Saturday, June 6, 2009

VIDEO: Stephen Colbert Reacts to the Prop 8 Ruling

Colbert supports separate but equal, but naturally, we must create many more categories of marriage so that "the gays" aren't the only ones separate. LOL.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - I Do, You Don't
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorKeyboard Cat

NY Senator Announces He'll Vote Against Marriage Equality

R News reports that New York Republican Senator Andrew Lanza, who represents Staten Island, has shifted from undecided to no against the governor's proposed gay marriage legislation.

Capital Tonight, which has been conducting a senate poll, tallies 20 yes votes, 29 no votes, nine undecided, and four would not say. This is looking worse than on Tuesday, when NY1 released its poll.

Marriage equality bill sponsor Sen. Tom Duane held a press conference Monday announcing he had the 32 votes needed to pass the bill. So my question - who are they? Because right now it's not looking so good. Was this just a tactic? Because if so, he's not just messing with fellow senators heads, he's messing with the hearts and minds of thousands of LGBT individuals, families and friends.

Let's just hope that he's got an ace in his back pocket.

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - "Will & Grace"'s Eric McCormack

Unite the Fight interviews "Will & Grace"'s Eric McCormack, who had just finished addressing the thousands rallying at Meet in the Middle. As a straight ally, he talks about how baffling it is to him that people voted Yes on Prop 8 when allowing marriage equality wouldn't affect them in any way. He also compares the LGBT civil rights movement to suffrage and African Americans' struggle for equality.

Gay Dads Get a Lift at Ikea

Since I really want to be a dad, I felt compelled to repost this from Bilerico Project's Dana Rudolph. It made me laugh but in a great way - a gleeful laugh of, "Oh wow, we're so commonplace now!"

One more reason I love IKEA. Actual photo from the IKEA in Stoughton, Mass. (Slight color correction, but otherwise not Photoshopped.)

And yes, there was another elevator next to it with a "man" and a "woman" and a child—or at least that's what I assume it was intended to be. One of the figures was in a dress. Interpret it as you will. (And I know this crowd will.) That seemed less extraordinary, however, and since my son was dragging me away for meatballs, I didn't grab a photo.

One other item to note. Dana made a fan out of me with her comment, "Interpret as you will," in her reference to the other elevator with a figure in a dress. This is such an amazing awareness of our trans population whom I feel gets overlooked too much in our community.

Hey Everyone! We've Helped Marriage Equality Dominate Blogs!

According to Pew Research Center:
Over the past two months, one issue has emerged as the leading catalyst for online conversation. While debates over harsh interrogation methods and the economic crisis have repeatedly attracted interest in the social media, the subject of gay marriage has bubbled up again and again, in a debate often missing from the mainstream media.

Last week (May 25-29) it was a California Supreme Court ruling upholding a gay marriage ban that re-ignited the social media debate, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. With 35% of all the linked-to news stories, as studied by the Project's New Media Index, the ruling dominated online conversation. That marked the fourth time in the last two months that the topic has either been the No. 1 or No. 2 story.
Pretty cool, huh?

The research goes on to state the obvious that not all the blogs were pro-marriage equality (and that it isn't a big subject for mainstream media). But at least the subject isn't going away anytime soon, and that's better than not being discussed at all, because once no one cares, the debate is over. Once the debate is over, we become irrelevant and we lose.

Continue to engage! (Pun intended)

Friday, June 5, 2009

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - Lt. Dan Choi

Lt. Dan Choi of Knights Out gives a message to the LGBT population and gay service men and women currently still in the armed forced.

With the controversy over Jason Belinni's report at the Daily Beast that the HRC agreed with the White House not to push for DADT to be repealed this year, and HRC's subsequent denial, Knight's Out issued the following statement.

Knights Out, an organization of 400 straight and gay West Point graduates, former staff and faculty, and allies, respectfully calls on our President to sign a stop-loss order immediately to allow Lieutenant Dan Choi, and all other gay and lesbian soldiers, to continue to serve without risk of expulsion under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Expelling gay and lesbian soldiers compromises military readiness. These are soldiers we need to win our wars.
Choi faces a hearing next week that will officially determine if he'll be discharged from the National Guard under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. So far, President Obama has given no indication that he will put the discriminatory policy, which does not contribute to our nation's best interest, on hold.

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - Cleve Jones

UPDATE: There was a question from Queer John in the comments about the three other groups that have reserved the Washington Mall for the same dates at the National March for Equality. Good question.

I just spoke to Cleve and he is aware of the situation and has actually worked with one of these groups before. He is also in communication with Washington's parks and police departments. He will know more Monday and once I speak to him then, I will let you know what happens.

He's done this before. I bet he could organize a march in his sleep.
Unite the Fight interviews long-time activist Cleve Jones and discuss his announcement of the National March for Equality in Washington DC this coming October 10-11, 2009.

Read more about how the Washington DC march came into being.

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - EQCA and Marriage Equality USA Talk About Next Campaign

Unite the Fight interviews Equality California's new Marriage Director, Marc Solomon, about the next campaign to repeal Prop 8, most likely in 2010. Marc recently moved to California after helping Massachusetts win marriage equality back in 2004.

Married couple Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski from Marriage Equality USA talk about the Get Engaged Tour, a statewide tour hosting 80 town halls that will present the results of the largest marriage equality polling conducted in California. It will ask the community for feedback and how to proceed for the next campaign to repeal Prop 8.

NY Senate Majority Leader: Not Enough Votes for Marriage Equality

Despite all the theatrics, New York State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who supports marriage equality, is sticking to the one point he's been making since Gov. David Paterson introduced the state's marriage equality bill: he will not bring the bill to a vote unless he has the support to pass it, and he claims he does not.

Despite sponsor Sen. Tom Duane's declaration that he has the votes, Smith says otherwise and referred to NY1's senate poll that stated 28 senators were against, 10 undecided and 4 not stating.

During a news conference yesterday Smith pointed to the NY1 tally to back up his claims that the votes are not there. (See Video)

"I watch NY1," said Smith. "I trust those numbers."

"What about your own internal numbers?" responded NY1 Political reporter Josh Robin. "Senator Tom Duane, your colleague, says he has 32-plus."

"I have been steadfast in my position and I will repeat it again. I don't have 32 votes," answered Smith.

There's only nine days left before the Senate adjourns.

ACTION: Contact Sen. Malcolm Smith and urge him to let the senate do a conscientious vote, otherwise known a non-party line vote, a rare but not unprecedented occurrence in New York state.

Obama and Clinton Accused of Inaction As Iraqi LGBT Torture and Murder Continue

The Iraqi LGBT population have been suffering from severe persecution ever since the US invaded Iraq, exposing them to torture and murder.

Back in April, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis sent a letter to the chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Iraq about the situation and as a result, recently had the opportunity to meet with them.

It didn't go so well. LGBT Asylum News and Iraqi LGBT issued the following press release:
Iraqi gays condemn Obama/Clinton inaction on pogrom
Embassy statement 'offensive and insulting'

Iraqi lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT) has spoken of their deep anger and offence at a statement by the Baghdad US Embassy concerning the violence and murder campaign against gays.

In a response to US Rep. Jared Polis, following a meeting with Iraqi government officials, chargé d’affaires Patricia Butenis said "We have no evidence that [the Iraq government's] security forces are in any way involved with these militias."

Iraqi LGBT has been reporting for four years on police involvement with the terror campaign.

Group members speaking from Iraq said that they are "fed up with such 'political' words" and that the Americans are doing nothing to stop the terror campaign against them. They believe that the priority for Hillary Clinton's State Department and Obama's administration is to not upset the Iraqi government as they have no other allies within the country.

They believe that no-one is trying to help them and feel that the current timid diplomacy "will not do much good".

"These words from the American embassy officials are insulting to us, and to those many friends of ours who have murdered. This statement is evidence that the Iraqi government is doing nothing to protect its citizens."

"They are responsible for these crimes through bringing no one to justice, refusing to acknowledge their police's involvement and providing no rights for Iraqi LGBT in law."

"People should not forget that what's happening in Iraq right now is a direct result of the unlawful US invasion."

Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT Rights Program, has also criticism the State Department. In an interview with EdgeBoston, responding to State spokesperson John T. Fleming's pointed statement that 'homosexuality is not a crime in Iraq', Long responded that the fact that homosexuality is not a crime punishable by death "would be an interesting fact if the law, or the rule of law, mattered in Iraq."

Long has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Iraq where he spoke to 25 survivors from Baghdad and other cities, including Najaf, Basra and Samarra.

As a consequence of what they found, Human Rights Watch has been organizing ways for as many LGBT Iraqis as possible to get out of the country.

Colorado U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who has spoken about Iraqi government involvement with the violence, has written with Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank to U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill.

"As LGBT Americans and co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we are disturbed and shocked at allegations that Ministry of the Interior Security Forces may be involved in the mass persecution and execution of LGBT Iraqis ... The persecution of Iraqis based on sexual orientation or gender identity is escalating and is unacceptable regardless of whether these policies are extrajudicial or state-sanctioned."

The letter called on the U.S. embassy in Iraq to "prioritize the investigation" of the allegations and work with the Iraqi government to end the executions of LGBT Iraqis. Polis is drafting another letter that would be signed by more members of Congress and sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
So let me get this right. This is the same embassy who decided to throw a "first-ever U.S. Embassy Gay Pride Theme Party" blocks away from persecuted LGBT a couple weeks ago?

Unfortunately, by this point, their insensitivity is not shocking but something to be expected.

I was honored to have the chance to speak in front of the Los Angeles City Council about this issue and witnessed as they passed a resolution condemning the persecution last month, but it doesn't seem to have made a dent in our government's reaction to the crisis.

The day after the resolution passed, my friend Mike Bonin, Chief of Staff to LA City Councilmember Rosendahl, directly asked Vice President Biden what was being done about the persecution, but the answer wasn't all that encouraging. Came down to, "Not much."


I implore you to:
  1. Contact the Embassy and tell them to launch a formal investigation into the Iraqi's government involvement and to demand the Obama administration to act.
  2. Contact Secretary of State Clinton and demand action to put an end to this!
  3. Sign this petition going to the President and US Congress demanding an investigation to the torture and murder.
  4. Join this Facebook group to stay involved, to be informed and to show support for Iraqi LGBT.

YouTube Blast: Popular Equality Videos on the Web

What If? from Project Pushback on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - COLAGE's Morgan Early

I LOVE this interview with straight ally Morgan Early of Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE) and this amazing family.

Federal Case Against Prop 8 Announces Its Board

The federal case from the American Foundation for Equal Rights against Prop 8, spearheaded by uber-lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, has announced the board behind the challenge.
  • Chad Griffin, founding partner of political and communications strategy firm Griffin|Schake
  • Rob Reiner, film director
  • Michele Reiner, photographer, producer, and children’s advocate
  • Bruce Cohen, producer
  • Kristina Schake, founding partner of political and communications strategy firm Griffin|Schake
  • Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winning screenwriter for "Milk"
More detailed information on the board here:

American Foundation for Equal Rights Board

Read Time's article from today, "Olson's Gay-Marriage Gambit: Powerful Symbol, but a Risk."

Do you think the timing is right to go to the federal level to fight Prop 8? What if we win in 2010 or 2012 before this case is heard in the Supreme Court? It would make this case moot and erase any chance of federal recognition it could bring. Or worse, what if it does go to the conservative Supreme Court and we lose there?

What are your thoughts?

Check Out UTF's Top 15 Posts for May

The top posts are calculated by how many unique views each received. A broad range of topics caught your eye, but the hot topic, despite Prop 8 and Decision Day, was President Obama.

  1. UPDATE: Obama Makes Demonstration a Punchline/VIDEO: Obama Demonstration at Los Angeles DNC Fundraiser Demanding End to Silence on LGBT Issues
  2. Erases 6 of 8 Promises to LGBT Community
  3. View Live Feed of Meet in the Middle Here on Unite the Fight and SheWired!
  4. Torie Osborn of Courage Campaign Says of Repealing Prop 8, "If Not Now, When?"
  5. Day of Decision Rally and March Information for Tuesday, May 26
  7. Charlize Theron Reminds Everyone to 'Meet in the Middle for Equality' This Saturday
  8. VIDEO: CA Statewide Leadership Summit for Marriage Equality - Live Stream
  9. Thousands at Meet in the Middle 4 Equality!
  10. Mixner Calls For LGBT Rights March On Washington DC, Cleve Jones Responds
  11. Wal-Mart CEO Signs Petition Banning Gay Adoption
  12. Prop 8 Battle Reaches the Federal Level
  14. Pictures of Meet in the Middle 4 Equality Rally!
  15. Gay Iraqis Tortured, Killed Using Superglue to Close Anus

Keep an eye out for more UTF interviews from backstage at Meet in the Middle, New York state senate vote on the marriage equality bill, posts on The Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the ongoing discussion about when to go back to the ballot to repeal Prop 8.

Anti-Gay NY Sen. Diaz Tells Pro-Gay Sen. Duane to "Shut Up." Response - "LOL"

The other day, Sen. Tom Duane held a press conference stating that he had wrangled enough votes to pass New York's marriage equality bill, but a NY1 polling of the senators the next day proved otherwise.

Staunch opponent to anything gay, the ridiculous Sen. Ruben Diaz issued the following press release yesterday:
"If Senator Tom Duane has the necessary Senate votes to pass the homosexual marriage bill in New York State, then he should release the names of those Senators who are supporting the bill. If not, he should shut up.

"If any member of the State Senate is so ashamed to have their names released or to release their own names for this or for any pending legislation, then they clearly feel ashamed of their position."

"If any Senators are unwilling to release their names prior to voting for the homosexual marriage bill, they are sending a clear message to the gay community and to the whole State of New York that these Senators are unwilling to let the public know and that they are ashamed to be publicly associated with the gay community."

"Any Senator who commits himself or herself to something, should be man or woman enough to take a stand and stand by his or her convictions. If they give their word to support something that they are ashamed of, then that is a hypocrisy, and could be interpreted as not wanting to be associated with the matter."

"It is a disgrace that Senator Duane is playing this mind game with his colleagues and with the public. If Senator Duane has the votes, he should release the names. If not, then he should be ashamed of himself.”
Gee, sounds to me that Duane got Diaz all riled up. I mean wow, screw decorum (not that it was ever a concern for homophobe Diaz), but Duane stating that he had all the votes for a bill that Diaz is fanatically against really seemed to work.

Of course, you'd want to know how Duane responded to Diaz's tirade, right?

His official response came in through spokesman Eric Sumberg late yesterday: "LOL."

I think I like this Duane guy!

Recently, the New York Times issued an editorial pushing the senate to take marriage equality bill to a vote.

The people are impatient!

Obama Asked About Marriage Equality on 'Inside the White House'

NBC's "Inside the White House" was a huge hit, and since the numbers were so high, I suspect many LGBT folks were watching too (I don't know why, just a guess).

At this point in the program, I'm sure they all froze, listening intently to Obama's response to the question about his support for the LGBT population and marriage equality.

I've already stated my two cents on Obama, but the irony of sticking to the separate but equal stance on civil unions is so glaring coming from our first African American president.

It saddens me. But I haven't given up completely.

Check out Equal Roots Matt Palazzolo's contributing thoughts on the president.

Also, read today's Politico piece, "Gay groups grow impatient with Barack Obama."

VIDEO: Meet in the Middle - An American Journey

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

VIDEO: The Best Christian Betty Bowers Explains Traditional Marriage to Everyone Else

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - White Knot's Frank Voci

Unite the Fight speaks with Frank Voci of and discusses the ubiquitous symbol of marriage equality.

Learn more about how far the knot has spread by checking out this map. Also, learn how Levis jeans is supporting the LGBT population at

UPDATE: Gov Signs Bill! New Hampshire Has Marriage Equality!

UPDATE 2: Gov. Lynch signs the marriage equality bill, calling today a “great day for all New Hampshire families.” See Video of signing.

UPDATE: Gov. Lynch is to sign the bill today at 5:15pm EST, making New Hampshire the sixth state in the country to have marriage equality!

The House, which initially rejected the marriage equality bill with Gov. Lynch's religion exclusion language, has just passed it 198 to 176!! The Senate passed the bill earlier today.

Now it goes to the governor to sign. He has already promised to sign it with the language the House and Senate settled on in an compromise, which included his religious protections.

More news coming! See Blue Hampshire for more.

For a recap to clear the confusion on what's been happening in New Hampshire, read my earlier post.

Washington & Us: Hope or Hardball?

Contributor Matt Palazzolo is co-founder of the Equal Roots Coalition, a LGBTQ grassroots organization located in Los Angeles, CA.

Two weeks ago California's representative Howard Berman predicted that by the time of June's annual LGBT Pride celebrations the White House would present a very clear picture concerning the future of LGBT policies. I hope that Monday's memo from Obama was not intended to be that “very clear picture.”

I believe Obama to be an intelligent man who believes that true equality, including marriage equality, should be in the hands of all people, but he's hooked the LGBT community in the jaw by being silent on our issues for 4 months straight. That being said, it's not President Obama's responsibility to fix our problems. It's our responsibility to get him to fix them.

Obama's memo celebrating the LGBT community, calling for the end of discrimination, and officially declaring June 2009 (not annually) as LGBT Pride month should have been a breath of fresh air, but it came after four months of silence and was further trumped by Dick Cheney's out of left field support of same-sex marriage that very same day. The President did invite a handful of prominent LGBT leaders over to the White House last month, but all we saw come from that was secrecy over what was discussed and a suddenly tame Joe Solmonese.

It makes me wonder if that White House invitation and Monday's memo were just attempts to calm the storm of disappointment brewing in our community. After all, President Bill Clinton released a nearly identical memo 9 years ago declaring June 2000 as Pride month and I think we all know how much real life benefit we got from that.

A friend described to me his reaction to Obama's memo: “It was like you tripped in the middle of the road and a big truck was hurdling towards you. Obama just stood there and watched you struggle to get up and when you finally did escape the path of the truck on your own he began to applaud 'good job!'”

So what am I trying to say? Why am I being so critical?

This past Wednesday the Equal Roots Coalition (of which I am a co-founder) organized a rally with a handful of other organizations outside of the Beverly Hills Hilton, the hotel at which Obama was attending a DNC fundraiser. Inside the hotel Obama referenced the rally with a self-deprecating and well-intentioned (I believe) joke. The following day the blogosphere was in an uproar over his comments. Were they offensive? Was he mocking us?


I didn't find his joke offensive. In fact I found it nothing less than charming. However, given the fact that so many of us have spent anywhere between weeks and decades organizing out of our own pockets just to spend consecutive days and nights in the streets for a chance at being equal I found his silence on our issues and his light-hearted reference to our rally disappointing and unacceptable.

Obama's silence over the last 4 months, his comments Wednesday night, and his substance-less memo from this Monday are all clear signals that, despite the fact that he is the most LGBT friendly President in history, the work is ours to do and not his. We need to be stepping on his feet so he'll pick up the pace. “Wait,” even when said genuinely, means “never!” It's time to stop hoping for change from our president, but rather to begin playing hardball to affect change from our president.

In the Washington Blade this past week Torie Osborn said that the potential LGBT March on Washington in 2009 would be a way of saying to Obama “we heard you and we know you’re busy, but we expect you to make good on your promises.”

I usually agree 100% with my inspiring mentor and friend, Torie Osborn, but this time I must question her choice of words and what I believe to be the generally softer attitude of the LGBT Movement when it comes to Obama. I know that many of us in the LGBT community have a great deal of faith in Obama's ability to win us our rights, but he will not make good on his promises. We must make good on his promises for him. Obama is one man facing a great deal of people who would punch him in the face politically if he dared to fight for our cause. One man, even President Barack Obama, is not strong enough to fight an army. He needs our army. He needs us and wants us to act up. Cheerleading out of misplaced loyalty will not help his desire to help us.

Perhaps when Obama remained silent on our issues for four months he was trying to say “I heard get louder.”

Perhaps when Obama joked off the LGBT rally outside the Beverly Hilton all he was saying was “I saw get bigger.”

Perhaps if you read between the lines of Obama's LGBT Pride memo you would have seen the words “I get that you're fight harder.”

Perhaps when Obama just stood there and watched us struggle to get out of the way of the speeding truck he was trying to teach us to grow up and fend for ourselves – and when he applauded and said “good job,” he meant it from the bottom of his heart with love and admiration.

For those of you who still don't understand what I'm trying to say I will leave you with this very honest quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“I agree with you. I want to do it. Now make me do it.”

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - "Milk"'s Dustin Lance Black

Unite the Fight interviews Academy Award Winning Screenwriter of "Milk", Dustin Lance Black, while backstage at Meet in the Middle and discusses the challenges facing LGBTQ population in their fight for equality and his next project, "What's Wrong with Virginia?".

Watch Dustin Lance Black's amazing Oscar acceptance speech.

More Than 100 Faith Leaders in DC Stand Up for Marriage Equality

Amazing. This is in sharp contrast to the protests by other local pastors claiming that they spoke for all faith leaders and churches in the DC area when they said they were against marriage equality.

From News8:
The pastors, mostly from African American churches, wanted a referendum reversing the D.C. council vote recognizing same-sex unions from other states. The latest protest, pastors from a range of denomination, support same sex marriage and say civil rights should not be put to a vote.

"God is love and love is for everyone," said Rev. Dennis and Christine Wiley, Covenant Baptist Church.


They are also challenging the notion that the African American community is united again same-sex marriage. "Because those of us who have been oppressed ought to be the last ones to oppress," said Wiley.

This is also a good reminder to the LGBT population to not group people of faith together in one lump category of "opposition." Not all people of faith believe we're evil perverts bent on ruining the foundation of society. Some believe that marriage is a union of the souls and that gender doesn't matter.


Read News8 Full Article.

New Hampshire Senate Approves Changed Marriage Equality Bill 14-10!

The New Hampshire Senate just voted 14-10 to accept the Committee of Conference Report on H.B. 73 for marriage equality with religious protections. On to the House.

The vote was along party lines, with all Democrats in support and all Republicans in opposition.

Plymouth Democratic Sen. Beth Reynolds said the final change should assure religious leaders that they may legally discriminate against same-sex marriage if it violates their beliefs.

"The changes augment, buttress and bolster the rights of religious freedom and they strike the appropriate balance between two values that the people of New Hampshire support, equal rights for all and the right to religious freedom,’’ Reynolds said.

Listen to the House debate marriage equality bill live.

What's Happening in New Hampshire? A Recap On Today's Marriage Equality Revote.

To make a long story short - New Hampshire marriage equality bill passed the Senate and the House, it arrived at Gov. Lynch's desk but he said, "Nah, I need more protections for the religious," which was a bit ridiculous because those protections were already there . . .

But anyway, it went back to the Senate which approved of the changes the governor wanted and then - the House said, "NO!"

Everyone thought, "Well, that's dead."

But nope. The House and the Senate agreed to discuss a compromise on the religious exclusion language in a committee, where most bills die, but New Hampshire REALLY wants marriage equality, so amazingly (and kudos to the legislature!) they actually came up with a compromise.

Even more amazing, Gov. Lynch said if it made it to his desk, he'd sign it.

So TODAY, the House and Senate vote AGAIN on the bill with the new language, with a rally going on outside the capitol AS I TYPE THIS. Read live updates at

Even better, yesterday there was a special election for an empty House seat and Andy White, who supports marriage equality, defeated his Republican opponent! That's one more vote for us!

VIDEO: CNN Discusses Prop 8 Dustin Lance Black

CNN interviews Juan Rivera and Eric Manriquez, an openly gay couple who married in California, discuss their marriages remaining valid in the state. Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winner for scripting "Milk" discusses Prop. 8 and challenges facing LGBT youth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Not Looking Good for Marriage Equality in New York Senate

Despite the fact that Sen. Tom Duane declared yesterday that there were enough votes to pass the states marriage equality bill, NY 1 conducted a survey of the senators and didn't come to the same conclusion.

There isn't a lot of time left. Contact your senator and tell them to vote for the marriage equality bill!

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - Robin McGeHee

Unite the Fight interviews Robin McGeHee, lead organizer for Meet in the Middle.

Robin was forced to resign as president of her son's school's Parent-Teacher Organization for her involvement with the No on 8 campaign. As a result, she pulled her son out.

She has since been fully active in the fight for equality and instrumental to bringing that fight to California's Central Valley, the heart of Yes on 8 territory.

As Time Runs Out, Marriage Equality Debate in New York State Heats Up

Time is running out for the Senate session in New York state, but the sprint towards the finish line is burning up over the debate on the marriage equality bill that has already passed the State Assembly.

On Monday Sen. Tom Duane held a press conference with same-sex couples who want to wed, stating, "I'm saying it publicly, there are enough votes, it's coming to the floor, it's passing." (See video)

Opponents still say it's not going to happen.

"They're telling me that they're not going to vote for it. They don't believe that same sex couples should be able to marry," said Reverend Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. "Marriage has a definite definition of a man and a woman and they don't believe they should be changing that definition, and that homosexuals have the same rights as everybody else to marry as long as it's someone of the opposite sex."

No Republican senators have publicly expressed support for the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), who supports marriage equality, and gay-marriage advocates stopped short of backing Duane's claim, saying only that the measure is gaining momentum.

Several Democratic senators, including Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx and George Onorato of Queens, have said they plan to vote against it.

Diaz, a fierce opponent of marriage equality, accused Duane of skewing the vote tally to force the matter on to the floor.

"It's unprofessional to be playing with people's minds," Diaz said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union also launched a new web site for New Yorkers to lobby state senators to ask for their support of the bill.

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - Toby Madigan

Unite the Fight interviews singer/songwriter Toby Madigan backstage at Meet in the Middle.

VIDEO: UTF Meet in the Middle Interviews - Queer As Folk Actress, Michelle Clunie

Unite the Fight interviews straight ally and Queer as Folk actress Michelle Clunie backstage at Meet in the Middle.

Before attending Meet in the Middle, Michelle told about attending the massive rally:

"I do not see it as an obligation or even a duty. I see it as an honor to stand up for one of our greatest communities in the nation.

You are my brothers, my sisters, my friends, my colleagues and mentors and I will fight side by side with you until we have set right this atrocity and war on basic human rights.

And for those who choose to not use their voices, who view this as only a "gay" issue ....I ask them, who are we if we do not stand up for love?

What do you believe in?, if not love....."

Keep checking back throughout the week for our Meet in the Middle Interview Series . We've got more with Dustin Lance Black, Erick McCormack, Cleve Jones and more!

New Hampshire to Vote on Marriage Equality Today and Tomorrow - Show Your Support!

The New Hampshire House is scheduled to take a final vote on the marriage equality bill already passed by the Senate. Governor Lynch promised to sign the version of the bill scheduled for voting.

New Hampshire Freedom to Marry sent this call for action:


Day of Action: Support Passage of Marriage Equality in New Hampshire

WHEN: June 3, 2009 at 9am – The Vote
WHERE: The State House Plaza, Concord NH
WHAT: Time to Stand Up and be Counted
CONTACT: New Hampshire Freedom to Marry / Phone: 223-0309 / Email:

Where were you on June 3rd? Click here to let us know you are coming.

One Vote! That was the margin of victory for the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage’s attack on Equality. One Vote! And, only one week left to make history in New Hampshire. The opposition is more energized than ever, June 3rd will be the final vote on marriage equality and it will be close – WE NEED YOUR HELP TO WIN!

On June 3rd will you take a stand for Marriage Equality?

We will gather on the plaza of the State House to ask our legislators to continue their support for marriage equality and to witness a historic day in New Hampshire. This will be a time to thank the legislators who have stood up for all New Hampshire families and to ask them to vote yes on HB 73. LET’S SEND OUR OUT-OF-STATE OPPONENTS BACK HOME!

We need your help to show the legislature that marriage equality is a New Hampshire value!

What you can do:

1. Show up - Click here to attend the Day of Action on June 3rd
2. Car pool - Invite and bring along 10 family members, friends, or neighbors
3. Volunteer – Help us prepare for the June 3rd vote (
4. Donate! - Let’s make sure we win...keep us going one more week.

P.S. Don’t forget to call and thank your legislator for their support of marriage equality - - and remind them to vote yes on HB 73 during the June 3rd session!

Leadership Summit Organizations Going Back to Community to Assess Next Steps on Marriage Equality in CA

On Sunday, the day after Meet in the Middle, 250 leaders and community activists from all over the state representing many different organizations and regions came together in Fresno, CA to a Leadership Summit to discuss the next steps towards achieving marriage equality in California. The attendees were either made aware of the summit by email or came from the open invitation announced from the rally stage at Meet in the Middle. The topics ranged from when the next campaign to repeal Prop 8 should take place, how it should look and who might make the decisions.

Organizations in attendance included Courage Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, One Struggle One Fight, Equality California, Equal Roots, API Equality Los Angeles, Yes on Equality, California Faith for Equality, and many more.

The meeting kicked off with the attendees, seated at numerous round tables, discussing amongst themselves what they were hoping to get out of the meeting, then facilitator Tanya Nayo, who works for the city of San Francisco, recorded concerns and topics to address.

See more video of the summit at our Qik Channel.

As seen in the video above, learning how to get passed differences of opinion and working together as a whole was a major theme that attendees wanted to address. Also, concerns on how to continue to involve the community in the decision making process on when to return to the ballot to repeal Prop 8 was brought up numerous times.

"I was happy that we could all be in the same space and meet the people that we haven't had the opportunity to meet before," said Robin McGeHee, lead organizer for Meet in the Middle told Unite the Fight (UTF). She also hosted the Leadership Summit along with Yes on Equality. "We knew not everyone statewide was going to be here, but we wanted to take advantage of Meet in the Middle with so many people attending."

"There was great resolve to figure out how to work together in the months ahead moving forward," Marc Solomon, the new Marriage Director for Equality California, said. "I think people are ready to figure out how we're truly going to put together a strong grassroots campaign that is, on the one hand, cohesive and powerful, and also empowers leadership at the local level."

Another heavy topic and major focal point for most of the meeting was the 2010 vs. 2012 debate on when to go to the ballot in an effort to repeal Prop 8. First to address this concern was Diane Abbitt, who co-chaired the campaign that defeated the Briggs Initiative aka Prop 6. (See video above before the internet feed drops.)

She discussed at length the LGBT population's pass success with defeating Prop 6, but also pointed out that at the time, we were smaller with fewer organizations needing to collaborate.

Now we've grown and have many more people eager to be involved for equal rights, and though this is a great situation, it creates a slower process and many more hurdles to clear.

But Marc Solomon felt the meeting helped. "I think overall I was really pleased at the willingness of the people to work together, to come up with a campaign that works for everybody, that has a really strong, empowered grassroots, but that can also raise the money and develop the messaging that's going to be most successful in moving California voters our way."

Sarah Callahan, who has run field on campaigns for twenty years and is one of the most experienced campaign hands in California, spoke after Diane. She clearly described what she believes a successful campaign would look like, and communicated that, basically in the environment in which we find ourselves here in California, it needs to be a near perfect campaign to win.

"I've won many campaigns, I've lost many campaigns," she said, but went on to say it was the lost campaigns that taught her the most. "Prop 8 was what we needed to learn from."

After Diane and Sarah fielded questions from attendees (UTF working on getting video), the big portion of the meeting began with pollsters David Binder and Amy Simon presenting the results of the biggest marriage equality poll ever conducted in California.

At this point, the press was asked to leave, all bloggers asked to stop blogging and Tweeting, and the wi-fi internet in the conference room turned off. They wanted to be clear that the reasoning behind this is that this poll, having cost the LGBT organizations who collaborated on it and the Calfiornia LGBT population they represent thousands of dollars, contained information that the opposing side, such as the National Organization for Marriage, could easily use to campaign against us, causing another defeat in either 2010 or 2012.

However, some of the polling numbers were released to the press recently. This is what was made public:

1. Opinion in California is closely divided, 47% support, 48% oppose, indicating not much has changed.
2. There is 1-3% advantage to a 2012 ballot compared to 2010, but other external factors may have greater implications than complexion of the electorate.
3. Voter support increases when language specifies that clergy would not have to perform services that go against their faith.

After the polling presentation was made, a long discussion among the attendees on how to use this powerful information took place, specifically in regards to when to return to the ballot.

John Henning, co-founder of Love Honor Cherish, who have been strong proponents for 2010, told UTF, "The fact that you can do a little bit better in a couple years is not a reason to wait a couple years. You can argue to wait until 2014 to do even better, but it's not a reason to wait when you're a second-class citizen."

"So already we're neck and neck," he went on. "And when you put in the religion exclusion language, you're ahead."

John wanted to make something clear about the polling. "The poll was measuring opinions today, but it wasn't taking into account if they change their minds over time if there is a campaign. With an 18 month campaign for 2010, we can change minds."

Eric Nakano, representative of API Equality Los Angeles at the Leadership Summit, is on the other end of the spectrum on making a decision about when we should return to the ballot.

"Our position has always been that we needed additional information to make an informed decision, and the polling data goes a long way of providing us with that. We are studying it closely and hope for some additional analysis as to what date will be better."

The polling included analysis done in Mandarin and Cantonese. "We will have to look a little deeper into that information and determine what the responses were to the information that was tested, specifically in regards to persuasion."

API Equality Los Angeles has had a lot of reasons to deliberate before making a decision on the timing of an initiative. "The audit for the No on 8 campaign has not been released - how can you possibly run a campaign when you don't know how the money was spent for the last campaign? We just got the [polling] information yesterday. We'll have a huge drop off from 2008 vs. 2010," said Eric. "All these things had not been addressed. Our steering community would be irresponsible for supporting something without enough information. Such committees may have to make the unpopular decisions that goes against the popular opinion."

"There's a process on how we make a decision," Eric said.

"I was disappointed that we didn't have time to come to conclusive results," Robin McGeHee told UTF, referring to the summit lasting much longer than scheduled and with many people facing long drives home.

"However, I really didn't have that expectation that it was possible to come to any conclusion because there wasn't enough time. And there are deep-rooted differences of opinion on next steps. But what I do believe happened is that it created an environment that we will trust each other enough to come back and meet again."

"We agreed together to meet again in July at a summit that that Courage Campaign and Equality California will co-facilitate because we didn't get through everything," Marc Solomon said, adding that they plan on holding the summit in the Inland Empire.

"I think the stage is set for the community to work together to come up with the right initiative and to come up with the right campaign structure. And my belief, in 8 weeks it will be done," Rick Jacobs told UTF, referring to the July meeting. "I think people are ready to buckle down and get to work. I think people heard from Sarah and Diane about assessing what their organizations are good at and how we can build a powerful, winning grassroots and smart political campaign."

So how is the community going to be engaged in the decision making process so that they're fully represented at the July meeting?

All roads lead to Molly McKay of Marriage Equality USA and regional organizations hosting "Get Engaged" town halls, an idea and strategy of engaging the community that she presented at the summit.

Robin McGeHee called the "Get Engaged" town halls "the best idea" with lots of support coming from the organizations that attended the summit, including Courage Campaign and Equality California.

So what is "Get Engaged"? Marriage Equality USA and regional organizations are planning over 80 "Get Engaged" community gatherings across the state to share the polling data and obtain community insight and feedback on how to proceed in the next campaign. The gatherings will help identify local volunteers and establish or expand regional coalitions that can be integrated into a future statewide campaign.

"The community is already engaged," Molly McKay first pointed out to UTF. "Now we need to take an inventory on what we need and what we have. We need to get people, all different organizations, on the same, united message for equality with the latest polling data and analysis to craft a field plan from the ground up."

Molly said that at the town halls, "the polling information will be given out in the form of a polling presentation and the community will have the opportunity to ask questions."

"Then we're going to also sit down and look at each region's voting analysis, how they voted for Prop 8, determine what the regional LGBT organizations have as resources now and what they need moving forward," Molly continued. "This way they can tell us what kind of campaign they want to see and how best they think we can implement that strategy."

If you have questions or want to host a gathering, contact

If - and this is a big if - if we're to go back to the ballot in 2010, do we have enough time? Is waiting until July to make a decision wasting it?

When asked directly if we can wait until then to plan a 2010 campaign, Marc Solomon simply said, "Yes."

"I think what needs to happen between now and July is that we need to reach out to many different organizations that have expressed questions and concerns about the date," Marc continued. "And not just me, we all need to reach out so we can have conversations between now and July, so that we can approach a place to make a decision. All the groups need to reach out to others in their communities and their networks. This is not just an EQCA job, it's Courage Campaign and Marriage Equality USA's job among others, and then report back."

"We need to figure out a governance plan for a campaign that includes a role for the grassroots in respect to governing the campaign," Marc said. "We also need an outline for a winning campaign, and we need a fund-raising plan. We have to collectively find 20 million plus dollars to run this campaign, and in this economy, that's going to be a challenge."

"I'm very exciting about [the summit]," Rick Jacobs said. "It was a really great meeting in which everyone got a chance to voice their ideas and people learned both from the polling and from real experts like Sarah Callahan and Diane Abbitt."

"I thought the atmosphere was terrific," Rick continued. "I think Meet in the Middle and yesterday's summit were historic events. It was an outpouring of affirmative energy. And we haven't seen that in our movement in a long time. And I think that's what will win."

Thanks to Marta Evry who blogs at for the amazing pictures.

President Obama Commemorates 40th Anniversary of Stonewall, Birth of LGBT Rights Movement

President Obama issued the following LGBT Pride Month proclamation late yesterday afternoon on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Stonewall:

Obama Declares June LGBT Pride Month

Well, the President has finally acknowledged us and reiterated his support for our equality. It's no secret that I've been rather upset with the President, especially due to our many advances in marriage equality without a peep coming out of him, not even about our general equality which he said he supported in his campaign.

So, he's finally said it. And though I'm honored that he's addressed us and officially made June LGBT Pride Month (though it already was), I'm still left scratching my head.

There's still no mention of the advances in marriage equality in the numerous states since he's taken office, nor did he address the Prop 8 ruling and the fact he NEVER supported it, though the Yes on 8 people tried to make it seem he did. He also didn't mention when he planned on addressing the inequality still existing in our laws towards the LGBT population.

Even more striking - he reiterated his support for civil unions, the same day that crazy-shot, gun wielding, torture-loving, ol' GOP leader Dick Cheney expressed his support for marriage equality, albeit at the state level (but still!). I wonder if he realizes that civil unions are so nine years ago, and that though we're grateful for the crumbs he's offering, we're not going to settle for them.

We want the full meal. And we deserve it. We pay taxes. Give us the benefits.

But despite all this, I'm grateful. I asked for some acknowledgment of our existence, and I got it. He acknowledged our contribution to history and his current administration and reiterated his support for our equality. Well, his definition of equality. (Ironic that the first African American president in history uses the separate but equal argument to support his stance.)

So is it wrong for me to ask when? What's his plan? When am I going to see results? Am I acting like a brat because I'm asking? Am I disregarding the state of the economy and the wars and . . . well, you know the rest.

I think not. When you're a second-class citizen, you should never stop asking. Because as Martin Luther King said, "Wait almost always means never."

Read Secretary of State Clinton's proclamation.

Read another great perspective, "Nitpicking Obama's Pride proclamation" by Bill Browning at Bilerico Project.