Saturday, September 19, 2009

Students for the National Equality March Issue Call to Action

Students for the National Equality March (NEMStudents) have issued a call to action, demanding that students across the country organize for the event and for the long-term movement for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) rights. The statement echoes the single demand of the National Equality March for full and equal protection for LGBT people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

NEMStudents acknowledge the historical significance of the National Equality March and of prior student movements for social justice. All students, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, are encouraged to sign the call to action. Over 100 student leaders, among them representatives of Princeton, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, Tulane University, Texas Tech, Columbia, UCLA, and NYU have signed thus far. Student organizations in all 435 congressional districts of the U.S. are organizing for the National Equality March and building a national network of student activists, indicating a distinctly bottom-up organizational structure that has been absent from many previous LGBTQ marches. The organization's website at offers links and resources to aid students in finding transportation, housing, and support.

NEMStudents have also announced a Student Day of Action to take place September 22. Students are urged to promote the March by flyering, organizing meetings to educate about the March, writing to campus newspapers, organizing speak-outs, and screening LGBTQ films, such as the critically acclaimed Milk.

The National Equality March will be the first march for LGBTQ rights in Washington DC since President Clinton held office, and will take place October 10-11, 2009.

For further comment, contact David Valk (National Student Outreach Coordinator) at or 949-350-8773.

Check out the long list of endorsements on Towleroad.

Friday, September 18, 2009

VIDEO: Anti-Marriage Equality Spokesman in Iowa Questions Why Infertile and Elderly Couples Should Want to Marry

At a September 16 debate on the merits of marriage equality in Iowa, a spokesman for the Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC), questions why elderly, infertile, or childless couples want to marry.

"One might ask, why are you getting a marriage license anyway?"

The IFPC is the state's leading anti-gay group backing efforts to deny the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples in Iowa and nurture strong ties to the National Organization for Marriage, Alliance Defense Fund and Focus on the Family.

Maine News: State Leaders Counter Out-of-State Lies; Optimism Builds for Win; PFAW's Report on Religious Right's Campaign of "Lies and Big Money"

OK. My head is spinning. So much is happening in Maine, it's hard to keep up. So I'll keep my own words concise (hard for me, I know) and let the news read for itself.

On Wednesday, the pro-marriage equality NO on 1 campaign responded within 24 hours to the anti-LGBT Yes on 1's first ad with a counter ad of their own. Not to be outdone, the Yes on 1 issued a press release in response on Thursday.
In a misguided attempt to avoid discussion of legitimate issues raised by the proposed legalization of homosexual marriage, the No on Question 1 campaign has misfired, accusing legal scholars – including a prominent supporter of same-sex marriage – of engaging in “fear-mongering, lies and distortions.” The scholars are on record of pointing out the inherent legal conflicts between the rights of people who sincerely oppose homosexual marriage and the rights of same-sex ‘married’ couples if homosexual marriage is legalized.

“Unfortunately for Jesse Connolly and the No on 1 campaign, the shot they thought was aimed at us instead has ricocheted and is now squarely lodged in their own foot,” said Marc Mutty, Chairman of Stand For Marriage Maine, the official Yes on Question 1 campaign. “One of the legal scholars they dismiss as ‘liars’ includes Professor Douglas Laycock, a prominent scholar who supports homosexual marriage. In their desperation to avoid the legitimate discussion of serious issues raised by the legalization of homosexual marriage, the No on 1 campaign has wounded itself and done a great disservice to the people of Maine.”
“The conflicts that LD 1020 creates for people of faith are real and serious concerns. Respected legal experts on both sides of the issue agree on this. It’s time for the No on 1 campaign to acknowledge these concerns and address them, rather than simply dismiss them with vitriolic campaign rhetoric. The legal scholars, including those who support same-sex marriage, are not part of our campaign. They have raised important issues that the people of Maine are entitled to know about. We intend to make sure that they do,” said Mutty.
Unfortunately for the Yes on 1 campaign, the People of the American Way issued its report that same day, "Outside Religious Right Groups Targeting Marriage Equality in Maine With a Prop 8-Style Campaign Based on Lies and Big Money."

Part of their press release on the report states:
People For the American Way issued a report today that documents how the Religious Right is targeting marriage equality in Maine with big money and false attacks, virtually identical to the fearmongering strategies in 2008's Proposition 8 campaign in California.

"The fight to protect marriage equality in Maine hasn't gotten the same national attention that Prop 8 did in California, but national Religious Right organizations are pouring resources into their anti-equality effort," said Peter Montgomery, Senior Fellow at People For the American Way. "The far right is determined to deny equality to same-sex couples in Maine, no matter what it takes. Fortunately, a smart Mainer-led campaign is mobilizing support for the state's marriage equality law and the families it will protect."
In the press release, they state that national anti-gay leaders and veterans of last year's Prop 8 battle in California descended on Maine; that the right-wing is not interested in running a "fact-filled" and "honest, civil and respectful campaign," and are instead choosing the low road of fearmongering and false attacks; and the money has poured into the campaign against marriage equality in Maine, with more than 99 percent of the early money coming from four organizations, and less than 1 percent coming from Maine voters.

Here is the full four-page report:
PFAW Report on Religious Right Wing Campaign in Maine

To make matters worse for the Yes on 1 campaign, today actual Maine leaders, unlike the out-of-towners used by the opposition, have responded with their own full rebuttal to the campaign's attack ads. The nine page response details the fallacies claimed by the Yes on 1 campaign in their tv and radio ads and then proceeds to point out the lies.

Maine Legal Rebuttal to Yes on 1 Ads

Polls released today from Maine show marriage equality opponents with a two point lead, but this lead falls within the margin of error, thus indicating both campaigns are in a dead heat.

Markos from the Daily Kos, which issued the polls, reports:
The forces of bigotry have a 2-point lead, but it's within the margin of error. This thing is statistically tied. It's a toss-up. It's a battle between the side who can best bring out its supporters to the polls. And it's a battle to persuade that tiny percent of undecideds to vote for equality. In fact, millions will be spent by both sides to bring that 6 percent home. You can help the "no" side protect marriage equality by contributing here.

The demographics are a mixed bag -- men aren't with us, but women are. Democrats are obviously a strong demo for us, and with 9 percent of the undecided coming from their ranks, that's a positive sign. Independents lean our way, but it'd be nice to grow our margin there, since Republicans will be motivated to turn out, and they'll provide the bulk of the bigot vote.

Young people are strongly with us, older folk aren't. Who are the more dependable voters? We can't take anything for granted on that front. Getting out the youth vote will be imperative for the "No on 1" campaign.
Joe Sudbay of America Blog responded to Markos:
We always knew going in that this was going to be a battle til the end and getting out our vote will be critical. In Maine, that will determine the winner. I've done Get-out-the vote in Maine many times. The people working on our side really know how to do it. And, I mean really know how to do it . . . we're going to make history there.
Jesse Connolly, the NO on 1 campaign's manager also responded to the polls, saying "To take the lead, it's going to take money, volunteers, an effective media strategy, and an unparalleled get-out-the-vote operation."

ACTION: So what are you waiting for? Help win marriage equality!

Obama Administration Defends DOMA Again by Filing to Dismiss Powerful Federal Case Against It

UPDATE: Pam's House Blend reports on an email from GLAD: "So, at this point we have 14 days to file an opposition to the motion dismiss. The government will then file a reply to our opposition. After that, our first hearing will be scheduled, and we can expect that to take place early next year. Having said all of that, it's possible that both sides will get and receive extensions on that schedule."

Obama's Administration defended the Defense of Marriage Act again by filing a brief today seeking a dismissal of one of the strongest federal cases against the discriminatory law, Gil vs. the Office of Personnel Management.

Joe Sudbay of America Blog reports:
...the Department of Justice is defending DOMA with an array of legal arguments. Importantly, the DOJ thinks DOMA should be subject to the "rational basis review,' which is the lowest level of judicial scrutiny. All the government must do is prove a "rational basis" for the legislation meaning "a legislative policy must be upheld so long as there is any reason- ably conceivable set of facts that could provide a rational basis for it, including ones that Congress itself did not advance or consider. DOMA satisfies this standard."
The brief does reiterate Obama's opposition to DOMA.
As the President has stated previously, this Administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal. Consistent with the rule of law, however, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here.1 The law of this Circuit requires that this Court find that DOMA is constitutionally permissible because Congress could reasonably have concluded that DOMA is rationally related to legitimate governmental interests.
2009 09 18 DOMA DOJ Motion to Dismiss

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), who filed the case, issued the following press release:
The Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss today in Gill v. Office of Personnel Development, GLAD's lawsuit challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD's Civil Rights Project Director and co-lead counsel in Gill, said "Nothing in the government's brief addresses the fact that DOMA is the sole exception in a long history of the federal government deferring to the states' determination that people are married. Obviously we disagree with any argument that DOMA is constitutional. Married same-sex couples are being treated differently from other married couples. To us, that's a clear-cut violation of the promise of equal protection."

Gary Buseck, GLAD's Legal Director said, "We're seeking justice for the widows and widowers who are denied death benefits, for people who can't get on their spouse's health plan, for parents who can't file taxes jointly and pay thousands extra each year that they could put away for their children's education or family emergencies."

"There is nothing in the brief that we are unprepared to deal with," added Bonauto. "We're pleased that the issues have now been joined and the case is moving toward resolution, because every day, an increasing number of families - not just our plaintiffs - are being harmed by DOMA. We're confident in the justice of our cause and the strength of our case."

GLAD filed its challenge to DOMA Section 3 in U.S. District Court on March 3, 2009, and filed an amended complaint in July on behalf of 8 Massachusetts married couples and 3 widowers who have been harmed by the law. In July, GLAD scored its first victory in the case when the State Department changed its passport name change policy and plaintiff Keith Toney was for the first time able to get a passport in his correct, married name.

Gill has been described as "a carefully planned case quietly underway in Massachusetts federal court [that] could be the gay marriage test with the greatest national impact" by the National Law Journal. More information on the case is available at The DOJ brief can be read at .

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England's leading legal organization devoted to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.
I find it striking that the Department of Justice (DOJ) used the rational basis argument given that recently, the proponents of Proposition 8 just filed a motion for summary judgment to avoid going to trial on the federal case against the initiative. One of their arguments rest on the rational basis argument (which relies heavily on past rulings and tradition), stating that gays and lesbians are not warranted heightened scrutiny (which requires evaluation of found facts and witness testimony to determine if a law harms or helps state interest) - a stark disagreement with the California Supreme Court ruling in the marriage cases which classified gays and lesbians as suspect, putting us in the same category as race and gender among others.

This article
, by a supporter of marriage equality, examines an Constitutional argument, not a policy argument, of rational basis and how that approach is beneficial to "traditional" marriage. It's an interesting look at the difference between rational basis arguments and heightened scrutiny approaches.

And don't worry. I'm not a legal scholar, and I'm able to follow all these legal arguments and documents. It's just important that we understand how our rights are being analyzed and argued in court. The rational basis vs. scrutiny conflict is key to how our rights are won.

VIDEO: Charlize Theron Restates Her Commitment to Not Getting Married Until All Gays and Lesbians Can

Many of us have heard numerous celebrities state their support for marriage equality, and it's always received with heartfelt thanks. But for me, Charlize Theron stands out.

Having met her back in May at Meet in the Middle, her sincerity rang true to me. She showed up at the major California statewide rally and didn't go on stage to speak, she did absolutely no interviews with the media in an effort to drum up publicity for herself - she stood for the whole several-hours-long rally in the Fresno summer heat with the crowd. She drove herself to Fresno from Los Angeles to be a participant, not to be in the limelight. She was one of us. And just by appearing, the rally got a lot of coverage.

But what makes her stand out most for me is her commitment not to get married until all of us, the LGBT population, can tie the knot.

Earlier this week on The View, Charlize Theron spoke about marriage equality, repeating her support and her commitment not to get married to her longtime partner Stewart Townsend until all gays and lesbians can. (See video below around 5:40)

"I don't want to get married because right now the institution of marriage feels very one-sided, and I want to live in a country where we all have equal rights," Theron said, remarking on why she and Stewart have not gotten married.

"I think it would be exactly the same if we were married, but for me to go through that kind of ceremony, because I have so many friends who are gays and lesbians who would so badly want to get married, that I wouldn't be able to sleep with myself," Theron said.

Charlize has witnessed first-hand what discrimination can do. Hailing from South Africa, she once compared the same-sex marriage bans to apartheid that once dominated her home country.

We could use more allies like Charlize.

Thank you Charlize for your committed support for us!

List of Endorsers for National Equality March Grows

More luminaries from the entertainment, arts and faith communities added their names this week to the growing list of supporters for the National Equality March (NEM) in Washington DC on October 11. To date over 200 notable leaders in, and supporters of, the LGBT community have endorsed the March and are urging people to join them and make their way to Washington.

"Momentum for the March continues to grow and we are so honored to have the support of so many distinguished leaders from across the country," said David Mixner, national co-chair of the March.

Leaders from the arts and entertainment industry who announced their support for the March this week include such luminaries as:

Calpernia Addams, author, actor and musician
Jane Anderson, Emmy Award-winning screenwriter playwright and director
Paris Barclay, Emmy Award-winning director
Annette Bening, Oscar-nominated actor
Greg Berlanti, writer, producer and director
David Dean Bottrell, screenwriter
The Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, author and Episcopal priest
Victor Bumbalo, actor and playwright
Ilene Chaiken, creator, writer, and executive producer, The L Word
Wilson Cruz, actor
Dana Delaney, Emmy Award-winning actor
Ronald Dennis, actor, dancer, and singer
Melissa Etheridge, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and musician
Joely Fisher, actor
Carrie Fisher, actor, screenwriter and novelist
James Franco, Golden Globe Award-winning actor
David Marshall Grant, Tony Award-nominated actor
Ellen Greene, Tony Award-nominated actor
Trebor Healy, poet and novelist
Helen Hunt, Academy Award-winning actor
Dave Koz, Grammy Award-nominated musician
Susan Krebs, jazz vocalist
Swoosie Kurtz, Emmy Award-winning actor
Chad Lowe, Emmy Award-winning actor
Camryn Manheim, Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award-nominated actor
Ewan McGregor, Golden Globe Award-nominated actor
Sir Ian McKellen, Tony Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated actor
Julianne Moore, Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-nominated actor
Max Mutchnick, Emmy Award-winning producer Kathy Najimy, actor
Ken Page, actor and cabaret singer
Peter Paige, actor, Queer as Folk
Pauley Perrette, actor and civil rights activist
Felice Picano, PEN Award-winning writer
David Hyde Pierce, Emmy Award and Tony Award-winning actor
David O. Russell, director
Meg Ryan, actor
Eduardo Santiago, author
Mark Thompson, author and gay activist
Marisa Tomei, Academy Award-winning actor
Liz Torres, Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award-nominated actor
Gus Van Sant, Academy Award-nominated director, Milk
Ann Walker, actor

"We are thrilled to have this impressive, ever-growing group of extraordinarily talented entertainment industry luminaries from stage, screen, television and the arts endorsing the march," said Bruce Cohen, March supporter and Oscar-winning producer of American Beauty and Milk. "As the demand for full LGBT Federal rights grows in all corners of the country, adding the support of these wonderful LGBT and straight friends of ours will continue to broaden the impact of what is being planned for October 11th in our nation's Capitol."

Leaders from the faith community who endorsed the March this week include:

Rev. Samuel Chu, Interim Executive Director of California Faith for Equality
Rabbi Mark Diamond, Exec. Vice President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis
Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Denise Eger, President of Pacific Association of Former Rabbis
Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College
Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Exec. Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, Chair of the Progressive Jewish Foundation
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, NYC
Bishop Eugene Robinson, Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire
Rev. Susan Russell, President of Integrity
Rev. Neil G. Thomas, Chair of California Faith for Equality and Sr. Pastor MCC
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform of Judaism

"The importance of the National March for Equality for LGBT civil rights is being articulated through the Religious and Faith communities," said Rabbi Denise Eger, president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. "Jewish national leaders and faith leaders understand that equality and justice stem from the message of welcome and love. We are joining together to lift up this message of full civil rights."

For more information about the NEM, and for a full list of endorsements, visit:

Poll: Marriage Equality Trailing in Maine; Don't Let Another Prop 8 Happen!

Results from a Research 2000/Daily Kos poll indicates that if Mainers voted on the new marriage equality law today, they would vote to overturn it, repeating what happened in California with Proposition 8.

Two questions were posed to 600 voters, both results indicating a slight majority favoring the anti-equality position.

Daily Kos/Research 2000 Maine Poll
Research 2000, MoE 4%, Sep 14, 2009 - Sep 16, 2009
Margin error of 4%.

QUESTION: As you may know there will be one question on the ballot this November in Maine addressing the issue of same-sex unions. In part it will read "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry?" A yes vote takes away the right of same-sex couples to marry. A no vote keeps the right of same-sex couples to marry. If the election were held today would you vote YES or NO on this question?

QUESTION: Regardless of how you might vote do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?

However, these numbers indicate a sizable persuadable margin of 6% "Not Sure" meaning that we can very well win.

ACTION: Yet to do this, Maine's NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality will need all the hands-on help they can get. Here's a list of ways to get involved, no matter where you live.
  • Sign up to volunteer through the campaign website and they will let you know what you can do to help. No matter where you live!
  • Thinking of taking a vacation? Take a vacation in Maine and volunteer as well! Check out the Volunteer-Vacation program through the campaign.
  • Live in Los Angeles? Equality California is hosting a phone banking session throughout the next month. Click here, find which date works for you and sign up! (Don't worry - they'll train you.)
  • Donate! Maine has some great ads airing, but they cost a lot of money. It's very important that our message stays on the air. Help keeps the ads running by donating! Every dollar counts.

What's happening in Maine will be historical. If we lose, it'll be our second time LGBT have been stripped of marriage rights in a row following Prop 8.

But if we win, it will be the first time marriage equality is passed by a public vote. Make this a historical win! Be a part of history!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Help Protect Marriage Equality - Take a Volunteer-Vacation In Maine

NOTE: I'll be bumping this post up every week now. Mainers will be voting on whether or not to overturn the state's new marriage equality bill as early as this month (through mail-in ballots and early voting). We don't have much time left!


Taking a vacation any time soon? Want to support LGBT Mainers save their right to marry? Do both at the same time! Below is a message from the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign on how you can do just that.

The state motto for Maine is "Vacationland" and if you've ever been here, you understand why.

As the November referendum - modeled after Prop 8 - to repeal marriage equality in Maine approaches, we need to have as many volunteers on the ground as possible, and if you're thinking of coming to Maine, then now is the time to join us for a Volunteer-Vacation.

How It Works

During the month leading up to the election, the campaign will be hosting a team of highly motivated volunteers from around the country to serve as full-time volunteer campaign staff. In Maine voters will begin casting their ballots in October, so we are planning the Volunteer-Vacation to run during the entire month of October.

There are several shifts to choose from, each shift lasting one week (although you may stay longer):
  • WEEK #1: Sun, Oct 4 – Sun, Oct 11 (Arrive Sat, Oct 3. Orientation Sun, Oct 4 at 1pm)
  • WEEK #2: Sun, Oct 11 – Sun, Oct 18 (Arrive Sat, Oct 10. Orientation Sun, Oct 11 at 1pm)
  • WEEK #3: Sun, Oct 18 – Sun, Oct 25 (Arrive Sat, Oct 17. Orientation Sun, Oct 18 at 1pm)
  • WEEK #4: Sun, Oct 25 – Sun, Nov 1 (Arrive Sat, Oct 24. Orientation Sun, Oct 25 at 1pm)
Once you arrive in Maine, you will receive a full orientation and be assigned to a team, where you will be trained on various aspects of the campaign.

The campaign will provide housing with local supporters, but you will be responsible for paying for your own travel to and from Portland, for your own food, and for local transportation. You will be trained on everything you need to know to be successful.

Your Role

Volunteer-Vacation is designed for folks who want to volunteer, full-time, to help recruit other volunteers, campaign person-to-person with voters, and to run the Get-Out-the-Vote operation necessary to win the election. You will get an intensive, hands-on chance to hone your campaign skills.

Next Steps

Go to the Volunteer-Vacation page at NO on 1 and sign up!

New National AP Poll Shows Marriage Equality Opponents Still Outnumber Supporters

The recent "AP-National Constitution Center Poll" released yesterday asked citizens a variety of questions on topics ranging from the U.S. Constitution, health care and marriage equality.

"The poll found a small majority in support of extending to same-sex couples the same benefits given to married, heterosexual couples," the AP reports. "By a similar margin, however, Americans oppose government recognition of gay marriage."

1,001 adults were interviewed between September 3 - September 8, 2009. The poll contains a +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Two questions were asked in regards to marriage equality.

1. Should state governments give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex?

2. Should the Federal government give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex?

Download the full poll. Check out prior polls on UTF's poll page.

We have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time in garnering support for marriage equality, but this indicates we still have a lot of work to do.

Currently, Maine is fighting to keep its marriage equality law from be overturned at the ballot. They're facing the same people who passed Prop 8 in California.

Get involved!

Pro-LGBT Approve Referendum 71 Campaign In Need of Funds

Lurleen of Pam's House Blend reports:
Washington Families Standing Together needs money. Here's the story:

Tuesday night an over-capacity crowd of over 300 pro-family Washingtonians gathered eagerly in Seattle to hear Washington Families Standing Together lay out the plans for the final leg of the Approve Referendum 71 campaign. Similar gatherings have already happened in Spokane, Walla Walla and Vancouver and others will happen across the state this week.

The take-home message is clear and compelling: "Even though there is strong support for domestic-partnership law in Washington, we could lose this because turnout in off year elections is so low."

To educate the voters and turn out their votes requires money. That money is needed Now. We have less than a month until ballots are mailed out, and only 6 weeks until election day. Please DONATE what you can to help. Every little bit helps.
Lurleen goes on to write that the Reject Referendum 71 campaign has a secret benefactor, and though they're claiming that they don't have a lot of money, she reports they do and will soon slam Washington state residents with tv and radio ads and robo calls.

What also makes me sick to see is the Reject Referendum 71's logo. It states, "Marriage = One Man, One Woman." Ugh. So deceiving! Referendum 71 is only about the newly passed domestic partnership law that expanded the benefits to include all the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex unions without calling them marriages.

You know the ol' argument from the anti-LGBT crowd to us, "Why can't you just settle for domestic partnerships?"

This is why! Once we get them, they try to take it away and claim it's marriage! They're deceiving Washington voters by telling them this is a marriage issue when it is NOT.

To get involved, visit the Approve Referendum 71 campaign website.

Vote to APPROVE the new domestic partnership law!

Guest Post: About Face - How OUT West Boot Camp changed My Mind About Marriage Equality

Guest blogger Frances Yasmeen Motiwalla is the Director of LA Based Outreach for Peace Action West. She grew up in Chicago, then grew up even more in New York City, and now lives as a grown up in Echo Park with her partner, May, and their parrotlet, Pico. She holds a BA from Wheaton College (IL) in Political Science, and recently helped create the Peeka-Bu Mirror ( - the world's first "intimate" grooming mirror.

To be perfectly honest, marriage equality has been low on my priority list. For the last two years, I've been canvassing for Peace Action West, and focused on foreign policy. Marriage is great and all, so is the environment, and the economy - BUT IT DRIVES ME CRAZY that so many people don't think about how the military industrial complex has bankrupt our society. OUT West Campaign Boot Camp this past weekend officially shot the fight for Marriage Equality up my priority list.

What did it for me, was a realization during David Fleischer's presentation, "Changing Hearts and Minds: Message Development and Voter Persuasion." After laying out informative principles of messaging, David showed us several campaign ads from various gay marriage ballot referendums, from BOTH sides. What became clear to me was that as our side fumbles to present the nicest possible people rationally explaining the fairness and rightness of marriage equality, the opposition is not even really talking about marriage. I don't watch TV at all, so I had no clue that their ads were thinly-veiled, fear-mongering attacks that we are a threat to children and society. That pissed me off.

In the afternoon, we heard from Rose Kapolczynski of Progressive Strategy Partners, who has run Senator Barbara Boxer's campaigns, and has won a myriad of proposition campaigns. One thing she mentioned was that usually "Yes" ballot measures usually highlight a problem and claim to be the right solution. The problem proposed by the Yes on 8 camp is that legitimizing gay marriage will lead to "gayness" being taught in schools, their kids thinking that it's okay, and god forbid, actually turning gay.

While their campaign completely avoids the actual question of equal rights regarding marriage, I think it does illuminate a very real problem that deserves attention:
IF your child DOESN'T learn to accept homosexuality as equal in school, there is a greatly increased risk that they will grow up to be bullies who ignorantly talk about hating gays.
While some parents might think it's in their best interest to propagate their prejudice, our only hope for evolving as a society, ending discrimination and hate crimes and achieving true equality, lies in our ability to stop the cycle of hate. The groundbreaking documentary It's Elementary demonstrates the powerful impact that talking to school children about homosexuality can have on their ability to develop into well adjusted adults. Perhaps this problem calls for a whole other ballot referendum, an Homophobic Asshole Prevention Measure, if you will.

So, boot camp officially sucked me into the fight. I realized the key word is Equality...and that I was sitting in a room with 140 people who are going to be the change in this socio-political battle. OUT West brought together a spectacular line-up of instructors, teaching the fundamentals of campaigning: Finance, Field, Political and New Media Organizing, and Communications. The only downside was that we only had time to pick two!

I took the Finance and Organizing classes. Charles T. Moran's Overview of Campaign Fundraising was my favorite part, well, Charles, himself, was my favorite part. He is a political consultant, mega-fundraiser for the Republicans, and spokesperson for the Log Cabin Republicans. I am still perplexed by his choice of party affiliation, but I was totally enamored by his straight-forward presentation, I want to be just like him when I grow up, and I am very happy that we are on the same side of this battle. He shared tips on being a great fundraiser, but also stressed the necessity of a solid campaign plan, because while personality goes a long way, wise investors want to know their money will be well spent.

The most challenging part of the weekend, was during the second finance class, lead by Moof Mayeda, Sarah Reece and Kathleen Camisano of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. After a thorough presentation of the fundamentals of one-on-one contacts, we were asked to scroll through our phones and make a list of friends to call and practice the fund raising skills we had just learned, whilst raising money for the No on Prop 1 campaign in Maine.

While I stand on the street and ask strangers for money every day while canvassing, this was surprisingly scary. But as I looked at the list I had formed, I realized, though, that each of these people most likely cared about the issue, and would probably love the opportunity to give. We ended up only having a few minutes to make the calls. I got 5 voice mail messages and they told us it was time to wrap up...I dialed one more, determined now. My friend, Tracy picked up, and, well, it was even easier than I had expected. Tracy was psyched I was getting involved with the campaign, didn't know that Maine was facing a proposition and was happy to help. Even easier than getting people jazzed about foreign policy!

The organizing classes were also very helpful, Martha De Hoyos of Brave New World Films introduced us to the nuts and bolts of coalition building and community organizing. Effectively building relationships by focusing on shared interests with community leaders will undoubtedly be a key to future campaign successes. And Lola Elfman of the New Organizing Institute (NOI) gave us solid tips to refine our use of online tools. From here on out, our e-mail campaigns will be timely, engaging and trackable, our websites will empower and lead to action, and our social networking will be maximized. Fingers crossed. We also learned NOI is hosting a Non Profit New Media Training conference October 5-6 in SF, which sounds fantastic.

We had the honor of hearing from many more speakers - truly inspiring messages from Reverend Art Cribbs, Reverend Eric Lee, Rabbi Allan I. Freehling, and Eric Bauman; a powerful history lesson from longtime activist Diane Abbit; lessons from the battleground from Planned Parenthood's Serena Josel and Sara Shirrell; and to top it off, key note speaker, Christine Pelosi.

Something that has really stuck with me, was from Ms. Pelosi's introduction. It turns out that she has been organizing since she was in a stroller. Every year her mother, our Speaker of the House, apparently, used to wheel her children door to door doing lit drops for the Democratic Party back in the '60s, way before she ever considered running for office. This has given me a whole new respect for Nancy Pelosi. While it's easy for people to point fingers and say she's not done enough, perhaps she's done way more than we know. May we all be as dedicated and long-suffering as we take up leadership in the struggle towards equality. (and a just foreign policy, of course.)

OUT West Campaign Boot Camp Took the Bull That Is a Ballot Campaign by the Horns

Over the past weekend, nearly 150 people gathered on the USC campus to attend OUT West's Campaign Boot Camp for hands-on training on how to run a ballot campaign. Over two days, the attendees learned about fund raising, media ads and buying, message development and discipline, voter persuasion, campaign structure, organizing, strategy and much more.

And an amazing array of faculty took time out of their busy schedules to pass on a wide range of knowledge: political consultant David Fleischer; long-time activist and campaign veteran Diane Abbit; SCLC Los Angeles President Rev. Eric Lee; Moof Mayeda, Sarah Reece and Kathleen Camisano of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Marc Solomon of Equality California; Sarah Callahan of Courage Campaign; and keynote speaker Christine Pelosi, author of the book Campaign Boot Camp and many more.

Mike Skiff of Third Rail Media reports:

OUT West, one of the largest LGBT grassroots coalitions in California, hosted Campaign Boot Camp. Unite the Fight is a member of OUT West.

Stay tuned later today for a guest post by an attendee of Campaign Boot Camp!

Read other coverage at Towleroad and Greene Universe.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

VIDEO: Do You Feel the No on 1 Ads in Maine Are Hitting Hard Enough? A Comparison to Prop 8 Ads.

To fully appreciate the point of this post, please watch the ads embedded below, even if you've seen them before. It's all about context.

Those of us who had to suffer through the Proposition 8 campaign season remember well the Yes on 8 ads that just wouldn't stop hounding us with misinformation, flat out lies and distortion of the truth. And unfortunately, the Yes on 8 side was brilliant with their messaging, ripping apart our message of equality with four simple words: "What about the children?!"

Who can forget this infamous ad, turning our joyful moment against us?

But even at this point in the campaign, many Californians still weren't sure how marriage equality would affect them adversely, so why not let gays and lesbians marry? Until the death knell rang with these two ads.

(Notice how they zoom in on that child at the end? Look at this one for even FURTHER blatant manipulation of children.)

Suddenly, parents were up in arms. People were scared for their children. They will be indoctrinated! All of a sudden, marriage equality adversely affected everyone and everything - schools, churches, businesses. It stirred up dormant homophobia.

The NO on 8 campaign, lacking funds to keep up until the last month, couldn't hit back. They did get one ad that worked well, according to researched responses (despite the controversy that no gays or lesbians were actually in the ads):

However, after that, it didn't go well. Here's an example at an attempt to respond to the onslaught of Yes on 8 ads, but it was playing defense:

I don't know about you, but I got a "not so fresh feeling" from this ad.

The following ad was done at the last minute in an attempt to frame the debate as a civil rights issue, which changed the messaging of the campaign from equality to civil rights (use of language is oh so important, as well as message discipline. To us, equality and civil rights are the same thing, but that's for us. Our target audience didn't see it that way.)

However, this had the opposite effect of its intent, offending many in the African American community and other people of color by comparing their civil rights struggle to the LGBT civil rights struggle.

Now, keeping our loss in California in mind, view again the official campaign Maine ads from both sides of the issue. Have we learned from our losses? Are we hitting back hard enough? We got the first ads on the air, allowing us to frame the debate how we want it. We can be on the offense. But are we?

First official campaign ad to hit the air was ours. Actually, the NO on 1 campaign kicked off two. (View the first unofficial marriage equality ad in Maine.)

These were on the air for a good week before the Yes on 1 side (aka the Yes on 8 people) began airing theirs yesterday. Who could've guessed that the ad used the same ol' argument that was used here in California? Broken record anybody? (Notice the use of a law professor, same as the Yes on 8 ad above - an authority figure of sorts.)

Today came an immediate response from the NO on 1 campaign. And they deserve a huge round of applause for learning from Prop 8 by responding immediately. However, do you feel it addresses Yes on 1? Does it hit back hard enough? I recall the Yes on Prop 8 campaign playing extremely dirty. Since Yes on 1 is ran by the same people, we can expect them to do it again. Does this response kill such tactics before they begin?

Reporter Rex Wockner, who was "forced to blog" on these ads (and with a domino effect, pushed me to blog), wrote, "They are not hard-hitting. They are high-minded concept ads. They are a repeat of No on 8's mistakes in California. The 1st ad above is decent, showing a real gay family and speaking some truth. But overall: Reboot now. 33% is a failing grade."

I feel I must agree. The first ad was good. It framed the debate by showing REAL Mainers (NOT actors), real gays and lesbians with their families, faces that will be harmed by vetoing the marriage equality law. It portrayed the cherished Maine mantra of "live and let live" and that Maine doesn't need outside influence telling what it should do. (Something Mainers hate!)

But we knew. We knew what the opposition was going to say. "They're going to force this on you whether you like it or not." "You're children will be taught homosexual marriage is ok in schools!" "Your churches, your businesses will be sued!" Basically saying we harm children and society in general.

Shouldn't we have had an ad on the air already addressing these specific concerns before the Yes on 1 opened their lying mouths? Shouldn't we have had an authority figure who demands respect, who is from Maine, discounting all the forthcoming arguments? (Gov. Baldacci comes to mind.)

Yet, in our rebuttal to the Yes on 1 side, we repeat ourselves. Sticking to "outsiders are going to ruin Maine" theme isn't going to work if Mainers agree with the outsiders.

And believe me, plenty do!

We need to kill their arguments before they even voice them. We need to tell Mainers, "You're going to hear that marriage is going to be taught in schools, but you have the power to decide that yourself in your districts. You're going to hear that your church is going to be sued, but you already have protections in place by law. The other side is going to try and confuse this issue, to state things that are not in the law. They want to mislead you. They will lie to you.

"This is not about curriculum, not about religion. What this is about is civil marriage for all. It's about protecting families. It's about being fair."

But that's just a start. It's got to hit harder. Expose the lies as lies. Like this one. And this one, and so many more.

No one likes being lied to. I have a feeling Mainers will be pissed. I think we should tell them. Don't you?

The NO on 1 campaign is doing amazing work. I support it wholeheartedly and am very happy with what I am seeing, especially compared to the No on 8 campaign. But I see room for improvement. I see that we can win. And we don't have much time. I'd rather speak up now than regret being silent later.

Keep up the great work Maine. Now go expose those lies!

Recommended Reading: Marrige Equality Ad Battles Begins in Maine.

Hear the Vicious Anti-Marriage Equality Yes on 1 Radio Ad Playing in Maine

Jeremy Hooper at Good As You does the homework again of pointing out some of the fallacies. Since this ad is aimed at conservative radio stations, they can get away with distorting facts more than they could elsewhere.

Makes my stomach nauseous.

Official Campaign Website for 2010 Prop 8 Repeal Launched; Town Halls to Be Held for Statewide Campaign Council Elections

The California Coalition for Marriage Equality, the organizations and individuals in support of restoring marriage equality to California in 2010, have launched their new website ", The Official Home of the Campaign to Repeal Prop 8 in 2010."

At the beginning of the month, the coalition met in San Francisco and in the meeting, decided on a plan to break California down into 10 regions that will have representatives who will then inform a statewide council working on the signature gathering campaign and possibly a 2010 campaign itself.

Los Angeles will be holding its town hall
to elect representatives Sunday, September 20.

Find out when your region will be holding its town hall at Restore Equality 2010. These town halls are being organized by the Interim Administrative Group (IAG), a group chosen from the San Francisco meeting. You can contact them here with questions and concerns.

Rep. Blumenauer: Voting for DOMA Was "Worst Vote of My Political Career." Help Repeal It!

In a honest piece on the Huffington Post, Oregon U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer wrote, "On July 12, 1996, I cast the worst vote of my political career. Having served in public office since 1973, that says something. While I've made other mistakes, this was different: it was a deliberate vote that I knew to be poor public policy and was against my values."

Reading it was heart-wrenching. In what can only be described as "confessional," Blumenauer admits to sacrificing the "civil rights and identity" of LGBT people nationwide in an effort to move past the miasma of the Gingrich-Daley Congress of the time.

Blumenauer is determined to right his wrongs and will not only vote for the DOMA repeal 'Respect for Marriage Act', but he will also work to get his colleagues to do the same.

You can help Blumenauer in a variety of ways.

Go to and sign a letter sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign that will go to your representative, urging them to support the Respect for Marriage Act.

You can also reach your representative through the Courage Campaign.

Tell Blumenauer thank you through Twitter. Michael Jones as suggests, ". . . feel free to send him a message on Twitter - @RepBlumenauer. Might we suggest, "@RepBlumenauer thanks for switching your position on the Defense of Marriage Act and working to end discrimination."

VIDEO: Maine's NO on 1 Campaign Gives Rapid TV Ad Response to Anti-Marriage Equality Ad

Just yesterday, the Yes on 1 campaign fighting to undo marriage equality in Maine, released their first anti-LGBT ad full of lies and distortion, which will air frequently enough so that Mainers will see it at least 20 times!

The NO on 1 wasted NO time at all. Today, they have already responded to the ad with an ad of their own, keeping the Yes on 1 on the defense. (Unlike the No on 8 campaign, which had a hard time keeping up.)

We are neck-n-neck in the polls, and one sure-fire way to take the lead is to keep the ads airing just as much if not more than the opposition.

This of course takes money.

ACTION: Please help keep another Prop 8 from happening in Maine by donating and volunteering (which you can do from anywhere).

Go to the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality website to see how you can get involved.

Go here to donate to help keep these expensive ads on the air!

Going on vacation? Go to Maine and volunteer!

Want to be involved in the National Day of Action to protect marriage equality in Maine on September 27? Find out more here!

VIDEO: Watch Rep. Nadler Introduce the DOMA Repeal, 'Respect for Marriage Act.'

Yesterday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler and fellow U.S. Representatives introduced the full DOMA repeal, the Respect for Marriage Act. Below is the video of Nadler at the press conference.

Here is a family explaining how DOMA affects them personally.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Protect Maine's Marriage Equality Law on the National Day of Action, September 27th

From Nadine Smith of Equality Florida, working with Maine's NO on 1 Campaign:

Marriage equality is under attack in Maine, and no matter where you live, there's something you can do about it.

Far right extremists have imported their national anti-equality agenda to the Pine Tree state with the goal of stripping away marriage rights. The same group that bankrolled Prop 8 in California has set up shop in Maine and has out fundraised the local effort by 2-1.

Despite that, polls show fairness is winning by a slim margin, thanks to the local grassroots No On 1 effort to protect Maine equality. But we can't leave them alone to stand their ground. We need to rally to support the local effort

No matter where you live, there is a way to help win this fight.

All you need is a phone and a computer with an internet connection. No long distance fees, no dialing- the web-based software does it all.

We have set a goal of enlisting 500 people across the country to donate 2.5 hours to call Maine voters using a virtual phone bank on Sunday, September 27th. There are training sessions you will need to participate in prior to the National Day of Action.

Sign up as an organization or as an individual and you will get all the information you need to be a part of the September 27th Maine Day of Action.


Catholic Parishes in Maine Raise Over $100,000 to Fight Marriage Equality

As reported last week, the Catholic parishes across the state of Maine, at the request of Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Portland, held a second special collection to raise funds for the Yes on 1 campaign who is eager to throw out the state's new marriage equality law.

After an initial $100,000 had been pledged by church officials, this second collection will be added on top.

The Catholic New Agency reports, "Marc Mutty, director of Stand for Marriage Maine, said 140 churches across the state took a second collection on Sunday. He reported that the churches could have raised as much as $100,000 to $300,000."

Officials plan to ago ahead with these donations despite the fact that at least five parishes in Maine have had to be closed to lack of funds. Catholics for Marriage Equality have raised objections to these efforts, not only citing that the church is losing sight of its purpose, but also calling its efforts to undo marriage equality discriminatory.

of Portland reported that outside the churches, protesters dressed as angels and held signs that read, "For Heaven's sake, all love is divine - Vote No On 1."

ACTION: Go the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality to see how you can be involved no matter where you live.

BREAKING NEWS: FULL Repeal of DOMA Introduced to U.S. House Called the 'Respect for Marriage Act'

Today U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), along with Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) Jared Polis (D-CO), John Lewis (D-GA) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), introduced the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) at a press conference, and contrary to earlier reports that it was a partial repeal, what was introduced today is a FULL repeal of all three sections of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). So far, the bill has 91 co-sponsors.

From Nadler's press release:
The 13-year-old DOMA singles out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal responsibilities and rights, including programs like social security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.

The Respect for Marriage Act, the consensus of months of planning and organizing among the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators, would ensure that valid marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with much-needed certainty that their lawful marriages will be honored under federal law and that they will have the same access to federal responsibilities and rights as all other married couples.

The Respect of Marriage Act would accomplish this by repealing DOMA in its entirety and by adopting the place-of-celebration rule recommended in the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which embraces the common law principle that marriages that are valid in the state where they were entered into will be recognized. While this rule governs recognition of marriage for purposes of federal law, marriage recognition under state law would continue to be decided by each state.

The Respect for Marriage Act would not tell any state who can marry or how married couples must be treated for purposes of state law, and would not obligate any person, church, city or state to celebrate or license a marriage of two people of the same sex. It would merely restore the approach historically taken by states of determining, under principles of comity and Full Faith and Credit, whether to honor a couple’s marriage for purposes of state law.


“The full repeal of DOMA is long overdue,” said Rep. Nadler. “When DOMA was passed in 1996, its full harm may not have been apparent to all Members of Congress because same-sex couples were not yet able to marry. It was a so-called ‘defense’ against a hypothetical harm. This made it easy for our opponents to demonize gay and lesbian families. Now, in 2009, we have tens of thousands of married same-sex couples in this country, living openly, raising families and paying taxes in states that have granted them the right to marry, and it has become abundantly clear that, while the sky has not fallen on the institution of marriage, as DOMA supporters had claimed, DOMA is causing these couples concrete and lasting harm. Discrimination against committed couples and stable families is terrible federal policy. But, with a President who is committed to repealing DOMA and a broad, diverse coalition of Americans on our side, we now have a real opportunity to remove from the books this obnoxious and ugly law.”
The rest of the press release contains inspirational quotes from fellow Representatives, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign, Rea Carey of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Kevin Cathcart of Lambda Legal.

The Advocate reports that at the press conference, Nadler read a statement from President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA into law in 1996, thanking the Representatives for introducing RMA.

“Throughout my life I have opposed discrimination of any kind," Clinton said in the statement. "When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter. Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed, and so should this policy.”

The bill will repeal all three sections of DOMA, which are:
  1. The federal definition of marriage being between one man and one woman.
  2. Allows states to ignore other state's recognition of same-sex marriage.
  3. Prohibits federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages.
As Rep. Baldwin put it at the press conference, "The legislation we're introducing today will legally extend to legally married same-sex couples the same federal rights and recognitions now offered to heterosexual couples -- nothing more, nothing less."

However, states will still have the right to not recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states, a right they have always had in regards to any and all marriages performed outside their borders.

“States would have to apply the normal principles of comity, which dictate when you recognize the actions of another state,” explained Nadler. “Under the full faith and credit clause of the constitution, the conclusion might be that in some cases they recognize it and in some cases, they don’t.”

In an effort to address this, the bill contains a "certainty" provision which guarantees a married same-sex couple that federal benefits will follow them wherever they live, even in a state that doesn't recognize their marriage.

This "certainty" provision was one of the reasons that openly gay Rep. Barney Frank declined to cosponsor the bill, claiming he's against the strategy which could cause resistance in Congress and that it's confusing. Frank is placing his bets on the federal case against DOMA filed by GLAD.

Congressman Polis disregarded Frank's views, saying at the press conference, "Whether this takes a year, six months, three years, what we're accomplishing here today is getting the ball rolling."

Naturally, our friends at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is up in arms over the bill's introduction. In an email sent out today asking members for money to fight this development, Executive Director Brian Brown wrote:
We've known this day would come. President Obama has been advocating the repeal of DOMA since his first day in office. Gay marriage activists have debated the strategy and timing for pushing the bill in Congress.

And we're ready. Already, we are more than 500,000 strong as Americans from every walk of life have joined our ranks to stand firm against radical efforts to force same-sex marriage in every state. Our goal is 2 million Americans by the end of 2010. If each of us were to tell just three friends about, we'd reach our goal in mere days.

Now it's time to speak truth to power! Gay marriage advocates are divided on DOMA -- even Rep. Barney Frank thinks the DOMA repeal bill is overreaching and has refused to support it. Now is our chance to send a clear message to Congress that will galvanize opposition to the DOMA repeal, and help sway those who are on the fence. The message is simple: Don't mess with marriage.

Just a few years ago, gay marriage advocates spoke of "state's rights" and a "gay marriage experiment" in a handful of states. Obviously, they didn't believe a word of it, and today they want to force same-sex marriage on every state in the nation, "like it or not."

Marriage isn't about inside-the-Beltway opportunism, or scoring political points. It's about honesty and integrity. Protecting children and religious liberty.
Pam's House Blend has a list of many more official responses to the bill.

Currently no equivalent bill in the Senate has been introduced, but sources of the Advocate claim the Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York are in discussions.

Read HRC's survey results on the effects of DOMA.

ACTION ALERT! Campaign Fighting Marriage Equality in Maine Releases First TV Ad


These people are like a broken record. Same ol' thing - YOU'RE CHILDREN WILL BE INDOCTRINATED! YOU WILL BE SUED IF YOU DON'T SIGN ONTO THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA! And I thought they were looking for a "working waitress type" to star in this, but instead, they get this dud? (Jeremy Hooper at Good As You has a lot on this "legal expert.")

My criticism doesn't mean that I think these scare tactics don't work. I witnessed them work first hand when my right to marry was stripped away here in California.

Amazingly, our side has already created a viral response:

According to Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for NO on 1, "[Yes on 1 has] already bought $700,000 in airtime-- that means every voter in the state will see their ad at least 20 times."

ACTION: The NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign needs all the help they can get. Don't let another Prop 8 happen. Two losses can be devastating to our movement. But a win will be historical - it will be the first time voters approve marriage equality.

In order to win, NO on 1 needs to match Yes on 1 dollar-to-dollar, ad to ad. "Right now, we're just $21,740 short of our goal for next week's TV ad buy, but we need the money in hand by Thursday," Jesse Connolly said. "Can you chip in to help us combat these misleading ads?"


Volunteer (you can help from home, no matter where you live)! Check it out here and here!
Check out Travel for Change for help on getting to Maine!