Saturday, October 17, 2009

Major Maine Newspaper Endorses NO on 1 Campaign - Help Get Out the Vote!

This email from Mark Sullivan, NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality Communication Director, just hit my inbox.

This morning, the Bangor Daily News endorsed a "NO" vote on Question 1. The BDN is one of Maine's oldest and most respected newspapers, and their endorsement will be read by thousands of voters in key swing areas.

Read the endorsement:

This is great news, and definitely a momentum boost as we go in to the final 17 days of this campaign. But we can't afford to let up now-- to win, we still need to get all our NO voters out to the polls. And the best way to do that is to get as many of them as possible to vote NO on 1 right now, during the early voting period.

That's where you come in. If you've got a phone and an internet connection, you can join Call for Equality, our massive Get Out The Early Vote virtual phone bank.

It only takes a couple of hours to make a difference, but to win, we must reach each of these voters. Will you join us for a Call for Equality shift?

If you've never made phone calls to voters, it's easy. We'll give you a training before your shift, a script, and all of the information that you need to identify our supporters. In almost all cases, you'll be talking to a Maine voter who supports marriage equality.

There are still too many voters who haven't voted early or didn't plan to vote until they were reminded about the urgency of their one vote in this off-year election. Often, that extra nudge from a dedicated supporter by phone is what motivates someone to turn out to the polls.

Celebrate this wonderful endorsement by joining Call for Equality and helping us turn all of our NO on 1 voters out to the polls!


Mark Sullivan
Communications Director
NO on 1 / Protect Maine Equality

My Personal Take on the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference Plan to Release November Statement Against Marriage Equality

I'd like to begin this post with a short, rare, personal insight into this blogger.

I was raised in an evangelical, Christian, non-denominational, missionary family. Since I can remember, we traveled the world, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have seen parts of the world by the time I was twelve that most people don't get to see in their lifetime, and I wouldn't change my upbringing. Ever.

Though I didn't have the vocabulary to voice it at the time, I knew I was gay by the time I was four. I had crushes on boys, but I thought that was normal and in time would grow up and find my attraction focused on girls.

It didn't happen. And I grew up hating myself because everyday, I read my Bible and heard how 'homosexuals' were deviant people.

My parents are amazing people, and though they had their suspicions about me while I was growing up, they loved me.

Luckily, as I got older, I was able to separate myself from the self-hatred and accepted myself for who I am. Unfortunately, my family is several steps behind. But what my upbringing has given me is insight into those who practice organized religion.

It's hard for me to shout "bigot" or "hater" because I know that a majority of these people are not (though I acknowledge many do act out of animus - growing up, I witnessed that, too). They have good intentions, and they have been forced by zealots to make an unconstitutional decision at the ballot, to choose between their faith and their civil duty to respect equality. That's wrong. And in many cases, they're victims of having to choose as we are victims having to vote on our own rights to save them. This is why the judicial and legislative system exists, but they're failing.

Case in point: Catholics are the most supportive of marriage equality out of all Christian denominations.

So why am I saying this? I'm saying this because I think it's important to separate those who attend church, who practice out of their convictions an organized religion, and the leaders of their church who dove into the social and political arena. Many times, these leaders say they speak for their congregants when in fact, many of these congregants don't agree.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops intend to release this November a powerful statement titled, "Marriage: Love and Live the Divine Plan." (See full statement embedded below.)

Why is this important? Because over 300 bishops will collectively sign this statement that will enact this as the new language that the U.S. Catholic Church will stand behind in regards to marriage.

In the statement, it condemns co-habitation, divorce and contraception as "intrinsically evil", even stating that in vitro fertilization is wrong, but it also clearly attacks marriage equality.

This is a long document - same-sex unions is addressed in lines 423 - 465. An excerpt:
Today, advocacy for the legal recognition of various same-sex relationships is often equated with non-discrimination, fairness, equality, and civil rights. However, it is not unjust to oppose legal recognition of same-sex unions, because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. "The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it." To promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice. In fact, it would be a grave injustice if the state ignored the unique and proper place of husbands and wives, the place of mothers and fathers, and the rights of the child.


The legal recognition of same-sex unions poses a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society, striking at the source from which society and culture come and which they are meant to serve. such recognition affects all people, married and non-married: not only at the fundamental levels of the good of the spouses, the good of children, the intrinsic dignity of every human person, and the common good, but also at the levels of education, cultural imagination and influence, and religious freedom.
This statement will be powerful in that it will unite the various parishes throughout the country behind one new, solid language regarding marriage.

I don't think I need to repeat the argument that, though the church has every right to believe what they do and should practice that freedom, civil marriage "intrinsically" is not the same as religious marriage, and therefore renders this statement moot when it comes to the issue of civil justice.

But I'd like to quote a Catholic priest who commented on Unite the Fight about this statement, which obviously was leaked early because of the marriage equality initiative facing Maine now and the power the church wields there.

Fr. Marty Kurylowicz:
Being a priest and psychologist, I know the kind of serious harm that is caused to children who grow up gay by those who oppose Marriage Equality. “Kids are being hurt!!!” There is plenty of research data that makes that [sic] supports this statement. I have been an advocate for children who grow up gay for their protection from antigay statements.

Benedict XVI's continual ordering the hierarchy in a united effort to oppose Marriage Equality is proof that they have not even considered the harm to children and have ignored the overabundance amount of research data. The harm that is done to children is tremendous. It cuts deeply at the very core of child's ability to bond/attach to another or other human beings for life. However, in the meantime how many millions of innocent children will continue to be abused in this way because of their criminal neglect of their responsibility. Everyone is responsible to thoroughly study and learn the facts and research data about human sexuality for the safety and well-being of children. There is a lot more to learn than the outdated, inaccurate and whimsical ideas of "the birds and the bees," a child's life depends on our being responsible in this regard. In order to be more like this mom was in this ad.

The U.S. Bishops are currently individually reviewing the draft of a pastoral letter -- "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan" --which they will formally consider at their Nov. 16-19 national meeting [2009]. With all due respect this pastoral letter will become their most vivid indictment against them and Benedict XVI exposing their irresponsible leadership at the expensive of millions of innocent children, globally.
Father Tony, a man who was once a Catholic priest, blogs at Bilerico Project. He will be issuing a series of responses to this statement. This is his first:

A Love Letter from the Roman Catholic Bishops of the USA from tony adams on Vimeo.

It is so easy for us who are fighting for our rights, and in many cases, protecting our existing rights, to lose sight of the fact that the symbols of our opposition, such as the Catholic Church, can easily lead us to judge them with a broad stroke. We know how it feels to be judged the same way, so let us remember that nothing is as it seems.

When this statement is issued in November, we must remember that not all Catholics will agree, and let that truth guide us in how we respond.

Marriage - Love and Life in the Divine Plan

Friday, October 16, 2009

Judge Rules Referendum 71 Petition Signatures to Be Released; POC Organizations Endorse 'Approve' Campaign

A three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California reversed a lower court's ruling Thursday and ordered the petition signatures that enabled anti-LGBT Referendum 71 to go on Washington state's November ballot to be released.

The conservative group Protect Marriage Washington plans to appeal. Their attorney Stephen Pidgeon said, "That particular group of judges saw the law one way; we'll take it to the next group of judges that may have the opportunity to see it the correct way."

Seattle Times reports:
In its brief order, the appeals panel said Settle used a wrong legal standard in granting a preliminary injunction that barred release of the petitions, and that the injunction therefore must be reversed. The judges said they would issue an opinion later explaining their reasoning.

Protect Marriage Washington had argued that petition signatures are protected free speech under the First Amendment, and as such should be shielded from public release. The group said it wanted to keep the petitions out of public view because it feared harassment from gay-rights supporters.


Washington's Attorney General's Office, which represented the secretary of state before the Circuit Court panel, argued that voters had approved the Public Records Act and that signature gathering is a very public process — unlike the private act of voting.
In more good news, 31 organizations representing communities of color have endorsed the Approve Referendum 71 campaign.
“There isn’t just one type of family in our communities. We are a diverse community, with diverse families. They all deserve legal protections and to be treated fairly under the law especially during these times of economic uncertainty,” said Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza.

The organizations support the Approve Referendum 71 campaign because gay and lesbian couples need domestic partnership laws to provide essential protections for their families. Committed couples who want to take care of each other should be allowed to visit each other in the hospital, take family and medical leave when a loved one is seriously ill, and have insurance coverage. Families with children need the protections provided by domestic partnership laws, especially when a parent dies. There are gay and lesbian couples in our community whose relationships are not recognized by their employers, leaving them uninsured or ineligible to receive survivor’s benefits if one of them passes away.
Read this excellent post by Lurleen at Pam's House Blend on how to get fully engaged in the Approve Referendum 71 campaign. Also, go to and find out even more ways to protect Washington's expanded domestic partnership law.

Coverage of the Public Debate on Maine's Question 1

The amazing Louise gave me permission to crosspost her reporting on the debate. It was originally posted at Pam's House Blend.

Today's Lewiston Sun Journal has a front page story regarding the public debate held at the Lewiston Public Library yesterday:
More than 60 people turned out for a debate on Question 1, the referendum to reject Maine's law allowing same-sex marriage, during a Great Falls Forum lecture at the Lewiston Public Library on Thursday.

Marc Mutty, who is on leave from his job with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and is chairman of the Stand for Marriage Maine group, faced off against Shenna Bellows, the executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union and a leader in the No on 1/Protect Marriage Equality campaign.
Each was given 15 minutes to present their side's views, follows by an open Q&A session. They then both gave short conclusions.

Excerpts from Marc Mutty's speech:
"We see this as a radical cultural change and one that is extremely significant that has far-reaching consequences over the long run for our society," he said.

The new marriage statute eliminates language praising family and the potential for bringing new life into society. It instead proposes that love is the core of a relationship, that "love binds people," Mutty said.

"That's radically different than what we've seen traditionally," he said. "Traditionally, marriage has been, of course, wrapped in the concept of love, but it was the framework for creating family, the framework for controlling male urges to spread the seed across the land and to bring the species together."
Shenna Bellows:
"A wonderful thing about the U.S. Constitution and the Maine Constitution is that they guarantee both equal protection under the law, prohibition against discrimination against anyone, and (they) provide for religious liberty," she said.

Bellows said the law drafted by the Legislature allows for both same-sex marriage and religious freedom protections.

"First, it defines legal marriage as the legal union of two persons; second, it honors marriages in other states; and third, and really, really, truly important, it affirms religious freedom by specifically stating explicitly in the law that no religious institution, indeed no individual, no notary of the public or attorney, no person authorized to marry two people would have to participate in same-sex marriage, honor, solemnize or recognize same-sex marriage," she said.

Bellows responded to Mutty's assertion that same-sex couples receive equal rights through a means other than marriage, such as a stronger domestic partnership law, by saying separate rights are not equal rights.

"This is the civil rights moment of our day," she said. "We cannot construct a separate institution that would solve these problems and also treat all families equally. So think of our friends, think of our neighbors, think of folks right here in Lewiston who just want to be treated equally and fairly under the law."
Below, full video footage of the event.

White House Issues Statement on Maine/Washington Referenda . . . Sort Of

The amazing Kerry Eleveld, the Advocate's White House correspondent, asked the White House for a statement on the discriminatory referenda taking place in Washington state and Maine.

She got a response.
“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes ‘strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.’ Also at the dinner, he said he supports, ‘ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.’"
UTF readers already know that, though I applauded President Obama for speaking at the HRC fundraiser and reiterating his support for LGBT rights, I was critical of the fact that it was just a repeat of his campaign promises.

This new statement reflects the same tactics and doesn't mention Washington or Maine directly. Obama's been clear that he supports civil unions and not particularly marriage equality, so direct reference would be rather difficult for him to pull off without ramifications to him. Though of course I would love it if he had.

Yet, this statement does provide a lot of fodder for the Approve Referendum 71 and NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaigns to use in their media, direct mail and phone banking.

So though I hope more from President Obama, I am grateful for this statement.

Catholic League's Bill Donohue Says Church Has Homosexual Problem, Not Pedophile

This diatribe from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League on the 700 Club, making an appearance to pitch his new book, made my stomach turn.

First he rants about the fact that some Catholic adoption agencies chose to give up government funding rather than to place children with gay and lesbian couples.

"We're not going to allow gay people to adopt children," he rails. "That's against nature. It's against nature's God! But they won't stop!"

Being a gay male myself who wants nothing more than to have a family with the man I love, hearing this makes my ears bleed. But I respect the Catholic Church's opinion and believe they have every right to deny me their services due to their beliefs, as long as they're not accepting government money (gritting my teeth as I say this). But to go on the attack against me is simply hypocritical.

But it gets worse. Donohue goes back to the ol' tried and true slander of equating homosexuals with pedophiles by denying the Catholic Church even has had a pedophile problem.

"They lie about the Catholic Church. They say, 'Oh, we have a pedophile problem.' It's been a homosexual problem all along."

Sure, OK, older priests abusing their power by having inappropriate relationships with underage altar boys is equal to two adults in a consensual, loving relationship. What? And we're the ones against nature?

But then he goes on to say that most of the priests were homosexuals who were predators aiming at POST-pubescent boys. As if again, that makes a difference and that most gays and lesbians would think that type of relationship is OK.

Who in their right mind would condone this? The implication that the LGBT population is somehow at fault for the Catholic Church's inability to handle a problem within their own ranks is deplorable.

Yet I remind myself, Donohue is not the church. He's just a guy peddling a book.

VIDEO: NO on 1 Wants to Thank YOU for Helping Them in Maine!

The other day I posted on NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality moneybomb donation drive. And guess what? The Netroots succeeded in raising over $1.1 million on ActBlue! So NO on 1 put together this video to say, "THANK YOU!"

I want to say thank you back for the shout out, NO on 1!

Keep up the great work, Equality Advocates!

Bishop Gene Robinson Speaks in Maine in Support of Marriage Equality

Openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire spoke in Maine Thursday to support voters in voting NO on Question 1 which attempts to overthrow the state's new marriage equality law.

The report mentions that the Episcopal Church doesn't recognize marriage equality, but it does treat same-sex couples with respect. The church recently decided to begin crafting a prayer to bless same-sex unions.

I do find it odd that Bishop Robinson said there is no right or wrong way of voting on this measure. I think the marriage equality law clearly delineates the separation of church and state and that it is wrong to strip minorities of their rights.

He is a great man and has overcome a lot. Here's a clip of his speech:

New Homophobic Yes on 1 Ad Airs - It's As If They're Proud of Their Fear!

UPDATE 2 11:46pm PST: Read Yes on 1's Marc Mutty's statement on the new ad.

UPDATE: Yes on 1 campaign responds to AG Mills' legal opinion by stating that the Attorney General is biased and continues to hammer the point that acknowledging gay and lesbians in any form is a bad thing.

So what do you do when know you're losing and running out of money? You ignore the truth and lie and recycle production sets.

Oh, and when you're broke, you pull another arrow from the same quiver. Teacher Jen Cyr teaches at the same private, Christian school (not a public school which is the so-called issue here) as Charla Bansley, the teacher from the prior Yes on 1 ads who was revealed to be highly active in fighting equal rights.

Since they know they lost on the religious argument, they go for the jugular by stoking the embers of latent homophobia in any voter that will listen, hopefully parents. But even more astounding is the fact that they're ignoring all Maine education officials who say these claims about "homosexual marriage" being taught in schools is full of it.

Earlier, Attorney General Janet Mills was requested for an official position on the law and what was demanded be taught in schools. Yesterday, she issued her opinion.
Dear Commissioner Gendron:

You have asked about the implications of LD 1020, PL 2009, ch. 82, “An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom,” on the development of school curricula in our state. My office’s analysis of the issue reveals no impact on the curricula of Maine’s public schools.

LD 1020, as enacted by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor on May 6, 2009, expands the availability of civil marriage to couples of the same gender. It also reaffirms the strict prohibitions on marriage by related parties, marriage by persons under disability and multiple marriages. It then allows a specific religious conscience exception, prohibiting any court or state or local governmental entity from interfering with any religious institution’s policy or teachings.

The provisions of this new law pertain expressly to Title 19-A, which defines in what instances the state will recognize a couple’s marriage, when a premarital agreement is authorized, how a marriage is dissolved by the court through divorce or separation, how married individuals are obligated to support one another and their children, the rights of children and the division of marital property upon dissolution of a marriage and many other rights and responsibilities surrounding the legal institution of marriage.

The status of marriage as legally defined in Title 19-A also incidentally determines rights of inheritance, rights to tort claim damages, right to medical information, the right of privilege against disclosure of private communications, the right of priority as guardian or conservator or custodian of a deceased’s remains and other rights and responsibilities under Maine’s civil laws.

I have scoured Maine laws relating to the education of its children for any references to marriage in the public school curricula. I have found none.

As you are well aware, the guidelines for Maine’s public school curricula are established by the “Maine Learning Results,” which set out educational standards for mathematics, reading, science and technology, as well as minimum graduation requirements in English, math, science and other core subjects. These guidelines are then reviewed at the local level as locally elected school boards determine the exact content of each district’s curricula. Nothing in state law dictates that any particular text books or other reading materials should be used or made available in the public schools.

In fact, for parents concerned about educational practices in Maine, safeguards for persons with religious beliefs are already provided in the law: The Maine Learning Results statute, 20-A M.R.S.A. sec. 6209, requires “accommodation provisions for instances where course content conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs and practices of a student’s parent or guardian.”

Thus, if parents with religious beliefs which do not permit them to vote do not wish their children to be taught about their duty to vote in civics classes, for instance, they could seek accommodation under this law. Likewise, parents with religious beliefs which prohibit dancing might seek accommodation for their child regarding physical education classes that involved dancing. (See Dept. of Educ. 05 071 CMR 127-3.07, which requires the local superintendent to make accommodations before asking the Commissioner for assistance.).

The political process, to which the courts often refer, also provides a recourse for families who wish to participate in the development of curricula in their local schools. See 20-A M.R.S.A. secs. 1001(6) & (10-A) (duty of the school board to “approve educational materials”).

I have reviewed the one Massachusetts case cited by certain advocates in opposition to the marriage measure passed by our legislature. That case, Parker v. Hurley, 514 F.3d 87 (1st Cir.2008), cert. den., 129 S.Ct. 56 (U.S.2008), does not stand for the proposition that any particular educational materials must be taught, used or referred to in that state’s public schools. That case declared, regardless of that state’s definition of marriage, that there is no federal First Amendment right to prior review of books made available in the public schools. The case does pointedly make reference to the parents’ political recourse through the local school board.

Importantly, there was no allegation in the Parker case of “a formalized curriculum requiring students” to read books “affirming gay marriage” or anything that constituted “coercion” or any viable claim of “indoctrination,” according to the court, ibid, 105-07; any such practices which offend religious beliefs would probably have been struck down. Nor did the decision turn on any provision of state law relating to either marriage or education.

The holding of the Parker case would apply to any parents who might not want their child to be exposed to certain viewpoints in a public school, whether it be discussions limited only to traditional heterosexual marriage; or depictions of adoption families, foster care and other nontraditional family situations; or discussions of differing theories of government, religion, philosophy, science or history. Parker simply states that there is no automatic federal judicial remedy for such objections to educational materials.

Whatever the benefits and burdens of the civil institution of marriage, the state’s definition of marriage has no bearing on the curricula in our public schools, either under current law or under LD 1020. Neither the Parker decision nor passage of LD 1020 “requires” or “allows” the teaching of any particular subject in our schools, in answer to the citizen question attached to your letter.

What is taught in private or religious schools, of course, may include the principles and religious tenets of those organizations regarding family institutions and other subjects, and nothing in LD 1020 would change that prerogative of private or religious institutions to instill those beliefs in their children either at home or at their schools.

I trust this letter adequately addresses your question and the concerns of citizens who have sought advice from your department.

Very truly yours,

Janet T. Mills Attorney General
The Yes on 1 obviously had this in the can before AG Mills issued her opinion, but they had to know that the AG would come up with this opinion, because the law doesn't lie. Marc Mutty of Yes on 1 has admitted that these ads represent hypotheses and not what the law dictates. So again: SCARE TACTICS!

It's a disgusting display of a campaign being called out on their fearmongering. But it makes sense for them to stay on message - finish what you began and hope you don't sink in the process, because unfortunately, if people hear this message enough times, no matter how clearly it's disputed, they'll believe it.

Yet the nauseating subtext to this ad is the fact that they want to wish gays and lesbians into non-existence. The topic of LGBT people is going to come up in schools - students are curious and most of the time feel more comfortable asking their teachers about it than their parents.

The current law doesn't demand that teachers instruct children about us, but the it doesn't demand they don't either. Voting for marriage equality either way won't influence this, but it will directly influence adults and their access to rights they pay for through taxes to protect their relationship and their family. But Yes on 1 will do anything to remind voters that "Live and Let Live" shouldn't be applied this time.

Go to NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality to donate so we air more ads and volunteer!

VIDEO: There's a U.S. Rep for This (Ugh) and That (Really?!)

Rob Tisinai does it again with another one of his smart videos.

Read Rob's accompanying post at Waking Up Now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pop Icon Belinda Carlisle Posts Video Requesting NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality Donations

Belinda Carlisle posted a video to her gay son's YouTube account, asking for people to donate to NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality.

Go to NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: EQCA's Marc Solomon Talks About Relaunching 'Let California Ring', 2010 and 2012

There's been a lot of talk lately about the progress Restore Equality 2010 has been making throughout California, a coalition of grassroots groups who believe in returning to the ballot in 2010 to restore marriage equality. They've created the Davis Plan, which divides California up into 10 regions which will then elect their own representatives, and have established an Interim Administrative Group that is helping organize the process.

But during all this progress, I've wondered, "What progress is being made for November, 2012?" One of the major accusations against those who support 2012 is that they prefer to wait for their rights instead of fighting for them immediately. They object to this claim, stating that for the next three years, they will be working hard to navigate California's complicated demographics through field work and messaging, leading to a well-developed campaign for 2012.

So I decided to check in with Marc Solomon, Marriage Director for Equality California (EQCA), whose organization has become the forefront of the 2012 movement. When I called him up, he remarked on my timing. EQCA had a major announcement to make.

The Announcement

We sat down together at Java Detour, a local coffee house haunt, and I asked, "What's the big announcement?"

"We are relaunching Let California Ring," Marc answered. "By that I mean, we’ve added new people to the Executive Committee and the idea is to bring together resources and leaders who are doing critical work on the ground."

A press release issued today stated, "Let California Ring is the country’s largest marriage education effort of its kind. Today a broad-based coalition re-launched Let California Ring, a comprehensive campaign to build support for marriage for California’s same-sex couples with a focus on work in communities of color."

"Let California Ring (LCR) is a not-for-profit marriage education campaign. It’s not about a specific year - it’s about educating and moving people on the issue of marriage," Marc told me. "Between 2006 and 2008, it invested 15 million dollars of moving people on the freedom to marry. It did a lot of work – it invested about 4 million in paid advertising and different kinds of media – newspaper, radio, some television, all in the people of color (POC) communities.

"There was a lot of good work done, but it was overshadowed by the win in courts [the marriage cases] and the NO on 8 campaign, which was a much bigger and intense campaign."

Though Equality California Institute is the fiscal sponsor, LCR is a coalition of groups. "LCR is housed at EQCA Institute, we’re the convenors, but the Executive Committee of LCR is charged with developing budget, raising the funding – so it’s a true coalition and partnership."

The New Let California Ring

So, who are the new people on the LCR's Executive Committee?

"The people who have stayed on is Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry; Matt Foreman of HAAS Jr. Fund and former Executive Director of the Task Force and Empire State Pride Agenda; Thalia Zepatos, consultant of the National Collaborative, and Shannon Minter [of NCLR]," Marc informed. "New folks are me, Marc Solomon; Louis Lopez, founder of Honor PAC, who in my opinion, is the most sophisticated Latino LGBT organization that I’ve run across; Karin Wang, who's on the board of API Equality LA; Ron Buckmire, who chairs the Jordan Rustin Coalition; Rev. Madison Schockley, an amazing supporter, who is an African American United Church of Christ minister in N. County San Diego; Kathy Schwamberger, Vice Chair of EQCA Institute Board; and Roger Doughty, Executive Director of the Horizons Foundation out of San Francisco."

So what's the plan?

"We want to raise at least 15 million over the next three years," Marc said. "The primary focus of this work is going to be to move POC communities on the issue of marriage."

By partnering with organizations represented in the LCR's Executive Committee, as well as faith organizations, such as California Faith For Equality, Marc informed they plan "to do message testing development across the board, but particularly develop messaging that will work in these specific communities." All of this will be part of an education campaign.

"What we want to do in 2010 is research and work on pilot projects to put in place the messaging and delivery mechanisms that work, and put people on the ground to do the field organizing. So yes, it involves message testing."

And after that?

"The next step is to improve our messaging and then to add more components to a field education campaign. The additional components are media, TV, radio, online, newspaper ads, direct mail, mobilizing leaders in the community, getting news stories placed," he said.

Marc then refers to the work LCR did in the past, which he characterizes as having been "pretty scientific."

"They picked Santa Barbara and Monterey, which are similar communities in many respects," he said. In Santa Barbara and Monterey, they did polling before any work was begun. Then in Santa Barbara, they began an education campaign with paid media and field work. In Monterey, which was the control variable, they did no work.

"It was a two month experiment and there was some pretty dramatic movement in the polling [in Santa Barbara]," Marc said. "People from 18-29, the movement was 19% and Monterey showed no movement."

"It created this echo chamber [in Santa Barbara] where you see the TV ads and you talk about them, and you see someone at your fair and festival, talk to someone about marriage, you get a knock on your door, you get a direct mail, and it spurred on lots and lots of conversations and it spurred on a lot of volunteer activity," Marc continued. "So Santa Barbara was more prepared for the NO on 8 campaign. If you talked to the Santa Barbara people at the Gay and Lesbian Center, they were really ready and put on a strong local effort."

Santa Barbara voted against Prop 8, a marked change from Prop 22.

"People move only one way on this issue, and it’s our way," he said. "It’s about provoking conversations, hearing people’s personal stories, seeing things that relate to you and on television."

So how will LCR look today?

"We want many more groups and organizations involved with this work as much as possible," Marc said. "We’re creating three committees to help them get involved."
  1. Messaging Committee - they will work with a team of experts, some with more specific expertise in POC messaging. "What we’re envisioning is that all the people out there with the ideas of messaging - because many people have become real analysts of media - we want to provide a way for plenty of input and suggestions and then test them and try them out. We then want to go out and do real training on how to use the messaging. And have different methods on line and use our field operation as a means of disseminating that messaging. Having a task force for the back and forth is important."
  2. Families Committee - this committee will focus on getting the stories of the 18,000 same-sex couples legally married in California during the "summer of love" before Prop 8 passed out to the public. "What we’ll do through this committee is organize and train married couples, their children, their parents as well as those who aspire to get married to tell their stories," Marc informed. "And specifically, one of the projects is going to set up a speakers bureau, and our field organizers will identify places for them to speak – such as churches and community groups and labor meetings, you name it. With the message research that we will have done, we will conduct training of the couples, but the most important part of the training is help people speak from the heart as to why marriage matters to them, or to their moms, son and son-in-law."
  3. Field Committee - "The idea is to expand the reach and level of involvement of door-to-door canvassing. The concept that we’re thinking about or envisioning is a statewide field committee and then the local committees that will support the field work."
How will this differ from all the work going on right now, especially for 2010?

"This work is persuasion work on the freedom to marry no matter when we go back to the ballot," Marc answered. "It’s not connected to any year. It’s to build greater and greater support by having personal conversations. In order to be effective, we have to grow the numbers of people who are taking action."

The Work for 2012

What’s actually being done for 2012 that’s different?

"I think that this is the work right now that needs to happen to get ready to go back to the ballot down the road," Marc said.

But he immediately added, "So why am I saying down the road? It's because LCR is not-for-profit - it’s educational, it’s a 501c3. This work done by the EQCA Institute cannot be about a specific year."

Marc paused, thinking hard about his next words. "However, wearing my advocacy hat, we want to be in a place where were are prepared to go back to the ballot in 2012. That might sound a little convoluted, but because 501c3 is about education, it’s not about ballots."

"EQCA, the advocacy organization, has made it very clear about when we support going back to the ballot, and that’s November 2012 and not later, " he added. "We think reasonable deadlines have power."

2010 Decline to Sign Campaign?

This led to my next question on a touchy subject. There's been rumblings amongst the 2010 groups that a Decline to Sign campaign has been in the works against a 2010 ballot initiative. I asked him directly if EQCA was engaging in this, or if he knew of one in the works.

Marc shook his head and said emphatically, "I can say definitively - no. Absolutely not. And that it is shocking to hear that word is floating around, and I wonder, 'Where is this coming from?'"

I asked if he knew.

"I have no idea," he answered. "Honestly, it’s sort of sad that that idea is floating out there. Disappointing."

Thoughts on 2010 Progress

Recently, Love Honor Cherish submitted several different versions of ballot language to the Attorney General as place holders for 2010. It was reported that EQCA had input on the language. But how much?

"It was mainly Geoff," Marc said, referring to Geoff Kors, EQCA's Executive Director. "He’s a Stanford educated lawyer and has much more legal expertise than I do."

"So look, the idea is that when anything that is submitted on behalf of our community, we should be putting our best selves forward," he quickly added. "We don’t want to end up with a summary from the Attorney General or a title from the Attorney General that disadvantages us because once there’s a precedent, that could be used for future ballot language as well. We don’t want ballot language that would hurt kids and create a precedent there either. So even though we couldn’t be more clear that we think 2012 is the right time to go back and that 2010 is the wrong time to go back to the ballot, we still are providing technical support because whatever is submitted could have long-lasting ramifications."

I was curious to know what he thought of the progress made by Restore Equality 2010.

"I know a lot of the people who have gotten involved in 2010 well."

Marc then laughed as he thought of a story. "I was out this past Saturday night, and it’s almost comical. I went up to a friend of mine who is a 2010 person and asked, 'Are we allowed to talk because you’re 2010 and I’m 2012?' We just laughed about it because in some ways, it’s become this sort of dividing line. One the one hand, it’s very serious, and on the other, you can sometimes be lighthearted about the fact that we are all fighting for the exact same thing, and we are divided into these different camps.

"I respect lots and lots of people who are fighting for 2010. I admire the motivations of many of them - the passion and the reasoning. And I disagree. Period. And I wish we weren’t in this situation and I wish we were all pulling together behind a plan."

The Status of California's Grassroots

It's been almost a year since Prop 8, and I've observed energy is waning. So I asked Marc for his view was on the current grassroots situation in California.

Marc mulled this over a bit.

"In the wording of the website of LCR, which we’ve updated, we’ve made very clear that the world is a changed place and that grassroots leadership is exceptionally important to the success of the equality movement," Marc answered. "I feel EQCA, and I personally feel, a great sense of responsibility to support, nurture and learn from the new grassroots activists.

"I see some groups that are really finding niches for themselves and continue to do really important work, groups that have a lot of staying power, like Equal Roots and FAIR," he said. "I was very impressed at the leadership of Kip Williams of One Struggle One Fight. He is someone who has a huge amount of integrity. I think what he pulled off in helping put together by co-directing the [National Equality March] was really exceptional. These kind of leaders need to be supported."

Marc paused.

"At the same time, I think the idea that we should go back to the ballot as soon as possible because if we don’t, the grassroots is going to die, is sort of the tail wagging the dog. The grassroots needs to be in this struggle for marriage equality and equality for all LGBT people for the long haul."

How Supporters Can Get Involved

So where can people plug in? I asked.

"One, we’re going to have a field committee that a lot of people can plug in to," he said. "The best place is to go to your local [EQCA] field office. We’re canvassing every single weekend out of our nine field offices around the state."

These field offices will continue to operate under the EQCA name but will be supported by the work being initiated by LCR.

"The LCR field committee will be to there to enhance, support and build on existing field efforts. In some places I’m sure will work hand-in-hand with the EQCA field operation on the ground, and in other places."

The LCR website is a work in progress for now. It will provide over the next few months the most cutting edge grassroots mobilization tools available.

"Between now and election day we are phone banking everyday from 2:30-5:30pm out of our field offices to support Maine, and in the evenings to support Washington state. We’ve committed to 25,000 phone calls and I want to blow that out of the water.

"And as we roll out programs, like the speaker’s bureau, we’ll reach out to you if you're married or you can reach out to your local field organizer," Marc informed.

"If you live in the Central Valley or Silicon Valley or San Diego, I promise you our organizers will put you to work, work that is really important to winning marriage back. We need the people power now."

Read Marc's post about the relaunch at California Ripple Effect.

Anti-Discrimination One Kalamazoo Campaign Releases First Campaign Ad

From the One Kalamazoo campaign website in Michigan: "One Kalamazoo is the campaign to educate voters about the need to vote YES this November and support the Kalamazoo Non-Discrimination Ordinance. A grassroots organization, one Kalamazoo believes that all people—including gay and transgender people—should be treated fairly and equally when they live, work, or visit Kalamazoo."

This is the campaign's first ad.

Check out a little bit of irony about the images used by One Kalamazoo at Good As You.

Barney Frank Explains His Criticisms of the National Equality March

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jon Stewart Slams Fox for Ignoring National Equality March; More Videos and Pics of March!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Queer and Loathing in D.C.
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

But before this aired, he slammed the mainstream media in general for ignoring the march.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Leaves It There
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

And now, the Daily Show's OFFICIAL coverage of the march.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Queer and Loathing in D.C. - Radical Gay Agenda
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Marta Evry of Venice for Change has uploaded the rest of her numerous and amazing pictures of the march.

The Rally

The March

The National Equality March Movie

Judge Walker Rules Prop 8 Trial Will Proceed, Hammers Prop 8 Proponents

Judge Walker denied Proposition 8 proponents' motion requesting Walker reconsider going to trial over the federal case challenging the discriminatory initiative. In an oral order, Walker rejected Baker v. Nelson as precedent, a case decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1972 limiting marriage to between opposite-sex couples.

The exchange between Judge Walker and lawyer Charles Cooper, representing the defenders of Prop 8, is reported by Legal Pad. The crux of the debate hinges on if the case should proceed by rational basis or strict scrutiny.
"We can't put very much stock in that case, can we?" Walker asked Cooper. The ruling in Baker v. Nelson had not been a considered opinion, Walker said, but rather issued without comment. Plus it was old, he said, and the facts weren't the same.

Same-sex-marriage attorney Theodore Olson of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher was quick to reinforce Walker's doubts.

"The points you made in your questions are points I would make," Olson said.

Beyond outright dismissal, Walker is also about make the consequential decision about which standard of review will apply during the January trial. And while he didn't give a clear indication of his leanings this morning, he did a good job of demonstrating the stakes.

Prop 8 defenders think a rational basis should prevail, while same sex marriage advocates argue for stricter level of scrutiny. Cooper rested much of his argument on the notion that the state has a rational basis to promote opposite sex marriages, in order to further procreation.

At one point, though, Walker posited a hypothetical: assuming he agrees with Cooper on that point, how does permitting same sex couples to marry adversely affect that interest?

After some back and forth, Cooper eventually conceded: "The answer is, I don't know. I don't know."

"Does that mean if it's not rational basis review, you lose?" Walker asked.


"You just haven't figured out how to win on that level," the chief judge surmised.
Ouch for Cooper. Though we already knew this, Cooper and Prop 8 proponents will do anything to avoid going to trial because 1) They obviously don't know how to defend Prop 8 by strict scrutiny and 2) They really don't want to hand over internal campaign documents, which they've been ordered to do and are appealing. Must be some good stuff in those docs.

Walker is deciding whether or not to let cameras roll during the January trial - I sure hope so. This will make for some really good drama.

I will post written order when available.

LDS Apostle Compares Mormon Backlash Post Prop 8 to African American Civil Rights Struggle

Elder Dallin Oaks, an LDS apostle, gave a speech at Mormom Brigham Young University Tuesday comparing the backlash against Mormons post Prop 8 to the struggles of African Americans in the South during the civil rights movement. In the same speech, he called marriage equality an "alleged civil right."

Oaks suggested that atheists and others are seeking to intimidate people of faith and silence their voices in the public square, according to his prepared remarks.

"The extent and nature of religious devotion in this nation is changing," said Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a church governing body. "The tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding, and this probably portends public pressures for laws that will impinge on religious freedom."


"Blacks were lynched and beaten and denied the right to vote by their government," said Marc Solomon, marriage director for Equality California, which spearheaded the No on 8 campaign. "To compare that to criticism of Mormon leaders for encouraging people to give vast amounts of money to take away rights of a small minority group is illogical and deeply offensive."


Fred Karger, founder of the gay rights group Californians Against Hate, said Oaks' speech is part of a public relations offensive to "try to turn the tables on what has been a complete disaster for the Mormon church ... They are trying to be the victim here. They're not. They're the perpetrators."

I've said from the beginning that I don't agree with the focus of our ire over Prop 8 should be against the Mormons. I saw behavior at the protests around the Los Angeles Mormon temple immediately following the passage that I not only felt embarrassed by but shame for our community, though the anger behind these actions was justified.

However, I find it very ironic that the Mormon leadership is playing victim and comparing this current backlash against them to hundreds of years of oppression that African Americans suffered, because the LDS church was part of that oppression, calling them cursed because of their skin color or what they considered the "Mark of Cain" and declaring them unable to be saved, go to heaven or to be members of their church. It was only when the church experienced societal pressure that one of the apostles experienced a "revelation" and suddenly African Americans were A-OK.

But on top of that, in reference to Proposition 8, the LDS church was a major player in creating the ballot to strip LGBT citizens of an existing and fundamental right. How can they turn around and then claim victimization?

This arrogance and playing victim is offensive on so many levels.

I guess it's only a matter of time before another apostle experiences another "revelation" and we gays will be A-OK, too.

New Poll Shows Marriage Equality Inching Ahead in Maine But Facing Big Hurdles

A new poll of likely Maine voters out from Pan Atlantic SMS Group indicates 51.8% would vote no on Question 1 which is attempting to overturn the state's new marriage equality law. (PDF)

They were asked:

Question 1 - "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" If today was Election Day, how would you vote on this issue?
  • 40.9% would vote YES
  • 2.0% lean YES
  • 50.6% would vote NO
  • 1.2% lean NO
  • 5.2% are undecided
DirigoBlue reports:
More voters in the 2nd Congressional District would vote YES (51.8%), while fewer in the 1st Congressional District would vote YES (34.2%). While 64.3% of Republicans would vote YES, only 24.2% of Democrats would, with a surprising 42.6% of Independents saying they would vote YES.

And of Catholics surveyed, 50.0% responded that they would vote YES, while 42.7% would vote NO, with 7.3% undecided.
This is good news, but it could also have dire consequences for us.

Yesterday, the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality announced how much it has raised thus far, and it turns out they have out raised the opposition by $1.1 million. The Yes on 1 responded by freaking out and blasting an email to supporters begging for more money. And now they can wail that they're behind in the polls, which will urge even more people to donate. So expect the LDS and Catholic church and the National Organization for Marriage to fork over more chunks of change.

Remember last year when the NO on 8 campaign announced we were running behind and needed funds, and floods of donations came in? Don't underestimate the opposition - they're about to get a lot of money by proclaiming the same thing.

With three weeks left before elections, anything can happen.

We need to keep donating money and time to the NO on 1 campaign. Donate to Maine's moneybomb! The goal is to raise as much money as possible by midnight October 15, the deadline for reporting numbers.

Can't donate? Don't worry. You can phone bank!
Sign up for a two hour virtual phone bank shift. You will be trained.

Wednesday, October 14: 3-5 pm PT (6-8 pm ET)
Wednesday, October 14: 4-6 pm PT (7-9 pm ET)

Thursday, October 15: 3-5 pm PT (6-8 pm ET)
Thursday, October 15: 4-6 pm PT (7-9 pm ET)

Friday, October 16: 3-5 pm PT (6-8 pm ET)
Friday, October 16: 4-6 pm PT (7-9 pm ET)

Saturday, October 17: 7-9 am PT (10 am - 12 pm ET)
Saturday, October 17: 9-11 am PT (12-2 pm ET)
Saturday, October 17: 11 am - 1 pm PT (2-4 pm ET)
Saturday, October 17: 1-3 pm PT (4-6 pm ET)
Saturday, October 17: 3-5 pm (6-8 pm ET)

Sunday, October 18: 7-9 am PT (10 am - 12 pm ET)
Sunday, October 18: 9-11 am PT (12-2 pm ET)
Sunday, October 18: 11 am - 1 pm PT (2-4 pm ET)
Sunday, October 11: 1-3 pm PT (4-6 pm ET)
Sunday, October 18: 3-5 pm PT (6-8 pm ET)

Don't let the same people who passed Prop 8 do the same damage in Maine!

Hearing on Federal Prop 8 Challenge - Defendants Attempting to Avoid Trial

Prop 8 proponents are challenging Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling to take the case against the initiative to trial. A press advisory from the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

A hearing on the federal challenge to Proposition 8 led by the American Foundation for Equal Rights and attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies will be held at 10 am TODAY, Wednesday, October 14 in San Francisco. A press availability will follow the hearing.

At the hearing, Olson – on behalf of plaintiffs Kris Perry & Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo -- will argue that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional and will urge the court to continue moving the case toward the January trial that was previously ordered by Judge Vaughn Walker. Olson will argue against claims by the defenders of Prop. 8 that the initiative is constitutional and that the court should accept that opinion without a trial.

“Prop. 8 creates two separate and unequal classes of people within our state. That's discriminatory and that's unconstitutional," said Chad Griffin, Board President, American Foundation for Equal Rights. "While we expect them to continue following standard practice and file motions to delay this case, nothing the other side argues can avoid the fact that Prop. 8 violates the rights guaranteed to all of us by the U.S. Constitution. We look forward to proceeding toward the trial Judge Walker has ordered for January."

This is the fourth hearing in the case since it was filed in late May. In an order issued just prior to the July 2 hearing, Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, said: "Given that serious questions are raised in these proceedings ... the court is inclined to proceed directly and expeditiously to the merits of plaintiffs' claims. ... The just, speedy and inexpensive determination of these issues would appear to call for proceeding promptly to trial.”

Perry, Stier, Katami and Zarrillo comprise two same-sex couples who wish to be married but, because of Proposition 8, have been denied marriage licenses.

“This unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” their suit states.

According to the suit, Proposition 8:
**Violates the Due Process Clause by impinging on fundamental liberties
**Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
**Singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of “second-class citizens.”
**Discriminates on the basis of gender.
**Discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

Olson is a former U.S. Solicitor General who represented George W. Bush in 2000’s Bush v. Gore, which decided the presidential election. Boies represented Al Gore in that case. Olson, widely regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional lawyers, has argued 55 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies ranks as one of the leading trial lawyers of his generation, having secured landmark victories for clients in numerous areas of the law. This is the first time they have served alongside each other as co-counsel.

“More than 30 years ago, the United States Supreme Court recognized that marriage is one of the basic rights of man,” the suit states, referring to the Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down bans on interracial marriage.

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier have been together for 9 years and are the parents of four boys. Perry is Executive Director of First 5 California, a state agency that promotes education and health for children under five. She holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz and an MSW from San Francisco State University. Stier is Information Technology Director for the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency. She is originally from Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Iowa. Perry and Stier first tried to marry in 2004, after the City of San Francisco began issuing licenses. They live in Berkeley, CA.

Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo have been together for 8 years. Katami is a fitness expert and business owner who graduated from Santa Clara University before receiving his graduate degree from UCLA. Zarrillo is the General Manager of a theater exhibition company. A native of New Jersey, Zarrillo graduated from Montclair State University. Having wanted to marry each other for more than two years, they considered options including traveling to other states for a “civil union,” but felt any alternative fell short of marriage. They live in Burbank, CA.

They have issued the following joint statement: “We and our relationships should be treated equally under the law. Our goal is to advance the cause of equality for all Americans, which is the promise that makes this nation so great.”


Thanks to Prop 8 and the Right to Marry blog, I have the motion to oppose Prop 8 proponents to avoid disclosing internal campaign documents. Prop 8 supporters are appealing Judge Walker's ruling that they hand over internal communications.

Opposition to Motion to Stay Discovery in Perry v. Schwarzenneger, filed 10/13/09