Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

Serving jury duty today

By Adam Bink

But during voir dire, I plan to tell to tell the court that I cannot serve if a man is on trial, seeing that I am a man and that may imperil my ability to judge, since men are naturally driven to support members of their own sex. Right?

Or because I am gay, since as many male homophobes presume, if someone is gay, he must be attracted to you. That would surely bias my judgment.

Or if he’s a resident of DC, since I naturally feel a sense of solidarity towards the denizens of our fair city. Or worse, a Sabres fan and I don’t know it!

At least, that’s what Andy Pugno and Chuck Cooper might argue.

Anyway, a light posting day today as I will probably be without wi-fi. What are you reading?

April 27, 2011 at 6:00 am 37 comments

A South Beach thank you to P8TT

I’m in South Beach in Florida (accompanying the boyfriend on a business trip) where it’s sunny and happens to be gay pride week. Yes, in April. I didn’t know some places, including South Beach and I’m told Durham, NC have pride celebrations outside of June (Durham does so the students can participate). So far, it’s been fun. Parade tomorrow. Although, as my friend from Plantation, FL reminds me, every day is gay pride in South Beach. Heh.

I chit-chatted with some locals yesterday at a cafe about the work we do here at P8TT. They interrupted me to say they saw the story about Louis on MSNBC and “that was you?!?!” and proceeded to buy me a drink to say thanks, and asked me to post here to say thanks for all the “showin’ up” you do. So, on behalf of the friendly South Beach locals, thanks for showin’ up and gettin’ stuff done!

This is an open thread. What are your weekend plans and what are you reading?

April 15, 2011 at 10:45 am 94 comments

Around and about

By Adam Bink

A very busy first day back (on the job organizing at Courage), so light posting today. We’re hard at work with an allied organization on a just heartbreaking video around “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” I’ll be posting here tomorrow. It’s really something.

A few items of note:

  • The Indiana Senate overwhelmingly approved a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. It must pass the legislature again in the next session.
  • At the same time, the Washington State Senate passed legislation to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, and recognize those married as domestic partners in the state. Gov. Gregoire pledged to sign the bill.
  • Congressional House Republicans are going your taxpayer money to waste time bashing repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in a Friday hearing.
  • I am so freaking excited for a Glee episode cover of “Born This Way”. Every time I listen to the song I smile and feel proud of who I am.
  • I am glad Rep. Frank will wait for more co-sponsors before re-introducing ENDA, but the way today’s news went down came across as “I’m having trouble finding people to support the bill”. I almost rather no one said anything at all about the bill until it’s, well, ready. It’s not a criticism of anyone in particular, just a frustration.
  • Ultimately positive, but not really big news on green card applications for bi-national couples. DOMA remains in effect.
  • For those of you interested in coming or already coming, I’m speaking on at the Social Learning Summit, a conference on the intersection of social media, education and advocacy, on Sunday at 2 PM at American University in DC. The panel is “A Social Bill of Rights: Civil Rights and Social Media” and I’ll be talking about P8TT in part. Register and details here.

What else is up?

March 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm 35 comments

LA Times: With same-sex marriage on hold, elderly and ailing couples face a lengthy appeals process

Did you see this terrific feature-length LA Times article about Courage Campaign members Ed Watson and Derence Kernek? You’ve likely seen the video filmed by Courage Campaign staff about why it is so important that Ed and Derence be allowed to marry in California — before it’s too late. Read their powerful story here, then share it with your friends. -Andy w/ Courage

With same-sex marriage on hold, elderly and ailing couples face a lengthy appeals process

Judges last week extended a stay on same-sex marriage until higher courts rule on Prop. 8. Derence Kernek and Ed Watson hope that process will move faster than the advance of Watson’s Alzheimer’s disease. by Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2011

Photo credit: Glenn Koenig, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Palm Springs — Derence Kernek and Ed Watson live together each day in fear that they won’t be able to pledge “till death do us part” before it’s too late.

Watson, 78, is in rapidly failing health, afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

A federal appeals court ruled last week that same-sex marriage will remain on hold in California until a judge’s ruling striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional makes its way through the higher courts — reviews expected to take a year or more.

“We don’t have the money to travel to a state where it’s legal,” said Kernek, 80, observing dejectedly that the travel would probably be too grueling for his partner of 40 years. “Besides, we wanted to do it in California, where our friends are, where we live. Now I don’t think we’ll be able to, not while Ed can still remember.”

The ticking clock on Watson’s awareness was one of a chronicle of arguments presented to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in an unsuccessful bid to convey the urgency of letting same-sex marriage resume during the protracted appeals process.

A 9th Circuit panel made up of Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Michael Daly Hawkins and N. Randy Smith denied the request Wednesday without explanation.

Proposition 8 proponents had argued that the voter initiative’s restriction of marriage to one man and one woman should remain in place pending the appeal. They said the stay was necessary to avert social chaos if, as they insist is likely, the courts decide that the voters of California had the right to outlaw same-sex marriage.

The Aug. 4 ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker in San Francisco striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional buoyed hopes across the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities that their rights to marry and raise families would eventually earn full legal recognition.

But for some, including Kernek and Watson, “eventually” could come too late.

In response to an online appeal by the Hollywood-based Courage Campaign for testimony to back the legal challenge of Proposition 8 and other gay-rights litigation, more than 3,000 couples came forward with their stories about why they believe marriage can’t wait.

“Life is not eternal — sometimes it is tragically short — and courts should not act as if it were otherwise,” said Chad Griffin, board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and a key strategist in the legal campaign to scuttle Proposition 8.

The anecdotes of fatal illness and faltering minds were intended to put human faces on gay- and lesbian-rights advocates’ arguments that continuing to prohibit same-sex marriage after Walker’s ruling inflicts irreparable harm on many.

The Proposition 8 opponents argued that Walker’s ruling recognized marriage as a fundamental right for all Americans, and their veteran lawyers, David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, cited case law dictating that a court should suspend a judge’s ruling only when the party seeking that stay shows that it is likely to win on appeal and be irreparably harmed in the meantime.

“Each day plaintiffs, and gay men and lesbians like them, are denied the right to marry — denied the full blessings of citizenship — is a day that never can be returned to them,” two same-sex couples who brought the successful lawsuit against Proposition 8 argued in their motion.

Those who will be harmed, Courage Campaign chairman Rick Jacobs argued in an accompanying letter to the court, are couples like Kernek and Watson and San Diego residents Jerry Peterson and Bob Smith, both in their 70s and longing to marry before the end of an appeals process that could outlive them. Shane Mayer and John Quintana, 28-year-olds from San Francisco, want to marry while Mayer’s cancer-stricken father can still take part, the friend-of-the-court letter testified.

Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for Proposition 8 backers, hailed the panel’s ruling as “a victory for Proposition 8 supporters and the initiative process as a whole.”

In his appeals court filings, Pugno had argued that the same-sex couples’ claim of urgency “rings hollow.” He pointed out that they waited six months after the initiative passed to bring their lawsuit and failed to challenge the stay when the 9th Circuit first decided last fall to keep the ban in place while the appeal was being expedited.

Pugno’s opponents say they didn’t make an issue of the stay when Walker imposed it or when the 9th Circuit agreed it should remain in place because the appeals court said the case would be fast-tracked, Jacobs said. But when the 9th Circuit on Jan. 4 asked the California Supreme Court to decide whether the Proposition 8 architects have the legal right to appeal Walker’s ruling, it became clear that the process would drag on until the end of this year, if not longer, Jacobs said.

That outlook is dispiriting for Kernek and Watson, who don’t like to contemplate their prospects for surviving the appeals process intact.

“I can’t even say how many times I’ve had to call 911 when he falls or gets into a position where I can’t lift him,” Kernek says of his partner.

The two retired to this gay-friendly desert oasis five years ago, after their eclectic college pursuits — horticulture, social work and engineering — took them from the Bay Area to Kansas City, then an Oregon farm that was their home and livelihood for a decade.

They registered as domestic partners when they arrived in California, and after the state legalized same-sex marriage three years ago, they thought they could make the ultimate commitment to each other when the time was right. The passage of Proposition 8 in November 2008 shocked them, as did Watson’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s a few months later.

Kernek is more confused than bitter about the legal obstacles preventing them from taking vows before Watson’s memory recedes to a point of no return.

“Why is it important to anybody else who you are devoted to?” Kernek asks. “I just don’t see how who I love hurts anybody else’s marriage.”

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Photo credit: Glenn Koenig, Los Angeles Times

Share this story with your friends on Facebook. 

March 29, 2011 at 10:48 am 34 comments

Target Sues Marriage Equality Canvassing Organization

by Brian Leubitz

Last year, Target got into some hot water for donating $150,000 to an organization in support of anti-gay Minnesota candidate for governor Tom Emmer.  Apparently in their continuing effort to remind the LGBT communities to stay away from big box stores, they have followed up this week by singling out an organization, Canvass For A Change (CFAC) that is canvassing San Diego stores to talk about marriage equality.

In a court document, a Target official at the Poway store complained that CFAC volunteers were talking to customers about gay marriage, among other issues, and contended that they had received complaints from some customers who were upset by the topic.

Court documents also show that Target Corp. is worried that the company may be viewed as being for gay marriage if activist groups like CFAC are allowed to speak to their customers. (San Diego Gay and Lesbian News)

Now, the first defense that you will hear from every mainstream outlet is that Target just doesn’t like anybody outside their stores and that, heck, they even booted the Salvation Army.  (By the way, the Salvation Army is pretty anti-LGBT themselves.) Now, what you won’t hear is that they didn’t really boot the Salvation Army out, so much as paid them to go away. They give the Salvation Army a fairly sizable contribution every year.

There are two real issues going on here.  First, it seems that Target is, um, targeting this pro-marriage equality organization in a way that they aren’t for other organizations.  True, they do try to get rid of as many canvassers as they can outside of their stores.  But CFAC director Tres Watson says that the policy is not enforced uniformly at all, with Girl Scouts and veterans organizations tolerated, while CFAC is sued for an immediate injunction.

The other issues is the important nature of the first amendment freedom of speech issues.  Clearly if this were a Main Stree mom and pop store trying to sue an organization from setting up in the middle of the adjacent town square, they would be laughed out of court on first amendment grounds.  After all, we all have the right to speak our peace in that proverbial zone of free speech.   Yet unfortunately, there are few actual town squares left these days.  We just don’t live in an environment anymore where people cluster around the bandstand on Friday evenings.

Instead, we cluster around stores and strip malls, such as Target.  As the attorneys for CFAC have argued,  the strip mall is the new town square.  This is where people gather, and this is where you can speak if you want to get noticed.  This is how we confront issues facing our communities, through talking to each other.  And if we cut off this communication, we risk merely retreating to our own corners and further dividing our nation.

It turns out that the framers had it right on the First Amendment.  Now, of course you have to confront the issue of what if NOM or a similar organization were out there campaigning against equality? What would we say then? Well, for better or worse, organizations should be able to respectfully communicate a message.  Now, if they were to grow offensive or hostile, I think you have opened a different can of worms.

Now, the question for us a nation is how critical we think these First Amendment rights really are. Are they important enough to deal with on the way to stock up on paper towels and sporting goods? Ultimately, that is the question here.  I’m curious to hear what the P8TT community thinks on this issue from a practical standpoint.

March 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm 130 comments

GOP still hasn’t realized that Bryan Fisher’s a liability: Newt Gingrich edition

crossposted at Good as You

by Jeremy Hooper

For your pleasure: Just a couple of heterosexual men, spending their Fridays talking about how they can save the White House from the crush weight of tolerance:

REMINDER: This is the same Bryan Fischer who said “Homosexuals in the military gave us…six million dead Jews“. The guy who’s said “homosexuals should be disqualified from public office,” has called on Christian conservatives to breed gays and progressives out of existence, has called gay sex a “form of domestic terrorism,” who’s said only gays were savage enough for Hitler, has compared gays to heroin abusers, has directly compared laws against gay soldiers to those that apply to bank robbers, who once invoked a Biblical story about stabbing “sexually immoral” people with spears, saying we need this kind of action in modern day, who has spoken out against gays serving as public school teachers, has questioned why Medals of Honor are given to people who save lives (rather than take lives), who says that open service will “assign the United States to the scrap heap of history,” who recently commiserated with Bradlee ‘Executing homosexuals is moral’ Dean, and who has blamed gay activists for dead gay kids, saying that: “If we want to see fewer students commit suicide, we want fewer homosexual students“. The guy who said the only acceptable “culture war” trucewould have gays giving up their demand for equality. The guy who painted Native Americans as innately cursed because they “cling to the darkness of indigenous superstition”. The guy who conservative Christian Warren Throckmorton aptly noted is “to the right of Jerry Falwell” on some LGBT issues. The guy whose words pretty much single-handedly landed the American Family Association on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate groups list.

March 26, 2011 at 5:30 am 27 comments

Tonite’s Courage Campaign congressional debate… with an openly gay Republican

By Adam Bink

Many of  you know our work on LGBT equality, but probably fewer know that Courage Campaign was originally founded as a multi-issue organization working to bring progressive policies — including equality — to the state of California. As such, we work on budget issues, different propositions on the ballot, and more.

As such, tonight (at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST)  we’ll be hosting a debate among the candidates to replace Jane Harman in a special election in California’s 36th district (Los Angeles area). We’re hosting the debate to make sure progressive voices and questions are represented.

Participating will be:

  • CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen
  • LA City Councilwoman Janice Hahn
  • Two-time former candidate and educator Marcy Winograd
  • Openly gay, two-term Republican Mayor of Redondo Beach, Mike Gin

I think it’s particularly exciting as all of the candidates are LGBT allies, so we can progress to a broader conversation beyond yes/no on issues to talking about who is best to lead on LGBT issues in Congress.

You can submit questions you’d like the candidates to answer (Rick Jacobs will be moderating) via this link:

Which is also the place where you can listen to the live-stream of the debate tonight at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST.

You can also follow along and submit questions on Twitter with the hashtag #Courage36.

More from the Los Angeles Times and the Bay Area Reporter. This is an open thread on the CA-36 special election.

March 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm 6 comments

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