Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Food, Inc. is the most significant documentary that I have seen since two health care documentaries from 2007 called Salud and Michael Moore's Sicko.
Instead of health care, this year's amazing non-fiction film is about another of life's necessities: food.
Directed by Robert Kenner and featuring Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, two of the most influential talking heads on food issues in the public eye.
There are some hard to watch scenes in Food, Inc. as well as lots of very important information.
This movie will change the way you look at food, which will change the way you live your life. As with all important documentaries (and films, for that matter) the impact of spending time to watch Food, Inc. is felt for much longer durations than then event itself.
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some thematic material and disturbing images.
OVERALL GRADE: A+.
The Struggle for Marriage Equality:
What I’ve Learned on the Front Lines
Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick
Sunday, August 2
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Home of Danny Gibson and Bill Weinberger
829 Keniston Avenue
Sponsored by the Jordan/Rustin Coalition, Equality California Institute,
and the Liberty Hill Foundation
Optional contributions to the Jordan/Rustin Coalition encouraged
Please join us for a very special gathering Sunday August 2nd.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will join us for reflections and discussion on the struggle for marriage equality for same-sex couples. From his first day in office, Governor Patrick put his personal reputation and political capital on the line to protect marriage equality. His leadership allowed Massachusetts to avert a referendum fight similar to the Proposition 8 battle.
As only the second African-American governor elected since Reconstruction, and as the Clinton Administration’s assistant attorney general for civil rights, Governor Patrick will offer his unique perspective on the subject.
Please RSVP to Milton Davis: Milton@eqca.org
Governor Deval Patrick—Biography
Hoping for the best and working for it, as his grandmother used to counsel him, Deval Patrick’s life has traced a trajectory from the South Side of Chicago to the U.S. Justice Department, Fortune 500 boardrooms, and now the Massachusetts State House, where he was elected Governor in 2006, one of only two African-Americans elected governor since Reconstruction.
Having grown up in poverty on the South Side of Chicago, Patrick was selected to attend boarding school at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and then went on to Harvard, the first in his family to attend college. After spending a post-graduate year working on a United Nations youth training project in the Darfur region of Sudan, Patrick returned to Harvard where he earned his J.D. in the fall of 1979.
Following law school, Patrick served as a law clerk to a federal appellate judge before joining the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and later the Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow. In 1994, President Clinton appointed Patrick Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, the nation's top civil rights post, where he worked on a wide range of issues, including prosecution of hate crimes and abortion clinic violence, and enforcement of employment discrimination, fair lending and disabilities rights laws. During his tenure, Patrick led the largest federal criminal investigation before September 11th, coordinating state, local and federal agencies to investigate church burnings throughout the South in the mid-1990s.
In 2001, Patrick joined The Coca-Cola Company as Executive Vice President and General Counsel. He was elected to the additional role of Corporate Secretary in 2002, and served as part of the company's senior leadership team as a member of the Executive Committee.
As governor, Deval Patrick has done more to advance equality for LGBT people than any other chief executive in the country. Immediately after his election, Governor Patrick expended tremendous political capital to persuade legislators to vote down a ballot initiative to undo marriage equality. Without his unwavering leadership, Massachusetts would have faced a referendum fight similar to the Proposition 8 battle.
In addition to marriage equality, Governor Patrick has been a pioneer on health care reform, ensuring Massachusetts’ lowest-in-the-nation rate of uninsured people. He also has championed clean energy laws; passed and implemented an historic Life Science Initiative; and extended the buffer zone to protect the safety of women seeking reproductive health services. Among the cadre of governors, Governor Patrick is one of President Barack Obama’s most trusted advisors and closest confidantes.
Diane and Deval Patrick have been married for over twenty-five years and have two adult daughters, Sarah and Katherine. In June of 2008, with her father by her side, Katherine—then 18—came out of the closet publicly. The next weekend, Deval, Diane and Katherine marched together in Boston Pride.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a budget revision bill on Tuesday that filled a $26 billion gap and also managed to slash important services to the most vulnerable populations in California.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said:
“It’s a shame Governor Schwarzenegger is so eager to tear down the safety net that he appears willing to break the law to do it. I am asking Legislative Counsel for a definitive opinion on the legality of the governor’s actions. The cuts the governor made today will have catastrophic effects on children, domestic abuse victims, and seniors. The cuts the governor made today have broken the lifeline to the state’s most vulnerable and underserved. WeAIDS Project Los Angeles said:
sent the governor budget solutions that solved the deficit. He knows
that. He knows we pledged to work with him on building up the reserve in
August. He knows all that and still chose to take punitive measures
against children and AIDS patients. It wasn’t too long ago when a 24
year old woman born with HIV pleaded with Legislators not to adopt the
Governor’s proposal to eliminate the program that provides the drugs that
keep her alive. It wasn’t too long ago when a disabled woman, needing
both the assistance of a wheel chair and oxygen, pleaded to stay out of a
nursing facility in the event her in-home assistance would be eliminated by the Governor.
"More than just short-sighted, these cuts are lethal," said APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson. "We are now poised to reverse more than a decade of progress toward fighting AIDS in California."
The Governor's signed budget includes the elimination of state general fund support for all HIV/AIDS programs except HIV epidemiology and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) -- a total reduction of more than $85 million. This leaves California’s Office of AIDS with only 20 percent of its funding for programs like HIV education and prevention, HIV counseling and testing, home health and early intervention.
"If the ultimate goal is to save money, this budget fails even on that account," Thompson said. "The state will pay dearly in healthcare costs as newly and needlessly infected Californians enter a system that is incapable of providing even basic care."
"Los Angeles County has the second largest AIDS epidemic in the country," Thompson continued. "California was, until today, a model for other states nationwide in HIV/AIDS care and treatment.
"Local health jurisdictions will now be forced to slash other vital programs in order to make up for the state cuts," Thompson explained. "Food, medical transportation, home health -- everything is threatened."
"This is nothing short of a public health disaster," he added. "State leaders must go back to the table and find viable solutions that will not destabilize these vital services.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
In the hurly-burly of the California budget debacle it may not have been noticed that Governor Schwazrenegger signed into law Republican Assemblymember Tony Strickland's SB 63 which eliminated the only majority LGBT state board in the country.
The board, which directs a 450-member, $235 million state operation, regulates the permitting and inspections of nearly 300 landfills across the state that handle some 42 million tons of garbage annually, and has a number of recycling programs.Things that make you go hmmmm.
Schwarzenegger has said elimination of the board was at the top of his priority list. "That's on the top of the list - the most absurd one because it costs the most money because people are sitting there with $132,000, or whatever, salaries," Schwarzenegger said last month in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.
But others say the move is more posturing than substance, and that placing the board's functions within a new state department will cost more than it saves.
Critics note that the board's operations are covered by trash and recycling fees from the sale of new tires, tonnage fees from landfills, motor-oil sales and the sale of new TVs and computer monitors, which alone bring in about $100 million annually, and that eliminating the panel will have little or no impact on the strapped General Fund. They believe Schwarzenegger has focused on the board in part to divert attention from cuts he's supported in public education and social services, among others.
An internal government analysis of the board's elimination reviewed by Capitol Weekly showed that the elimination might save $2 million to $3 million annually in salaries and benefits for board members, among other things. "However, any savings would be lost and a fiscal impact of several million (dollars) would be observed for several years by transferring the newly created (department) from the Cal-EPA to the Natural Resources Agency."
The nomination should come to a full vote next week, before the Senate goes on a month-long summer holiday without passing a health care bill.
Interestingly, today MadProfessah will be spending some time with one of Sotomayor's rivals for the Supreme Court nomination, California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. Moreno, you will recall is the only Democrat on the state Supreme Court and was also the only vote to strike down Proposition 8 on the Court. Despite that, Justice Moreno made it to President Obama's short list to fill the David Souter vacancy.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
A blog for the San Francisco Chronicle came out fairly quickly after Saturday's statewide LGBT "Leadership Summit" in San Bernardino, California with the results of a non-binding straw poll about when the LGBT community wants to return to the ballot to repeal Prop 8: "93 people voted to go in 2010, 49 in 2012 and 20 undecided."
I was there. The count's accurate but it's far from the whole story. What really happened was that a vote was taken around 5:00pm - an hour after the meeting was supposed to end and a good number of people had left - and 93 people voted for 2010 and 69 opposed that idea. The count was justified as being taken among those who cared enough to show up in San Bernardino in late July ("sweltering" is one word that comes to mind) and stay until the bitter end.
Let's look at the demographics.
At its height, the over-heated church hall was filled with about 250 grassroots activists, mostly from the San Diego and Los Angeles area - a point loudly noted by leaders from Northern California who were receiving text messages from friends watching the Unite the Fight streaming video. Their online votes on a question just prior to the straw poll about how to best create a campaign structure had been discounted.
Additionally, before the two votes, when the room was about at 200 people, I counted the number of people of color and came up with 37. I asked both a grassroots activist and an "institutional" leader - stretching the number to 40 in case I missed a couple of people in the way back or outside - and they both independently concurred.
So while the straw poll accurately reflects the wishes of that late audience, the 162 people whose votes were counted do not necessarily reflect the wishes of the California LGBT community.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Well, well! The New York Times has finally gotten around to covering the internal debate in the LGBT community over when a measure to repeal Proposition 8 should be on the ballot: November 2010 or November 2012?
Marc Solomon, marriage director for Equality California, said he spent June and early July asking the opinions of nearly two dozen California political consultants and pollsters and had been surprised by the almost unanimous opinion that a 2010 race was a bad idea.The article even quotes from the original Prepare to Prevail statement, which you read here first at MadProfessah.com over two weeks ago:
“I expected having watched the protests and the real pain that the L.G.B.T. community had experienced that there would be some real measurable remorse in the electorate,” Mr. Solomon said, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “But if you look at the poll numbers since November, they really haven’t moved at all.”
A major factor in any California balloting, of course, is money; campaigns here are remarkably expensive, with a number of costly media markets. The Proposition 8 campaign, for example, cost more than $80 million, with opponents spending some $43 million.
Sarah Callahan, chief operating officer of the Courage Campaign, a 700,000-member advocacy group in Los Angeles, told the gathering on Saturday that the two critical elements to persuade donors were organization and a winning plan. “No one is going to invest in chaos,” Ms. Callahan said, adding, “The money will come if you can show you can win.”
John M. Cleary, president of a Los Angeles group called the Stonewall Democratic Club, said many younger activists were particularly eager to fight Proposition 8. “I find the language of some of the organizations really self-defeating,” Mr. Cleary said. “And I think we have a moral obligation to overturn this.”
But some national leaders are dismissive of such arguments.
“A slapdash effort based on wishful thinking, rosy scenarios, and passion, is not enough to win on,” said Hans Johnson, a board member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Under California law, language for a 2010 proposition would need to be submitted to the secretary of state by late September, and then some 700,000 signatures gathered to qualify for the ballot.
Opponents of the 2010 campaign say that window is simply too small to change the opinions of enough voters to win, including groups in which Proposition 8 was popular, like African-Americans, religious conservatives and the elderly.
“What we’ve learned is that yes, you can change hearts and minds, but it takes time, focused energy, and money,” said Matt Foreman, the program director of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, a frequent donor to gay rights causes. “And once a measure is on the ballot and the campaign begins, its almost impossible to change anyone’s mind, because people are being bombarded with lies.”
The argument against 2010 was expressed by a new coalition of groups known as Prepare to Prevail, which announced in a statement on July 13 that going back to the ballot next year “would be rushed and risky.”As I told y'all on Saturday MadProfessah spent most of the day in lovely San Bernardino, where I addressed the crowd as part of a presentation of alternatives to going to to ballot in 2010 representing the Prepare to Prevail coalition. The picture at the top of this post captures me in mid-thought and is by intrepid lesbian reporter Karen Ocamb.
“We should proceed with a costly, demanding and high-stakes electoral campaign of this sort only when we are confident we can win,” the statement read.
The issue of timing has increasingly divided gay rights advocates, with larger, more established groups seemingly favoring a more cautious approach and grass-roots groups — some of them formed since the November election — more vocal in support of a quick return to the polls.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
This number is from Saturday; Sunday's numbers have Obama at 29 to 20 (-11).
Saturday, July 25, 2009
There's a statewide leadership summit in San Bernadino today, where the issue of when and how to go back to the ballot to restore marriage equality in California will be hotly debated.
The summit is from 10am to 4pm at:
The First Congregational United Church of Christ, San Bernardino 3041 N. Sierra Way, San Bernardino, CA 92405.Check my Twitter feed for updates: http://www.twitter.com/madprofessah
Friday, July 24, 2009
THE PRESIDENT: If you got to do a job, do it yourself. (Laughter.)
I wanted to address you guys directly because over the last day and a half obviously there's been all sorts of controversy around the incident that happened in Cambridge with Professor Gates and the police department there.
I actually just had a conversation with Sergeant Jim Crowley, the officer involved. And I have to tell you that as I said yesterday, my impression of him was that he was a outstanding police officer and a good man, and that was confirmed in the phone conversation -- and I told him that.
And because this has been ratcheting up -- and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up -- I want to make clear that in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically -- and I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sergeant Crowley.
I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station. I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted as well. My sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved.
The fact that it has garnered so much attention I think is a testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America. So to the extent that my choice of words didn't illuminate, but rather contributed to more media frenzy, I think that was unfortunate.
What I'd like to do then I make sure that everybody steps back for a moment, recognizes that these are two decent people, not extrapolate too much from the facts -- but as I said at the press conference, be mindful of the fact that because of our history, because of the difficulties of the past, you know, African Americans are sensitive to these issues. And even when you've got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the African American community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding.
My hope is, is that as a consequence of this event this ends up being what's called a "teachable moment," where all of us instead of pumping up the volume spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity. Lord knows we need it right now -- because over the last two days as we've discussed this issue, I don't know if you've noticed, but nobody has been paying much attention to health care. (Laughter.)
I will not use this time to spend more words on health care, although I can't guarantee that that will be true next week. I just wanted to emphasize that -- one last point I guess I would make. There are some who say that as President I shouldn't have stepped into this at all because it's a local issue. I have to tell you that that part of it I disagree with. The fact that this has become such a big issue I think is indicative of the fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society. Whether I were black or white, I think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive -- as opposed to negative -- understandings about the issue, is part of my portfolio.
So at the end of the conversation there was a discussion about -- my conversation with Sergeant Crowley, there was discussion about he and I and Professor Gates having a beer here in the White House. We don't know if that's scheduled yet -- (laughter) -- but we may put that together.
He also did say he wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his lawn. (Laughter.) I informed him that I can't get the press off my lawn. (Laughter.) He pointed out that my lawn is bigger than his lawn. (Laughter.) But if anybody has any connections to the Boston press, as well as national press, Sergeant Crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass.
All right. Thank you, guys.
Hat/tip to DailyKosTV for the video.
Is that a problem for you? Not for me!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
At the end of Wednesday night's prime-time news conference that was intended to be chiefly about health care, Obama was asked about the incident, to which he responded: "I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that."Today, President Obama was asked about the controversy arising from his remarks last night and declined to modify or withdraw them.
But Obama went on to say, "I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact."
Obama acknowledged that Gates is a friend and that since he was not there, he cannot know exactly what role race may have played in the incident. He also acknowledged that the Cambridge police acted appropriately in initially responding to the call that a man was seen forcibly entering the Gates home
"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama said.The Cambridge police department and Officer Joseph Crowley who teaches a class on (how to avoid) racial profiling at a a local police adacdemy appear to disagree with the President:
In an exclusive interview with ABC's Terry Moran to air on "Nightline" tonight, Obama said it doesn't make sense to him that the situation escalated to the point that Gates was arrested.
"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," the president told Moran. "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion."
The president said he understands the sergeant who arrested Gates is an "outstanding police officer." But he added that with all that's going on in the country with health care and the economy and the wars abroad, "it doesn't make sense to arrest a guy in his own home if he's not causing a serious disturbance."
Asked about Obama's comment, Cambridge police commissioner Haas said that "this department is deeply pained."Somehow I don't think this story is going away anytime soon.
"It deeply hurts the pride of this agency," he told a news conference this afternoon at city police headquarters.
"Sergeant Crowley followed proper protocol and procedures in making the arrest," said Haas, describing Crowley as a "stellar member of this department. I rely on his judgment every day."
According to prosecutor Maeve Fox, McInerney faces up to 53 years in prison, if convicted.
The prosecutor has offered McInerney a plea of a reduced sentence of 25 years if he pleads guilty. McInerney's defense attorneys have said they will appeal the judge's ruling that the now-15-year-old should be tried as an adult for a crime he allegedly committed days after he turned 14.
The defense has also been criticized by LGBT organizations for attempting to use a form of the "gay panic" defense for McInerney's actions:
In the preliminary hearing, the defense suggested that McInerney had been sexually abused as a child. They said he felt threatened by King, who returned taunts from him and other boys with sexual overtures and declarations of love.If that's not an attempt to get "gay panic defense" admitted, then what is it?
At Wednesday's hearing, McInerney attorney Robyn Bramson summed up the defense strategy. In exasperation, she asked an investigator: "What if you talked to Brandon and he said, 'I did it because this kid was sexually harassing me and I felt panicked, freaked out and uncomfortable'?"
The judge ruled the question improper, and the investigator did not have to answer.
The judge also ruled that the special circumstance of "lying in wait" be added to the charges because the crime occurred 15 to 20 minutes in to a computer class on the morning of February 12, 2008. He also agreed that the crime should be classified as a hate crime.
Here's a transcript of his conversation with Soledad O'Brien:
O'BRIEN: You sort of had your own moment of truth over recent days. So I'd like to start with that. We know that you were on a lengthy trip to China and you were returning home. What exactly happened?
GATES: Well, I was filming my new documentary series for PBS called "Faces of Americans," it's about immigration. And we were filming Yo-Yo Ma's ancestral cemetery for a week in China. It was fantastic. And my daughter and I -- I took my daughter along. And we had just flown back from China.
I came from New York to Boston. And my driver picked me up. We got to my house in Harvard Square and the door was jammed. The door wouldn't open. And to make a long story short, I asked my driver just sort of to push the door through. I gave him his tip, he left.
I called Harvard Real Estate, which does the maintenance on my house because they own the house. And while I was on the phone, a Cambridge policeman showed up on my porch. I walked with the phone still active to my porch and he demanded that I step out of my house on to the porch.
That's all he said. He said, I would like to you step outside. I said, absolutely not. I said, why are you here? He said, I'm investigating a breaking and entering charge. I said, this is my house, I'm a Harvard professor, I live here.
He said, can you prove it? I said, just a minute. I turned my back. I walked into the kitchen to get my Harvard ID and my Massachusetts driver's license. He followed me without my permission. I gave him the two IDs and I demanded to know his name and his badge number.
O'BRIEN: And when you demanded that, what did he say?
GATES: He wouldn't say anything. He was just very upset. He was trying to figure out who I was. He was looking at the ID. He didn't say anything. And I said, why are you not responding to me? Are you not responding to me because you're a white police officer and I'm a black man?
He turned, walked out -- turned his back on me, walked out. I followed him on to my porch. It looked like a police convention, there were so many policemen outside. I stepped out on my porch and said, I want to know your colleague's name and his badge number.
And this officer said, thank you for accommodating my earlier request, you are under arrest. And he slapped handcuffs on me and they took me to jail.
O'BRIEN: Originally they put the handcuffs behind your back.
GATES: They put the handcuffs behind my back. And I told them that I was handicapped, I used a cane. They had a debate. There was a black officer there who was very sensitive. He persuaded them to move the handcuffs from around the back to the front. They took me to the Cambridge Police station and booked me, fingerprints, mug shot, which has now been all over the universe.
O'BRIEN: I've got to tell you, to see -- I mean, Professor Gates, I had him in college. And you know, to have that shot, your mug shot, it is quite a shock to see. What was that moment like for you?
GATES: It was terrifying. And I realized…
O'BRIEN: Were you afraid?
GATES: I knew that I was in danger but I knew, too, that as soon as my friends could get to jail, starting with Professor Charles Ogletree, who is my friend and lawyer, that eventually I would be OK.
But what it made me realize was how vulnerable all black men are, how vulnerable all people of color are and all poor people to capricious forces like a rogue policeman. And this man clearly was a rogue policeman.
O'BRIEN: The police report said he described you as behaving in a tumultuous manner.
GATES: Yes, look how tumultuous I am. I'm 5'7", I weigh 150 pounds. And my tumultuous, outrageous action, Tom, was to demand that he give me his name and his badge number. Soledad, why? Because if I had stepped out on the porch -- it is important for all people to know this about the police.
If I had stepped outside of my house, he couldn't come in my house legally without a warrant. He couldn't arrest me without a warrant. Had I stepped outside he would have slapped handcuffs on me for being under suspicion of breaking and entering because he was responding to a profile.
Two black men with backpacks were breaking and entering into my home. And when he see me, he just presumed that one of them was me.
O'BRIEN: A neighbor called 911. I mean, it was a neighbor of yours who said that description, two black men breaking into your house. Are you angry with your neighbor?
GATES: No. In fact I hope right now that if someone is breaking into my house this nice lady is calling the police. I have a lot of valuable art and books in that house. And in fact, I think I'm going to send this person some flowers. I hope she is watching. I know that she must be intimidated and she must think that I'm very angry.
It wasn't her fault. It was the fault of the policeman who couldn't understand a black man standing up for his rights right in his space. And that's what I did. And I would do the same thing exactly again.
O'BRIEN: The charges were dropped.
GATES: Charges were dropped and the mayor of Cambridge, God bless her, called me and apologized to me. And my lawyers and I are considering what further action. Because this is…
O'BRIEN: What does that mean? Does that mean lawsuit?
GATES: Perhaps. Because this is not about me. This is about the vulnerability of black men in America.
The latest news from the police officer Joseph Crowley is that he refuses to apologize and claims that he gave Professor Gates his identification information three times:
Though he harbors no “ill feelings toward the professor,” a calm, resolute Crowley said no mea culpa will be forthcoming.What do you think should happen next?
“I just have nothing to apologize for,” he said. “It will never happen.”
Attorney Charles Ogletree, Gates’ close friend and fellow Harvard savant, told the Herald, “It’s regrettable and unfortunate that the officer feels that way, and I do hope that some progress will be made in healing this wound.”
The Victory Fund has also endorsed Woods, as has MadProfessah.
From the press release (courtesy Pam's House Blend):
"The Human Rights Campaign is proud to endorse Anthony Woods, a veteran of the Iraq war and steadfast advocate for our community, to become the next U.S. Congressman from California's 10th district," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Anthony hasn't just shown his support on issues of LGBT equality, he's lived them -- especially the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Anthony's support of marriage equality will also be important as we work to repeal Proposition 8, which stripped marriage rights away for California's same-sex couples. There is no doubt that Anthony will be a role model for LGBT youth, and we applaud his continuing service to our country."
"Anthony Woods is an exciting candidate with a tremendous record of accomplishment. He's also running an impressive campaign. Anthony has assembled a solid campaign team that understands what it will take to win this extremely competitive race. We need more leaders like Anthony Woods in the U.S. Congress, so we are proud to endorse him," said Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. "His will be an authentic voice not only for the people of California's 10th Congressional District, but for the millions of Americans for whom the promise of equality remains unfulfilled."
"I am honored and proud to earn the support of Human Rights Campaign and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund," said Anthony Woods, candidate for California's 10th Congressional District. "They're working to make sure America lives up to its promise of equality under the law, which is something I'll fight for in Congress."
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
As you read this, we are closer than ever to passing comprehensive health insurance reform that benefits American families and small businesses. Despite all the back and forth in the news right now, it is important to understand just how far we've come in this challenging process.
That's why I'm holding a press conference tonight at 8pm ET, and writing to let everyone know where we are, what's ahead, and why health insurance reform is so important.
Let me be clear: although Congress is still debating parts of the legislation we have achieved critical consensus on several key areas:
If you already have health insurance: reform will provide you with more security and stability. It will limit your own out of pocket costs and prevent your insurance company from dropping your coverage if you get too sick. You'll also have affordable insurance options if you lose or change your job. And it will cover preventive care like check-ups and mammograms that save lives and money.
If you don't have health insurance: you will finally have guaranteed access to quality, affordable health care, and you can choose the plan that best suits your family's needs. And no insurance company will be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.
Now, I realize that the last few miles of any race are the hardest to run, but we can't stop now. There's no dispute about it: we cannot control our long-term fiscal health as a nation without health insurance reform. American families and small businesses understand that the health insurance status quo is taking away those things that they value most about health care. The stability and security that comes with knowing that you can get the treatment you need, when you need it. Without reform, we are consigning our children to a future of skyrocketing premiums and crushing deficits.
We have to seize this opportunity and pass health insurance reform this year. You can help by forwarding this email to your family and friends and letting them know what's at stake in this debate.
P.S. Tune in to tonight's press conference on health insurance reform at 8pm ET on WhiteHouse.gov.
Yesterday it was announced that all charges resulting from a bizarre incident in which he was arrested after being accused of breaking into his own house have been dropped against Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
However the aftermath of the incident is reverberating all over The Darker Nation, as Yale Law Professor Stephen Carter has named Black America.
Gates himself is speaking out, threatening a lawsuit against the city and offering free tutoring on the history of racism in America in exchange for an apology from the white police offer Joseph Crowley.
"We're not going to have a party," said Magazzu, 97, insisting they are too old for such things.
"Oh yes we are," responded Leto, 96, who noted the two can still polka. "This is a big one."
Indeed. A party celebrating 70 years together is a big deal for any pair. But a celebration of this couple's love takes on special meaning, considering they had to keep silent about it for decades.
"You just couldn't tell everyone we were lovers," said Leto. "You tell people we're friends, and some thought we were sisters."
Leto and Magazzu downplay their pioneering role in the gay and lesbian community. But many of their friends and relatives talk it up anyway, marveling at how their love was able to transcend a lifetime's worth of obstacles.
To mark their Aug. 17 milestone, members of Etz Chaim, a gay and lesbian congregation in Wilton Manors, are planning a party. They hope Leto and Magazzu will attend and show everyone how to do the polka.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Based on the research and data that is presently available, when do you recommend returning to the ballot to try to overturn Proposition 8: 2010, 2012, or other? On what do you base your conclusion?The consultants asked were
What do you believe are the most important steps that the LGBT community and its allies must take to prepare to return to the ballot?
None of the consultants advised moving forward in 2010 with a ballot measure to legalize gay marriage in California. You can read their full, multiple-page reports by clicking on their names highlighted above.
Here are some excerpts:
Many may feel that the environment is ripe because of the backlash that occurred after Prop 8 passed. I don’t want to discount this because I know the backlash was real. But we need the atmospherics to change quite a bit to secure a victory. By atmospherics I mean the external environment. We need to harness talent, draft the correct messaging, get all players together in one fluid group and ensure that the public is ready and willing and open to our cause before launching a campaign. I don’t see enough evidence of that at this point. If 2012 is the agreed upon target, there is time to
set a much more careful stage, there is the time to put the best possible organization in place and there is the time to do all of the incredible outreach it will take to build and hold the margin we will need.
I would not discount what is happening around us. The victories occurring in other states are a tremendous help to a future California win. Shouldn’t we be organizing financial support for the fight in Maine; sending donations and other resources to make sure that we help secure a victory and learn all the lessons there that can help us moving forward?
Finally, at the moment the California electorate is in a collective horrible mood. The last time I saw polling numbers on “Is California going in the right direction?” the Yes number was under 10%. Going to the ballot with a Yes campaign of any kind right now – while voters have been inundated with initiatives – especially on a subject that they have recently voted on – is a particular risk.
There are 66 weeks between July 25, 2009 and November 2, 2010.Richie Ross "does the math"
66 weeks is a very brief time to raise $40-50 million. Based on my experience fundraising, and looking at the remarkable fundraising success of the No on 8 campaign, I think the minimum immediate fundraising goals to be ready for 2010 – to see if we can get on track to raise $40-50 million -- would be $2 million by October 1, 2009, and $5 million by December 1, 2009. This represents roughly the cost of qualifying for the ballot and beginning to set up a campaign. This is much less than the average weekly amount we would need to raise over the 66 weeks ($600-700,000 each week, every week). But it would cover start-up costs and demonstrate some of the breadth of support necessary to assure donors we could get to the level reached in No on 8, and hopefully beyond it.
In most of these ballot measure campaigns on marriage, our community is put in a financially brutal position by our opposition, because they control the timetable. But we control the timetable now. Let’s use that advantage, and return to the ballot when we’re financially ready.
Since the latest research shows 60%-23% support for marriage equality among voters under-30 years of age, how many more of them will be “Likely Voters” in 2012?Mark Armour
In 2008…170,734 of 18/19-year-olds voted.In 2012, we will have a new batch of 18, 19, 20, and 21-year-olds that will add 515,875 new likely voters. If 60% of them vote with us and half of the “swing” voters join them, we can expect 353,374 NEW supporters among likely voters.
189,735 of 20-year-olds voted.
181,363 of 21-year-olds voted.
Our net growth (new voters with us minus new voters against us) will be 162,501.
At the same time, records indicate that about 110,000 older voters die each year. In 2012, 440,000 of the 2008 voters will have died. If we again apply the poll to that raw number, our natural opposition will shrink by 101,200 of total likely voters.
III. The Need for Time to Conduct Outreach and PersuasionSue Burnside
As the Binder/Simon poll shows, with so few voters persuadable, victory in the next initiative will also require the persuasion of soft opponents and “conflicted voters” instead of just undecided voters. That requires a coordinated field and outreach program that reaches hundreds of thousands of voters. In particular, as the Binder/Simon polling found, important targets are moderates, Democrats and Independents, and also Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian Pacific Islanders who are not evangelical/born-again and who attend church once a month or less. Moving conflicted voters
won’t happen overnight, and outreach to ethnic communities will be more successful over a three year period than over an abbreviated one year period.
IV. What needs to be done
So what needs to be done?
1. A decision needs to be made on moving forward on a specific ballot, and a campaign plan and team need to be put in
2. Fundraising must begin for initial outreach and education as well as for the campaign.
3. Outreach to soft, conflicted voters and ethnic communities must begin.
4. Media should be used to educate and reach out to voters in the time before the election. Based on the Binder/Simon polling, messages should show that gay and lesbian couples and their children have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else and that it is unfair to deprive them or their children of dignity, responsibility and security of marriage.
- The majority of California voters do not support same sex marriage. No ballot initiative has walked into Election Day without a 50% positive polling number and won in California.
- The California electorate is angry about the budget crisis and worried about the direction the country and state are headed. In this political climate, people tend to vote NO on ballot measures. We have to get a Yes vote!
- Given the national economy, California’s deep recession and the fact that few major donors have agreed to pledge large funds to an immediate rematch, it’s hard to see how we raise the $30-$40 million it would cost to run and win this campaign.
- The Governor’s race will be the top of the ballot in 2010. Some argue that all the Democratic candidates will favor marriage equality. But in a statewide run off in November, the Democrat nominee might not be an outspoken supporter, given that we only won 13 of 58 counties.
- Anti gay-marriage forces can get more people to vote in a low turnout environment than we can. If you look at the voters by age likely to vote in a 2010 election, people over 60 represent 37% of likely voters versus 27% in a 2012 general election. Our strength lies in getting young people to vote – in November 2012 voters under 30 will represent 20% of the electorate but in 2010 they will only represent 7% of the electorate. By 2012 there will be 776,000 new voters under 21 years old added to the voter rolls (our best group). On the other end of the age spectrum, there will be fewer older voters – more than 122,000 voters will die (the opposition’s most reliable voting bloc) Take a look at historic spreadsheet below.
- We would need to be prepared to get on the ballot in just two months (the deadline to submit language for the initiative is September 25, 2009 and have the full 150 days to circulate the petition). Any ballot campaign expert will tell you that having the exact right ballot language is often the difference between winning and losing. With just two months until the deadline for submitting ballot language, we may not have time to develop the strongest possible language.
- The current poll models a 2012 electorate as it stands today, but not fully reflecting where things will be in November 2012. You cannot poll future voters if they are not on the voter file. The 2% increase suggested by the polling is nothing to be laughed at but I believe given the inability to accurately gauge the real number without using the above information (new young voters and dying old voters), the increase would be closer to 4% for a 2012 election.
- Prop 8 lost in Los Angeles, the largest urban base. Our state map looks worse than the map that recalled Governor Gray Davis (Davis got 80% in SF County but we only got 75% -- this trend continues for all urban areas in the state). This highlights that urban areas have more people of color voters and we need to do organizing in order to get a larger percentage of the vote.
We recommend a multi-year campaign that culminates in an election when the time is right – when the numbers have moved enough to give you some assurance of success.Jill Darling
If you do UNSUCCESSFULLY undertake this issue at the ballot in 2010, this will further erode public support on the issue and make it harder for future efforts to succeed. And rather than looking at a 2012 fight, you may be forced to look at 2014, 2016 or beyond before a ballot victory would become viable. For these reasons, we recommend spending time and resources to lay the groundwork for a successful reversal of Proposition 8 when conditions are right.
Binder and Simon provided models of their findings based on projections of electorates in a gubernatorial election like 2010 and found marriage equality behind by four points (46% to 50%). In a presidential electorate projection for 2012, voters would split 47% favor to 48% opposed. If we allocate them using the exit poll estimates for late deciders, support for marriage equality could be at 48% right now among a 2010 electorate and 49% among voters in 2012. In other words, support for marriage equality is almost exactly where it was
a year and a half ago no matter how you model it, and opposition remains nearly as strong as it was last November, despite a hard-fought campaign and the emotional and intellectual discussion and media coverage in the aftermath of our loss.
Binder and Simon remind us that their models show what future elections could look like, if nothing other than electorate composition were different than it is now. The researchers pointed out in their Get Engaged presentation materials that other ballot measures and the top-of-ticket races have impact on voter turnout as well as on the composition of the electorate. From my own history of exit and pre-election polling I know that voter turnout
and the composition of the electorate are variables that we can model but cannot truly predict and there are other things that effect elections as well. Few would have foreseen Obama’s candidacy and its effect on the demographics of the electorate, on turnout, or on the issues that were being discussed, for example.
While thinking about this, I wondered what the vote on Proposition 8 might have been in an electorate that looked more like the voters of 2004. So I used demographics from the 2008 exit poll, PPIC’s 2008 December survey of general election voters, and demographics from the 2004 Los Angeles Times exit poll to put together a quick model. It shows that if voter turnout and demographic makeup had been more like it was in 2004 but the vote in
those demographic groups remained the same, support for Proposition 8 could have run two points higher.
The overall summary is that we need to start the work NOW to win marriage equality once and for all, as soon as we can.
From the Boston Globe's coverage:
The scene - two black men on the porch of a stately home on a tree-lined Cambridge street in the middle of the day - triggered events that were at turns dramatic and bizarre, a confrontation between one of the nation’s foremost African-American scholars and a police sergeant responding to a call that someone was breaking into the house.Professor Gates has released a short statement through his lawyer, Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree.
It ended when Gates, 58, was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct in allegedly shouting at the officer; he was eventually taken away in handcuffs.
But the encounter is anything but over. Some of Gates’s outraged colleagues said the run-in proves that even in a liberal enclave like Harvard Square, even with someone of Gates’s accomplishments, a black man is a suspect before he is a resident.
“It’s unbelievable,’’ said Lawrence Bobo, a Harvard sociologist who visited Gates at the police station last Thursday and drove him home after Gates posted the $40 bail. “I felt as if I were in some kind of surreal moment, like ‘The Twilight Zone.’ I was mortified. . . . This is a humiliating thing and a pretty profound violation of the kind of trust we all take for granted.’’
Neither Gates - who was named one of Time magazine’s most influential Americans in 1997 and now directs the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard - nor police would comment on the incident yesterday.
Gates’s lawyer and Harvard colleague, Charles Ogletree, said what angered his client was that the police officer stepped inside Gates’s Ware Street house, uninvited, to demand identification and question him.
Gates showed his Harvard identification and Massachusetts drivers license with his home address, Ogletree said, adding, “Even after presentation of ID, the officer was still questioning his presence.’’
Said Bobo: “The whole interaction should have ended right there, but I guess that wasn’t enough. The officer felt he hadn’t been deferred to sufficiently.’’
The Cambridge police report describes a chaotic scene in which the police sergeant stood at Gates’s door, demanded identification, and radioed for assistance from Harvard University police when Gates presented him with a Harvard ID. A visibly upset Gates responded to the officer’s assertion that he was responding to a report of a break-in with, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?’’
“Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was ‘messing’ with and that I had not heard the last of it,’’ the report said. “While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me.’’
When the officer repeatedly told Gates he would speak with him outside, the normally mild-mannered professor shouted, “Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside,’’ according to the report.
Gates was arrested after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior’’ toward the officer who questioned him, the report said.
What do you think should have happened?
As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there. The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard. Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet. The officer followed him. Professor Gates handed both his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver’s license to the officer. Both include Professor Gates’ photograph, and the license includes his address.
Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’ request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’ home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates. As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer’s colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request,” and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.
Professor Gates was taken to the Cambridge Police Station where he remained for approximately 4 hours before being released that evening. Professor Gates’ counsel has been cooperating with the Middlesex District Attorneys Office, and the City of Cambridge, and is hopeful that this matter will be resolved promptly. Professor Gates will not be making any other statements concerning this matter at this time.
Here's an excerpt:
The occasional suggestion that marriages between people of different sexes may somehow be threatened by marriages of people of the same sex does not withstand discussion. It is difficult to the point of impossibility to envision two love-struck heterosexuals contemplating marriage to decide against it because gays and lesbians also have the right to marry; it is equally hard to envision a couple whose marriage is troubled basing the decision of whether to divorce on whether their gay neighbors are married or living in a domestic partnership. And even if depriving lesbians of the right to marry each other could force them into marrying someone they do not love but who happens to be of the opposite sex, it is impossible to see how that could be thought to be as likely to lead to a stable, loving relationship as a marriage to the person they do love.It's really quite good. Go read the whole thing!
Moreover, there is no longer any credible contention that depriving gays and lesbians of basic rights will cause them to change their sexual orientation. Even if there was, the attempt would be constitutionally defective. But, in fact, the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians is as much a God-given characteristic as the color of their skin or the sexual orientation of their straight brothers and sisters. It is also a condition that, like race, has historically been subject to abusive and often violent discrimination. It is precisely where a minority's basic human rights are abridged that our Constitution's promise of due process and equal protection is most vital.
Countries as Catholic as Spain, as different as Sweden and South Africa, and as near as Canada have embraced gay and lesbian marriage without any noticeable effect -- except the increase in human happiness and social stability that comes from permitting people to marry for love. Several states -- including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont -- have individually repealed their bans on same-sex marriage as inconsistent with a decent respect for human rights and a rational view of the communal value of marriage for all individuals. But basic constitutional rights cannot depend on the willingness of the electorate in any given state to end discrimination. If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be no need for a constitution.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Here's the statement from The Task Force:
"As a state that has often served as a political and cultural trendsetter for the rest of the country, what happens in California has national significance for the LGBT movement. That's why for well over five years the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has devoted significant human and financial resources to winning the freedom to marry in California. This commitment remains steadfast as we continue to work on the ground in California with the Vote for Equality Project of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and Equality California to build effective models of person-to-person voter persuasion about marriage equality.This Saturday in San Bernardino there will be a statewide meeting at which attendees will be deciding on a process by which a decision will be made on whether to go to the ballot in 2010. According to the Secretary of State, the deadline for submission of proposed ballot language is September 25, 2009 in order to make it to the November 2010 election.
"We support the soonest possible return to the ballot box to repeal Prop. 8 that gives the LGBT community a fighting chance to win. The priorities expressed in 'Prepare to Prevail' are about the hard work it will take at the grassroots to move towards a solid victory, and we look forward to continued work with our partners in California to build a strong, diverse and successful campaign for marriage equality."
Before returning to the ballot, the Task Force believes it’s important to:
• Build solid majority support for the freedom to marry before returning to the ballot. Multiple polls have shown that support for marriage equality has remained flat since November 2008. The LGBT community will be in a stronger position to win if we’re defending, and not attempting to create in the midst of a campaign, majority support at the ballot box for the freedom to marry.
• Demonstrate a proven ability to move former Yes on 8 voters to support marriage equality. Both polling and real-world testing door-to-door have shown that following the public debate over Prop 8, many voters’ positions have hardened; consequently, few voters remain undecided about whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
• Develop persuasive messaging capable of moving former Yes voters that can also withstand vigorous campaigning from the opposition.
• Build a campaign infrastructure that’s able to raise the significant amount of money and recruit the army of volunteers needed to prevail. The LGBT community could measure its readiness to return to the ballot by establishing a set of benchmarks to be met, over time starting from now, for fundraising, volunteer recruitment and other campaign infrastructure goals.
More about the Task Force’s commitment to California
For more than five years, the Task Force Foundation and its sister organization, the Task Force Action Fund, have invested heavily toward winning the freedom to marry in California.
Throughout this period, the Task Force Foundation:
• Contributed combined grants of more than $130,000 to state and local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations, including Equality California and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, to launch statewide public education efforts in support of the freedom to marry.
• Held two Power Summits in California, one in 2005 and one in 2007, which trained more than 170 leaders and volunteers in fundraising, volunteer recruitment and speaking persuasively to promote the freedom to marry in California.
• Worked closely with Equality California to assist in assembling a coalition of more than 45 national, statewide and local organizations to support a statewide public education campaign promoting the freedom to marry known as Let California Ring.
• Continued our five-year partnership with the Vote for Equality Project of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center in early 2009 to provide ongoing support and technical assistance for its door-to-door canvass program promoting the freedom to marry. Task Force staffers are continuing to work with the project to organize a robust door-to-door canvassing program focused on persuading former Yes on 8 voters to support the freedom to marry. Additional staff are working with Equality California’s field director to recruit, hire and train several organizers to launch similar persuasion canvasses statewide.
Throughout this period, the Task Force Action Fund:
• Dedicated all Task Force Organizing & Training staff to work on the ground in California within the No on 8 campaign's field operation last year. The Task Force team assumed vital leadership roles by directing statewide, regional or local field offices.
• Organized the "Equality Calls" project in 2006, which recruited hundreds of volunteers across the state to call thousands of members of LGBT groups and progressive allies and educate them about the importance of the freedom to marry.
One of Boxer's key strategies for fending off interested challengers has been to raise money early in the cycle. As of March 31, the Boxer campaign had $4.6 million on hand, to a paltry $350,000 raised by DeVore at press time.MadProfessah endorses Barbara Boxer for re-election in 2010.
Fiorina, if she runs, could potentially match Boxer financially from her own deep pockets. As for the governor, Schwarzenegger once had the star power to match Boxer's draw, but apparently he lacks the will following several years of bruising budget fights in Sacramento.
The polls are also leaning heavily in Boxer's favor. The Field Poll in early March found Boxer leading Schwarzenegger 54 to 30 percent, up from an October 2007 survey from the same polling firm that had Boxer trailing, 43 to 44 percent.
Against Fiorina, the numbers are even better for the incumbent. Boxer lead Fiorina 55 percent to 25 percent in the March Field Poll.