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gonediving

You all know this already: the CA Supreme Court will issue its decision on the constitutional challenge to proposition 8 and on what will become of the legal marriages entered by 36,000 people tomorrow at 10 am PST.

Here is what is happening tomorrow night: Day of the Decision. On Saturday, everyone will be meeting “in the middle” of the state…Fresno (which, by the way, has a happening LGBT film festival every year, so don’t totally discount its scene). Here is the info on that: Meet in the Middle. (So Cal folks check out Orange County and Long Beach events.)

Fortunately or unfortunately, my wife and I will be on a remote island in the Caribbean for the next week. Though we wish we could be with you during this historic time, we will relish the opportunity to get away from the struggle and, for a brief time, remember why we are fighting so hard.

With love and in solidarity,

Lindsey

Robert Indiana HOPE

Over the holidays, I took a break from the daily barrage of negative news that ripples with alarming frequency across the blogosphere. My wife, Tiffany, and I spent time focusing on each other, those in our families that are supportive of us, those friends that have become our chosen family, and our community as a whole. It was wonderful.

While on semester break, Tiffany spent her waking hours working on a “friend of the court” brief to be submitted to the California Supreme Court in support of the case filed against Proposition 8. I was her merry, little assistant reading and researching through pages of legal documents, and watching people from all walks of life commit their holiday free time to supporting equal rights for all of us.

Lawyers from all over the state have contributed hours and hours to filing arguments in support of overturning Prop 8. Some of these lawyers are gay; most of them are straight. These lawyers, and the organizations they represent, include people who are white, black, brown, yellow, male, female, religious, secular, conservative, liberal, academic and otherwise, all of whom are outraged by this injustice and thus inspired to act.

Seeing this inspired me to hope. What a powerful gift.

Just yesterday, we turned on the TV and found our country ecstatic. Our nation is celebrating a week long, national “block” party over the upcoming Presidential inauguration. For the first time in years, our country is united and optimistic.

Barack Obama is teaching all of us about the power of HOPE. He inspired us to believe, and then demonstrated how powerful that believing can be. We have a black president. We have begun to free ourselves from the shackles we have shared, and it feels really good.

Gay, lesbian, and transgendered Americans suffer constant injustices in this country. Yet we have allowed ourselves to embrace our own, internal wisdom that we are not what some say we are. We have been compelled by our own dignity to stand up and say that we deserve better.

Do we have the courage to achieve equality? I believe we do. Dare we hope for a future where an openly LGBT American might be President? I choose YES.

hope

button-give-us-this-day-lgIn a recent post, I made a list of the “Must Dos” for marriage equality this holiday season. One of the things I am doing this year is asking family to give me “the gift of equality” by supporting non-profit, legal organizations that are making the case for equal marriage rights around the country. My personal favorite is Lambda Legal.

If you are in southern California, come join us tonight for a Christmas card writing party and ask your family and friends to do the same. The details are as follows:

Orange County Equality Coalition and Chapman University’s OUTLAW Present:

“Give The Gift of Equality”

Wednesday Dec. 17th

6-9pm

(open house: come and go as you please)

Chapman University Law School

Room 379

We will be writing holiday cards to friends and family asking them to show their support for marriage equality.

We will ask friends and family to “give the gift of equality” by donating to one of four organizations.

Lambda Legal, ACLU, EQCA and Change.org and to also show their support for marriage equality by wearing a white knot.

Please Bring: Address Book, Holiday Cards, Envelopes, Extra Pens and Stamps

We will provide:

*Food & Beverages*

Stamps, White Knots, Donation Information

Because everyone should be able to tie the knot.

Because everyone should be able to tie the knot.

If you would like more information or to become a member of Orange County Equality Coalition, send an email with your interest and pertinent info to ocequality@gmail.com.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.”

A lot of attention has been paid to a list published in 2003 purporting to identify 14 common traits among fascist governments (think Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Pinochet’s Chile, etc.). Well that list, published in the article “Facism Anyone” by Dr. Lawrence Britt, was actually an updated version of a similar 14 point list published by Umberto Eco in “Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
“.

It came up again recently in a Market Watch article “Wall Street Disaster Capitalism for Dummies,” by Paul Ferrell. The byline on Ferrell’s article was “14 reasons Main Street loses big while Wall Street sabotages democracy.”

In Britt’s  list, antigay attitudes make the list in items 3 and 5–identifying a scapegoat and rampant sexism, respectively. On Eco’s list, queerfolk are identified in number 12, and in Ferrell’s list we make number 11.

I am not saying that antigay attitudes make for a fascist country. The lists cover much more than sexual politics; I suggest you read them and see what you think about their merits. However, I couldn’t help but notice that antigay sentiment was the one unifying issue between this year’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates. They all agreed: gay people should not be allowed to get married.

Obama has said, however, that he supports ending other forms of discrimination against LGBT people. The Obama/Biden plan for LGBT equality and civil rights is as follows:

  • Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
  • Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees’ domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
  • Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
  • Repeal Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
  • Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
  • Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma — too often tied to homophobia — that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.
  • Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Barack Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

This is my America, your America, our America.

The Courage Campaign has become infamous for the following ad:

This triggered the op-ed, “An Ugly Attack on Mormons,” by Jonah Goldberg, which called the video “religious slander.” Goldberg went on to list alleged attacks on Mormons and the Mormon church in the wake of Prop 8, as well as blaming “liberals” in general for supporting the gay “aggressors in the culture war.”

Last week, the Times published a response entitled “Why We’re Mad at the Mormon Church,” written by Rick Jacobs, Chairman of the Courage Campaign. Jacobs responded with the following:

And the truth is very simple: Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints campaigned vigorously to strip rights from gays and lesbians. They contributed a staggering amount of money to pass Proposition 8 — a figure estimated to be at least $20 million (and potentially much higher) to fund a fear-mongering, truth-distorting campaign whose only objective was to outlaw same-sex couples from getting a marriage license. Proposition 8 now threatens to invalidate the same-sex marriages already in existence, pending future rulings from the California Supreme Court. There is an old saying: Truth can’t be libel.

Goldberg claims that the ad focused on the Mormons because they were an easier target, one of many faiths that supported Proposition 8. In reality, the Yes on 8 campaign might as well have been a wholly owned subsidiary of the LDS Church. Many estimate that members of the LDS Church gave more than half of the total amount raised by the Yes on 8 campaign. In addition, the LDS Church ran large call centers supporting Proposition 8 and encouraged its members to travel to California to support the campaign. These efforts were only scaled back after California voters started to become more aware of the massive role that the LDS Church was playing in the campaign. They may also be putting the LDS Church into some legal peril as well: It is being investigated by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failure to report expenses related to these, as well as other, campaign activities on behalf of Proposition 8.

Unfortunately, this failure to take public responsibility for leading the fight against same-sex marriage, as well as the masking of its efforts behind the shroud of an interfaith coalition, is nothing new for the LDS Church.

An LDS Church internal memo from 1997 regarding strategies to oppose same-sex marriage explains that although the LDS Church may be able to put together the funding for a citizen referendum in California, “The public image of the Catholic Church [is] higher than our Church. In other words, if we get into this, they are ones with which to join.” This is exactly the strategy the LDS Church used to mask its involvement in Proposition 8 until the final weeks before the election.

The LDS Church or any other organization has every right to use its power to influence elections to any extent that is legal. What it doesn’t have a right to do is claim persecution when other organizations do nothing but expose the church’s forays into the political arena before a discerning public.

While the backlash against the LDS Church has made some of its members uncomfortable, they have nobody to blame but their leadership who dragged them into this mess. In an effort to repair its public image, the church has said that it wants to begin a “healing process” and has claimed support for equal rights for gays and lesbians, except for using the word “marriage” to describe unions between same-sex partners. The church now has an opportunity to demonstrate that support: Utah state Sen. Scott McCoy has introduced legislation that would provide gays and lesbians in his state with all rights that straight people enjoy except marriage.

If the LDS Church were to support McCoy, it would show that it really does believe in love, compassion and equal rights. If it does not, the church’s supposedly conciliatory stance would simply be one more obfuscation in support of truly bigoted intentions.

Courage Campaign also released this video:

My favorite, though, is this one:

Live and let love.