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Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Lopez

This week the Orange County Equality Coalition, OCEC, held their first legal forum of the year, which featured constitutional law scholar and UCI Law School Dean, Erwin Chemerinsky. Dean Chemerinsky explained the legal journey of Proposition 8, California’s famed ballot initiative, from the time most of us stopped paying attention through now. There were 3, major, take away messages:

  1. Now is as good a time as any to take the marriage equality battle to federal court.
  2. When the question of whether or not the government can continue to discriminate against the marriages and families of LGBT people gets to the US Supreme Court, the answer will most likely be in the hands of one man: Justice Anthony Kennedy.
  3. If Prop 8 is overturned in the US District Court, where Judge Vaughn Walker is scheduled to release his decision this month, MARRIAGE EQUALITY COULD RETURN TO CALIFORNIA!!!

That’s right, my lovelies, as soon as next month, we could be getting LEGALLY married in California once again. Here’s how: Prop 8 is being challenged in the first level of federal court (US District). Evidence has been presented by both sides. Closing arguments will probably take place sometime this month. After that, Judge Walker will issue a ruling on whether Prop 8 violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. If Prop 8 is overturned, marriage equality could be restored in California.

Of course, the pro-discrimination lawyers will likely appeal Prop 8’s overturning, and they may request that our marriages remain ignored until the issue is decided on appeal. But, get this, if the district court and the appellate court refuse to block marriage equality, then the haters can go to a representative of the US Supreme Court. Who, you ask, is the SCOTUS Justice that oversees the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals??? Well, it’s Anthony Kennedy.

Dean Chemerinsky also gave detailed projections on how the SCOTUS Justices would split on this issue and offered enlightened commentary on Anthony Kennedy’s record. Chemerinsky is simply amazing, and if you missed this legal forum, you really missed out. BUT, rumor has it their may be a video of the event online shortly. I will keep you posted.

OCEC’s next legal forum will focus on tax related issues for the LGBT community and will be held at Chapman University School of Law at the end of March.



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,



Read the whole opinion.

Compared with the overturning of miscegenation laws enacted ennacted in 41 states to criminalize marriages between people of different races–namely African Americans, Iowa was the third state to overturn such laws. Wikipedia has a timeline showing when the laws were enacted and when they were overturned. Just fyi, the US Supreme Court upheld the bans on interracial marriage in 1883, then overturned them in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia. The US never enacted a federal law or constitutional ban against interracial marriage.

The current Iowa decision is set to take affect in 21 days.

This video was entered into a YouTube contest sponsored by Freedom to Marry. Go here to rate the video so that we can win!

So, the burning desire to buy all the poster board from my local drug store, make cleverly worded protest signs, and take to the streets every night, has finally started to wane a bit. It’s getting a little chilly, and the holiday season is upon us. Plus, my truck is starting to overflow with all the aforementioned, cleverly worded, protest signs.

I am starting to need more. I want some bang for my buck—I want targeted action and continued visibility, but I want to focus my time in ways that feel constructive. So here it is…my list of the absolute, “must do,” activism activities this holiday season:

December 10: Day Without a Gay – this is the day that you “call in gay” to work. The organizers suggest that we spend the day volunteering in our local communities. I am hoping to volunteer with GLASS. GLASS provides social service support to LGBTQ youth in the foster care system. Lawrence King, the eighth grader who was murdered earlier this year by his classmate because he was gay, lived in a foster home. Sadly, he was not in a GLASS home. The Ali Forney Center, which provides services to homeless LGBTQ youth in New York, reminds us that 25% of LGBTQ young people are rejected by their families to the point of homelessness. These are our kids. Let’s care for them.

December 20: Light up the Night 4 Equality – This vigil is the second nationwide demonstration planned by Join the Impact, the group that organized the highly successful “Rallies for Equality” on November 15th. So far, there are several event locations listed on their website, including one in Long Beach, a handful in LA and OC, and several in cities and states around the country.

Now through January 20th: Project Postcard – Buy a postcard (or 20!) from your area, write a message asking the President Elect to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, mail it to the Presidential Transition Team office in Chicago (address and details can be found at the Project Postcard site linked above).

Now through March 2009: This is when the California Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments for the case aimed at repealing Prop 8. There are many ways to show support. The “must dos” are as follows:

  • Email a LegislatorEquality California has sponsored two resolutions to be voted on in the state legislature that, if passed, would make it official state policy that Prop 8 should be overturned. Go to their site Action Center and sign up to have an email sent in your name to the appropriate state congress people and politicians. Seriously, this will take you 3 minutes. Click here to do it now.
  • Write Letters – I know this is easier said than done, but between now and March it is crucial that we all pitch in on this effort. Trust me, read some op-ed letters written by anti-equality people, and you will find yourself motivated to respond. Letters (or emails or blog comments) can be directed to your local paper, websites, or blogs. Great examples and information to help you craft your letter can be found at NCLR’s action page. I’m actually going to a Holiday Letter Writing Party. We will create “All I Want for Christmas Is Equality” cards to send to the elected officials in our state and federal districts.
  • GiveLambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the ACLU are behind the current lawsuit filing which challenges the validity of Proposition 8. In lieu of presents this year, I’m asking my family and friends to make a contribution to these organizations.
  • Support Your Judges! – Okay, so we already talked about letter writing, but this is a great topic to write about in those letters. When the justices voted in May to overturn Proposition 22, thus legalizing same gender marriage, they were performing their essential and traditional role: to uphold and protect the constitution and the principles therein. For doing so, they have been called activists and threatened with recall (story). Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Project says it best:

    “Threats to judges over their decisions and rulings are a threat to everyone’s access to justice. When politicians and extremist organizations make such threats, they are trying to weaken the courts, our system of checks and balances, and thereby weaken everyone’s rights.”

    Writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, posting comments on blogs, etc., can help to educate the public about the role of fair and unbiased judges. For some ideas, check out Lambda’s Fair Courts Project.

So there you have it…the “must dos” of the season. As for the “must don’ts,” well…I, for one, won’t be spending the holidays with anyone who introduces my wife as my ‘friend’ or my ‘roommate.’ Peace, people.