Thank you for checking out my blog. To submit comments, click on "COMMENTS" at the end of each post. To email a post to a friend, click the white envelope also at the end of each post. Contact Me

TO ADD YOUR BLOG HERE - Click the "Follow This Blog" on the right.

TO SUBSCRIBE - Click a subscription option on the right.

TO READ PAST POSTINGS - Scroll down to my "Blog Archives" on the right or enter a search word or phrase in the search box above.

November 20, 2008


I just received the following from Equality Arizona:

In November of 1998, Rita Hester, a transgender woman in Boston, Massachusetts, answered a knock at her door. Instead of a friend, however, the person at the door was an assailant who forced entry into her apartment and stabbed her over twenty times. Rita's death that night proved to be the event that focused the attention of transgender people everywhere on the terrible violence often inflicted on trans people.

Today, November 20th, is Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day honors the memory of persons murdered during the past year. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time to stand up against this violence and say "NO MORE."

Come remember and support our community at these upcoming events:

- Today, November 20th, at 6:30pm hosted by the LGBTQ Coalition at Arizona State University
- The event will be on the university campus in Tempe, Arizona, on Hayden Lawn.
- For more information, contact lgbtq.coalition@asu.edu

- Today, November 20th, hosted by Southern Arazona Gender Alliance
- Interfaith Service at 4:30pm at the Quaker House (931 N. 5th Avenue), followed by a vigil and procession at 5:30pm, Catalina Park (309 E. 1st Street) and a Puertas Abiertas Reception w/ Keynote Sylvia Guerrero at 6:45pm, Wingspan.
- For more information, please visit their website at: http://sagatucson.org/saga/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=159&Itemid=2

- Observed on Sunday, November 23rd at 5:00 P.M. at the Arizona State Capitol located on 1700 West Washington Street.
- For more information, visit www.azdor.org or email at Transforum@gmail.com


According to today's LA Times, the California Supreme Court voted 6-1 to hear arguments against proposition 8, the now infamous anti-gay marriage amendment.

The fact that the court agreed to hear arguments does, on one hand, seem to be a good sign that the proposition may be overturned. The easiest thing for them to do if they were sure they would let proposition 8 stand, would have been to simply refuse to hear the case at all. But, since they refused a concurrent request to stay the proposition and allow same-sex marriages to continue until a final decision is made, makes it very difficult to read their intentions.

UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu said "A stay is an extraordinary measure," and the court's refusal to put Proposition 8 on hold pending a ruling did not suggest that the court would eventually uphold the measure.

UCLA law professor Brad Sears, an expert on sexual orientation law, said "If the justices were really leaning towards upholding Prop. 8, and that was clear, they would have wanted to do it as quickly as possible and put the issue to rest." The delay, he said, could indicate that the justices were divided and needed time to resolve the issues.

The court did say that they would expedite the proceedings and it's possible that they could hold hearings on the lawsuits as early as March. That's a timetable law scholars said was swift considering the complexity and importance of the legal issues.

When propostion 8 passed, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he expected the court to overturn the proposition and indicated that he favored that outcome. A terse statement made through an aide today said, "The governor believes the Supreme Court ought to bring clarity to this issue."

I couldn't agree more. I am personally, albiet guardedly, optimistic that they will end up overturning it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

To read the full story, go to: LA Times

November 19, 2008


First up, a note about yesterday's posting. I said that in today's posting I would write more about a concerted effort to expose and educate those who oppose us. Well, when I started to write out my suggestions, I quickly realized that to be effective I would have to be much more specific than I originally intended. So what I'm going to try to do over the next few days is break it down into segments and post each under the heading of "Activism 4.0." That's an ID phrase that was just recently coined by writer/journalist/blogger Rex Wockner. I think it's a great label for the new direction our movement is clearly headed in.

Now, about Obama's plan...
President-elect Barack Obama has just released his multilevel, civil rights approach plan. In addition to its intent to strengthen civil rights overall, it also includes an aggressive GLBT-specific agenda. Below is the outline of his plan for our community and for civil rights in general:

Support for the GLBT community:

* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

* Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

* Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Yes, he is still using the phrase "Civil Unions." But I do think that if he is successful in repealing DOMA and guaranteeing the same full rights that heterosexual married couples receive, he wouldn't be opposed to changing that label if it were successfully challenged in court or brought up in congress. And, let's not forget that when that phrase has been challenged in state supreme courts it has been deemed to be an unconstitutional "separate but equal" status and overturned.

* Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

* Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

* Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

* Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.

* Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Barack Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

Strengthen Civil Rights:
* Combat Employment Discrimination: Obama and Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: Obama and Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section.

* End Deceptive Voting Practices: Obama will sign into law his legislation that establishes harsh penalties for those who have engaged in voter fraud and provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote.

* End Racial Profiling: Obama and Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.

* Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support: Obama and Biden will provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society. Obama and Biden will also create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.

* Eliminate Sentencing Disparities: Obama and Biden believe the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated.

* Expand Use of Drug Courts: Obama and Biden will give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior.

At this point, I can't tell you how happy I am to have supported and voted for Obama. Not only has he made significant history by just being elected but with the publication of this civil rights plan, he has become the first President in the 232 year history of this country who not only supports our community but will make our specific civil rights a very real part of his Presidential agenda.

I am very excited about the very real possibilities we now have but I am also still keeping my fingers crossed.

November 18, 2008


5 years ago, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision allowing same-sex couples to wed, opponents warned that traditional, heterosexual marriage would be severely harmed, churches would be forced to perform gay weddings, homosexuality would be taught in schools forever damaging the fragile psyches of vulnerable young children and former governor Mitt Romney predicted that the state would become the "Las Vegas of same-sex marriage."

Well, no church has been forced to perform gay weddings unless they chose to do so and children were not forced to learn about homosexuality in school unless their parents agreed, in writing, to allow them to attend any class that examined or even just discussed the subject.

Also, to Mitt Romney's embarrassment, Massachusetts has not become the "Las Vegas of same-sex marriage." In fact, according to the Boston Globe, the gay marriage rates have leveled off at about 1,500 a year or about 4 percent of all state marriages in 2006 and 2007. And, the state's divorce rate, including both gay and straight marriages, has remained the same and is still the lowest in the country.

Clearly, the opponents of gay marriage outright lied about everything they said. None of their dire warnings or predictions happened and gay marriage has become very matter-of-fact. Virtually no one scowls at hand-holding couples anymore and children from both gay and straight families play together, go to school together and attend events and functions together. In truth, gay families have become just another part of the communities they live in.

Unfortunately, the hate-mongers who, in fact, are basically the same people who were the driving forces behind the recent anti-gay measures in California, Arizona, Florida and Arkansas, learned important lessons from Massachusetts. The only way to win was for them to spend tens of millions of dollars and simply overwhelm the general electorate by flooding the airwaves with false and misleading advertising, putting thousands of church-instructed volunteers on the streets marching from door to door and encouraging minority community clergy to preach their brand of homophobia from their pulpits as well.

Although Massachusetts wasn't deluged with quite that kind of a massive undertaking, the biggest difference between the people of that state and the other four is that the majority didn't believe the homophobic, apocalyptic rantings. Most of them simply knew better.

That's why a concerted effort of not only exposing the lies of these frauds but also reaching out and educating the uninformed is so important. I'll have more on this in my posting tomorrow.

November 17, 2008


Well known comedian Wanda Sykes decided that it was time for her to go public with her sexuality. And she did just that at the Join The Impact rally in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Wanda is an Emmy award-winning American stand-up comedian and actress. She is well known for her blunt observations on current events, the differences between the sexes and races and life in general. She is probably best known for her roles on two Emmy winning series, The New Adventures of Old Christine, opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Barb and on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, as herself.

She has never been secretive about her sexuality but she has never come out and discussed it publicly before either. She told the crowd that the passage of Proposition 8 spurred her decision to officially come out.

"Everybody that knows me personally, they know I’m gay. But that’s the way people should be able to live their lives.”

“We took a huge leap forward and then got dragged 12 feet back. I felt like I was being attacked, personally attacked — our community was attacked."

Watch her full rally statement below:

SIDE NOTE: Check out the pictures (top right column) my partner took at our Join The Impact rally here in Phoenix. If you want to see larger versions with captions, just click on any picture and it will take you to our album.