UPDATE: Tell Iowa's Governor NOT to Amend the State's Constitution

UPDATE: According to Towleroad, Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, has been making the rounds at Iowa's capitol, stirred up by Friday's supreme court ruling. With leading lawmakers Senate Majority Leader and Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Pat Murphy supporting the ruling, Hurley is setting his eyes on the governor who is currently reviewing the decision.


Because the governor has the authority to call a special session of the legislature to amend the constitution if he feels its necessary. And as stated below, he has a history of opposing same-sex marriage.

What can you do? As mentioned on this post at the bottom, you can contact the governor through Iowa One's letter campaign or directly at 515-281-5211.

Need a little motivation? Anger is a good source of it, so watch this:


Iowa's Democratic governor, Chet Culver, has a history of opposition to same-sex marriage. In light of Iowa's Supreme Court ruling that stated the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, the governor released the following statement on his website:

"The decision released by the Supreme Court addresses a complicated and emotional issue, one on which Iowans have strong views and opinions on both sides. The next responsible step is to thoroughly review this decision, which I am doing with my legal counsel and the Attorney General, before reacting to what it means for Iowa." has started a Seven Days of Action campaign, with the first being a letter drive to the governor urging him not to amend the Iowa's state constitution.

Check out the rest of the actions at

New Same-Sex Marriage Poll and 2012 Iowa Amendment Predictions

A new poll by CBS News doesn't really show anything new - America is divided on same-sex marriage.

Here are the stats. Percentage of what kind of recognition people believe same-sex couples should have:

Legally Marry 33%
Form Civil Unions 27%
No Legal Recognition 35%

The poll finding further breaks these numbers down and compares it to polls conducted earlier. You can see the whole report embedded at the bottom of this post.

However, another recent report is more interesting - it attempts to predict how Iowans will vote for a state constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman, thus overturning the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling which effectively legalized same-sex marriage.

Iowans won't have a chance to vote on such an amendment until 2012, but Nate Silver of has created a model to base his prediction on how that vote will turn out. He takes into factor three points: the year in which the amendment was voted on; the percentage of adults who, according to Gallup, say that religion is very important in their lives; and the number of white evangelicals in the state.

"So what does this mean for Iowa?" he asks. "The state has roughly average levels of religiosity, including a fair number of white evangelicals, and the model predicts that if Iowans voted on a marriage ban today, it would pass with 56.0 percent of the vote. By 2012, however, the model projects a toss-up: 50.4 percent of Iowans voting to approve the ban, and 49.6 percent opposed. In 2013 and all subsequent years, the model thinks the marriage ban would fail."

Of course no one can predict the future. Many factors can change. Plus, it'll have been nearly four years of performing same-sex marriages in Iowa. Familiarity creates acceptance. But all this is definitely food for thought. What's yours?

CBS News Same-Sex Marriage Poll 04-03-09

A Face of Vermont Marriage Equality

Emily Nelson of the Burlington Free Press has put together a beautiful article and audio slide show about Bobbi Whitacre and Sandi Cote of Milton, VT. They have been together for 41 years. They want to be married.

Those of us fighting hard for marriage equality sometimes get so wrapped up in the politics and the strategy to counter those who oppose equality, that we forget the faces behind the struggle. Let alone our own.

Take a moment to read the article and view the audio slide show. If you've been needing a fresh dose of motivation, this will help.

Then take action for Vermont.

Picture taken by Emily Nelson of the FREE PRESS.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Vermont's Gov. To Veto Same-Sex Marriage Bill Monday?

From Gay Rights Watch:
Gov. Jim Douglas could veto Vermont’s civil marriage bill as early as Monday night.

State lawmakers said they will try to override the governor, but no one knows if House leaders have the votes needed to do so.

On Friday, the Vermont House gave final approval to a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage starting in September. The Senate will hold a vote Tuesday morning, followed by the House.

“Everyone should have the same rights for who they want to marry,” said Moira Adams, who supports the bill. “It doesn’t matter who they want to marry. If they’re in love, they should be able to marry.”

“If he vetoes it, yes, they definitely should override him, absolutely,” said Sean Tymecki, who supports the bill. “Vermont’s always been the first — first to abolish slavery and first to have civil unions — and we should keep going with it.”
URGENT ACTION is needed to encourage the legislature to override the governor's veto. Go to Unite the Fight's earlier post on action information.

Check out this great post on Lez Get Real on the chances of a veto override.

Pictures of Saturday's Martin Luther King Remembrance March

Unite the Fight had the privilege to join in on the Martin Luther King Remembrance March this past Saturday, April 4th.

With the strong support coming from MLK's Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the LGBT community, Unite the Fight wanted to show its support in return.

The march focused on quality jobs, quality education and safe neighborhoods, all issues pertinent to everybody. Continue to show your support for these issues, because when you do, you're not only supporting the LGBT community who also has these same needs, you're also supporting our allies.

ABC Reports on Iowa Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage