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April 24, 2009


Following last year's mandate from the Connecticut Supreme Court, lawmakers officially wrote gay marriage into the laws of the state.

Wednesday's vote, which passed 28-7 in the senate and 100-44 in the house, officially redefines marriage as being "the legal union of two people" instead of the previous definition of "a union between a man and a woman."

According to an article in The Advocate yesterday, Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell will sign the bill even though she stands by her personal belief that marriage should be between opposite-sex partners.

Interestingly, there were last minute amendments approved and adopted that defined the constitutional rights of religions to, among other things, reserve recognition of those marriages only to those of which they approve. All of the rights that were approved are already guaranteed under the US Constitution and not contested by any gay marriage proponent. None the less, it was seized upon by the National Organization for Marriage (the group that brought you the infamous "A Gathering Storm") as a victory for their side.

Apparently, after the tsunami of ridicule over that video, NOM is so desperate to regain their credibility that they'll latch onto anything and try claiming it as a victory for themselves. Even if that so-called victory was never in contention to begin with.

As Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin explained it:

The language adopted by the State of Connecticut seems reasonable to me. It exempts churches, religious societies and other religious non-profits from “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges” if the refusal is based on their objection to a marriage which is “in violation of their religious beliefs and faith”. It also exempts religious fraternal benefit societies (eg. the Knights of Columbus) to deny membership and insurance benefits. The third provision would exempt religious organizations from recognizing marriages for purposes of adoption, foster care and other social services provided that they don’t receive public funds for those services.

I have no objection to these provisions and I dare say that most gay folk are just fine with them as well.

Contrary to giving them back any credibility, NOM's hollow claim of victory makes them look even more pathetic and impotent.


April 23, 2009


With hate crimes against gays, lesbians and transgenders rising at alarming rates across the country, it's more important than ever to get the federal hate crimes law (the Matthew Shepard Act) passed - NOW.

This morning I received an email from Joe Solmonese, the President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), asking for immediate help in getting this legislation, which is up for a vote next week, passed once and for all.

According to Solmonese,

This week, the right-wing Traditional Values Coalition blanketed Congress with a "fact sheet" saying the Matthew Shepard Act would protect "bizarre sexual orientations" like bestiality and necrophilia.

Once again, facts have nothing to do with it. Dozens of states have hate crime laws, and none get into this nonsense.

But these arguments can make members of Congress uneasy about voting for the bill – and we've heard repeatedly that right-wing groups have been FLOODING Congress with calls.

Please take just a minute (or less) and call your Representative's Office. If you don't know who that is or what number to call, click here for help in finding that out. Just fill in the state and your zip code and the name and contact information (w/phone numbers) will come up.

When you call, just tell the staff member answering the phone where you're calling from, and that you'd like to urge your Representative to work hard to pass the Matthew Shepard Act next week. If you choose, you can also add:

•Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are on the rise. One out of every six hate crimes is because of the victim's sexual orientation.

•Hate crimes have more than one victim. They are intended to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize entire communities.

•The Matthew Shepard Act targets only violent acts – not speech. It does not tell any clergy member what he or she can or can't preach.

Solmonese is also requesting that after you hang up, please let them know that you made the call. That will help HRC track how many members of Congress have been reached.


According to Lez Get Real, the Matthew Shepard Act (HR 1913) was approved by the House Judiciary Committee yesterday (Thursday, 4/23/09) by a vote of 15-12. It will now move to the House floor for a vote expected to take place sometime next week.

If you haven't already, please email or call your representative and urge them to vote for this legislation when it does come up for a vote. See above for instructions.

April 22, 2009


I worked most of my life in marketing and advertising and I've come to appreciate strong, concise, well written visual messages that have high, professional production standards.

Usually, you would expect this kind of quality to come from places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or other large metropolitan areas that have vast pools of young, eager, gifted talent to draw from. That's why the tepid TV ads produced in opposition to Prop 8 in California were so disappointing.

Well, maybe when GLBT rights groups are looking for that kind of impactful advertising for future rights battles, they should look to Iowa. The new activist group One Iowa, the group that was formed during the brilliantly executed campaign to bring gay marriage to that state, just released the following television ad to combat the right wing's underhanded efforts to derail that success.

Anyone who doubts the veracity of the passionate, bold, driven commitment of today's new, young activist should check out Iowa. Yes. I did say Iowa.

BTW - thanks to Queers United for posting this video.

April 21, 2009


In an article posted this morning, 365gay.com reported that public hearings on legislation that would allow gay marriages will begin tomorrow (4/22/09) at the Augusta Civic Center.

Actually, there are three bills dealing with same-sex unions that will be up for discussion. One is to repeal Maine's own 12 year old version of a Defense of Marriage Law which, like the federal DOMA law, bans same-sex marriages outright. Another would make all state laws and statutes gender neutral. Both of these bills are sponsored by Democratic Senator Dennis S. Damon of Trenton.

Although no more than 10 lawmakers are normally allowed to sign on as co-sponsors of a bill, Senator Damon said that 50 others sought to have their names added to the marriage bill. So now the bill has 60 co-sponsors that, according to Damon, represent both Democrats and Republicans and come from Maine’s smallest towns and largest cities.

Senator Damon was elected to the Maine Senate in 2002 and is currently serving his fourth and final term so, of course, passage of these two bills would be a great way for him to end his career.

The third bill up for discussion was filed by Republican Representative Leslie Fossel and it would create a domestic-partner registry but keep the Defense of Marriage Law in place.

According to the article:

Advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage have crisscrossed the state in recent weeks, drumming up support for their prospective sides.

Maine’s tourism industry has said legalizing same-sex marriage in the state could save them from disaster as the state’s economy continues to turn sour.

Industry spokespeople pointed to a recent study by the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California Los Angeles, that found extending marriage to same-sex couples would boost Maine’s economy by $60 million over three years, which would generate increases in state and local government tax and fee revenues by almost $3.6 million.

As expected, the very conservative Maine Marriage Alliance has threatened to press for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage outright if it looks like the bill is going to pass. If current trends continue however, the Alliance might find it a lot harder to just simply get the number of signatures needed to put that kind of amendment on the ballot.

Last November the Boston-based LGBT rights group, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), launched the “Six by Twelve” campaign to legalize gay marriage throughout all six New England states by 2012. GLAD mounted the successful legal challenges that lead to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Wouldn't it be great if they succeeded ahead of schedule?

If Maine's bill passes and is signed into law, it would leave only New Hampshire and Rhode Island as the remaining two New England states without equal marriage laws.

Right now, marriage equality legislation has already passed the New Hampshire House and is currently before the Senate.

April 20, 2009


In the afterglow of dual victories in Vermont and Iowa, it seems that GLBT causes are finally taking on a whole new perspective.

Many who have long been identified with right wing ideologies and homophobic hate rants have recently begun to publicly alter their supposedly long-held beliefs to reflect everything from a "subtle" reworking of their past statements to outright admissions of defeat.

A couple of weeks ago I ran a story on well-known conservative pundit, Cal Thomas' opinion piece that outright said that the battle against gay marriage was now all but lost. Since then, the chorus has been growing exponentially.

On Saturday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote a brilliant comprehensive and insightful opinion piece that started off by lambasting the sad and pathetic idiocy of the anti-gay marriage video released last week by the right wing group, National Organization for Marriage. The video intended to portray homosexuality as a national threat second only to terrorism.

In his piece, Mr. Rich said:

Far from terrifying anyone, “Gathering Storm” has become, unsurprisingly, an Internet camp classic. On YouTube the original video must compete with countless homemade parodies it has inspired since first turning up some 10 days ago.

Yet easy to mock as “Gathering Storm” may be, it nonetheless bookmarks a historic turning point in the demise of America’s anti-gay movement.

What gives the ad its symbolic significance is not just that it’s idiotic but that its release was the only loud protest anywhere in America to the news that same-sex marriage had been legalized in Iowa and Vermont. If it advances any message, it’s mainly that homophobic activism is ever more depopulated and isolated as well as brain-dead.

Rich's piece is well worth taking a couple of minutes to read in it's entirety.

Add to these declarations of the demise of the frenzied anti-gay campaigns, the following:

At the recent Log Cabin Republican convention, Steve Schmidt, chief campaign strategist for John McCain and senior advisor to George Bush, gave a 20 minute speech in which he voiced his unequivocal support for marriage equality and said that denigrating gay people in any way is “un-American.”

He went on to say:

“It cannot be argued that marriage between people of the same sex is un-American or threatens the rights of others. On the contrary, it seems to me that denying two consenting adults of the same sex the right to form a lawful union that is protected and respected by the state denies them two of the most basic national rights affirmed in the preamble of our Declaration of Independence: liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“I believe, and I think most Americans believe, you are born with your sexuality -- it is not a choice. It should offend us as Republicans and Americans when gays are denigrated as un-American or undeserving of the government’s protection of their rights. And the Republican Party should give voice to genuine outrage when anyone belittles the humanity of another person; it is offensive in the extreme to the values of this nation and we should be in the forefront of rejecting such truly un-American prejudice."

At the same convention, John McCain's wife and daughter, Cindy and Meghan, both made their support of gay marriage and GLBT rights in general very clear. In an opinion piece written for the Daily Beast, Meghan McCain, a strong supporter of gay marriage, said:

"Of all the causes I believe in and speak publicly about, this [gay marriage] is one of the ones closest to my hear. If the Republican Party has any hope of gaining substantial support from a wider, younger base, we need to get past our anti-gay rhetoric."

Also at that convention, former Republican Governor of New Jersey Christine Whitman called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and for the Republican party to remove their opposition to same-sex marriage from the GOP platform.

Queers United reported:

She [Governor Whitman] argued that "civil marriage should be for everyone, and that gay couples marrying does not threaten her marriage". She went on to say that she respects that "there is a place for Conservative Christians in the party, but said that there should be a place for pro-equality Republicans as well".

Christine Whitman along with other moderate Republicans have created the Republican Leadership Council which seeks to get back to the fundamentals of the Republican party while striving for pro-LGBT, pro-choice, eco-friendly, and racial justice legislation.

Add to all of this the recent comments by the "previously" ultra homophobic Dr. Laura Schlessinger and the ambiguously confusing on-the-bandwagon/off-the-bandwagon, Pastor Rick Warren.

According to Box Turtle Bulletin, Schlessinger said on Larry King Live that committed gay and lesbian couples were a “beautiful thing,” totally contradicting all of her past statements. And Warren told Larry King, on a different show, that he “never once even gave an endorsement” of Proposition 8 which, of course, we all know is a flat-out lie.

Clearly Schlessinger and Warren both see the same writing on the wall and are now trying to remake their public images into the likenesses of today's emerging realities. They're not stupid (well, maybe Dr. Laura - a little), they both know that if they don't, their respective careers and healthy incomes will soon vanish.

This is all very heady, feel-good stuff BUT let's remember two very important things...

One - four states is only a beginning and you can bet that there are still A LOT of other right wingnut fanatics out there who aren't going to give up that easily. They're already raising money and planning strategies to defeat ANY pro-gay legislation that comes up anywhere in the country. And, they still have strong enough support to do exactly that if we let our guard down even a little.

And two - I've said this many times before but it needs to be repeated again because with the economic meltdown and the added pressures of so many people losing their jobs, there are more and more people running around out there who are already pushed to their emotional limits - please remember that the more we win, the more desperate and the more violent the unstable fanatic fringe will become - so, please, BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!!