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.

March 29, 2009


On March 10th, I reported on a Jamaican travel warning that was issued because of the worsening climate of hate and violence towards all LGBT people in that country.

Over the weekend, a coalition of activists gathered at the Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco to declare an all-out boycott of Jamaican products and travel.

Fittingly, the plaza is where Harvey Milk launched his highly successful crusade against Coors beer for their blatantly defiant homophobia. That campaign was so effective that it ultimately crippled Coors' sales so severely that the company was forced to completely restructure its policies and attitudes towards the GLBT community.

Michael Petrelis of the Bay Area Reporter said in his article:

There are several avenues of participation I ask you to consider. Personally boycott Myers's rum and Red Stripe beer. Ask your favorite bars to boycott them also. If you're a bar or restaurant owner willing to pull those products, call me to add your establishment's name to the growing list of gay venues boycotting Jamaican drinks. My phone number is: (415) 621-6267.

Deliver a pro-gay and pro-boycott message to Mr. Anthony Johnson, the Jamaican ambassador to the U.S. Send e-mails to: mbassador@jamaicaembassy.org. You can reach the embassy by telephone at: (202) 452-0660.

Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin said of the boycott:

After much debate and with some reluctance, I too join the call for a boycott. My reluctance stems from concerns about the impact this boycott may have on LGBT Jamaicans. But in the end, I cannot recommend that American dollars be spent in such a hostile environment. I believe consumers have a right to know what’s happening there and make their spending decisions accordingly.

According to the Boycott Jamaica website:

This nation should be avoided at all costs until the Jamaican government takes action to end the country’s virulently homophobic climate and draconian laws that persecute homosexuals. Until Jamaica takes the following easy steps an official boycott is in effect:

1) Publicly commit to end gay bashing on the island and improve the human rights situation.

2) A statement from the Prime Minister clearly and unequivocally condemning violence against GLBT people and expressing regret for past violence

As I did during the Coors boycott, I will support this boycott by not buying anything Jamaican and if I order any drink in a bar or restaurant that uses rum as an ingredient, I will tell the bartender/waiter that I don't want Myers' rum or any other Jamaican product used in my drink.

March 27, 2009


During a video taped interview with 365gay.com (see full interview below), openly gay Representative Barney Frank referred to Justice Antonin Scalia as "that homophobe" in response to a question about the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Frank was discussing gay marriage and his expectation that the high court would some day be called upon to decide whether the Constitution allows the federal government to deny recognition to same-sex marriages. He commented, "I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court.

In his posting at The Hill's Congress Blog, Frank said:

"While responding to questions from journalists about my characterization of Justice Antonin Scalia as a homophobe, I realized that the fact that I made that comment in conjunction with a potential lawsuit about the Defense of Marriage Act created some confusion as to my basis for that characterization.

My view that Justice Scalia is prejudiced against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is based, not on his position on marriage, but entirely on the angry minority opinions he wrote in two Supreme Court cases in which the majority held that gay and lesbian people had certain rights against discrimination regarding private consensual sex and political activity. In those two virulent dissents, Justice Scalia denounced the court majorities not simply for finding that it was unconstitutional to discriminate based on sexual orientation in cases involving political rights and the right to private consensual sex, but he also made it clear that in his view sex discrimination is not only permitted by the Constitution but is very much in society’s interest because homosexuality deserves to be treated with not only disapproval, but legal disability.

This comes out most clearly in his very vigorous abjection to the court’s decision to block a criminal prosecution against two men who had consensual sex in the privacy of their bedroom. And it is made very vivid in the passage in which he affirms society’s right to treat homosexuals unequally by citing other categories which deserves such treatment — beginning with murder."

The actual written, astoundingly homophobic, comments made by Scalia in those cases is, to say the least, very disturbing. You can read the full text of Scalia's opinions at the Congress Blog. They're at the end of Barney's comments.

If this man (and I use that term very loosely) doesn't recuse himself from future cases involving any GLBT issue, there is something fundamentally wrong with our Supreme Court Structure.

Below is Barney Frank's full interview with 365gay.com.

March 26, 2009


Republican Governor James Douglas said just a couple of days ago that he "wouldn't sign" the gay marriage bill, leaving the door open for it to become law without his signature.

Yesterday however, Governor Douglas made a very public statement saying that if the bill does reach his desk, he would not sign it. This in spite of the fact that it received an overwhelming majority vote of 26-4 in the State Senate.

According to WCAX TV news, Douglas went on to reiterate the same flawed argument he's used before:

"I believe marriage has always been and ought to remain the union of a man and a woman. I believe the civil unions law has offered equal rights and benefits under state law to same-sex couples and that should suffice."

As I pointed out in my original March 13th story, contrary to Douglas' statement, in the nine years since civil unions were approved, there have been numerous and persistent problems with businesses, hospitals and even government agencies recognizing the legality of those unions.

To further dilute Douglas' logic, the 182 clergy members who came out in support of the bill said in their March 12th statement:

We recognize that a separate system that legally recognizes same-gender couples creates a harmful stigma for those we support and love in our community. Although civil union protections have remedied some of the financial and legal inequities, the denial to participate in the status of civil marriage is a social injustice that fractures our communities, harms those we love and sends a message of government sanctioned discrimination."

Despite the governor's opposition, this bill is not dead yet. Over the next week it will be debated in the house and a vote there will determine whether or not there are enough votes in both houses to override Douglas' veto. The senate's vote has already shown that the needed 2/3 majority is clearly present there. The house however is not a done deal yet. Which is probably why Douglas came out with his statement much earlier than he usually would have. Obviously he's trying to influence the house vote.

However, in a very curious, if not schizophrenic statement, WCAX TV reported that Governor Douglas also said:

...he thinks Democratic leaders would not have advanced the bill if they did not have enough votes to override a veto, but because the issue is so personal and divisive legislative leaders say there's no guarantee. But of course Douglas acknowledged he will have no choice but to accept same-sex marriages if the house can get the numbers.

Does this mean that the governor is simply playing politics to placate his voter base but really wants to see this bill passed? I hope that's the case. More importantly, with all the strong support this bill has gotten outside of the political arena, I hope that enough house representatives see it that way too and go ahead and pass the bill with more than a 2/3 majority.

Obviously, the success or failure of this bill now rests entirely in the state's House of Representatives.

Of course, I'll keep you posted. I need to go take an aspirin now.

March 25, 2009


Last year, the Gainesville, Florida city commission revised their antidiscrimination law to include protections for transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

A vigorous and fervent repeal effort was launched almost immediately. The opponents, our favorite right wing-nut fanatics, thought they saw their chance to repeal not only that addition to the antidiscrimination bill already in place, but to also eliminate the existing protections for all gays and lesbians.

The standard litany of lies that the so-called "religious" supporters always roll out when trying to scare the bejesus out of what they think is an ignorant and unknowing public was expanded this time by throwing in the imagery of "mixed sex" public bathrooms. That scare tactic was strong enough for them to garner the needed signatures to put Charter Amendment 1 on the ballot. That success, no doubt, bolstered their confidence and probably prompted rosy dreams about how they were going to, once and for all, stomp down those pesky little faggots.

Well, to their crushing chagrin, they awoke this morning to find that yesterday's vote not only deflated their hopes and dreams but did so in a very convincing manner. Charter Amendment 1 went down in flames by a vote of 42% to 58%!

It's reassuring to see that not all of the GLBT news coming out of Florida lately is negative.

Major kudos to all the rational, fair-minded people of Gainesville who voted down this measure so resoundingly. Thank you.

March 23, 2009


Lt. Dan Choi is an active duty member of the United States Army, a graduate of West Point, a NY National Guard platoon leader, an Iraq veteran, and an Arab linguist. He and 38 other West Point graduates risked their careers by coming out publicly and forming an organization they call Knights Out.

According to The Advocate, Knights Out is intended to be a support group offering help to their alma mater to educate future Army leaders on the need to accept and honor the sacrifices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops. Their goal is to form a connection between gay troops and Army administrators to provide an “open forum” for communication between gay West Point graduates and their fellow alumni. They would also like to serve in an advisory role to West Point leaders when the disastrous "don't ask, don't tell" policy is repealed.

Knights Out joins two other similar groups formed by graduates of the U.S. Naval and Air Force academies - the U.S. Naval Academy’s USNA Out and the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Blue Alliance.

Below is an interview Lt. Choi gave to Dr. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last week.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the military pursues discharges for these courageous service men. Considering how badly the more than 12,500 discharges under DADT have already hurt the military's readiness and the fact that President Obama is actively working with the pentagon to end DADT, I would hope that NO ONE ELSE will be added to that discharge list.

Thanks also to Lez Get Real for their article and the video.

Portia De Rossi Apologizes For Marrying Ellen DeGeneres...
The following video is currently running on YouTube and has cumulatively received more than 50,000 hits so far. It's hilarious! Thanks Portia. Enjoy...

March 20, 2009


UPDATE 3/24/09...
365gay.com reported this morning that the Vermont Senate just passed the same-sex marriage bill by a vote of 26-4. This overwhelming majority vote means that the bill will now move to the House where it is also expected to pass.

Unfortunately, Republican Governor James Douglas has already chastised the legislature for spending time on the bill when it should be focused on the economy. He said that he believes the civil union law is sufficient for same-sex couples - even though that's been proven not to be the case. In fact, as I outlined in my first article, testimony by mental health experts, social workers and clergy have all agreed that allowing gay couples to marry validates their relationships, could reduce discrimination and increases benefits for the families.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope since Governor Douglas has not said outright that he intends to veto this bill. Hopefully, the strong legislative support it has received and the publicity it has garnered will prove to be enough for him to change his mind and sign it.

I'll keep you posted.


Last Friday I reported on the Gay Marriage bill being debated in Vermont's Senate Judiciary Committee.

I ended my report on a very hopeful note. I believed that the strong testimonies of mental health experts and clergy, who all countered the religious right's argument that same-sex marriage is detrimental to children by exposing their lies and distortions of facts, would help get the bill out of committee and passed by the full senate.

Well, my hopes were not only realized but surpassed. This morning Queers United and Pink News (out of the U.K.) both reported that the bill was passed unanimously by a reassuring vote of 5-0.

The full senate is scheduled to vote on the bill next Monday, March 23rd at 3:00pm.

QU is requesting that since this is the last opportunity to express your support, please - even if you have done so in the past - call and/or email your state senator and urge him or her to vote in favor of this bill.

If you live in Vermont, you can get the email address and phone number of your representative by going to: http://www.vtfreetomarry.org/senate.html.

As I reported last Friday, in 2000 Vermont became the first state to pass civil unions. Now, if passed (which I fully expect to happen), Vermont will join Massachusetts and Connecticut and become the third state to legally recognize gay marriages.

March 19, 2009


Remember towards the end of last year when the Bush administration pushed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to finalize regulations that would make it possible for doctors, hospitals, nurses, pharmacist and virtually all other health care workers and institutions to refuse treatment and/or services for any patient or procedure they deem "morally objectionable?"

Well, they did. And what that meant was that you could be denied medical care and services for no other reason than your sexuality. That, in itself, is what I would consider one of the most morally bankrupt actions that a so-called "professional" could possibly perpetrate on any human being.

Now, according to a posting at Queers United, the Obama administration is considering whether or not to rescind those regulations.

Granted, this is something that should be a "no brainer." But politics being what it is, HHS needs our help to do this. They have issued a “proposed rule” that would rescind these bizarre and inhumane regulations but in order for this to be finalized, they have to allow for public comments. The public has through April 9th to respond.

Now, you can bet that the right wing, religious zealots and all their blind little minions will flood the HHS with objections. In order to combat their efforts, QU has suggested the following:

We are encouraging HRC members and supporters to tell HHS that a patient’s access to health care services should not depend on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The public can submit their comments to HHS through April 9 by emailing proposedrescission@hhs.gov

TAKE ACTION: Cut and paste the text of the letter below into an MS Word document (.doc) and email it as an attachment to proposedrescission@hhs.gov.

Here is a sample letter:

March, 2009

Office of Public Health and Science
Department of Health and Human Services
Attention: Rescission Proposal Comments
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Room 716G
Washington, DC 20201

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) with regard to rescission of the “Provider Conscience Regulation.” I support the right of all people to access health services without discrimination. Because these regulations could interfere with access to health care and promote discrimination against the very patients that federal funds are meant to serve, I urge the Department of Health and Human Services to rescind these regulations in their entirety.

I am concerned these regulations could limit the LGBT community’s access to services. The regulations state that the existing religious refusal clause allows a health care provider to refuse to assist in the performance of any service with which they have a religious or moral objection. Creating such a blanket right to refuse could severely impair the LGBT community’s ability to obtain health services.

Furthermore, the regulations do not require that patients are informed of their treatment options. Under the regulations, a doctor may refuse to administer an HIV test to a patient because he is gay. In fact, the doctor could not only refuse this service, but decline to tell the patient where he would be able to obtain testing. Clearly, this puts the health of the patient, and potentially that of others, at risk. The regulations allow counselors to refuse to counsel same-sex couples or a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription for hormone replacement therapy for a transgender customer.

The regulations clarify that any entity that receives HHS funding must allow this exemption. The regulations cover hundreds of hospitals, universities and public health programs serving millions of citizens across the fifty states. As a result, they preempt state and local anti-discrimination laws. They also preempt individual employer policies protecting against non-discrimination. Consequently, patients could not be guaranteed access to health care.

Protecting the free exercise of one’s personal religious beliefs is an important public policy goal. However, no American should face discrimination in the healthcare system simply because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Because these regulations tip the balance away from patients’ access to health services, I urge HHS to rescind the regulations in their entirety.


For those of you who live here in Arizona, you probably already know that the state legislature has passed legislation out of committee (House Bill 2564) and even though it is couched in terms of abortion it's language will, in effect, to do the same thing here. They've made these attempts in the past but when their bills reached Governor Napolitano's desk, they were vetoed. Unfortunately, her successor, former Secretary of State Jan Brewer is a staunch republican and is expected to sign.

That's why we need to make a strong statement to the HHS that this kind of legislation, in any form is absolutely unacceptable.

March 18, 2009


When 14 year old student Chris Quintanilla decided to wear a rainbow wristband that said "RAINBOWS ARE GAY" to school, he had no idea of the controversy his action would cause.

According to a letter the ACLU wrote to District Superintendent, Dr. Denton Santarelli, on the first day Chris wore the wristband (Monday, February 23rd of this year), David Savorinic, Principle of the Parkridge Elementary School in Peoria, AZ went up to him in the school yard and asked to take a closer look at it. At that point, Principle Savorinic didn't take any action and Chris wore the band for several more days without incident.

But on Wednesday, February 23rd, principle Savorinic called Chris's mother, Natali Quintanilla, and demanded that Chris stop wearing the wristband or wear it inside out so the words wouldn't be visible. When Natali asked why, Savorinic said that some of the teachers found it offensive and therefore it "caused a disruption." Savorinic went on to say that what Chris was doing was "putting his sexuality out there."

According to a report yesterday by Gay News Blog, Savorinic demonstrated his homophobia with almost the exact same words earlier in the school year. When Natali reported that her son was being harassed because he was gay, Savorini told her "If he didn't put it out there the way he does, he wouldn't have much of a problem."

Natali said of her son:

"My son is honest and happy about who he is, and I love him and support his right to be himself. There are a lot of things teachers should be more concerned about than one little wristband – like educating our children."

What a great mom! It's encouraging to know that there are parents who are willing to put themselves "out there" to support and protect their gay children.

Based on the many Supreme Court cases that consistently supported student's freedom of speech over the last four decades, I have no doubt that Peoria will lose their absurd fight against this courageous mother and son.

The ACLU letter to the Superintendent ended with:

"It is our hope that the district will allow Chris and other students to wear or otherwise display messages or symbols expressing their support of GLBT rights. Please confirm that this is the case within ten days of receipt of this letter. It is in the interest of all to resolve this on an informal basis without resort to formal proceedings.

Kudos and love to Natali and Chris Quintanilla. And to the never-ending vigilance of the ACLU.

March 17, 2009


Yesterday I reported on the contested same-sex partner benefits for employees of California's court of appeals. There are, in fact, two California cases (as cited in the New York Times Article) that challenge the inequity of spousal benefits provided to employees.

The two cases involve Karen Golinski, 46, a lawyer who works for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Brad D. Levenson, 49, a lawyer who works for the federal public defender in Los Angeles. Citing the 1996 Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal Office of Personnel Management issued instructions that would deny those benefits even though two judges of the federal appeals court in California said that employees of their court were entitled to receive them.

There is also a third case that raised similar issues in a lawsuit filed against the federal government last week in Boston by eight same-sex couples.

Given that the newly appointed head of the Federal Personnel Office is openly gay M. John Berry, I seriously doubt that he wanted his department to issue those instructions. Especially since he, along with President Obama, has already endorsed the idea of providing health benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. These cases now provide a tool with which DOMA can be challenged. BUT THEY NEED OUR SUPPORT. The religious right is already launching a campaign to prevent changing or overturning DOMA and you can bet that part of their strategy will use massive email campaigns.

Today, working with the Courage Campaign, Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and historical consultant for the film "MILK", sent out an email asking us to sign a letter to President Obama urging him to keep his promise and "...allow the federal government to provide the same health benefits to same-sex spouses and partners of federal employees that other federal employee spouses receive."

I wholeheartedly support this effort and have already signed the letter. Since this is now a "game" of influence by numbers, I urge everyone who cares about equality and justice to sign as well.

TO READ AND SIGN THE LETTER TO OBAMA, GO TO: http://www.couragecampaign.org/page/s/keepyourpromise

March 16, 2009


Gays rights legal issues are beginning to bubble-up to the top of public agendas much faster than I'm sure the Obama administration would have liked.

In at least two cases fermenting within the Justice Department, the President is being pushed into a position that he either stands behind his many promises to the GLBT community of equal rights, protections and treatment or he doesn't.

One case involves health benefits for same-sex partners in the California court system. The other involves the discharge of a 18 year Air Force veteran who is being forcibly discharged just two years before her retirement under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy because she was "discovered" to be a lesbian. In both cases, the Obama administration (via the Justice Department) will be forced to take a stand.

A New York Times article said of the California case:

In separate, strongly worded orders, two judges of the federal appeals court in California said that employees of their court were entitled to health benefits for their same-sex partners under the program that insures millions of federal workers.

But the federal Office of Personnel Management has instructed insurers not to provide the benefits ordered by the judges, citing a 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act.

Now, Mr. Obama is in a tough spot. If he supports the personnel office on denying benefits to the San Francisco court employees, he risks agitating liberal groups that helped him win election. If he supports the judges and challenges the marriage act, he risks alienating Republicans with whom he is seeking to work on economic, health care and numerous other matters.

In the DADT case, Major Margaret Witt took the podium in front of the nation's capitol at a rally to repeal DADT and said:

“For 18 years I served in the military, before the Air Force discharged me because they found out I was a lesbian. But I don’t want to leave, and I’m challenging the government’s attempt to discharge me.”

This case is a little more complicated because the ninth circuit appelate court's decision narrowly focused on Maj. Witt's case specifically and doesn't necessarily challenge DADT directly.

As The Advocate reported:

When her [Maj. Witt] attempt to fight the dismissal was denied a hearing by a federal judge, her lawyers appealed the decision and the ninth circuit ultimately ruled that Witt had a right to her day in court. The decision concluded that, although the government had previously been able to discharge any LGB person under the policy, new protections provided by the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling now required the government to actually prove that an individual’s presence was indeed harming unit cohesion. The ruling was also carefully constructed to only apply to Major Witt’s case.

The court did not rule on the constitutionality of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ but it said because of a new precedent, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ has a higher burden to meet in order for an individual to be kicked out.”

C. Dixon Osburn, CEO of Osburn Management Consulting Company and former executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that advocates for repeal of the policy, said:

"...the movement has always argued that the government had no evidence demonstrating that letting LGBs serve openly in the military would hurt unit morale or military preparedness.

We have tried for the last 15 years to get the government to defend themselves and the courts have just looked the other way. This case is saying, ‘No, we won’t turn a blind eye to this, you need to give us evidence that the law is sensible on a case-by-case basis.’”

The narrowness of this case's decision may allow the DOJ to let the ruling stand, without any action by them, which would send the case back to the lower court to be argued. This would give the Obama administration a little more time to finish what they already started doing - working with the Pentagon to figure out the best way to end DADT.

Although I currently support Obama's approach, I, of course, also support Maj Witt's right not to be discharged for nothing more than simply being gay.

On a personal note, the Times' logic about Obama's risk of "...alienating Republicans with whom he is seeking to work on economic, health care and numerous other matters" should he side with the California federal appeals court seems extraordinarily childish and naive for such a prestigious publication.

In case the article's author, Robert Pear, hadn't noticed, the Republicans have made it their party's policy to disagree with and belligerently fight every proposal the President has introduced to turn the country's immediate financial crisis and long-term solvency around. Even going as far as standing silently by when their self-proclaimed, de facto "leader," Rush Limbaugh, publicly and proudly proclaimed that he "hoped Obama would fail" which, in effect, is saying that he hopes the country fails. I don't think you can get much more alienated than that!

Apparently, in the minds of Republicans, having the country continue to experience poverty, mayhem and misery for a few more years would give them a better chance to regain power in 2010. How sick is that?

March 13, 2009


In two separate stories published by The Advocate, same-sex marriage rights in Vermont got a double dose of support.

Mental Health Experts Endorse Same-Sex Marriage...
On March 10th, The Advocate reported that leading mental health and human services organizations in Vermont, citing professional studies that show legalizing gay marriage helps the children of same-sex couples, came out in support of marriage equality.

The group says allowing gay couples to marry validates their relationships, could reduce discrimination and increases benefits for the families.

Opponents have argued that gay marriage is detrimental to children. But mental health experts say studies show that's not true and that opponents are instead misrepresenting studies about divorced parents.

In an interview on WCAX-TV in Burlington, Jackie Weinstein of the University of Vermont’s Human Development and Families Studies said:

"We felt it was important for us to set the record straight about the scholarly literature in our field, and we have lots of different families and the best thing to do for all children is to support parents the best way we can."

The Vermont legislature is currently considering a same-sex marriage bill that was introduced in February. The bill has 59 sponsors in the house and next week, the senate judiciary committee will begin holding hearings and testimony.

The mental health and human services organizations - which include Vermont Psychological Association, the Vermont Psychiatric Association, the Vermont Association of Mental Health Counselors, and the Vermont chapter of the National Association of Social Workers - will all testify in support of same-sex marriage at those hearings.

In 2000 Vermont became the first state to pass civil unions but, in the nine years since, there have been numerous problems with businesses, hospitals and even government agencies recognizing the legality of those unions.

Let's face it folks - separate will NEVER be equal.

On March 12th, The Advocate reported that 182 Vermont clergy members representing nine religious denominations have signed a declaration in support of same-sex marriage in Vermont.

Their declaration reads, in part,

“As religious people, clergy, and leaders, we commit ourselves to public action, visibility, and education to support the right and freedom of same-gender couples to participate in civil marriage. We oppose the application of sacred texts and religious traditions for the purpose of denying legal and social equity to same-gender couples.

We recognize that a separate system that legally recognizes same-gender couples creates a harmful stigma for those we support and love in our community. Although civil union protections have remedied some of the financial and legal inequities, the denial to participate in the status of civil marriage is a social injustice that fractures our communities, harms those we love and sends a message of government sanctioned discrimination."

To read the whole declaration, go to: http://eqfed.org/campaign/declaration

Hopefully, this kind of strong support from both the professional and religious communities will help convince Vermont lawmakers to finally pass full marriage equality.

I personally think it will.

March 12, 2009


Tuesday evening the Washington State Senate passed Senate Bill 5688 by a vote of 30 to 18. Dubbed the "everything but marriage" bill, this legislation would bestow on same-sex domestic partners all of the state rights and benefits afforded to straight married couples. The House is also expected to pass this and Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, has said she supports the measure and will sign it.

In 2007, Washington approved a Domestic Partnership bill introduced by Seattle Democratic Sen. Ed Murra and last year the state amended that bill to include additional coverages. With those two actions, same-sex partners were granted hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations and inheritance rights when there is no will.

Now, with passage of this most recent upgrade amendment, spearheaded by gay state senator Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat, same-sex partners will have all of the benefits of heterosexual married couples. The bill adds domestic partners to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed. This includes statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits.

Washington state now joins California and Oregon as the only three states that endow Domestic Partnerships with the identitical state rights and responsibilities that straight marriages have had all along.

Unfortunately, this does not include any federal rights. However, with the anticipated repeal of DOMA by our current congress and the promised equality of all federal partnership rights by President Obama, this remaining inequity should be resolved. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Sources for this article were: The Seattle Times, The Advocate and Box Turtle Bulletin

UPDATE 3/14...
As an interesting side note, Republican State Senator Dale Brandland, who voted for passage of the above bill and was also the former Whatcom County sheriff, said in an interview in the Bellingham Herald:

"I guess from my perspective, I've come to the conclusion that people are born gay. I don't think this is something that they just pick up along the way. Once I came up with that kind of conclusion, it wasn't difficult for me to understand that gay people are going to develop feelings for people of the same sex and will want to get into meaningful relationships.

"I thought it was inappropriate to deny them some of the basic rights that relationship entails."

Senator Brandland and two other Republicans defied a feverish blog and email campaign mounted by Gary Randall, President of the statewide Faith and Freedom Network whose promotional tag is "Advancing Judeo-Christian Values."

To counter Randall's campaign, a prominent Seattle liberal weekly newspaper, The Stranger, began waging war in favor of the bill on its blog. Locals also took to the social networking site Facebook to advocate support of the bill.

Let's hope this is a trend that takes hold across the country and ultimately buries the religious, right wing fanatics under the bile of their own lies and hatreds.

The Advocate also reported the following exchange between Ashton Kutcher and another user on Twitter:

Actor Ashton Kutcher, in a heated conversation with another user on Twitter, used the micro-blogging site to urge people to stop using the word "gay" as an insult. "can we just get clear, calling some one 'gay' or 'fag' is as derogatory as calling someone a 'ni**er'. U look like an idiot when you do it," he wrote on Wednesday. Another user had told him to "stop being so gay." After Kutcher's reply, the other user replied, "just jokin, no disrespect bro."

Thanks Ashton. You always were one of the good guys!

March 11, 2009


According to courier-journal.com, a publication that covers news from the Louisville, KY and Southern IN areas, a controversial bill intended to ban unmarried couples (i.e., gay couples) from becoming foster or adoptive parents died in the Kentucky senate.

Even though Senate Bill 68 was voted out of committee last week, it was never called to the floor for a vote. The bill's sponsor, Senator Gary Tapp, R-Shelbyville, acknowledged yesterday that the bill was dead.

Sen. Tapp said, "It's too late. It didn't go anywhere this session." He said he didn't know why the Senate's Republican leadership didn't schedule a vote.

Majority party leaders could not be reached for comment and seemed to be trying to distance themselves from the bill. Probably for a number of very good reasons. Aside from the fact that the latest nationwide poles show the republican party with the lowest approval rating (only 26) in recent memory, lezgetreal.com reported that:

Insiders at Kentucky’s State House are saying that Senator’s were flooded with calls and e-mail from angry citizens, most saying that they would think that a bill that takes away potential homes and adds costs to states taxpayers for the care of children in state custody “was just plain dumb”. Our sources are saying the states Republican leadership is now viewing SB 68 as divisive and pure political poison. They want nothing to do with it.

But even if the bill were to win Senate approval, it would still need to be passed by the overwhelmingly Democratic House. And there is little chance of that happening with only three scheduled days for passing bills remaining in this year’s session.

Chris Hartman, Director of Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign, one of the groups that opposed the bill, said…

We are encouraged the thousands of statements, letters, and phone calls from fair-minded Kentuckians opposing Senate Bill 68 (SB 68) has driven home the message that hate legislation should never be passed in the commonwealth. It is in the best interest of our children and our state’s economy that this bill not reappear in the future, though if it does, we will gather and build upon the countless allies that have come forward with Fairness to oppose this legislation, and we will mobilize them against it with even greater fervor.

I really do feel very, very hopeful that we are moving into one of the most exciting and most productive periods in the history of the GLBT rights movement.

That being said, and for ironically that very same reason, now IS NOT the time to relax and just wait for it to happen. The door is being opened wider than it's ever been opened before BUT WE HAVE TO STAND UP AND WALK THROUGH IT. None of these emerging possibilities will ever happen if we just sit and wait!

Keep fighting -- we CAN and we WILL WIN!

March 10, 2009


The Caribbean is a beautiful place to visit. Lush, tropical islands ringed with miles and miles of white, sandy beaches. Complete with an almost endless supply of bright, warm sunshine beckoning you with the promise of long, lazy days of snorkeling, scuba diving, exploring or just hanging out on the beach sipping exotic beverages. It can truly be a vacation paradise.

BUT, if you're gay, there is one island that can turn your dream vacation into a dark, dangerous and even life threatening nightmare. Jamaica.

Over the weekend, Box Turtle Bulletin posted an excellent, and scary, story about Jamaica's extreme homophobia.

As most of you probably already know, Jamaica has a long history of myopic homophobia. It's an ingrained part of their culture - just as it once was in this country before the activist gay movement started changing minds and laws. In Jamaica however, it's not just something that the general populist believes and lives, it's hardcore, official public policy.

In response to the strained relations this has caused between the United Kingdom (Jamaica's protector) and the Jamaican government, Prime Minister Bruce Golding told Parliament that, "...gay rights advocates are perhaps the most organized lobby in the world” and he vowed to preserve the country’s 145-year-old anti-sodomy law that prohibits sexual acts between men.

He went on to say:

“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery.”

As the BTB story put it:

This language is not simply a stance taken by a politician; it represents a deep and pervasive homophobic culture. Gay men and women are in real danger in that country.

So, if you are planning on taking a Caribbean cruise, I would strongly advise against visiting Jamaica. Not only isn't it worth the very real risk of physical harm but it would also be very poor judgement to spend your hard-earned dollars in a country that would rather see you in prison for life - or worse.

If you'd like to read BTB's full story, go to: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/03/07/9523

March 5, 2009


Last September I reported on a gay bar in Galveston, Texas that survived Hurricane Ike (barely) and became a kind of a defacto community center for everyone, straight and gay, who stayed behind to ride-out the storm and protect their property from looters.

The bar, known as Robert’s Lafitte, was one of the only businesses left standing. After the owner and his friends saw that the building still seemed to be structurally sound, they cleaned out the standing waters and layers of mud and reopened - even before power was back on. Their hope was to somehow help the survivors who lost most, if not all, of what they had.

They collected donated food and supplies dropped off by the community itself to help feed and clothe those who needed it most and proceeded to put on drag shows (even without power) to lift people's spirits. It became a shinning light in the midst of widespread destruction. To this day, the bar still has a number of straight patrons who regularly stop by.

Sadly, at around 8pm on Sunday, March 1st, two brothers, Lawrence Henry Lewis III, 20, and Lawrneil Henry Lewis, 18, and their cousin, Alejandro Sam Gray, 17 decided to attack the bar and its patrons for no other reason than to target homosexuals. One held the door open while the other two hurled large rocks and chunks of concrete at the patrons inside, all the while yelling homophobic slurs.

According to an article at Chron.com, the Houston & Texas news service, there was an estimated 25 to 30 people inside at the time. Marc Bosaw, 57, who was at the bar with his partner, James Troy Nickelson, 39, said he was shocked by the ambush.

“I thought with all the things going on, especially politically, that we would be more accepted and not just randomly attacked,” said Bosaw, a disabled U.S. Navy veteran. “I don’t see any room for hate right now.”

Bosaw said he had just sat down on a barstool about 5 feet from the door. He was sipping wine and visiting with friends when he felt a violent blow to the back of his head.

“I dropped my wine and reached with my left hand to the back of my head, and another rock hit my arm and ricocheted off,” Bosaw said. “I stood up thinking someone was robbing me and checked my wallet.” Bosaw then began to collapse, so his partner and friends carried him to a pool table, pressing a cold cloth to his head wound to stanch the bleeding. “Everything kind of went white all around me,” he said.

Nickelson, also struck in the head by the same rock, and at least four other patrons then went outside and chased the attackers. During the pursuit, one of the attackers threw a brick, which struck Nickelson’s jaw.

Galveston police caught the suspects about 10 blocks away. The three men are charged with felony assault and Jennifer Ott, prosecutor for the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, said that they would pursue the hate crimes enhancements as well. This would be only the second time those enhancements have been attached to a case in Galveston even though there have been 10 hate crimes reported to the Galveston police since 2004.

If a jury convicts them of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and agrees they committed a hate crime, the three could face an elevated punishment of five to 99 years or even life in prison.

Until the Mormon and Catholic churches and the evangelical, right wing, religious fanatics stop demonizing gay people and stop spreading their vicious and cruel lies about who we are, this kind of thing is not only going to continue, it's going to get even uglier.

You can help stop this. Simply talk to your families, friends, priests, pastors and clergy and tell them that you don't agree with that kind of hate mongering.

If you think it would too hard for you to take a stand like that, just think about how hard it is for a gay person to go out into the public knowing that they have a big christian target painted on their back. This hatred can be stopped but only if YOU choose not to stay silent. It's the right and Christian thing to do. And I know you know that.


The Illinois legislature PASSED the Civil Unions Bill HB2234. It will now go to the House floor for a full vote.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact the committee members.

I'll keep you posted on the outcome of the floor vote.


Having spread their filth and lies in California, Arizona and Florida, the Mormon church has now rallied their forces to attack a small, Illinois legislative committee.

The Youth and Family Committee is right now, today (March 5th, 2009) debating Civil Unions bill HB2234. And the Mormon church, in a frenzy to prove the Mormon might, has mobilized their members to call State Representatives and Senators urging them to kill the bill in committee. Apparently they're worried that if HB2234 reaches the floor for a vote, it will pass.

Their tactic is to attack the bill at a point where they can concentrate their onslaught on the fewest decision makers possible thereby flooding them with phone calls, faxes and emails.

If you find this blatant church incursion to be as repulsive as most fair-minded people do, there is something you can do NOW that will only take a few minutes of your time.

Below is the same list of committee members and their phone numbers that the Mormon leadership has sent to their followers. Just give them a call and let them know, in the strongest but politest way possible, that you FAVOR the passage of HB2234 and fervently disapprove of the Mormon church's attempt to control your government.

Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) (Sponsor of HB2234)

Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago)

Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago)
Republican Spokesperson

Rep. William D. Burns (D-Chicago)

Rep. Michael P. McAuliffe (R-Chicago)

Rep. Al Riley (D-Matteson)

Rep. Dave Winters (R-Rockford)

If you're a Illinois resident and want to know who your representative is, you can use or click on the following link to get their name and contact information: http://www.elections.il.gov/DistrictLocator/SelectSearchType.aspx?NavLink=1 Once there, just enter your 9
digit zip code (without the dash) and this will bring up your district's information.

Thanks to Queers United for the heads up on this.

March 3, 2009


"The Eve of Justice: Lighting the way for the Supreme Court"

In my posting yesterday, I forgot to mention that I spoke with John Allard of Marriage Equality Arizona and he suggested that people attending tonight's vigil should bring their own candles (if you can afford it, a few extra to share would be appreciated). You can also bring signs with messages promoting marriage equality.

According to the Facebook page for this event, "At the conclusion of the vigil a minister will be available to preside over a 're-commitment ceremony' for any couple married in California, or joined in any other union. This will serve as a powerful reminder to all in attendance, or driving by, that our relationships have value and our commitment to each other deserves the protection of the 1138 rights granted through civil marriage."

My partner and I will be going and we hope to see all of you there. Pass the word.


On Thursday, March 5th, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the legality of Proposition 8, the homophobic ballot measure that stripped away the right for gays to marry in California.

On Wednesday evening, we will stand together to send a unified message to Californians and the Supreme Court Justices that individual liberties, guaranteed by the California Constitution, cannot be stripped away at the ballot box by a slim majority vote.

This vigil will also show our love and support for all the families headed by same-sex couples who were already legally married and whose relationships are now threatened by the callous passage of Prop 8. And, that we fully support all same-sex couples whose hopes and dreams of marriage and family have been frustrated by the enactment of Prop 8 in California, Prop 102 here in Arizona and Prop 2 in Florida.

In Arizona, the vigil will take place at the following locations and times...


LOCATION: Camelback and Central

TIME: 6:00 TO 7:30pm


LOCATION: United Church of Christ of the Painted Hills, 3295 W. Speedway Boulevard

TIME: 7:00 - 8:30pm

For other vigil locations and times, go to: http://www.marriageequality.org/

BTW - If you don't see your city or state on the vigil list and you would like to participate, go to Marriage Equality to find out how to contact your local chapter or, if there isn't a chapter near you, find out how to start one.

March 2, 2009


Apparently the newly anointed head of the Republican Party, Michael Steele missed NAACP's recently announced position on California's anti-gay marriage Proposition. He either missed it or just simply chose to ignore it for political expediency and to solidify his newly acquired position.

In NAACP's statement, released just days before the California Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the challenges to Prop 8, President and CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealouse said, in part:

"The NAACP's mission is to help create a society where all Americans have equal protection and opportunity under the law. Our Mission Statement calls for the 'equality of rights of all persons.' Prop. 8 strips same-sex couples of a fundamental freedom, as defined by the California State Supreme Court. In so doing, it poses a serious threat to all Americans. Prop. 8 is a discriminatory, unprecedented change to the California Constitution that, if allowed to stand, would undermine the very purpose of a constitution and courts - assuring equal protection and opportunity for all and safeguarding minorities from the tyranny of the majority."

Accoding to reports by Box Turtle Bulletin and Thinkprogress.org, during a radio interview, right-wing host Mike Gallagher asked Steele, “Is this a time when Republicans ought to consider some sort of alternative to redefining marriage and maybe in the road, down the road to civil unions. Do you favor civil unions?”

Steele's response was,

"No, no no. What would we do that for? What are you, crazy? No. Why would we backslide on a core, founding value of this country? I mean this isn’t something that you just kind of like, “Oh well, today I feel, you know, loosey-goosey on marriage.”

Gallagher continued to push the subject by asking, "So no room even for a conversation about civil unions in your mind?" Steele answered, "What’s the difference?"

In stark contrast to this exchange is the fact that last November, Steele told the Washington Times that the party needs to reach out to new communities and that it “has to realize that there are constituencies in the body politic that have no interest in conservative litmus tests based on same-sex marriage and abortion.”

In fact, just days after Steele won the election to head the GOP, he told ABC’s George Stehanopolous that his party would seek to include those who support gay rights.

And, in another interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday, the following exchange occurred:

WALLACE: You are one of the co-founders of something called the Republican Leadership Council which supports candidates who favor abortion and gay rights.


WALLACE: Does the GOP need to do a better job of reaching out to people who hold those views?

STEELE: I think — I think that’s an important opportunity for us, absolutely.

This whole thing, at best, illustrates the hypocrisy and duplicity of the Republican Party. At worst, it shows that the religious right-wing is still firmly in control of the party and that Steele's election was nothing more than a smoke and mirror attempt at making the party SEEM more inclusive.

Sadly, that would relegate Steele to the position of the "token black" who is only there for window dressing but has no real authority himself.