Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July! Our Equality Is Inevitable.

Happy 4th
of July UTF Readers!

Before signing off for this holiday weekend, I wanted to leave you with a reminder of the amazing beginnings of the United States of America and the hope its future can bring.

Everyday we're fighting for our equal rights, and though the Declaration of Independence declares that all are created equal, we know that such a high standard has yet to be fulfilled in this country.

Hopefully this video will remind you that though our country has yet to fulfill its destiny of full equality for all, the foundation has already been laid for its inevitability - we just have to keep working for it. Let this 4th of July be a friendly reminder that our efforts are not in vain.

Be proud.

Unite the Fight will be back and running full steam ahead on Monday.

Senator Leno Announces Bill Clarifying Rights of Same-Sex Couples Married Outside of California

In a press release Thursday, Senator Mark Leno announced he will be authoring legislation to clarify state law regarding same-sex couples who have already married or plan to marry outside of California, prompted by ambiguities about how out-of-state same-sex marriages will be recognized in California following the passage of Proposition 8 and the California Supreme Court decision upholding it.

Senator Leno’s Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Equality California, has been amended to clarify that same-sex couples who married outside of California before Proposition 8 went into effect on November 5, 2008 are recognized as married spouses. The bill also confirms that same-sex couples who married outside California after November 5, 2008, or plan to do so in the future, must receive the same rights, protections, benefits, obligations and responsibilities afforded to opposite-sex spouses, with the sole exception of the designation of “marriage.”

Senate Bill 54 - Regarding Same-Sex Couples Married Outside CA

“Proposition 8 not only creates a separate and unequal category for one minority group of Californians, but also creates confusion for same-sex couples who married outside of California,” said Senator Leno. “Since we cannot remedy this confusion by restoring full marriage equality for all Californians, we are forced to clarify the rights and protections afforded to these couples and their families in state law. As defined by the Court, Proposition 8 only denies same-sex couples the official designation of the term “marriage.”

While Prop 8 prevents California from using the “marriage” designation for same-sex couples who marry after November 5, 2008, the Supreme Court’s May 26 decision, as explained in the Court’s press release, “leaves undisturbed all of the other aspects of a same-sex couple’s constitutional right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship and to the equal protection of the laws.”

The Court’s decision states that California must recognize the marriages of couples who married in California before the passage of Prop 8 but does not specify how couples who married outside of the state should be recognized. Nevertheless, existing family and constitutional law, including the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision that upheld the right to marry for all couples, affirms that the state would violate the federal privileges and immunities clause if it were to treat marriages differently based on where they are performed. SB 54 makes that clear in state law.

SB 54 is co-authored by the members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus, including Senator Christine Kehoe and Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano and John A. Pérez. The bill will be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks.

Image by Steve Rhodes.

NEA to Vote on Marriage Equality Resolution

The National Education Association (NEA) is reportedly considering adding an amendment at its convention in support of marriage equality, the vote could come in the next few days. The NEA is the nation's largest union with over 3.2 million members and spent 50 million dollars to help elect Barack Obama.

The weight of the decision holds political and financial implications for the future of marriage equality and adoption rights by same-sex couples.

Please urge the NEA to adopt the resolution calling for marriage rights for LGBT families.

National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-3290

Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET

Scroll down on their site for their e-contact form.

Crossposted with Queers United.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Federal Case Against Prop 8 Moves Rapidly Forward with Next Hearing Scheduled for August 19th

Today in the North California U.S. District Court, Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker held the first hearing in the federal case against Prop 8. Due to the fact that Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to defend the law based on his opposition to it, the judge ruled that Protect Marriage California, which ran the campaign to pass the initiative, may defend it.

Bay Area KRON reports "...the judge won't stop enforcement of the law while the case is being considered. Judge Walker says he expects a full trial with witnesses will be needed in the case...The next step is for both sides to agree on what facts can be stipulated and submit those issues to the court by August 7th. Another case management conference is set for August 19th."

This signals a speedy trial indeed.

Yusef Robb, spokesman for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization behind the federal case, told Unite the Fight, "We're pleased that we're moving so swiftly toward ensuring each and every one of us is treated equally under the law."

The Bay Area Reporter in an excellent article covering the hearing, reports however that the judge is flexible:
Walker also indicated he is willing to forgo the normal trial process to shorten the time it will take for him to reach a decision that even he acknowledges will not be the final word in the matter. He asked both sides to brief him on what facts are germane to the lawsuit by August 7 and scheduled a second case management hearing for 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 19.

"I am reasonably sure given the issues involved, and given the legal counsel in this courtroom, that this case is only touching down in this court. It will have a life outside this courtroom," said Walker, referring to the 25 lawyers involved in the case sitting before him.
Standing in a nondescript federal courtroom near the Civic Center, the warring attorneys said they have already talked amongst themselves on how to proceed with the case without the need for lengthy trial testimony from expert witnesses. Instead, both sides' lawyers said they prefer to merely brief the court on the relevant issues in order to expedite the process.

Yet the two sides expressed different reasons as for why they don't want to see the legal wrangling be a drawn out process.

Olson, both in court and at a press conference following the hearing, said every day that Prop 8 is allowed to stand tens of thousands of Californians are being discriminated against and denied their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

"The denial of individuals such as my clients here today of the right to marry that is given to all other Californians is in violation of their rights. They are entitled to relief of that as soon as possible," said Olson. "We are very, very anxious to proceed. Even the California attorney general has admitted that Prop 8 is unconstitutional."

The backers of Prop 8, on the other hand, said at the news conference that their main objective is to see the will of the voters be upheld.

"Once again the will of the voters is being challenged. Californians should be troubled their vote, their decision on this important matter is being challenged. The voters of California should have some finality," said Andrew Pugno, who served as general counsel for the Yes on 8 campaign and is co-counsel in the federal case. "It is in the interest of justice and a speedy resolution that this case can move along speedily without being bogged down by a trial."
KRON provides footage of the press conference that followed:

No preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of Prop 8 will be given so that a speedy trial can proceed to final ruling.

Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Rep. Sally Kern: “Same Sex Marriage Is Debauchery”

Crossposted with David Badash from The New Civil Rights Movement who kindly gave permission for me to post here in entirety. "Anything to get the word out about [Rep. Sally Kern]!" he told me.

Sally Kern didn’t learn her lesson, even after mass public outrage. No doubt strategically timed to make Independence Day headlines, Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern is back to demonizing gays again. Today, in an unusually public ceremony, Rep. Kern signed a “Proclamation for Morality,” which blames the U.S.’s current economic crisis on, among other acts of “debauchery,” same-sex marriage. Yup. That’s right, the bad state of the economy is because of the gays. Here’s a taste of her “Proclamation”:
WHEREAS, we believe our economic woes are consequences of our greater national moral crisis; and

WHEREAS, this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion,pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery; and

WHEREAS, alarmed that the Government of the United States of America is forsaking the rich Christian heritage upon which this nation was built; and

WHEREAS, grieved that the Office of the president of these United States has refused
to uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in giving recognition to our National Day of Prayer; and

WHEREAS, deeply disturbed that the Office of the president of these United States disregards the biblical admonitions to live clean and pure lives by proclaiming an entire month to an immoral behavior.
So much for separation of Church and State.

Now, you’ll remember early last year Rep. Kern got busted at her own fundraiser. Never think someone isn’t recording you. Because someone always is. The Victory Fund took the recording and added some images. Watch for yourself:

Here’s the full text of Kern’s “Proclamation”:

We the People of Oklahoma, Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessing of Liberty; to secure just and rightful Government; to promote our mutual Welfare and Happiness, do establish this proclamation and call upon the people of the great State of Oklahoma, and our fellow Patriots in these United States of America who look to the Lord for guidance, to acknowledge the need for a national awakening of righteousness in our land.

WHEREAS, “It is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand” (John Adams); and

WHEREAS, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by Religion and Morality” (John Adams); and

WHEREAS, “Our Constitution was made only for a Moral and Religious people” (John Adams); and

WHEREAS, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government…but upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God” (James Madison); and

WHEREAS, “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God (Benjamin Franklin); and

WHEREAS, “God who gave us life gave us liberty and can the liberties of a nation be
thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God” (Thomas Jefferson); and

WHEREAS, “Whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of Religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state” (Joseph Story); and

WHEREAS, “We hold sacred the rights of conscience, and promise to the people…the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion” (Roger Sherman); and

WHEREAS, “This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians” (Patrick Henry); and

WHEREAS, “When you…exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed upon your mind that God commands you to choose just men who will rule in the fear of God” (Noah Webster); and

WHEREAS, “The principles of genuine Liberty and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible” (Noah Webster); and

WHEREAS, the people of Oklahoma have a strong tradition of reliance upon the Creator of the Universe; and thought secure when we have removed

WHEREAS, we believe our economic woes are consequences of our greater national moral crisis; and

WHEREAS, this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery; and

WHEREAS, alarmed that the Government of the United States of America is forsaking the rich Christian heritage upon which this nation was built; and

WHEREAS, grieved that the Office of the president of these United States has refused to uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in giving recognition to our National Day of Prayer; and

WHEREAS, deeply disturbed that the Office of the president of these United States disregards the biblical admonitions to live clean and pure lives by proclaiming an entire month to an immoral behavior;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we the undersigned elected officials of the people of Oklahoma, religious leaders and citizens of the State of Oklahoma, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world, solemnly declare that the HOPE of the great State of Oklahoma and of these United States, rests upon the Principles of Religion and Morality as put forth in the HOLY BIBLE; and

BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, believers in the One True God and His only Son, call upon all to join with us in recognizing that “Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord,” and humbly implore all who love Truth and Virtue to live above reproach in the sight of God and man with a firm reliance on the leadership and protection of Almighty God; and

BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, humbly call upon Holy God, our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, to have mercy on this nation, to stay His hand of judgment, and grant a national awakening of righteousness and Christian renewal as we repent of our great sin.

Signed on the second day of July in the year of our Lord Christ Two Thousand and Nine.
American Atheists, a forty-six year old organization, released this statement:
“Dr. Ed Buckner, president of American Atheists, said that the bizarre claim “betrays not only intellectual bankruptcy, but insults the intelligence of voters in Oklahoma and the rest of the country who want real solutions to the serious economic difficulties that face our nation. The resolution offered is not only counter-productive, it severely misquotes key founding fathers. Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and probably Washington as well would be appalled at being falsely claimed by these anti-American yahoos.”

The “Oklahoma Citizen’s Proclamation for Morality” singles out President Obama for recognizing June as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered) Pride Month, and charges that America is economic peril because of “abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse and many other forms of debauchery.”

“With all of the recent scandals involving self-righteous politicians, I first thought this Resolution was talking about religious Republicans,” quipped Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists. “Political leaders, especially those wrapping themselves in the rhetoric of the religious right, are the last people who should be trying to dictate how Americans should live their lives.”

“Once again, we’re blaming complex social problems on the religious right’s idea of sinful behavior,” said Kagin. “It appears that Rep. Kern and her supporters know less about economics than they do using religion to promote a theocratic social agenda.”
It’s time for America to get serious about our politicians.

UTF CALLS FOR ACTION: Contact Rep. Kearns and voice your disapproval!

Ft. Worth Police Chief Changes Tone at Public Forum; Vigil Held for Injured Bar Raid Patron

Fort Wort Police Chief Jeff Halstead has shifted his tone about the raid on the LGBT bar Rainbow Lounge after his comments yesterday that upset a lot of LGBT people, including allies.

At a forum that was already scheduled before the controversy to address Fort Worth residents' concerns about the police, Halstead responded to LGBT residents' questions about the incident.
"We’ve got to work together," Halstead said. "Be patient, and you will see that this is just not lip service. I will meet with you wherever you want to meet. I will go to your restaurants, your house, we can eat barbecue, whatever you want to do. But we’ve got to talk.

"We will heal beyond this."
Pegasus News reports on a "public chat" that took place last night in which a crowd of over 100 appeared and witnesses of the raid detailed what they saw.

A vigil also took place last night in honor of Chad Gibson who was injured during the bar's raid. Once listed in serious condition, the hospital issued good news that he is now in fair condition.

View more news videos at:

India Becomes 127th Nation to Decriminalize Homosexuality

India, the second most populous nation in the world, has decriminalized homosexuality, becoming the 127th nation to do so.

From NDTV:
In a revolutionary verdict, Delhi High Court on Thursday legalised gay sex among consenting adults.

The Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code as far as it criminalises gay sex among consenting adults is violation of fundamental rights, the high court said.

Any kind of discrimination is anti-thesis of right to equality, the court said, while allowing plea of gay rights activists for decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The Naz Foundation along with an activist group Voices Against 377 had filed a petition seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code was created in 1861 by the British and outlaws what it calls any acts against the order of nature and the punishment for violating it, can be up to 10 years along with a fine.

Read the High Court's ruling. Read further analysis by Rex Wockner.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 2nd Could Spell The Beginning of the End for Prop 8 - Unite the Fight Talks to the Team Behind the Federal Case Against It

July 2nd could mark the beginning of the end to Prop 8, the controversial initiative that stripped California's LGBT population of the right to marry.

Why? Because on July 2nd, the first hearing of the federal case brought against Prop 8 by power team Ted Olson and David Boies will be heard in the North California U.S. District Court with the case assigned to Judge Vaughn Walker.

Even more dramatically, Olson and Boies, who have an amazing track record of winning cases, had requested a preliminary injunction against the initiative while the courts heard the merits of their case. In other words, this would have put the enforcement of Prop 8 in the Golden State on hold during the trial, consequently allowing same-sex marriages to occur again.

The hearing on July 2nd would've centered around the merits of the injunction, but Judge Walker had other thoughts in mind, calling recently for a move to “proceed expeditiously to trial."

“Given that serious questions are raised in these proceedings ... the court is inclined to proceed directly and expeditiously to the merits of plaintiffs' claims," the judge declared. “The just, speedy and inexpensive determination of these issues would appear to call for proceeding promptly to trial."

(See Case Document and Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Judge Walker's Order for Trial)

This can be seen as a very good sign. The arguments for an injunction mirror the arguments to end Prop 8 altogether, and as the judge stated in his order, this simply demands that a trial must begin right away. Why put a "band-aid" on the situation when you can end the pain altogether?

“We are encouraged that the judge wants to dispense with the preliminaries and move quickly toward a final ruling on the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8," Olson said in a press release. "This case is about protecting people's fundamental Constitutional rights, and we agree that it is in everyone's best interest to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. We are prepared to move forward at as fast a pace as the court desires.”

Prop 8 may be history very soon. That's a lot to take in. But that's what would happen in the best of circumstances. Many different circumstances can shift the fate of this case and how Prop 8 continues its reign over California.

It can be confusing sorting out all the facts, especially given some of the controversy surrounding the case. So I decided to go straight to the source for clarification on all the different possible outcomes and ramifications and spoke to the team taking the Prop 8 to task.

But first, some background.

How the Case Began

To find out how the case came into being, I went to Chad Griffin. Chad, who is openly gay, began his political career over a decade ago as the youngest person to work on a president's West Wing staff and now works for his own political and communications strategy firm, Griffin Schake.

Similar to the experiences of millions of LGBT across the country, Chad told me about his own on election day. "I'm a political strategist - I was devastated like everyone - such a bittersweet experience with Obama becoming president while the banning of gay marriage in California and gay adoption in my home state of Arkansas passed. It was very difficult to celebrate."

After allowing only a few hours to be depressed, Chad and some politically progressive friends, such as movie director Rob Reiner, producer Bruce Cohen and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, began discussing what was next.

"We're in a war, and we discussed where we could take the war. If you have a single goal in winning that war, you want to have the opposition on the defensive on all fronts," Chad said. By the end of their discussion, they believed a federal case against Prop 8 would be a powerful next step.

Not long after, these friends, along with Griffin's business partner Kristina Schake, founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), created with the sole purpose to support this case. Not long after, they announced the board.

But who was to fight this case?

How Ted Olson and David Boies Took Up the Case

Chad recounted to me the night that he and the future board members of the AFER discussed next steps.

"We went down this path, discussing where donors can be putting their money and activists where they could be spending their time. In our discussions, someone mention that perhaps [Ted] Olson held the same view as us on gay marriage. I responded with skepticism and doubt."

Why such doubt? If you recall the infamous presidential election of 2000 and the historical Bush V. Gore Supreme Court case which effectively determined the final result of the contested 2000 Presidential election. Guess who argued for Bush. Ted Olson. He was later appointed by Bush as U.S. Solicitor General and served in the position until 2004.

Chad put aside his skepticism and gave Olson a call and was pleasantly surprised. They agreed to meet in Washington DC where Olson began to inform Chad of his impassioned beliefs for the equal rights of all LGBT.

"I realized I could be sitting in the room with the most eloquent, articulate game-changing spokesperson of our movement. As the conversation went on, I was quite impressed with his analysis of the legal aspects," Chad told Unite the Fight. "We discussed timing, on now versus wait, and the arguments that could be used for and against, and the impacts on the LGBT community - how state sanctioned discrimination leads to the real life consequences, such as rising suicide rates in LGBT youth, who are being kicked out of their homes when they come out. Ted expressed his long held personal views of support for same-sex marriage."

By the end of the meeting, Olson was on board, but Chad believed an "equally prominent co-counsel" was needed to push the case to the forefront of the fight for equal rights.

Olson suggested another powerhouse attorney David Boies, the lawyer he faced down in the Bush V. Gore case. Equally prominent indeed.

It didn't take long to get Boies on board, and the once opposing attorneys immediately got to work. With two sets of same-sex unmarried couples with a desire to marry acting as plaintiffs, the case was filed and immediately, the media frenzy began. (AFER press conference.)

Criticisms Against the Case

Immediately, large organizations objected to the case, calling it premature and fearing that a loss could set back the marriage equality movement years if not decades. The ACLU told Time that "The U.S. Supreme Court typically does not get too far ahead of either public opinion or the law in the majority of states."

"Look at the Loving vs. Virginia case – if Loving would have waited for public opinion to catch up, they would have waited years if not decades," Chad told me. "Only 17 percent of the American public were in favor of interracial marriage."

"We’re now approaching 50 percent of the American public [in favor of marriage equality]. We have six states with marriage equality. The Supreme Court and our court system was not designed to wait on public opinion," Chad continued.

"We can all agree to disagree on different tactics but at the end of the day, we all have the same goal - we can all agree on winning full federal rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," Chad told me. But in most cases, "The response to the case has been overwhelmingly positive."

AFER has also continued to talk to the specific organizations that originally objected, and after hearing more about the case, they have reacted more positively. Since this discussion, the ACLU has done a 180 and along with other organizations, has filed "friend of the court" briefs in support of the case, as well as California Gov. Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown.

This led me to more specific questions. Why go federal now, especially with a divided Supreme Court with a conservative makeup? What's the grounds of the argument of the case?

Chad humbly admitted to not being a lawyer and kindly directed me to Ted Boutrous Jr., partner at Gibson, Dunn and Cruther of which Ted Olson is also a partner.

But before signing off, Chad said, "I don’t think it’s correct to say that we have a divided [Supreme] Court – we have a 4/4 with Kennedy being a swing vote. The last two gay cases winning with a 5-4 vote."

The Timing and Specifics of the Case

"We think we can win and can win now," Ted Boutrous told me. "Based on the Supreme Court decisions in the Lawrence vs. Texas and Romer vs. Evans [gay rights] cases, the arguments are extremely strong."


"Olson and Boies believe we can win now, and to win, you have to go in and give the arguments," Boutrous continued. "It’s been the Supreme Court that has really been the change agent when it comes down to striking down discriminatory laws."

Olson has a 75% win for his cases with Boies having an equally impressive track record, and both have argued numerous cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. If they believe we can win, that's not something you take in lightly.

In talking with Boutrous and reading the AFER website, I learned of the core arguments supporting the federal case against Prop 8.

According to the suit, Prop 8:
There's been a lot of talk about the case reaching the U.S. Supreme Court, but I wanted to know what had to happen first before it got there. Boutrous helped break it down for me.

First, the case must be heard in the North California U.S. District Court by Judge Vaughn Walker. As mentioned, the hearing begins on July 2nd, and on this day, Judge Walker and the attorneys on both sides of the issue will determine how to “proceed expeditiously to trial."

Second, most likely either side will appeal the ruling if it goes against their liking. In this case, it will then reach the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

It will only be after that ruling will either side appeal to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. But even then, the high court may not hear it. They will have to decide whether or not to take the case certiorari, which is the decision of the court to review a lower court's opinion by "rule of four." This means, four Supreme Court justices have to agree to hear the case.

Though one could never predict how the Supreme Court justices will decide, one major deciding factor tends to be whether or not the lower courts have made opposing decisions favoring one side or the other.

Either way you look at it, it could be awhile before the U.S. Supreme Court hears any case on Prop 8.

But I still had questions about the ramifications of the case going through the court system. What if the case wins? What if it loses? What effect, if any, will it have on a new initiative to repeal Prop 8 in either 2010 or 2012?

Ramifications of the Federal Case Against Prop 8

"First, we strongly believe we’re going to win," Boutrous reiterated. "Second, whatever the court rules, it will be a crucial and necessary step to ultimate victory in equality for all. It’s not an all or nothing case."

When I asked him what he meant, he explained, "This case will lay the foundation and create building blocks for future cases. Unless the courts begin now to examine these federal constitutional issues, it could be decades before progress is made."

But isn't it still a big risk for the movement?

"When you file a lawsuit like this, lawyers and clients need to do an analysis, and we determined now is the time do raise these challenges," Boutrous said, again pointing to the phenomenal expertise of Olson and Boies. "You do have to factor in the inherent challenges - We expect to win."

"You’re not going to be able to gain your constitutional rights unless you go into court and argue for them," he noted. "We think either way its crucial to get this issue before the Supreme Court now, or it can take 10, 20 30 years before we gain equality for all. We think this is the time to raise these claims, we think we’re going to win."

So what will it do for our rights if the case gains final victory?

"It could lead to the elimination of barriers across the country by the way the ruling is framed," Boutrous answered.

But specific rights gained either just in California or nationwide lie in the details of the Supreme Court ruling itself, which no one can predict.

"With the Supreme Court, it could rule broadly [for all of the nation] or a targeted way against Prop 8, but we believe either way, the ruling would have signification ramifications across the country," Boutrous told me.

In other words, California LGBT residents may earn back their right to marry, but the state-by-state battle would still continue. Or, the Supreme Court can say to hell with all the laws in the nation banning same-sex marriage, and the whole U.S. LGBT population will finally be allowed to legally marry and gain federal recognition.

How will this case affect a repeal Prop 8 effort in California in either 2010 or 2012?

Boutrous echoed Chad's earlier words about fighting for LGBT rights on all fronts, both at the local level and at the federal level. If Prop 8 is overturned through a voter referendum, it could in fact render their case "moot."

"We could very likely be geared to file a lawsuit in another state that continue to ban same-sex marriage. If Prop 8 were overturned at the ballot box, we would likely take everything that we have done in California and fight the battle there."

"Olson and Boies are on opposite sides of the political aisle. We think, to the public, this could help enhance the likelihood of success at the ballot box," Boutrous continued. "If the worst news we get is that the voters have wiped Prop 8 off the books at the ballot box, then we will reevaluate our case with smiles on our faces."

After talking to the very helpful Ted Boutrous Jr. and Chad Giffin, I was ready to type up everything I learned and share it to the Unite the Fight readership.

But then the horrible and offensive Department of Justice (DOJ) brief defending DOMA was released under the watch of Obama's Administration in reaction to another federal case. As I got caught up in reporting on the brief, I kept thinking, "What bearing at all does this have on the Prop 8 case?"

The Consequences of the DOMA Brief for the Federal Case Against Prop 8

Armed with new questions, I was directed to to speak to Gibson Dunn and Crutcher partner Matthew McGill, who is on the Prop 8 litigation team at the firm.

I jumped right in, asking, "The DOJ just issued a brief defending DOMA, and stated that 'DOMA Is Consistent with Equal Protection and Due Process Principles.' Though your case is against Prop 8 and not DOMA, doesn't this still cut down the core of your argument against it? How will this affect your case?"

McGill didn't skip a beat.

"We don’t think it affects it very much if at all," he said. "The analysis is quite different as to whether a federal statute violates the [Equal Protection] principles as opposed to this particular state provision. We think it’s an entirely different analysis."

"We think that the government's defense of DOMA is quite wrong and wrong-headed. It’s not a defensible position for any number of independent reasons," he continued. "When the government discriminates, it has to have a reason. For certain forms of discrimination, it has to have a really powerful reason."

"Some of the interests that the government might use to defend DOMA arise out of the fact that the federal government uniquely has to deal with 50 states plus DC and Puerto Rico and other territories and all of these state regimes at the same time," McGill said. "The federal government argues this allows it to apply the lowest common denominator when it comes to marriage equality. It only need recognize as valid marriages the stingiest state view of marriage."

So where does Prop 8 fit into this?

"That argument is simply not available to defend Prop 8," McGill answered. "[California] is not in the position of the federal government having to contend with 50 different legal regimes."

"When you’re taking on a federal statute like DOMA, you’re taking on the United States," McGill told me. "I think part of the reason we’ve chosen at this point to limit our challenge to Prop 8 is to take things one step at a time. When people heard that a federal lawsuit had been filed, they assumed it was an all or nothing gambit for those seeking marriage equality. And that’s simply not true. We’d be very satisfied to establish marriage equality in California, and then work from that precedent to move and take on the next battle in a position of strength."

Thursday, July 2nd

So, with my questions having been answered by the helpful team fighting Prop 8, I now wait with bated breath for Thursday, July 2nd, to watch them in action as the hearings for the case begin, leading hopefully to a speedy trial, and ultimately, the end of Prop 8.

No one said this was going to be an easy fight, nor did they claim there was one path to victory. But in my humble opinion, it can't hurt to be fighting on all fronts, including the extremely difficult federal front. But with the amazing Olson and Boies on our side, a team that Chad beautifully described as our movement's "grandest of coups," how can we not support it?

ACTION: Help Lt. Dan Choi By Signing Letter to House Speaker Pelosi Asking For DADT Repeal

On Tuesday the Federal Recognition Board recommended the discharging of Lt. Dan Choi under the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy because he publicly stated that he is gay. However, the final decision is made by senior Army officials which could come within weeks to a year.

Today in an email through the Courage Campaign, and alongside Lt. Choi's organization Knights Out and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Lt. Choi asks for the continued support from LGBT and allies by signing a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
"I've made my case to President Obama -- supported by more than 140,000 of your signatures. I've made my case to the Army -- supported by more than 160,000 of your signatures. And I will continue to make my case until they fire me for good.

"Now we need to make our case to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Will you join me in asking Speaker Pelosi to strongly support legislation currently in Congress that would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? Please sign on to our letter before July 4th and I'll personally deliver your signatures to the Speaker ASAP."
Go to the Courage Campaign website to read and sign the letter to speaker Nancy Pelosi. Do it by July 4th!

Ft. Worth Police Chief Praises Officers' Restraint in Gay Bar Raid; Candlelight Vigil Tonight for Injured Patron

Today, Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead responded to criticisms that last Saturday night's violent raid on the gay bar Rainbow Lounge, which fell on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall and landed one of the patrons in the hospital with bleeding in the brain, was justified:
Monday, police chief Jeff Halstead said the officers' actions are being investigated. However, he also said that officers that entered the bar during the scheduled inspection were touched inappropriately.

"You're touched and advanced in certain ways by people inside the bar, that's offensive," he said. "I'm happy with the restraint used when they were contacted like that."
(View news report.)

Eyewitnesses dispute this account.

Dan Savage has angrily responded, voicing the homophobia behind the quote:
"Them faggots in that thar bar touched mah officers and now they're complainin' about some rough stuff and one little ol' faggot with a brain injury? Those perverts should be grateful they're alive."
Chad Gibson, the 26-year-old gay man, who was violently pushed against a wall and banged his head leaving a dent, is now in the hospital with a life-threatening blood clot in his brain.

ACTION: A candlelight vigil is being held tonight in front of the Rainbow Lounge in Chad's honor at 8:30pm CT.

Equality Texas has issued an urgent action call for people to sign a petition demanding an investigation into the Rainbow Lounge bar raid.

Judge Will Not Delay Same-Sex Marriage Recognition in DC

Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin ruled not to delay the enactment of the law stipulating that the D.C. government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. (Read the ruling.)

The stay was requested by opponents of marriage equality, Stand 4 Marriage DC Coalition, headed up by Bishop Harry Jackson, because they needed more time to prepare to argue against the law. They prefer a voter referendum on the issue, but the D.C. elections board said that would be illegal under the District's Human Rights Act.

Retchin reprimanded the opponents for "inexcusable" delay in filing with the court and that they failed to establish a "likelihood of success on the merits" of their arguments, which she said was based simply on their disagreement to recognize same-sex marriage and not being denied a referendum.

Jackson issued a statement, calling the ruling "an absurd judgment."

"Our laws have always recognized that marriage is between a man and a woman," he said. "This is the law in 44 states and at the federal level. The real human rights issue at stake in this decision is whether the people of D.C. will be given their right to vote."

Jackson vows to keep fighting.

VIDEO: Keith Olbermann Says Obama Is "Goddamn Wrong" on Don't Ask Don't Tell

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Army Board Recommends Lt. Dan Choi Be Discharged Under DADT

Today, an Army board in Syracuse at Hancock Air Base recommended that Lt. Dan Choi be discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell since he publicly stated that he was gay. This despite Choi delivering stacks of letters and petitions from thousands of individuals demanding he should stay in the army.

The recommendation goes to Lt. Gen. Thomas Miller of the First Army Division, and Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, who will make the final decision.

Choi pledged to keep fighting to stay in the army. "I'm disappointed," said Choi at a news conference tonight. "Today was a setback for me."

But Choi said he plans to appeal to the higher ranking officers. "I refuse to lie about my love relationship," he said.

The AP reports, "Lt. Dan Choi is the first New York National Guard member discharged for violating the military's policy against homosexual conduct. About 10,500 military and National Guard members have been discharged for violating the policy in the 12 years from 1997 through 2008."

Last month, Lt. Dan spoke to Unite the Fight at Meet in the Middle, reiterating his pledge to keep fighting DADT.

Minnesota High Court Rules Al Franken As Winner of U.S. Senate Seat; Opponent Concedes

Al Franken, longtime friend to the LGBT population, was declared winner of the long-contested seat for the Minnesota U.S. Senate. Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that he had in fact won the race.

Fear that his opponent, Republican incumbent and long-time ally of the former Bush administration, Norm Coleman would continue to fight for the job ended when he announced that he would be conceding. "It's time for Minnesota to come together under the leaders it has chosen and move forward," he said. Read his full statement.

Michael Jones at gives "Five Reasons Why Senator Al Franken is a Good Thing for LGBT Rights" including that Al Franken will vote for LGBT rights legislation and that, being a Democrat, he will now give the Democratic party a solid 60 seat filibuster-free majority in the U.S. Senate.

Whether or not this will encourage Obama to show a little more bravery when it comes to LGBT issues remains to be seen. Obama's fear of falling flat on his face like Clinton, though unfounded, may not disappear since not all Democrats are for LGBT equality.

But we should take heart that such a staunch ally is now in our corner in Congress.

Maine Freedom to Marry Launches Campaign Against November's Anti-Marriage Equality Ballot Measure

"On May 6th, Maine made history when we became the first state in the country to pass a marriage bill through the legislature and have it signed by its governor. Now we’re in the fight of our lives to defend that law," states an email from Maine Freedom to Marry's executive director Betsy Smith.

"Our opponents are working to place a measure on the ballot that would take away the right of same-sex couples to marry. They are in full swing gathering signatures and we fully expect them to qualify for the November ballot.

"We spent the last six weeks starting to build the kind of campaign that must do what no other state has ever done—win marriage at the ballot box.

"I am pleased to announce that today we launch our Maine Freedom to Marry campaign, along with our coalition partners, to protect marriage for all Maine families."

The new website offers many opportunities to get involved in the effort to keep marriage equality in Maine legal: mobilizing your county, listing of events, signing the pledge to vote NO on the ban, donating and staying informed through their Facebook page and Twitter.

There's not a lot of time to defend our freedom to marry. Unlike California, Maine's referendum is this November, 2009. And if we're successful in protecting our rights at the ballot, it will be a turning point in history for it will be the first time ever that marriage equality will win with public support through a vote. It can mark a change for all voter referendums to come.

Be a part of history. Get involved.

VIDEO: President Obama's Full Speech at White House's Stonewall Commemoration

Full transcript of speech.

Unite the Fight post on reception.

Towleroad has an amazing round up of reactions from different media outlets and organizations.

Press Secretary Gibbs Grilled Over DADT While President Recommits to LGBT Issues

Yesterday, before the White House's commemoration of Stonewall, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was grilled yet again in a press briefing about Don't Ask Don't Tell. Keep in mind, shortly after this, President Obama to repealing the law, along with DOMA and many other discriminatory measures.

Thanks to Pam's House Blend for the transcript.
Q: Robert, I have a question on today's event in the East Room. On "don't ask, don't tell," how much is the President personally involved? I mean, I know you've said that he sort of turned that policy change over to the Pentagon and you're letting them and Congress work on that.

MR. GIBBS: I've said that -- I mean, the President hasn't, himself, been involved in meetings with the Pentagon. A solution has to include working with the Pentagon. But it's something that the President has been involved in since coming to this administration.

Q: How much of a priority is this for him?

MR. GIBBS: Well, it's something that --

Q: I mean, is there a timeline or --

MR. GIBBS: When we can get it done. The President has talked about this -- and I've talked about the fact that to have an enduring solution this had to be done legislatively. That, I think most people recognize, is going to take some time to do, working with both Congress and the Pentagon. I think the President will address this in remarks at the event a little bit later today.

Q: Change in policy?

MR. GIBBS: Pardon me?

Q: A change?

MR. GIBBS: No. But, again, in order to have that enduring solution, this is going to have to be done legislatively.


Q: Robert, today the President is going to celebrate Gay Pride at the White House for the first time. Even so, the gay community is somewhat divided over whether or not the President has done enough, the pace of change is enough. What does the President intend to say today, and can you talk a little bit about his thinking about how much he has to mollify a community that's been very supportive during the campaign?

MR. GIBBS: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on mollifying a community, but that's not the way the President looks at important issues. I think if you go back and look at the campaign -- either his campaign for the Senate or his campaign for the presidency -- he takes stands that he believes are consistent with his values.

We didn't play a lot of interest group-based politics in the presidential race, I think that was denoted by the fact that we didn't get a lot of endorsements in the presidential race.

The President makes those decisions, again, based on his values. I won't get ahead of what he's going to say later today, but he will, I think, address a number of issues and reaffirm the commitments that he's made.

Yes, ma'am.

Q: Following on that, the President has talked about repealing "don't ask, don't tell," and also the Defense of Marriage Act. So I'm wondering if you can tell me what specific steps has he taken to do this? What is his timeline for doing it? And also --

MR. GIBBS: I think we got a fairly similar question a minute ago, but I'll try to --

Q: -- there's legislation apparently moving through House to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," I think it's H.R. 1283, and he hasn't endorsed it. Why not?

MR. GIBBS: I can certainly talk to legislative affairs about what that piece of legislation would do. As I said earlier, the President has been involved in, personally, meetings on this topic with stakeholders, including those at the Pentagon.

Q: What about members of Congress?

MR. GIBBS: I don't know if he's met specifically with members of Congress on that. I know that -- I can try to get a list, I know that staff has worked here on the issue. It's a commitment that he intends to keep.

Q: Can you talk a little bit more about the meetings that he's had, what --


Q -- and how recent has he been in these meetings?

MR. GIBBS: Since January 20.
Shortly after the White House Stonewall reception, Gibbs appeared on Hardball and fielded even more questions.

I understand that Gibbs' job isn't a fun one, especially when answering difficult questions from the press. But man, to have a boss that keeps promising to get legislation passed to give rights to an "interest group" and then having to turn around and say nothing's really being done yet - well, I know I'd quit.

Monday, June 29, 2009

VIDEO: Sen. Eichelberger Refuses to Apologize for His Remarks Against LGBT When Delivered Apology Petition on Camera

Sen. Eichelberger, who currently submitted legislation that would ban same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, recently offended thousands of LGBT people and allies with his horrendous remarks in a marriage equality radio debate on In the debate, in which he attempted to counter Pennsylvania Sen. Daylin Leach and his bill for marriage equality, Eichelberger stated that society "allowed gay people to exist."

Below is a video of LGBT citizens and allies delivering him a petition with thousands of names demanding an apology.

Obama Commemorates Stonewall with White House Reception, Reaffirms Commitment to LGBT in Speech

Today, President Obama addressed a crowd of LGBT leaders at the White House's 30-minute reception commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall, and in a speech he reaffirmed that by the end of his tenure, they would "feel good about the Obama administration."

Obama, in his speech, said that he was still committed to overturning the Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act as well as supporting other gay rights bills including a transgender inclusive ENDA that was introduced by Rep. Barney Frank last week.

In reference to the DOJ's infamous DOMA brief, Obama said, "Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I've made that clear."

In response to criticism of foot dragging by his administration, Obama stated, "And I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It's not for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was for others to counsel patience for African-Americans who were petitioning for civil rights a half century ago," he said.

The President's full speech is available in transcript at the White House website.

MSNBC interviewed openly gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis shortly after the reception. The interview below contains clips from Obama's speech.

For a critical take on today's speech, read Joe Sudbay at America Blog.

See a list of attendees.
Image by Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate.

Lt Dan. Choi Trial Begins Tomorrow Morning - Sign a Letter of Support

Tomorrow, Lt. Dan Choi will face a panel of colonels who will decide whether or not to fire fire him -- to discharge him for "moral and professional dereliction" under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Show your support for Lt. Dan by signing this letter of support that will be given to the members of the board.

So far, 141,262 have signed.

Yesterday, Lt. Dan spoke to CNN about the fight for equal rights and the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall.

VIDEO: NY's Sen. Ruben Diaz Discusses In-Depth His Anti-LGBT Stance

In an interview with New York 1 Noticias, the ridiculous New York senator, Ruben Diaz, elaborated on his anti-LGBT stance, going as far as comparing homosexual relationships to bestiality. The senator has proven to be a staunch opponent to marriage equality reaching his state, doing everything from holding protests to rumored backroom bargains in an attempt to keep the bill from reaching the tumultuous New York Senate floor for a vote.

Though it recently came into the spotlight after this interview that the homophobic senator as two gay brothers, Sen. Diaz doesn't shy away from the fact here, exposing in my perspective a textbook source for his homophobia.

The blog Blabbeando does an amazing job of translating the interview for us non-spanish speakers as well as breaking it down into summarized segments.

Blabbeando reports, "It's quite a far-ranging interview, and Diaz is asked about his opposition to gays and gay rights over the last few decades. Pura Politica anchor, Juan Manuel Benitez, doesn't shy away from challenging Diaz on his views simply because he calls himself a preacher and, as Benitez keeps pressing, you see Diaz begin to lose it. At one point, as his own arguments are used to refute his positions, Diaz stops answering, and simply keeps repeating "I am a Pastor. I am a preacher. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, our redeemer and savior". Ask yourself the next time you see an anti-gay preacher spouting his or her views on CNN, if the network anchors even dare to respectfully challenge their bigotry in quite the same way that Benitez does in these clips."

Check out the full interview with English transcript at Blabbeando.

Texas LGBT Bar Raided by Police on 40th Anniversary of Stonewall

The Fort Worth Texas police department conducted a raid on the gay bar Rainbow Lounge on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raids, arresting seven people for public intoxication. Police have been accused of excessive force and 100 demonstrators showed up Sunday night in downtown Forth Worth to protest the raid.

Witnesses say one person was seriously injured and excessive force was used. Eyewitness Todd Camp talked to the Dallas Voice:
The not awesome thing was the paddy wagon of homophobic police that showed up ... looking for trouble. My group and I were sitting on the back patio at a picnic table. Nobody was being wild out there. [The police] came through with flashlights, being loud asking what was going on out here, then asked why everyone was all the sudden being quiet. When one group started up their conversations again, they took one guy away. I left shortly after and as I walked through the front bar there were numerous cops with plastic handcuffs all ready to go. I [left] the bar and they [had] a big van in the parking lot and numerous cars on the street. And just so you know, it wasn't fire hazard crowded or seedy wild in there. ... The worst part is [friends later told me] that [the police] had numerous people face down on the ground outside. I just moved to Fort Worth from Dallas, so this is such a shock to me. I know Dallas would not put up with this. ... I am still so shocked it is 2009 and this just happened.
One of the patrons who was arrested is reported by his sister to have been roughed up so badly that he's in the hospital, suffering from bleeding in the brain. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what kind of bar you are in,” she said, “none of this should have happened, to anybody. It’s excessive force, and it shouldn’t have happened."

Police disputed the accusation of excessive force and said the department would thoroughly investigate any allegations. The raid was one of three bar checks conducted by police and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Police said two intoxicated individuals made sexually explicit moves toward officers and a third grabbed a TABC agent’s groin. Several patrons told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the officers weren’t assaulted.

"He was just walking to the bathroom when an officer grabbed him and shoved him against a wall and pulled his head back," said Chris Hightower of Fort Worth told the Star-Telegram, a friend of the injured patron. "He was then thrown to the ground, and three other officers were on him."

Several patrons said the officers were never assaulted.

"I have friends who are cops, and I know what to do when officers are working," Camp said. "No one was acting aggressive to officers."

General manager Randy Norman said the bar had been open just a week, and it had complied with all ordinances.

"Rest assured the people of Fort Worth, or the government of Fort Worth -- will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens," Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns stated to Fort Worth CBS 11 who has a news video report. He's now calling for accountability.

A Facebook Group has formed to keep the community abreast of the situation and informed of future demonstrations.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

40 Years Since Stonewall and We Still Face Legalized Discrimination - We Have A Lot of Work To Do

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that took place in Greenwich Village in New York City. Though some riots had occurred before Stonewall, such as the 1967 protest at the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake, CA among others, Stonewall has been marked as the turning point that launched the LGBT civil rights movement.

The video from Democracy Now covers the history of Stonewall (after some news items).

Forty years later, we still have a lot of work to do. Despite the tide turning in our favor in public opinion, Washington is lagging behind, as usual, because politicians are too selfish and scared of pissing off any constituents in fear of losing their coveted seats. Even more disappointing for the LGBT population is the lack of movement from our "fierce advocate", President Obama. (Or in our case, the biggest move he's made is to have his Department of Justice issue a discriminatory brief defending one of the biggest LGBT discriminatory law, the Defense of Marriage Act.)

Today, Frank Rich of the New York Times write in his op-ed "40 Years Later, Still Second-Class Americans" writes, "It’s a press cliché that “gay supporters” are disappointed with Obama, but we should all be. Gay Americans aren’t just another political special interest group. They are Americans who are actively discriminated against by federal laws. If the president is to properly honor the memory of Stonewall, he should get up to speed on what happened there 40 years ago, when courageous kids who had nothing, not even a public acknowledgment of their existence, stood up to make history happen in the least likely of places."

President Obama keeps passing the buck to Congress, stating that he would be happy to sign any legislation giving LGBT equal rights if it reached his desk. The Administration repeatedly uses the refrain that fundamental change can only come from legislation while doing nothing to push it forward. Not the qualities of a "fierce advocate" but a passive politician not willing to take risks for what is right. (But thanks for the parties, Obama. You know us well.)

Just yesterday, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network organized a protest outside the White House, urging the president to act on Don't Ask Don't Tell, the repeal of which was a campaign promise, after he rejected an appeal from 77 members of Congress asking him to issue an executive order that discharges under the discriminatory legislation be stopped until repeal legislation is passed.

Joe Sudbay of America Blog covered the protest and issued this video:

Congress is finally beginning to listen, but again, it's taking gay and lesbian members of Congress to actually get the ball rolling. Roll Call reports:
After five months of virtual inaction on the gay rights agenda, House Democratic leaders on Wednesday met privately to chart out a strategy for advancing the constituency group’s priorities in the 111th Congress.

Headlining the meeting was Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who with her leadership team and the three openly gay Members of Congress — Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) — sought to map out a way forward on several key gay rights bills.

According to sources, the Members discussed workplace discrimination, health care benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees and a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bars gays from openly serving in the military. The lawmakers also discussed how to help the Senate pass hate crimes legislation that has already cleared the House.
Though this is encouraging, including Frank's introduction of an inclusive ENDA bill, many concerns have been raised that it's already too late for any LGBT bill, especially with time running out for the congressional session and two major bills still needing passing - health care reform and climate change legislation.

So 40 years after Stonewall, we still have a lot of work to do to achieve the equal rights that we all seek and deserve. But the tide is turning in our favor. Never before in history has public opinion of the LGBT population been so supportive. However, that doesn't mean any real change will take place until we take responsibility for our own freedom.

We have to act. We have to not only blog, Tweet, email and Facebook events, we literally have to get up off our asses and hit the pavement, old-fashion style. We have to come out of the closet (however that may look - leaving the gay ghetto, being more open at work, talking to family and more); we have to knock on doors and canvass for LGBT rights campaigns; we have to literally pick up the phone and call our state and federal congressional representatives; we have to actually show up to rallies, protests and fundraisers, and yes, meetings instead of just pride parties; we need to act.

Now is the time in history to seize the moment. Not to win crumbs, but the whole meal. EVERYTHING. Full state and federal rights. We have, despite appearances, a willing president who will sign LGBT rights legislation and a Congress that's our best bet in over a decade. We have been given an opportunity. We have been given the chance to make Stonewall worth it. Change won't happen overnight. But if it doesn't happen because we don't act, as a full LGBT population, then we only have ourselves to blame.

Use Stonewall as inspiration and win.