Sunday, May 20, 2012

NAACP Board: "We Support Marriage Equality"

Citing the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the NAACP  announced its support for marriage Equality as a civil right in a press release Saturday:
(Miami, Florida) The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People today released a resolution supporting marriage equality. At a meeting of the 103-year old civil rights group’s board of directors, the organization voted to support marriage equality as a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.
“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”
“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.
The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving v. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years the NAACP has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which changed the state constitution’s to prohibit same sex marriage.
Below is the text of the resolution passed by the NAACP board of directors:
The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.
This statement by the oldest and largest civil rights organization in America goes a long way to dispelling the lies put forth by groups like the National Organization for Marriage that strive to drive a wedge between the African American community and the LGBT community.

While surveys have shown that the African American community has been slower to accept LGBT equality than the general population, increases in tolerance continue to be made. The strong leadership shown by the NAACP this week is in accordance with the argument we've been making all along that marriage is a civil right.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama Evolves: Welcome to the 21st Century, Barry!

As you've all heard by now, President Obama has come out in full support of Marriage Equality in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts.
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
This is an historic event in the history of the LGBT rights movement. This is the first time a sitting president has made such a statement of support for full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

We all have reason to celebrate this morning, but I have to say that this news is bitter sweet, coming a day after the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina. I can't help but wonder about the timing of this announcement.

On Sunday Joe Biden made a statement on Meet the Press that he supports Marriage Equality, only to have the White House spin doctors go ape shit trying to back peddle and say that Biden didn't say what we all heard him say. Meanwhile, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at a Monday news conference that he agrees with Biden's position.

The official off-the-record explanation from unnamed White House sources is that "The Big O" evolved earlier this year, but chose not to make it public until this week, on the heals of Biden's and Duncan's statements and increased pressure from LGBT critics and high dollar donors.

The question now is whether or not this will hurt or help the president in the lead-up to the fall elections. Naturally Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, as well as Tony Perkins of the hate group Family Research Council and other professional bigots have jumped all over this story claiming that the battle lines have been drawn and that the president's words now match his actions.

Gallagher seems to think this is a good thing for the anti-gays and is happy that the president is "no longer lying" about his support for marriage equality.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien went head-to-head with Perkins this morning, grilling him about the "redefinition of marriage" argument. O'Brien pointed out that marriage has changed over the years as society has changed, but Perkins would have none of it. Via Mediaite:

“You’re talking about redefinition,” Perkins said. “There is no rational reason to keep people of different races that were of opposite sex to marry. They met the qualifications of the definition of marriage. What we’re talking about here is a further redefinition of marriage…”
“But hasn't marriage been redefined and redefined?” O’Brien interjected.
“It’s going to intentionally create environments where you have children growing up without a mom and a dad,” Perkins argued.
“But we have environments where children grow up…” O’Brien countered. “Forgive me for interrupting, but we have environments already in heterosexual couples where they grow up without a mom or dad. You’re certainly not arguing gay marriage is fine as long as the couples don’t want to have kids because you will avoid that problem, kids growing up without a mom or a dad, or an older couple who aren’t going to have kids?”
All I can say is haters gotta hate and people who don't believe in evolution never evolve.

The anti-gay folks were never going to vote for Obama anyway, or should I say the anti-gay white folks. It remains to be seen whether or not black and Latino voters, who turned out in record numbers for Obama in 2008, will shift their support to Romney over this, or just say home. It's hard to believe that anybody is a single-issue voter any more. The bigots are betting that they are enough of them left to unseat the president.

Although Obama says this was a personal decision, not a political one, there can be no doubt that he considered every angle before making his statement to ABC, which, according to those same anonymous sources, was recorded on Monday, on the condition that it not air until Wednesday. We are left to wonder whether influencing the NC vote was a consideration.

For now, let's be glad in the moment. Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. President!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thoughts on Amendment One

Homophobia won the day on Tuesday as NC voters turned out to cement bigotry and discrimination into the state constitution by a vote of 61% - 39%.

Maggie Gallagher and the rest of the trolls at NOM are gloating over their victory. Comment wars are raging on news sites all over the web and the culture wars have received a jump start in the lead up to the presidential election.

There are petitions making the rounds on the web calling on the Democrats to move their convention out of Charlotte to a more tolerant state. That's not going to happen. The hall has been booked, security checks have been done and Obama needs a swing state, even a bigoted one like North Carolina.

There was a lot of discussion from the Anti-Amendment side saying that the wording of the ballot measure was too broad and that people didn't understand what they were voting for. That may be so, but exit polling showed that the misinformation campaign waged by anti-equality side was successful. They were better funded by seasoned veterans like NOM, who receive a great deal of their funding from their founders in the Catholic and Mormon churches.

The White House released the following statement Tuesday night,
“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples," Obama's North Carolina spokesman Cameron French said in a statement.

"He believes the North Carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it. President Obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples and is disappointed in the passage of this amendment," French said.
Sorry, Mr. President, but your words ring a little hollow your when surrogates like Joe Biden come out in full support of marriage equality, as you straddle the fence in your slo-mo evolution. We know you have an election to win, but the folks who would be swayed to vote against you if you came out in full support of marriage equality aren't going to vote for you anyway.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry released this statement Tuesday night:
“As momentum for the freedom to marry continues to grow in the rest of the nation, today’s vote is a painful reminder of what happens when a preemptive ballot-measure is stampeded through before people have had enough time to take in real conversations about who gay families are and why marriage matters to them.  This amendment is a last gasp of discrimination that will cause real harm to families, communities, and businesses in North Carolina, but says little about the prospects for a better outcome in battles to come in states where there has been greater visibility for loving and committed couples and those who get to know them.   And even in North Carolina, the long-term effect of this nasty attack will be to spur more conversations and open more hearts, helping more people rise to fairness and support for the freedom to marry.”
Evan, dear, pull your head out of your ass and take a look around, you self-serving, sanctimonious, toad. North Carolina does not live in a vacuum and the debate over marriage equality is hardly anything new. The Amendment One ballot initiative was approved by state legislators six months ago. Your organization could have provided much needed funding and led the charge in this fight, but you chose not to. You wrote it off as unwinnable and threw us under the bus. You don't get to say DICK about this loss!

We are down, but not defeated. We can take heart in the knowledge that California's Prop 8 is working its way through the courts and will hopefully be decided once and for all, with nationwide implications. Lower courts have already ruled that Prop 8 violates the US Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process. SCOTUS could hear the case within the next two years. All eyes are now on California.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Uninformed Voters Could Help Defeat NC Amendment One

A new survey conducted by Public Policy Polling shows that support for Amendment One, the anti-gay constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and all domestic partnerships has hit an all time low, coming in at 54%.
The Raleigh News-Observer reports:
The constitutional amendment on marriage appears poised to pass, but a new poll shows support slipping two weeks before the May 8 primary. 
The Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday shows 54 percent of primary voters support making marriage between one man and one woman the only legal union recognized in North Carolina -- a four-percentage-point drop from a month ago.Black voters favor the amendment two-to-one and even Democratic primary voters are split evenly. The referendum needs a majority for approval. 
Opposition increased slightly to 40 percent from 38 percent, a nudge within the poll's 2.9 percent margin of error, according to PPP, a left-leaning polling firm based in Raleigh.The survey shows more primary voters are starting to understand the amendment would ban gay marriage and civil unions. But 10 percent still erroneously  think it legalizes gay marriage and another 27 percent are unsure what it would do.
So what exactly does this mean? Although the News-Observer seems to think that passage is a foregone conclusion, the devil may be in the details. As both pro and anti-Amendment One ads have begun airing across the Tar Heel state over the last week, voters are becoming more aware that it simply goes too far, impacting unmarried straight couples, as well as gay couples and will cost those families their employer-provided health insurance and endanger unmarried victims of domestic violence, by taking away their ability to obtain a protective order against the abusive men in their lives.

The trend over the last six  months has been decidedly against passage, once voters become informed about the implications. When you look at those last figures about uniformed voters, what you see is that 10% could vote against the amendment for the "wrong" reasons and that 27% are still reachable. But the question remains, once unmarried opposite-sex couples understand that their families are at risk too, will they vote against their own best interest just because they are against marriage equality? We'll find out in less than two weeks.

Education is key but it costs a lot of money. You can donate to help fight Amendment One here, at Protect All NC Families.


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Friday, April 13, 2012

Dear Hilary Rosen, Please Shut the F*** Up.

Democratic Strategist Hilary Rosen (public domain photo)
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in an effort to regain some lost ground with women voters who have been turned off by attacks on reproductive choice waged by his misogynistic party, said earlier this week that his wife Ann keeps him informed about women's economic concerns.

This was yet another feeble attempt by the bazillionaire/former Massachusetts governor to show the commoners that he feels their pain during these difficult economic times. Gotta give the guy an A for effort, even if nobody is buying the crap he's selling.

Enter talking head/Democratic strategist/out lesbian, Hilary Rosen, who set the 24/7 news cycle and the interwebs ablaze when said told CNN's Thursday morning viewers that Ann Romney, "has never worked a day in her life".

In response, Mrs. Romney made a statement pointing out that she has raised five sons and that being a stay-at-home mom is, in fact, hard work. From this point it got uglier and uglier, as each camp fired salvo after ridiculous salvo and the story took on a life of its own.

Rush Limbaugh weighed in, spending the majority of his three-hour show on a tirade about liberals driving a wedge between working and nonworking mothers:
Via Politico:
"This is big because it’s such a teachable moment. It’s such an illustration of who these people are, the left. It’s such an illustration of phonies of feminism. It is an illustration of the absolute hostility that the left has for women who stay at home."
Naturally, Sarah Palin, the Fox "News" answer to Snooki, offered her own bumper sticker opinion, saying Rosen's comments had "wakened the Mamma Grizzlies". Mamma Grizzlies sure do sleep a lot.

Coming to Rosen's defense is her former partner and power lesbian, Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of The Human Rights Campaign. Birch, who has two children with Rosen, wrote a piece for the Huffington Post Friday morning, where she wrote in part, "There is something just wrong with people twisting concerns for women and jobs into mom-on-mom conflict"

Really, Liz? I hope that's what you told your ex-wife as you were picking up/dropping off the kids last night, because that's exactly what she did.

It strikes me as the ultimate hypocrisy that two women, Rosen and Birch, who value and defend the right of women to make their own reproductive choices, to have the right to marry the one they love and raise their children as they see fit could be so disrespectful of a woman who exercised her own right to do the exact same thing. 

According to Rosen, freedom of choice is only worthy of respect and protection when we all make the same choices. If you ask me, that sounds more like a conservative Republican mindset than a liberal Democrat one. It's getting so you can't tell them apart any more.

Women work for the same reasons men work, to support themselves and their families. Most working moms don't have much of a choice in the matter. If a woman, or a man, is fortunate enough to have a spouse that makes a good enough salary that she/he can be the primary caregiver for their kids, isn't that a good thing? Isn't it better than turning them over to a stranger to raise? 

For the average married working mother, who is typically just getting by financially, when you factor in the cost of childcare, it's often less expensive for her to not work outside the home. 

But aside from all of this, as a gay man I have to ask, do we really need two prominent members of the LGBT community jumping into the War On Women and dragging the rest of us along with them? It's bad enough that Rosen's insensitive comments have made the Democrats look bad, but the antigay forces out there have already started using this incident to bolster their arguments that gays are a threat to traditional families.

Think Progress reports that Bill Donohue of the Catholic League sent out the following tweet on Thursday morning:
@CatholicLeague: Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.
Naturally, TP's Zack Ford, who reported on this, took the bait and made much of Donohue's implication that Rosen's children and parental credentials were somehow less than Romney's because her kids are adopted and the pissing contest goes on and on. So much for thinking and for progress.

Before the end of the day, Rosen shot off an unconvincing "my bad", saying, "I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended. Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance."

Too late, Hil. That horse is out of the barn, has jumped the fence and is rolling around in the pig slop. 

The Republican War on Women is very real. The LGBT community has steadfastly fought alongside our straight and gay sisters to defeat every draconian attempt made by Republicans nationwide to strip away women's reproductive rights, including the demeaning and unwarranted, state-sanctioned rape known as  Trans-vaginal Ultrasound, proposed by legislators in Virginia and other states as a means of intimidating women who seek legal abortions. 

Ms. Rosen, you have trivialized political misogyny by participating in it and you've dragged your party and the LGBT community into the mud with you. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Disgraced Prop 8 Witness Opposes NC Amendment One

David Blankenhorn leaving 9th District Court
in January, 2010 after being ripped a new one. 
This one is just too good to pass up. In an Op Ed piece in this morning's Raleigh News and Observer, David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values and his wife, Elizabeth Marquardt, a NC native, have once again contradicted themselves on the subject of marriage equality by opposing Amendment One.

Blankenhorn, played with buffoonish perfection by John C. Riley in Dustin Lance Black's stage production "8", was one of only two so-called expert witnesses called by proponents of California's Prop 8 in the court challenge, Perry vs. Schwarzeneggar (now Perry vs. Brown).  The LA Times reported on the trial back in January 2010:
Under cross-examination by David Boies, an attorney for challengers of the ballot measure, Blankenhorn admitted he knew of no study that showed children reared by gay couples fared worse than those raised by heterosexual parents.
Blankenhorn also conceded that same-sex marriage would probably "improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children."
A spokeswoman for proponents of Proposition 8 said she did not know the context in which Blankenhorn made the statement in his book that same-sex marriage would make the United States "more American."
Yes, you read that right. In 2007 Blankenhorn wrote in a book that the U.S. would be "more American on the day we permit same-sex marriage than we were on the day before."

This morning, The Raleigh News and Observer published a piece by Mr. and Mrs. All-Over-The-Map called, "Amendment goes too far", wherein they state their opposition to NC Amendment One. While they still maintain that marriage should be a heteros-only club, the self-contradicting duo writes:
"We believe that marriage is a uniquely important institution that unites mothers and fathers to their children.
But as marriage advocates, we oppose the state marriage amendment now being debated in North Carolina. We hope that when North Carolinians go to the polls on May 8 they will defeat this measure."
So despite being ripped to shreds on the witness stand and having no credible research to back up their claims, Blankenhorn and Marquardt continue to make their discredited arguments, under the guise of fairness. They are against Amendment One because it would ban domestic partnerships, which they see as a more "humane compromise". 

Humane? Really, Dave? What's next, mandatory spay and neuter laws for the gays? 

Thanks for your self-serving support, Dave and Liz, but we can do this without your help. 

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With Mr. Frothy out of the mix, will Amendment One fail?

Don't forget to flush on your way out.
As most of you have heard by now, Rick "Google Me" Santorum has "suspended" his presidential campaign after yet another disappointing round of primaries. Give the man some credit for finally realizing what we all knew from the get go, that he never had a snowball's chance in hell.

America is tired of extremism. In an era where even Liberals aren't liberal any more and the mainstream GOP refusing to use Marriage Equality as a wedge issue, are we beginning to see a hint of a glimmer of rationality in politics?

The Raleigh News and Observer reports today that Santorum's exit from the presidential race could mean trouble for the anti-gay Amendment One, which would cement bigotry into the NC constitution.
Michael Bitzer, a political expert at Catawba College in Salisbury, said North Carolina voters can still make a statement when early voting for the May 8 primary begins on April 19. Santorum and Gingrich – as well as Ron Paul – will appear on the ballot and may draw a protest vote.
The question is how bad Romney limps into the Tampa convention with the base of the Republican Party still not behind him,” Bitzer said.
At the state level, Santorum’s departure may also influence voter turnout in other campaigns. The former Pennsylvania senator’s social conservative voters would have boosted support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions. Likewise, other far-right conservative candidates could have drawn more votes.
“Without a driving factor of a presidential race at the top of the ticket, will (social conservatives) have a motivation to come out?” Bitzer asked.
What Bitzer fails to take into account is that exit polling and public opinion research throughout the GOP primary season has consistently shown two things. First, that Republicans, in general aren't thrilled with any of the choices they've been presented with this year. Voter turnout at the GOP primaries has been at record lows. Romney is too bland and he's got that whole Mormon thing scaring the hell out of the evangelicals and other extremists.

Second, that the other contenders, including the two that are left, are far too extreme, even for extremists and aren't electable. There is speculation that the Gingrich and Ron Paul campaigns might see a slight boost via protest votes from the folks who find Romney and his magic underwear just too icky, but not enough to make a significant difference. There is also the possibility that disillusioned GOP voters may just stay home.

When you take into account the rapidly declining support for Amendment One (60% are now opposed), plus Democratic Governor Bev Perdue's announcement earlier this year that she will not be seeking re-election, voter turnout among Democrats will be greater than NC Republicans anticipated when they approved the referendum back in September. Factor in the disaffected Republican base and the likelihood of passage seems less and less plausible.

While the defeat of Amendment One is far from guaranteed, it's safe to say that the tide has shifted in the Tarheel state and now is the time to keep the momentum going and fight harder than ever. Check out Protect All NC Families to see what you can do to help defeat Amendment One. Make a donation, pick up a yard sign, or volunteer.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Elon Poll: 60% Oppose NC Amendment One

A new Elon University poll released Monday shows that 60% of North Carolinians oppose Amendment One, the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban any legal recognition of same-sex relationships. With just over a month left before the vote, the poll reveals not only a majority of opposition to Amendment One, but a marked shift in support for either marriage equality or civil unions.
" for full marriage rights for same sex couples (38%) or support for civil unions or partnerships for same-sex couples (29%) among the state’s residents continues to increase over the four cycles since September 2011 that we have asked the question. Opposition to any legal recognition for same-sex couples continues to decrease and is now at 29%."
This is great news for LGBT's living in the south. North Carolina is the only southern state without a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heteros-only club. While same-sex marriage is already illegal in the Tar Heal State, defeating this ballot measure at the polls, with a Republican majority running the state for the first time in ten years, would send a message that same-sex marriage is not the wedge issue it once was.

Politico reported Friday that mainstream Republicans don't seem to have the stomach to fight gay marriage any more.
"It’s not like the GOP has become a bastion of progressiveness on gay rights, but there has been an evolution in the political approach — and an acknowledgment of a cultural shift in the country. Same-sex relationships are more prominent and accepted. There are more gay public figures — including politicians — and it’s likely that many Washington Republicans have gay friends and coworkers. Just as important — there’s also a libertarian streak of acceptance on people’s sexuality coursing through the House Republican Conference."

Just three weeks ago, polling showed only 54% opposition, but also revealed that a lot of voters don't understand exactly what Amendment One would do, if passed. Once they understood, they were opposed to it.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The NOM Papers: Glamorous Non-cognitive Elite

Probably the most revealing tidbit of information gleaned from the newly released (by court order) confidential files of the National Organization for Marriage is the disdain they feel for their celebrity supporters are and how stupid they think they are. That's probably why they have so few of them.

I have to say I agree with Maggie Moo on this point, but talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

"Hollywood with its cultural biases is far bigger than we can hope to be. We recognize this. But we also recognize the opportunity - the disproportionate potential impact of proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous non-cognitive elites across national boundaries. (This is applying the Witherspoon and IAV model to non-intellectual elites.)"

This comes directly from NOM's own Files.

You can't make this shit up.

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John "Snooki" Boehner Taking Heat From Both Sides Over DOMA Defense

It's not easy being orange.
Republican Speaker of the House John "Snooki" Boehner just cant get a break these days. Liberals have been harassing Congressman Spray Tan over his decision to take up the legal defense of DOMA. Taxpayers are on the hook to the tune of $1.5 million in legal fees payable to attorney Paul Clement, who quit his job with a prestigious law firm to take the case after they turned it down.

Meanwhile, right-wing fanatics, like the certified hate group Family Research Counsel, are complaining that the bronzer-addicted politico isn't pounding hard enough on our sinful gay asses. Congressional Quarterly reports:

While the Family Research Council and other conservative groups applaud Boehner’s unusual courtroom intervention, the council would like to hear more vocal support of the measure signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
“They hired Paul Clement, and they think their job is done. While the Obama administration ignores DOMA, Speaker Boehner has forgotten that the checks and balances also include Congress,” said Tom McClusky, senior vice president of the Family Research Council.
The council sees a challenge of the law’s definition of marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman” as a threat to religious freedom — a potent political argument Republicans used to criticize the Obama administration’s recent requirement that health insurers, including those of religiously affiliated organizations, provide contraceptive coverage.
“I wish that our allies would do more. They are being intimidated into silence by Republican leaders,” McClusky said.
So, now it's the Republicans that are intimidating the Republicans? Sounds like a kinky case of political masturbation.

Well, what can we expect? When you're so blinded by your own hate, it's hard to see the world passing you by. What the myopic McClusky doesn't understand, that the rest of the GOP is beginning to, is that gay-bashing doesn't pay off politically they way it used to. Marriage Equality may still be a wedge issue, but groups like FRC and NOM are increasingly finding themselves alone on their side of the divide.

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NAACP Chair, Julian Bond Speaks Out Against NOM's Race Baiting

In response to the disclosure of the NOM Papers, which detail the hate group's plans to divide and conquer by exploiting homophobia in the African-American and Latino communities, veteran civil rights leader and NAACP Chairman, Julian Bond, released the following statement Tuesday, via HRC.
“NOM’s underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if Black Americans remember their own history of discrimination. Pitting bigotry’s victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together.”
Bond spoke at the National Equality March in Washington, DC in 2009, where he called on African-Americans to support LGBT Equality. I happened to pass him on the steps as he made his way to the podium that day. What an inspiring speaker. 

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

DOJ orders OPM to Begin Insurance Coverage for Lesbian Spouse

In an unprecedented move, the Department of Justice told the Office of Personnel Management to begin insurance coverage for the wife of OPM employee Karen Golinski, who is suing to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

DOJ notified OPM in a letter dated March 9, to abide by a lower court ruling in February that found section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. The letter became public on Monday. (via Metro Weekly):
A March 9 letter to Blue Cross Blue Shield, from Shirley Patterson, assistant director of federal employee insurance operations for the Office of Personnel Management, said that “OPM hereby withdraws any outstanding directive regarding the enrollment of Ms. Golinski’s wife, Amy C. Cunninghis, in her family health benefits plan.”
OPM previously said the wife of Karen Golinski, a federal court employee in California, could not be covered.
DOJ has also requested an en banc ruling by an 11-judge panel:
On Monday, DOJ filed two motions in the appeal before the Ninth Circuit, both of which were agreed to by Golinski. The first asks the court to expedite the appeal and the other seeks to skip over the first stage of appellate review, in which a three-judge panel considers the case, in favor of moving directly to en banc consideration by an 11-judge panel of the court.
WHY THE REQUEST: In 1990, the Ninth Circuit had decided that discriminatory government treatment based on sexual orientation -- brought as a claim of "equal protection" violations under the Fourteenth or Fifth amendments -- is subjected to the lowest form of scrutiny, rational basis review. That case, High Tech Gays v. Defense Indus. Sec. Clearance Office, was decided four years after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick.
Twenty-two years later, and several Supreme Court cases -- most notably the 1996 case of Romer v. Evans and the 2003 case overturning Bowers, Lawrence v. Texas -- call into question the ongoing validity of High Tech Gays. DOJ argues that heightened scrutiny should apply to such claims.
Although Golinski's wife may ultimately lose her spousal insurance coverage when the case is finally ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court, should it reach them, the Obama DOJ has affirmed that she may keep her coverage for the time being. Snooki Boehner's BLAG has not yet filed a response, but have indicated they they intend to.

Now, my question to all those activists who are pushing for the president to come out with an immediate, full-on, unequivocal, verbal statement that he supports marriage equality, at the risk of losing the election, is, what more do you need?

The Administration has ordered OPM to honor spousal benefits for the wife of a lesbian employee. They have requested that Golinski vs. OPM be expedited, which means it could be ruled on before the November election. You are free to demand a clearer statement of support from the Big O, but my advice to you is, don't hold your breath.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Court Documents Prove NOM's Plan to Divide Gay and Black Communities

By Alvin McEwan
Cross-posted from Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters.

The National Organization for Marriage's unsuccessful fight to skirt Maine's financial disclosure laws just backfired majorly on the group by revealing a  distasteful part of its game plan to stop marriage equality.

According to a court document that was uploaded online, NOM specifically worked to drive a wedge between the black and gay community on the subject of marriage equality:

According to page 11 of this document called Marriage: $20 Million Strategy for Victory:

3. Not a Civil Right Project 
The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks - two key democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party.
NOM has portrayed whatever African-American opposition to marriage equality its spotlighted as spontaneous attempts by leaders and members of the black community to keep its civil rights legacy from supposedly being "tainted" by a comparison to gay equality.

But now we see that there was nothing spontaneous about this. It was a cynically planned effort by NOM - which the organization continues to exploit - in order to drive a wedge between blacks and gays.

And notice how NOM says that one of the purposes of creating this division was to create a negative reaction from gay equality supporters against the African-Americans speaking out against marriage equality.

One doesn't have to spell out how this benefits NOM's efforts. The two sides attack each other with extreme anger causing magazine articles to be written about the division, news programs to focus on the division, and venomous chats to occur on places like Facebook and Twitter.

Some heterosexual African-Americans will let loose with homophobia against the gay community.  And some white lgbtqs will express racist comments about the black community. Both communities will be at each other's throats. There will be no intelligent conversations on the matter and neither community will benefit an iota.

And NOM wiill sit back and reap the benefits of causing this chaos.

It reminds me of an Aesop fable I once posted:
An Eagle had made her nest at the top of a lofty oak. A Fox, having found a convenient hole, lived with her young in the middle of the trunk; and a Wild Sow with her young had taken shelter in a hollow at its foot. The Fox resolved to destroy by her arts this chance-made colony. She climbed to the nest of the Eagle, and said: "Destruction is preparing for you, and for me too. The Wild Sow, whom you may see daily digging up the earth, wishes to uproot the oak, that she may, on its fall, seize our families as food." Then she crept down to the cave of the Sow and said: "Your children are in great danger; for as soon as you shall go out with your litter to find food, the Eagle is prepared to pounce upon one of your little pigs." When night came, she went forth with silent foot and obtained food for herself and her young; but, feigning to be afraid, she kept a look-out all through the day. Meanwhile, the Eagle, full of fear of the Sow, sat still on the branches, and the Sow, terrified by the Eagle, did not dare to go out from her cave; and thus they each, with their families, perished from hunger.
Moral - Gay folks and black folks can argue all day as to who gets to be the "sow" and who gets to be the "eagle." But both groups better damn well recognize who the hell the fox is.

Editor's note - There are a lot of court documents and I'm sure that in the coming days, we will learn more about NOM's exploits. Stay tuned not only to this blog but several others.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Breaking: Obama May or May Not Endorse Marriage Equality Before Election

Hold onto your hats, boys and girls! There's a 50-50 chance that something might, could, possibly, but not likely, happen and the LGBT acti-verse is all atwitter about it.

The argument rages unabated in the LGBT community as to whether President Obama should finish evolving on marriage equality and make a public endorsement before the November general election. Opinions are split and very passionate on both sides of the debate.

First Lady Michelle Obama didn't help matters much on Monday night when she spoke at a fundraiser in New York, hosted by actor Robert DeNiro at his restaurant in TriBeCa. Mrs. Obama told the $5000 a plate crowd, "And let us not forget what their decisions — the impact those decisions will have on our lives for decades to come -– on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and, yes, love whomever we choose."

Naturally, the gay press has jumped all over the First Lady's words in an effort to glean some clue about the president's evolution.

Enter the inside source. The Washington Blade spoke an anonymous someone who claims to have knowledge of what's happening behind the scenes at he White House. The insider says that discussions are just as heated and divided in the Executive Mansion as they are in the real world. According to the latter day Deep Throat, the president is likely to announce something significantly pro-LGBT before the election, but it may or may not be what impatient activists want to hear.
According to the source, the administration would like to unveil another major pro-LGBT initiative before the November election, and an endorsement of marriage equality could fit the bill. But concerns persist on how an endorsement of same-sex marriage would play in four or five battleground states.
“We’re talking about the Michigans, the Ohios, the Illinois of the world; the real battleground states in which voters are already conflicted and may factor this into their judgment,” the source said.
Moreover, the administration may only want to expend political capital on one measure. It could come down to a choice between an endorsement of marriage equality and something else, such as the executive order requiring federal contractors to have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies.
“My feeling is you’ll get one, you won’t get both before Election Day,” the source said. “There is a great timidity in terms of their dealing with the gays, right? In many ways, they kind of consider our issues to be the third rail.”
In other words, one of two things could happen. One could blow the president's chances of re-election and the other probably won't.

So what do we make of this? For one thing, from the use of the words,"our issues", the insider is one of us. For another, the administration still sees LGBT issues as problematic, especially during an election year. That's about all we can know for sure.

But that doesn't keep queer politicos from weighing in on the subject.

Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager for Protect All NC Families, one of the major NGO's leading the fight to defeat North Carolina's Amendment 1, told The Blade, “I think what the president said on Friday specifically on North Carolina was probably more helpful than coming out for same-sex marriage would be for us because this isn't a same-sex marriage fight here. Regardless of whether this amendment passes or fails, it’s not going to change the state of marriage in North Carolina.”

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry was more adamant, saying, “Americans want their president to show moral leadership and stand up when the freedoms and rights of Americans are at stake.” 

While Wolfson is right, I think he's being shortsighted. As long as the president doesn't officially change his position on marriage equality, Republican conservatives will continue to say that his position on same-sex marriages is the same as theirs. I say let them think so if it means swing voters will support the rest of Obama's policies and help him get re-elected.

We have to accept the fact that Obama coming out with a grand announcement of support for marriage equality before the November election is unlikely.

It seems more likely that the president will continue to try to give us reason to believe that he supports us, by denouncing state anti-marriage equality initiatives, as he did last week and by passing an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT employees of government contractors, which could potentially effect millions of people in a significant way.

Love him or hate him, Barack Obama has done more for the LGBT community than any other U.S. president in history. If any of the Republican candidates win, one of the first things we can expect is a major rollback on all the progress we've made over the last three years. Of course Obama can do more for us, but only if he gets a second term. Why risk that now? It doesn't make sense.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: Obama endorsing gay marriage now would be "politically suicidal"

Author, Political Analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The response to my posts this week, where I cautioned LGBT activists not to push for a plank in the DNC platform this year and Obama's public endorsement of marriage equality, has been met positively by a few readers, but not so favorably by a lot of others. That's cool. I enjoy a good debate with people who know the issues and can state them rationally, even if their position differs from my own.

To review, there is an effort underway within the Democratic Party leadership to make an official endorsement of Marriage Equality in the party platform this year. I think that would be a tactical mistake. A lot of readers, including some bloggers that I know and respect, strongly disagree. They'd rather have a strong message that their president supports them and will fight for them. I pointed out in several FaceBook debates that the end result could conceivably be electoral losses for Democrats, and several more years of waiting before we attain full equality.

I put the question to them and to you: "Which would you rather have, a strong verbal statement of support from the president, or full equality?" Given the current political climate, you can't have both.

Much was made in the mainstream press and by LGBT bloggers (including yours truly) Friday about remarks made by the Obama Campaign's North Carolina spokesman, Cameron French, who declared that the president opposed Amendment 1, the proposed anti-Marriage Equality amendment to the NC constitution. As pointed out on Towleroad, it turns out "The Big O" made no such statement, but that French was extrapolating based on the president's track record on LGBT rights. I think French is correct in his assessment, but colossally foolish to make a public statement about it without running it past the White House.

This is just one example of what Democrats do when they start feeling cocky. Pushing for a Marriage Equality plank in the party platform this year would be another example.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, an author, political analyst and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and Rev. Al Sharpton's radio show, weighs in on the topic with an article at Eurweb, where he explains that pandering to impatient LGBT activists and bloggers would be a big mistake for the president:
"This doesn't mean simply his backing full equality, civil rights, and civil unions for gays, or support for gays in the military, calls on UN to end discrimination against gays, making supportive speeches to gay rights groups, or strongly opposing the seemingly never ending ballot initiatives and legislative efforts to outlaw gay marriage. He’s done all of that. No, he must say the words “I support gay marriage” to fully satisfy some gay rights activists. The “some” is a crucial qualifier.  Many gay rights activists understand that a GOP White House would be beyond a horror. GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney would subtly and GOP Presidential contender Rick Santorum would openly back any and every anti-gay rights initiative measure, and piece of legislation any and everywhere in the country. But the president is different. He is clearly a friend of gay rights movement, and an African-American so therefore more, much more, is expected of him."
Hutchinson goes on to explain that although a slim majority of Americans support Marriage Equality, African Americans, who turned out in record numbers in 2008, are moving forward on the issue at a much slower pace, according to Pew research polling:
"Obama is no different than many other moderate, tolerant and broad minded African-Americans on diversity issues. But he, like many others, still can draw the line on gay marriage and that’s fueled by deeply ingrained notions of family, church, and community, and the need to defend the terribly frayed and fragmented black family structure. This mix of fear, belief, and traditional family protectionism has long been a staple among many blacks and virtually every time the issue of legalizing gay marriage has been put to the ballot, or initiative, or a legal challenge, or just simply the topic of public debate there has been no shortage of black ministers and public figures willing to rush to the defense of traditional marriage."
Hutchinson concludes by pointing out that the president's position should be inferred by his actions, even though he has not spoken the words publicly:
"... Obama still has gotten it mostly right on gay rights and given the grim GOP presidential alternative, and the near certainty that he’ll eventually get it right to the total satisfaction of gay activists in full support of gay marriage, to hold his refusal to utter the final words and endorse gay marriage now is worse than dumb and silly, it is politically suicidal."
Let me make something clear, and this shouldn't even be necessary. In order to overturn DOMA, defeat anti-gay state constitutional initiatives and achieve any of the other goals we've set, we need a sympathetic  Democratic president, House and Senate, as well as Democratic governors and state representatives. That's a tall order. While it' true that the GOP primary has shown just how far out of touch with reality the Republicans are, a Democratic victory is by no means guaranteed.

This year the Dems biggest challenge will not be whoever tumbles out of the Republican Clown Car last, but resisting their own instinctive urge to shoot themselves in the foot.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Obama Campaign Denounces NC Amendment One

President Obama's NC Campaign released a statement today declaring that he opposes NC Amendment 1, which would amend the state constitution to ban any legal recognition of domestic relationships other than hetero marriage. Via The News Observer:
President Barack Obama today came out against the proposed constitutional amendment on North Carolina's May 8th ballot banning same sex marriages and civil unions, weighing into a fight in a key battleground state. His campaign issued a statement saying the amendment was discriminatory.
 “While the president does not  weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples,” said Cameron French, his North Carolina campaign spokesman.
 “That’s what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the President does not support it.”  

The president's statement should help convince some in the LGBT community that his evolution on Marriage Equality continues. Others will never be convinced until Obama makes a more declarative statement that he fully supports equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. To them I say "grow up." The man is not stupid. He will  do so after the election, not before. Get over it.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marriage Equality in DNC Platform Would be Disastrous

Over the last several weeks there has been a growing campaign for the Democratic National Committee to add a plank to the party platform endorsing Marriage Equality. The Huffington Post reported Thursday:
In the past month, almost half of all Democratic senators, several of Obama's national campaign co-chairs, the House Minority Leader and the chairman of the Democratic convention, among others, have said they support adding marriage equality to the platform. Were this the position that the president held, such proclamations would not be a problem. But Obama says he is still publicly “evolving” on marriage equality. And the wave of support to make it a component of his convention has both surprised aides and set off a private push to keep emotions and expectations in check. 
First, I want to say that I am overwhelmed that so many Democrats have finally jumped on the equality train. Better late than never, weekend liberals!

It was just two and a half years ago that we joined half a million of our LGBT brothers and sisters marching through the streets of the nation's capital demanding that the president and the Democrats stop paying lip service and start following through on their promises. Obama was still finding way around the White House. HRC president Joe Solmonese was the darling of the Capital Hill cocktail party set and just last year Obama revealed that his views on Marriage Equality were "evolving".

Here we are facing the end of the Big O's first term and DADT has been repealed, eight states and DC now have equal marriage. The administration announced last year that it believes DOMA is unconstitutional and will no longer defend it in court.

Same-sex partners can now be designated as next of kin in all hospitals receiving federal funds, which is virtually all of them. The Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Act was passed and new HUD rules protect LGBT Americans from housing discrimination. (For a more complete list of the president's LGBT accomplishments, check out this article from The New Civil Rights Movement.)

With and majority of Americans now favoring marriage equality and the GOP clown car and its all-consuming vintage 1965 social agenda virtually assuring Obama a second term, over-confidant advocates are now gearing up to do what Democrats have always done best... snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

We are at a very precarious position now. We may have hit a turning point in the fight for our rights, but the culture wars are being fought more fiercely than ever. One false move and we plummet into the depths of a latter day Dark Ages, the likes of which has never been seen in this country. Republican voters find themselves in the difficult position of choosing between the lesser of the evils at the top of the ticket. Polling shows that voter turnout in the Republican primaries is at record lows of about 3 to 4%. The only people actually bothering to show up are extreme social conservatives and the elderly.

Republicans know they can't win on the issues, so they lie and deny that the economy is improving and ignore the over 3 million new jobs that have been created under this president. They lie about a thriving auto industry that all but collapsed under Bush's policies. They disown their own policies which led to this mess in the first place as a result of the eight years that they gave W everything he wanted.

The one word that best describes Barack Obama is "pragmatic". He's not about the blow the election by moving too quickly to endorse gay marriage during an election year. It's just a fact we're going to have to live with. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villgairosa, the 2012 Chairman of the Democratic National Convention, has been one of the most vocal proponents of a Marriage Equality plank in the party platform.

Via Politico:
During a wide-ranging interview, POLITICO’s Mike Allen at one point asked the recently selected chairman, “Do you think that the Democratic national platform should have a marriage equality plank?”
“I do, I think it’s basic to who we are,” Villaraigosa said. “I believe in family values and I believe that we all ought to be about.
Villagairosa's words obviously caught the Obama administration off guard, because within hours he had softened his tone when asked by the Sacramento Bee about the party platform, saying, “It is up to the delegates of the Democratic Party to draft the Democratic Party platform. Our delegates will put the platform together and I suspect it will be very inclusive.” 

For democrats, the Republican primary is the gift that keeps on giving. Barring any unforeseen catastrophe, President Obama will handily defeat any one of the GOP candidates. All he has to do is let them speak. Do we really want to force him into a corner on marriage equality in the lead up to the general election? Do we really want to be the reason he loses? 

We suffered through eight years of setbacks under Bush and any one of the Republicans candidates would be infinitely worse in the Oval Office, not just for LGBT's, but for women, Hispanics, seniors, the economy and for our reputation around the world. 

In the immortal words of RuPaul, "Don't fuck it up!" 

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