Saturday, October 10, 2009

VIDEO: Watch President Obama's HRC Speech

Read my reaction to the speech.

VIDEO: HRC's Joe Solmonese and Cleve Jones Debate LGBT Rights Strategy on Hardball

With Jones' recent appearance on AC360 demanding equal rights now while promoting the National Equality March and Solmonese telling everyone to hold judgment on Obama until 2017, this appearance by both on Hardball sure makes for interesting viewing and debate.

So what do you think? Do you agree with Solmonese's approach of waiting until we know we can win on both DADT and DOMA repeals, or with Jones who believes that we need to get Congress on record which could provide very useful information? Is there a middle ground?

HRC's Solmonese Says Wait Until 2017 to Judge President Obama, UTF Says That's Stupid

UPDATE: Solmonese has issued a statement further explaining his weekly update email blast.
I’ve seen some reactions to my weekly message, that I gave the President a free pass not to fulfill his campaign promises until 2017.

Here’s something from what I wrote that the authors didn’t include in their pieces: “I predict great things coming out of our work with this President, but that does not mean that I am satisfied today. Our community cannot be satisfied so long as DOMA is on the books and an inclusive ENDA is not.“

I am not satisfied.
HRC is not satisfied.


Do I believe we’ll have a good track record by 2017? Yes. But the President can’t deliver on his promises alone. It will take all of us working together.
Many other blogs objected to Solmonese's statement because they misinterpreted him as saying that we had to wait until 2017.

I know that's not what he's saying. What I'm objecting to is the assumption that Obama will still be president with a Democratic Congress to accomplish what needs to be done by 2017. That's a HUGE assumption.

All we know is that NOW we have an ally in the White House with a Congress that's more open to LGBT rights than any we've had in years. It's stupid to assume that this will last.


It takes quite a bit for me to say, "Well, they were stupid." But HRC president Joe Solmonese, or whoever his ghost writer is, accomplished in ripping that phrase out of me.

On the weekend of the National Equality March, who's loudly broadcasted mantra is to demand full federal equality in all 50 states NOW by pressuring congress and President Obama, Solmonese emails out a weekly update a day in advance of Obama's speech at HRC's black tie fundraiser, telling everyone to be patient and wait until January 19, 2017, the purported end of Obama's administration, before making judgments on progress.
It shouldn't be difficult to see why the president of the United States speaking to the nation's largest LGBT rights group is a good development for LGBT people. But at this point in time, it is hard for many among us to see. The substance of the feeling is this: he promised us the world, and we gave everything we had to elect him. But what has he done?

I've written that we have actually covered a good deal of ground so far. But I'm not going to trot out those advances right now because I have something more relevant to say: It's not January 19, 2017.

That matters for two reasons: first, the accomplishments that we've seen thus far are not the Obama Administration's record. They are the Administration's record so far. If you ask "is that all" my question to you is "is that all you think we're going to push for?" It isn't.


I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will look back on the President's address to my community as an affirmation of his pledge to be our ally. I will remember it as the day when we all stood together and committed to finish what Senator Kennedy called our unfinished business. And I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will also look back on many other victories that President Barack Obama made possible.
Read the full email at Pam's House Blend.

Joe at America Blog has said of the email, "...this is not the kind of thing a gay civil rights group writes - it's the kind of thing a White House badly in need of political cover writes for you."

Dan Savage at SLOG says, "HRC has lost its mind: the head of the Human Rights Campaign suggests that gay people really shouldn't criticize Barack Obama because 'it's not January 19, 2017.'"

Unite the Fight says, "Well, they were stupid."

I'm not dense. I know that the Obama isn't done. I know that he could possibly have until 2017 to get work done. He may also have until only 2012. He also may lose the Congress to Republicans NEXT YEAR and never regain it, resulting in getting NO legislation passed. So if we really examine REALITY, Obama may have less than a year to get any shit done, and so far, he's done diddly squat.

I'm usually pretty supportive of HRC, I think they've done amazing work, but I also think they've lost their way and are now in the back pocket of an administration willing to sell out some of its major supporters for political points. And unfortunately, HRC has now become accomplices.

When faced with opposition, (remember the Bush years?) major LGBT organizations are effective. But when faced with a so-called allied administration, they become lazy and look for the big bucks.

"Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."

Rep. Barney Frank Says March Will Only Put "Pressure on the Grass."

Rep. Barney Frank, in true characteristic form, opens his mouth again with brow raising results. And if calling the National Equality March "useless" wasn't enough the first time, he now says the march is a complete "waste of time at best."

"The only thing they're going to be putting pressure on is the grass," Frank told the AP.

"We hear Congressman Frank when he says this is about getting back into your district and doing the work there," said Kip Williams, co-director of the march and of One Struggle One Fight. But he said the march in Washington "is about building community and building a network who will go back and do that work."

Like I said the first time Frank criticized the march, "I have a lot of respect for Frank, but these comments just show how little time he's taken to read up on what his own community is up to. In the very least, he shouldn't discourage people to take a stand for themselves.

"He's missed the mark here. Usually I don't agree with people who say Frank should shut up more often, but in this case, I would have to concur."

AP Photo/Steven Senne

Friday, October 9, 2009

Surprise, Surprise. Prop 8 Proponents Try to Wiggle Out of Surrendering Internal Campaign Documents to Court

San Francisco Gate reports:
Sponsors of California's ban on same-sex marriage asked a federal judge Thursday to suspend his order requiring them to disclose campaign strategy documents while they try to persuade an appeals court to overturn it.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued the order Oct. 1 at the request of lawyers for same-sex couples challenging Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. They say notes and e-mails between planners of last year's Prop. 8 campaign might help them prove that the ballot measure was motivated by anti-gay discrimination.

Lawyers for the Yes on 8 campaign say voters were entitled to reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage and that the organizers' alleged motives are irrelevant. In Thursday's filing, they asked Walker for a stay while they sought immediate review of his order in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Cooper goes on to complain that being forced to hand over such sensitive documents will not only violate their First Amendment rights, an argument which Walker originally shot down, but also would force future campaigns to curtail their speech with donors and volunteers.

Oh, and Cooper also claims that this is just a tactic by LGBT groups to review the Yes on 8 strategy in order to prepare for a future initiative campaign.

Basically, he's throwing a hissy fit because he didn't get his way.

First, this is obviously a stall tactic. They don't want to go to trial in January and so they hope this will cause a delay. But it's inevitable, so their going to look bad either way.

Second, how does this violate their First Amendment right of free speech? They can spew all the hate they want - unfortunately, that's their right. However, the First Amendment doesn't protect them from the consequences. Hence this trial.

Third, I play a tiny violin for them that this may keep them from spewing more hate in the future when then they try and delude people into volunteering and donating to their hypocritical campaigns.

And lastly, does Cooper really think that the Yes on 8 campaign strategy is a secret? They're a broken record, repeating themselves over and over in Maine what they vomited up here in California. It doesn't take a scientist to figure out that their strategy is to confuse people on the marriage issue by distracting voters into thinking it's about children and schools.

Cooper just fears that the documents will be revealed in court, and even worse, possibly to the public. They're probably filled with landmines that could prove that the people behind Yes on Prop 8 couldn't care less about marriage and more about hurting LGBT citizens.

But if they have truly nothing to hide, as they claim, then what's the problem, right? Riiiight.

Image of Charles Cooper by blogger Michael Petrelis from his report on the lawsuit.

Defendant-Intervenors Motion to Stay Judge Walker's Discovery Order

Added 5:45pm PST: Proposition 8 and the Right to Marry blog has some good comments on this new development, including commenter and attorney Rick Xiao stating, "Given the clear indication that Judge Walker is proceeding expeditiously to trial, these latest filings suggest that Prop. 8 proponents are pursuing a new strategy focusing more on procedural tactics which could limit discovery available to plaintiffs and pose obstacles to the fact-track trial scheduling."

Obama May Announce 2010 Push for DADT Repeal and Address Maine's Marriage Battle in HRC Speech

UPDATE 4:29 pm PST: It appears in an update to Kerry Eleveld's piece in the Advocate that she too has been told that Obama plans to discuss the coming weeks and months. But she's heard he'll address the hate crimes bill as well.

A reliable source who wishes to remain anonymous gave me a tip about the content of Obama's speech at the HRC dinner tomorrow night.
  1. Obama will announce a push to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell in 2010.
  2. Obama intends to say something about the Maine marriage equality battle.
  3. The newly appointed openly gay ambassador-designate to New Zealand, David Huebner, will be in attendance.
No word of any mention of the Matthew Shepherd Act or ENDA.

At first glance, this may not seem to have a "wow factor", but if you think it over, it could have far-reaching consequences.

First, the importance of the speech itself lies in the fact that Obama is only the second president to address a major LGBT organization after Clinton, who spoke at an HRC dinner in 1997.

Second, to announce he supports a repeal of DADT in 2010 will be the first definitive time-line given by the president and his administration on his DADT campaign promise since he took office. It will also give the LGBT population a benchmark to keep him accountable by.

Third, if Obama clearly states that he is against discrimination of LGBT citizens, promotes equality and denounces the actions of the Yes on 1 campaign in Maine to strip gays and lesbians of their right to marry, not only will this have a major impact on voters, but it will be a killer soundbite for the NO on 1 campaign to use in tv and radio ads. (A game piece that unfortunately, the No on Prop 8 campaign failed to use last year while the Yes hacks used Obama's stance against marriage equality to manipulate voters.)

An article released today by the Washington Post claims that the speech will mainly focus on incremental advancements as progress. However, one can hope that the White House is listening to the loud criticism from the LGBT population who say, "We've heard that before. What else you got?"

Now it remains to be seen if these bullet points make it into the speech. You can find out by watching the speech live on C-Span tomorrow night at 7:55pm EST.

Rev. Troy Perry: Why I Support a Return to the Ballot in 2012

UPDATE: Rev. Troy Perry writes another piece in support for 2012.

Guest blogger Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), guided MCC’s growth over 37 years to over 43,000 members. In 2005, he retired as moderator of MCC and now maintains an active speaking schedule addressing the history of the gay rights movement, HIV issues, and marriage equality.

I’ve been fighting publicly for the right of same-sex couples to marry since 1969, when I performed the same-sex wedding ceremony of a wonderful lesbian couple (the first one in the United States). The next year, we sued the state of California and got laughed out of court. We didn’t have the money to appeal, and so we had to end our legal fight then. But I’ve been involved with the moral fight ever since.

In 2003, I married my beloved partner Philip in Canada, and we filed another lawsuit against the State of California seeking the state's recognition of our marriage. This time, they weren’t laughing. As you all know, we—and all of us—won the court decision and the freedom to marry. And then tragically, last November, a small majority of Californians voted at the ballot box to take away our right to marry the person we love.

I have never been someone to stand by and wait. I believe in what Frederick Douglass so wisely said so many years ago, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.” That’s why, when Anita Bryant launched her ugly campaign to take away anti-discrimination laws in 1977, I joined in the fight to stop her in Miami (sadly, we lost that one). And when State Senator John Briggs launched his campaign in 1978 to prevent gay people from working in California’s public schools, I launched a 16-day hunger strike to raise $100,000 to make sure we could fight. I would not, could not sit by while our rights were being taken from us.

With the Anita Bryant campaign and the Briggs Initiative, all the way to last year’s Prop 8 battle, we had no chance to decide when that fight would take place. Our opponents chose the date and our only choice was to sit back and lose, or to fight. This time it is different. We get to choose when we’re ready and then take it back to our opponents on our time frame.

Now I understand impatience. I am impatient to win our rights. I’ve been impatient for each of the 40-plus years I’ve been part of this battle. And I don’t want to have to wait one more day than we have to. But I do feel strongly that, since we get to choose when we go back to the ballot, we pick a time when we are ready, when our community is ready, and when we’ve convinced enough Californians to vote our way. That’s why I strongly support going back to the ballot in 2012.

Right now, we have lots of hard work in front of us. Three years of work, in my view. We need to tell our stories, all of us. We need to engage people who are not yet with us, and do so in a manner where they can hear our cry for our dignity. We must engage people’s hearts, call upon them to find their better selves, help them realize that we truly are all in this together. We need to engage the African-American and Latino communities in respectful, persuasive ways. This work takes time.

I can also tell you that, in these difficult economic times, many in our community are suffering mightily. Our state government has decimated HIV/AIDS programs, and our service providers are struggling to stay afloat and provide critical services. In these times, I think we must respect our large LGBT donors who are supporting that work and then all get behind a ballot fight once we have done the work we need to do.

Most importantly, we need to remember that we are all in this fight together. Too often, we turn our anger at one another instead of at those at whom we are truly upset. If we can treat one another with grace and respect, and do the hard work we must, I know that we will win our rights back, once and for all. After 40 years, this battle is coming to an end. It is within our grasp. Now let’s go out and seize it.

With great respect,

Rev. Troy Perry

Maine's Attorney General "Appalled" by Anti-Marriage Equality Ads

Maine's WMTW has ran a report on what will actually be taught in schools if the marriage equality bill LD1020 is not overturned. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has received a request from State Education Commissioner Susan Gendron to review the law on school curriculum, and in the video below, AG Mills has a very clear response.

"I'm appalled at those ads as well," AG Mills says. "I have no reason to believe that a vote on Question One allowing the law to stand would dictate any change in the curriculum in Maine schools." (See the whole report.)

But as Louise at Pam's House Blend points out, the anti-marriage equality Yes on 1 campaign's Bob Emrich dismisses the attorney general.
Even the fact that Gendron requested an opinion on the controversial law proved controversial.

The Rev. Bob Emrich, a member of Stand for Marriage Maine's executive committee, noted that Mills testified in support of the bill to legalize same-sex marriage at a public hearing in April.

And, he said in a written statement, Gendron is a member of the administration of Gov. John Baldacci, who has supported same-sex marriage.

"Commissioner Gendron asking Attorney General Mills for an unbiased opinion on Question 1 smacks of a political stunt," Emrich said. "Hopefully, Attorney General Mills will not allow her department to be misused in such a manner."
Sorry Emrich, just because the attorney general has spoken before, with good reason, against your attempt to strip LGBT citizens of their rights, doesn't make her professional view of the law wrong. Have you considered that the reason she spoke out against your attempt to veto LD1020 is because it is contrary to Maine's law? And that YOU'RE LYING!

But who can blame Emrich? When you're caught in a lie, it's rather embarrassing. And he shouldn't bother repeating the refrain, "We're just talking about possible consequences of 'homosexual marriage.'"

You're full of it. Now shut up.

Get involved in Maine. Volunteer from home (or actually go there!) and donate. Vote NO on question 1.

MUST SEE VIDEO: AC360 Questions Obama's Progress on LGBT Rights and Interviews Cleve Jones

From CNN's AC360:

With Obama speaking at HRC's fund raising dinner on the Eve of the National Equality March (and some say avoiding the march), a pro-LGBT picket forming outside the black tie dinner to demonstrate against Obama's inaction, and openly gay Rep. Barney Frank qualifying the march as "useless" - any way you look at it, the march is getting coverage, which puts the pressure back on Obama and Congress.

Or is it?

One sign that will indicate either way will be what Obama's speech contains at the HRC dinner. Will it be full of rhetoric and empty platitudes that has thus far mired his monologues on LGBT rights, or will it actually contain calls for action with specific next steps for both the Administration and Congress? According to an article in the Washington Post, "A Democratic source familiar with the White House's thinking on the speech said Obama will stress incremental advancements as evidence of progress."

Incremental. There's a whiff of inaction in that statement.

But who knows, maybe having just won the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama may be inspired to be the leader everyone believes him to be.

It remains to be seen, but you can watch it live on C-Span to find out.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

C-SPAN to Cover President Obama's Remarks at Human Rights Campaign Dinner Live on Saturday

This just hit my inbox.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, announced today that C-SPAN will cover President Barack Obama's remarks at the organization's 13th Annual National Dinner live this Saturday evening.

The network will begin coverage at approximately 7:55 p.m. eastern with introductory remarks by HRC President Joe Solmonese followed by President Obama. HRC will also make the speeches available online later in the evening via their blog at

(H/T Rex Wockner)

Judge Walker Considers Allowing Cameras into Federal Prop 8 Trial

Legal Pad reports:
Leave it to Northern District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker to tangle with an issue that is ripping the federal judiciary apart.

After a hearing last month in the challenge to Prop. 8, Walker summoned the parties into his chambers for a little chat — out of the press’s earshot. Turns out Walker wanted to float the idea of broadcasting the January trial, but not just to an overflow room in the federal building. He wanted to know how the lawyers felt about making the trial available for broadcast on a television station, according to a letter filed in the case.
I wouldn't be surprised if a broadcast of the trial does occur, that it would be a ratings success given the high impact of this case. However, the national Judicial Conference advises against cameras for district courts, and Judge Walker's Ninth district usually goes by this rule-of-thumb. He'll need permission from the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council, but Legal Pad says they may go for it.

Walker has a history of being unorthodox. This case alone has had many twists and turns and the fact that there's a trial at all to possibly broadcast is a first for a marriage case.

The Olson/Boies legal team arguing against Prop 8 has no problem with it. However, the Yes on Prop 8 attorney, Charles Cooper, does.

“Given the highly contentious and politicized nature of Proposition 8 and the issue of same-sex marriage in general, the possibility of compromised safety, witness intimidation, and/or harassment of trial participants is very real,” wrote attorney Charles Cooper.

Well, this comes as no surprise. Since many witnesses will be brought to trial to testify that the Yes on Prop 8 campaign was motivated purely by animus towards the LGBT population, and with the recent ruling from Walker allowing internal documents of the campaign may be used as evidence against them as well, it ain't going to look pretty for the defense.

And if the Olson/Boies team can show with expert testimony that being gay and lesbian is not a choice and that the Yes on 8 crowd acted simply out of animus and not with the intent to simply "protect traditional marriage" (an argument they didn't state in the campaign but somehow are stating it now in court), the public will be watching the whole time and may be convinced of the plaintiffs' argument.

There's no doubt that will have a major effect on any future conservative hope to continually strip LGBT rights away at the ballot box across the country.

If you had dirty laundry, would you want it broadcasted?

VIDEO: New NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality Ad - Are We Too Much on the Defense?

UPDATE: It appears I'm not the only one who feels this way.

The new NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality ad:

For context, here's the Yes on 1 ad they're responding to which hit the air Monday:

Again, the NO on 1 campaign has done an amazing job in responding FAST. There was nothing more frustrating during last year's Prop 8 period when the NO side just couldn't keep up. So I applaud NO on 1 for their effectiveness and great organization.

As for the ad itself, though, I've been saying that the Yes campaign has been framing the debate and we're still constantly responding to them. This ad is simply a response, and though I think it's great in telling people that we have nothing to hide by providing the book in question to read, because we don't, we look defensive, and when you look defensive, it looks weak and now we have to CONVINCE voters that, "we're not so bad."

We need to go on the offense now. We need to point out their LIES and SHAME them in front of voters, that they're outsiders wanting to HARM how things are ran in Maine to fit their AGENDA, and that they're out to DESTROY families. These key words, combined with effective imagery, will spur undecided heterosexuals to finally care to get off the couch and vote NO.

The Maine media has done a stupendous job of researching the ad claims on both sides of the debate. The following was a story by WCSH6/WLBZ2.

Even better, the Bangor Daily News reports that, "State education commissioner Susan Gendron is asking the Attorney General’s Office to help settle whether Maine’s gay marriage law will affect curriculum in public schools."

"But in response to continuing questions from the media and the public, Gendron sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Mills on Wednesday asking for an analysis of the law and any legal ramifications of a Massachusetts court decision referenced in the ads."

So we have both the media and state education officials (and possibly the Attorney General) doing the rebuttal for us for all of Maine to see. And we already know what they'll find - voting to save Maine's marriage bill will in no way affect public school curriculum.

So let's get back to the topic on hand - marriage!

The opposition, who stripped marriage away in California are attempting to do the same in Maine, but they haven't adapted to the fact that Maine is NOT California. They're using the same tactics, but they shouldn't work in Maine. We can use this to our advantage EVEN MORE.

The last few weeks of a campaign are brutal but vital. Let's go on the offense and shift into high gear. Let's urge voters to come out and vote against this attack on Maine families! Let's turn the tables on the opposition fast and send them scrambling, while we charge ahead with our message of equality and fairness!

Get involved in Maine! Go to the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality website.

Openly Gay Rep. Barney Frank Says National Equality March is "Useless"; O'Reilly Makes Big Deal of Obama Picket

Rep. Barney Frank: March is "Useless"

On the Michelangelo Signorile radio show The Gist, Rep. Barney Frank discussed the National Equality March, calling it "useless."

Signorile's site reports: "I literally don't understand how this will do anything," [Frank] said. "People are kidding themselves. I don't want people patting themselves on the back for doing something that is useless." Besides, he says, "Barack Obama does not need pressure." He says we should model ourselves as lobbyists on "the National Rifle Association." He says people should not come to Washington and should stay home and lobby their members of Congress. "Nobody in Congress even knows they're there, he says, and he is not attending the March: He is going to California to raise money for himself and other Democrats.

If Frank would take a second and actually read what the march is about and what its agenda entails, he would realize that the people attending aren't just there to make a scene. They're there to be trained on how to lobby their representatives at home and to organize themselves in all 435 congressional districts. A big goal, yes, but it can be accomplished.

I have a lot of respect for Frank, but these comments just show how little time he's taken to read up on what his own community is up to. In the very least, he shouldn't discourage people to take a stand for themselves.

He's missed the mark here. Usually I don't agree with people who say Frank should shut up more often, but in this case, I would have to concur.

Key March Information

David Mixner has provided a great service by gathering key information about attending the march, saying "Quite honestly I don't have a damn idea on how many will attend but do know that it appears to be a weekend filled with substantive events for almost any person's desire. Just go to the events link and get the full picture."



March Route

Rally and Speakers

Washington's Metro (Subway)

Bill O'Reilly Questions Why Gays Are Protesting Gays on Eve of March

Bill O'Reilly discusses with activist writer Wayne Besen the planned picketing by LGBT groups and activists outside of Saturday's HRC dinner where President Obama will be giving a speech.

Read Wayne Besen's take on Obama's attendance to the HRC dinner.

My Response to the New Anti-LGBT Reject Ref. 71 Ad: AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Unfortunately, this is no joke.

Don't believe this is real and not a spoof? Go here, if you dare.

What's interesting is that a commenter on Pam's House Blend pointed out that the picture of Adam & Farrah Fawcett, oh sorry, I mean Eve, is intellectual property of the Mormon church. Hmm . . . so either this ad will be pulled because the LDS church will be unhappy with its use (but somehow I doubt this), or the church was behind the ad in some capacity.

Well, I'm just shocked. SHOCKED!

Sadly, these loons, who believe that people during the times of Genesis rode dinosaurs to work a la the Flintstones, are doing an effective job in getting people to reject the new "everything but marriage" domestic partnership law. (That's right - it has nothing to do with marriage.) The polls show a dead heat.

Unfortunately, they have others ads that don't evoke a snicker out of me. Though they're full of lies, that doesn't seem to matter to voters - they're very effective and most people watching won't take the time to verify the claims these ads make.

Lurleen at Pam's House Blend does a great job of breaking down this ad and pointing out lie after lie after lie after lie . . .

I can't believe that such blatant misinformation is legal and that they can get away with this. But unfortunately, they can. And it will cost us.

We have to counter these ads. We have to get our support out to the polls on election day.

Get involved. Go to to donate and volunteer.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Referendum 71 Holds Narrow Lead in Polls, Needs Strong Voter Turn Out

Survey USA conducted a poll which shows Referendum 71 holding a narrow lead, reflecting similar results from an earlier poll. Approving the Washington state referendum is a vote to approve the "everything but marriage" domestic partnership law.

The numbers show 45% approve, 42% reject and 13% undecided.
Among men, the measure is rejected by a 4-point margin; among women, it is approved by 12 points -- a 16-point gender gap. 72% of Republicans say they will vote to reject; 72% of Democrats say they will vote to approve; independents reject by a 13-point margin. In Metro Seattle, the measure is approved by 18 points; in Eastern Washington, it is rejected by 18 points. Western Washington voters outside of Metro Seattle are more divided, with an 8-point margin voting against the referendum.
With Seattle making up 53% of the state's electorate, a strong GOTV campaign is needed to be sure LGBT allies come out and vote on the measure.

To help the Approve 71 campaign get out the vote, go to and get involved!

Over 350 Maine Lawyers Counter Misleading Anti-Marriage Equality Ads

The NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality issued the following press release:
More than 350 lawyers from across Maine - from Kittery to Fort Kent - who teach, practice and write law in the state, have signed a statement rebutting the misinformation and distortion created by the Question 1 campaign ads, and urged voters to reject the ballot measure and support marriage equality.

"These ads are a blatant distortion of the law," said Michael Asen, a Portland attorney who has been active in the NO on 1 campaign. "As legal professionals, many of us felt a responsibility to stand up and make sure Mainers know the truth about the law."

The statement entitled Lawyers for Marriage Equality is divided into two categories - what the marriage equality law does and what it doesn't do. It makes clear that the law, enacted in May, does not threaten the tax exemption status of churches, has nothing to do with schools or curriculum, and will not lead to law suits. The full text is attached.

According to Jane S. E. Clayton who practices law in Bangor, Maine's law ends discrimination while protecting the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty of both houses of worship and individuals.

Identifying themselves as coming from all political affiliations, the lawyers add that we know Maine and still have our common sense. Our opponents are not only wrong on the facts, they are purposely sounding false alarms.

The lawyers' statement was prompted by one political advertisement that focused on a Boston College law professor who warned of dire changes under the new law.

The ad is trying to divert attention away from the central issue which is to make sure that all Maine couples and families are treated equally - that's what this law does, said Jon Doyle, an Augusta attorney who has practiced law in Maine for 48 years and is active in the NO on 1 campaign. The law was carefully written to protect religious liberties and in no way impacts what's taught in our schools.

Maine's new marriage law protects religious freedom and guarantees equal protection under the law for all Mainers, added Lewiston attorney, Jodi Nofsinger.

Included with the letter was a September 18th legal memorandum, which methodically rebutted the Question 1 campaign distortions. It was signed by Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree, Representative Emily Cain, former Attorneys General Steve Rowe and James Tierney, Dean Peter Pitegoff*, University of Maine School of Law and Professor David Cluchey*, University of Maine School of Law.

*University listed for identification purposes only, not endorsement.
Below is the letter from the lawyers.

Maine Lawyers for Marriage Equality

National Equality March News: Lady Gaga Says Get Your A** To DC; Phelps Plans to Go, Too; New Promo Video Released

UPDATE: Joe.My.God gives advice on how to handle the Westboro Baptist Church nutters who plan on attending the march to counter protest.

Lady Gaga tells you, well, to go to the National Equality March in her own special way:

My friend Laura Kanter has done amazing work with the images in this video put to Julie Clark's song, "Courage of Our Convictions" which Julie will sing at the event.

And this should come as no surprise to anyone who's been to any major LGBT event - the infamous "God Hates F***s" pastor Fred Phelps plans on going to the National Equality March as well. However, I suspect for a different purpose than ours. Maybe you can get your picture taken with him to prove you were at the march!

Last but definitely not least, the amazing reporter Lisa Leff wrote a piece on the march for the AP:
A Democrat in the White House. Demands for sweeping civil rights protections. Religious opponents working to undo a string of state-based victories.

That was the backdrop in 1979 when gay rights activists staged their first national march in Washington. Thirty years later, with the landscape looking much the same, thousands of advocates are preparing to rally again in the nation's capital this weekend.

And they are demanding many of the same things: a bill to outlaw job discrimination based on gender, a law that would treat attacks on gays as federal hate crimes, and a presidential order allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
Read the rest of "30 years after gay march, activists head to DC."

Pro-LGBT Groups Plan to Picket Obama at HRC Dinner - But What Are We Asking For?

Andy Thayer, the LGBT activist who successful ran the Stop Dr. Laura campaign, is now focusing his attention on President Obama, and in particular, his appearance at the HRC dinner on the eve of the National Equality March.

A press release:
Pro-LGBT Picket of Obama This Saturday Moved from White House to HRC Gala

In reaction to the announcement yesterday that President Obama will address a black tie fundraising gala of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on Saturday, October 10th, organizers of a pro-LGBT picket originally scheduled for that night at the White House have instead moved the picket to the site of the HRC gala. The picket will begin at 6 PM in front of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, on the northeast corner of Mt Vernon Place NW and 9th Street NW, Washington, DC.

While the picket organizers will be participating in the Sunday, Oct. 11th Equality March, they charge that the march organizers have been going easy on the Obama administration and the Democratic Party in general. Barack Obama was long on pro-gay promises during the campaign, they say, yet short on delivering on them once he took power in late January.

“The time for talking is over,” said Andy Thayer of the Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network (, one of the two organizations sponsoring the picket. “This President promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), he promised to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he promised to pass the pro-LGBT Employment Non-Discrimination Act and a whole host of other things. Instead, he’s delivered on nothing while embracing anti-gay bigots Rick Warren and Donnie McClurkin. The last thing we need is more flowery rhetoric in front of rich, self-effacing gays and lesbians dressed up like penguins.”

The picket is cosponsored by the Dallas-based direct action group, Queer Liberaction (, a group which played a leading role in organizing an effective community response to the violent police raid on a Fort Worth bar. ”The Obama administration has likened LGBT relationships to incest and bestiality,” said Queer Liberaction co-founder Blake Wilkenson. “He cited his ‘Christian beliefs’ for the reason why he now opposes equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. He refuses issue a stop-loss order to prevent purges of lesbian and gay soldiers. If we are going to get real change out of this White House, we need to make demands of this President. As the great anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass put it, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’”

For more information about the Saturday, October 10th pro-LGBT picket of President Obama, contact the Gay Liberation Network at or 773.209.1187, or Queer Liberaction at or 214.679.6321

More information can also be found at the Facebook event for the picket.
Others are just as equally non-plussed. GOProud, a group broken off from the Log Cabin Republicans, quickly issued this video:

Now, as I've been very clear before, I'm not impressed with Obama thus far. I was disappointed instead of excited to hear that he would be going to an HRC fundraiser, a group who has let Obama and his inaction off the hook. The president is playing safe and staying in his confrontation-free bubble. I even joined the picket outside of a Obama-attended fundraiser in Los Angeles when it became clear that Obama would not issue stop-loss orders to keep gays and lesbians from being discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell.

However, I'm not so sure how I feel about this picket. I'm literally on the fence. On one hand, I say "Go for it!" The president needs to realize that his inaction will not be forgotten and will continually be called into account. On the other, unlike the last picket I attended when he actually decided NOT to act on LGBT rights in a very specific way, Obama hasn't done anything as specific lately. Sure, he's sitting on his hands playing politics, but that's not anything new. (Though the Stonewall Democrats thinks he's done a great job. Go figure.)

I guess I'm looking for a specific ask from this picket line to be voiced for the president to hear. At the last picket in Los Angeles, Obama made a remark in his speech at the fundraiser that he wasn't sure what promises the picket was holding him to.

I think Michael Jones said it well at We don't need another empty speech from the president. We've head plenty, thank you very much. What we need is for him to make his speech at the dinner worth while for all. I say we ask him for a simple sentence:

"I support marriage equality in Maine."

Whether you think he will or not is besides the point. You'll never know if you don't ask. I say the picketers should be asking for this endorsement from President Obama loud and clear.

That will be a picket I can join.

Image from Los Angeles picket outside DNC fundraiser.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Referendum 71 News: Equal Rights Washington Airs Educational Ad; Microsoft Donates $100K to 'Approve' Campaign

Equal Rights Washington Airs Educational Ad

With the fate of Washington state's new "everything but marriage" domestic partnership law in the hands of voters this November, Equal Rights Washington has released an educational ad featuring Charlene Strong, who tragically lost her wife in a 2006 flooding incident in Seattle.

The ad is airing "through the end of the week in Seattle, Walla Walla, Yakima, Tri Cities, Vancouver, and Bellingham" says the SLOG.

You can donate to help buy more airtime for the ad.

Vote to APPROVE REFERENDUM 71 to keep the domestic partnership law.

Microsoft Donate $100K to Approve Referendum 71 Campaign

The SLOG reports
Asserting itself as a powerful advocate for gay rights, the Microsoft Corporation donated $100,000 to the campaign trying to approve Referendum 71, a report filed today with the state Public Disclosure Commission shows (.pdf).


This took guts. Microsoft's brazen role in R-71 will outrage the Ken Hutchersons of the world, who pressured Microsoft for years to back off from supporting gay-rights legislation.
Microsoft's contribution surpasses all the donations combined for the opposition's campaign which continues to deceive voters into thinking this a marriage issue when it's not.

Hopefully Microsoft's generosity will help the Approve campaign continue to get their message out loud and clear.

Get involved. Go to

VIDEO: Washington DC's Marriage Equality Bill Introduced Today

Washington DC Council member David Catania introduced the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act" today, which says that "any person . . . may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender."

As earlier reported, the bill is expected to pass and could do so as early as Thanksgiving. The biggest hurdle facing it is the U.S. Congress which has jurisdiction over the District and has 30 legislative days to review the resolution before it becomes law. However, as was the case with the District's marriage recognition bill, Washington Post reports that Congress will probably not intervene.

Opposition in Congress may still find a way to cripple marriage equality in the District by attaching an amendment to a bill that would restrict funding for same-sex marriage in the capital.

In the meantime, supporters are choosing to focus on the present, celebrating today's historical moment and will face the future's challenges as they come.

Earlier in the week, the amazing straight ally Rev. Eric Lee of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spoke in Washington DC at the marriage equality convocation.

New Anti-Marriage Equality Yes on 1 Ad Hits Maine's Air Waves

It was only a matter of time before the Yes on 1 people realized that using outsiders wasn't a good idea in Maine. But unfortunately, they didn't have to look far to find an anti-LGBT local willing to go on the air.

Jeremy Hooper at Good As You does a good job on reporting who Donald Mendell actually is, adding "Love how Mr. Mendell says 'this Maine teacher is a gay activist' (in reference to his co-worker at his very own school, by the way) as if he's a mere layman. It would seem that those who live in glass political ads shouldn't throw "activist" stones!"

Of the course the Yes on 1 used that line in rebuttal to us objecting to their use of Charla Bansley in their last ad, portraying her as a public school teacher - but she isn't and is a well-known anti-LGBT activist.

Also, thanks to Jeremy, the Robert Skutch interview referenced in this ad is available below in full:

*Source: Here & Now, 5/3/05

What chills me to the bone is the reference to the curriculum at the center of the Alameda Unified School District lawsuit happening here in California. I've been working on a longer piece regarding this case and how it's intertwined with the marriage battles here in the Golden State, but before I've been able to finish, Frank Schubert, the man behind Yes on Prop 8, has wasted no time inserting it into the Question 1 struggle as a reason to ban marriage equality in Maine. Illogical? Yes. Effective? Unfortunately, yes.

The lawsuit against the Alameda school system, filed in August by the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, was brought by parents who were denied the option of opting their children out of curriculum teaching about bullying, and this included bullying of LGBT students. However, the school said they couldn't opt out because the curriculum doesn't fall under the California Education Code provisions which allow for it. So the parents sued. Obviously, I think they're pawns in a bigger scheme. And that scheme is already playing out in Maine and will soon again here in California.

I really do hope the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign responds just as quickly as last time (they've been amazing at fast responses), but this time, not just call the ad baseless but actually point out the lies. Somehow, Yes on 1 has successfully linked the marriage equality issue to school curriculum and the effects on kids, a tactic we already knew they would use.

Despite the NO on 1 ads, the opposition is able to successfully stick to their message discipline while we keep repeating that "outsiders are harming our families." Yes on 1 easily fixed that by using a local to do their dirty deeds.

We have to avoid Yes on 1's trap of getting us to respond to what is happening in California. Sure, the curriculum they refer to has nothing to do with marriage equality, but it DOES have to do with the fact that LGBT people exist. It's a fact of life.

As I've said before, "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.'"

If we do this, anything Yes on 1 says going further will be overshadowed by doubt.

The "outsiders" argument isn't going to work now. We have to play fire with fire. Call a lie a lie.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Activists Attending National Equality March Plan to Lobby Congress

With the recent announcement that Congress will be in session during the National Equality March, I contacted Robin McGeHee, one of the chief organizers of the event, and asked her if this caused any new actions to be planned.

"We will be sticking to our main goal of training people and then sending them home to do the work that's needed to be done there," Robin said. "After their training [in Washington DC], they will be contacting their representatives at home."

Equality Across America, the organization forming out of the National Equality March, is actively involved in organizing all 435 congressional districts in the nation in an effort to gain full federal equality for all. Their goal is to have Congressional Action Teams per district, some of which have already formed and will be attending the march for training.

"Some Congressional Action Teams will be lobbying Congress over the weekend," Robin said. In order to accomplish this, they may miss out on some of the scheduled training.

The next big step to come out of the National Equality March will be to have the newly trained activists return home and plan for a national action day on November 5.

Depending on where they live and how LGBT-friendly their towns are, the activists will hold rallies or in more conservative areas, write persuasive op-eds in major local newspapers and perform other tasks to create more awareness. Some of the events may join in spirit others being planned in California to memorialize the damage caused by the passing of Proposition 8 which by then will have been a year ago. All will be encouraged to lobby their U.S. Representatives.

More information about November 5 will be given at the National Equality March.

Mainers See Through the Opposition's Lies and Stand Up for Marriage Equality

Periodic guest blogger for Unite the Fight, straight ally Jane Wishon does a great job of summarizing the underhanded tactics used by the anti-marriage equality Yes on 1 campaign in Maine and describes how "real Mainers" who see through the lies are being used for the NO on 1 ads.

Writing for, Jane reports:
Watch the current Yes on 1 ads in Maine and you’ll see some familiar faces. Yes, right there on your TV screen you’ll see Robb and Robin Wirthlin bemoaning the fact that their child’s teacher read the book King & King to the class. Why do they look familiar? It’s exactly the same footage used in the Yes on 8 campaign spots from California last year.


“In each, according to our opposition, a young child is hurt or damaged when exposed to a book that depicts a gay couple as happy and healthy. This message – ‘your kids are in danger’ — is a lie designed to frighten and polarize voters, including but not limited to young parents of young children. This misinformation is what our opposition relied on as far back as Anita Bryant’s 1977 ‘Save the Children’ campaign, and they’re using it again in Maine this year,” according to David Fleischer, media analyst and Lead Organizer of the LGBT Mentoring Project in New York.

In Maine, you’ll also see a school teacher promising that homosexuality will be taught in public school and a law professor promising “a flood of lawsuits.” Meanwhile there is a casting call for a ‘Yes on 1’ commercial looking for a “working waitress type” and a “teacher type,” according to a recent article in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. Sound familiar?

What may not sound familiar is the reaction these tactics are garnering in Maine. In his October 2nd Real Mainers step up for ‘No on 1’ ads, Bill Nemitz calls out the opposition for its subterfuge. He begins with pointing out that the handsome traditional family featured on the Stand for Marriage Maine website is actually clip art and calmly and systematically picks apart the spokespeople for the Yes on 1 campaign as not what they purport to be.
Read more of Jane's post to find out why the supposed law professor and public school teacher in the ads are anything but.

Though I have offered friendly criticisms to the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality ads in the past, believing they can be more hard-hitting by truthfully calling out the lies in the opposition's ads before they even air (because, c'mon, we've seen these ads before!), Jane shows how real Mainers are already seeing through the lies of the Yes on 1 campaign.

The NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign needs your help now more than ever. With less than a month to go before elections and Mainers already turning in early voting ballots, time is of the essence.

Volunteer and donate!

President Obama to Speak at HRC Dinner This Saturday Before National Equality March - Is It Enough?

The New York Times' Caucus Blog broke the news today the President Obama will be speaking at a HRC dinner this Saturday, the day before the National Equality March.
Mr. Obama’s appearance on Saturday at the annual dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, represents a significant show of support for gay rights at a time when many prominent gay and lesbian activists have been questioning the president’s commitment to their issues.


His appearance will mark only the second time a sitting president has spoken to the Human Rights Campaign. The first time was in 1997 when Bill Clinton spoke to the group. That was the first time a sitting president had ever addressed a gay rights organization.
Former top adviser to Bill Clinton, Richard Socarides, who in May wrote of his impatience with Obama and his lack of movement on LGBT rights, spoke to the AP on this new development.

"Eleven months after his election, he has failed to deliver on any of his commitments to gay Americans, but even worse has been his refusal to engage around these issues . . . What he needs to do now is engage and deliver,"Socarides told the AP. "Spend some of his political capital on ending the gay military ban, a hugely symbolic issue. And with no intellectually sound arguments left against it, come out squarely for gay marriage equality."

HRC President Joe Solmonese has responded, saying "We are honored to share this night with President Obama, who has called upon our nation to embrace LGBT people as brothers and sisters. It is fitting that he will speak to our community on the night that we pay tribute to his friend and mentor Senator Edward Kennedy, who knew that as president, Barack Obama would take on the unfinished business of this nation — equal rights for the LGBT community, and for every person who believes in liberty and justice for all."

Lady Gaga, the case of Glee and others will be at the dinner.

I've been told numerous times that I'm the happy-go-lucky type. Always smiling, easy to please and patient. I don't get angry that easily. I have a long fuse.

But when it's come to Obama, the president has snipped my fuse short and has lit it with a blow torch. I have not been quiet when it comes to Obama. Not at all. Nope.

I would like to think this bit of news is welcoming for me. But for some reason, it isn't.

Should I be appeased that Obama is interrupting at the last minute his pre-planned golf game to speak at a black tie dinner with celebrities in tow? Hosted by an organization that has let Obama off the hook one too many times?

Should I be happy that this historical president, who promised so much during his campaign including being our "fierce advocate", but who hasn't lifted a finger for LGBT rights since he's stepped into office with a Democrat controlled Congress, won't even bother to make a short appearance in front of a historical gathering of the LGBT grassroots the next day?

Should I be thrilled to hear that there's speculation that Obama will announce something in his speech, probably something similar to the LGBT White House cocktail party which was full of damn rhetoric or the crumbs he tossed an angry LGBT population when he gave federal LGBT employees benefits they already had?

I don't care if I should be pleased that he's speaking. Again. At another party. With more rhetoric and platitudes and empty promises.

So what will please me? Action.

Action speaks louder than words, Mr. President. A speech is a dime a dozen. Legislation is priceless.

VIDEO: Plaintiff in Texas Same-Sex Divorce Case, "I Don't Think the End of Anyone's Marriage Can Be Celebrated As a Victory."

The plaintiff, in what is now the famous same-sex divorce case in Texas in which a judge ruled that the state's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional, speaks to Good Morning America Weekend's Bill Weir.

Only going by the initials JB, he says, "After ten months some of it is relief, some of it is sadness, and some of it is overwhelmed because then the floodgates opened again...I don't think the end of anyone's marriage can be celebrated as a victory."

JB also expresses frustration with LGBT legal groups who opposed his lawsuit but are now jumping on the bandwagon.

Guest Post: Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach from Maine!

Grounded in her Judaism, Kerry Chaplin is California Faith for Equality’s (CFE’s) Interfaith Organizing Director and has helped to grow CFE from a staff of one to a staff of five, and from a network of 600 to a coalition of 6,000 diverse faith leaders and faith communities from across California. Kerry holds both a B.A. in Religious Studies and an M.A. in NonProfit Management from Washington University in St. Louis, lives in West Hollywood, and plays wing for her Santa Monica Women’s Rugby Club.

Currently, CFE is supporting the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry by encouraging awareness within California’s faith communities of Maine’s current marriage landscape and by sharing its Interfaith Organizing Director, Kerry Chaplin, for one week. Kerry is helping to organize major marches and interfaith events in Portland and Bangor to make visible clergy and lay people of faith who are standing against discrimination in Maine.

This was originally posted on CFE's blog Friday, October 2nd:

Shabbat shalom and hag sameach from Maine!

We are entering the Jewish holiday, Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, during which Jews traditionally take our meals, even sleep, in temporary shelters reminiscent of the transitory wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
On Sukkot, it is traditional to read Psalm 27:
  • 11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
  • 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
  • 13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
While reading this passage at Temple Beth El in Portland this evening, I thought of our oppressors, those who hold us LGBTI people and allies down, especially those who are currently doing so in Maine. In the Portland Press Herald this morning, Bill Nemitz described a marked difference between the Yes on 1 campaign and the No on 1 campaign: while the Yes campaign puts forth the same 4 spokespeople, uses website images from online stock photo galleries, and ultimately lacks realness, the No on 1 campaign speaks in diverse voices, uses photos of real Mainers on its website, and thrives on the authentic drive of Mainers, not agendas.

Even in the two days since I arrived in Maine, it is clear that our oppressors are using the same language to bear false witness against us. The Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine is standing for what is just and fair, led by that which is Holy on a path toward goodness.

On this Sukkot, let us all have the courage to be led to goodness in the face of our oppressors.

shabbat shalom and hag sameach,

Kerry Chaplin

Keep checking on CFE's blog for more updates on CFE's involvement in Maine's struggle to keep marriage equality legal! Get involved at NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality.

National Equality March News: Congress Will Be in Session; Senate Majority Leader Reid Endorses March; Lady Gaga to Attend

Quite a bit of news has developed over the weekend in regards to the National Equality March, which by the way is happening this weekend in Washington DC. Here's a recap:

Congress Will Be in Session During March

Surprising his colleagues and many others in D.C., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called off Congress' week-long recess that was planned for Columbus Day Weekend, which will make them be in session during the National Equality March after all.

The Hill reports:
Democrats at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are gripped with a renewed sense of urgency in their effort to pass healthcare reform. As the Finance Committee continued into the second week of marking up its bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) surprised colleagues on Wednesday by canceling a weeklong Columbus Day recess. Reid’s move came after White House officials publicly called on lawmakers to pass a final bill by Thanksgiving. This ambitious timetable is more than a month before the goal set by congressional leaders, which is to pass a bill by the end of the year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Endorses the March

More news from Sen. Reid. The following letter was sent to the organizers (click to enlarge):

Just a thought: it's great to see Reid's support and I accept it with open arms, but I couldn't help but notice that support for a DOMA repeal was missing.

Lady Gaga to Attend March

From Towleroad:
[Saturday] night, at Josh Wood's 'Get on the Bus for Equality' benefit for the National Equality March (following her SNL appearance) at Santos Party House in NYC, Lady Gaga urged the crowd to attend the March, and said that she'll be marching:

"I really believe in this cause, and as a woman in pop music I think that this is really an important weekend, and it's not a fucking joke. So get your asses to D.C. and wear something fabulous, and I'll see you guys there."

Someone could have told her it's the National Equality March, and not the Gay Pride March, but it's the action that counts...