Saturday, June 27, 2009

CNN Interviews 'GLAAD' President Jarrett Barrios About Obama and LGBT Rights

Jarrett T. Barrios, a former State Senator from Massachusetts who now heads a leading health care foundation, recently became GLAAD's new president.

See GLAAD's press release announcing Barrios as new president which includes his bio.


The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief late tonight backing the federal challenge to Proposition 8 led by the American Foundation for Equal Rights and attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies.

“Proposition 8 violates the federal guarantees of equal protection and due process,” the brief states. “Proposition 8 denies same-sex couples the right to marry in a unique historical context in which the denial can only be deemed a declaration of inequality.”

"We are pleased to have the support of the ACLU, Lambda Legal and NCLR, which have brought inspiring leadership and legal expertise to the cause of ensuring all Americans are treated equally under the law," said Foundation Board President Chad Griffin. "This case is about the denial of fundamental Constitutional rights, and its significance is underscored by the united front presented by the coalition backing this case."

The coalition that has led the legal fight against Proposition 8 is now formally supporting the federal challenge. The ACLU, Lambda Legal and NCLR led the battle in the State Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8 after the November 2008 election. They also joined the City and County of San Francisco, which filed an amicus brief last week, in spearheading the successful litigation that led to the California Supreme Court in May 2008 recognizing marriage as a fundamental right guaranteed to all Californians under the state constitution.

A hearing on the case is scheduled in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on July 2. The suit was filed last month and also calls for an injunction against Proposition 8 until the case is resolved, which would immediately reinstate marriage rights to same sex couples.

Also last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is named in the suit in his capacity as the state’s chief executive, filed papers with the court that did not dispute Proposition 8’s unconstitutionality and called for swift action by the courts to ensure people’s constitutional rights are protected. Two weeks ago, Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is named in the suit in his capacity as the state’s chief legal officer, filed papers that called Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The suit was filed by two same-sex couples who wish to be married but, because of Proposition 8, have been denied marriage licenses.

“This unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the suit states.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Colbert Report: "Gay Demon on the Loose" and "Stonewalling."

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Gay Demon on the Loose
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Stonewalling
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

VIDEO: Still No Plans from the White House to Act on DADT or DOMA

Monday, the White House is hosting a Stonewall commemoration by having several activists, community leaders and LGBT families come for a reception.

In today's White House Press Briefing, Press Sectretary Gibbs was asked if there will be any substantive announcements at this receptions regarding two big issues hindering the LGBT population - DOMA and DADT.

This next exchange from yesterday regards the Center for American Progress' report "Ending 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell': Practical Steps to Repeal the Ban on Openly Gay Men and Women in the U.S. Military."

No. No. No. No. Kind of getting tired of hearing that. Also getting tired of the Obama Administration passing the buck to Congress. When IN FACT they can ACT themselves on both DOMA and DADT.

Earlier I posted about our need to continue to prod our leaders into action, and yes, to criticize them for their inaction. And no, I don't buy the argument that Obama has plenty of time. In about a year, he'll be gearing up for re-election, and if he's not willing to tackle LGBT issues now, I highly doubt he'll be up to the task then.

NOW is the time for him to act. NOW is the time for us to speak up.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network plans to march to the White House this Saturday, June 27, urging the Administration to act on DADT. Check out the Facebook Event Page.

Biden Promises Repeal of DOMA and DADT at Successful DNC LGBT Fundraiser; We Need to Continue Strong Push for Action

Despite the controversy surrounding the 10th Annual LGBT Leadership Council fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee Thursday, with many donors dropping out due to the DOJ's and Obama's discriminatory brief defending DOMA, the fundraiser was still able to net $1 million, reports The Advocate.

When arriving, the attendees were greeted by close to 25 protesters from across the street, chanting "Shame on you!" and carrying signs that read, "gAyTM Out of Order" and "265 Discharged", the number of gay and lesbian service men and women discharged under DADT since Obama took office.

180 people showed up paying between $1,000 to $30,400 a plate. And according to The Advocate, many stood in solidarity with those protesting outside by wearing red, white and blue buttons with the number "265."

Politico reports that Vice President Biden acknowledged the tension between the LGBT population and the Obama Administration and promised to "put some pace on the ball."
The vice president spent 20 minutes trying to convince the donors inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel that President Barack Obama is dedicated to following through on his campaign promises. He said he had asked to give the speech at the annual leadership dinner Thursday night, and he read from a TelePrompter.

"I am not unaware of the controversy swirling around this dinner and swirling around the speed or lack thereof that we are moving on issues that are of great importance to you," Biden said.
Biden drew repeated standing ovations, according to a pool report, as he pledged the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the passage of the Lieberman-Baldwin bill on health benefits, a ban on workplace discrimination, adoption rights for all and an end to the HIV travel ban.

"I promise you with your help we'll get there in this administration," he said, going as far as to add that if the country achieves gender equality, "I will have marked my term as vice president as being truly worthwhile."
Images from Flickr user Bullneck.

My thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this. They raised $250,000 more than last year, despite the controversy. We've been talking about how our money is the greatest tool at our disposal to get the Obama Administration's attention, to push them to keep their promises and to live up to the standards that we elected them on.

I've been accused of attacking our leaders and supporting the cannibalization of our movement - that in fact boycotting the DNC fundraiser, criticizing the LGBT caucus' actions and responses and getting angry at the lack of movement from the Administration is actually hindering our common goal for equality.

I have to disagree. Attacking (which is a strong word that shouldn't be easily thrown about) and criticizing are two different things. Attacking is malicious with no regard for outcome other than to cause hurt. Criticism comes from a place of hope and change for a better outcome than the present. And when I criticize, I don't do it based on rumors.

A good leader needs to expect and want criticism. A good leader listens to those criticisms coming from those who follow them. A good leader then acts on it, especially if those actions come from promises. Sometimes it takes the anger and strong actions of constituents to get the leader's attention. Without criticism of leaders, the civil rights movements of the past would never had gain any sort of victory whatsoever.

We had Obama's attention. But now, despite all of our efforts to keep him accountable to his promises by closing our wallets, we raise more money than before. My fear is that now the Administration will yet again become complacent with our issues now that they have taken a big withdrawal from the gAyTM that is far from being out of order.

I hope that the DNC and Obama will use this money to our benefit and further our causes. But we have a long history of our hopes being shattered. We're not willing to let it happen again. I'm not about to sit back and rest on hope. That was fine for the Obama campaign, but it's not fine for the Obama Administration.

I still have faith that Obama will bring change. But it's definitely not blind faith.

New Los Angeles Times Poll on Marriage Equality Shows Lots of Work Ahead for the City, Especially for POC Groups

The Los Angeles Times recently released a Los Angeles citywide survey covering residents' approval of the LAPD, the direction that the city is headed in and same-sex marriage.

Below, I put together the results specifically on marriage equality. These results are based on a bipartisan survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner together with Public Opinion Strategies for the Los Angeles Times. The survey fielded June 10-16, 2009 and was conducted among 1,500 registered voters citywide, including 210 interviews conducted of respondents reached on a cell phone. It has a margin of error of +/-2.6 percent.

Los Angeles Times Poll Marriage Equality 6-23-09

Compare these results with how Los Angeles city residents voted on Prop 8, out of a total votes of 941,149:
  • 42.49% voted "Yes"
  • 57.51% voted "No"
(In contrast, Los Angeles county voted for Prop 8.)

Support for marriage equality has dipped by over 1% if comparing to how city residents voted for Prop 8. Though that doesn't seem like a lot, it was only a few percentage points that Prop 8 passed in the state and Los Angeles County. Things haven't changed much.

Though the survey breaks down the Latino demographic further, it does not for the African Americans who, more than any other demographic in the survey, still highly oppose same-sex marriage.

Unfortunately, the survey did not breakdown Asian Pacific Islanders (API) in its polling. However, the recent polling conducted statewide by the Polling for Equality coalition did include and break down API. Yet this poll pools the information statewide and does not break it down to Los Angeles alone, at least from what I saw at the Leadership Summit. Everyone will have a chance to review those numbers on the Get Engaged Tour.

Though overall, Los Angeles city approves of the right for the LGBT population to marry, plenty of work remains for a possible repeal of Prop 8 in either 2010 or 2012.

Terry Leftgoff, who at one point was the highest ranking openly gay officer of the California Democratic Party and oversaw numerous campaign efforts, commented on Unite the Fight, "The LAT Poll documents some important racial and ethnic divisions that are the key to success in LA County, which holds 25% of all voters and is key to flipping the state.

"These divisions, which many have tried to downplay, are vital to understand.

"We cannot move forward with any confidence without a comprehensive strategy for these voters."

VIDEO: Project Pushback, Marriage Equality PSA Contest, Announces Winner

Project Pushaback, a video contest for marriage equality PSAs, has announced the following winners.

Grand Prize, "Family Values" by Andrew Putschoegl.

People's Choice Winner, "Blaire Wedding Project" by Samantha Lavin and Lori Brener.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rest in Peace, Michael. Rest in Peace, Farrah. Couple Videos to Remember Them By.

Love Him or Hate Him, It Takes A Lot to Apologize, and Perez Hilton Does for Use of "F" Word

In an altercation at last week's Much! Music Awards in Toronto with the Black Eyed Peas' Wil.I.Am and his road manager manager, Perez Hilton called the artist a f***** and went on to post a video rant against the artist, spurring a major reaction from all sides. Now Perez is suing the manager for assault.

GLAAD demanded an apology from Perez for his use of the "F" word, and many called out the hypocrisy of his actions, reminding him of his a major campaign against actor Isaiah Washington for using the word on the Grey's Anatomy set against gay actor T.R. Knight. Washington shortly after left the show.

(NOTE: Washington is a staunch supporter for marriage equality and LGBT rights and is filming a marriage equality PSA for the NOH8 campaign.)

A couple days ago, Perez issued a statement about the attack, but it was not an apology. Today's official statement, under a post titled simply and to the point, "I'm Sorry", is.

Perez's Statement:
"People make mistakes. I have made many in my life, but this past week I have made more than I can count on one hand.

I am sorry. And I mean it. No one is forcing me to write this. I am not feeling pressured to say this. I am speaking out because I realize that the last few days have been more hurtful to me - and many others - than the repeated blows I suffered to my head in Toronto this past weekend.

I have been filled with incredible sadness and regret.

I am sorry that any good work I have done for promoting equality may be tainted by me reclaiming a hurtful word - that's been personally used against me and the gay community - to hurt someone that was verbally attacking me. It was stupid.

Apologizing for me is not easy. Writing this was not easy. Life is not easy. But everything happens for a reason and I will take away a lot of valuable lessons from this experience.

Violence is never the answer. Never.

Victims should not be mocked.

The "F" word will never be uttered from my lips again. Just as others use the "N" word to insult and hurt - or as part of their everyday speech - I challenge them to remove it from their vocabulary as well.
You can read the rest of his apology on his website.

My reasoning for my posting this comes from our need to take responsibility not only for our actions, but the words that we use. I've never been comfortable with the argument that we can "reclaim" offensive terms used against us simply to use them against each other. How can we demand that society treat us as equals when we fail to do it ourselves?

Yet no one is perfect, including myself and including Perez. But unfortunately for Perez and unlike many of us, he's got the world watching him, and as a result, judging him. (Of course, he broadcasts himself some of his major faux pas.) If every bad move we made was broadcast across the world, we'd be in serious trouble. But in the case of Perez, unfortunately, there are many consequences and I'm not overlooking that.

I demand all the time not to be judged. Therefor, I do my best not to judge others, especially if they admit to the wrong in their actions. Perez has apologized and has even taken the further step of reaching out to Isaiah Washington, whom he's judged in the past.

I say, let's move on.

Pastor of Church Performing Exorcism of "Homosexual Demon" Speaks to CNN - "Everything Carries a Spirit."

CNN today just interviewed Sr. Pastor Patricia McKinney of the Manifested Glory Ministries, the church at the center of the controversy of the exorcism of the "homosexual demon" video, which depicts the elders and the pastor attempting to cast a gay demon or "spirit" out of a young congregant.

Some quotes from the pastor:

"I just wanted to tell the world out there that Manifested Glory Ministries is not against homosexuality. We do not hate them, we do not come up against them - we just do not believe in their lifestyle. We believe in the power of the holy spirit."

She claims the young man threw himself on the ground asking to be delivered from his homosexuality.

Asked if anyone is welcome to the church, including homosexuals, she responds:

"When you come in [to the church], you can get delivered by the power of the holy spirit. We welcome anyone in our church. Alls [sic] were saying is that we do not like the lifestyle of a man with a man and a woman with a woman. And that's our beliefs. We do not say that they cannot come in our church. They are all welcomed in our church. They just have to be delivered."

"Everything carries a spirit. It's just not the homosexual spirit. You have the alcohol spirit, you have the crack cocaine spirit, you have the adultery spirit - everything carries a spirit. It can be a good spirit. It can be a bad spirit."

Asked if the man was delivered from homosexuality, if his lifestyle has changed, she says:

"Yes he's doing much better . . . He is a very intelligent young man. He is a very powerful young man. And he's a very spiritual young man . . . We are a spiritual church.

"I am an end-time prophet. I declare the word of the Lord. And alls [sic] I'm doing is the work of the Lord. We're not coming up against the gay community. We're not coming up against homosexuality."

When it's pointed out that she's judging homosexuality as wrong when comparing it to adultery and addiction, she claims:

"I am a recovering addict. I am recovering crack head and heroine addict. And I knew that I was under the power of a demonic force that caused me to use crack cocaine and that caused me to use heroine. Now I've been clean and sober through the power of the holy spirit for 15 years now. But it took the deliverance of the holy spirit to get me free. I've been through jails and I've been through programs that did not help."

Asked what we would see if the whole context of the video was portrayed:

"You would've seen that we're just people that love the Lord, we're people that worship him in spirit and truth...If you would come into our church, you don't see that we're not just exorcising and casting out demons. We do so many good things in the community..."

"I love God's people. I don't care if you're a homosexual, I don't care if you're a lesbian, I don't care if you're a drug addict. Everything carries a spirit. And when I say about gay couples - that their prerogative. But my beliefs [sic] is that a man should be with a woman and woman should be with a man. When God created the earth, he created Adam & Eve. And I believe that there is a power and a force behind homosexuality, not just homosexuality, but adultery, lesbiism [sic], all kinds of spirits. I just want to put my story out there because it making it seem like I'm a murderer, it making it seem like I hate the gays."

Having come from a Christian and highly spiritual background, this controversy comes at no surprise to me. Though I believe this pastor and the church have good intentions, it appears to me their own past dire pasts have been projected upon each other. This brainwashing does irreparable damage, including to this young man who hates himself enough to willingly subject his body and mind to this "exorcism."

Sounds like this pastor's "demons" are still hanging on to her. What a shame.

VIDEO: O'Reilly Questions Rep. Barney Frank on DOMA Brief; Maddow on Gov. Sanford's Hypocrisy

Sen. "We Allow Gays to Exist" Eichelberger's Website Flagged by Google as "Attack Site!"

As Unite the Fight commentator Larry-Bob pointed out, Pennsylvania Sen. Eichelberger's website has been blocked by Google as an "attack site." The senator, who is proposing a bill banning same-sex marriage in his state, recently gained infamy for stating on a radio debate about same-sex marriage, "We allow gays to exist."

When looking into why the site was categorized as "suspicious," Google directs you to this page. See screen grab below:

So for it to be listed as such, it takes only one person to flag a site? I'm not much of a techie, so if someone can clarify for me what it takes for Google to categorize an "attack site", it would help.

If this is a tactic from our side, I don't agree with it. Whether or not we agree with the senator's words, our country protects the right to freedom of speech. Maliciously going after the senator's website, which serves many of his innocent constituents, is not the path that we should be taking to make a point. Actually, it does more harm than good.

If it isn't from us, then this raises many more questions. But it sure would be coincidental.

Sen. Eichelberger Issues Statement on His Quote "We're Allowing Gays to Exist."

In what has been coined, "One of the Best Marriage Equality Debates You Will Ever Hear," Pennsylvania's Sen. Daylin Leach, who has proposed a marriage equality bill for his state, and Sen. John Eichelberger, who has proposed banning same-sex marriage, argued their sides of the issue on In the debate, Sen. Eichelberger, who struggled to support his argument without actual data and research said, "We're allowing the gays to exist."

In the news video below provided by NG Blog, Sen. Eichelberger claims his quote was taken out of context and states his issue with Keystone Progress, who has started a petition demanding he apologize for his comments.

His comment:

"This group is a politically active group that goes around the country targeting people that are involved in this issue. If this is an example of how they conduct themselves then it's difficult to continue dialogue and discussion if people intentionally misportray the truth."

I listened to the whole debate, which you can hear in full at, and Sen. Eichelberger struggled to stand his ground with the well-prepared Sen. Leach. Whether or not he meant it, Sen. Eichelberger did in fact make his offensive comments, underscoring the flaws of his position and proving, yet again, that opposition to same-sex marriage is based on discrimination and homophobia and not fact.

And don't get me started on his remarks about Keystone Progress twisting the truth when he's on record of doing that himself. How can one engage this man in an honest dialogue when he argues based off of hearsay, bigoted feelings and no facts?

Oh, and "misportray"? Is that even a word?

Once again, another politician decides to be on the wrong side of history. Do they ever learn?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Majority of Texans Support Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Couples

Thanks to David Badash at the New Civil Rights Movement, I was made aware of this startling but encouraging poll released yesterday from The Texas Lyceum, which indicates that a majority of Texans approve of some sort of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The poll states:

"Most Texans don't oppose same-sex unions, but they're split in their support for marriage or civil unions. While more than a third (36%) oppose either arrangement, 32% said they would support civil unions and another 25% think same-sex marriages should be permitted. The poll found a distinct partisan difference, with civil unions as the preference of 29% of Democrats, 31% of Independents and 37% of Republicans; same-sex marriage the preferred alternative of 36% of Democrats, 25% of Independents, and 14% of Republicans. Allowing neither of those alternatives was the preference of 29% of Democrats, 35% of Independents, and 43% of Republicans."

The tide surely is turning. Having went to high school in Texas, I can guarantee you that waaay back when, this surely was not the case. Makes you wonder what George W. Bush thinks of this.

Gov. Sanford 12 Days Ago Vs. Gov. Sanford Today

Gov. Sanford June 12 2009.

Gov. Sanford June 24 2009.

Speaks for itself.

Sanford's civil rights track record.

Oh, and he's been removed from the Values Voter Summit. What a surprise.

H/T Autumn at Pam's House Blend.

No Marriage Vote Today in New York Senate As Power Stalemate Continues

Today's second extraordinary session in the New York Senate ended with a convening of only the Democrats, Sen. Jeff Klein stating that any bill voted on would be moot without the Republicans and then adjourning.

The legality of the extraordinary sessions have been called into question.

Thanks to NG Blog, we have video:

Elizabeth Benjamin of the Daily News reports:
Klein noted that while the state Constitution does give the governor the power to call just the Senate (but not, interestingly, just the Assembly) in for an extraordinary session, the only way such a move would be "valid" is if the Senate was only approving gubernatorial appointments - the lone responsibility is has that the lower house does not.

"If we are taking up legislation, we need the Assembly here as well," Klein said, pointing out for the history buffs in the room that the ability for the governor to call just the Senate in was added in 1821 by none other than Martin Van Buren.

And so, the Senate adjourned. Asked what happens now, Secretary of the Senate Angelo Aponte (still around and in control of the chamber, despite the Senate GOP's attempt to strip him of that power), replied:

"Now the governor's people are basically going to have to call both houses in, and when they do that, what we pass here will be legal."
Empire State Pride Agenda's Alan van Capelle released a statement:

"State Senators need to know that it is unacceptable to leave Albany without voting on and passing the marriage bill. Marriage equality is not a partisan issue and should never be used as a political football in the current situation that has caused complete gridlock in the state capitol. Thousands of New York families expect and need Senators to immediately figure out a way to work together and start doing the people’s business. We expect that marriage will be at the top of the agenda when the stalemate is over and the Senate resumes its business, but only when we are certain that any such vote taken by the Senate is valid and not subject to legal challenge. The bill must be handled respectfully and given its due debate so that Senators can vote their conscience on this vitally important issue."

In the end, though this is all ridiculous, it's better they didn't vote on the marriage equality bill, because forever after such a vote, opponents would call into question the validity of its passing.

"Get Engaged" Tour Shares Latest CA Marriage Equality Polling Data with LGBT Across State

Press Release from Marriage Equality USA:

"We are a resilient community. In the face of a California Supreme Court that failed to step in when a bare majority of voters added an exception to the equal protection clause of the State Constitution, we are ready to launch a 'Get Engaged' Tour to restore marriage equality for all," said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality USA Media Director. "We believe in our community and our collective wisdom about how to best move forward together from here."

"Through the Get Engaged Tour, we will present findings from a May 2009 field poll that measured support for marriage equality and messaging provided by faith leaders, families and children of same-sex couples," said Pamela Brown, Marriage Equality USA Policy Director.

"This poll was created by a broad coalition of organizations representing communities of faith, people of color, labor, LGBT groups and straight allies and the Get Engaged Tour is intended to not only share this information but to obtain feedback from our grassroots community on our next initiative campaign," Pamela continued. "In today's economy, our greatest strength is our people. Only through engaging a broad coalition of organizations and incorporating community feedback into how we move ahead can we ensure the next campaign will honor our families, represent our faith and reflect our diversity."

"Faith leaders across California will be actively involved in the Get Engaged Tour and will be at the forefront of any future campaign to restore legal marriage for all people and to protect religious freedom," said Pastor Samuel Chu, California Faith for Equality. "Our faith-based values require us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Gay and lesbian people are our neighbors and they should be able to enjoy the dignity, respect and commitment that come with marriage."

Over a dozen events have currently been posted with more to come in the month of July. A listing of current tour locations can be found at Communities not currently listed but interested in hosting events can contact us at and individuals can submit input via an on-line survey.

UPDATE: Fresno, CA Fox Affiliate Airing Anti-LGBT Programming - Demand They Stop!

UPDATE: According to Meet in the Middle 4 Equality, FOX affiliate KMPH 26 will air for free the pro-LGBT documentary, For the Bible Tells Me So on July 5 as a counter voice to "Silencing Christians."

Please email Debbie Sweeney to thank the station for making this right.

As Fresno activist Jay Matthews puts it, "This [story] goes to show just why Meet in the Middle was so necessary and our work is not done."

Fresno, CA Fox affiliate KMPH 26 is now airing the anti-LGBT program, "Silencing Christians", a supposed expose on how homosexuals are harassing Christians into silence and stripping their freedom of religion.

ACTION: Contact Fox KMPH 26 tomorrow and to tell them to take this hurtful programming off the air.

Phone: (559) 252-5900, demand to speak to programming
News room to make a statement: (559) 282-5580

If you use Twitter,pass this message along to everyone you know:

KMPH Fox 26 in Fresno airing anti-gay "Silencing Christians". Call 559.252.5900 and demand to speak to programming.

Report on Protest over DOMA Brief at Boston's DNC Fundraiser

Blog Ryan's Take covers first-hand the protest of the DNC's fundraiser in Boston. Spurred by the DOJ's and Obama Administration's insulting brief defending DOMA, many have taken the Democrats to task for accepting our money but not keeping their campaign promises to us.

Ryan's Take reports on Pam's House Blend:
If today's event in Boston is any indication, the DNC, DSCC, DCCC and Obama campaign committee can be expecting hundreds upon hundreds of protestors across the country at their fundraisers in the days ahead. About 30-40 people came to protest President Obama's DOMA brief at today's DNC fundraiser at Fenway Park in Boston, headlined by Vice President Biden.
Some key moments of the protests: Lt. Governor Tim Murray and Mayor Boston both attended the event, but neither of them recognized the protestors. MassEquality's Scott Gortikov crossed the (picket) line, attending the fundraiser despite the protestors and Obama administration brief. Lastly, the police pushed protestors back beyond the original protest area, to the extent that it made it very difficult to have a fair voice in protesting.
“With President Bush, we kind of expected his anti-gay policies and agenda,” Paul Sousa, co-chairman of Join The Impact Massachusetts which helped plan the protest, told the Boston Herald. “With Obama, we thought we were getting a friend in the White House.”

Videos from Ryan's Take. Image by John Wilcox of the Boston Herald.

NY State Bar Association Passes Resolution Supporting Marriage Equality

On the day that the New York state Senate may vote to legalize marriage equality, the New York State Bar Association announced that it has reversed its position on marriage equality and now states that true equality for LGBT relationships can only be found in marriage. The resolution was overwhelmingly passed with no voiced opposition.

In 2005 the bar voted in favor of a resolution stating the civil unions and domestic partnerships were equal, but four years later, they believe them to be separate and unequal. One of the delegates stated, "I think we've wasted four years."

The alternatives to marriage "[have] has not worked legally and [have] has not worked socially," Michele Kahn of Kahn & Goldberg in New York, chairman of the committee, told the delegates.

The committee observed that courts in other states had refused to sanction civil unions or domestic partnerships. Meanwhile, New York courts have declined to recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships contracted elsewhere by New Yorkers, since there is no equivalent in New York law.

The new resolution was backed by the State Bar's Special Committee on LGBT People and the Law, which argued in a 180-page report that "should New York wish to create equality between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, it has no choice but to reject the second-class model of civil unions and to endorse full marriage equality."

I wish the New York Senate would take heed to the bar's recommendation, but with all the squabbling in the chamber, I have a feeling it may fall on deaf years. But since they're full of surprises, such as virulently anti-gay Sen. Ruben Diaz crying to Liza Minnelli, you never know.

Let's just hope they actually cooperate long enough to vote.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New York Marriage Equality Bill No. 1 Agenda Item for Deadlocked Senate Tomorrow, June 24

Gov. Paterson has mandated for the state's deadlocked Senate another special session for tomorrow, June 24, and this time he's made the state's marriage equality bill agenda item number one.

Extreme homophobe and evangelical pastor, ridiculous Sen. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, is already going crazy over the prospect, having been a very outspoken opponent to anything LGBT and has been rumored to have brokered deals with the old leadership of the senate to keep the marriage equality bill from getting to the floor for a vote.

Elizabeth Benjamin of the Daily News reports:
I asked Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., who has pledged a rebellion if gay marriage comes to the floor of the Senate, what he will do tomorrow if this comes to pass. He said he will do "something," and assured me it will be "big."

"Tomorrow we will have a good time," Diaz Sr. told the DN's Glenn Blain. "Maybe I'm not upset. Maybe I solve the whole the problem tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow we come to an agreement and decide who's really in control."

Asked if that means he might switch sides and join the Republicans, the Bronx senator balked.

"Maybe tomorrow...Maybe. I don't know. I'm not saying anything...Who is asking me that? I don't know. Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is always uncertain. Tomorrow may never come."
Diaz's story gets weirder. It's coming to light that the vitriolic anti-gay senator has two gay brothers. I'm not even going to touch on the deep, underlying psychological motivations for his actions, but it sure sounds textbook.

So the drama of the problematic and puerile Senate continues, and this time, our rights may be used as a pawn in its power struggle. Hopefully, the outcome will be in our favor, but with the Senate deadlocked 31 to 31, and with Diaz running rampant spewing homophobic rhetoric, who knows what will happen.

Stay tuned.

People for the American Way Send Obama Letter Imploring Him to Act on Promises for LGBT Equality

This amazing letter was sent to President Obama today from Michael B. Keegan, President of the People for the American Way.

June 23, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

I am writing to respectfully urge you to bring the energetic moral vision that you championed as a presidential candidate to the cause of equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

Among the reasons that millions of people were inspired by your candidacy was your eloquence on behalf of an America in which everyone is offered respect and equality under the law. At People For the American Way, we disagreed with your decision to stop short of supporting marriage equality, but we welcomed the clarity with which you articulated the constitutional principle of equality in so many other areas. That vision energized not only gays and lesbians, but many other fair-minded Americans who recognize discrimination as a national moral failing, who view equality under the law as a defining part of the American Way, and who believe the country is ready to discard discrimination based on bigotries that should be left in our past. That vision would be even more powerful coming from you as president, but since your election we have heard very little.

Any reasonable person is aware of the extraordinary challenges that faced the nation as you took office, including a dire financial crisis that has cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, and access to health care. You have not shied from these most daunting of challenges. But it seems that you have shied from promoting the vision of equality that you articulated during your campaign.

Legislative change is needed, and we will continue to push Members of Congress and the Democratic leadership to move forward to end discrimination against LGBT Americans even as they grapple with other urgent national priorities. We are counting on you to call for and help win passage of legislation that you pledged to support.

As importantly, Mr. President, you are uniquely capable of communicating to the American public the moral and constitutional values at stake in ending discrimination against gay Americans. Beyond the clear harm to gay and lesbian Americans, the lack of your leadership on these issues damages both America’s sense of fairness and the credibility of your administration.

Your recent action to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, and your statement from the Oval Office committing yourself to work tirelessly toward equality, could have been the kind of moment that was celebrated as a milestone on the march toward equality. But instead it had the feel of, and was reported as, an incremental half-measure rushed onto the stage to placate a discontented political constituency.

While your comments in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act at the recent signing ceremony were welcome, they would have carried more weight as part of a larger ongoing effort to educate the American public about the moral need for LGBT equality. Moreover, the impact of your words was blunted coming so soon after your administration’s brief in support of DOMA using arguments that degraded gay and lesbian couples. You may have felt it was your duty to defend the law, but your argument that discrimination against same-sex couples doesn't count as discrimination and citation of case law on incest to claim that marriages of gay couples are unworthy of legal recognition was beyond the pale. Americans who support equality would not have been at all surprised if that brief had been filed by the Bush Administration. Coming from you, particularly without a broader public affirmation of your commitment to equality, it had the force of a hard slap in the face by someone we trusted.

Moreover, in the absence of a stronger statement about the importance of equality for all Americans, it has been equally difficult for your supporters to understand the continued discharges under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell of service members devoting their lives to our country. Congress should vote to repeal the destructive law that destroys military careers and robs the armed forces of highly trained soldiers, but until that happens, you should use your authority as commander-in-chief to suspend discharges of these personnel until that law is changed.

We have seen you change a nation’s conversation with an extraordinarily compelling speech on the issue of race in America. We have seen you change the perceptions of the world with a historic speech on history, pluralism, respect, and democracy to the world’s Muslims. We have seen you bring grace and conviction to the debate with your speech at Notre Dame about preserving a woman’s right to choose.

On the question of LGBT equality, it’s time to make that speech.

Mr. President, you have the opportunity to be on the right side of history. Every day, LGBT Americans face discrimination and are being denied their constitutional rights. There is no one in public life who could, and based on your stated principles and promises should, do more to move America forward toward becoming a country in which LGBT people are respected and treated as fully equal under our Constitution and laws.

We ask for your leadership and voice. When you lead, we will back you with every bit of heart and determination we can muster.


Michael B. Keegan
People For the American Way

ACTION: Sign the People for the American Way's petition to President Obama and Congress to Dump DOMA.

Petition Started Urging Reconciliation Between LDS Church and LGBT Population

A petition has been created seeking the reconciliation between the Mormon LDS Church and the LGBT population and will be delivered to the church's headquarters on the first anniversary of the passage of Proposition 8.

The petition's website, states:
By signing the Petition and spreading the word about it, you will be sending a message to the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that it is time for reconciliation. More importantly, you will be showing support for those who have been harmed by Church policies and practices because of their sexual orientation.
A part of the petition reads:
True reconciliation requires that parties on both sides of this issue be willing to honestly examine their attitudes, behaviors (including past behaviors), policies and practices—and be open to understanding, forgiveness (both asking for and accepting), and apology.

For individuals who have suffered or been forced to watch a loved one suffer mistreatment, misunderstanding, or demonization as a consequence of the LDS church's official policies, actions, and teachings regarding sexual orientation, we understand that true reconciliation will require rejecting redress through hostility, will take time, and be a difficult process.

For Church leaders, reconciliation requires examining ways in which official statements, rhetoric, policy and practice have been injurious to gays and lesbians and their families and friends; have caused unnecessary pain and suffering, rejection, psychological and spiritual damage and even death. This means scrupulously acknowledging such practices as “reorientation”-- reparative, revulsion, and shock-therapies; such teachings as homosexuality being an evil perversion, a condition that is chosen and changeable and one that can be overcome through fasting, prayer, sacrifice and heterosexual marriage; and using scriptures that are taken out of context, mistranslated or that are highly selective to condemn homosexuality. It also means to repudiate publicly circulated articles, essays, books, speeches, and conference addresses that have stereotyped or demonized gays and lesbians.
Though I am always for reconciliation between disputing parties, true reconciliation requires action on both sides to change behavior. To be constructive and not just empty words, full faith must be given to create a new beginning.

In this case, I don't see the Mormon church staying out of the 2010 marriage equality referendums facing both Maine and possibly again in California. Currently, the National Organization for Marriage is being investigated as being a front for the Mormon church, and whether or not it's true, asking the LGBT population to trust the church to keep to its promise of reconciliation will be near impossible. Nor will they ever believe the church will stick to its proper place when it comes to politics and voter referendums.

I truly wish that we could all come to a place of understanding, and I support the amazing intentions of the petitioners. From the beginning of this blog, I've stated that I was against focusing our anger on the Mormons for what happened here in California, and as this petition shows, not all Mormons agree with the church leaders. But I disagree with the website's notion "that the time is right for healing over this issue to begin." The harm is still too fresh and painful and ongoing.

I think true healing will begin once the LDS Church renounces its theological stance against the LGBT population, similar to what it did in regards to African Americans and polygamy. Maybe then can the long path to true reconciliation begin. Until then, I don't see this petition as anything more than empty words falling on the deaf ears of the church leadership, despite the good intentions. And that makes me sad.

But hopefully, it will begin a dialogue with the church. And that, I can support.

If you wish to read and sign the petition, you can find it at

To find out more about other Mormon groups that support marriage equality, check out Mormons For Marriage and Affirmation.

White House Has No Plans to Address Inflammatory Arguments in DOMA Brief

In a White House press briefing Monday, Press Secretary Gibbs fielded some questions regarding the DOMA brief and White House Staff Secretary Lisa Brown's remarks regretting the arguments made in the brief.

Q Robert, on the issue of the DOMA brief, one of your colleagues over the weekend, Lisa Brown, said that she didn't think some of the language that was in that brief should have been in there. Can you clarify from last week whether that brief was clear here at the White House, whether it represents the White House's view?

MR. GIBBS: Lisa is the Staff Secretary. You didn't ask her?

Q It wasn't a press conference; it was a panel discussion. But can you clarify whether it was cleared --

MR. GIBBS: I don't know the answer to that.

Q And do you know if there is any discussion underway about maybe modifying it or changing it?

MR. GIBBS: Not that I'm aware of.

I wouldn't expect the Administration or the DOJ to modify the brief. That would completely undermine their authority. However, a public statement addressing the thorny arguments in the brief would be a step in the right direction, or an explanation behind the logic in using them.

Call CA Gov. Schwarzenegger Today! Say No to Harmful Budget Cuts Threatening Those with HIV/AIDS!

My friend Morgan Early, who contributed a post earlier to Unite the Fight on the proposed cuts to California's budget that could threaten the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS, sent out this message today:

This week we found out that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning on vetoing the revised budget cuts, which were going to significantly reduce the impact of the harmful cuts on HIV/AIDS healthcare.

ACTION: So we need to swarm the governor's phone lines as soon as possible and tell him to not cut funds to HIV/AIDS healthcare! It is very easy, call today:

(916) 445 - 2841. When you get to the main menu, press 2 to voice your opinion on legislation.

You can also reach your state representative at

UPDATE: NY Gov. Paterson Calls for an Extraordinary Senate Session to Conclude "People's Business."

UPDATE: New York Senate Democrats have locked themselves in the Senate chamber, causing a major stumbling block for any real work to get done today as the struggle for Senate power continues. Yet another delay on any possibility for a vote on the marriage equality bill.

On the last scheduled day for the New York Senate to convene, only 31 of 62 senators appeared due to a deadlock over the power wrangling that has gripped the chamber the last couple weeks.

With over 50 bills still needing voted on, including the marriage equality bill, Gov. Paterson called for an extraordinary session today. He will continue to call sessions until the "people's business" gets done. "That includes Saturdays and Sundays, that includes Fourth of July. There will be no excuses, and there will be no tolerance to non-compliance to this order," the governor has said.

Paterson's Proclamation Presser from Elizabeth Benjamin on Vimeo.

Though many don't expect the marriage equality bill to be voted on today, Gov. Paterson did state that the Senate will be called "into session every day until the people's business is discharged and deliberations are held on a number of important issues, we will be moving on to issues of reform, fiscal discipline and also civil rights." (emphasis is mine)

Which means, the marriage equality bill could come up sometime soon.

Though the governor cannot force the Senate to vote on any particular bill, he can force them to stay in the state house with the help of the state police until all business is concluded.

ACTION: Contact your Senator NOW and express your support for the marriage equality bill. Inform them that a majority of New York residents support marriage equality. The newest Quinnipiac University poll finds that 51% supports marriage equality versus 41% opposed.

White House Conference Call with DNC LGBT Caucus a Bomb

Unite the Fight earlier reported that top White House officials had scheduled a phone call Monday with the DNC LGBT caucus and top LGBT organizations.

America Blog was able to talk with a source that was on the conference call. Their thoughts on it - "What a waste of time. They took 3 questions, two of which were uncritical."

Just three questions. Only one critical. Gee, thanks for the call.

But this could also be a reflection of the DNC LGBT caucus members. Did they not have the balls to push the administration on the recent controversies? Do they care? And if you're wondering who the members are, well I am, too. I can't seem to find the membership list anywhere. (Being sarcastic here)

Another report to America Blog stated that a caucus member asked, "What are we going to do about the blogs?"

What blogs? Oh, the many many blogs that have reflected the anger of the LGBT population against the DOJ's brief defending DOMA, Obama's refusal to use a stop-loss order to temporarily cease the discharges of LGBT servicemembers under DADT that run about two a day, the little to no pressure on Congress to pass ENDA, and the Administration's lack of movement on their rapidly shrinking LGBT rights agenda?

You mean, those blogs!

Yeah, they cause a lot of problems. Did you know they encourage community protests at DNC fundraisers where said LGBT caucus donors hobnob with the Washington elite, where they don't question whether or not the gAyTM should stop dispensing cash, and forget to ask the politicians about those pesky little Democratic campaign promises? The ones that suddenly seem impossible to fulfill once office terms begin.

Y'know, the blogs and community members that ask DNC LGBT caucus members to do their jobs instead of getting tipsy on cocktail drinks (which I'll choose to believe is the source of their lack of judgment when in the presence of those who will sell them out at the drop of a hat.)?

Yeah, so annoying, those blogs. Don't you just hate it when they give out protest information like this?

Washington DC DNC LGBT Fundraiser Protest
Boston DNC Protest

Or when they ask the community members to perform easy to do actions that make big statements, like faxing this form to the DNC?

Yeah, what ARE we going to do about those blogs?

Monday, June 22, 2009

UPDATE: Obama, the DOJ, the DNC and the LGBT - A Major Cluster F***

UPDATE 3: The White House confirms that there will in fact be a "reception" Monday to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, to the New York Times, “Next Monday’s event is a chance for the White House to recognize the accomplishments of LGBT Americans. Invited guests include families, volunteers and activists, and community leaders. This event was long planned as a way to applaud these individuals during Pride month.”

Nice, it's appreciated, been done before (by Clinton, whose administration saw DOMA and DADT pass), now where's the action? And why is this event unannounced?

UPDATE 2: The SLDN has issued a statement that they will be outside the Washington DC LGBT DNC fundraiser, joining the protests and boycotting the event.

"SLDN will be outside boycotting the Democratic National Committee (DNC) LGBT event in Washington this Thursday. SLDN will be calling upon the President to end his silence on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We will be wearing and handing out buttons with the number 265, representing the number of service members who will have been discharged this week since President Obama was sworn in."

Read the rest.

UPDATE: A contributor at Pam's House Blend has come up with this great form that you can fax to the DNC instead of your donation.
A lot has happened over this weekend - the news waits for no one.

The Plumline reports that the Obama Administration is going to have a major but private meeting next week with some of the larger gay organizations to smooth over tensions in the wake of the controversy over the administration’s defense in court of the Defense of Marriage Act."

Both GLAD and Lambda Legal have federal cases in the works that challenge DOMA in one way or another, and when they reached out to the opposition in the Department of Justice to talk about the cases in order to prepare, they got the terse response, "Our position hasn't changed."
"It remains to be seen, however, whether the meeting will achieve in a long term sense what gay rights lawyers told me they were and are looking for — an ongoing, less-confrontational interaction with the administration in the context of specific cases. It’s also an open question whether the meeting will resolve broader tensions in what has been an unexpectedly rocky relationship," Plumline reports.

They do have some smoothing over to do. Well, a lot actually.

White House staff member, Lisa Brown, the White House staff secretary, said about the DOMA brief at a forum, "There’s no question–personal statement–that there were some cites in there that should not—that should not have been in there...They were trying to...essentially eliminate arguments that the Bush Administration had made."

“Nobody thinks it’s fast enough right now, but I know the President cares about this," she added. "It’s going in the right direction, if not quickly enough.”

The smoothing over continues. Joe Subday reports that today, two top White House officials, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and Political Director Patrick Gaspard, will be holding a conference call with the LGBT DNC caucus, that will include "updates" on the Administration's LGBT agenda.

"Updates." You mean, actual actions?

"This does go to show -- and I've heard it from many people on other issues -- if you want the attention of the Obama White House, you have to play hard ball," Joe reports. "For the LGBT community, among other things, that means shutting down the Gay ATM."

That Gay ATM is running out of easy access cash. This Thursday's LGBT DNC fundraiser in Washington DC is losing even more attendees. On Top Magazine quoted Jason Bartlett, the National Black Justice Coalition's deputy director, as saying, "I don't know of any board members that are intending on going."

But on top of facing a dwindling attendee list, the DNC is going to have to deal with protests outside their events. The planned protest for Thursday's Washingotn DC fundraiser has caught the organizers' attention, who made light of it in an email to attendees, saying, "Contribute -- but stand outside with a sign! We ll keep a plate warm for you and buy you a drink afterward, when the cameras are gone. We are, after all, all on the same team."

But DC's fundraiser isn't the only one facing protests. Boston's DNC fundraiser is facing its own protest, organized by Join the Impact. Their Facebook Event page says, "...we've gotten more in the past 6 days for the LGBT community than we have in the past 6 months...Putting on this protest will be emblematic of a larger issue at hand for the Obama administration and the Dems. No longer is the protest singled out just in Washington, DC, but now they're spreading."

So how does the Administration plan further smoothing over? By throwing a party for the gays at the end of the month. Y'know, since we're known for our fondness of fetes and the White House for photo-ops. Again, I try not to be too cynical, but after what I've witnessed from Obama since he's taken office, it's hard not to be. So I have to agree with America Blog when they write:
It's clear that the purpose [of the party] is two-fold. First, the White House is trying, again, to surround the president with A-list gays in order to show how "gay friendly" he is - he's even willing to give a speech in a room full of them for a full 8 minutes! And second, the White House hopes that a little champagne and fancy food will convince the A-listers to throw the rest of you overboard. Because, after all, what's two gay service members discharged a day and an ongoing effort to legally label you as akin to pedophila and incest, when there's champagne to be served.

I think it's fair to say that, unless the White House shows significant action on Don't Ask Don't Tell and DOMA by the time of this party, any representative of a gay organization attending this event is going to met with a swift community-wide boycott of their organization.
And why do I agree? Because it's nothing new. That's how, after all the atrocities from the Clinton Administration, that we didn't bail on the Democrats - they bought us with champagne and fancy parties.

Michelangelo Signorile puts it simply enough: "What we need now is real action. Not these crumbs, whether it be the census inclusion or some benefits for federal employees. We need something big, and until then, the DNC fundraisers should continue to be threatened, and nobody among the gay leadership should be partying with this president."

But here's a bright spot. We've seen our issues rebuffed too many times at the White House's press briefings from Press Secretary Gibbs. Friday, the tone was quite different.

As stated, the Obama Administration only responds to hardball actions. We found out what we knew already to be true confirmed - Democrats use us for our money. So our hardball response - close our wallets. Keep them shut until we see some real action. In the meantime, check out these protests if you want to show solidarity.

Washington DC DNC LGBT Fundraiser Protest
Boston DNC Protest