Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rep. Barney Frank Won't Co-Sponsor DOMA Partial Repeal; Bill Author Rep. Nadler Responds

Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank has declined to co-sponsor Rep. Jerry Nadler's partial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) repeal because he doesn't believe in the strategy and feels different issues are more pressing for the LGBT population.

"It's not anything that's achievable in the near term," Frank told the Washington Blade. "I think getting [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act], a repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and full domestic partner benefits for federal employees will take up all of what we can do and maybe more in this Congress."

Frank also believes that the "certainty provision" of the repeal will cause more problems than fix. This provision will allow federal benefits to follow a married same-sex couple no matter if they live in a state that recognizes their marriage or if they move to one that doesn't.

"The provision that says you can take your benefits as you travel, I think, will stir up unnecessary opposition with regard to the question of are you trying to export it to other states," he said. "If we had a chance to pass that, it would be a different story, but I don't think it's a good idea to rekindle that debate when there's no chance of passage in the near term."

Frank believes the best offense against DOMA lies in two federal cases against the discriminatory bill. The first being the GLAD case Gil vs. Office of Personnel Management, which is aiming at Section 3 of DOMA which restricts federal recognition of same-sex marriages. The second case also aims at Section 3 which was filed by Massachusetts' Attorney General Martha Coakley, which claims that the federal government is interfering with Massachusetts' right to define marriage as it sees fit and as a result, discriminating against the state's legally married same-sex couples.

Rep. Nadler responded to Frank's concerns in a statement issued to the Blade, saying that such concerns shouldn't stop the bill's introduction.
"Mr. Frank knows better than anyone that our opponents will falsely claim that any DOMA repeal bill 'exports marriage' in an effort to generate fear and misunderstanding," Nadler said. "But the dishonest tactics of our opponents should not stop us from aggressively pushing to end this horrific discrimination now, as is the consensus of the nation's top LGBT groups who all support this approach."

Nadler emphasized that the proposed bill wouldn't force any state to marry gay couples or recognize same-sex couples under state law.

"Our bill allows states to continue deciding those questions, while ensuring uniform access to critically important federal responsibilities and rights that hinge on marriage and upon which all married couples should be able to rely," he said.

I am not one to question Barney Frank. His intelligence speaks volumes. But I feel that all valid efforts to win equal rights should be supported, especially right now when our chances are the best they've been in years with a Democratically controlled Congress and (this is debatable) an ally in the White House.

Though I do agree the federal cases against DOMA are smart and very powerful, to use this and the fact that Congress is too busy are very lame excuses.

As the always quotable Martin Luther King Jr. said, "A right delayed is a right denied." Oh, and "The time is always right to do what is right."

Doesn't mean it will always be pretty and that it won't cause confusion, but it's still right.

NO on 1 Calls on Opponents to Open the Doors to Their Augusta Rally; Marriage Equality Proponents to Host Community Conversations Statewide

The following is a press release issued by the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign:

The NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign today challenged its opponents to allow the media into their Augusta rally tomorrow featuring several out-of-state, headline speakers opposed to marriage equality. At the same time, NO on 1 announced that it will hold a series of "community conversations" around the state to engage Mainers on this important question of fairness and equality.

"The contrast could not be clearer," said NO on 1 campaign manager Jesse Connolly. "While our opponents have speakers flown in from San Diego and Washington, DC to speak out against loving Maine couples and families, we're having real conversations, Mainer to Mainer, about the importance of marriage equality."

The opposition rally at the Augusta Civic Center features Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, Harry Jackson, Jr., of Hope Christian Church in Washington, D.C., Chris Clark from East Clairemont Baptist Church in San Diego, and a special message from James Dobson of Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs. The ticketed event is closed to the press.

While the opponents' rally at the Augusta Civic Center will be closed to the media and people without tickets, NO on 1's Augusta "community conversation," the first in a statewide series, will be open to the general public and the media. That conversation is happening tomorrow, Sunday, September 13th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at South Parish Congregational Church, 9 Church Street, Augusta.

"It makes no sense to hold a big rally and then deny access to the general public and ban coverage of the event by the Maine media," said Connolly. "If the organizers really want to show people that they are not alone, why would they close the doors to the general public, to television news viewers and to Maine newspaper readers?"

Members of the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine also spoke out today about the insinuation from the backers of Question 1 that their rally will demonstrate that religious leaders are united in opposition to marriage equality.

"It is simply not true to suggest that all people and leaders of faith are opposed to marriage equality," said Pastor Mike Gray of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church. "Many, many people of deep faith -- from the pulpit to the pews -- believe that only marriage truly honors and respects the livelong, loving commitment between two people. For many of us, it's a moral question of basic fairness for all Maine families."

"Marriage equality is a necessity from both a civil and moral standpoint," said Rev. Don Rudalevige a retired United Methodist Minister from Cape Elizabeth. "This is a civil matter and religions can continue to decide on their own, what marriages they will or will not perform. But it's important to remember that many faith communities want the ability to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples."

Anne Underwood of Catholics for Marriage Equality also noted that many Catholics planned not to participate in the Diocese's special collection this Sunday to raise funds to repeal marriage equality.

"We believe many Catholics will either ignore the special collection altogether or hand in a note supporting the marriage equality law," Ms. Underwood said. "We believe that marriage equality is a matter of civil rights and social justice and, in fact, many Catholics feel compelled by conscience to support the effort to defeat Question 1."

VIDEO: A Mormon Speaks Out Against Prop 8 - Until His Mic Is Cut

A Mormon speaks out against Prop 8 in church, until one of the church leaders cuts the mic off.

Yet another reminder that not all members of any religion agree with their leaders and their decisions.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Iowa Gubernatorial Candidate Vows to Repeal Marriage Equality, Would Issue Executive Order to Halt Same-Sex Marriages

Bob Vander Plaats, a Sioux City businessman, has announced that he plans to be the Republican challenger to Democrat Iowa governor Chet Culver in 2010.

An avid opponent to marriage equality, he has vowed to reverse the state Supreme Court ruling and will put into motion an executive order halting all same-sex marriages until both the state legislature and voters can have a say on the matter. However, Vander Plaats is aware that if he goes down this road, he fully expects Democrats to try to remove him from office for “promoting lawlessness.”

Vander Plaats ran for governor in 2002 and lost in the primary, ran again in 2006 before being chosen as Jim Nussle’s running mate, but lost to Chet Culver.

Vander Plaats, one of six potential candidates for the 2010 Republican ticket, is a former high school teacher and principal. He is currently the president of MVP Leadership Inc., a business consulting firm.

Check Out UTF's Top 15 Posts for August

OK, so I'm a little behind. But I took a vacation! Yeah, I know. Whatever.

The top posts are calculated by how many unique views each received.

Topics ranged from Equality California's Marc Solomon's exclusive interview with Unite the Fight, marriage equality in Vermont, Maine's effort to protect its new marriage equality law and Washington State's Referendum 71.

  1. CONGRATULATIONS VERMONT! Marriage Equality Kicks In At Midnight
  2. UTF EXCLUSIVE: EQCA's Marc Solomon Talks About Juggling Plans for 2012 While Working With 2010 Supporters
  3. BREAKING NEWS: Federal Prop 8 Case Goes to Public Trial January 11, 2010; City of San Francisco Joins Plaintiffs
  4. VIDEO: Next Steps Working Meeting Creates 'Coalition for Marriage Equality'; Decides on San Francisco Convention to Determine Next
  5. Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager to Attend Sunday's "Next Steps Summit"; Tentative Agenda Released
  6. NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality's Opposition Issues Condescending Response to Their Call for a Fair Campaign
  7. Numerous Maine "No on 1" Viral Videos Have Hit the Web - Keep Them Comin'!
  8. Bill Clinton Interrupted During Netroots Nation Keynote Speech - Answers Demanding DADT and DOMA Questions
  9. Both Sides of Federal Prop 8 Suit Diametrically Opposed on All Aspects of Case - No Common Ground Found in Submitted Court Statements
  10. Maine's Grassroots NO on 1 Campaign Relaunches Website, Receives Help from HRC
  11. A Burnt Out Activist Finds Rejuvenation at Camp Courage East Los Angeles
  12. Guest Post: The People Israel Is in Desperate Need of Wholeness
  13. Live Streaming of the Next Steps Working Meeting
  14. BREAKING NEWS: Anti-LGBT Referendum 71 Qualifies for Washington State November Ballot
  15. Agenda for Next Steps Summit Released

BREAKING: Catholics for Marriage Equality Issues Statement in Response to Diocesan Fundraising for Campaign to Repeal Maine’s Marriage Equality Law

This statement from Catholics for Marriage Equality, released by the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign, is encouraging indeed, especially in light of all the bad news on diocesan actions. It's a good reminder that we must continue to separate church members from the periodic questionable actions of their leaders.

Portland, Maine (Friday, September 11, 2009)---Catholics for Marriage Equality (C4ME), an organization urging Catholics and all Mainers to vote no on Question 1 on the November 3rd ballot, today issued the following statement in response to the Diocese of Portland’s fundraising for the campaign to repeal Maine’s marriage equality law:

“Catholics for Marriage Equality calls on its members and all Catholics who share our support for marriage equality to take two peaceful but effective actions in our parishes this Sunday so that the diocese will know it is not speaking for all faithful Catholics.

“First, instead of money, we urge parishioners who support marriage equality to place a note in the special collection envelope stating that they do not support the bishop's stance to deprive same-sex couples of the right to civil marriage and will instead donate funds to NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality, which opposes Question 1, or to a charity that is inclusive of all families.

“Second, we ask supportive Catholics to sign our petition affirming that the Church can define marriage as it wishes for its members but that marriage as a civil right is the prerogative of the state to define. Our petition is available at:

“C4ME exists to give hope to those who are hurt and angry because of our bishop’s determination to overturn the legislature’s passage of marriage equality. We will disseminate information that is truthful and respectful stating why marriage equality is a matter of civil rights and social justice that Catholics are free to support—indeed, may feel compelled to support as a matter of social conscience and responsible citizenship.”

Maryland's Attorney General Is Expected to Give Favorable Legal Opinion for Marriage Equality Recognition

In June openly gay Sen. Richard S. Madaleno requested the state's attorney general Douglas F. Gansler's opinion on whether or not Maryland's law demands recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed outside of the state.

AG Gansler, a vocal supporter for marriage equality, is putting together his opinion which is expected in the next few weeks. The Washington Blade is reporting that legal experts expect his opinion will favor marriage equality recognition, a move that could open an avenue for legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples who have been rebuffed by the courts and legislature there.

However, this puts Gansler in a difficult position because that law clearly states that marriage is between a man and a woman, but the state also adheres to a long-standing legal principle that generally acknowledges couples married elsewhere.

David Rocah, an American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney, told the Washington Blade that Maryland law is “quite clear that out-of-state [same-sex] marriages should be recognized just like other out-of-state marriages are recognized, even though they couldn’t be entered into in Maryland under Maryland law.”

“There’s no such thing as common law marriage in Maryland, but Maryland courts have held for decades that out-of-state common law marriages will be recognized since marriage is an important relationship and whether or not you’re married shouldn’t depend on crossing a state line,” he said. “If it’s valid when it’s entered into, then that validity travels with you.”

Jana Singer, a law professor at the University of Maryland, said another favorable sign is that in the Maryland high court’s 2007 decision on same-sex marriage, the court “did not say that same-sex marriage violates public policies, but said it was a legislative matter.”

In Maryland, same-sex marriage proposals have remained bottled up in committee. While a legalization bill is expected to have a high-profile sponsor next year in Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, the panel's makeup is expected to remain the same, so another deadlock is likely.

Yet if Washington D.C. passes its own marriage equality bill, as is expected, this could have a direct effect on neighboring Maryland.

Federal Judge Blocks Public Release of Referendum 71 Petitions

UPDATE: Washington Attorney General to appeal ruling that blocked release of R-71 signatures

Federal Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma, Washington ordered a preliminary injunction Thursday against the release of Referendum 71 petitions to the public, keeping the names of those who signed anonymous. Citing the First Amendment of free speech, even anonymous free speech, the judge ruled that the state of Washington did not prove a compelling public interest.

This ruling clearly goes against state law which clearly states that petitions to change state law should be made public.

Brian Zylstra, spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed, told the Seattle Times that the judge's decision "is a step away from open government."

"When people sign a referendum or initiative petition, they are trying to change state law," he said. "We believe that changing state law should be open to public view."

Referendum 71, sponsored by a conservative political group called Protect Marriage Washington, is asking voters in Washington to approve or reject the “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law that state lawmakers passed earlier this year.

Protect Marriage Washington, which filed the suit to keep names private, fear petition-signers could be harassed and face their businesses being boycotted, similar to what happened to Proposition 8 supporters in California.

The court action was prompted, in part, by a Bellingham blogger who wrote, "I advocate using violence against the property of all of those who are working tirelessly to hurt my family" and "government is enabling a vote on whether or not I should be allowed to see my husband while he is dying in a hospital — any normal man would be driven to get a gun and kill those who tried such evil cruelty."

Yet this view is not shared by the majority of those who wish to view the names, or in some cases, post them on the internet.

Brian Murphy, who is prepared to post the names of signers on his searchable Web site,, called it "shocking that Protect Marriage Washington is attacking gay and lesbian couples and their families and then somehow claiming the right to secrecy and victim status for themselves."

Judge Settle had previously granted a temporary restraining order blocking release of the names. His order Thursday preserves the status quo — the names remain secret — while he decides the case on its merits.

The State of Washington is considering an appeal.

Washington DC Poised to Pass Marriage Equality Bill

The Washington Post reports:
The District is poised once again to become the battleground for a divisive social issue as the D.C. Council moves a step closer to legalizing same-sex marriage, an action that could force Congress and White House to take sides in the debate.

After months of buildup and behind-the-scenes lobbying, a bill by David A. Catania, one of two openly gay members of the council, has been drafted and is ready to be introduced in the coming weeks. Catania (I-At Large) expects a final vote before the end of the year. On Thursday, Catania said he had 10 co-sponsors, all but assuring that the measure will be approved by the council. The bill would have to survive congressional review before it could become law.

The bill, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, would change the law to say that "marriage is the legally recognized union of two people" and that "any person who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements . . . may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender."
This is great news for marriage equality advocates, but it is bound to piss off Bishop Harry Jackson, the local Catholic Church and the National Organization for Marriage, who just opened an office in the capital.

They have been working hard on getting the issue put on a ballot for D.C. residents to vote upon, but since this move failed when it came to the District's decision to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside its borders (a judge cited it would violate the District's Human Rights Act), it will most likely fail on this as well. Many also believe that they would be unsuccessful in gathering enough signatures.

Speculation on marriage equality opponents' next move is to drum up the racial division over the issue, stirring up many of the African American residents who attend churches in the area that adamantly resist LGBT legislation.

Catania's bill, titled "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009," will most likely be voted upon and passed by the end of the year and the mayor has expressed support and most likely will sign it.

However, since the District isn't a state, U.S. Congress has the final word on legislative matters. Congress has 30 session days, not calendar days, to oppose District bills. When the same-sex marriage recognition bill came into fruition, Congress steered clear with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressing her belief that the District should be treated like a state.

This time, however, marriage equality opponents are urging like-minded individuals across the country to call their representatives to put an end to Catania's bill. Congress can also choose to express displeasure with the bill when it goes over D.C.'s budget next year by diverting funds and forcing the District to not perform same-sex marriages.

Yet optimism is high. Catania, who clearly wrote in the bill that no religious organizations or their officials would have to perform a same-sex marriage or provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples, was able to secure 10 city council co-sponsors with only three Democratic members opting out. One of these is councilmen Marion Barry, who voted against the recognition bill but told the Washington Post, "Let [Catania] introduce his bill, and we'll see."

Phil Mendelson, chairman of the Public Safety and the Judiciary Committee, plans to hold a public hearing on the bill, just as they had done on the same-sex marriage recognition ordinance.

"I will look in particular at protecting religious freedoms for churches to be able to say yes or no to celebrating marriages consistent with their faith," Mendelson said.

Though councilmembers face a blacklash from voters who oppose marriage equality, with 10 co-sponsors attached to the bill, it appears their minds have been made up. If it passes, Washington D.C. will be the first area south of the Mason-Dixon line legalizing marriage equality.

Read about the further impact of marriage equality in the nation's capitol at, "Five Reasons Why Same-Sex Marriage in D.C. Would Be Huge."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

California Senate Approves Law Clarifying Rights of Same-Sex Couples Married Outside of California

The California Senate passed Wednesday the Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act, SB 54, in a 23-14 vote. The bill, introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), underscores that same-sex couples married before the passage of Proposition 8 are entitled to full recognition as married spouses in California, regardless of whether they married in California or out of state. That rule is consistent with existing law, including the California Supreme Court's prior holding in In re Marriage Cases that California cannot treat marriages differently based on whether they were performed in state or out of state.

The bill also confirms that same-sex couples married outside of California after November 5, 2008, must be given all of the rights, protections and responsibilities of spouses under California law, with the sole exception of the designation of "marriage."

"We are grateful that our elected leaders have passed this vital bill, which provides much needed clarity for same-sex couples married out of state who deserve to know where their families stand," said Geoff Kors, Executive Director for Equality California. "Ultimately, however, restoring the freedom to marry is the only way to ensure that all Californians are treated with true equality under the law."

Although Proposition 8 prevents California from designating same-sex couples who marry in another jurisdiction on or after Nov. 5, 2008, as "married," the Court's decision in Strauss v. Horton requires the state to give those couples all of the substantive protections of marriage.

"When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying in California," said Senator Leno. "Now those couples and their families are in limbo because their rights and protections under law are not clear. This legislation ensures that same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed."

The conservative California Family council also responded. "The California Legislature’s majority continues its disregard for the expressed will of their constituents and the state Constitution which affirms traditional marriage’s definition. Article I, Section 7.5 of the California Constitution specifically states “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” SB 54 explicitly violates California’s Constitution."

“The Legislature’s approval of SB 54 demonstrates the Legislature’s contempt and lack of respect for their constituents,” stated Everett Rice CFC’s Legislative Coordinator. “In 2000 and 2008, the voters expressed their desire to protect traditional marriage at the ballot box. They emphatically affirmed that marriage should retain its historical definition and identity. Nonetheless, our elected representatives choose to yield to the demands of special-interest groups over the values of those who elected them.”

SB 54, having already passed the California Assembly, will now proceed to the Governor's desk.

DOMA Repeal Bill to Be Introduced Early Next Week; HRC Delivers Survey to Congress Showing Overwhelming Support for Repeal

The Advocate reports that Rep. Jerry Nadler's bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act will be introduced Tuesday, September 15. A source told them "the bill currently has just over 50 cosponsors, but Congressman Nadler’s office has not yet officially circulated a letter to his fellow House members."

A press release from the Human Rights Campaign:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today launched a campaign to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies legally married same-sex couples more than 1,000 federal protections and responsibilities. As part of the campaign, HRC launched a national action alert, an interactive website,, and delivered to Congress nearly 50,000 survey responses showing the concrete harms DOMA brings to the lives of LGBT Americans and their families. A bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House as early as next week. To view HRC Legislative Director Allison Herwitt delivering the surveys to Congress visit

"Now is the time to let Congress and President Obama know that DOMA must go. The introduction of a bill to repeal DOMA with this unprecedented momentum behind it will mark a tidal shift in this fight," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "This hurtful and discriminatory law denies millions of Americans federal recognition of marriage and the critical rights and benefits that come with it - Social Security survivors' benefits, equal treatment under U.S. immigration laws, the right to take leave to care for a spouse, and more. It is more important than ever to push for repeal of DOMA."

Nearly 50,000 people participated in a membership survey commissioned in August by the Human Rights Campaign that asked a series of questions on DOMA repeal. To view the survey, visit:

In the past year, tens of thousands of loving same-sex couples have legally been married in Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont. And with new laws soon to take effect in New Hampshire and Maine, thousands more will surely join them. Enacted in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act purports to allow states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

DOMA also creates a federal definition of "marriage" and "spouse" for the first time in our country's history. This is an unprecedented intrusion by the U.S. Congress into an area traditionally left to the states. Marriage is defined as a "legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife," and spouse is defined as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." Marriages that do not fit this description are not be eligible for any benefits offered by the federal government. Under DOMA, even same-sex couples lawfully married under the laws of their states are ineligible for numerous rights, benefits, and responsibilities, including those related to Social Security, immigration, family and medical leave, joint taxation, federal employee benefits and many more.

ACTION: Send an email to President Obama and Congress, urging them to Repeal DOMA Now!

Top Obama Adviser Losing Patience with White House; Press Secretary Gibbs Responds

Steve Hildebrand, the deputy campaign manager of Obama's successful campaign for president, told Politico that he is losing patience with the president and his administration over health care reform and LGBT rights.
I am one of the millions of frustrated Americans who want to see Washington do more than it's doing right now . . . I’m not going to just sit by the curb and let these folks [Democratic leadership] get away with a lack of performance for the American people . . . I want change just as much as a majority of Americans do, and I’m one of the many Americans who are losing patience.
Hildebrand also said that Obama "needs to be more bold in his leadership."

Hildebrand's statements shows signs of cracking in the polished veneer of the Obama Administration. Hildebrand is the most senior ranking member of Obama's political team to criticize the Administration and its lack of movement on promises made to the American people, and more specifically the LGBT population, during the presidential campaign.

Though he had already begun to part ways with Obama's team during the 2008 campaign, Hildebrand said that he has already stated his opinion to the White House, saying his comments are nothing to new to them.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs agreed in that this was nothing new.

“We all know and love Steve Hildebrand,” Gibbs said during a press brief, adding that “Steve’s frustration is the frustration of people not only in this town, but a lot of people outside of this town, and that is Washington’s inability to address its big problems and get something done.”

Hildebrand, who is openly gay, said in a August speech in San Diego, "The government still doesn’t treat Gay people equally. Should I continue doing what I’m doing, or should I be a strong voice from the outside?"

It appears Hildebrand will be that outside voice, deciding not to work for candidates but issue campaigns instead.

Recently, Hildebrand appeared at a Los Angeles meeting discussing next steps on bringing marriage equality back to California. He voiced his strong support for a 2010 ballot campaign.

Reporter Rex Wockner had an amazing in-depth interview with Steve Hildebrand in July about Obama in which he urges the LGBT population to not let the president off the hook.

Maine's Catholic Church to Hold Special Collection to Fight Marriage Equality

The Catholic Church of Maine has stepped up its efforts to fight the state's new marriage equality law by announcing through the Bishop of Maine that it will request all parishes to pass a special collection plate next weekend to raise funds for the Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine campaign, which is fighting to ban same-sex marriage. This despite the fact that the church faces bankruptcy and has been forced to close five churches in the state as of late.

Yes, you read that right - a special collection plate.

Stand for Marriage also is planning a rally next Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center, but parishioners can get free tickets through the church.

This is another step towards blurring the line of legality with the Roman Catholic Church's deep involvement with politics. A couple weeks ago 300 priests in New Jersey were contacted through a letter from the bishop, urging them to speak to their members about supporting the same-sex marriage ban.

Michael Jones of writes about the Diocese of Portland: "This collection should be illegal. There's no way the Catholic Church should be able to hold this kind of political collection, be able to give thousands upon thousands of dollars for an anti-LGBT organization, and not have to report who the donors are. It's an anonymous collection meant to shield the identity of haters, and it's bogus."

I couldn't agree more. With the church holding a tax-exempt status, holding a "special collection" for a political matter is a violation of this status and the church should be stripped of it. It's also a blatant attempt to keep donor identities anonymous, a violation of election laws. (Might I remind you that public affairs official for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Marc Mutty, has taken leave to chair the campaign in opposition to the marriage law.)

But even more detrimental, the church is violating its own beliefs of feeding the hungry and sheltering the poor by deciding to close its own parishes and use its money instead to strip rights away of Maine's LGBT population.

It saddens me to see that the Church is losing its way and setting such a hateful example, going against the core of its beliefs.

Get involved in Maine by supporting the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign. No matter where you live, there's an opportunity to protect marriage equality.

Judge Rules Referendum 71 Will Go to Ballot; Petition Signatures to Remain Private

UPDATE: Washington Families Standing Together will NOT appeal the judge's ruling, allowing Referendum 71 to go to the ballot.

A spokeswoman for the group said they will now focus on the campaign to protect the new "everything but marriage" domestic partnership law.


On Tuesday a Washington state judge refused to block anti-LGBT Referendum 71, ruling against the Washington Families Standing Together (WAFST), who oppose it. WAFST had contended that many of the signatures should have been invalidated by the Secretary of State, a conclusion an earlier judge had agreed with but would not rule to invalidate the ballot measure.

However, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee ruled the signatures were valid for acceptance even if the person who signed was not a registered voter at the time of signing, and even if the signature gatherer broke the law.

An appeal to the state's Supreme Court is likely to take place very soon. The ballots for the November 3 election need to be printed within the next few days.

(Read a post by Lurleen at Pam's House Blend, "Washington's referendum process begs reform.")

Earlier in the week, a judge decided to keep petitioners who supported Referendum 71 and their identities private for a few more days while deciding on a case submitted by Referendum 71 proponents, Protect Marriage Washington, who seek to keep the identities permanently hidden from public view. They believe petition signers could be submitted to harassment. State attorneys defending Secretary of State Sam Reed say the harassment threats are far too weak to risk violating the state's public disclosure law.

The Seattle Times also reports that Washington State's senior citizens have all been lost in the debate over Referendum 71. The law allows heterosexual couples to enter domestic partnerships if one of them is over 62, an aspect of which very few people are aware of.

"I think people may not be very well-educated about the full scope of the law, that it affects more than just same-sex couples," Lynn Elmore, who is in her 60s and in a domestic partnership, told the Seattle Times. "They may not consider what it means to people like us."

An APPROVAL vote for Referendum 71 approves the expanded, all-inclusive domestic partnership law. VOTE TO APPROVE!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Unite the Fight to Return Tomorrow!

Hello UTF Readers,

I will be back full steam ahead tomorrow. It's been a nice break, but I'm eager to get back to work.

The internet connection has been SLOOOOW, so I wasn't able to post periodically like I had hoped. Posting this will probably take 15 minutes! LOL.

Thank you for the kind comments and emails during my time away. The support from the community is strong and it means a lot to me. It's motivation to get back to work!

See you tomorrow!