Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Year of Going Mainstream

There were some very stunning defeats for the advancement of gay rights this past year. Those hard fought losses make it easy to feel defeated or let down. But this really has been a very remarkable year the gay rights. Of course, I am going to point to the HUGE, SHOCKING Victory in I O W A !

While the fringe on both the right and left were focused on CA and NY and throwing around tons of money to support there cause, a small group of committed couples in Iowa were fighting to gain the right to marry in their state's court. What resulted is something that hardly anyone outside of IOWA (and most in Iowa) saw coming. A UNANIMOUS ruling in favor of gay marriage from the State Supreme Court. The ruling is posted several places here on my blog. If you have not read it -it is worth a read. It is a fine example of great Iowa reason and common sense. As a gay man that grew up in Iowa and followed the states politics from the time I was young I will never forget the morning of the ruling. I was in shock as I read the headline on the Des Moines Register website. Seriously, I sat there staring at the screen in stunned silence with tears in my eyes. It was not until hours later that I even realized it was an Unanimous ruling. Then when I read the entire ruling from the court I had a huge sense of Pride in my home State.

So far, from what I can tell there has not been as big a backlash against the ruling as some thought. Some will try to take the right away but for now I am going to remain proud of the fact that in 2009 History was made when Iowa continuted their long tradition of treating everyone equal.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The administration went before the judge and argued that it shouldn't be required to provide the health benefits because of DOMA (yes, the President was actually using DOMA to get out of proving health care to a lesbian). The administration lost. The judge ordered that the benefits be provided.

2. The Obama administration then went behind the judge's back and told Blue Cross not to give the lesbian wife benefits. The judge then ruled again, demanding that the Obama administration provide the benefits.

3. The Obama administration then ignored the judge and issued two press releases saying they now didn't recognize the judge's authority.

4. The judge has now ruled again. And this time, he's saying that because the administration didn't even bother appealing his ruling - instead they simply issued two press releases late on a Friday (ostensibly hoping the gay community wouldn't notice) - the judge now says that the administration is no longer permitted to attend the appeal before the entire 9th circuit.

Funny (if he is joking)

Senate Healh Care Bill clears final hurdle

Like the bill or not it is historic. After a near record of 24 consecutive days of being in session the Bill passes its final hurdle.

Marriage Isn’t for Everyone

I thought this was an interesting article and sort of wraps up how I feel....

As a bachelor, you can come and go as you want, do what you want, and not have to check with anyone else if it is convenient.

Bachelors, instead of concentrating all their emotional energy on a single relationship, usually develop a network of friends they can rely on for affection and emotional support.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Al Franken shuts up Joe & pisses of McCain!! Love it!

Health Care Reform

I will be the first to admit that until very recently I never paid a lot of attention to this issue. It seemed like there was a lot of 'hot air' on both sides and at times it was difficult to figure out what was fact and what was fiction.

The past few days I have read and watched a lot more on this topic. What is clear to me now is that the reform we were promised by Obama during the campaign is far, far from what we are going to get - if we get anything at all. Another thing that is becoming increasingly clear to me is that the Democrats what to simply pass a bill - any bill. I am sick of hearing Senator after Senator appear on the news shows and say we need to pass this bill - regardless of how bad it is - and try to build on it or CORRECT it in a few years.

This to me is simply politics as usual. Pass anything so that we don't hurt our standing in the next elections and deal with the "real important" issues later. Why the hell not DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!

A few days ago my hero, Howard Dean came out against the bill and said it needed to be re-written, today two powerful Unions came out against the bill. The SEIU saying in part ....

President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of "Yes We Can" was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself. We all stood shoulder to shoulder with the President during his hard fought campaign. And, we will continue to stand with him but he must fight for the reform we all know is possible.

So far in the first year of Obama's presidency he has not full filled his promises to the gay community and now the AFL-CIO and SEIU unions are saying he is not full filling his promise. It seems the rest of the country is figuring out what many in the gay community have figured out months ago.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

People of the Year!

Recently the magazine the Advocate (which honestly, I had all but forgotten about) came out with their People Of The Year. It is a list of very well deserving, wide ranging group of folks. I have not read the entire list but feel that many very (and I would strongly argue MORE deserving) people were left out. I think it is great to recognize people within the gay community that do great things during the year. But I believe we need to do more, much more to recognize those that are NOT gay but willing to stand up for us! An old wise man once told me "one should not be rewarded or recognized for doing what ought be expected of them" So, with that in mind this would be my list of People of the Year.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled this past summer that not allowing gay couples to marry was in violation of the Iowa Constitution. This of course caused many to demand a public vote or a State Constitutional Amendment. But the Leader of the Iowa Senate refused to have any part of it. (this is the same State Senator that voted for the same law that the Court struck down.


This summer two active NFL players came out in support of gay rights. It got very little attention. But I think it is people like this that the "gay rights -HRC" types should highlight. It is only when we get allies from the straight community that we will ever achieve the rights we so richly deserve. The fact that 2 NFL Football players were willing to stand up and speak out - to me is a big deal.

Baltimore Ravens three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo came out for full marriage equality, writing in the Huffington Post:

Looking at the former restrictions on human rights in our country starting with slavery, women not being able to vote, blacks being counted as two thirds of a human, segregation, no gays in the military (to list a few) all have gone by the wayside. But now here in 2009 same sex marriages are prohibited. I think we will look back in 10, 20, 30 years and be amazed that gays and lesbians did not have the same rights as every one else. How did this ever happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Are we really free?

Scott Fujita, defensive captain of the New Orleans Saints, supports Ayanbadejo's stance. "I hope he's right in his prediction, and I hope even more that it doesn't take that long. People could look at this issue without blinders on...the blinders imposed by their church, their parents, their friends or, in our case, their coaches and locker rooms. Fujita continued, "I wish they would realize that it's not a religion issue. It's not a government issue. It's not even a gay/straight issue or a question of your manhood. It's a human issue. And until more people see that, we're stuck arguing with people who don't have an argument." Fujita has also endorsed the October 11 National Equality March in Washington.

Given the protective moats of testosterone that surround the locker room, these are gutsy moves.


Leave it to the children to show us the way. This very smart and brave young man gets the issue of gay rights/equal rights like very few adults ever will. His parents also get credit for raising such a great young man.


The state of New York finally brought the issue of gay marriage to a debate in their state senate(if you want to call it that, Only ONE person spoke out on the floor of the senate against the bill) I found the the speeches by many of the speakers to be very moving. It was very disappointing that the bill did not pass. But after watching the following people (and others) speak about the bill I felt great hope that we are making progress, albeit slow and we will someday finally win this battle.

These are just SOME of the people that over the past year were willing to STAND UP AND SPEAK out on the issue of gay rights! Again, I feel the "gay community" does not do enough to thank or recognize those from the 'straight community" when they speak up in defense of the rights of all people -sometimes when it causes them a lot of backlash from those around them.

I have much more to say on this topic and will post Part 2 of this topic tomorrow.

And this guy should get a medal. His line "how do you think I voted at Omaha Beach" is my quote of the year. Frankly, I was moved to tears watching this man from the "generation" that opposes gay marriage speak out so well on this issue.

Kill the Gays!

I watched this early this morning and still can believe what I heard. The video and the idea that some people in this World think it is ok to actually kill people simply because they are gay is more than a little unsettling to me.

Been awhile

It has been a long time since I Posted on here and I guess that is fine since most people don't even know this page exists. I post a lot of stuff on facebook but think I am going to make more of an effort to post things here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maybe we have finally turned a page...

A New March, a New Movement

by Jennifer Vanasco

First published in the Chicago Free Press on October 14, 2009

The Equality March was a success.

I didn't think it would be, honestly. I was worried about the lack of publicity, a sense of organizational disorganization, the tepid response from our trusted national organizations.

I was worried that the March would wind up being a few shirtless guys and a megaphone.

But I was wrong.

Thanks partly to Barack Obama deciding to speak the night before at HRC, the March brought positive national press attention to our issues. And enough people came — perhaps 200,000 from across the country — that it strengthened our sense of community and unity.

But perhaps most importantly, the March showed that we are now a different movement. We are a movement that knows what it is doing. We are a movement that will win.

The gay civil rights movement has slalomed through many iterations over the past 40 years. There were the Stonewall days, when we were trying to stop police harassment; the lesbian separatism of the 1970s; and the ‘90s era of identity politics, when we were determined to celebrate — and make the country accept- our distinct culture.

But the feel of the Equality March was very different.

"The March showed that we are now a different movement. We are a movement that knows what it is doing. We are a movement that will win."This wasn't about outsiders seeking visibility. It was about ordinary people wondering why we weren't being treated like everyone else.

Despite the sunny weather, men weren't marching with their shirts off. There was no lesbian fire eating. No boas. This wasn't about a celebration of individual flamboyance or the acknowledgement of sub-identities. This was about showing Washington and the world that we are serious about our rights. That we will not be silent. That we will not back down.

Sure, there were groups of Christians and bears and anarchists and an amazing number of straight supporters. But by the end, the crowd mostly flowed together, with couples with children marching beside a guy in a chicken suit and everyone stopping by the White House for a photo.

Marchers carried signs that expressed rights-fatigue: "Tired of carrying signs," one said. "I got married. Why can't my moms?" said another.

We have spent the year protesting and marching thanks to the fallout over the passage of Proposition 8 last November, and all that activism shows. Even are young people are no longer new to this. We know what to say. We know what to do. We chant, sure, but mostly we walk, holding our rainbow flags high, making a statement through our peaceful presence.

There were a few celebrities, most notably Lady Gaga. But even they were about protesting, not performing. This wasn't a march to express our buying power or our party power. It was about our staying power. It was a march that said, "No matter how tired we get, how long we've been doing this, how much our feet hurt, we will stay the course."

Washington was empty over Columbus Day weekend. No Senators were looking out their windows to see the human river below. The White House was quiet. The center of DC felt almost deserted. There were none of the Pride Day crowds; no beer-swilling gawkers. No thump of dance music.

There was only a sense of determination. Of public will. Of the fierce belief that we deserve equality and if we demand it loud enough and long enough, we will get it.

The Equality March was less about who we are and more about what we can — and will — do.

The Equality March said to the country: We are not outsiders. We are Americans who were born equal. And it is time Washingon recognizes that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

SO very true...

Taken from the Daily Dish....very well put and I could not agree with him more!

We Get A Gay Ambassador!
To New Zealand and Samoa! So we now have the slogan that sums up the Obama record on gay rights: Not much worse than Bush:

Obama's announcement is a gesture just days before he speaks to a gay rights fundraising dinner on Saturday and gay activists march on Washington on Sunday.

Look: I'm not a one-issue person and I respect a great deal of what the president is trying to do and have supported him on many issues and will continue to. I also know that the real action is in the states; and I know that we gays have to change the world ourselves and work harder to make our case for equality. But a lot of us have done all of that for a very long time, at great personal cost, and in sickness and in health. We have moved public opinion very quickly toward understanding how discrimination still operates and how equality will help all of us. And yet the Democratic party which takes our money and counts on our votes still thinks we can be fobbed off with gestures and symbols and a nice speech. And, of course, HRC loves nothing more than that and they will milk this for more money and even plusher buildings and higher salaries for their professional Washington careerists, even as they get nothing done or passed. They like it that way. It keeps them in business. And the love-fest Saturday night will be sick-making.

But the president needs to know that speaking to HRC, a tool of the Democratic establishment, and appointing Democratic donors and machers and suck-ups to jobs and sinecures ... well, we all could have backed the Clintons again if that's what we were hoping for.

Some of us didn't back the Clintons (which cannot be said for most of the HRC board) when it was very unpopular to do so. Some of us went out on a limb for him, worked our asses off for him, and expected not miracles, but certainly not what we've gotten. And what we've gotten is not change we can believe in on civil rights, but the tired old Democratic party interest group cynicism that some of us thought he had left behind. On these issues, Obama reeks of fear. And he acts as if it's still 1993.

At best, gays are still safe victims in the Democratic party, protected from "hate crimes" by benevolent straight people, who love to brag about their gay friends and get us to decorate their homes. But we're not equals to this president or his party, whatever he says and however well he puts it. I'd much rather a president who stiffed the HRC and gave no speeches at all but actually did something for the non-coopted, non-elite, non-Washington, non-celebrity gay folks who actually voted for him and backed him when it was hard. He knows what to do. And he refuses to do it. That's more eloquent than any speech ever could be.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Yeah, right. Jason Bellini reports:

After determining she didn’t have enough votes in support of a temporary suspension of the ban on gays in the military, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tells The Daily Beast she has secured the commitment of Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” this fall. It would be the first formal re-assessment of the policy since Congress passed it into law in 1993.

To translate this: the Democratic Party, with solid majorities in House and Senate and a Democratic president in the White House refuses to end discrimination against gay servicemembers, who are risking their lives for this country at a time of war. The Human Rights Campaign has no ability to translate over 70 percent public support for a measure into votes (ending employment discrimination against gays has over 80 percent support but HRC is so irrelevant it hasn't been able to get that passed for two decades).

It's vital for the gay rights movement to understand that the Republicans are intent on discriminating against gay citizens at every opportunity in order to win votes from bigots. And the Democratic party's only interest in gay equality is getting gay money.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Curious Case of Boies and Olson
by Stephen H. Miller

Posted on July 21, 2009

Celebrated attorney David Boies (he led Gore's Florida recount legal team in 2000) explains in the Wall Street Journal why he and Ted Olson (who led Bush's recount effort) have now come together and brought a lawsuit asking the courts to declare unconstitutional California's Prop. 8, which limits marriage to couples of the opposite sex. Writes Boies:

"We acted together because of our mutual commitment to the importance of this cause, and to emphasize that this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, not a liberal or conservative issue, but an issue of enforcing our Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process to all citizens."

Meanwhile, some LGBT groups are upset that a conservative lawyer is part of an effort to strike down laws that treat gays unequally, as Mother Jones reports. Well, maybe the case is mistimed and misdirected. But it also seems clear that these groups are really upset over (1) not calling all the shots here (as this Washington Blade story suggests), and (2) the fact that a conservative (albeit a limited government one) is not playing his assigned role of anti-gay demon. Just how, they must be wondering, could that possibly aid the advancement of the greater progressive agenda under the leadership of the one true party?

Monday, July 20, 2009

So, this is what it has come to...

I have not been posting for awhile. Lots going on in my life (Will fill ya in later today) But I found this interesting..

Life Is A Campaign, Old Chum
by David Link

Posted on July 19, 2009

I just got back from a meeting at a Sacramento church, co-sponsored by Marriage Equality USA, on the subject of whether the community wants to go forward with a Prop. 8 repeal in 2010 or 2012 -- or even later. And I can confidently say this: the politicalization of gay marriage in California is now in full swing. Not many in the gay community wanted it this way, but California's voters decided that the only way we'll get marriage equality here is to persuade the voters we should have it, so we now have to figure out how to do just that.

The pollsters are polling and the consultants are consulting, and if the voters ever heard any of what I just did, a lot of them might want to take back their votes for Prop. 8. Experts galore are slicing and dicing their way through Caifornia's demographics with obsessive fineness. Someone developed a Weekly Workload Estimate of how many voters per week would need to have their minds changed for us to win 51% support in 2010 (7,036 per week) or 2012 (3,171 per week). We were shown some strategies for changing minds, discussed current door-to-door efforts, given tips from Gandhi and MLK on not alienating people, and shown enough statistics to gladden the hearts of the entire graduating class of the Kennedy School of Government.

It was clear, from the early mention of George Lakoff, that the left is still firmly in control of the ride, and that the rest of us should keep our arms and legs inside the conveyance. No surprise there. But the overwhelming feeling in the room wasn't leftist cant, it was raw political calculation. We were informed that we would need to change "hearts and minds" in the tone of a chemistry professor instructing students about combining elements in a beaker.

That, of course, is the way consultants and professionals know how to run campaigns. But it really brought home for me how the science and practice of politics can suck the blood out a humane, enthusiastic and honorable movement for simple fairness. That fairness was built into our state constitution, but a majority of our voters took it out. We now have to live our lives in permanent campaign mode, have to see everything and everyone in terms of political strategy, in order to restore our equality. That will be a big enough job for us, but I even feel a bit sorry for the many heterosexuals who, having had their demographics pored over, will be the "targets" of our missions. That, however, is what the voters have asked of us, and of themselves, by making marriage the subject of constitutional scope. God and

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Obama Administration assembled a group of two hundred or more of America's well-heeled leaders for equality, but like little doggies most were wide-eyed at his feet.

Politicians work for us. If they do their job with good intention, they demand our respect. They deserve fervent applause when they are heroic. Today I expected to hear the explanations of a champion knocked off his path by a country in financial distress, but instead I heard platitudes, cracked promises, and disappointments- still the crowd cheered for more....

In today's speech President Obama said gay America would be happy by the time his administration is over, if he doesn't stop offering excuses and empty promises, they will be.
In a Presidential First, Obama Marks Gay Pride at the White House
By Michael D. Shear
President Obama on Monday became the first Oval Office occupant to officially celebrate gay pride in the White House even as the gay community remains bitterly divided about the pace of Obama's efforts to turn words into action for their agenda.

In recognizing the march of progress since the protests outside New York's Stonewall Inn 40 years ago, Obama achieved a milestone for many gay and lesbian Americans who mark the day as the beginning of their modern rights movement.

But the excitement among the several hundred guests invited by the first couple to the East Wing Monday was tempered by frustration among many who believe that the president has moved too slowly to make good on his campaign promises.

Obama's refusal to take unilateral action to end the "don't-ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military and his administration's support for a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act even sparked a small protest outside a speech to gay activists by Vice
President Biden last week.

"There's been an awful lot of noise and criticism," said Steve Elmendorf, a top Democratic lobbyist who is openly gay. "For him to send a message to the entire country that this is an event worth celebrating is a big deal. But people expect beyond that to see some substance on a whole host of issues."

Obama confronted those expectations directly Monday, renewing his campaign promises to change the military's policy, repeal the marriage act and pass a federal hate crimes bill named for Matthew Shepard, the student murdered in Wyoming in 1998.

"I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by word, but by the promises my administration keeps," Obama said to sustained applause from the crowd. "By the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Randi ReitanMother, Gay Rights Activist

Dear President Obama,

I watched you preach on Father's Day and my heart was touched by your words. I listened with a mother's heart. I have been blessed with four dear children. Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for the gift my children are to me.

You told the congregation that the family is the most important foundation. You said we must take responsibility for those we love and we must set an example of excellence for our children. We must give our children dreams without limits and we must teach them the importance of having empathy for others. We must teach them to stand in another's shoes to know another's pain and their challenges so we can lift them up.

You said when you were younger you thought life was all about yourself and now you realize life is about leaving this world a better place for our children.

Your words touched this mother's heart but they also made me wonder if you are truly living your words.

I wonder if you are living those words as you listen to the gay community. There isn't a newspaper across this great nation that has not shared the news of the gay community's fight for equality. You must have heard their pain when your administration affirmed DOMA with their brief. You must have heard their pain as one after another brave and loyal gay soldier has been kicked out of the military because of DADT. You must have heard their pain as Prop 8 snatched marriage away from gay couples.

My youngest child is gay. As parents we were ignorant about homosexuality when Jacob came out to us as a 16 year old young man eleven years ago. We embraced him and we told him we loved him that night, but we were clueless about what it meant to be gay.

We had to educate ourselves. Another part of your message on Sunday addressed the importance of education. I ask you now to educate yourself about homosexuality.

When we visited with the medical community on our journey to understanding we learned that homosexuality was simply the sexual orientation our son was given. We learned it was not a choice that Jacob made. We were told it was a given for him and we as his parents should encourage him to embrace his orientation and live his life with dignity and respect.

This began a new chapter in our lives. We learned to live in the empathy you extolled. We met hundreds of young gay people who have had such difficult lives because of the ignorance of our society. We have listened to pastors condemning gays and teaching others to do the same. We have felt the pain of discrimination as our son has been harassed with words and attacks. We have listened to young people with tears in their eyes share that they have been rejected by their own parents. We have watched as our son tried to enlist as a gay man and was instead led away in hand cuffs.

We also took responsibility as you asked parents to do on Sunday. We have spoken out, marched and led rallies. We have been arrested numerous times doing civil disobedience to try to bring the issues of injustice to light. We have poured our financial resources into programs and agencies that work to educate the people. We have lobbied at the Capitol in our state of Minnesota and in Washington, DC. We have written hundreds of letters to law makers, pastors, teachers and now to you our President.

Our country needs your voice on this issue. I am impatient to see my dear son live his life with full equality. Can you imagine if one of your daughters had equality and the other did not? That is the reality for every family with a gay child. It is heartbreaking and it is wrong.

You may not be able to lift DADT today. You may not be able to end DOMA today. You may not be able to bring marriage back for the gay community in California today. But, as our president, you can move legislation that would right those wrongs. You can sit down with my son and others and listen to their stories so you can stand in their shoes with empathy. You can address this nation about the terrible discrimination the gay community faces in our country. You can live out your campaign promises on some level.

Your final lesson in your sermon was on the gift of faith and hope. You spoke of a hope that insists that something better is waiting for us. You spoke of your faith and your love of Jesus. The Jesus that I know would not make outcasts of God's beloved children. The gay community has been made into outcasts by many in our churches. We need to hear from you that no one is less than another. The greatest commandment that Jesus taught was to love one another as He loves us.

You talked about the importance of fathers teaching their children. If you don't address the issues of equality for the gay community, the discrimination will not end. Your daughters are watching you. They are learning from you and so are all the sons and daughters in this country.

You can be a president who not only embraces equality but who fights to see the day all God's children actually live it. To be able to bring equality to a group of people should be seen as not only a duty of justice but an honor of the highest level. You must be the one to lead our country by setting an example of excellence in treating all Americans with equality in all areas of life.

I sat on the lawn in front of our nation's Capitol on that cold day in January when you took the oath of office. My heart filled with hope that day because I believed the words you spoke as you campaigned. Those words seem hollow to me now.

I ask you with tears in my eyes, with pain in my heart and with a mother's enduring love for her dear children..... please bring equality ... true full equality to my son and to all in the gay community.

Gay Marriage
Barack Obama
Dear President Obama, I watched you preach on Father's Day and my heart was touched by your words. I listened with a mother's heart. I have been blessed with four dear children. Not a day goes by th...
Dear President Obama, I watched you preach on Father's Day and my heart was touched by your words. I listened with a mother's heart. I have been blessed with four dear children. Not a day goes by th...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It’s Time to Stonewall Obama

by Jennifer Vanasco

First published in the Chicago Free Press on June 17, 2009

It is starting to seem like a tautology that if the Obama administration is asked to weigh in on a question of gay rights, then it will come down on the wrong side.

It happened again last week.

Obama’s Department of Justice crafted a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act that used all of the arguments of the anti-gay Right. Heterosexual marriages are “traditional,” it said. Denying federal recognition to legal state marriages doesn’t hurt anyone, it said. States don’t have to recognize gay marriages performed by other states just like they don’t have to recognize a marriage between an uncle and his niece, it said.

We do not have a “friend in the White House.”

We do not have a “fierce advocate.”

What we have is an enemy.

He is, sure, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, wearing a glittering costume embroidered with “Hope,” “Change” and empty promises. He is master of doublespeak, saying that he is against DOMA yet not protesting when a Bush-holdover presses a poison dagger of a marriage brief into our chests; he says he supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but has yet to issue a Stop-Loss order to keep hunted gays and lesbians in their military jobs.

Leave gay rights to the states, he says. Leave them to Congress.

Barack Obama is no longer hurting us with benign neglect. Barack Obama’s administration is now actively attacking us.

If George W. Bush had responded this way to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA, we would be rising in the streets. We would be protesting in front of the White House.

"Barack Obama has forgotten, perhaps, that we are human beings with families. He perhaps has made the erroneous assumption that we will wait our turn humbly, hats in hand, until he decides to be beneficent in the waning days of a second term. We need to show him that we will not."Barack Obama is not our friend. He is not our fierce advocate. He is someone who used our vulnerability and hope to get elected.

Joe Solmonese, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote a beautiful letter to the White House expressing just this sense of betrayal. “I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones,” he wrote.

Barack Obama has forgotten, perhaps, that we are human beings with families. He perhaps has made the erroneous assumption that we will wait our turn humbly, hats in hand, until he decides to be beneficent in the waning days of a second term.

We need to show him that we will not.

The world is a different place than it was five years ago or even six months ago. Establishment Republicans — Dick Cheney! Joe Bruno in New York! — are now coming out in favor of gay marriage. A majority of Americans favor the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Gay and lesbian civil rights are no longer a fringe issue. And gays and lesbians are no longer a minority who will be placated with hate crimes legislation in lieu of full and equal rights.

There will always be urgent issues competing for a President’s attention. That’s what being President is. But those other issues shouldn’t make us back down. In fact, they should make us fight harder.

Health care? DOMA might make it impossible for our spouses to be our dependents in a federal health care program. The economy? Our families would certainly be better off if the money we paid to Social Security could go to our loved ones if we passed before they did. The war? America would have a stronger fighting force if it stopped ejecting perfectly qualified, long-serving soldiers just because they are gay.

We must stop giving Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. It is time to show him that we will not support a second term, that we will not support the Democratic Party, if this continues. We will not give a dollar of our money. We will not give an hour of our time.

We will Stonewall him and his administration. The time for being treated as the equal Americans we are has come, and we will not be pushed aside.

Monday, June 22, 2009

As Long As We Are Complaining About Obama Not Doing Anything...
by Brian Chase

Posted on June 19, 2009

Anybody remember the "Tax Equity For Health Plan Beneficiaries Act"? I didn't think so. It’s the federal bill that would end the unfair taxation of health insurance benefits for domestic partners.

Right now, if your employer provides health insurance for your domestic partner or same-sex spouse, the insurance is taxed as income. Economist Lee Badgett estimates that this discrimination costs an average of $1069 per year and takes a collective $178 million dollars per year out of the pockets of gay and lesbian families. The Tax Equity Act would fix all of that.

The Tax Equity Act is co-sponsored by a Republican, has the backing of a huge swath of corporate America, and would provide real, concrete financial relief for same-sex couples. So when we list all of the things Obama and the Democrats in Congress aren’t doing for us, why do we keep forgetting about this bill?

A hate crime bill may be psychologically satisfying, but it isn’t going to do a thing to reduce hate crimes. ENDA is just going to give us another blistering fight over the political feasibility of transgender inclusion. The Democrats are so terrified of looking anti-military that they probably won't repeal Don’t Ask Don't Tell until the ghost of Douglas MacArthur appears before a joint session of Congress and reveals that he was actually gay himself. So why don't we focus on something that can actually pass and would do a tremendous amount of good?

I know "tax relief" and "backed by corporate America" are dirty, dirty phrases to many on the left, but this bill really shouldn’t be allowed to die on the vine.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Love it!

Ruby-Sachs: The Memo and The Movement

By Emma Ruby-Sachs, 365gay blogger 06.18.2009 5:02pm EDT
Here’s the important thing: it is best to assume that the memo and the movement have nothing to do with each other.

A memo is temporary, does not include health benefits and only applies to the few Federal employees. It’s like a gift: an unrelated pleasant surprise from a source one expects to get nothing from. For those Federal employees who can now use sick days to take care of their partners (and I know one and she is thrilled and I celebrate with her, her good fortune) yesterday was a good day.

But the movement isn’t about temporary measures. It isn’t about dividing the gay community into small segments that slowly each get a few benefits.

A movement does not depend on the goodwill of a benevolent leader. It requires the leader to pay attention. It takes away funding until that leader listens and it organizes to create enough friction that the objective of the movement becomes as important as the everyday emergencies facing this world.

That is what we tasted these past few days. Then Obama served up a little dessert. Let’s not let the sweetness of a few words and few benefits for a few people lampoon the real movement that we are all part of. Let’s work to create the same conflicts and news worthy protest until rights are granted completely and to all.

Good for him..

Schwarzenegger Names Gay Judge
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who recently declined to defend the validity of Proposition 8 in federal court, has appointed an openly gay man to serve as a state judge.

Ronald E. Albers, a founding co-chair of the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association and a San Francisco County superior court commissioner, was sworn in as a superior court judge on Monday. Of the position, Albers told the Bay Area Reporter that he is “particularly honored [that] the governor would recognize my legal skills, abilities, and commitment to service in its full range of rainbow colors.”

Earlier this week, Schwarzenegger, who has twice vetoed state legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage, declined to defend the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in a federal lawsuit filed last month by two unmarried California gay couples who were denied marriage licenses.

In papers filed with the court, Schwarzenegger said the lawsuit contains “important constitutional questions that require and warrant judicial determination.” He has not taken a position on the arguments presented in the suit, however.

A court hearing is scheduled for July 2 to determine whether Proposition 8 should be blocked pending the suit’s outcome.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Maybe now people will pay attention!

Gay Dems complain DNC cut off funding, drop support for Biden event

Theboard of directors of the National Stonewall Democrats are dropping their support for a June 25 DNC fundraiser with Vice President Joe Biden over, they wrote in an email obtained by POLITICO, a combination of policy slights and the claim that they've been cut off from traditional party funding.

In the email to Tom Petrillo, who runs the party's substantial gay fundraising operation, the board members write:

[W]e are incredibly disappointed that the DNC has made a decision to withhold any financial support to National Stonewall Democrats this year but is in turn asking us to help raise money for the DNC in a difficult financial environment. The DNC has historically supported National Stonewall through sponsorship of the annual Capitol Champions event. This year, we did not receive any support. The DNC has traditionally provided materials for the many Pride parades and festivals around the country to help educate the LGBT community about why the Democratic Party is the Party for full LGBT equality. This year we were informed that we would not be receiving any materials or support for producing materials for the various nationwide Pride activities. These decisions were very disappointing.

We'd be remiss to also not mention that the recent legal brief of the Obama Administration defending DOMA is incredibly hurtful. The members of the Board and our membership put our hopes, our dollars and our time into ensuring the election of Barack Obama because we believed that he supported us. To now have his Administration refer to our relationships in the same terms used by our long time enemies such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson hurts on so many levels. To have our committed and loving relationships referred to as the moral equivalent of incest and pedophilia is not something that any of us ever expected from this Administration considering how hard we worked to be seen and respected. For that reason alone, advocating for attendance at a fundraiser to support the Administration and the DNC, while they have not condemned this hurtful language, is not something our membership will receive positively.

The group says it's not "boycotting" the June 25 fundraiser with Joe Biden; it just won't encourage its members to attend.

Gay money is, historically, of outsized importance to the Democratic Party. Howard Dean, in particular, launched his presidential campaign in part on enthusiasm from gay donors about his support for civil unions, and maintained those relationships as chairman.

UPDATE: A source forwards over Petrillo's conciliatory response to Stonewall's Shane Larson:

While the DNC was unable to help with Pride materials this year, I did, in a recent conversation with Kyle Bailey, express that the DNC would be able to sponsor a project with Stonewall this year. He mentioned a Young Democrat guide that Stonewall is working on and I asked for him to send a proposal for possible assistance with funding. I am sorry if that was not communicated.

Finally a member of Congress willing to stand up and speak out on this issue

Send her an email thanking her for speaking out! Because she has not always been on board with this...

That’s a major shift from her position as a congresswoman, when she received the lowest ratings among New York Democrats on gay rights issues, according to the Human Rights Campaign scorecard.

In fact, she voted against declined to co-sponsor legislation that would have repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t’ Tell in 2007.

I Stand With Lt. Dan Choi, It's Time To Repeal DADT
by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Share this on Twitter - I Stand With Lt. Dan Choi, It's Time To Repeal DADT Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 08:13:32 AM PDT

Last week, I had the honor of meeting a proud graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, NY – Lt. Dan Choi. Lt. Choi came to my office to meet me and discuss how we right the wrong that has occurred in his life and ensure others do not experience the same injustice.

In 2003, Lt. Dan Choi graduated from West Point with a degree in Arabic. Since graduating, Lt. Choi has served honorably in the 1st Bn., 69th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard, including a deployment in Iraq. Now, it appears his service may come to an end simply because he has publicly said these three words: "I am gay."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's diary :: ::
Lt. Dan Choi is not alone. Since 1994 when the law was implemented, approximately 13,000 able, knowledgeable, well-trained soldiers have been discharged from the US military for being gay. 800 of those discharged soldiers were -- like Lt. Choi -- experts in mission critical disciplines.

Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) comes with a severe financial burden as well. Estimates of the cost of implementing Don't Ask Don't Tell from 1994-2003 -- including recruitment, re-training and separation travel costs -- have ranged from almost $200 million to $363 million. This is millions of dollars that could have been...and should have been...spent on crucial personnel and equipment for our military.

In the discharge letter sent to Lt. Choi, authorities claimed that soldiers, such as Choi, "negatively affect good order and discipline" within their units by being openly gay. This is directly contradicted by opinion polls of servicemembers, which say that the more they are aware of their fellow soldiers' homosexuality, the less they feel it's a factor in their service.

In December 2007, 28 retired generals and admirals urged Congress to repeal the policy. They pointed to the fact that 65,000 gay men and women are currently serving in the armed forces, and that there are over 1,000,000 gay veterans. Now, more than 100 retired U.S. military leaders -- including the former head of the Naval Academy -- have signed on to a statement calling for an end to DADT policy. During a time when our military is engaged in multiple wars abroad, and the potential for future conflicts on the horizon, it is critical not to undermine our military's effectiveness and readiness.

I am firmly committed to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Not only am I working closely with Congressman Murphy and Senator Kennedy's offices to develop support for repeal legislation, but I will be among the original co-sponsors of the bill when it's introduced. In the weeks and months ahead, I plan to work with Lt. Choi to repair the damage that has been done to his career and spare thousands of innocent, brave men and women, from the same injustice.


Besen: Obama’s empty words
By Wayne Besen, columnist,
06.18.2009 11:30am EDT
A debate is raging on whether to have a national gay March on Washington in October. Most leaders I have spoken with are against the idea, preferring to keep scarce financial and human resources in the states. Others, such as myself, are largely ambivalent. A galvanizing force, however, is giving new life to this idea and his name is Barack Obama.
The President is in serious danger of motivating a huge mass of gay people to stream into Washington for the simple joy of standing in front of the White House and giving him a piece of their minds.

Send / ShareAdd CommentThis frustration may lead to an embarrassing situation for the President, where former supporters mount the largest anti-Obama pep rally not fronted by Sarah Palin.

This week, an array of GLBT leaders expressed their dismay with the President by pulling out of a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. The action is in protest of a noxious legal brief submitted by the Department of Justice. It implausibly defended the heinous Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by using anti-gay arguments that likely drew a standing ovation from Rev. Pat Robertson.

DOJ’s paper included a comparison of gay relationships to incest and opposed same-sex relationships on the absurd basis that it would cost taxpayers money (Don’t gay people pay taxes?). HRC also sent a pointed letter to Obama highlighting the betrayal felt by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

“I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones,” wrote HRC’s President, Joe Solmonese.

The deteriorating situation is exacerbated by confusion about who will push for equality. The Obama administration claims to be awaiting congressional action on a number of issues, including ending employment discrimination, eliminating DOMA and repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. Meanwhile, Senate majority leader Harry Reid is waiting for Obama to act, as well as the House of Representatives. The GLBT community has become a hot potato that the Democrats do not seem to want to touch.

Aggravating matters was John Berry, the highest-ranking gay official in the administration. In an interview with The Advocate, he said that Obama’s timetable to enact his pro-gay campaign promises is “before the sun sets on this administration.”

So, now we have to wait 4-8 years, while watching him suck up to Rick Warren on Day 1?

For what seemed like forever, Democrats told us that when the big bad Republicans went away, our lives would improve. Well, the Republican nightmare is over, so why do I still feel like I’m in the middle of a political Friday the 13th movie?

The Democrats took our money, our votes and our volunteer hours and now they tell us to wait patiently, like good little gays. As far as I’m concerned, if the donkeys can’t deliver now, they can kiss my ass. The Democrats run the show in Washington and if they will not act like a majority party, then they do not deserve to be one.

This is not about making unreasonable policy demands, but about the Democrats recognizing the daily struggles faced by gay people. A new report by The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs said, “violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people increased 2% from 2007 to 2008, continuing the trend of a 24% total increase in 2007.”

Recently, I read about a lesbian who was barred from visiting her partner in a Fresno hospital, and as a result her partner received the wrong medication. Last week, I was in conservative Western Michigan where I spoke to young people who were nearly driven to suicide as a result of anti-gay attitudes.

We need a president who recognizes these evils and demonstrates the courage and leadership to enact the change he so eloquently promised during his campaign.

If Obama continues down the current path it will come at a steep price. When Bill Clinton settled for Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, it solidified the growing perception that he was “Slick Willie.” By turning his back on the gay community, Obama will play into the idea, stoked by Hillary Clinton and exploited by John McCain, that he is a man of beautiful, yet empty words.

What Obama fails to understand is that when poetry does not translate into policy, and hope turns hollow, the American people will begin to tune him out.

I’m still undecided about the wisdom of a march on Washington, but I am decidedly fed up with my political “friends” marching all over my dignity and taking my support for granted. If the majority party does not cough up the votes to protect our families, we should close down our generous coffers.

Press Corps Fixates On LGBT Concerns

I am glad someone is asking the if we could just get some Real Answers from Mr. Obama!

The Associated Press began by asking whether the Presidential Memo was “too little, too late. Can you talk about why people should see this as more than kind of an empty gesture or just a symbolic move on his part?”

Gibbs responded, “I think as you'll hear the President say later today, he believes this is a matter of fairness. The President is committed to ensuring that fairness, as well as working on and fulfilling other promises that he's made in the campaign around things like DOMA and "don't ask, don't tell."

Reporters also asked a number of questions of the Department of Justice’s decision to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Regardless of the fact that President Obama believes DOMA should be repealed, said Gibbs, “the Justice Department is charged with upholding the law of the land, even though the President believes that that law should be repealed.”

ABC’s Jake Tapper pressed further on the content of the Justice Department brief.

“But a lot of legal experts say that the brief didn't have to be as comprehensive and make all the arguments that it made, such as comparing same-sex unions to incestuous ones in one controversial paragraph that's upset a lot of the President's supporters,” he said. “Does the President stand by the content, the arguments made in that brief?

Gibbs responded, “Well, again, it's the President's Justice Department. And again, we have the role of upholding the law of the land while the President has stated and will work with Congress to change that law.”

When asked if the president had seen the brief before it was made public, Gibbs said he would “have to check on that.”

The DNC will NOT get my money!

(click the title for the article - with links)

by David Link

Posted on June 18, 2009

Barack Obama is adding a coda to Mario Cuomo’s observation that people campaign in poetry but govern in prose: based on his press conference yesterday, when it comes to gay rights, even prose is failing him. On our issues, he is governing in grunts.

There is no better illustration of how badly the toxic residue of anti-gay prejudice distorts ordinary politics than Obama’s flailing on the simple and fundamental issue of the inequality that federal law demands for those who are homosexual. And that is a point that cannot be overemphasized: DOMA and DADT are federal laws that explicitly require the government to discriminate based on a person's sexual orientation. Discrimination is the considered policy of the U.S. government when it comes to lesbians and gay men.

To be fair, we share part of the blame for the President's dilemma. Some of our leaders led him to believe that gestures toward equality would do. But since Obama was elected, four states have recognized full marriage equality, three of them by legislative action. On the other side of the ledger, the government has discharged one of its most articulate and talented Arabic translators, Lt. Dan Choi, because he has been honest about being gay -- at the same time that 69% of Americans say they do not support the policy under which he was fired. That is, in large part why the weak tea the President offered yesterday looked so much like weak tea.

What he did is satisfying enough, if you’re among the 2% of American workers who are federal employees, and also among the 3% or so of them who are homosexual, and also among the unknown percent of them who have a committed partner. I’m not a mathematician, but I believe the overlap of these three circles in a Venn Diagram would be quite small. I know I’m immediately disqualified because I’m in the 98% of workers who isn't a federal employee.

But the scattershot benefits that are now available to that infinitesimal percentage of Americans exclude the one that makes the biggest daily difference in people’s lives: health insurance. This is not just the dominant benefit in most people’s employment, it comprises, by itself, between 6.9% and 8.1% of total compensation.

But the President’s compelled performance was matched by those in our community who had to grit their teeth and act as if they were grateful. Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force did everything but blink out S.O.S. with her eyelids in supporting the memo.

And, let’s be honest, none of this would have happened (at least not now) but for the DNC fundraiser that continues to fall apart because the President’s DOJ filed its “squalid” brief (in Dale Carpenter’s perfect description) in the Smelt case – the very non-pink elephant in the room the President declined to mention.

Despite all this, it is depressing to have to acknowledge the Democrats remain better on gay issues than Republicans. But when even the Democrats are still acting with the skittishness of 1994, it’s hard to distinguish the two.

At the very least, I wouldn’t want to give the DNC the $1000 entrance fee to their fundraiser. At best, I think that all we’ve gotten from them is about $57 worth of equality.

This always makes me laugh and cry!

We all need to laugh from time to time..

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

this is another reason why I have long hated HRC...this guy writes a letter blasting the president then shows up for this silly show where we get crumbs! Grow a spine and make a decision on one side or the other !!

I am no longer on the Obama Bandwagon!

Not off the hook with me...

Ryan Sager

Being Barack means never having to say you’re sorry

Yesterday, I wrote about apologies, and why we do or don’t accept them. The context there was the Sarah Palin / David Letterman clusterf–k, which seems to be over now (save for Dave’s getting a week’s worth of bits out of it).

But, this morning, it’s got me thinking about apologies in the public sphere in general. And why our behavior with regard to public figures that disappoint us is so robotically predictable.

Take President Obama’s announcement that he’ll direct the federal government to start providing same-sex partner benefits to the federal workforce. While not an apology, per se, it’s essentially a conciliatory gesture for a series of actions he’s taken to — not to put too fine a point on it — screw the gay community:

* First, he stood on the sidelines as the African American community in California pushed Proposition 8 over the top, stripping gay couples and families in that state of their civil rights.

* Second, he abandoned his pledge to reverse don’t-ask-don’t-tell in the military.

* Third, he filed an extremely damaging brief in federal court supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, invoking tropes about incest marriage and arguing that DOMA is good for the federal budget (it keeps all those pesky gay partners from collecting Social Security).

Now, he wants the gay community and supporters of gay rights in general to take this as an apology and as sufficient recompense for the previous (and ongoing) screwing of gays in other areas. And, you know what, they (we) will pretty much take it. Just like with Bill Clinton, who did even more to screw gay people (and interns, yes, got that out of my system).

Sure, there will be some angry blog posts written. Sure, some of Obama’s gay supporters will try to work up some anger. But, at the end of the day, for most of them, their hearts won’t be in it.


Well, it goes back to what I wrote yesterday about why we accept apologies from some people and don’t accept them from others. If we generally like someone — and the vast majority of gay people like Obama and voted for him — we’re far more likely to accept an apology from them. And, we’re more likely to believe that their intent was good, and thus we’re even more likely to forgive them.

[By the same token, if you didn't like President Bush, you were certainly never going to forgive him for supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment (even though Bush only fake-supported it to appease his base and then made sure it never moved forward in Congress — arguably making him better on gay rights than Clinton).]

Another factor at work is the “false consensus bias.” It’s a shame the things Obama has had to do out of political necessity, you tell yourself, but I know deep down he cares about gay rights and is just “playing a long game” — he’ll do what he can when he can. Deep down, he’s on the same page as me. Of course, this is bull. Experiments have shown that we’re all terrible intuitive psychologists and extremely prone to projecting our views onto others (that is, in the absence of evidence, we assume people think what we do).

Obama, in fact, has really been the master of false consensus bias. Does he support charter schools? Well, I support charter schools, and he’s given me enough material to pretend he agrees with me. At the same time, a teachers union official somewhere out there believes he really plans to strangle charter schools in their crib. Does he support affirmative action? Gun rights? Gun control? Socialism? Market capitalism? On dozens of issues, millions of Americans have attributed their own views to President Obama. Now that’s how you get elected.

Add in a dash of cognitive dissonance — I voted for Obama, I support gay rights, Obama must support gay rights — and you’ve got the perfect storm.

Will Obama be able to placate the gay community? Being Barack means never having to say you’re sorry.

It is about damn time!

Maybe just maybe people are finally going to get it!!!!

Bastian -- who donated $1 million to the campaign against Prop. 8 -- sent a message to the Democratic Party leadership saying that he will no longer donate to the party as a whole, according to the Washington Blade. "I will continue to support certain congressmen, congresswomen, and senators whom I believe will continue to fight for our rights, but I don’t think blanket donations to the Democratic Party right now are justified, at least not in my book," he told the Washington Blade.

Gay Pride....really?

This month in cities all across the country people are celebrating Gay Pride. In many cities there will be parties, concerts, games and a parade. In Minneapolis a few hundred thousand people will line Hennepin Avenue to watch a parade. Many of those same people will also walk through Loring Park and visit the booths set up by businesses and corporations that want to be seen as “gay friendly” or more importantly want ‘our’ money.

I have often had mixed feelings about the entire celebration. Once again I find myself wondering when the ‘gay community’ is going to get with it and get serious about what I think the parades etc should be about – Equality for all. I find it amazing that in cities all across the country we can get hundreds of thousands of people to come out for a parade but yet we can not seem to organize any real effort to push for gay rights. I mean think about it. If the 300 + thousand people that show up on Hennepin Avenue or the 300+ thousand that will line Boys Town in Chicago all showed up for a rally at their state capitol or wrote letters to their elected officials – perhaps, we just might see some serious movement on the issue. I have never understood why there is so much effort to get the “gay community” to support certain people that are running for office (you can bet HRC will be at every pride event asking for money and showing you a list of politicians that are ‘gay friendly”) but yet no real effort to have an organized ‘the community’ to get involved, to have a mass demonstration, boycott or something.

The civil rights movement of the 60s had boycotts, sit ins, marches etc. What do we have? A parade, a party, guys dancing shirtless or in drag, everyone waving a rainbow flag saying “give me my rights” But yet, I bet more than half of them could not be pulled away from there circuit party, beer bust or Internet chat room to get out and do something meaningful to see that the words “equality under the law” actually mean something

I am also not sure what we are suppose to be celebrating. Is it because in many states you can still be fired because your gay, or denied housing because your gay?. Or is it because same sex marriage is legal in 5 states and still illegal in 46 others? or is it because brave men and women are being kicked out of the military because they are gay? Or is it because years after Matthew Shepard died we still don’t have a federal hate crime law? Oh, surely it is because we now have a President that understands ‘us’ and will finally give us the rights we deserve?

I don’t know about anyone else…but I don't feel like having a party.

Not So fast.....

Obama to extend some benefits to same-sex partners

Reacting to a rising tide of anger from gay and lesbian supporters at a series of slights and deferred promises, President Obama will tomorrow extend some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

The move, which begins to mirror the policy of many large corporations, will have an immediate effect for many workers, but it is a deeply reactive response to a core Democratic group whose concerns have been festering for six months. The presidential memorandum -- scheduled for signing tomorrow at 5:45 p.m., may in the short term, give Joe Biden something positive to say at a June 25 fundraiser that has seen prominent guests drop out, a host sharply attack the administration, and which is expected to be marked by protests.

However, the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from extending health and retirement benefits to same-sex couples, so the benefits are more likely to be marginal -- like relocation assistance.

The order is one of several lower-profile moves the administration had promised gay groups this month, but appears to have been announced this evening to stem rising protest.

"President Obama will be signing a presidential memorandum tomorrow to provide benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees," an administration official said.

The silence on gay rights in the early days of the administration have pushed many gay rights leaders toward demands that Obama go beyond smaller-bore issues toward the heavier political lifts of ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act and supporting same-sex marriage. And they're shifting toward a more confrontational strategy, which could include a march on Washington later this year.

The executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a large state-based gay rights group, Alan Van Capelle, greeted today's announcement sarcastically.

"Welcome to 1999," he told POLITICO. "How revolutionary of the White House to give benefits to same-sex couples, when two-thirds of conservative Wall Street are already doing it. What an achievement."

"It's just one of the things that should have been done in January," Van Capelle, who was among those taking his name off the Biden event, said, calling for a "comprehensive strategy." "If the President makes the announcement tomorrow, it will still fall short of what LGBT people are expecting from this administration."

Richard Socarides, a gay former Clinton aide, called a plan to extend benefits "terrific."

But Obama "will have to address 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and the [Justice Department motion supporting the Defense of Marriage Act] at this point to give it any real meaning. People want to know - his gay supporters want to know - why has this gone so wrong."

UPDATE: This post has been updated to note that health benefits appear not to be among those to be extended, to add comments, and to clarify that the document is formally a presidential memorandum, not an executive order.


President Obama's plan is drawing a lukewarm reaction this morning, as it becomes clear that -- contrary to some early reports -- the benefits can't include access for same-sex partners to health or retirement plans.

The Defense of Marriage Act, which Obama vowed during the campaign to repeal, prohibits the federal government from extending those benefits, so today's announcement appears likely to be limited to meaningful, but less sweeping, changes for gay and lesbian federal workers.

"Are they kidding us? Domestic Partnership benefits WITHOUT health insurance because of DOMA? What kind of reality do they live in?" gay fundraiser and activist David Mixner emailed me this morning. "It is like rubbing salt in the wound. I am glad that some barriers will be lifted for Federal Employees but what is the most important benefit insurance! Good god."

Even some congressional Democrats appear unimpressed by the move. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York emailed out this lukewarm statement this morning:

President Obama’s decision displays the administration’s commitment to ensuring that certain basic rights and privileges are extended to all Americans.

While encouraging, this measure only grants same-sex couples benefits that have been provided by corporations for years and fails to reverse the administration's troubling refusal to fully recognize same-sex couples under the law and to allow lesbian gay bisexual trangender Americans to serve openly in the military.

That said, I am still pleased to say that the unacceptable reality of offering fewer benefits to same-sex couples is about to change."
David Biespiel, Poet and writer, Attic Writers Workshop:
It'll be a good day, too, when President Obama adopts former Vice President Cheney's position on universal equality for marriage

Like the romanticized Japanese fighters crawling out their caves long after World War II ended, like American and Soviet spies coming in out of the cold like a blink when the Cold War ended, many die-hard American culture warriors are finding that the culture has moved on. It'll be a good day, too, when President Obama adopts former Vice President Cheney's position on universal equality for marriage.

Peter Fenn, Democratic media consultant:
The train has left the station

Yes...when Dick Cheney supports same sex marriage you know that the train has left the station. Look how fast that train is moving legally and culturally towards equality and greater tolerance!

Andres Martinez, Director, Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program, New America Foundation:
What took Uncle Sam so long?

The only sensible reaction to this news is: What took Uncle Sam so long? The federal government, as an employer, should always set an example with enlightened, non-discriminatory practices. It is embarrassing that the government in this case has lagged behind corporate America. Plenty of large companies have long realized that passing judgment on whom their employees choose to make their life partners is not only discriminatory, but a terrible strategy for attracting and retaining a talented workforce.

Bradley A. Blakeman, Republican strategist, consultant, entrepreneur:
I am a conservative who believes strongly in the freedom of contract

Any person regardless of gender should be able to assign rights, beneficiaries, etc. Government should allow people the freedom and respect to stay out of their private lives. If contractual rights are available to one they should apply to all.

Victor Kamber, Carmen Group:
Absolutely, this is long overdue

It begins to fill President Obama's pledge to treat same-sex relationships as fully equal to all relationships in society, He should move quickly on 'don't ask don't tell' and any other provision that treats the gay community as second class citizens. I applaud President Obama just wished he would move even faster on these kinds of issues.
Promises Are Made of Air
by David Link

Posted on June 17, 2009

The gay community’s reaction to the Obama administration’s insulting and slanderous brief in the Smelt case has had some effect. A DNC fundraiser set for next week is falling apart, and the President will announce he wants to give the same federal benefits to homosexual federal employees as he gives to heterosexuals (well, some of the same federal benefits; health care seems to be off the table – the single “benefit” that comprises the lion’s share of all employee benefits).

We have every right to be furious at the President, but it’s important that we be furious for the right reasons.

I don’t think it is fair to criticize the administration for filing the brief. The well-intentioned but hapless plaintiffs in this case have gotten themselves (and the rest of us) in over their heads. They are certain to lose their case, and it’s better if they lose early on procedural grounds rather than in a published opinion that rules against us on the constitutional issues. The administration is doing nothing wrong in filing a brief to clear away this irritation.

The brief did not need to go any further than the procedural issues, and would almost certainly have prevailed on that ground. It was a mistake to have gone further. But when it did wade into the constitutional issues, it adopted arguments – as the administration’s – that cannot be entertained by any reasonable person. The argument (and I quote) that “DOMA does not distinguish among persons of different sexual orientations, but rather it limits federal benefits to those who have entered into the traditional form of marriage,” is a non sequitur. As Joe Solomonese so tartly put it, this is to say that “DOMA does not discriminate against gay people, but rather only provides federal benefits to heterosexuals.” Spend some time with that analysis, because Solomonese nails it. The argument assumes it is possible to provide benefits only to heterosexuals in a way that does not discriminate against homosexuals. Would it also be possible to provide benefits only to men and not discriminate against women? Or to provide benefits to whites in a way that does not discriminate against people of color?

There is only one way to reconcile these incompatible ideas; adopt the right’s still dominant theory that all people are really heterosexual, and could marry someone of the opposite sex if they weren’t so insistent on being perverse. Everyone could get “traditionally” married, and should, so it is right to design public policy to benefit only that form of marriage. Gay people do not exist in this worldview.

This is good enough for the right, but it is not good enough for this administration – and I don’t think the President believes it. But when you look at the miniscule gesture of federal benefits, you can see the real problem he faces. The reason he cannot grant health care benefits to federal employees is because DOMA is still on the books. DOMA is the single law that most fully incorporates that outdated notion of a world that has no homosexuals in it.

The President has promised – repeatedly – that he will work to repeal DOMA. But that’s all he’s done: promise. Similarly, he has promised to repeal DADT. All the federal benefits and hate crimes laws and even ENDAs in the world cannot balance out the harm these two laws, which actively incorporate discrimination against lesbians and gay men in federal law, do.

DADT must go, entirely. And about 70% of Americans agree. That is how perverse discrimination can be – on this single issue, the most talented politician of our era is afraid of 30% of his constituents.

The numbers are very different for DOMA, and the President is right to be cautious. But there is no need to repeal all of DOMA in order to minimize its damage. It makes political sense to keep section 2 of DOMA in place, which allows individual states to wall themselves off from progress, while repealing section 3, the part that prohibits the federal government from recognizing any equal treatment for same-sex couples.

I can think of no president in my lifetime – no politician, in fact – who is more capable of understanding what the gay community experiences, and who could, if he chose, articulate for the American people a course of action. It is his abject failure on that front so far that has made the DOJ brief such a catastrophe. I hope his speech tonight helps to clarify that we can expect something more than just gestures from him in the next few years.

My Open Letter to Family & Friends

I wrote this letter a month or so ago with the intent on publishing it here on my FB page. I waited because I really didn't know if I had the nerve to do it and deal with the backlash from some. But I can no longer wait. So, for those of you that will be shocked by what is in the letter I can only hope that you will be understanding and supporting but if not then so be it. Nothing about me has changed, just you didn't know. I fully expect some of my FB friends to 'delete' me - that is fine...but don't be a coward and just remove my name and not say anything...tell me why! it goes!

We have all read the headlines. Stock Market crash; people losing their savings; unemployment at numbers not seen in decades; foreclosures at an all-time high; food shelves unable to keep up with growing demand. So, one might think that there are many citizens and organizations that could use some help right now. But what do the “religious organizations” think is the best way to spend their energy and money? They believe that it is best spent (the national organization for marriage will spend $1.5 Million) on trying to scare people into thinking the world will come to an end if two citizens (of the same sex) that are in a committed, loving relationship are treated “equal under the law”. I believe that these organizations, religious and otherwise, are free to do, say and spend how they wish. However, I am no longer going to sit back and remain silent while those (some of who are in there second or third marriage) speak with smug-self satisfaction about the meaninglessness of the committed relationships of myself, my friends and others.

I want to thank those organizations (national marriage organization, Americans for truth) for finally pushing me over the edge. I have long believed that I am not to sit in judgment of others and that EVERYONE should be treated EQUAL in the eyes of the law. I can no longer tolerate those that think it is their “religious right” to discriminate and treat others different. If you feel the same way that I do but continue to support or help fund ANY organization that supports or funds the groups that try to vilify gay citizens -then you too must think I am the monster they try to paint me out to be. If you feel the way that I do but don’t speak out when someone tells a joke or pokes fun of someone that is gay –then you must think it is okay to attack me for who I am.

Growing up raised by my grandmother in a small town in southwest Iowa, I was taught the values that make me who I am today. I was taught that you should always be yourself, and speak the truth and to stand up for the things you believe in(often times despite the ridicule or torment that this can bring in a small town) But, most of all my grandmother taught me to love unconditionally.

Not everyone is going to agree with me and this may cost me friends or contact with some family members. However, the stakes are too high for me to remain silent or to walk a tightrope so that I can maintain those “friendships”. I am who I am and if you cannot or will not accept that –then I don’t have time for you in my life anyway.

Now is the time for everyone that believes in the words “all men are created equal”; Equality Under the Law” to stand up, join forces and combat the lies of those that would attack any gay citizen for being who they are. Now is the time for those that are still not out to friends, family, co-workers to come out and let it be known that we are no different than those that we live next to, work next to and even sit next to in church. It is not enough to merely stay inside your “circle of accepting friends” and complain about those that attack who you are. We can not expect others to ‘accept us” if we are unwilling to accept ourselves. History belongs to those that get involved. With the events of the past few months on our side, we need to seize the moment and keep the momentum moving forward and hold accountable those that will make promises seeking our money and vote then turn a deaf ear to us when we need them the most!

Monday, June 15, 2009

well, there ya have it...

Barack Obama Demonstrates His Committment to Gay Rights
by David Link

Posted on June 12, 2009

There are three things worth saying about President Barak Obama’s Motion to Dismiss in the case of Smelt and Hammer v. United States:

(1) It is gratuitously insulting to lesbians and gay men, referring (unnecessarily) to same-sex marriage as a “form” of marriage, approving of congressional comparisons between same-sex marriages and loving relationships between siblings, or grandparents and grandchildren, and arguing (with a straight face, I can only assume) that discrimination against same-sex couples is rational because it saves the federal government money. There are some respectable arguments in this motion, and this kind of disrespect is offensive.

(2) It argues that the couple don’t have standing to sue because they have not “applied for” federal benefits. While there are some federal benefits that people do, in fact, need to apply for, no heterosexual couple applies for the vast majority of federal benefits like joint income tax returns – they just rest in the knowledge that they will be there when and if they need them.

(3) Most notably, we should all beware: Premature cases ruling against us can do harm long after the original has faded from memory. The motion cites specifically to a case from 35 years ago, Baker v. Nelson, in which the Minnesota Supreme Court waved off in fourteen short paragraphs any claim that same-sex couples might have a right to marry one another, and which the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed for want of a substantial federal question. This well-intentioned case from back when the 70s were in their infancy is still being used against us (it even made an appearance in California’s first same-sex marriage case, Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco). What may not have seemed like much of a question then has certainly gained some substance over time, but the damage from that case lingers and stings to this day.

UPDATE: This only makes the DOJ approving of this brief look worse. Good lord.

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Bride ban: Gay bar says 'I don't' to bachelorettes

I find this sort of interesting. I have always found the silly bachelorette groups out at the gay bars just a bit obnoxious...but the different approach by the different bars is interesting to me

CHICAGO - Bar owner Geno Zaharakis sat one busy evening at the window of his gay nightclub, watching as groups of straight women celebrating bachelorette parties made their way along a strip of bars in Chicago's gay-friendly "Boystown" neighborhood.

That's when he made a decision now posted for all to see: "No Bachelorette Parties."

Gay bars are popular with bachelorettes, both for the over-the-top drag shows that some offer and for the ability to let loose in a place where women are unlikely to be groped or ogled. Some bars welcome the women and their free spending, even advertising weekend shows.

Zaharakis, though, instructs his bouncers to turn away groups of women sporting beads, boas, tiaras and phallic plastic necklaces. His customers say they like knowing they're not going to encounter such displays.

"It is throwing it in our face that they can get married and we can't," said Dion Contreras, a 29-year-old Chicago litigation manager, while having a drink at Cocktail with friends. "I just think they're ignorant to our situation. I want women to think twice about this issue."

Obama and the Gays: Where's the Leadership?

By Leah McElrath Renna

In the wake of the tragic murders of reproductive rights activist, Dr. George Tiller, and the Holocaust Museum security guard, Steven Johns, I know I was not alone among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans in thinking to myself, "Next it will be one of us." The time for outspoken leadership by President Obama on behalf of all of the targets of right-wing hate -- including LGBT Americans -- is here.

For some time now, many non-straight people have apparently been so relieved not to be in the bull's eye of the White House's political target practice that we have allowed ourselves to be blinded by Obama's cool. We have taken the risk of giving Obama a pass because we have chosen to believe that his personal views are not actually in alignment with his public declarations. We have allowed this belief to make us complacent.

Well, I am over the cool. The cool and the relief of not being under constant attack bought my complacency for only so long. Now, I am ready and waiting for actual leadership on the civil rights of LGBT Americans.

The fact is that we actually do not know what Obama's personal views are on marriage equality for same-sex couples. And that shouldn't really matter. Because we do know he was on record at one point as supporting marriage equality and then that changed. We also know that he now espouses the tired rationalization that so many Democrats rely upon: "Aw, gee, I'm all for equal rights, but my religion doesn't let me get behind the calling it 'marriage' thing for you all. Sorry."

But, for some reason, we allow -- without open challenge -- this Constitutional legal expert to use his personal religious beliefs as an excuse to espouse support for a separate but equal policy and not to speak out for civil equality for all Americans? Really?!

Are we that desperate?

Let's say, just hypothetically, that a meeting took place between certain administration officials and certain leaders of prominent LGBT rights organizations. And let's say, again hypothetically, that the administration laid out its plan for dealing with hate-crimes legislation, employment discrimination, and military discrimination in a characteristically controlled and pragmatic way. Further, let's say -- still talking hypothetically here -- that, within that plan, the repeal of the travesty of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) was scheduled to be addressed during the administration's presumptive second term. Let's also theorize hypothetically that some LGBT leaders were apparently so happy to be let behind the curtain that they simply nodded in response. Not acceptable.

Note to President Obama, his advisors and LGBT Grand Poobahs everywhere: that's NOT leadership. It's political strategy, sure, but it's not presidential leadership. And it's not enough.

We have a president capable of giving the most nuanced speech on race issues that our nation has heard in our lifetimes and maybe ever. We have a president capable of speaking out on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in some of the most clear-sighted, fair-minded and fully balanced language ever delivered by an American leader. We have a president who is not only intelligent, a Constitutional scholar and a gifted orator -- but one who has demonstrated the capacity for courage and unifying leadership at time when such leadership is sorely needed and lacking.

What better time is there than the 40th anniversary of Stonewall during a period in American history when state after state is also deciding in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples for the president to speak out on behalf of full civil equality for LGBT Americans? Strategy and pragmatism are useless without the flexibility to seize a moment.

In the spirit of pragmatism and domestic realpolitik, I'll even make a suggestion to President Obama and his advisors: you simply need to make progress.

If President Obama were to come out and say that the movement of more states in recognizing same-sex marriage equality highlights the unfairness of DOMA and the need to have it repealed or overturned, that would be progress. If President Obama were to come out and say that his own prayerful thought has led him to begin to reconsider his stance on marriage equality, that would be progress. If President Obama were to come out and say that the language in his own Justice Department's response to a legal challenge to DOMA was unnecessary, wrong and dehumanizing (invoking incest and child abuse, no less), that would be progress. It would be, in his words, change.

Should President Obama come out with unequivocal verbal support -- and even actual action -- on behalf of marriage equality and many other LGBT civil rights concerns? Yes. That would be truly courageous leadership and would be far superior to the carefully parsed language (and countless "umms" in the midst of other notable eloquence) to which we are currently subjected on our issues.

Nevertheless, incremental progress from such a highly visible and respected source has an impact beyond the incrementalism of the change itself. So, I'll take even that as a start.

President Obama, speak out and act now on behalf of the humanity and full civil equality of LGBT Americans. Be the leader you are capable of being. The moment is yours to seize.

Barack Obama
Gay Marriage

Friday, June 12, 2009


It seems that with each passing day I become more and more upset/angry with the Presidnet and this Admn. Yes we can..hope...change....well, I dont see any of that now...We must keep pressure up until Obama and the Dems in control of the House and Senate (perhaps we have been letting the congress off the hook to much on this..they could take the lead if Mr. Obama wont) keep the promise they made

Again taken from Andrew Sullivan..

John Aravosis gets ahold of the government's brief in a California DOMA case. He writes:

It reads as if it were written by one of George Bush's top political appointees. I cannot state strongly enough how damaging this brief is to us. Obama didn't just argue a technicality about the case, he argued that DOMA is reasonable. That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA wasn't motivated by any anti-gay animus. He argued why our Supreme Court victories in Roemer and Lawrence shouldn't be interpreted to give us rights in any other area (which hurts us in countless other cases and battles). He argued that DOMA doesn't discriminate against us because it also discriminates about straight unmarried couples (ignoring the fact that they can get married and we can't).

He actually argued that the courts shouldn't consider Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban interracial marriages, when looking at gay civil rights cases. He told the court, in essence, that blacks deserve more civil rights than gays, that our civil rights are not on the same level.

And before Obama claims he didn't have a choice, he had a choice. Bush, Reagan and Clinton all filed briefs in court opposing current federal law as being unconstitutional (we'll be posting more about that later). Obama could have done the same. But instead he chose to defend DOMA, denigrate our civil rights, go back on his promises, and contradict his own statements that DOMA was "abhorrent." Folks, Obama's lawyers are even trying to diminish the impact of Roemer and Lawrence, our only two big Supreme Court victories. Obama is quite literally destroying our civil rights gains with this brief. He's taking us down for his own benefit.

The full brief is below. Make your own mind up. David Link agrees with John:

(1) It is gratuitously insulting to lesbians and gay men, referring (unnecessarily) to same-sex marriage as a “form” of marriage, approving of congressional comparisons between same-sex marriages and loving relationships between siblings, or grandparents and grandchildren, and arguing (with a straight face, I can only assume) that discrimination against same-sex couples is rational because it saves the federal government money. There are some respectable arguments in this motion, and this kind of disrespect is offensive.

The DOJ explains:

As it generally does with existing statutes, the Justice Department is defending the law on the books in court. The president has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act because it prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. However, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system.

When you consider the Berry speech, it is clear that the Obama administration has a gay problem. It is currently an incoherent mess - sending signals on all sides, and doing nothing. Someone needs to be running interference on these matters - coordinating between DOJ and the White House so that this kind of offensive attack on gay equality, which goes beyond pro forma defense, is avoided.

But the best response to this latest disappointment is simply to ask when Obama intends to treat my civil marriage as equal to all the other civil marriages in Massachusetts, as he promised.

When, Mr President and Madam Speaker. When?