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December 11, 2008


Jon Stewart has always been a strong ally of the gay community and he's never hesitated to speak out against homophobic prejudices. Last tuesday he had failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on The Daily Show to promote his new book, Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That’s Bringing Common Sense Back to America.

In the book Huckabee states that all people are created equal, so for the last half of the interview Stewart confronted the conservative politician by saying that, for gay people, Huckabee believes “it is corrosive to society to allow them to have the privileges that all humans enjoy.” (see the interview below)

In the course of trying to defend his position, Huckabee said, for the first time publicly, that because homosexuals choose their lifestyle, their struggle for marriage equality can't be compared to the mixed-race marriage issues of the past.

Stewart interrupted him...“This gets to the crux of it,” saying the difference in opinion is “between what you believe gay people are and what I do.”

“I'll tell you this,” he continued. “Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. And the protections that we have, for religion -- we protect religion -- and talk about a lifestyle choice! That is absolutely a choice. Gay people don't choose to be gay." He then quickly asked, "At what age did you choose not to be gay?"

Here's that portion of the interview...

As the Courage Campaign points out, "The passage of Prop 8 in California has catalyzed a national discussion of same-sex marriage. And Jon Stewart's discussion with Mike Huckabee...may become one of the more significant developments in the ongoing debate over the fundamental right to marriage.


It's no secret that the New York Senate has been the road block for gay marriage legislation. A bill passed by the State Assembly and endorsed by Governor Paterson was buried in committee by the republican controlled senate - effectively killing the measure.

With the November 4th election of a majority of democrats to the senate, it looked like that legislation would finally be moved forward.

Unfortunately, Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. led a rebellion of three Democratic Senators who refused to support their own leadership unless their conditions were met. Diaz's "conditions" included, among other things, that no vote could be brought to the floor that would advance marriage equality.

With the support of these three senators, democrats would once again regain control, by a 32-30 majority, after decades of republican domination. Without their support, it would be very difficult for Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith to effectively advance any democratic initiatives.

Well, with politics being what it is and gay issues always being considered expendable for political expediency, it looked like Smith was going to acquiesce to these three renegades and remove the gay marriage bill from consideration. Even in spite of the substantial amount of money donated to the democrats by gays and gay allies during the pre-election campaigns.

It now seems that Senator Smith has, with a lot of coaxing from fellow democrats, once again found his conscience. According to a story at Newsday.com:

Senate Democratic leader Malcolm Smith said Wednesday any deal with three dissidents to secure his party's hold on the chamber majority is officially off.

Smith said he has the support of the Democratic Caucus and has ceased negotiations with the three, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Sen.-elect Pedro Espada Jr., both of the Bronx, and Sen. Carl Kruger of Brooklyn. Their support would give the party a 32-30 majority beginning Jan. 1 after decades of Republican control.

"We're prepared to wait if we have to to come into the majority," Smith said. He was flanked by senators Neil Breslin of Albany and Liz Krueger of Manhattan when he made the announcement.

Smith said the three renegades were motivated by "personal interests." He also said he wouldn't subject civil rights issues to negotiation, referring to a proposal backed by many Democrats to legalize gay marriage.

The ball is now in the dissident's court. They can either follow through on their threat and side with the republicans, which would, in most expert's opinions, very likely result in political suicide or they can sit down with Smith and renegotiate their positions.

In either case, it's really great to see a politician stand up to intimidation and do the right thing. Thanks to Smith and the other democrats, legal gay marriage in New York State once again has a very real chance of happening.

I've always loved New York and I'll love it even more if this goes through. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

December 10, 2008


The "Think Before You Speak" TV commercial series, which point out the harm in homophobic language, won the Best Public Service Advertising Campaign award from the industry's prestigious Ad Council.

The commercials feature celebrities like pop star Hilary Duff and gay comedian Wanda Sykes. They zero-in on the all to often used phrase "that's so gay" and point out the hurtful and demeaning effects that the homophobic phrase has on people. The hope is to discourage young people from saying "that's so gay" when they're describing something they think is negative or dumb.

The Arnold Agency, which created the series in collaboration with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, took home the Gold Bell award for excellence.

Below are the three commercials in the series:

My source for this article was The Advocate

December 9, 2008


People For The American Way Launches Campaign Against DOMA...

The organization that was founded by writer/producer Norman Lear (All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times and Maude) and dedicated to fighting prejudice and injustice since 1981, has launched a petition campaign for the repeal of DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) called DUMP DOMA.

President-elect Obama has said that he supports the repeal of DOMA but already, the anti-gay Right has launched a campaign to "protect DOMA."

Don't let that happen. It's time for the federal government to stop punishing loving same-sex couples. It's time to repeal DOMA.

Click here to take action right now to make sure Congress sends President-elect Obama the legislation he needs to sign after he takes office.

While states across the country have different laws regarding marriage equality and civil unions, and far too many states currently have bans on same-sex marriage, repealing DOMA would be a huge step in the direction of equality.

* It would be a repudiation of the forces of hate and division who have long pushed to enshrine discrimination further in federal law.

* It would mean federal recognition of all marriages in states like Massachusetts and Connecticut which have full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

* Repealing DOMA would stop the government from selectively withholding the 1,300 or so legal protections that only legal civil marriage affords.

* It would remove a discriminatory blemish from federal law, sending a powerful moral message.

Don't Tell Me Who To Love...

Ray Boltz was a highly successful contemporary Christian music singer-songwriter. During his 20 year career he became a household name in evangelical circles and was widely praised for his inspirational music. He was also married to his wife Carol for over 30 years and had four children — three daughters and a son who are now between the ages of 22 and 32.

In a Washington Blade interview on September 12th, Ray finally came out publicly as a gay man.

“I didn’t make a big deal of it,” Boltz says during a 90-minute phone interview from his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “But I was trembling. I’d kind of had two identities since I moved to Florida where I kind of had this other life and I’d never merged the two lives. This was the first time I was taking my old life as Ray Boltz, the gospel singer, and merging it with my new life. Emotionally it was kind of a big deal to think about that.

I’d denied it ever since I was a kid. I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am.’ And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore … when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, ‘Just end this.’”

He thought he was able to hide his depression from his family but on December 26, 2004 - the same day as the Indian Ocean tsunami, while sitting around the kitchen table at his daughter’s house, Boltz’s son, Philip, asked him what was wrong.

At that point, he was very, very tired of living a lie and he thought, "Well, I can just do what I always do and hide the truth or I can take a risk and be honest. That day, with the tsunami, has become very symbolic in our family.”

It took a while for his family to come to terms with his revelation but, in the end, they adjusted. "It was a very tough time for them too, but the bottom line was they loved me and they still love me," Boltz said. "It’s been an amazing journey of acceptance on their part … I was offered support and love from each member of my family, including my wife.”

Moved by the passion of the Prop 8 struggle, Ray just released his latest "inspirational" song - actually, it's more of an anthem. It's very moving and right on the mark. I include it below:

DON'T FORGET - Sign the petition against DOMA!

I just discovered, thanks to Box Turtle Bulletin, that Ray's wife, Carol Boltz, has a blog herself. On it, she gives a running commentary on her sometimes difficult and sometimes rewarding journey to understanding, compassion and acceptance. She is a very interesting and clearly, very loving person. Her postings are informative, captivating and fascinating to read.

Check out Carol's blog at: My Heart Goes Out

December 8, 2008


According to USA Today, the Iowa Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing arguments tomorrow in a closely watched gay marriage case. Legal experts say that the outcome of this case could have ramifications throughout the nation and would be far more difficult to challenge at the ballot box.

The lawsuit, Varnum v. Brien, was filed by six same-sex couples and could make Iowa the first state in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage. And, in Iowa, state laws governing the procedure for amending the Iowa constitution requires a majority approval of the Iowa House and Senate during two consecutive legislative sessions and then it would also have to be approved by a majority of voters in the next general election.

In 1998, the state legislators approved the Iowa Defense of Marriage Act. However, last year, Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson declared the ban unconstitutional.

Onwuachi-Willig, who signed a court brief supporting gay-marriage rights, said, "This is the heartland of America — a place where family values are revered. It would be an incredibly strong signal for the Iowa Supreme Court to find that same-sex marriages are legal."

Kate Varnum said, "I think Iowa has been ahead of the curve on civil rights. I'm proud to live here. I think Iowans are very fair minded."