Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nevada Legislature Overrides Veto To Enact DP

On Sunday the Nevada State Assembly voted 28-14 to complete the override of Republican Governor Jim Gibbons' veto of Senate Bill 283, which would establish a comprehensive domestic partnership registry in the state of Nevada.

From the Associated Press report:
The Assembly's 28-14 vote — the bare two-thirds majority needed — followed the state Senate's vote a day earlier to enact the measure into state lawbooks over the conservative Republican governor's objections.

The bill provides that domestic partners have the same rights as married couples in matters such as community property and responsibility for debts. It also prohibits discrimination against domestic partners.

Critics contended that domestic partners can sign private contracts to accomplish many of the goals of the bill, and that it conflicted with the intent of Nevadans who voted in 2002 for a constitutional amendment supporting marriage between a man and a woman.

The measure states, among other things, that no "solemnization ceremony" is required and it's "left to the dictates and conscience of partners entering into a domestic partnership" whether to have such a ceremony.
Woo hoo! Now, Washington, California, Nevada all have comprehensive domestic partnership legislation, which some on the east coast would call civil unions.

VIDEO: Prof. Tobias Wolff vs Maggie Gallagher

MadProfessah Quoted in LA TIMES on Selma March

(Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)

Saturday was Meet In The Middle, a statewide rally for LGBT equality in Fresno protesting Proposition 8 and the lack of marriage rights in California. The day started with a march from Selma, CA to Fresno, CA and culminated with a huge rally at City Hall in Fresno. The choice of Selma was deliberate, but I'm not entirely convinced it was wise:
Some African American gay activists were troubled by Saturday's march from Selma to Fresno. They suggested that organizers appeared to be trying to borrow symbolism of the civil rights movement -- the 1965 marches from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery were indelible events -- while ignoring the fact that gay activists do not suffer the same kind of oppression that blacks did in 1960s Alabama.

"One needs to be careful about appearing to appropriate the symbols of the civil rights movement without fully acknowledging the significant differences as well as the similarities between the movements," said Ron Buckmire, a gay activist who is black.
The above quote is from the Los Angeles Times article on the Fresno rally and march in Sunday's paper. Do you agree with my comment?

FRENCH OPEN 2009: BOTH Defending Champions Lose

(BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

(PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)


OMG! World #1 Rafael Nadal has just lost in the 4th Round of the French Open to Robin Soderling, for the first time in 32 consecutive matches in Paris. The 4-time defending champion was attempting to become the first person to win Roland Garros 5 consecutive years; he had never lost at Roland Garros.

In less surprising news, 2008 French Open defending champion Ana Ivanovic lost to Victoria Azarenka.

I won't report the scores, since in the USA, we can not see either of these matches until NBC's coverage starts at 12noon PDT.

NV Senate Overrides Governor on DP Bill

The Nevada State Senate voted 14-7 to override the veto of Republican Governor Jim Gibbons of SB 283, which would establish a comprehensive domestic partnership regime in the state. The bill initially passed the Assembly 26-14 and the Senate 12-9.
From the Las Vegas Sun:
Supporters need two additional votes to get the two-thirds majority.

The bill provides such rights as community property, responsibilities for debts and the right to seek alimony in a split up between couples of the same sex or couples of opposite sex who are not married.

Parks, a gay, said he has received 1,500 e-mails. And a survey by the Legislature, 79 percent of those questioned favored the bill while 21 percent was opposed.

The bill, Parks said would establish a domestic partner registry in the Secretary of State’s Office where couples, either of the same or opposite gender, register their relationship through the state.

This bill does “not threaten the sanity of marriage,” said Parks. “SB283 does not circumvent the will of the people because Question 2 made no mention of partnerships or of denying people’s rights and privileges if they are in committed relationships.”
"Parks, a gay,"? WTF? Have the editors of the Sun not read the AP Style Guide? Do they think "a gay" is better than "a homosexual"?

If you know anyone in Nevada, ask them to call their Assemblyperson and tell them to vote in favor of a veto override. In northern Nevada: 775-684-6800; in southern Nevada: 702-486-2626.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Obama Supports Sotomayor Nomination In Weekly Address

Another Curious Incident Goes Against Black Tennis Player

(AFP)

Another Williams grand slam match, another curious incident in which the African American player is robbed of a point. Curious coincidence. Notice the pattern:
2003: In a semifinal match at Roland Garros , Justine Henin raises her hand to say she's not ready, Serena serves a fault and the referee refuses to give Serena a first serve. Serena complains and the crowd completely turns against her. Serena wins the game, but loses the match.

2004: Umpire Marina Alves calls a point CLEARLY inside the line (on the far side of the court) OUT and awarding the point to Jennifer Capriati in the US Open semifinal match against Serena. Serena loses the match. The clamor for electronic line calling grows and becomes standard within 3 years.


2004: in a 2nd round match against Karolina Sprem at Wimbledon the umpire called the SCORE incorrectly, awarding Venus' opponent a point she did not earn. Venus loses the match.


2009: in a 3rd round match against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Serena nailed a ball at her opponent at the net on breakpoint down which clearly hit the Spaniard's right arm (in multiple replays) and then her racquet, to go over the net. The umpire awards the point and game to Serena's opponent, over Serena's protests. Serena wins the match.
These are just the curious incidents that I remember off the top of my head.

Do people REALLY THINK this has nothing to do with race? Why does this not happen to any other American players? Why is it just Williams sisters, and more often than not Serena especially?

What do YOU think?

UPDATE: here is a clip of the point in question, plus Serena's comments on the issue in her post-match press conference. I completely agree with her accusing her opponent of cheating.


FRENCH OPEN 2009: Monfils, Serena,Tsonga Thru To 4th Round


World #3 Venus Williams was demolished by Agnes Szavay 6-0 6-4 and lost in the 3rd round at the French Open for the 3rd consecutive year. Her sister, World #2 blew a 5-2 3rd set lead but still managed to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had an easier time of it, both winning in straight sets to make the Round of 16.

Other MadProfessah favorites Andy Roddick and Roger Federer have also made it to the 4th Round, as have Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic.

Upset were Novak Djokovic who lost 4-6 4-6 4-6 to Phillippe Kohlschreiber and Elena Dementieva who lost 3-6, 6-4, 1-6 to Samantha Stosur.

CIWMB: Where Gay Pols Get Their Reward

LairdKuehlMigden
The California Integrated Waste Management Board is a time-honored resting place for former politicians. On curious notion about the CIWMB is that it currently has a majority of openly gay or lesbian politicians! The board consists of 5 members, and Sheila Kuehl, Carole Migden and John Laird all of whom are former members of the California Legislature who happen to be gay or lesbian. Each member is paid an annual salary of $132,000. There have been calls to eliminate the CIWMB.

Coincidence? I doubt it!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Celebrity Friday: David Blackwell

David Blackwell, the first African American person ever elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and possibly the most famous Black mathematician alive, turned 80 on April 24.

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Professor Blackwell!

FRENCH OPEN 2009: Monfils, Venus, Serena, Tsonga Thru To 3rd Round



Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried "Le Mome" Tsonga and The Williams Sisters are through to the 3rd round of the French Open.

Venus had to save a match point in her 2nd round match versus Lucie Safarova to win 6-7(5) 6-2 7-5. Serena need nine (count 'em, NINE) match points to win her first round match 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 against Klara Zakopalova.

Roger Federer and Andy Roddick are also into the third round.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

NOM FAIL: Ad opposes "Same same sex marriage"

The National Organization for Marriage released its latest ad opposing marriage equality in New York State and ends with an epic fail: "Say No To Same Same Sex Marriage." Giggle.

Here's the ad in all its execrable deceitfulness:

Why The Federal Lawsuit Against Prop 8 is Wrong


The day after the California Supreme Court announced its shameful ruling upholding Proposition 8, former Bush Administration Solicitor General Ted Olson and David Boies Gore's attorney in the classic Bush v. Gore announced a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of Proposition 8 under the United States Constitution.

The LGBT organizations were not amused:
The groups released a new publication, "Why the ballot box and not the courts should be the next step on marriage in California." This publication discourages people from bringing premature lawsuits based on the federal Constitution because, without more groundwork, the U.S. Supreme Court likely is not yet ready to rule that same-sex couples cannot be barred from marriage. The groups also revised "Make Change, Not Lawsuits," which was released after the California Supreme Court decision ending the ban on marriage for same-sex couples in California. This publication encourages couples who have legally married to ask friends, neighbors and institutions to honor their marriages, but discourages people from bringing lawsuits.
Pam at Pam's House Blend has posted a lengthy analysis of the implications of the federal lawsuit for the generally accepted strategy of the national LGBT civil rights organizations. She asks two Questions of the Day:

* is Boies' and Olson's rejection of the current legal strategy supported by our orgs a tactical error for the marriage equality battle? It represents a "Hail Mary" approach, polls and pols be damned, to solve the patchwork problem of uneven equality around the country all at once, taking the moral high road. But it's a chance the ball will be dropped and the setback with a loss could seriously damage the movement for marriage equality

* is pursuing equality on the path our LGBT organizations represent a sound strategy? The path of taking the state route gains rights for gay and lesbians with each success -- and it also ends at SCOTUS. However, it forces those in states with constitutional bans on marriage equality to languish without full civil rights until a favorable decision at that level at some unknown point in the future. It also relies on additional gains that can be made with the repeal of DOMA, for instance, something also promised but that we may not see any time soon.

My answer to both questions is Yes and one of the smartest legal minds in the LGBT community, University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Tobias Wolff agrees with me:
In 1972 -- 5 years after Loving v. Virginia, the anti-miscegenation case -- the Supreme Court actually did weigh in on the question of the federal constitutional argument for marriage equality. In a case called Baker v. Nelson, the Minnesota courts had denied a marriage equality claim by a gay couple. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which responded by dismissing the appeal "for want of a substantial federal question." This is a type of action that the Court uses only infrequently -- even a lot of lawyers have not heard of it. What it basically means is that the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without issuing any written opinion, expressing the view that there was no serious federal or constitutional issue to be decided -- in other words, it said that it could dismiss without even issuing a written opinion because the claim on appeal did not have enough merit to warrant a full explanation.

This kind of dismissal is binding on the lower federal courts. (It is not binding on state courts, though some choose to follow it anyway.) What that means is that, when the Supreme Court has spoken to a federal issue in this backhanded way, and the exact same issue comes before a lower federal court in a later case, the proper thing for the lower federal court to do is to dismiss the case because it is bound by the Supreme Court's earlier action.

[...]

What does all of this mean for the Olson / Boies lawsuit? Insofar as their lawsuit argues that marriage equality for everyone is required under the U.S. Constitution, there is a strong argument that the lower federal courts should simply dismiss and decline to hear the case because they are bound by Baker v. Nelson. If that happens, then the Supreme Court itself is the only one that could overrule its earlier precedent and actually decide the case on the merits.

This is an important fact to understand for a number of reasons. First, as a simple matter of predicting what will happen, it's entirely possible that the Olson / Boies lawsuit will be dismissed very quickly by the lower federal courts. Second, it reinforces the point made by the LGBT groups about the importance of laying a solid groundwork before we get our one shot at litigating this issue before the Supreme Court (and, realistically, we will likely get only one shot). Baker v. Nelson prevents the lower federal courts from engaging in the ordinary process of wrestling with a contentious issue in a series of cases before the Supreme Court finally weighs in. It is therefore all the more important to develop a solid foundation of precedent in the state courts, because we may not have the opportunity to do that in the federal courts. And, with all due respect to Olson and Boies and despite my whole-hearted agreement that we should not have to wait to enjoy the rights that we deserve, the fact is that the Civil Rights Movement was the most strategic, careful and patient litigation effort that this country had ever seen, waiting decades to bring the school desegregation and anti-miscegenation cases until they knew that they had laid a sufficient groundwork to achieve a victory before the Supreme Court. I am thrilled at the outrage that these two men feel on our behalf and I welcome their input and their efforts. But they do need to learn their history.

Two more quick points. This kind of "dismissal for want of a substantial federal question" is not a good way to decide cases, and there is a strong argument that it should always be construed narrowly. So, for example, in the challenge to the federal portions of DOMA that GLAD has brought in Massachusetts federal court, Baker v. Nelson should not pose any obstacle. GLAD is raising a very different kind of claim -- that the federal government can't discriminate against couples who have already been validly married by their home state. The lower federal courts are free to decide that issue on its merits.

By the same token, if Olson and Boies had brought a much narrower challenge to Proposition 8 -- if they had argued that the particular sequence of events in California raised a unique constitutional problem because Prop 8 took marriage away from a group of people who already enjoyed equal rights under state law -- then matters would be different. Baker v. Nelson probably would not control a more carefully drafted lawsuit like that, and the dangers associated with such a lawsuit might be somewhat more contained (though there would still be serious questions about whether it represents the right approach). There are hints of that more narrow argument in the Olson / Boies complaint, but only hints -- in the end, they do not make the more careful argument but instead just go for broke.
What do you think?

MOVIE REVIEW: Star Trek

MadProfessah and the other half saw the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie on opening day.

Although I am a fan of science fiction and have watched many episodes of the Star Trek
television series (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager) I wouldn't call myself a Trekkie.

The new Star Trek has been quite well-received by both critics and audiences alike. At rottentomatoes.com
it has a 95% approval rating, which is similar to last summer's The Dark Knight. It has also made nearly 200 million dollars since its release on May 8.

The latest film was written by the team who brought us the television series Fringe, Alex Kurtzman
and Robert Orci, who also wrote the execrable Transformers movies. However, this time the duo do an excellent job of pleasing multiple audiences who are interested in seeing the 11th Star Trek film: hard-core Trekkies, J.J. Abrams fans, general sci-fi fans, and fans of the new young castmembers like Chris Pine, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Zachary Quinto (Sylar on Heroes).

Quinto is very good as Spock, while Pine does well with the even harder task of portraying the larger-than-life James Tiberius Kirk
who was immortalized on screen by the inimitable William Shatner. Additionally, Eric Bana makes a lasting impression as the central villain Nero, a rogue Romulan who threatens both Spock's and Kirk's home planets.

The overall theatrical experience is quite enjoyable, and it's fun that Leonard Nimoy has a cameo, as does Tyler Perry
. Star Trek is a great summer entertainment.

Running Time; 2 hours, 6 minutes. MPAA Rating: PG-13.

Plot: B+.
Acting: A.
Visuals: A-.
Impact: A-.


Overall Grade: A-.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

NYT Analysis on Prop 8 Ruling

Justice Carlos R. Moreno

The New York Times story on the Proposition 8 ruling contains this fabulous analogy which gets to the heart of why the California Supreme Court's ruling in Strauss was so wrong:
Karl M. Manheim, a professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles who had filed a brief with the court opposing Proposition 8, called the decision a “safe” one from justices who can be recalled by voters. The change wrought by Proposition 8 was anything but narrow, Professor Manheim said, and claiming that the word “marriage” is essentially symbolic is like telling black people that sitting in the back of the bus is not important as long as the front and the back of the bus arrive at the same time.

[...]

The sole dissenting vote in Tuesday’s decision came from Justice Carlos R. Moreno, previously mentioned as a possible choice by President Obama for the United States Supreme Court.

Justice Moreno wrote that Proposition 8 means “requiring discrimination,” which he said “strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution” and, he added, “places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities.”
If you are as big a fan of Justice Carlos R. Moreno as I am now, please send him a letter praising his dissent in the Prop 8 case at:
Hon. Carlos R. Moreno
California Supreme Court
350 McAllister Street
San Francisco, 94102
Moreno is up for re-appointment to the California Supreme Court before the voters in November 2010. Let's make sure he gets a full 12 year term.

VIDEO: Ad Supporting Marriage Equality in NY

Rally For Full Federal Equality with Obama

Barack Obama is in town today. LGBT activists intend to make their displeasure at the lack of progress on LGBT equality at the federal level.
Rally for LGBT Equality with President Obama
Day after the Day of Decision

BEVERLY HILLS HILTON
9876 WILSHIRE BLVD (CORNER OF SANTA MONICA BLVD)
WED MAY 27TH
6PM - Meet to rally
7PM - Program begins

President Barack Obama, the most LGBT-friendly president in history, will be at the Beverly Hilton the evening of Wednesday, May 27th, for a DNC fundraiser. Let's take this opportunity, just one day after the CA Supreme Court makes its decision on Proposition 8, to show our President our support for his daring promise to our community and to highlight the growing movement towards FULL FEDERAL EQUALITY.

Join us at a rally at 6PM in front of the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday, May 27th.

At 7PM we will be joined by Lt. Dan Choi and other LGBT servicemen & women in opposition to Don't Ask Don't Tell. They will ask for response from President Obama to the letter signed by 136,000 people asking the president not to fire Lt. Choi by ending DADT.

Regardless of what decision comes down regarding Prop 8 it is time for us all to demand equality on all fronts for all people!

See you soon,

Courage Campaign, Equality Network, Equal Roots Coalition, FAIR, Stonewall Democratic Club, White Knot

Sheila Kuehl's Brilliant Analysis Of Prop 8 Ruling


One of the smartest people in politics gay or straight, is former California State Senator Sheila James Kuehl, who sent out this brilliant analysis of the California Supreme Court Prop 8 ruling in Strauss v. Horton yesterday.
The Opinion

Today, the California Supreme Court ruled on the validity of Proposition 8, the measure adopted by California voters last November to add a new section 7.5 to Article I of the California Constitution, as follows: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California".

The measure was challenged by a coalition of organizations and individuals who favor the ability of same-sex couples to marry on three bases:
1. That the measure adopted by the voters 52% to 48% was not a simple amendment to the state Constitution, which may be adopted by a majority vote, but, rather, a revision to the Constitution, which may not. The Constitution may only be changed in one of these two ways, and, if the change is actually a revision to the Constitution, it must either be passed by a two-thirds vote of each house of the state Legislature and put to a vote of the people, or proposed through a constitutional convention and put to a vote.
2. The second challenge theorized that Prop 8 violated the separation of powers principle because it abrogated a previous Supreme Court decision which held that, under Equal Protection and Due Process principles, same sex couples had the same right to marry in California as opposite sex couples.
3. The Attorney General advanced a different theory: that the "inalienable" right articulated by the Court in the Marriage Cases could not be abrogated by a majority vote unless there was a compelling state interest in doing so.
The Court rejected all three, holding that they were required to find that the Constitution could be amended by a majority of voters in any election, even if the amendment abrogated a fundamental right previously articulated by the Court.

How Could They Say That?

The Court set out the legal principle that distinguishes an amendment from a revision: That it must change the basic governmental plan or framework of the Constitution. In deciding whether Prop 8 did, indeed, change the Constitution at such a basic level, the Court decided it did not, and, also, that it did not "entirely repeal or abrogate" the rights articulated in the Marriage Cases.

This is where the Court seriously lost its way.

Marriage is Just A Word....Not

Here's what the majority opinion said, which I think is not only seriously in error, but a cowardly about-face from their language in the Marriage Cases, which is reprinted in the next section.

First: today's decision:
"In analyzing the constitutional challenges presently before us, we first explain that the provision added to the California Constitution by Proposition 8, when considered in light of the majority opinion in the Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th 757 (which preceded the adoption of Proposition 8), properly must be understood as having a considerably narrower scope and more limited effect than suggested by petitioners in the cases before us. Contrary to petitioners' assertion, Proposition 8 does not entirely repeal or abrogate the aspect of a same-sex couple's state constitutional right of privacy and due process that was analyzed in the majority opinion in the Marriage Cases - that is, the constitutional right of same-sex couples to "choose one's life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage" (Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th at p. 829). Nor does Proposition 8 fundamentally alter the meaning and substance of state constitutional equal protection principles as articulated in that opinion. Instead, the measure carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term "marriage" for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law, but leaving undisturbed all of the other extremely significant substantive aspects of a same-sex couple's state constitutional right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship and the guarantee of equal protection of the laws."

In other words....what's the big deal about the word "marriage"?

As it turns out, quite a bit. Here's what the same Court said about it in the Marriage Cases:

First, it set out the principle it quotes in the new opinion:
"In responding to the Attorney General's argument, the majority opinion stated that "[w]e have no occasion in this case to determine whether the state constitutional right to marry necessarily affords all couples the constitutional right to require the state to designate their official family relationship a 'marriage,' " because "[w]hether or not the name 'marriage,' in the abstract, is considered a core element of the state constitutional right to marry, one of the core elements of this fundamental right is the right of same-sex couples to have their official family relationship accorded the same dignity, respect, and stature as that accorded to all other officially recognized family relationships.

But, then, the Court answers its own question as to the importance of the word Marriage:

"The current statutes - by drawing a distinction between the name assigned to the family relationship available to opposite-sex couples and the name assigned to the family relationship available to same-sex couples, and by reserving the historic and highly respected designation of marriage exclusively to opposite-sex couples while offering same-sex couples only the new and unfamiliar designation of domestic partnership _ pose a serious risk of denying the official family relationship of same-sex couples the equal dignity and respect that is a core element of the constitutional right to marry."

It is a distinction that makes an enormous difference and, therefore, should be seen as a revision to the state's Equal Protection and Due Process requirements.

By hanging its decision that Prop 8 was an amendment and not a revision on the slim and dishonest statement that same sex couples are not denied legal rights by denying them the "word" marriage, the Court errs.

Justice Moreno, in Dissent

Bless his heart and his mind. Here is what he says:
"The question before us is not whether the language inserted into the California Constitution by Proposition 8 discriminates against same-sex couples and denies them equal protection of the law; we already decided in the Marriage Cases that it does. The question before us today is whether such a change to one of the core values upon which our state Constitution is founded can be accomplished by amending the Constitution through an initiative measure placed upon the ballot by the signatures of 8 percent of the number of persons who voted in the last gubernatorial election and passed by a simple majority of the voters. (Cal. Const., art. II, § 8.) Or is this limitation on the scope of the equal protection clause to deny the full protection of the law to a minority group based upon a suspect classification such a fundamental change that it can only be accomplished by revising the California Constitution, either through a constitutional convention or by a measure passed by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature and approved by the voters? (Cal. Const., art. XVIII.)

For reasons elaborated below, I conclude that requiring discrimination against a minority group on the basis of a suspect classification strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution and thus "represents such a drastic and far-reaching change in the nature and operation of our governmental structure that it must be considered a 'revision' of the state Constitution rather than a mere 'amendment' thereof." (Amador Valley Joint Union High Sch. Dist. v. State Bd. of Equalization (1978) 22 Cal.3d 208, 221 (Amador Valley).) The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry that this court recognized in the Marriage Cases, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities. It weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority. I therefore dissent."

Me, too.

Pressuring Obama To Not Flip Flop on DOMA

Joe.My.God is reporting about a new way to pressure President Obama to live up to his campaign promises to the LGBT community and work hard to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act called Operation Doma Flip Flop.

The campaign's press release says:
A national grassroots effort has been released on May 18, 2009 known as the DOMA Flip Flop campaign. Endorsing organizations include Join The Impact , Change.org , Join The Impact MA , and the Cambridge Democratic City Comittee . Organizers are asking participants to print out a ‘flip flop card’ with the the statement, “President Obama, please don’t flip flop on DOMA!” on it. Participants are asked to mail the ‘flip flop card’ to the White House from now until President Obama makes his decision on the DOMA lawsuit.

A President has the authority to not defend a Congressional law that is unconstitutional on its face. Past Presidents have exercised this right ranging from Ronald Reagan in the case of INS v. Chadha (1983) to George Bush Sr. in Metro Broadcasting v. Federal Communications Commission (1990) and Bill Clinton in Dickerson v. United States (2000). There is no clearer example of a blatantly unconstitutional law than DOMA which President Obama himself has called an “abhorrent law” and that its repeal is “essential”.

“President Obama, the defense of this discriminatory and archaic law will be tantamount to nothing short of a flip flop from your previously stated intentions. We’re asking you Mr. President, to take a principled stand for equality under the law and be the bold leader that we voted into office.” said Paul Sousa, creator of the DOMA flip flop campaign.

There is also a Washington Post editorial urging President Obama to take the very same action, “President Obama is on record opposing DOMA. Although the Justice Department typically defends acts of Congress in court, Mr. Obama should ask his legal advisers to determine whether they, like the plaintiffs, believe DOMA as applied in this case is unconstitutional. If so, Mr. Obama should consider whether this is one of those rare instances where the Justice Department declines to defend a law.”
The Obama Administration has until June 22 to respond in court to GLAD's lawsuit. Many people are watching the administration's actions very closely on this and other campaign promoises to the LGBT community.

The President is in Los Angeles today attending a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Beverly Hills Hilton.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MadProfessah Statement On Prop 8 Ruling

Fan of MadProfessah.com, Lisa Derrick of La Figa interviewed me immediately after today's press conference with several of the plaintiffs in Strauss v. Horton, which I emceed in my capacity as Board President and co-founder of the Jordan/Rustin Coalition, the only Black LGBT political organization in Southern California, and posted the video:



Spanish-Language Version of Courage Campaign Ad

CA-GOV: 2010 Republican Candidates Statements on Prop 8 Ruling

There have been dozens of statements and press reactions to the California Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8 today. Two statements that I am very interested in as a Californian voter were made by the leading Republican candidates for Governor.

Current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made the following statement about the Proposition 8 ruling today:

"While I believe that one day either the people or courts will recognize gay marriage, as governor of California I will uphold the decision of the California Supreme Court. Regarding the 18,000 marriages that took place prior to Proposition 8's passage, the court made the right decision in keeping them intact. I also want to encourage all those responding to today's court decision to do so peacefully and lawfully.
Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for governor, today issued the following statement on the California State Supreme Court Proposition 8 ruling:
"I believe the California State Supreme Court made the right decision. Last November, the people of California passed Proposition 8, and today the Court upheld their decision. This simple yet powerful fact is the foundation of our democracy. Regardless of one’s position on the measure, this ruling gives people confidence that their vote matters and can make a difference."
California Insurance Commissioner and Republican candidate for Governor Steve Poizner issued the following statement today:

"The California Supreme Court took the appropriate action today in upholding the will of the people by affirming Proposition 8. The people of California have spoken. They voted decisively that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. That is also my personal view.

"There was much more at stake today than even the issue of gay marriage, as important and emotional as it is for so many people on both sides of the issue. If the Court had overturned Proposition 8, it would have had set a terrible legal precedent, divided Californians even further, undermined support for the judiciary and state government itself while serving as a tremendous blow to the fundamental American concept of government of the people, by the people and for the people.

"Regardless of which way the Court ruled today, a particularly shameful element of this issue has been the Attorney General's unethical abandonment of his legal responsibility to the people of California. It is no surprise that Jerry Brown politicized and abused his latest position in an unprecedented way in order to play political catch-up with Gavin Newsom.

"As Governor, Brown opposed marriage for gay Californians. As a candidate for Attorney General, Jerry Brown refused to publicly support gay marriage. But once Gavin Newsom gained the upper hand on the issue with Democratic primary votes, Brown used his office as the state's lawyer to suddenly become an advocate of gay marriage and attempt to subvert the twice expressed will of the people of California. As he enters the fifth decade of his political career, Jerry Brown seems determined to go down in history as the man who was on more sides of more issues than any other California politician."
Note that Poizner attacks both Newsom and Brown for their position on marriage equality while ignoring Antonio Villaraigosa completely. (The Los Angeles Mayor's reaction is here.) It is very clear that the Governor's race in 2010 will be a proxy fight about marriage equality.

Courage Campaign Video To Repeal Prop 8

Text of CA Supreme Court Upholding Prop 8

S168047

Hat/tip to Jeremy as GoodAsYou

East LA rally against Prop 8

The Latino Equality Alliance organized a rally in East LA in response
to today's decision upholding Proposition 8.

Judy Chu at East LA Prop 8 Rally

CA Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8 and My Marriage

The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 by a vote of 6-1 and upheld the estimated 18, 000 same-sex marriages unanimously.

MadProfessah hosted the lead press conference in Los Angeles with reactions from the plaintiffs in Strauss v. Horton, the lawsuit to strike down Proposition 8.

I'll have more on this later.

Obama Nominates First Latina To Supreme Court


President Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the US Supreme Court. From FirstRead:

She currently serves on the Second Circuit in New York and was appointed to that position by Bill Clinton. BUT she was appointed to her first federal court appointment by President George H.W. Bush… She checks lots of boxes: Woman. Hispanic. Empathy… While working for the famed Robert Morgenthau in the New York District Attorney's office in the early 1980s, she described herself as a "liberal.”… Also has drawn criticism for saying in 2005: “All of the legal defense funds out there they're looking for people with court of appeals experience because it is-- court of appeals is where policy is made." She tried to backtrack, but conservatives are already rallying to defeat her based on this. Other bio information: Child of parents born in Puerto Rico... Grew up speaking mostly Spanish... Raised in a public housing project in The South Bronx in the shadow of Yankee Stadium... Father died when she was 9... A diehard Yankees fan, she's credited as the judge who saved baseball, issuing an injunction that led the eventual settlement of the 1990s-era Major League Baseball strike... Described by the New York Times in the early 1980s as an incessant smoker… Divorced from Kevin Edward Noonan in 1983 after seven-year marriage (no children). She left the NY District Attorney's office a year later and went into private practice... Graduated summa cum laude in 1976 from Princeton after winning a scholarship to the school... Earned her law degree from Yale in 1979, where she edited the Law Review.
Big day for court reporters today. The Prop 8 ruling is coming down at 10am PDT from the California Supreme Court.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Eye Candy: Brandon Perry





Smoking hot Brandon Perry was a "gratuitous skin" model at Queerty recently. Happy Memorial Day Holiday!

Black Marine General Astronaut to Head NASA

President Barack Obama has selected Major Charles Bolden to be the Administrator of NASA. Bolden, 62, is a Brigadier General of the Marines and has also been into space four times, twice as commander of Shuttle missions, inluding the one that put the Hubble Telescope into orbit in 1990. He would be the first African American and second austronaut to head the space agency.

(Hat/tip to Maybe, it's just me)

Top 10 Movies of 2008


Last year's list of the Top 10 (MadProfessah-reviewed) movies of 2007 was release on January 1, 2008 but the year before the list of Top 10 movies for 2006 was not released until March 6, 2007, a week after the Oscars were announced. However this year I have been so busy that I didn't see all the Oscar nominated movies until mid-March and couldn't complete my best movies of 2008 until the spring semester was over!

I want my Top 10 to be of the movies released in 2008, although in general I think it is probably a better idea to probably just do a Top 10 of the movies that I saw in 2008 (that were released domestically that year). Anyway, (finally) here is my Top 10 movies for 2008:

10. Doubt / The Reader. Featuring the two best performances by female actresses in 2008, Doubt and The Reader were basically vehicles for sceneet-chewing turns by Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet, respectively. Only one of them could win, and I do believe the best woman took home the Oscar.

9. Sex and the City. Like a two-and-a-half hour long version of a Sex in the City episode. If you're a fan, this is a good thing. If you're not a fan, you won't enjoy this movie. Jennifer Hudson appears for no apparent reason, primarily as a Magic Negro. But Carrie looks fabulous throughout.

8. The Wrestler. .An absolutely shattering meditation on the unpredictability of life by former wunderkind director Darren Aronofsky (π, The Fountain) featuring an unforgettable physical transformation by Mickey Rourke who is plays a character whose life and unfortunate career arc uncomfortably mirror the actor's own life

7. The Class. A fascinating, faux documentary look at the French school system, seen through the prisms of race, immigration and class. As a professor, this film was incredibly engrossing and engagin.

6. The Visitor. This was a surprising find. I'm a huge fan of the incredibly handsome Arabic actor Haaz Sleiman who I knew was appearing in this little film written and directed by Tom McCarthy and starring the actor who played the patriarch of the Six Feet Under family in his first leading role. What I found was a heart-warming tale about immigration animated by Sleiman's 1000-watt smile.

5. The Dark Knight. Director Christopher Nolan put all the pieces of his prodigious talent together he had previously hinted at with Memento and The Prestige in this mega-blockbuster sequel that blew away critics and box-office records while containing a performance-of-a-lifetime by Heath Ledger.

4. Milk. I saw this film on opening day with a friend the day before Thanksgiving in Atlanta, Georgia and there were very few dry eyes in that (sparsely attended) matinee showing. Sean Penn's widely celebrated portrayal of the gay community's modern-day Martin Luther King, Jr. was a relevation which powered the film. However, it was Dustin Lance Black's Oscar-winning original screenplay that was the surprise, since the story of Harvey Milk's life had previously been covered in an award-winning documentary and a well-regarded book by Randy Shilts called The Mayor of Castro Street. However, Black's screenplay and Gus Van Sant's direction combined to create a masterpiece that will be long treasured.

3. WALL-E. Another Pixar masterpiece. The first (nearly completely dialogue free) forty-five minutes is pure cinematic bliss. The story of WALL-E is universal, timeless, ageless and nearly perfect. The only flaws are the inclusion of humans into the story in the second half of the film. Still, the sheer joy of storytelling comes through loud and clear.

2. Slumdog Millionaire. The winner of the Best Picture Oscar and basically the consensus pick for the best film of the year. I have been a longtime fan of Danny Boyle's work and the director produced his best work to date with this brilliant amalgam of Bollywood and Hollywood. At its core Slumdog is a love story, but it is also an exciting, breathtaking rollercoaster ride set in India.

1. Tell No One (Ne Le Dis A Personne). The most enjoyable time I spent at the movies all year was watching this incredibly suspenseful, well-written French thriller based on the Harlan Coben novel. In fact, this was the only movie that I saw twice in theaters during the year. The script is incredibly intricate, but although the film is in French with English subtitles one is never lost and one's attention is grabbed almost instantly from the first surprising scene. Although the actors are generally unknown French actors (apart from an amusing cameo of Kristin Scott Thomas as a lesbian sister-in-law of the central character)

Honorable Mentions: Iron Man, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bolt.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

First Black Female CEO (of Xerox) Named

This what the boss looks like

The New York Times pointed out yesterday that Ursula Burns is poised to become the first African American female chief executive of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox.

Even more interesting about Burns ascension to the top of the corporate ladder at Xerox is that it is the first time such a transition has occurred from one woman to another. The current CEO is Anne Mulcahy.
Ms. Mulcahy, 56, has spent 33 years at Xerox, working in roles that spanned sales, marketing and human resources. Ms. Burns, 50, is also a longtime Xerox veteran, having started as an engineering intern in 1980.

“They’re both insiders that sort of bleed toner, as it were,” said Steve Reynolds, an analyst with Lyra Research, which follows the printing and imaging industries.

As president, Ms. Burns has most recently been overseeing a large swath of Xerox’s operations. She has conducted meetings with investors and Wall Street analysts alongside Ms. Mulcahy as well.
You go, girl!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

WA and ME Face Referenda To Repeal LGBT Rights

Both Maine and Washington state may face public votes to repeal advances in LGBT equality this fall. In Maine, the recently enacted marriage equality law is subject to a People's Veto if enough signatures (55,087) are gathered to put the following question on the ballot:
"Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"
In Washington, the recently enacted comprehensive domestic partnership law could be prevented from going into effect on July 26th if enough signatures are collected to support a referendum with this question:
Statement of Subject: The legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 concerning rights and responsibilities of state-registered domestic partners [and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill].

Concise Description: This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.

Should this bill be:

Approved ___

Rejected ___
It will be interesting to see if there is an impact on the movement to repeal Proposition 8 in 2010 oe 2012 is impacted upon these two anti-gay ballot measures that may happen in 2009.

Press Release On Tuesday May 26 News Conference

(Los Angeles, May 22, 2008) — The California Supreme Court has announced
that it will rule Tuesday, May 26, 2009, on whether Proposition 8, passed
by a slim majority of voters on November 4 and eliminating the right of
same-sex couples to marry, was a valid amendment to the California
Constitution.

At 10:30 a.m. – approximately a half-hour after the expected posting of the
ruling – attorneys for plaintiff couples and community leaders will hold a
news conference to discuss the ruling and what it means for California’s
same-sex couples and their families, communities of color, and the future
of LGBT rights in California. Clergy members will deliver an invocation
at 9:45 a.m., shortly before the ruling is announced.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 26, 2009
9:45 a.m. Clergy Invocation

10:30 a.m. News Conference

WHERE: Lucy Florence Cultural Center
3351 W. 43rd Street, L.A., CA 90008

WHO:
Ron Buckmire, Jordan Rustin Coalition
Jenny Pizer, Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director and Co-counsel, Strauss v. Horton
Mark Rosenbaum, Legal Director, ACLU of Southern California
Rocky Delgadillo, City Attorney of Los Angeles
Nancy Ramirez, Western Regional Attorney, MALDEF

Rev. Eric Lee, President/CEO, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of
Southern California
Marc Solomon, Equality California (organizational plaintiff in Strauss v.
Horton)
Jorge Amaro, Latino Equality Alliance

Doreena Wong, API Equality

Lorri L. Jean, CEO, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center

Gay rights groups filed Strauss v. Horton, challenging Proposition 8, on
November 5. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the
ACLU, representing six couples and Equality California, argued that the
radical change attempted by Proposition 8 amounts to a “revision” of the
California Constitution that cannot be accomplished by a simple majority
vote of the electorate unless first approved by a two-thirds vote of both
houses of the Legislature. Civil rights groups representing people of
color and other minority groups joined the challenge because of a shared
concern about protecting the constitutional guarantee of equality.

Local couples and community leaders will be available in English, Spanish,
Chinese and Korean for one-on-one interviews.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Decision Day is Tue May 26

The California Supreme Court has issued a statement that it will be
releasing its ruling on Proposition 8 on Tuesday May 26th.

Go to htttp://www.decisionday.org for more info.

Sent from my iPhone 3G!

Celebrity Friday: Judy Shepard

Judy Shepard, the mother of Mathew Shepard, for whom S. 909, the Mathew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act is named, met with President Barack Obama in the White House on Wednesday May 20th.

The U.S. House of Representatives version of the bill, H.R. 1913, passed that body on April 29th by a vote of 249-175.

The White House released the photo and urged the Senate to act quickly on the pending legislation so the President could sign it into law.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eye Candy: Edilson Nascimento



Hot dayum. Edilson Nascimento is probably the sexist man alive. Thank goodness, today is my birthday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No Prop 8 Ruling Thu May 21: Only 3 Dates Left!

Joe.My.God posted this screen shot of the California Supreme Court website indicating that despiite all the rumors to the contrary, there will not be a decision in the Proposition 8 case tomorrow,

That being said, it leaves only three potential dates for what LGBT activitsts are calling DecisionDay:
 TUESDAY MAY 26TH
THURSDAY MAY 28TH
MONDAY JUNE 1ST

The Justices have until Wednesday June 3rd to release their decision, becase if they don't issue a decision within 60 days of oral argument (Thursday March 4th) then they don't get paid their salaries! (It's in the State Constitution.)

Thus there's a 2 to 1 chance that Meet in the Middle will be happening in Fresno, CA next weekend.

Why Elections Matter: Chief Justice Robert's New Yorker Profile


kos over at Daily Kos highlights this key graf from Jeffrey Toobin's profile of Chief Justice John Roberts in the latest New Yorker
After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.
Thanks, John Kerry! But if we didn't have Bush's second term we probably wouldn't have Obama's first term and Democratic control of the US House and Senate.

But this also highlights why Obam's choice to replace Justice David Souter is so important.

2010 or 2012? When Should We Repeal Prop 8?

Several LGBT organizations, Equality California, HONOR PAC, Marriage Equality USA as well as Courage Campaign are surveying their members to ask them whether they support going back to the ballot in 2010 or 2012 (if the California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8).


For example, here is EQCA's email:

1. EQCA Member Survey - Input to Possible Ballot Initiative and Future Campaign

 
If the state Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8... should EQCA support going back to the ballot to restore marriage equality to California in 2010 or 2012?

Some arguments for placing a marriage equality initiative on the ballot in 2010:

:: We should take advantage of the powerful grassroots activism that has emerged following the passage of Prop 8 by going back sooner rather than later. That energy will dissipate if we wait until 2012.

:: By November 2010, we will have full marriage equality in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and very likely in New York and New Jersey. Given these developments, Californians should not wait beyond 2010 to try and restore the right to marry.

:: In November 2010, the top of the Democratic ticket - the gubernatorial candidate - will support overturning Prop 8 and restoring the right to marry. In 2012, it's questionable whether President Obama will take that position.

Some arguments for placing a marriage equality initiative on the ballot in 2012:

:: We have hundreds of thousands of voters to convince on the issue of marriage equality. Even if we work our hardest, it will take three-plus years to do that work.

:: On this issue, time is on our side. By 2012, an even greater number of voters will have come our way. So why risk it in 2010 when we probably have a better chance in 2012.

:: We will once again need tens of millions of dollars to run a strong campaign. Given the state of today's economy and the fact that people just gave so much to the No on 8 campaign, we should wait before going right back to the ballot. 
 When do you think we should go back to the ballot box?
I voted for 2012. I am fine with either date, but I think we need to have three conditions met before our community can be assured of winning a prospective vote on marriage equality:
1. Multiple polls showing support for marriage equality above 50% taking into account the margin of error
2. Three to Five Million Dollars in the bank to support the effort on Day One
3. A detailed, written plan describing the campaign committee structure with functions clearly designated and an explicit chain of command for decision making.
Please make your thoughts known!

Voters Say NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, YES to Propositions

California voters said to the Governor and Legislature yesterday, we really, really, really don't like you, and rejected all five of the budgeting propositions and approved the one proposition which had almost no budget impact but prohibits legislative pay raises when budgets are not completed.

CA-32: Judy Chu Wins Primary Election!

MadProfessah-endorsed candidate Judy Chu won the hotly contested Primary for the Democratic Nomination for the 32nd Congressional District to represent the seat vacated by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. With 100% of precincts reporting Chu leads Gil Cedillo by 4,124 votes, 31.9% to 23.38%, a margin which is less votes than 26-year-old Emmanuel Pleitez received (6,509).

Amusingy, Judy Chu will face Republican Betty Chu in the runoff election, set for mid July. However, in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, Judy Chu is assured to become the first Asian American Congresswoman to represent Los Angeles County.

Congrats to Judy and all my friends who worked on the campaign. Go sleep. You did good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WA-Gov: Gregoire Statement on Signing DP Bill

Rich Roesler / The Spokesman-Review

As expected, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5688 into law on Monday, and released the following statement:

SEATTLE – At a ceremony in Seattle today, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5688, which ensures that under state law state-registered domestic partners are treated the same as married spouses.

“Today we are strengthening Washington by strengthening families,” Gregoire said. “From the first bill I signed in 2007 to today’s bills, we have proudly made immeasurable strides on behalf of LGBT individuals and families. This represents the culmination of incredible work to treat all Washingtonians equally.”

In 2007, Substitute Senate Bill 5336 created the state domestic partnership registry. The legislation allows individuals to enter into a state domestic partnership if they meet established criteria. Some of the powers and rights of spouses were granted to domestic partnerships in that legislation.

The Legislature passed, and Gregoire signed, House Bill 3104 in 2008, which added additional rights and responsibilities relating to issues such as dissolutions, community property, estate planning, taxes, court process, conflicts of interest for public officials and guardianships.

“Many brave families have come forward to share their lives, their struggles and their moments of joy – hard-working men and women who are in committed relationships, raising children, attending their places of worship, and volunteering in their communities,” Gregoire said. “After meeting these families, people have come to know that lesbian and gay families are no different than their own. And what has naturally followed is the unsettling notion that despite the sameness of straight couples and gay and lesbian couples, there are, in fact, legal barriers that prevent the same treatment.”

This new legislation requires state agencies to ensure that all privileges, immunities, rights, benefits, or responsibilities granted to married individuals are granted to an individual who is or was in a state registered domestic partnership.

“There can be no question that the landscape of equality for gay and lesbian families is changing, here and across the nation,” said Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle), who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “Today, eleven years after our state established the intolerance of DOMA into law, Washington law will finally treat gay and lesbian families the same as married couples. Recently, Iowa and Vermont have legalized full marriage equality. Of course, marriage equality is the final goal for gay and lesbian families here in Washington too. We will pursue full equality, but with our full but cautious commitment.”

“This bill is about protecting families – mine and over 5,300 others in 278 cities and towns across Washington state,” said Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), who sponsored the bill in the House. “Making sure that all Washington families enjoy the full and equal protection of the law strengthens our whole community.”

Gregoire also signed House Bill 1445, which permits domestic partners to receive the survivor and death benefits available to spouses from the Washington State Patrol Retirement System and House Bill 1616 to provide qualified domestic partners the same pension and Public Employees’ Benefits Board reimbursement benefits available to spouses of members of Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System Plan 2. These include retirement and disability survivor benefits, military service credit benefits, and withdrawal and annuity benefits paid upon a member’s death.

Congratulations to Washington state!

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