Friday, April 17, 2009

EVENT: Jordan Rustin Coalition, "Talking Across the Table"

Talking Across the Table
Elder Voices - The Women - Then to Now
Coming Out to Civil Rights

Panel members
- Jewel Williams - Owner of Jewel's Catch One
- Vallerie Wagner - JRC & National Black Justice Coalition board member
- Dr. Sylvia Rhue - National Black Justice Coalition
- Fatima Cortez-Todd - Actress, activist and past CORE member
- Rev. Onetta Brooks - Pastor of Christ Chapel of Orange County

Hosted by: Dalila Ali Rajah of Cherry Bomb
Facilitated by: Ange-Marie Hancock

Sunday, April 19th
Location: Jewel's Catch One
4067 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 737-1159

Time:3 pm to 5 pm
Parking: Lot parking and street parking

HRC's Joe Solmonese Vs. Pat Buchanan on Gay Marriage on MSNBC Hardball

Partial Repeal of DOMA Bill Could Come In Several Months

The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is on many marriage equality supporters' minds, but it may not come in one fell swoop. With the advances made in Vermont, Iowa and Washington DC, and with NY Gov. David Paterson's recent submission of a same-sex marriage bill, discussions at the capitol of repealing DOMA have heated up.

Congressional leaders have been discussing legislation with two goals in mind:
  1. Repeal section 3 of DOMA that restricts the federal government's ability to recognize any sort of same-sex relationship, thus barring federal benefits.
  2. Provide a way for same-sex couples living in states that do not allow them to marry legally to access the same federal benefits afforded to heterosexual spouses.
As a result, if a same-sex couple's relationship is recognized by a state, then that will open the door for the federal government to confer benefits, protections and liabilities of marriage on that relationship.

This new legislation would keep section 2 of DOMA in place which will allow individual states to continue to decide for themselves whether or not to recognize same-sex relationships.

The question arises - what kind of state-defined relationships would the federal government recognize? Marriage only? Or civil unions and domestic partnerships, too?

"The idea is to recognize a relationship or marriage that is recognized by a state," Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union told The Advocate. "So if a couple is legally recognized in any state," he added, "you would be entitled to the federal benefits and protections and liabilities of marriage."

But what if a couple moves to another state? Or what about those couples who can't afford to move to state that will recognize them for either economical or personal reasons?

One solution would be to have criteria that the couple would need to meet in order to receive federal benefits. However, this could prove controversial and more create complications than the legislators want to address, and with more and more states recognizing several types of unions, this option isn't being seriously considered. So the legislators are still brainstorming ways to still recognize couples who move out of a state that recognizes them and those who can't move to one that will.

The exact timing of when the bill may be introduced is not known, but a growing consensus is that it would be before the end of the year and probably within the next several months.

So who are these LGBT allies in Congress? The Advocate reports that they are senators Christopher Dodd, Russ Feingold, and Chuck Schumer, and representatives Tammy Baldwin, Barney Frank, Jerrold Nadler, and Jared Polis.

However, Nancy Pelosi told the Bay Area Reporter that it was not a priority. It seems the capitol needs to get on the same page. And I would like to suggest the hope on the one that says "REPEAL!"

Battle Brewing Over NY Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Yesterday, New York Gov. David Paterson announced he would introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, a bill that is identical to the 2007 resolution that passed the House but failed in the Senate.

This new legislation is expected to have a repeat success in the House but Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate 32-30 with several Democrats voicing opposition, and supporters of the bill are not sure if they're ready to take it on. At yesterday's press conference, the governor conceded that out of 36,980 bills introduced during his own 21-year career as a senator, legislators were only unsure of the vote outcome in three cases.

One Democratic senator is the most vociferous - Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., a Pentecostal minister and ardent foe to all things LGBT. Yesterday, he called on the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization to meet, the same day that the bill was introduced to immediately plan their strategy against the bill. Now he plans to hold a rally in May where he will call for the ouster of Governor David Paterson, reports WNYC-FM:
"Diaz says Paterson insulted all people of faith by introducing the bill so close to major holidays and the installation of a new catholic archbishop. Diaz is planning a rally next month when he'll call for Paterson's ouster.

"'You could put it down, during the month of May, we will bring out thousands and thousands of Hispanic evangelical christians in the city of New York to ask Governor Paterson to step aside,' said Diaz, Sr., a Democrat who represents the Bronx."
The latest Quinnipiac University poll, which was taken before the marriage equality announcement, showed that Paterson's approval ratings are at record lows for a New York governor. Good As You is also pointing out the falsehoods that Tony Perkins of the anti-gay Family Research Council are using on another Quinnipiac University poll claiming that 59% of New Yorkers are against same-sex marriage.


Empire State Pride Agenda is planning a major effort to ask non-committal and opposed senators to change their position. It will occur on April 28, gathering thousands of gay and lesbian constituents will travel to Albany, the state capitol, to lobby their legislators.

If you're not able to go, you can still get involved by writing your legislators and asking them to support the same-sex marriage bill.

VIDEO: History in the Heartland! Amazing Video on the Day of Iowa's Victory

Thursday, April 16, 2009

VIDEO: Slavery! "Prop 8: The Web Series" - Episode 3

The Tension Behind Bay Area Reporter's Story on Grassroots Growing Pains

Today, Seth Hemmelgarn of the Bay Area Reporter (BAR) ran a story titled "Growing pains seen in grassroots work" which describes some of the tension in the marriage equality movement as the power begins to shift from the old guard leadership to the new generation of powerful grassroots leaders heading the charge for change.

Specifically, the story focuses on Robin McGehee, the head organizer for the large event "Meet in the Middle 4 Equality" or known as MITM. (Disclosure: Unite the Fight is the official blog covering the event.)

The tension described in the story rose when Robin was informed by local community member Sandy O'Neill of Visalia, CA, that Geoff Kors, President of Equality California (EQCA), had mentioned to her at the Dinah Shore fundraising event in Palm Springs that they were supporting buses to transport people to Fresno for MITM. In fact, no monetary support from EQCA for the event had been given.

"I went [to the Dinah Shore fundraiser] to tell Geoff and Kate [Kendall, Exec. Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)] how excited I was to see MITM on their websites, especially after their absence in the valley during the No on 8 Campaign," Sandy told Unite the Fight.

She says Kate sat with her and her wife at their table talking about the movement and MITM and that then she had a chance to talk to Kors. When she brought MITM up to Kors, Sandy quoted him as saying, "Yeah, we're providing the buses for that."

Kors told Unite the Fight, "I don't recall having this conversation. There was no such commitment."

"Reason it sticks in my mind is I just read about those buses coming from other cities on the MITM website. 'How are we going to pay for that?' I thought. I assumed it would be the community paying for that," says Sandy. "When Geoff said they were providing the buses, I thought, 'Oh, that's how.'"

Sandy then emailed Robin congratulating her on the support from EQCA. This was what took Robin by surprise.

Robin told Unite the Fight that Equality California first contacted Robin last month after having been asked what they knew about MITM. Not knowing much about the event up to this point, EQCA reached out.

Says Robin, "They did contact me last month and asked how they could help. We gave them several options, one being financial support if possible. We mentioned that grassroots groups, such as Courage Campaign and White Knot, had donated money for operating costs and that if they knew someone willing to give, that would be great because most of the cost was going on my credit card."

Currently, MITM is costing $19,000 and growing.

Robin is known for direct responses and cutting to the heart of the matter. So when asked by Bay Area Reporter Seth Hemmelgarn if EQCA was financially contributing to this large scale event, Robin said no. In an attempt to explain that the financial support might still be coming, Robin explained that she was told by a local community member, Sandy, who attended the above mentioned fundraiser, that EQCA had stated they would be supporting the event with buses. But, as the lead organizer of the event, she had no details to that account.

Frustrations with EQCA and the No on 8 Campaign in the Central Valley stem from the lack of support that they felt during the campaign period. When many central valley activists contacted the campaign asking for support in the solidly red territory of the state, they barely got yard signs.

"When the No on 8 campaign took over, they moved the [EQCA] staff out of the valley," Kors said. "That was a mistake."

Robin and the valley area have been very vocal about their feeling of abandonment. "I did tell EQCA about my personal frustrations with how the valley was treated."

And that's not all she's communicated. Robin, who attended the February 26 San Francisco town hall, took the little time left at the town hall to make her position clear by reading the MITM mission statement. An excerpt:
"It would be neglectful not to mention our LGBT brothers and sisters who have not relocated to LGBT friendly places like the bay or LA areas feel like we live in a Third World gay ghetto that somewhat in an after-thought was sent limited rations of resources and supplies as the helicopter jetted back to the safe Mecca of San Francisco and we were left to fend for ourselves. Many might see this statement with the purpose to place blame or shame on any one person or organization, but as a people of faith and courage, we have to believe that all those involved in the fight to secure marriage rights for our community did what they felt was best at the time."
While reading this at the town hall, Robin says the EQCA panelists and leaders "went to the back of the room to hobnob with the local dignitaries and basically ignored me, Kip Williams [organizer of One Struggle, One Fight] and other leaders talking about next steps. When they asked emerging leaders to speak, it was disingenuous."

Robin repeated the adjective "disingenuous" to EQCA themselves after they called her frustrated over the Bay Area Reporter article. She heard from their communication director and the director of their public education arm.

Robin quoted them as saying, "We never promised anything." But Robin didn't back down and countered, "I know that you haven't promised anything, but you are stating, publicly, a different message."

Finally, Kors called. "I never said anything about buses [at the Dinah Shore event]," Robin says Kors told her. "Maybe Kate [Kendall of NCLR] did at an NCLR event."

He asked her why she told Seth he shouldn't be running our next campaign and Robin stated, "You're a good fundraiser and have made fantastic legislative connections, but not a campaigner. You're not in touch with the community." She even went on to say, "You're disingenuous. You're treating me like I'm naive."

About an hour after calling Robin, Kors emailed her asking her for the MITM budget and which grassroots groups had donated and how much. Robin gave the budget but refused to say who had given what. "It should not matter who gave what - either you believe in and support the event or you don't - this is not a competition," she told Unite the Fight.

Robin claims that EQCA has stated that they may be able to give $1000, but because MITM is not a non-profit organization or a 501(C)3 and the donation would not be tax deductible, they are still deciding what they are going to do. They offered to receive donations through their "Let California Ring" website, but Robin declined, honestly stating, "If they were answering my questions about the dishonesty that has plagued this entire conversation, we as a community, may be willing to let them serve as our fiscal agent. But right now - we'll have to operate without their donation and fundraise forever to pay off the debt. For grassroots organizers, it should not be this hard."

Robin also heard from Kate Kendall of NCLR who clarified that she had mentioned at the Dinah Shore event that there were in fact buses available for people to use but that she would never raise money claiming it was for one purpose and then using it for another.

"I never said that's what they were doing," Robin told Unite the Fight was her response. "But someone claimed they were supporting us with buses. Someone is lying."

"Look, I don't care what happens for me after MITM. I was a nobody before this and can return to being a nobody afterward," said Robin. "If I have to take forever to pay off my credit card for this, I will. But I just think it's time for them to be honest."

Many feel change is coming. Molly McKay of Marriage Equality USA, who was an outspoken critic recently said, "Overall, I'm feeling very encouraged" by the efforts of EQCA and other groups.

"We feel like there has been a willingness ... to think outside the box and do things in a new way, and I think that we are on the right track," said McKay.

Marc Solomon, who helped MassEquality in Massachusetts win marriage equality there, joined EQCA April 1 as its marriage director. The BAR quoted him at the recent San Francisco town hall, "Our plans for the Central Valley will be led and guided by the people doing the work in the Central Valley ... We realize we need to do a lot better there."

Kors told Unite the Fight they were hiring staff today "to do regional work. They will be [in the Central Valley] for the long term."

Kors said he found the BAR article, "surprising and confusing," having spoken to people mentioned in the article for some time and offering support, without hearing of any problems. "I hope we all can focus on unifying the community to fight against an emboldened enemy."

Robin does regret she let the BAR "bait her" with Seth's questions and does in fact have a desire to have good working relationship with the EQCA and NCLR. "Different stories are floating around out there. I didn't make this happen, though. I try to make every decision I make come from honesty and the heart. All in all, I have to answer to me, my family, my community."

As many leaders and grassroots organizers have told this blog, it's time we move on and work together, heading in one direction. Growing pains will exist. Miscommunications will abound. Feelings will be hurt. But we all have to keep our eye on our shared ultimate goal - FULL EQUALITY FOR ALL.

New Hampshire's Senate Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee held its public hearing Wednesday on the same-sex marriage bill that passed the House in March.

FOX 44 reports:
"At least 500 people crowded into New Hampshire's Statehouse in an emotional and sometimes boisterous hearing over whether allowing gay marriage would weaken or strengthen the family institution."

"Emotions ran high as the philosophical debate created some face-to-face confrontations. Several hundred people against gay marriage and a smaller number supporting it gathered in separate groups on the Statehouse plaza, mixing briefly as they headed into the building for a Senate committee hearing on whether New Hampshire should be the fifth state to allow gay marriage. As they mixed, some from the pro-gay marriage group shouted 'Love means everyone,' prompting others to counter: 'Support traditional marriage.'"
“Civil rights,” said Tom Keeler, a Concord gay activist, speaking through a bullhorn. “That’s all there is to this. There is a minority being oppressed by a majority.”

At one point, an opponent of gay marriage tried to block the megaphone.

Though the bill is expected to pass the committee, its future on the Senate floor remains uncertain with some senators believing it will fail.

Democratic Gov. John Lynch signed the state's current civil unions bill and thinks that law is sufficient and has expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage. However, he hasn't spoken on whether or not he would veto a bill if it reached his desk.

Find out what you can do to help the New Hampshire bill by going to this Unite the Fight actions post.

Go to Blue Hampshire for a first-hand account.

NY Gov. Paterson Holds Press Conference - Announces Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

New York Gov. David Paterson, joined by lawmakers and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, held a press conference Thursday announcing his decision to officially submit a same-sex marriage bill, forcing the state legislature to take up the issue before it's prepared to do so.

"Silence is not a means for fighting against injustice," said Paterson, referring to the criticism made against Albany after lawmakers decided against making New York the next state allowing same-sex marriage. “What we have is not a crisis of issues; we have a crisis of leadership,” Paterson said. “We’re going to fill that vacuum today. I’m introducing a bill to bring marriage equality to the state of New York.”

"States should not be in the business of deciding who we can and can't marry," added Paterson. "The timing is always right. It's just a matter of who is willing to take the step, and I am."

“When it comes to recognizing civil rights, New York state has always been a leader,” Bloomberg said, citing the fight for women’s suffrage, immigration rights and equal rights for African Americans. “Keeping with that proud history, I agree with the governor that New York should be the next state to allow same-sex marriages.”

The governor faces many challenges, one of his biggest coming from Sen. Ruben Diaz, who is also a pentecostal pastor. He plans to eagerly fight this legislation. He has called on the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization to meet on Thursday, the same day that the bill was introduced according to the New York Daily News.

"I think this is the wrong time to do it," Diaz said, according to the New York Post. He added that the incoming legislation is a particular insult to the newly installed archbishop Timothy Dolan. "[Paterson] is doing this as a welcoming ceremony for the new Catholic? It's ridiculous."

To add to the conflict, Archbishop Timonthy Dolan, who was installed Wednesday as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church of New York, hasn't minced words on his and the church's opposition to same-sex marriage. (See WABC-TV New York's report)

“You’ll find I don’t shy away from those things. I wouldn’t sidestep them,” said Dolan, in a news conference. “You could expect me to articulate that with all the clarity … I can muster.”

Hours before his installation Wednesday, Dolan said he will work with the state’s other Roman Catholic bishops to defeat legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage. Paterson, who is expected to attend Dolan’s installation Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is set to introduce a gay marriage bill Thursday.

Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith has said in the past that the senate will only vote on the bill if there is enough support for it to pass; it is currently thought to be several votes short of the necessary threshold for passage.

Elizabeth Benjamin of the Daily News reports,"Sen. Tom Duane, who was initially not pleased with Paterson's decision to push gay marriage, now says he believes the bill will pass "with bipartisan support," although he isn't naming the names of any GOP supporters."

New York Gov. David Patterson Press Conference on Same-Sex Marriage

Watch it live on WRGB CBS.

Another Victory for Same-Sex Couples in Washington State

Under a bill passed Wednesday, same-sex domestic partners in Washington state will now have all the rights and benefits the state offers married couples. Controlled by the Democrats, the state House approved the measure already passed by the Senate. The vote divided along party-lines 62-35.

"Our state is one that thrives on diversity," said Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), who confirmed she will sign it into law. "We have to respect and protect all of the families that make up our communities."

The previous domestic partnership measures provided hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will with protections in probate and trusts, community property and guardianship. The new bill expands these rights by also referring to partnerships alongside marriages in remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are mentioned. The statutes range from labor and employment rights to pensions and other public employee benefits.

Opponents said the measure would have a detrimental effect on traditional marriage.

"We cannot elevate the legal standing of domestic partnerships to equate with marriage and not have profound impact on the status of marriage in this state," said Rep. Jay Rodne (R).

Joseph Fuiten, a Bothell pastor who leads the Positive Christian Agenda, a state group of Christian organizations opposed to same-sex marriage, said his group and others are weighing whether to try to get enough signatures for a ballot initiative to overturn the expanded measure.

Fuiten said he believes the law will have "severe consequences" over time.

Go to Equal Rights Washington to find out how you can help prevent equal rights opponents from pulling off a "Prop 8" in Washington state.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LGBT Rights Activists Demand an End to "Hyatt Hypocrisy"

Unite the Fight contributor, Boo Jarchow, works for, writing mainly political and news columns, as well as for and other Regent Media companies. She is also a full-time activist in the fight for equality. To get involved, check out

At noon on Tuesday, there was a gathering of activists, workers, and labor leaders at the Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood to show support for marriage equality and the continued joining of forces of the labor unions and LGBT community. The Andaz was the chosen location because it is owned and operated by the Hyatt Corp. which also operates the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, owned by Doug Manchester. The Manchester Hyatt has been at the center of the battle for same-sex marriage since Doug Manchester donated $125,000 to making sure Prop 8 made it on the California ballot last November.

Cleve Jones, Rick Jacobs, John Cleary, John Duran, and several leaders in the activist community for LGBT rights met to make our demand to end the ‘Hyatt Hypocrisy’ by asking the Hyatt to publicly support marriage equality, and for Hyatt to sever all ties with Doug Manchester. The Andaz, and other Hyatt properties, make a lot of money from the gay community, and as Rick Jacobs said “therefore, has an obligation to stand for equality and against the bigotry shown by its business partner, Doug Manchester.”

It isn’t enough that he takes our money, but he has to take our rights as well? In this economy, we are all struggling, but I do not see how it benefits anyone to take rights away from others. Since the Andaz is part of West Hollywood, our gay home in Los Angeles, I agree with Cleve Jones in that we should not, and will not, boycott them, as it will just further hurt our own community.

It was great to be there with all these great leaders, putting our words into action and once again fighting for equality. It was a really great reminder that no matter how small an action may be, it still gets us closer to achieving equality and our rights in the future.

I know that the continued support of the labor unions for the LGBT community, and vice versa, is essential to our fight, and will be key to the success of both our community and the unions. We have to band together and support those people who support us, and this was definitely clear at our action at the Andaz.

The location of the Andaz being on Sunset Blvd meant that we had a lot of visibility from the surrounding business, people walking and driving by, but most importantly the tour buses that kept stopping right beside us, many of which asked what was going on. It is great to know that our message was not only sent to the Andaz, its management, and witnesses from our community, but to people from all over the country who do not get exposed to our struggle very often, if at all. Those people are a good number of the people we need to educate about what we aim to achieve.

TAX DAY Is a Busy Day

I will be out and about reporting on tax day actions today. So I'll be blogging intermittently. Rest assured, things will return to normal promptly. And with new action stories!

Nevada Gov. Threatens Veto of Domestic Partnership Bill

Nevada's Republican Governor Jim Gibbons has made his position on domestic partnerships very clear, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "I just don't believe it."

The bill would give same-sex couples “same rights, protections, benefits, responsibilities, obligations and duties” as married couples in the state. The governor remarked the domestic partnerships is just another way of saying marriage and referred to what happened in California as grounds for his decision.

Contact the governor and urge him to support the bill.

State Capitol
101 N. Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
(775) 684-5670

Openly gay Nevada Sen. David Parks wrote the bill. He told the Review-Journal, “I see the bill as only being on first base. It has a long way to go before getting to the governor.”

Voice your support for the senator.

Capitol Address
Care of Nevada Senate
401 South Carson Street, Room 2121
Carson City, NV 89701
Phone: 775-684-6504

District Address
Post Office Box 71887
Las Vegas, NV 89170-1887
Phone: 702-736-6929 (Home)

EVENT REMINDER: Stand for Marriage Equality on Tax Day!

TODAY IS TAX DAY! Read this post to see what actions are planned today to fight for your rights!

Don't forget to rally for your rights on tax day Wednesday, April 15! Many benefits offered through marriage are denied the LGBT population because of anti-gay marriage laws, and this is more pronounced than ever during tax season.

Check out the new press release from Marriage Equality USA, Join the Impact and HRC.

Also, don't forget to celebrate on tax day as well. Check out Same Sex Kiss Day. Going to Starbucks will never be the same!
As millions of Americans file their income taxes, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups call attention to the tax inequities facing same-sex couples as a result of the state and federal laws that refuse to recognize or extend civil marriage protections to same-sex couples.

Marriage Equality USA, Join the Impact and the Human Rights Campaign have collectively organized a series of events at U. S. Post Offices across the nation to highlight the ongoing moral and financial costs of denying marriage equality to same-sex couples—as well as the consequences paid by all Americans as a result of these discriminatory state and federal laws.

Join the Impact:
"As LGBT Americans, we work hard, take care of our families, and pay our taxes every year. Yet, our families are not included in the very policies we help fund. Our loved ones are treated like legal strangers and denied the economic protections given to our heterosexual counterparts."
Molly McCay, Marriage Equality USA Media Director, states:
“Each tax season, same-sex couples sit at their dining room tables and are forced to live a legal lie by checking ‘single’ despite their decades together and then arbitrarily dividing up their joint household’s income, expenses, and dependents. Then we write checks to the IRS for social security taxes, knowing that when we die our families will not even have access to any of the family ‘safety net’ benefits provided in the form of social security survivor benefits, estate tax deferral, and other programs that we help fund through our tax dollars and that only heterosexual couples and their children will enjoy.”
To find out what rallies in your area, go to


A study produced by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) debunks the myth that granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry would cost the government money. In fact, it would save taxpayer dollars. Same-sex couples aren’t the only ones paying for marriage discrimination, all taxpayers fund this discrimination which amounts to as much as $1 billion over the next 10 years

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report debunking same-sex marriage myth

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

VIDEO: Marriage for All Maine Families

Families from all over Maine came together to produce this video in support for the state's same-sex marriage bill.

There will be a public hearing on the bill held next week on April 22. The venue was changed due to an expected large turn out.

Find out how you can get more involved at Equality Maine.

Stay tuned to Unite the Fight for coverage.

Rachel Maddow On NOM Removing YouTube Videos

NOM Goofs Again and Finds Itself the Butt of Jokes

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) sure is the butt of a lot of jokes (again) ever since they ignorantly started a campaign with the acronym 2M4M (Two Million For Marriage). Check out Rachel Maddow's hysterical response.

To make matters worse for NOM, they weren't swift enough to register the domain name ending in .org. Luckily, a group of pro-gays have. So if some anti-gay warrior decides to look up NOM's campaign, they'll more than likely run into this.

Check it out and give your support!

Oh, and wait. Here's another good laugh regarding NOM's guffaw:

URGENT ACTION ALERT: Iowa Anti-Gay Actions Outnumber Us 2-to-1

According to an email from HRC President, Joel Solmonese, opponents to same-sex marriage in Iowa are emailing and calling Iowa's representatives 2-to-1 against us.

PLEASE HELP IN REVERSING THAT RATIO by emailing our legislative supporters through HRC's action site or directly. Contact Senate Majority Leader Gronstal, House Speaker Patrick Murphy and Gov. Chet Culver.

Picture from the Desmoines Register.

VIDEO: Gay Marriage - Just the Facts

EVENT REMINDER: New Hampshire Same-Sex Marriage Public Hearing Tomorrow

Public testimony will be taken on the efficacy of legalizing all qualified domestic partnerships.

It is imperative that people attend this hearing. It is particularly important that families attend including children. People will start gathering at 8AM in front of the State House. You do not have to speak if you chose not to, you can register your support by attending.

State House
Concord, NH

When: Wednesday, April 15th, 08:00 AM - 12:00 PM EST

ACTION NEEDED: NY Gov. Will Introduce Same-Sex Marriage Bill Thursday

New York Gov. David Patterson announced today that he will introduce same-sex marriage legislation on Thursday at 10am EST, forcing the state House and Senate to take up the issue sooner than expected. (See call to action after jump)

His reasoning, in light of Vermont and Iowa same-sex marriage victories, is that New York should take a stand and commit to treating same-sex couples equally, which some gay rights advocates have challenged due to timing.

With the Governor's approval ratings hitting record lows, many wonder if this is the right time for the legislation. The major roadblock could be in the State Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has said that marriage equality advocates are at least a vote or two short.

The New York Times reports:
“'This is not a guarantee of anything,' said Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner, a Democrat from the Upper East Side who noted that it took two months for legislation legalizing same-sex marriage to get through the Assembly in 2007 before it ultimately stalled. The Senate never acted on the bill.

"The legislation is likely to have an especially bumpy ride in the Senate, where more lawmakers oppose same-sex marriage than support it. Gay rights advocates are now actively seeking more senators, both Democrats and Republicans, to vote for the bill.

"While Mr. Paterson has said he would like to see lawmakers “fight it out” and debate the bill on the floor of both houses even if it fails, Albany tradition dictates that the bill is likely to come to a vote only when it has enough support to pass. Senator Thomas K. Duane, a Democrat and the bill’s chief supporter in the Senate, has said he opposes the governor’s notion of fast-tracking it. And the Senate majority leader, Malcolm A. Smith, has said he would bring the bill to the floor when it has enough support."
As Unite the Fight had earlier reported, the predicament in New York is that many face an irate LGBT support base if they don't see some sort of traction towards marriage equality. However, pro-gay legislators want to do their best by being sure they can actually win such a bill. The governor is now throwing a wrench in their strategy.

The question is, how long were they planning to wait to vote? What work was actually being done on winning over opposing votes? Whatever the answers to those questions are, they're moot. They have to kick it into gear. Something I have always supported.

Whether they're ready or not, they're moving forward. And they're going to need all the help they can get. So what do you do?

Three conservative Democrats oppose same-sex marriage. We need to contact them and request their support.

Senator Ruben Diaz (See history of anti-gay actions here)
1733 East 172nd Street
Bronx, NY 10472
Tel: (718) 991-3161

Senator Carl Kruger
Office of State Senator Carl Kruger
2201 Avenue U
Brooklyn, NY 11229
Tel: (718) 743-8610

Sen. Pedro Espada Jr.
33rd District
State Capital, Room 420
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: 518-455-3395
Fax: 518-426-6858

Illinois Moving Fast Towards Civil Unions, But Should It?

Facing down threats to stop it, the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, or HB 2234, which would grant same-sex couples the right to have civil unions, overcame its obstacles and passed a House subcommittee. It now will go to the House floor for a vote.

Current Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn believes that this bill will pass, saying "I think that's probably where the legislature is headed in the state."

Five years ago One year ago, this might have been good news, but now? Just hearing "civil unions" runs against my grain. Why? Because it has already been established in several states that that institution is a bone to satisfy second-class citizens, including the LGBT population. With so many marriage equality victories as of late, why should we settle for civil unions?

The Chicago Tribune ran a story this morning talking about why civil unions should come first and how, for Illinois, the strategy is more fitting than for states like Iowa.
"'In Illinois, we're charting what we think is the right path now for our state,' said Jim Madigan, executive director of the gay rights group Equality Illinois. '[Civil unions have] the advantage of really abating a lot of the harms suffered by couples who aren't married. And for those people for whom marriage remains a sticking point, it allows them to find a middle ground.'

"Because of the nature of the Illinois Constitution and the makeup of the state's Supreme Court, Equality Illinois has asked its members not to seek any kind of court action regarding same-sex marriage. Iowa followed a judicial path to gay marriage, but it's a state with a strong equal protection clause in its constitution and a Supreme Court known for being progressive with regard to civil rights issues.

";When people say to themselves, 'How could Iowa be ahead of California or Illinois on all of this?' it's important to remember that Iowa has had this unique reputation of being in front on issues like women's equality and race equality,' Madigan said. 'In Illinois, at the Supreme Court level, we haven't had many precedents that touch on [lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender] issues.'"
Reading this, I understand the logic and want to agree. But at the same time, I feel it's a glaring concession during a tidal wave of advancement for marriage equality. I am no expert by any means on the law in Illinois, but I can't help but remember Martin Luther King's "A Letter from a Birmingham Jail" when he responded to critics who said that he must wait, move slowly and consider the circumstances:
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
I lived in Chicago. I did sit-ins at the county clerk's office demanding marriage certificates. And if I still lived there, I would do it again. I would also stand with my LGBT co-patriots in their fight for civil unions. Yet not a day would pass without them hearing from me, "But what about marriage?"

Unite the Fight Wants to Hear From YOU!

Unite the Fight started a few days after the November elections in response to the overwhelming but amazing action directed against the Proposition 8 victory. It grew out of the need to help the Los Angeles community know the when, where, how, what and why of all the flurry of activity happening around them.

Since then, Unite the Fight has grown, covering the amazing momentum of the marriage equality movement happening nationwide to other topics of LGBTQ equality, but keeping its main focus on marriage . . . for now.

Unite the Fight's readership has soared since its inception. I see you. I have readers from all over the USA and internationally - Australia, UK, Yemen, Czech Republic, Russia, China, Trinidad and Tobago and more.

Now I want to hear from you. I want to know what you need from Unite the Fight. What you're hoping to see, what you want to read about, what you want to discuss. On top of that, I'm always happy to accept contributing posts, even if they're posts that disagree with me. All points of views should be heard.

Unite the Fight has accepted the amazing opportunity to be the official blog for Meet in the Middle 4 Equality, covering the actions, marches, speakers and rallies the day of the event. It's going to be a huge challenge, but I'm up for it. With the help of some amazing people, of course. I would like to hear what you're hoping to see from that as well, especially if you're not going to be able to make the event.

(I will soon have a confirmed list of speakers and events - you can then let me know what you want covered.)

Please leave a comment under this post - I will be reading them all. Or you can email me directly at

Keep Uniting! Keep Fighting! Win Your Rights!

VIDEO: Million Gay March- June 28th 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Attempts to Undermine Iowa Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Fails

Once again, opponents to marriage equality rallied today at Iowa's capitol armed with another attempt to enforce measures that would undermine the state's Supreme Court ruling that effectively made same-sex marriage legal.

Marriage equality, however, seems hard to kill. One Iowa just Twittered that the measure failed 50-43.

However, the fight is far from over, as anyone who has encountered equality foes knows. “Despite the media lies that this is over,” Chuck Hurley of the conservative Iowa Family Policy Center told the crowd today. “We have only begun to fight."

Stay united in your fight against such inequality by going to One Iowa's action call page and find out what you can do.

VIDEO: Gay Marriage = Religious Freedom

My friend Rob of Waking Up made yet another great video knocking down the arguments of the right wing against same-sex marriage. It's quickly circulating the internet. As he put it, " Arm yourself with the facts so you can take down the paranoid people who think freedom means we all have to live like they want us to."

Pass it on.

Meghan McCain, "Sexual orientation should not be a factor in how you are treated."

Meghan McCain, daughter of last November's Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, earlier appeared on Larry King Live where she stated her support of same-sex marriage. She sent the Republican Party into a tizzy while gaining many allies in the LGBT community.

Today, she posted a column on the Daily Beast to clarify her statements.

"I am a woman who despises labels and boxes and stereotypes. Recently, I seemed to have rocked a few individuals within my party by saying that I am a pro-life, pro-gay-marriage Republican. So if anyone is still confused, let me spell it out for you. I believe life begins at conception and I believe that people who fall in love should have the option to get married. Lest we forget, our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, grants the same rights to everyone in this country—“All men are created equal.” If you think certain rights should not apply to certain people, then you are saying those people are not equal. People may always have a difference of opinion on certain lifestyles, but championing a position that wants to treat people unequally isn't just un-Republican. At its fundamental core, it's un-American."
Throughout the piece, she makes clear her support for the Republican Party, that she's not straying from it but hoping to steer it back to its roots. She informs that she will be speaking at the Log Cabin Republicans' convention.
"At the end of the day, speaking at the Log Cabin Republicans' convention isn’t just about reaching out to the gay community—although I believe doing so is vital to the future success of the party. It’s also about reaching a wider base and redefining what it means to be Republican, and leaving labels, stereotypes, and negativity by the wayside. That more and more people are discussing gay rights speaks positively for the millions of young and progressive Republicans waiting for our party to return to its roots. Personal freedoms are what makes this country the greatest country in the world. And just like the civil-rights and feminist movements before this, the movement toward gay equality and gay marriage is one I have absolute faith will triumph over prejudices. Moreover, I believe the Republican Party has, at this moment, the opportunity to come forward and play an instrumental role in securing gay rights. That's why I'm speaking at the Log Cabin convention and couldn't be prouder to be doing so. And yes, I'm still a Republican. Get used to it."
If the whole of the Republican Party was more like her, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a reason not to switch parties. The Democrats in the past have offered many promises to the LGBT community only to ditch us once elected.

Calling her support for the gay community's cause "one of the ones closest to my heart," Meghan supports her words with action. If she ran for office, I may have to put my cynicism aside and actually believe her promises of equality.

If a new generation of Republicans follows Meghan's lead, it would be a mighty case of irony if the history books told about how the Republican Party brought LGBT equality to America.

ACTION NEEDED: New Hampshire Gearing Up for Its Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Dean Barker posted on Pam's House Blend, reminding everyone that HB346, New Hampshire's same-sex marriage bill that passed the state House by seven votes, is now headed to the Senate very soon.

He wrote:
"A couple of key points:

* It is my belief, and that of some others, that our Democratic governor [John Lynch], while voicing a muted, personal opposition to marriage equality, does not have the political space to veto this if it passes the state senate.

* Right now, we have a 14-9 Democratic majority in the senate.

* We also have a special election for the 24th seat coming up in just a cople of weeks. The Democrat in the race, Bud Martin, has announced that he supports marriage equality! If he wins prior to a vote, he could very well be the clincher.
See Queers United post on helping Bud Martin get elected.

In order to help New Hampshire pass the bill, Barker lists some ACTIONS:

1) Contact the state senate, especially if you are a Granite Stater, with your support of HB436. Be polite, please - they are likely getting deluged right now on this on both sides.

2) Give if you can to Democrat Bud Martin's special election state senate campaign, who supports HB436.

3) Spread the word to anyone you know in New Hamphshire who can attend the public hearing this Wednesday.

Barker also contributes to Blue Hampshire, NH's progressive political blog, on which he has an ongoing series titled Face of Marriage Equality, a must see. Spread the word.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Beautiful Video of Testimonies for and Against Prop 8

These testimonies for and against Prop 8 were given in front of the California Assembly Judiciary Committee for HR5, a committee representing the California legislature to decide whether or not they would support overturning Prop 8. This decision would then be given to the California Supreme Court as a recommendation.

Maine Marriage Bill Public Hearing Info Changed

An email from Equality Maine on the Maine Marriage Bill public hearing:

Today we received important information that the public hearing of our marriage bill has been changed to WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22 at the AUGUSTA CIVIC CENTER (Map).

Given the overwhelming number of people on both sides who are planning to attend the hearing, the Legislature made the decision to move the location to the Augusta Civic Center on the nearest available day, Wednesday April 22.

Now more than ever, we need you at the public hearing. RSVP to Include your name, address, and phone number.

This will be the most important day of the campaign outside the final vote. The media, legislators, governor, and the people of Maine will be watching. We cannot let the opposition outnumber us on this critical day.

Please spread the word to your friends and family. This will be a family-friendly event, with activities and spaces for children and their loved ones.

The hearing starts at 9am. Doors open at 8am. Large crowds are expected, please plan to arrive early.

Remember to RSVP to Once you RSVP, you will receive important details about the hearing.

We cannot win without you. See you on April 22.

Betsy Smith
Executive Director

VIDEO: NYC Protest Against Iraqi Executions of Gay Men

Unite the Fight reported earlier on the executions of gay men in Iraq and the vigils and protests that were planned in response.

This past Friday, New York City had its demonstration. Here is the video:

London plans on having their demonstration later this week.

Rachel Maddow Reacts to NOM's 2M4M Campaign


Poor NOM. Just having a REALLY bad week. Let's hope it turns into a very bad month? Year? ETERNITY.

VIDEO: Invalidate Prop 8 - Day of Decision