Saturday, October 3, 2009

National Equality March Organizers Issue Latest News on Event

Here's a summary of recent news and updates.

National Equality March Route Permit Approved
The 2.3 mile route will lead from MacPherson Square past the White House and along Pennsylvania Avenue to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Speakers List Updated
More than 30 speakers, representing the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its straight allies, will take the stage at a rally following the march on the west lawn of the Capitol.

It Is Still Affordable to Get to D.C.
A quick search on Expedia found round trip tickets to D.C. still very affordable. The top ten cities with the largest LGBT population found these low fares if you departed October 10 and returned the 13th.

Solidarity Rallies Across the Globe Are Being Organized for NEM
In a show of solidarity for the National Equality March, several rallies are being planned for the October 10-11th weekend. If you can’t make it to Washington, we encourage you to organize efforts in your local communities to demand full equality & join us in D.C in spirit.

Our Youth Official Video Promoting NEM
This is the official video of the National Equality March LGBTQ Youth Event.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Protest & Memorial Service to Honor Leonard Matlovich
José Zuniga, hero of the 1993 Gay March on Washington will join other LGBT movement leaders at an October 10th DADT Protest & Memorial honoring Leonard Matlovich in Historic Congressional Cemetery.

Hair Cancels October 11 Show to March on Washington and Sing on Stage
The producers of the Broadway musical “Hair” canceled a Sunday matinee so the cast and crew could attend and perform at NEM.

Las Vegas Pastor to Coordinate the Faith Service for NEM
Rev. Wilfred Moore, Pastor of the Abundant Peace Church, was recently named coordinator of the Faith Service for the National Equality March.

Top Ten Reasons Why Conservatives Support The National Equality March
Check out the top ten reasons from Charles T. Moran, national spokesperson for the Log Cabin Republicans.

Friday, October 2, 2009

VIDEO: No on 1 and Yes on 1 Campaign Reps Debate; NOM Promises $200K More Donations

Mary Bonauto of NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality and Mark Mutty of Stand For Marriage Maine face off on WLBZ/WCSH:

At the very beginning of the interview, the sensitive topic of the investigation into the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) comes up, and Marc Mutty fails to skirt the issue.

Even more telling, I love how in the end, Mutty says "who cares?" in answer to the question about out-of-state funds. VERY few Mainers have donated to Yes on 1 while many more have donated to NO on 1.

That's pretty telling. I think we care.

But this and the investigation doesn't deter NOM. In Maine's Morning Sentinel, Executive Director of NOM Brian Brown promises a "couple hundred thousand" more in donations to Yes on 1.

Unreal. Stupid, too. But of course, no investigation is going to stand in their way. Because they have (their definition of) God on their side.

The NO on 1 campaign succeeded recently in its new fund-raising goal. Jesse Connolly, campaign manager, wrote in an email, "Wednesday at midnight, we finished a very successful fundraising quarter with a bang. We exceeded our original goal of $28,000, blew past our revised goal of $40,000, and ultimately raised more than $58,000 - which shows that the people of Maine are prepared to protect marriage equality at the ballot box in just 32 days. I want to thank our online community for helping us surpass our fundraising goal."

Doesn't mean we can't keep raising more
. Will you be willing to volunteer in the next ten days?

Go to the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality website. Donate and volunteer!

Marriage Equality Brings the Best (and Worst) Out of New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidates

Earlier this week, I reported that New Jersey may be the next state facing a public vote on marriage equality.

That is, if the opposition gets their way.

Supporters hope to have a marriage equality bill passed after November's elections. Incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine, who's running for re-election, is a staunch supporter, and if he loses the race (and right now, he's behind in the polls, though closing the gap), he'll leave office in January. So pro-marriage equality legislators, who have the votes, hope to pass the bill and have him sign it before the end of the year.

Yet Republican lawmakers are pushing for a referendum.

Running against Corzine is Republican Chris Christie. The candidates had a debate last night, and here's a short snippet from Christie:

Compare this to Corzine stumping earlier this year at Pride in Asbury Park, NJ:

Marriage equality is "fundamental" Corzine says. Gee, I bet you can guess who I would support.

Hopefully Corzine will continue to close the gap in the polls and win. And according to the AP's analysis of last night's debate, Christie failed to deliver.

See what you can do to help Gov. Corzine keep his office!

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Believes State's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Will Hold

UPDATE 2: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council throws a tantrum over the ruling.

UPDATE: Read legal commentary on the ruling.

In reaction to Thursday's ruling by District Judge Tena Callahan that Texas' ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, Gov. Rick Perry, who pushed for the amendment in 2005, responded with confidence that the ban will weather the challenge.

"Texas voters and lawmakers have repeatedly affirmed the view that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman," he said in a prepared statement. "I believe the ruling is flawed and should be appealed. I am confident that Attorney General Abbott and the will of Texas voters will prevail, and traditional marriage will be upheld in our state."

The case in front of Judge Callahan was whether or not Texas would hear divorce proceeding on two men who legally married in Massachusetts in 2006 and had been together for 11 years.

"My client is ready to get on with his life," Dallas attorney Peter Schulte said, who represents one of the men who will only be identified as J.B. He argued that his client has the right to divorce under the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Abbott dismissed the argument, saying saying the clause "does not require Texas courts to recognize or give legal effect to marriages between persons of the same sex under the laws of other jurisdictions."

If the ruling were to stand, it would be a break from recent decisions elsewhere.

The Dallas Morning News reports:
In March 2003, a Texas court became the first one outside Vermont to grant the dissolution of a civil union. The judge reversed his decision after a challenge by Abbott, a Republican."


In a court filing, Schulte challenged the state's opposition, saying its arguments were an attempt to "mislead this court in an effort to pursue the attorney general's own political agenda."

He cited wording in the state Family Code that "the law of this state applies to persons married elsewhere who are domiciled in this state. And he noted that "Black's Law Dictionary defines a person as a 'human being.'"
It was the section of the Family Code the denied recognition of same-sex unions and the benefits of law that Callahan deemed unconstitutional.

Shulte wrote that the Texas "is obviously confused or worried that the court, by granting this divorce, would somehow open the floodgates for same-sex marriages to occur in the state. A divorce clearly ends a marriage.

"If a divorce is granted in the case, the court is NOT creating, recognizing or validating a marriage between persons of the same sex; rather the effect of a divorce immediately ends a marriage, which furthers the 'public policy' of this state as written in the Family Code."

Judge Rules Yes on Prop 8 Must Hand Over Internal Campaign Documents to Olson/Boies Legal Team

On Thursday U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the Yes on Prop 8 campaign must hand over internal records to the plaintiffs and the Olson/Boies legal team in their effort to discover the motives behind the discriminatory ballot measure before going to trial on January 11. If the plaintiffs can prove it was motivated by animus towards gays and lesbians, then the state will have no interest and the initiative may be void under the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equality.

Walker disagreed with the defendants' argument that releasing the documents violated their free speech rights and would not hinder the activities of other anti-marriage equality groups, an obvious reference by the defendants to the referendums taking place in Washington state and Maine.

"The First Amendment qualified privilege proponents seek to invoke, unlike the attorney-client privilege, for example, is not an absolute bar against disclosure," Walker declared in his order. "Rather, the First Amendment qualified privilege requires a balancing of the plaintiffs' need for the information sought against proponents' constitutional interests in claiming the privilege."

"What was decided not to be said in a political campaign may cast light on what was actually said," Walker said.

However, the judge restricted the Olson/Boies team in their search for facts to only issues and individuals, such as the Mormon and Catholic Church representatives who served on the campaign committee.

"Prop. 8 is irrational, discriminatory and unconstitutional," said Chad Griffin, Board President, American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group who initiated the lawsuit. "Judge Walker's ruling gives us the opportunity to seek evidence that will help prove that in a court of law."

Lisa Leff of the AP reports:
Christopher Dusseault, one of the lawyers for the couples, said the judge's ruling made sense since Walker has said he wants to have as many facts before him as possible when the case goes to trial on Jan. 11.

"Their argument that documents about campaign strategy and rejected campaign messages being irrelevant, simply because they weren't sent to voters at large, is an argument he rejected," he said.

An example of the kind of information the plaintiffs are seeking is discussions showing that the campaign decided against running ads stating that marriage must be reserved to a man and a woman to foster responsible parenting since that is an argument Protect Marriage's lawyers are making now to uphold Proposition 8, Dusseault said.
Walker ordered that on Friday all witness lists and supporting documentation must be turned into the court.

This is another victory for campaign disclosure. Yesterday, Maine's Ethics Commission ordered an investigation into the fund-raising practices of the National Organization for Marriage and its connection the anti-marriage equality campaign Yes on 1.


Just Walker Discover Ruling Against Yes on Prop 8

Nate Silver: Odds Are 3 to 1 Against Maine's Marriage Equality Ban

Numbers guru Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight takes a closer look at the polling numbers in Maine and throws them into a regression model based on several variants.
  1. The degree of religiosity in a state based on a 2008 Gallup poll. Maine is the third least religious in the Union.
  2. The year an initiative is up for a vote (off-year elections bring out more conservatives)
  3. If an initiative bans only marriage equality and not civil unions, too.
In regards to Maine, Nate calculates also the factor that Question 1 does not attempt to amend the state's constitution, but only veto the legislature's new marriage equality bill. The fact the law came into being through the legislature and not a court mandate is also weighted.
Throw Maine's numbers into the model, and we come up with an estimated level of support for the ban of 43.5 percent, with 56.5 percent opposed. In other words, the model's prediction is that the ban will fail. The standard error of the forecast (not the margin of error, which is larger) is 5.2 points. This implies that the marriage ban only has about an 11 percent chance of passing.
These numbers, however, are before the factors are weighed in. After this, Nate says the odds against the same-sex marriage ban passing are 3 to 1.

What's absent in Nate's calculations is the consideration of the other controversial initiatives on November's ballot, including Maine's school consolidation repeal, which some believe will drive more Yes on 1 supporters to vote.

These numbers are cautious optimism at best. Even stronger ads with strict message discipline and bold endorsements, a big Get Out the Vote (GOTV) drive and more fund-raising is key to keeping the momentum to a big win.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BREAKING: Maine Ethics Commission to Investigate Anti-LGBT Yes on 1 Campaign and National Organization for Marriage

UPDATE 4 6:40pm PST: Hear the audio recording of the hearing at Good As You.

UPDATE 3 3:27pm PST: Karen Ocamb's one-on-one interview with Fred Karger gets an inside look at what happened during the Commission's hearing.

An excerpt:
“I submitted 79 emails – and all I have is what’s in the public view to go by – I can’t talk to their donors – so I took the 79 emails I was able to collect – they sent them out from post-Prop 8 until I filed my complaint in August. I took out all the ones that had anything to do with Maine and all of these fundraising emails ask for money. 16 of the 79 were Maine-specific. Some mentioned other states but they all asked for money. Two were only about Maine and they claimed that of these two emails, they only raised combined $295 from these two emails. Because if they hit $5,000 that they raised, then they’d have to file as a PAC [political action committee] – which they hadn’t done so they would have been in violation of the law. So they kind of did it backwards saying, ‘Oh, we didn’t come close to $5,000. We only raised $295.’

In August, Brain Brown took credit – I read that quote [in his testimony]: ‘We have 500,000 supporters in our march’ – whatever. So I said, ‘OK, you have 500,000 people on your list and you only raised $295 from two emails? I mean who in his right mind would believe that? They only raised $147.50 per email from over 500,000 of their supporters.

UPDATE 2 12:08pm PST: Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, who levied the complaint against NOM and the Yes on 1 campaign, has issued an official statement on the ruling, saying "I’m extremely grateful for the courageous stand the commission took today."

UPDATE 10:40am PST: Read Yes on 1's official reaction to the ruling.

Despite a staff recommendation to the contrary, Maine's Ethics Commission voted 3-2 today to order an investigation of the fund-raising efforts of the anti-marriage equality Yes on 1 campaign and the National Organization of Marriage (NOM) which has given money to Yes on 1.

Thanks to the diligence and official complaint filed by Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, who has similarly gone after the LDS church's involvement in Proposition 8, an investigation into NOM's fund-raising techniques and the identities of its donors will be launched.

Unfortunately, the investigation will take several weeks and more likely be completed after the November 3 elections which will determine whether or not the state will keep its new marriage equality law.

The Commission concluded that since the investigation will not be completed in time, it is better to be thorough than hasty. A staff proposal on how to proceed will be given to the Commission for review and approval.

The Portland Press Herald reports, "In response, Brian Brown, executive director of NOM, said they have not raised money specifically for Maine and therefore are not required to report individual donors."

I guess that remains to be seen.

TO BE POSTED SOON: Audio of the hearing.

District Judge Strikes Down Texas Ban on Marriage Equality

With the right to marry also comes the right to divorce.

Today, Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan granted a divorce to two legally married gay men, declaring that the state's bans on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law.

Texas has a voter approved same-sex marriage ban from 2005 and also has a Family Code barring such recognition.

The Dallas Morning News reports:
[Judge Callahan] denied the attorney general’s intervention and said her court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction."

"This is huge news. We’re ecstatic," said Dallas attorney Peter Schulte, who represents the man who filed the divorce. The man, identified in court documents as J.B., asked that he and his former partner not be identified.
Attorney General Greg Abbott vowed to appeal and “to defend the traditional definition of marriage that was approved by Texas voters.

“The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman. Today's ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition — despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 per cent of Texas voters.”

More to come as story develops.

Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry Speaks Out in Opposition to Maine's Question 1

A press release was issued, stating "Faith Leaders Support Equality, Call for NO on 1 in November."
Faith leaders from the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine gathered simultaneously today in Portland and Bangor to endorse NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality. Representing 18 faith traditions from Fort Kent to Kittery and from Farmington to Castine, the coalition of active and retired clergy believe that all Maine families should be treated equally under the law.

The coalition, according to its key spokespersons, said only marriage equality confers full dignity and respect to loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. The religious leaders also said they are speaking out so that people of faith know that many faith leaders believe deeply in fully supporting all their congregant families.

“I believe that faithful, lifelong, monogamous relationships are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society, “ said Rt. Rev. Steven T. Lane, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. “Last spring, the rights and obligations of civil marriage were extended to all Maine citizens. The passage of Question 1 would deny those rights . . . create two classes of citizens and deny one group what we believe is best for them and for society.”

“Marriage creates and enhances stable, committed relationships and the sharing of economic resources and responsibility. Marriage nurtures the individual, the couple, and children,” said Rabbi Darrah Lerner of Congregation Beth El in Bangor. “Good marriages benefit our communities and express our religious values of long-term commitment and faithfulness.”

Coalition members also noted that throughout Maine's history, religious liberties have been both valued and protected under the law and that nothing in the new marriage equality law threatens that tradition.

“Religious groups will have the same freedom to act or not act with respect to same-sex unions as they have now,” said Retired United Methodist Pastor and District Superintendent, Rev. Donald Rudalevige, who lives in Cape Elizabeth.

“It is so very important that we affirm the rights of all families in the State of Maine by voting No on 1, for it is my belief that all families are loved by God,” said Rev. Becky Gunn, Pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bangor. “And, all families deserve equal protection under the law.”
The opposition, Yes on 1, have issued their response:
"People of all faiths and no faith have the right to take a position on Question 1 and communicate that to the public and to their faithful. This right, I would note, extends as well to the Roman Catholic Church and the more than 600 churches and temples and houses of worship representing many denominations from throughout Maine that support protecting marriage as between a man and a woman.

"The religious groups assembled today to publicly oppose traditional marriage are entitled to their position, but make no mistake that people of faith overwhelming will support Question 1 and the traditional definition of marriage."


"I am sure they have a spiritual basis for wanting this passage to be deleted from state law... perhaps they can further explain that."
Read the rest here, if you can stomach it.

At least these people of faith have a perspective on how far their religious beliefs should intrude on others. Unfortunately, despite some resistance from church members, the Catholic Church in Maine is spending more and more money to fight marriage equality while two of five planned parish closings take place in the next few weeks due to lack of funds.

Image by Bridget Brown

Marriage Equality Bill Introduced in Illinois Senate

Phil Reese at Bilerico reports that the fifth largest state in the Union, Illinois, has taken another large step toward marriage equality.

State Senator Heather Steans has introduced SB2468, the Equal Marriage Act, to the Illinois Senate, and the language matches the House's version, HB178, the Same-Sex Marriage and Religion Freedoms Act. This bill was introduced by Rep. Greg Harris.

Harris has also introduced a civil unions bill, but I have had reservations about this tactic and how it was being handled.

This new development makes me much happier.

Reese spoke to Sen. Stearns on the phone.
Rep. Heather Steans makes clear that the time for waiting is over. "Look around the country. We have five states now with Equal Marriage. Its time. Illinois shouldn't lag," she said.

Both Harris and Steans noted that several prominent Illinois lawmakers have come out in favor of full marriage equality - starting with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley when Representative Harris first introduced the bill in 2007. The highest profile of these equality endorsements have been Gubernatorial candidate Dan Hynes and both rivals for President Obama's former Senate seat, Alexi Giannoulias and David Hoffman.


"It's a fundamental right to find your own family," proclaimed Senator Steans, who calls being the first Senator to introduce marriage equality in Illinois an "honor." Senator Steans described her reasons for sponsoring this bill - issues all too well known to LGBT people in loving relationships barred from recognition.

Senator Steans takes issue with keeping Americans from the rituals, health care decisions, child rearing decisions, tax privileges and access to the same institutions that opposite-sex couples are afforded. She believes all couples deserve access to "the same rights and responsibilities that I have with my husband."


The ripple effect could be major, with Illinois situated squarely in the center of America's "Heartland." A Midwestern agricultural and industrial bastion, Illinois can take the lead in the marriage equality movement. As Representative Harris said, "We can show this is not just something from the coasts. Illinois is a lot like the rest of America."
To help support the marriage equality effort in Illinois, Rep. Harris encourages involvement with ACLU of Illinois and Equality Illinois as well as contacting state legislators.

Washington DC Could Have Marriage Equality by Thanksgiving

This coming Tuesday DC Council member David Catania will finally propose his oft-reported marriage equality bill which would legalize same-sex marriage within the District.

In May the District's Council voted to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed outside its borders and the new law overcame stark opposition when a federal judge ruled against a public referendum. A public vote would violate the district's Human Rights Act.

The Washington Post:
Catania made his announcement before 150 gay rights activists gathered in Shaw for a rally featuring the Rev. Eric P. Lee, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

"We are going to do it now," Catania told the crowd. "We are going to do it now, not for ourselves, but for the young people who are 20 years-old, 16-years-old, 13-years-old."

According to a copy of the bill, the city code would be changed to state "marriage is the legally recognized union of two people" and "any person ... may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender."

Catania's bill, which states religious organizations and officials have the right not to participate in same-sex marriages, is expected to pass the council easily when it comes up for a vote around Thanksgiving. Ten of 13 council members will co-introduce Catania's bill Tuesday, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has pledged to sign it.
However, the bill would have to get past the U.S. Congress first which, under the Home Rule, has jurisdiction over bills in the District. Yet reports indicate that, like the marriage recognition bill, Congress won't act to fight it.

Catania has been in touch with the White House regarding the bill and states that their response "has been very good."

The amazing Rev. Eric Lee, President of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who has faced losing his job for his staunch support for marriage equality, visited the District. There he gave a sermon comparing the marriage equality battle to the struggle for voting rights in the District.

"It's taxation without representation," he said. "That's an issue here in D.C., isn't it?"

According to D.C. for Marriage, Lee continued:
Lee outlined 5 basic tenets for the marriage equality movement to follow: "education, for the purpose of organization, for the purpose of mobilization, for the purpose of agitation, for the purpose of transformation... in societal attitudes" toward LGBT citizens and same-sex relationships. In rebuttal to marriage opponents who seek to fracture DC along racial and religious lines, Lee invoked the powerful words of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Lee offered the perfect segue for pending marriage equality legislation with a rousing declaration that "the burden of discrimination is on those who are discriminating... Make the oppressor defend their discrimination! Make them look you in the eye. Make them engage you with respect."
Equally strong opponents, such as the Bishop Harry Jackson and the National Organization for Marriage, whose headquarters are in D.C., have vowed to fight the measure.

Next door, Maryland's Attorney General Douglas Gansler is expected to rule soon on the state's law and whether or not it allow the state to recognize legal same-sex marriage performed outside its borders. If he rules in favor, which many expect, many gay and lesbian couples may end up flocking to the capital to exchange vows.

Controversial Documentary 'Outrage' to Debut Exclusively on HBO

They fight against same-sex marriage. They fight against funding for AIDS research. They fight against adoption by gay parents. Are they fighting against themselves?

Award-winning filmmaker Kirby Dick (HBO’s Oscar®-nominated “Twist of Faith”) takes a look at the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who continually vote against gay rights and actively campaign against the LGBT community they covertly belong to in the controversial documentary, Outrage.

Outrage will debut exclusively on HBO MONDAY, OCT. 5 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

Other HBO playdates: Oct. 5 (2:30 a.m.), 8 (1:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m.), 11 (10:30 a.m.), 14 (4:25 a.m.), 15 (6:00 p.m.), 20 (3:30 p.m., 12:05 a.m.), 24 (6:30 p.m.) and 30 (4:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Oct. 14 (8:00 p.m.), 22 (12:05 a.m.) and 28 (11:00 a.m.)

Find out more at HBO.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

VIDEO: See Maine's Bishop Malone's Homily Against Marriage Equality Played in Parishes Across State

This past Sunday, Maine's Bishop Malone had the following homily played in parishes across the state followed by another special collection to go towards the Yes on 1 campaign.

...Furthermore, we believe the natural institution of marriage has been blessed and elevated by Christ, to the dignity of a sacrament.

This means, a Christian marriage is more than a contract. Because they are married in the Lord, the spouses acquire a special relationship to each other, and to Society. Their love becomes a living image of the manner which the Lord personally loves His people and is united with them. Living a Christian sacramental marriage becomes their fundamental way of attaining salvation.

Because the marital relationship offers benefits unlike any other, to persons, to Society, and to the Church, we wish to make it clear that the institution of marriage, as the union of one man and one woman, must be preserved protected and promoted, in both private and public realms. At a time, when family life is under signifigant stress, the principle defense of marriage is an urgent necessity for the well-being of children and families and for the common good of Society.

Thus, we oppose attempts to grant the legal status of marriage to a relationship between persons of the same sex. A same sex union can never realize the unique and full potential that the marital relationship expresses. For this reason, our opposition to same-sex marriage is not an instance of unjust discrimination or animosity toward homosexual persons; in fact, the Catholic Church teaches emphatically that individuals and Society must respect the basic human dignity of all persons, including those with a homosexual orientation.

Homosexual persons have a right to, and deserve, our respect, compassion, understanding and defense against prejudice and abuse.

We urge Catholics and all our fellow citizens to commit themselves, both to upholding the human dignity of every person and to defending the distinct and irreplaceable institution of marriage.

Louise from Pam's House Blend posted a story today about how not all Catholic church members support the Bishop's stance of marriage equality. I recommend reading it.

Go to NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality and get involved!

Maine's NO on 1 Campaign Manager Issues Call to Action

NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign manager Jesse Connolly posted the following on the Daily Kos.

A new public poll from Democracy Corps was released yesterday, showing us with a slight lead this race 50% to 41%, a significant jump from kos's numbers from the other week of 46-48.

The numbers are encouraging, but it's that 9% undecided that will determine this race. The investment of our supporters has allowed us to get on TV before our opponents and counter every lie they have tossed at us.

Tonight at midnight is the end of the third quarter and all of you kossacks know what that means: we will need to turn in our fundraising report.

Our campaign will be judged on the strength or weakness of this report.

Your help today is crucial to keep our campaign knocking on doors, calling voters and airing our television ads. Can we double the $4,733 raised on the Orange to Blue page?

When this report comes out, the media will turn their focus toward us to see if we're financially strong enough to win this election. It's extremely important that we demonstrate that the NO on 1 campaign has strong support. As Maine voters begin turning out to the polls during the early voting period, it's important that the story coming out about the campaign is positive and shows momentum.

From the beginning, we knew we'd be waging an uphill battle against the millions of dollars being poured into our opposition's campaign by national anti-equality groups. However, every time they've attacked marriage equality, our campaign has been able to respond to their lies and misinformation, and reinforce our message of respect and fairness for all Maine families. But we can't keep doing that without your help. Let's double the $4,733 already raised on Orange to Blue.

As we had seen in California, the No on Prop 8 campaign was ahead in September, too-- by as much as 14 points. But it was those undecided voters who ended up delivering victory to the anti-equality Yes on 8 campaign.

We aren't going to let that happen, but we need the resources to execute our campaign plan.

We can't forget what's at stake. It's hard to top Bill in Portland Maine this morning:
But to Maine's same-sex couples---many who've been together for decades and/or are raising families---it's much more than that. It's an elevation from second-class status to equal status. It's official recognition by the state that gay spouses and their families deserve the same benefits, services and protections across the board as straight spouses so they can more easily navigate life's little (and not so little) twists and turns. And, dammit, it's about being given the opportunity to summon the courage it takes to join the institution of marriage with all its obligations and responsibilities. This stuff about gay people wanting to "redefine" marriage is horse hockey.
Give what ever you can to help push us over the top. Our email list just blew past our $40,000 goal on ActBlue. Can kossacks step up now to double the $4,733 on the Orange to Blue page?
Update [2009-9-30 14:33:25 by Jesse Connolly]: We hit the recommend list and are at exactly, $5,000. Can we make it to $9,466? Keep it going!

Speakers Announced for the National Equality March, Route of March Released

The organizers of the National Equality March released the follow statement:
Longtime gay activist David Mixner, who in May called for a national march on Washington “to empower our young and to show the nation that anything less than full freedom is unacceptable,” is among the featured speakers at the October 11th National Equality March (NEM) in Washington, organizers announced today.

More than 30 speakers, representing the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its straight allies, will take the stage at a rally following the march on the west lawn of the Capitol.

“We are coming to Washington with new messages and new strategies to build our national movement,” said Mixner. “We will have one demand in Washington: full and equal and equal protection for LGBT people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia."

Joining Mixner on the stage will be the national co-chairs of the march, Cleve Jones, Lt. Dan Choi, and Nicole-Murray Ramirez. Co-directors of the march, Kip Williams and Robin McGehee, also will be speaking.

Civil rights leader Julian Bond, will be one of the featured speakers. Bond was a founder Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and today serves as Board Chairman of the NAACP, the country’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

Bond likens the National Equality March to the Civil Rights March of 1963. “We had a dream and marched on Washington to demand our rights; I am proud to stand with the LGBT community as they march for theirs,” he said.

St. Olaf college student Richard Aviles will be speaking on behalf of student activists from across the country, who have organized for the march and are descending on Washington.

Also speaking will be Judy Shepard, who lost her son Matthew to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate and who founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation in his memory. The Foundation is dedicated to working toward the causes championed by Matthew during his life: social justice, diversity awareness and education, and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Following is a complete listing of speakers to date.

Stuart Applebaum
Richard Aviles
Jarret Barrios
Dustin Lance Black
Julian Bond
Marsha Botzer
Staceyann Chin
Lt. Dan Choi
Tanner Efinger
Hawaii Board of Education Member Kim Coco Iwamoto
Cleve Jones
Michelle Lopez
Robin McGehee
David Mixner
Nicole-Murray Ramirez
Chloe Noble
Tobias Packer
Reverend Troy Perry
New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn
Los Angeles Council Member Bill Rosendahl
Babs Siperstein
Judy Shepard
Maxim Thorn
Urvashi Vaid
Derek Washington
Falls Church City Council Member Lawrence Webb
Kit Yan
Kip Williams
Sherry Wolf

The march will be the first step toward a larger goal of creating a national movement – the 50 State Legislative Outreach Campaign -- in all 435 congressional districts to demand of elected representatives full equality under the law.

“The march is just the beginning,” said McGehee. “We are not expecting to wake up on Monday morning with a federal bill on the presidents desk to sign.”

"We will no longer be told to wait. This march is our chance to demand full equal protection under the law, and it will help us realize the dream of Equality Across America: a committed group of grassroots activists in all 435 Congressional Districts,” added Williams.

Just the other day, the organizers also released the route of the march after having secured the permits. Below is the map.

National Equality March Route

After Maine, the Next Public Vote on Marriage Equality Could Be in New Jersey

As I earlier reported here on UTF, after a research committee reviewed New Jersey's law and concluded that gay and lesbian couples should have legally recognized relationships, the state Supreme Court ordered the legislature to come up with a law that would recognize these couples. With the decision in their hands, the legislature opted for civil unions in 2006.

However, after reports from couples in civil unions claiming that benefits are still being denied them, the push for marriage has increase in the Garden State.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg listened to Garden State Equality's lobbying for marriage and has sponsored New Jersey's marriage equality bill which is expected to be voted on this November. In the House, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is the prime sponsor of the "Civil Marriage and Religious Protection Act."

With incumbent Governor John Corzine a strong supporter, and who is currently running for re-election on a strong marriage equality platform, allies in the state legislature and polls showing increasing support amongst New Jersey residents, it's looking good for marriage.

And this scares the opposition.

At one point their strategy was to accuse judges of activism from the bench and demand the LGBT groups get legislation passed, but once the LGBT groups were successful at this, they now call for public referendums on gay and lesbian couples' right to marriage.

This is exactly the route they're taking in New Jersey.

New Jersey News Room reports that six Republican legislators and their conservative allies want a constitutional referendum on allowing gay marriage in New Jersey and oppose any effort to move measures approving it in the lame duck Legislature in November and December.

On Monday, they held a press conference which they state they want a public vote on the November 2010 ballot. (Watch video at NJN) reports that Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen) said Gov. Jon Corzine struck a deal with another prominent lawmaker to vote on it during a lame-duck session that follows Election Day. This way, if the governor loses, the Democrats can still get the bill passed before the Corzine leaves office in January.

"I can say I know that there was a conversation between the governor and a key chairman because I was in the room. After, not before the election, was their determination," said Cardinale.

Democratic State Committee Chairman Joseph Cryan balked at the accusation, calling it "perhaps the most ridiculous accusation in the gubernatorial race so far from the Republicans."

"The governor's on the record supporting fairness and equality for everyone," Cryan said. "In our state, there's no mystery to that."

"Thirty states, three-fifths of the United States, have voted to amend their state constitution to make marriage one man, one woman. And I sincerely believe that would happen here in New Jersey if the people had the right to vote," said Gregory Quinlan, Director of Government Affairs for New Jersey Family First.

"This is not like raising the sales tax one percent or lowering it one percent. This is a far deeper-reaching issue and it should be decided by the people," said Cardinale.

Gov. Corzine has already voiced his disapproval of a public vote, stating that decisions on marriage equality should be left to elected officials. The newest poll released today shows Corzine trailing in the race for governor.

Already, the Catholic Church of New Jersey has voiced opposition, as well as a conservative group organized by the New Jersey Family Policy called the Marriage Minutemen, who is already holding meetings in conservative churches.

"They have every right to seek a referendum," House's sponsor Gusciora said. "These are the same persons that in the 60's would have called for a referendum on laws to end discrimination. They are just against any civil rights for people, they have always been like that. If they are serious about protecting the sanctity of marriage, why not have a bill against divorce."

To get involved in New Jersey, go to the Garden State Equality website.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seattle City Council Passes Approve Referendum 71 Resolution

On Monday Seattle's City Council passed a resolution urging the residents to vote to Approve Referendum 71, which would keep the new expanded domestic partnership law which extends all of Washington state's rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples except the title.

The resolution states:

A RESOLUTION urging Seattle voters to vote "approved" on Washington State Referendum 71 thereby retaining Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 which would expand the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic partners to equal those of married spouses.

WHEREAS, on May 18th Governor Christine Gregoire signed Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 into law providing that, for all purposes under state law, state registered domestic partners shall be treated the same as spouses; and

WHEREAS, opponents of Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 filed Referendum 71 to send Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 to a vote of the citizens of Washington; and

WHEREAS, enough signatures have been gathered and the citizens of Washington will vote on Referendum 71 in Washington State's November 2009 general election; and

WHEREAS, a vote of "approved" on Referendum 71 will allow Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 to become law and provide that state registered domestic partners be treated the same as spouses under state law; and

WHEREAS, a vote of "rejected" on Referendum 71 would repeal Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 and allow state registered domestic partners to be treated differently than spouses under state law; and

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle embraces legal equality and fair treatment for all residents, and values the contributions and personal dignity of all; and

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle has legally protected its citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1973, and on the basis of gender identity since 1999; and

WHEREAS, since 1993, the City of Seattle has provided its employees with health benefit coverage for city registered domestic partners; and

WHEREAS, since 1999, unmarried members of the City of Seattle Retirement City Employees' Retirement System can designate a domestic partner as his or her beneficiary; and

WHEREAS, since 2000, the City of Seattle has required contractors on City contracts to provide employee benefits to their employees with domestic partners equivalent to those provided to their employees with spouses;



Section 1. The City of Seattle urges Seattle voters to vote "approved" on Referendum 71 on the November, 2009 ballot, thereby retaining Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 and expanding the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic partners as equal to those of spouses.
Get involved with helping Referendum 71 pass by going to the Approve 71 campaign website!

Read a great post by Lurleen at Pam's House Blend, "A Day in the Life of the Approve Referendum 71 Campaign."

BREAKING NEWS: New Maine Poll Shows Marriage Equality Squeaking Ahead But Still Facing Uphill Battle

A new Maine poll to be distributed tomorrow by Democracy Corps shows that pro-marriage equality campaign NO on 1 ahead by 9 points at 50 to 41. (Poll embedded at bottom of post, Question 6)

However, before you get too excited by these numbers, it's important to note that No on Prop 8 was ahead by 10+ points at this same time in September last year. Yes on Prop 8 responded by powerful attack messaging focusing on marriage equality's "detrimental effects" on children, and the same people responsible for Yes on Prop 8 are running Yes on 1 in Maine.

It appears Yes on 1 will follow the same road map. It's being reported they just purchased another large media buy and will most likely pound out fear mongering ads focused on kids. 9% in the poll are undecided and it's this group that's usually susceptible to attack ad messaging.

In others words, like in California this time last year, the worst is yet to come.

It's all about funds at this point - who can get their message out and keep it out the longest and the loudest.

Right now, the NO on 1 campaign is facing their third quarter financial report deadline which will go public. If it indicates it's low on funds, both the opposition and the media will declare that the NO on 1 campaign is not in position to sustain their momentum and will lose. It indicates a lack of support.

Even worse, NO on 1 will not be able to keep ads on the air or shoot new ones to counter what will most likely by an onslaught of nasty, hateful attack ads.

This Wednesday at midnight is the deadline for every cent to count for the third quarter report. To contribute, go to the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality's ACT BLUE donation page and give what you can!

Maine Marriage Equality Poll 9-29-09

Maine News Update: Catholic Church Continues to Raise Yes on 1 Funds; Yes on 1 to Go After Diverse Families; Professor in Ad Sparks Outrage

Maine's Catholic Church Pours More Money Into Question 1

In Catholic parishes across the state Sunday, a recorded message from Bishop Malone played in which he asked four things from church members, reports the Bangor Daily News: pray that “marriage as we know it” prevails, financially support the Yes on 1 campaign, volunteer in support of the campaign and vote yes on Question 1.

“Marriage matters,” the bishop stated. “This above all things is the driving force behind Question 1.”

Despite research claiming otherwise
, Malone claimed that history shows that a family with one man and one woman provides the best upbringing for children.

“Same-sex marriage is a dangerous sociological experiment that many of us believe will have negative consequences for society as a whole,” he said. “Children need the love of a mother and a father.”

Following the message, another special collection was held for the Yes on 1 campaign.

In a statement released Sunday, Catholics for Marriage Equality (C4ME) want the public to know that the bishop does not speak for all church members.

“The informed consciences of many Catholics compel them to reject the bishop's political opinion about same-sex marriage,” said Anne Underwood, a founding member of C4ME. “Marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament reserved to the Church to define and administer. Civil marriage is a right of the state to define and with it comes over 300 state benefits to better the lives of our families and children. No church can morally deprive families and children of state recognition.”

Yes on 1 Campaign to Deride Diverse Families

The Yes on 1 campaign is gearing up to attack a 35-minute educational film currently being shown to Maine 5th graders titled That's a Family! Here's the trailer:

Made in 2000 and screened at the White House during Clinton's administration, the film educates students on family diversity. Profiling single-parent families, adopted children, bi-racial families, children of divorced parents and of gay and lesbian couples, the focus of the documentary is that all families are different but equal.

Yet the Yes on 1 campaign doesn't believe so.

Frank Schubert, main consultant for the Yes on Prop 8 campaign and who successfully scared parents in California to vote against marriage equality because he told them "homosexual marriage" would be taught in schools, is hoping to do the same in Maine. However, it may not work this time.

Maine's NO on 1 campaign has already claimed that Maine schools should be a haven for children who come from all families. Potentially, if Schubert goes after this film, the public can see him as attacking all other families who don't fit the heterosexual mold.

On top of this, since the film is already being shown in Maine's public schools, doesn't this show that voting against marriage equality will have no effect on school curriculum? It is a separate issue that should be taken up with the local school boards, a process that Schubert, who is not from Maine, has criticized.

The Yes on Prop 8 campaign also used President Obama's statement that he believes marriage is between one man and one woman, despite the fact that he also said that discrimination should not be in legislation. The his helped convince many in the African American community to vote in favor of banning marriage equality. But just this past Monday, in his Family Day Proclamation, Obama included families of gays and lesbians: "Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things."

(On a related note, David Mixner states that Obama needs to speak up now against Question 1, lest his words be twisted again in favor of discriminatory legislation.)

If the Yes on 1 campaign goes down this road, they could be sending the message that if children don't belong to a nuclear, heterosexual family, then kids should keep the fact hidden in fear of being bullied.

Boston College Professor Sparks Outrage By Appearing in Yes on 1 Ad

Fox News reports
The appearance of Scott Fitzgibbons, a professor in the Boston College Law School, in an ad campaign in support of the Maine Marriage Initiative, which seeks to overturn Governor John Baldacci's signature of the same-sex marriage bill, has sparked controversy in the BC Law School.

Fitzgibbons did not obtain clearance from the BC Law School before appearing in the advertisement, in which he stated his opposition to gay marriage and identified himself as a BC professor.


In the wake of the advertisement's release, it became apparent that Fitzgibbon's public stance on gay marriage was a sensitive reality for many members of the Law School community.

In a letter released last week, Law School Dean John Garvey spoke to the emotions expressed by several members of this community.

"Professor Fitzgibbon, as a member of our faculty, is free to express his views … we also have faculty members who hold a contrary view, which they too are free to express publicly," Garvey said. "As I think any of our faculty might have done, he stated his views without prior notice to or clearance from the Law School."

Garvey's letter also details what was outlined in a memorandum recently released by the university, clarifying their stance on what behavior it deems acceptable in the context of professors publicly expressing their political opinions.

Among the list of prohibited political actions faced by faculty and staff are the usage university letterhead to distribute printed materials supporting a candidate, the endorsement of a political candidate at university events and holding political rallies or fund-raisers in university facilities.
I find it rather ironic that Fitzgibbon would use hypothetical consequences of law while living in a state that has had marriage equality for five years and seems to be functioning just swell and boasts the lowest divorce rate in the country.

Yet he doesn't see it that way.

"Legal consequences of the legal recognition of same-sex marriage are detailed in a letter to the governor of Maine from four law professors," he said to Fox. "These legal concerns underlie, in part, my opposition to that legalization."

Get involved with the NO on 1 campaign
! There's only five weeks left before election!

ACTION: The campaign must turn in a third quarter report on finances that will be made public. The media will scrutinize it to determine if the NO on 1 campaign is strong enough to win.

Help reach their goal of raising $28,000 by Wednesday midnight. DONATE HERE!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Plaintiffs in Federal Case Against Prop 8 Try to Obtain Internal 'Yes on 8' Documents

Federal U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, presiding over the case against Proposition 8 brought by the plaintiffs represented by the Olson/Boies team, is considering whether to order the sponsors of the Yes on 8 campaign to produce internal campaign communications and records over to the the plaintiffs.

Attorney Charles Cooper, representing the Yes on 8 campaign, claimed the documents and internal discussions were private and cited First Amendment protections on political speech and free association. Communications made to the public at large are subject to discovery, Cooper conceded, but internal discussions should remain private. reports, "The material sought by gay marriage supporters could make for good impeachment evidence, argued their attorney, Christopher Dusseault of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. For instance, if the Yes campaign had commissioned a study that wound up showing that homosexuality is immutable -- and then the campaign withheld it from the public -- that would directly contradict arguments now being made in court, Dusseault said."

"That's a little speculative, Mr. Dusseault. Why not try a little closer to home," Walker said.

If the plaintiffs can show more publicly available contradictions to the defendants' court argument of state interest, then Walker indicated he would be more open to obtaining private documents.

"However, Walker appeared to be angling for some sort of compromise, asking Cooper why some sort of protective order couldn't be fashioned to avoid the pitfalls his side had elucidated," reports.

In what has been descriptive behavior of the case so far, Cooper stated in papers that if the plaintiffs get access to private documents of the Yes on 8 campaign, then he will request the same from the No on 8 campaign.

Related Reading: A harsh critique of the Olson/Boies legal argument for marriage equality titled, "The Case against Boies-Olson: Wrong on the law, and on civilization."

Obama Recognizes Families with Same-Sex Parents in His Family Day Proclamation

Small though the mention may be, President Obama's inclusion of LGBT families in his Family Day Proclamation is sure to put the proverbial bee in the bonnet of "protect the children from gay indoctrination" conservatives.
"Our family provides one of the strongest influences on our lives. American families from every walk of life have taught us time and again that children raised in loving, caring homes have the ability to reject negative behaviors and reach their highest potential. Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things. Today, our children are confronting issues of drug and alcohol use with astonishing regularity. On Family Day, we honor the dedication of parents, commend the achievements of their children, and celebrate the contributions our Nation's families have made to combat substance abuse among young people."
Read the rest of the statement. [PDF]

This is definitely a statement that the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign can certainly leverage to their advantage.

All families ARE equal and vital.

California Gubernatorial Candidate Believes Being Against Marriage Equality Is Not a Slap in the Face to LGBT

California gubernatorial Republican candidate Meg Whitman, former CEO for eBay, doesn't believe her stance against marriage equality is a slap in the face to millions of gays and lesbians. She claims her pro-civil union platform should be enough.

In an interview with CBS 5, she states:
"So as you know I am pro-civil union and not for gay marriage. And just for me, that term marriage, for me needs to be between a man and a woman...I do not feel it is a slap in the face. I had a terrific record at eBay, an excellent work environment for people of all different backgrounds and all walks of life. And as I said I am pro-civil union."
See the full interview here.

So my fellow Californians, you may not know who Meg Whitman is, since CBS5 reports that nearly 60% of Californians either had no opinion of her or were neutral.

But get to know her.

Being Republican may be enough for her NOT to get your vote, but be advised, like many other candidates in her party, she's also against marriage equality.

Will President Obama Play Golf or Attend the National Equality March?

With it been recently reported that President Obama will be away playing golf during the weekend of the National Equality March, lead organizer Cleve Jones asked the president "stand with us in pride" instead.
Dear President Obama:

Thank you for honoring Harvey Milk with the Medal of Freedom Award. Harvey was my friend and teacher. In the 30 years since he was assassinated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have attained a handful of rights in a handful of states, but we are still second-class citizens.

Your historic election gave us hope that change can happen, and now tens of thousands of LGBT people, along with our straight allies, are taking action to demand it. On October 11 we will march on Washington in support of a single goal: full and equal protection for LGBT people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.

Equal rights are not a "gay" issue. They are about our shared human rights: safety in our schools and jobs, equitable healthcare and housing, and protection for our families, to name a few.

I compare our National Equality March with the Civil Rights March of 1963. Martin Luther King had a dream; we have a dream too. We share Dr. King’s belief in the dignity and equality of all peoples, and his commitment to non-violence. And we share his faith that justice will prevail.

We do not expect to achieve our goal overnight. Our struggle for equality has taken many years, and much hard work remains ahead. The nation is preoccupied with economic hardship and war. But you have given us hope that civil rights remain on this nation’s agenda. The time is right for us to call on our fellow Americans, our elected leaders, and you to reaffirm our shared commitment to civil rights.

With hope in our hearts, we invite you to join us on the west lawn of the Capitol on October 11th. We ask you to take the microphone and renew our faith that Washington will work with us, and not against us. We urge you to remind the world that we are welcome members of this nation. We invite you to stand with us in pride.

Cleve Jones
Co-Chair, National Equality March