Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gay Men On List Of New CA Legislators To Watch

There are twenty five newly elected members of the California Assembly that is being sworn in this week. MadProfessah fave John Perez is on the Sacramento Bee's list of five new members to watch.

AD 13 – Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco
San Francisco supervisor. Replaces Mark Leno, D-San Francisco
District: Part of San Francisco County
Main city: San Francisco

Tom Ammiano has been a fixture in San Francisco politics, serving on the Board of Supervisors since 1994, including a stint as president.
An unabashed liberal in an unabashedly liberal city, Ammiano faced only token Republican opposition in November.
Ammiano, who worked on San Francisco's universal health care law, said health care reform would be among his top priorities in Sacramento. A local priority, he said, is installing a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Politically, he is best known for the surprising strength of his write-in campaign for mayor when he challenged incumbent Mayor Willie Brown in 1999.
Ammiano could bring a lighter side to Assembly floor debates. A stand-up comedian since 1980, his nickname – which he proudly touts on his Web site – is "The Mother of Gay Comedy."

AD 27 – Bill Monning, D-Carmel
Professor, Monterey Institute of International Studies and Monterey College of Law. Replaces John Laird, D-Santa Cruz
District: Parts of Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties
Main cities: Carmel by the Sea, Monterey, Morgan Hill, Santa Cruz

It only took Bill Monning 14 years to win this seat. He first ran in 1994. He was more successful this time around, besting Emily Reilly, a Santa Cruz City Council member, and Barbara Sprenger, a former trustee of the San Lorenzo Valley School Board.
Monning comes to Sacramento – no kidding – as an expert in conflict mediation. It's a skill he fully expects to put to use.
"Coming in to Sacramento with a good idea gets you nowhere. You need to build consensus and coalitions, and that's where I believe I'm road-tested," he told the Santa Cruz Sentinel during the primary.
As a student at UC Berkeley during the 1960s, he went on to work as a lawyer for the United Farm Workers.

AD 75 – Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego
Businessman, Iraq veteran. Replaces George Plescia, R-La Jolla
District: Part of San Diego County
Main cities: Escondido, La Jolla, Poway, San Diego

It takes a certain something to appear in your first political TV ad in skin-tight biker shorts.
But that is exactly what Nathan Fletcher did. An avid triathlete and decorated former Marine who served in Iraq and Africa, Fletcher has a sterling résumé for a young GOP officeholder.
He can also bend the ear of his wife – Mindy Tucker Fletcher, a former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – any time he's looking for political advice. Mindy Fletcher also served on President Bush's two presidential campaigns.
The assemblyman-elect has signed a no-new-taxes pledge.
"We need to create a true spending cap and rainy day fund to ensure budget stability and the full and recurring funding of our most vital services and programs," Fletcher says on his campaign site.

AD 46 – John Pérez, D-Los Angeles
Former member, Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. Replaces Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles
District: Part of Los Angeles County
Main cities: Huntington Park, Los Angeles

John Pérez looked to be locked in a tough, three-way slugfest for the Assembly.
Then something happened. The other two candidates dropped out.
That cleared the field for Pérez, who is a cousin of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Some say the fix was in – especially after one of those would-have-been challengers was named to a plum post on the Los Angeles planning commission by Villaraigosa.
Pérez, a former member of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, will join a new, smaller lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender caucus when he arrives in Sacramento.
He also has ties to labor, as a political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers.
And though he is just arriving in the Capitol, he's already been the subject of his fair share of speakership buzz.

AD 34 – Connie Conway, R-Tulare
Tulare County supervisor. Replaces Bill Maze, R-Visalia
District: Inyo County, parts of Kern, San Bernardino and Tulare counties
Main cities: Barstow, Bishop, Porterville, Twentynine Palms, Visalia, Tulare, Needles

Connie Conway is one of the few freshman members to arrive with a previous relationship with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
She served as the president of the California State Association of Counties in 2006, and Schwarzenegger appointed her as chair of the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley.
A Tulare County supervisor like her father before her, Conway bested the wife of Assemblyman Bill Maze in the primary, as well as Bob Smith, a retired sheriff's deputy.
Her old colleagues in Tulare wish her luck in Sacramento: "Unfortunately, you're going to be going from the frying pan and into the bonfire," Supervisor Steve Worthley said at her departure.
Her top priority: "Cutting taxes and balancing the state's budget by ending wasteful spending."
Interesting that two of the five are openly gay men! They are only the third and fourth openly gay men EVER to be elected to the State Assembly. (John Laird and Mark Leno were the first). Interestingly, the new California LGBT Legislative Caucus is now consisting of 3 openly gay men (Pérez, Ammiano and State Senator Mark Leno) plus State Senator Christine Kehoe.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Legal Actions Obama Administration Can Take To Help LGBT

Influential law professor and occasional blogger Nan Hunter has posted to Bilerico a list of legal actions President Obama that would improve the lives of LGBT Americans dramatically.

1. President Clinton issued an executive order that prohibited discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation. President Obama should add gender identity to the list of prohibited bases for discrimination. One method would be by defining either "sex" or "sexual orientation" in the current order to include gender identity and expression. He has strong legal grounds for doing so, especially if the new language is added to the definition of sex discrimination, because he can invoke the ruling in Schroer v. Library of Congress, in which a federal court held that it was a violation of the sex discrimination aspect of Title VII to withdraw a job offer made to a transgender woman.

President-elect Obama has committed his administration to support anti discrimination laws that include protection for gender identity and expression. If that means anything, it should mean that he will be willing to actually make that policy a reality for federal employees. And as a matter of principle, it's a good thing for the federal government in its capacity as the nation's largest single employer to impose anti-discrimination obligations on itself before applying them to other employers.

2. Another important signal from the White House on employment matters will come if and when President Obama adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination by private companies that have contracts with the federal government.

3. On the legislative side, pass an inclusive ENDA already.

4. Also legislatively, repeal DoMA (especially the part limiting federal government recognition of marriage to those between a man and a woman, even if state law provides otherwise). And enact, perhaps as an amendment to DoMA, a provision that grants all federal benefits and rights and responsibilities under federal law that now go only to married persons to persons in a family relationship status formally
recognized under state law. In other words, eliminate the differential that persons in civil unions now face because their status has zero standing under federal law.

5. Lastly, reform the health care system so that every American - whether married, single, partnered or living in a cave - has access to health care. This may not be solely an lgbt issue, but it is a fact that persons in unmarried partnerships have much higher rates of uninsurance than even the abysmal U.S. average. And health care benefits are probably the number one material issue that drives the family recognition agenda. Let's solve that problem at the root.

I agree with this list, although I would add the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act to the list of immediate legislative actions.

To the second tier of actions (to be completed by election day 2010) I would add:

  1. Enacting the Permanent Partners Immigration Act. Passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the ability for Americans in binational same-sex relationships to sponsor their foreign partner for permanent residence is extremely important.

  2. Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." There is absolutely no scientific basis for the rationale that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service." The Clinton-era "compromise" public policy of allowing LGBT folk to serve in the military as long as they don't openly declare their homosexuality is wrong and should be eliminated. Almost every member of NATO allows openly gay people to serve in their military and the American public overwhelmingly supports this concept in opinion polls.

  3. Producing a National AIDS Strategic Plan. Several national AIDS organizations have called for a comprehensive strategy towards addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis in this country. A national AIDS strategy would probably lead to fully funding the Ryan White CARE Act, administratively repealing the HIV travel ban, and finally enacting the Early Treatment for HIV Act, the Stop AIDS in Prison Act and many other bills that have been languishing in Congress waiting for a "reality-based" administration.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Interesting New Tactic In Marriage Culture War

Andrew Sullivan alerted me to this interesting idea by Tom Ackerman on his blog. What if we recognized nobody's marriage?

Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.

She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”
“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”

The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,
“How’s your longtime companion, Jill?”
“She’s my wife!”
“Yeah, well, my beliefs don’t recognize marriage.”
Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it’s like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another’s beliefs.

Just replace the words husband, wife, spouse, or fiancé with boyfriend, girlfriend, special friend, or longtime companion. There is a reason we needed stronger words for more serious relationships. We know it; now they can see it.

A marriage is a lot of things. Culturally, it’s a declaration to the community that two people are now a unit, and that unity should be respected. Legally, it’s a set of rights and responsibilities. And spiritually, it’s whatever your beliefs think it is.

That’s what’s so great about America. As a Constitutionally secular nation, or at least in reality a vaguely pluralistic nation, we can all have our own spiritual take on what marriage is. What’s troublesome is when one group’s spiritual beliefs deny the cultural and legal rights of another.

An interesting suggestion, but most of the straight people *I* know do believe and support gay marriage, so why would we pubish them by not recognizing their relationship? Is that just collateral damage in a campaign to get the "mushy middle" to understand what it means for them to vote not to legally recognize mine?

What do you think?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

VIDEO: Excerpt from "Milk"

I saw "Milk" in Atlanta yesterday on its opening day. It is very very good. I'll try and write-up a review soon, but I encourage everyone to see it this weekend if you can. Above is a short excerpt from the film about Harvey Milk.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions on Prop 8

The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center held a virtual town hall last night, emceed by intrepid lesbian reporter Karen Ocamb. As part of that event and their entire InvalidateProp8 website, they also released a very helpful FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about Proposition 8, to inform the LGBT community about all of the circumstances around Proposition 8.

Some highlights:

What did the campaign’s internal polling show?

Celinda Lake and her firm did extensive polling for us throughout the campaign. From the very beginning her polling showed that we were significantly behind. Not as far as we had been with Prop 22, but significantly nonetheless. In preparing the answer to this FAQ, I consulted with lead campaign consultant Steve Smith and he reminded me of the following chronology: By the beginning of August, after 6 weeks of legal marriage, our polling (after being adjusted for phone bank differentials) showed that we were down by 13 points. This was very different from the public polling which inexplicably showed us ahead, but we believed our polling to be much more accurate based in part on the turnout models being used (our models were confirmed by the ultimate result).

After every advertisement that was run, we also ran tracking polls to check on the effectiveness of the ads. For example, the Thoron ad was very effective with women, but did not help us with men as much as had been projected. The “lies” ad featuring the televisions was not effective with anyone. The Superintendent of Public Instruction ad was extremely effective. So was the Dianne Feinstein ad. Week after week we gained ground. By the Thursday before the election, accounting for phone bank differentials, our polls showed that we had gained nearly 10 points since August and were down by only 3-4 points. Unfortunately, that’s about where we ended up.


What should our next steps be?

Lots of people are talking about this. We certainly want to do all that we can to take advantage of the great energy and involvement and new leadership that has been emerging since election day. I believe we should focus on two things: a national strategy and a California strategy. President-elect Obama ran on a platform of supporting the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and of legal equality for same-sex couples at the federal level. I believe our community should work on holding him accountable for these promises.

We also need to develop and implement a California strategy. We know that approximately 500,000 votes separated the Yes and No camps. This is a tiny margin and no way reflective of any broad mandate. If anything, it shows a sea change in our direction since Prop 22. Conceptually speaking, it also indicates that if we had found 500,000 new No voters or had changed the minds of 250,000 Yes voters, we would have won. There is no reason to wait until the next time our rights are put to the test at the ballot box to do the work of talking to voters and convincing them to support the freedom to marry. Just as the Center’s Vote for Equality project has been talking to and identifying supportive voters since 2004, we must continue that work.

Some are talking about putting our own measure on the ballot in 2010. I certainly think that’s one option, but I also think it’s too soon to make those kinds of decisions without a lot more information and analysis. Clearly, it would be much better if the California Supreme Court invalidated Prop 8. And, I worry that if we move too far down the path of our own measure in 2010, it will give the Supreme Court an excuse not to do the right thing. If they believe there’s a chance we could overturn Prop 8 in 2010, might they be less likely to overturn Prop 8 now and risk the ire of religious political extremists when several are up for retention election in two years?

Further, the June 2010 election is barely 19 months away—November 2010 only 2 years away. We made great gains with the No on Prop 8 campaign in comparison to the results of the vote on Prop 22—public opinion swung dramatically during that time. If we were to go the route of a proactive ballot measure, we must be absolutely certain that two years is enough time to do the necessary grassroots work to move public opinion the rest of the way before we launch a new campaign. And, given the economy, we must be absolutely certain that sufficient funds could be raised. These are some of the questions that I think must be answered with care before any decision is made to move forward with our own ballot measure.

Many of us, new and veteran activists alike, will be working to advance the cause of the freedom to marry. I hope everyone who has been inspired to join the rallies and protests will stay involved and help us ultimately secure our full equality. At the nation’s annual LGBT activist conference, Creating Change (this year in Denver at the end of January), there are likely to be numerous workshops and training sessions inspired by the fight in California and other states where anti-LGBT ballot measures passed as well as the success of the subsequent online activism that happened nationally. I intend to be there to share, learn and participate with my fellow activists!

I hope that there will be several opportunities for actvists who are not going to Creating Change in Denver to be able to contribute to the conversations about the way forward to invalidate Proposition 8. It's my understanding there will be some more large meetings in January.

Garth Trinidad Returns to 8-10pm KCRW Slot Dec 1

Well looks like even people who disagree about EVERYTHING can agree on music! Jasmyne Cannick is as excited as I am that DJ Garth Trinidad is returning to KCRW on Monday December 1. Praise Allah!
Garth's now-legendary radio show Chocolate City (along with Trader Joe's) was one of the great joys of living in Los Angeles and Southern California. I look forward to hearing him nightly on the radio. Garth is responsible for popularizing such breakthrough artists such as Van Hunt, Kelis, Jill Scott, Macy Gray and Me'shell NdegeO'cello on the public airwaves.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NYT Editorial on Prop 8 Lawsuits

I know I am supposed to be on vacation from blogging but I had to share this New York Times editorial with y'all:

California's Legal Tangle

The approval of Proposition 8 in California, a constitutional change designed to prohibit marriage between couples of the same sex, was not just a defeat for fairness. It raised serious legal questions about the validity of using the Election Day initiative process to obliterate an existing right for a targeted minority.

These deeper questions were largely lost during the expensive campaign by proponents of Proposition 8. Essentially, in their rush to enshrine bigotry in the State Constitution, they circumvented the procedure specified in that same document for making such a serious change. Now, the state's top court, which has agreed to hear the legal challenge to Proposition 8, has the unpleasant duty of tossing out a voter-approved ballot measure.

The case turns on whether Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment, requiring only approval by a bare majority of voters, or a more far-reaching constitutional revision, requiring a two-step process: either a constitutional convention or a two-thirds vote of the State Legislature followed by voter ratification. The court, which has struck down several measures before, should not lightly overturn the will of the people. But it has not confronted a revision this far-reaching in terms of upsetting basic rights and the state's constitutional structure.

The court has correctly determined that the equal protection clause prohibits governmental discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which extends the right of marriage to same-sex couples. But the issue goes well beyond gay rights. Allowing Proposition 8 to stand would greatly limit the court's ability to uphold the basic rights of all Californians and preclude the Legislature from performing its constitutional duty to weigh such monumental changes before they go to voters.

Treating Proposition 8 as a mere amendment would set a precedent that could allow the rights of any minority group to be diminished by a small majority. The measure passed 52 percent to 48 percent.

In California, sitting judges are subject to elections, and some supporters of Proposition 8 raise the threat of trying to oust justices who do not go along with trouncing on people's rights and proper constitutional procedure. We trust the court will not be intimidated. The justices' job is to protect minority rights and the State Constitution — even when, for the moment at least, it may not be the popular thing to do.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Eye Candy: Blatino Hotties

Hopefully these pictures will tide you over during the Thanksgiving slowdown in blogging from MadProfessah. Enjoy! Why choose Black OR Latino when you can have both: Blatino!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pix of Black LGBT Rally Against Prop 8 In Los Angeles

About 200 people marched in the heart of Black Los Angeles, starting at Leimert Park to the corner of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards and back on Sunday morning, chanting slogans like "What do we want? EQUAL RIGHTS! When we do we want them? NOW!"
The march was organized by Reverend Freda Lee (with the megaphone) and publicized by the Barabara Jordan / Bayard Rustin Coalition and Jewel's Catch One, which also hosted a post-march discussion from 2-4 pm.

'Lost' Trailer For Season 5

The new season of Lost starts on January 21, 2009.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obama Raised $500 million online

According to the Washington Post Barack Obama raised more than half a billion dollars online in his campaign for the presidency. Over 3 million people gave 6.5 million donations, with the average donation about $80 and the average Obama donor giving more than once. Other tidbits:

Obama's e-mail list contains upwards of 13 million addresses. Over the course of the campaign, aides sent more than 7,000 different messages, many of them targeted to specific donation levels (people who gave less than $200, for example, or those who gave more than $1,000). In total, more than 1 billion e-mails landed in inboxes. (Four years ago, Sen. John F. Kerry had 3 million e-addresses on his list; former Vermont governor Howard Dean had 600,000.)

A million people signed up for Obama's text-messaging program. On the night Obama accepted the Democratic nomination at Invesco Field in Denver, more than 30,000 phones among the crowd of 75,000 were used to text in to join the program. On Election Day, every voter who'd signed up for alerts in battleground states got at least three text messages. Supporters on average received five to 20 text messages per month, depending on where they lived -- the program was divided by states, regions, zip codes and colleges -- and what kind of messages they had opted to receive.

On, or MyBO, Obama's own socnet, 2 million profiles were created. In addition, 200,000 offline events were planned, about 400,000 blog posts were written and more than 35,000 volunteer groups were created -- at least 1,000 of them on Feb. 10, 2007, the day Obama announced his candidacy. Some 3 million calls were made in the final four days of the campaign using MyBO's virtual phone-banking platform. On their own MyBO fundraising pages, 70,000 people raised $30 million. The campaign even set up a grassroots finance committee that was inspired by the national finance committee's high-dollar bundlers. In the grassroots committee, though, supporters were trained to collect small-dollar donations from their friends, relatives and co-workers.

Obama has 5 million supporters in other socnets. He maintained a profile in more than 15 online communities, including BlackPlanet, a MySpace for African Americans, and Eons, a Facebook for baby boomers. On Facebook, where about 3.2 million signed up as his supporters, a group called Students for Barack Obama was created in July 2007. It was so effective at energizing college-age voters that senior aides made it an official part of the campaign the following spring. And Facebook users did vote: On Facebook's Election 2008 page, which listed an 800 number to call for voting problems, more than 5.4 million users clicked on an "I Voted" button to let their Facebook friends know that they made it to the polls. (Talk about online peer pressure.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Aftermath of Prop 8: Black Town Hall SATURDAY!

There's a town hall meeting tomorrow morning from 8am-11am at Los Angeles Trade Tech Auditorium (400 West washington Boulevard) featuring a Who's Who of Black Los Angeles:


Danny Bakewell Jr., Editor, Los Angeles Sentinel
Jasmyne Cannick, Journalist and Political Activist
Rev. Eric Lee, SCLC of Greater Los Angeles
Laurnea, Recording Artist
Jody Watley, Recording Artist
Reginald Sawyer-Jones, Secretary, CA Democratic Party
Speaker Karen Bass, CA Assembly Speaker
Assemblymember Curren Price, 51st Assembly District
Councilwoman Jan Perry, 9th District, City of L.A.
Councilman Bernard Parks Sr, 8th District, City of L.A.
Ed Smith, Sr. Pastor, Zoe Christian Fellowship of Whittier
Rev. Jenenne Macklin, Founder, Living in the Light Ministries
Rev. Douglass Nelson, Founder, Levitical Network
Dr. Mignon Moore, Prof. of Socio. & African American Studies
Jeffrey King, Founder, In the Meantime Men's Group
Ellene Miles, Journalist
Nevin Powell, Community Activist
Liliana T. Pérez, Community Activist
Latrice Johnson, United Lesbians of African Heritage
Charles Stewart, Chief Deputy, Cong. Diane Watson
Jewel Thais-Williams, Founder, Village Health Foundation
Craig Bowers, Community Activist
Erin Aubry Kaplan, Journalist
Ayuko Babu, Executive Director, Pan African Film & Festival
Reginald Sawyer-Jones, Secretary,CA Democratic Party
Phill Wilson, Founder, Black AIDS Institute
Pearl Jr., Author, "Black Women Need Love Too

It should be worth waking up early for!

Geography of the Freedom To Marry

Evan Wolfson over at the group Freedom To Marry has provided these great maps depicting the current state of governmental recognition nationwide.

New "Star Trek" Trailer

I am usually a fan of everything that J.J. Abrams (creator of Lost and Alias) does but this trailer for next summer's Star Trek remake looks a bit iffy to me. It's definitely a new direction for the venerable sci-fi franchise. There's no real sense of what the story is about (besides a deeper look at the origins of the major characters like James T. Kirk, Spock and "Scotty") and that is usually a bad sign in coming attraction movie trailer. I'll still probably in line to see it though!

"Dear Community" Letter from LGBT Leaders

The following Open Letter to the community has started getting attention

November 13, 2008

Dear Community,

We are on the cusp of a new era as our country has elected its first African-American president, Barack Obama. We hope this unprecedented event will usher in a new chapter in our nation’s history.

This past week has been a difficult time. With the passage of Proposition 8 in California to change the state constitution to eliminate the right to marry, our community has experienced a difficult defeat. We are angry and upset by the passage of Proposition 8 and the betrayal of the promise of equality that has been the hallmark of the Golden State. Yet, we know that this is only a setback in—not the end of—our journey toward full equality for the LGBT community.

It is natural to analyze what went wrong. But in recent days there has been a tendency to assign blame to specific communities, in particular, the African American community. The fact is, 52 percent of all Californians, the vast majority of whom were not African Americans, voted against us. In addition, the most recent analysis of the exit poll that drove much of this speculation determined that it was too small to draw any conclusion on the African American vote, and further polling shows that the margin was much closer than first reported. Most importantly, though, none of this discourse changes the outcome of the vote. It only serves to divide our community and hinder our ability to create a stronger and more diverse coalition to help us overturn Proposition 8 and restore full equality and human rights to LGBT people. It also deflects responsibility from the group that is responsible for this miscarriage of justice: The Yes on 8 campaign. They waged a deceitful and immoral campaign that brought about this violation of our human rights and dignity.

We as a community have come so far. Let’s not lose sight of this. Since Proposition 22 passed eight years ago by 22 percentage points, we have made our case to the people of California. We have talked to our families, co-workers and friends about what true equality looks like. In so doing, we have narrowed the gap substantially since that time. And, in the last week, we have continued to move forward with a great wave of non-violent protest and a strong and powerful legal case put together by some of the keenest legal minds, supported by the governor, our senators and many other elected officials in our state. Moreover, we have seen a great national movement growing in support of equal rights for the LGBT community as a result of our actions in California.

We are hopeful the election of Barack Obama signals a new spirit of collaboration among diverse groups of people. There are many allied communities—straight, African-American, Asian Pacific Islander, Latino, Native American, white, people of faith, and secular people—who are energized to join with us as never before. This is progress! LGBT people are a part of all those communities, and with the support of our straight allies, we know that justice will prevail.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Now is the time to come together as one community working together toward human rights and full equality. We are confident that with our growing coalition we will ultimately win this fight.


Ron Buckmire
Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition

Rea Carey
Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Jennifer Chrisler
Executive Director, Family Equality Council

Oscar De La O
President & CEO, Bienestar

John Duran
Member, West Hollywood City Council

Rabbi Denise L. Eger
Congregation Kol Ami

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

Kate Kendell
Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

Geoff Kors
Executive Director, Equality California

Francine Ramsey
Executive Director, Zuna Institute

Rev. Susan Russell and Rev. Ed Bacon
All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena

Rodney Scott
President, Christopher Street West/LA Pride

Joe Solmonese
President, Human Rights Campaign

Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas
Metropolitan Community Church/LA

Vallerie D. Wagner
National Black Justice Coalition

Marshall Wong
Co-Chair, API Equality—L.A.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

VIDEO: MadProfessah's appearance on NPR's News& Notes

Last Thursday I appeared on NPR's News & Notes hosted by Farai Chideya taped live at NPR Wesrt stuidios in Culver Citym CA. Interestingly, they had webcam recording everything, so the video of most of my appearance is now available online.

ANALYSIS: The CA Supreme Court Proposition 8 Decision

The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting front-page article in today's paper trying to read between the lines in Wednesday's California Supreme Court decision to hear the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

The meatof the story concentrates on Justice Joyce L. Kennard, who voted with the 4-3 majority in the case legalizing marriage equality, but who (surprisingly!) voted against the petition to hear the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8's constitutionality.

Kennard's vote a bad sign?

While both sides cheered the court's decision to take up the cases, Kennard's lone vote to deny review could spell trouble for opponents of Prop. 8.

Kennard is the court's longest-serving justice, having been appointed in 1989, and has been one of its foremost supporters of same-sex couples' rights. Without her vote, the May 15 ruling would have gone the other way. But she wrote Wednesday that she would favor hearing arguments only about whether Prop. 8 would invalidate the pre-election marriages, an issue that would arise only if the initiative were upheld.

"It's always hard to read tea leaves, but I think Justice Kennard is saying that she thinks the constitutionality of Prop. 8 is so clear that it doesn't warrant review," said Stephen Barnett, a retired UC Berkeley law professor and longtime observer of the court.

For those seeking to overturn Prop. 8, "I would not think it would be encouraging," said Dennis Maio, a San Francisco lawyer and former staff attorney at the court.
I'm not sure this is the correct interpretation of Justice Kennard's vote. In the marriage decision released May 15, 2008, Justice Kennard wrote a separate concurring opinion, in which she said:

"[T]he constitutionality of the marriage laws' exclusion of same-sex couples is an
issue particularly appropriate for decision by this court, rather than a social
or political issue inappropriate for judicial consideration," explaining that
"[t]he architects of our federal and state Constitutions understood that widespread and deeply rooted prejudices may lead majoritarian
institutions to deny fundamental freedoms to unpopular minority groups, and that the most effective remedy for this form of oppression is an independent judiciary charged with the solemn responsibility to interpret and enforce the constitutional provisions guaranteeing fundamental freedoms and equal protection
."[emphasis added]
Does this sound like a woman who believes that 52% of Californians can deny a fundamental right by a majority vote? Justice Kennard had also written in her concurring opinion that she felt that the 4,000 couples who had been married in San Francisco in 2004 should have been allowed to remain married until the California Supreme Court resolved their constitutionality. However, if that is her position, it is somewhat odd that she didn't vote with Justice Moreno to dissent in the refusal to issue a stay on Proposition 8 going into effect, but she may have been against a stay for other judicial reasons.

The more interesting person to watch will be Justice Carol Corrigan, who as I have stated many times before, lives with another woman in the Bay Area, but voted against the majority in the In Re Marriage Cases decision. Her position then was that the Court was not exercising sufficient judicial restraint, although she believed that " Californians should allow our gay and lesbian neighbors to call their unions marriage" but "a majority of Californians hold a different view, and have explicitly said so by their vote." I believe that she will be key in whether we win the current case.

The Chronicle article also has an excellent summary of what the issues are at stake moving forward:
What is before the state high court:

1. Does Proposition 8 make such a far-reaching change to California's Constitution that it amounts to a constitutional revision, which requires a two- thirds vote of the Legislature to be placed on the ballot?

2. Does Prop. 8 violate the constitutional separation of powers by restricting judges' authority to protect the rights of same-sex couples?

3. If constitutional, does Prop. 8 invalidate the 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place in California between June 16, when the court's ruling legalizing gay and lesbian unions took effect, and the election?

What's next

Next steps for the Proposition 8 cases before the state Supreme Court:

Written arguments: The parties in the cases - same-sex couples, gay-rights advocates and city and county governments challenging the law, and the state attorney general and the Prop. 8 campaign defending it - are scheduled to file written arguments through Jan. 5.

Briefs: Other interested individuals and groups must file friend-of-the-court briefs by Jan. 15. The parties have until Jan. 21 to reply to any of those briefs.

Hearings: No court hearing has been scheduled yet, but it could take place as early as March. A ruling is due within 90 days of the hearing.

The lead case in Wednesday's order is Strauss vs. Horton, S168047.

Stay tuned.

How We Blew It: California's Prop 8 Defeat

How We Blew It
California's Prop 8 Defeat

A Bungled Campaign, A Call for Change, The 'Ick' Factor, and
Historical Inevitability

By Terry Leftgoff

Last night I attended a meeting in to hear some of the leaders of the
losing No on Prop 8 campaign discuss why they thought we lost. I found
myself strongly disagreeing with their assessment. I also found myself
in excellent company among the many villagers feeling pushed outside the
village gates.

So what happened? On a day of a monumental tidal shift when voters
bust down the front door of the White House for an African American and
Californians voted to prevent the closing of another door to abortion
rights, in a stunning reversal Californians voted to slam the door on
the civil rights of gay couples and strip us of our right to marry.

The single biggest reason for the Proposition 8 loss was an
ineffective and inept campaign strategy by the leadership of the No on 8
campaign, Despite raising record shattering amounts of money and
volunteers who worked their hearts out, the overarching state campaign
strategy was a huge flop.

How to Lose a Political Campaign

The statewide No on 8 campaign violated numerous standard rules of
political campaigns and overlooked or ignored basic campaign strategy
and in so doing lost a double digit lead to predictable scare tactics.
Independent polls from both the California Field Poll and the Public
Policy Institute of California showed Prop 8 losing by an increasing
margin following the tidal wave of joyous wedding coverage growing to a
double digit lead in September before intensive television advertising
began.(1) Internal polls conducted by Equality California (ECQA) are
said to have provided a different picture of voter opinion but ECQA has
thus far declined to disclose them.

All three major elements of a successful campaign - media, field
operation and Get Out The Vote program -- were flawed or worse,
completely non-existent.

Ineffective Media

The No on 8 campaign began by allowing the Yes on 8 proponents to
define the debate and it was never able to recover. This violated the
first rule of political campaigns which is to never let your opponent
define you first.

After a near fatal slow start, every emotional attack ad from Yes on 8
received a tepid intellectual response from No on 8. This violated
another rule of political campaigns which is to quickly respond in equal
kind to an attack so it is not allowed to penetrate the public mind.

Instead of running a diverse muti-message campaign of persuasion, the
media message was emotionless, monotone and uncompelling. In short, the
media messages failed to move or even educate voters about the issue and
instead appealed to a single abstract principle - equality - that was
not sufficiently persuasive or connected to the content of the
proposition. Worse, there appeared to be no effective Black or Latino

An effective target strategy would have been to send Democratic voters
mailers with a picture of Barack Obama and other prominent diverse
leaders who oppose Prop 8 and, alternately, to send Republican voters
mailers with pictures of Arnold Schwarzennegger and other prominent
religious and conservative leaders who oppose Prop 8. This is textbook

TV AD #1: A perky but awkward teenager is sitting in a school
yard. He or she is Black or Latino. He could be the actor who plays the
gay son on Ugly Betty. He speaks directly into the camera while
shuffling his feet: "You know, it's hard growing up feeling different.
Rejection hurts. Self esteem and acceptance are vital to the success of
kids like me. Did you know that as many as 1 in 3 gay and lesbian teens
attempt suicide? Prop 8 would prevent people like me from marrying.
When I grow up, I hope to get married someday. Please don't take that
hope away from me. Just growing up is hard enough." (Gentle woman's
voice: "Vote no on 8, Please don't discriminate')
The touching images about post-Supreme Court weddings that so
effectively humanized the issue were squandered. The magnificent media
saturation about our personal stories that was broadcast throughout
every corner of the state caused huge gains in public opinion and, by
extension, voter preferences. Did our advertising strategy utilize these
moving stories? Inexplicably, they did not.

The sanitized media messages smacked of a campaign by focus group.
Such an outdated orthodox approach should have been over-riden by common
sense and political savvy. How it is our community's considerable
collective campaign knowledge could have lead the No on 8 campaign so

Ads never even mentioned the subject matter of the proposition -- gay
marriage or marriage equality -- ceding it to the Yes on 8 proponents to
define for the electorate. The No on 8 ads never featured simple first
hand heartfelt stories of gay and lesbian families talking about what it
means to them and their children to have the legal benefits of marriage
and conversely, what it would mean to have that right ripped away. They
never featured our children and what the legal protection of marriage
means to them. And significantly they did not reflect the diversity of
our electorate.

TV AD #2: A gay couple is sitting with their young children. They
speak directly into the camera: "The legal protections of marriage are
important to us because, like other parents, we're concerned about what
might happen to them should something happen to one of us. Prop 8 would
take away the right to marry of people like us. Please don't take that
away from us or from them." (Gentle voice: 'Vote no on 8. Please don't
When it became clear things were going awry, campaign managers were
changed mid-stream. There was a noticeable shift in messaging during
which media messages became more powerful but they continued to dance
around the issue. By this point, it was too little too late.

The 'Ick Factor'

Let's address the 'Ick Factor'.(2) In this situation, it applies to
the way our proponents sexualize and demonize the gay community then
attempt to exploit the discomfort they created. One particularly
effective theme of the demonizing attack ads by the Yes on 8 proponents
was the shameless use of lies about children. But instead of humanizing
ourselves and our children, No on 8 responded by hiding us in the
closet, in effect a self inflicted wound, and failing to show how such
attacks are hurtful to the well-being of our children.

History has shown us that when the humanity of the gay community is
showcased, public opinion is highly responsive. This has been true with
AIDS, prior attacks on gay teachers, and with the coverage of gay
weddings. Instead, the campaign message rendered gay couples and parents
invisible with antiseptic ads that in effect dehumanized us which
allowed these demonizing attack ads by Yes on 8 proponents to flourish
in the public mind. These emotional tactics by Yes on 8 proponents were
cliche, shopworn and completely predictable. The gay community was
'disappeared', hidden in the closet like a shameful crazy uncle, within
ineffective third party media messaging. The singular media message,
approach and roll out was, at best, painfully slow and monotone, and, at
worst, it reflected internalized homophobia.

There were no ads that pealed back the curtain on who the stealth
sponsors of Prop 8 were and the religiously based campaign they were
waging. The Morman Church and its members accounted for nearly $ M or
close to half of all Yes on 8 proponent contributions. They sponsored
and ran an effective ground operation that trained members to never let
on they were Morman. The Morman Church has, in a well guarded secret,
been the primary sponsor of virtually every anti-gay initiative that has
appeared on a state ballot in the United States. How salient would an ad
have been that asked voters whether the Morman Church of Utah, infamous
for its polygamists and forcing underage young girls into exploitive
marriages, should lecture Californians about marriage? We'll never know
since no such ad was produced.

TV AD #3: A well known black civil rights figure or minister
speaks directly into the camera: "The Mormon Church of Utah is behind
Prop 8 on the ballot. They want to ban gay marriage. Did you know that
for over a century, the Mormon Church banned blacks from becoming
members.(3) Now they want to tell Californians what our marriages
should look like? (Gentle voice: 'Vote no on 8. Please don't

I wonder how such an ad might have resonated with African American
voters, 70% of which ended up siding with the Morman Church on Prop 8.
(4) Internal polls conducted by Equality California (ECQA) are said to
show 57% support from Black voter preferences but ECQA has thus far
declined to release them.

Perhaps one of the most instructive and disturbing contradictions of
the election is to hear Black religious leaders justify their position
by using the same language and rationale against gay marriage that was
historically used against them. Several interviews with leading black
leaders supporting Prop 8 repeated the mantra that to them it was not a
civil rights issue but rather a moral or religious issue.

This is the identical language used by the racists of their day to
defend segregation, to ban interracial marriage and to justify
discrimination in housing. This latter issue is particularly salient
because, like marriage equality, it was placed before voters and, in a
similar expression of the 'people's will', was overwhelmingly approved
prior to being striken by the California Supreme Court. (5) Clearly we
failed to sufficiently make our case with Black voters. And we need to
understand why.

TV AD #4: A black minister speaks directly into the camera; "There
used to be a legal ban on blacks and Jews moving into white
neighborhoods. They used to tell us it wasn't a civil rights issue, it
was a moral issue. Yeah, right. Now they've put Prop 8 on the ballot
that would ban gay marriage. They are saying it isn't a civil rights
issue, it's just a moral issue. Uh huh. Photo montage of Barack Obama
and other Black leaders who are against Prop 8.
(Gentle female voice: 'Vote no on 8. Please don't discriminate')

No Grassroots Organization, A Weak Field Operation, Failed GOTV

Rather than organizing local organizing committees across the state
for a strong locally grown grass roots operation, the campaign appeared
insular and apparently did not include or listen to those with
experience in the winning grassroots activism that has beaten back
repeated anti-gay measures during the last 3 decades. Further, they
failed to run a basic ground operation and relied upon a website that
was so bad it frequently acted as a repellent.

The Yes on 8 proponents used a traditional field operation by
personally talking to potential voters at the precinct level. In this,
there is no substitute for face-to-face campaigning. The personal
approach has proven to be the most effective and it is backed by years
of political science and empirical experience. Standard campaign
practice holds that it takes 3 personal contacts to firm up a leaning
voter. In contrast, No on 8 apparently never conducted an actual ground
operation, relying instead on a patchwork of phonebanks with limited
reach and saturation, and surrendered outlying areas likely racking up
larger losses.

Further, looking beyond ineffective media and a weak ground operation,
there was an incompetent Get Out The Vote (GOTV) strategy which likely
resulted in lower turnout of supporters in key voter rich counties. I
personally received a note from the No on 8 campaign thanking me for my
offer to volunteer for election day GOTV activities but declining
because they had no need. No need for volunteers on election day?! They
did offer, however, that I could come in to help clean their offices the
day after the election. How nice. I imagine cleaning their office the
day after the election might produce scads of new votes. Not.

As it turns out, I was not alone. Numerous volunteers, whose stories
have lit up Internet blogs, were turned away by No on 8 on election day
because there was no real GOTV strategy.

So what was their GOTV program? The weekend before the election,
volunteers were 'trained' to stand outside polling places on election
day. And if you missed the 'training' there was no use for you.

What's wrong with that approach? This is often counterproductive
because: a. it doesn't increase turnout (people are already entering the
polls); b. by this time voters generally have already made up their
minds; c. even though the law specifies a buffer around polling places
where there can be no electioneering, it can be intimidating to voters
and can turn people against; and, d. you want all available hands on
deck on election day without any artificial barriers.

A textbook GOTV program is one that focuses on actually getting your
supporters to vote: transport people to polling places, check the
polling place throughout the day to see who of your supporters hasn't
voted yet, then make efforts to get them to the polls.

What about all those voters who voted by mail? Typically, it is
crucial to have a strategy to contact these early voters at the time
mail ballots are being received, weeks before the election and outside
the reach of last minute media messages. This is where early targeted
mailers make a crucial impact. But that was not part of the strategy

How could there be no mail voter strategy? Good question. It was well
known and anticipated that the use of mail ballots would be
unprecedented; in fact, more voters cast their votes by mail in this
election than at any time in state history.

The Linchpin - Los Angeles County

So where did it really go wrong? Los Angeles County. It is the single
most important County in California accounting for 25% of all votes cast
in the state, and it is where the campaign appears to have collapsed.

It seems Prop 8 was primarily lost in LA County, which due to a 2-to-1
ratio of Democrats to Republicans typically delivers enough votes to
dilute and cushion conservative votes elsewhere (primarily in Orange and
San Diego Counties, among others).

LA is essential to the electoral success of a traditionally liberal
cause. A simple party line vote in LA, given the projected turnout,
would have polled between 5-600,000 more votes against Prop 8 than it
did. Had it done so, Prop 8 would have lost. In the case of Prop 8, not
only did LA not deliver, it leaned in the wrong direction and
contributed to a state deficit of over 500,000 votes.

Could a more effective GOTV strategy have increased turnout among
supporters increasing the winning margin in supportive areas and
decreasing the margin of loss in hostile areas? That is the intended
purpose. Too often elections are won by who stays home. One signal is
that Prop 4 was successfully defeated by the identical vote margin that
passed Prop 8. So there was a clear discordance among some voter groups.
And it appears the Prop 8 campaign had both a tail wind and a head wind.

As for turnout, despite repeated media reports about record turnout in
the low 80's % the reality was slightly lower in California. As of this
writing, LA County, with about 4.1 M registered voters, reports about 3
Million votes cast for a turnout of close to 75% which is strong and
consistent with turnout of 71% statewide which will likely be revised
upward due to reporting delays. So there appears to have been some room
to increase turnout. Numbers are preliminary as votes are still being
tallied and it is likely they will continue to be revised upward into
early December.

Turnout in Orange County, with just over 1.6 M registered voters, is
reported to be lower at about 70% or 1.12 Million ballots cast as of
this writing. It is a bastion of conservative votes where John McCain
polled over 36,000 votes or a margin of 3% more than Barack Obama. Prop
8 won by 172,000 votes or by 58-42. Prop 4 won by 93,000 votes or by

By comparison, turnout in San Francisco, with 477,651 registered
voters, is reported to be 375,000 or 78.5% with less than 1% or close to
4500 ballots still to be counted. Both Prop 8 and 4 lost by identical
margins (75-25). Still 25% of voters in SF voted yes on Prop 8. Just
think about that for a moment.

A Call to Account and for Accountability - A Losing Strategy That
Didn't Have to Be

I blame an incompetent campaign that blew through $40 Million and had
little to show for it but a losing strategy.

The Yes on 8 proponents relied on an early gusher of funding, much of
it from the Morman Church. So No on * was initially hampered and swamped
in early fundraising. No on 8 raised $15 Million before October 1 and
$25 Million after October 1; this trend was reversed for Yes on 8
proponents which earned them some strategic advantage.

No on 8 deserves huge accolades for fundraising. Although slow to
start, it was spectacular for shear volume of contributions and the
number of individual contributors. But it turns out that in the end, for
No on 8 -- the gay and lesbian community and our allies -- it wasn't a
matter of money, it turned out to be a matter of simple political
smarts. There were plenty of brilliant attorneys and managers in the
room but apparently no political or grassroots operatives to guide an
electoral strategy, those that were in the room were rebuffed.

It is painful for our community to face such a public rejection. The
dimensions of that pain from rejection are where many of us live our
lives. But it did not have to be. So this moment represents a special
time for painful introspection about a lost opportunity and a new
opportunity for profound learning.

I hereby call upon activists, community leaders and local, state and
national organizations in California and throughout the country to hold
Community Town Hall forums to account for such a momentous series of
campaign blunders. We need a transparent comprehensive campaign
post-mortem, to air concerns, share collective wisdom and to jointly
plan our future. Democracy is messy; it's inside that mess where we
regain traction.

We need to have an open two-way conversation that rectifies the
insularity of this campaign, where our diverse community is welcome at
the table and no voice is shut out. This must involve everyone: young
and old, street activists, uber-lesbigays, celebri-gays, leatherfolk,
allies, donors and leadership.

In Los Angeles County, I call for a forthright and blunt introspection
about what went wrong, without defensiveness or recrimination. There
needs to be full accountability before we can trust our leaders with
another $40 Million for a future initiative endeavor for which we are
already being called upon to support. For a future campaign to succeed,
we must be there together for the liftoff if they want us there for the

The starter for these forums should be the words, "We screwed up and
here's what we need to learn from it. What do you think?" Then those
responsible for this campaign need to listen quietly with contrition in
their hearts and an open ear as the sorrow of our anguish meets the
redemption of our ambitions.

Any good news?

What can we take from this debacle? Despite such a bungled campaign
and a loss of a 20 point lead, support still grew by 10% over 2000
Proposition 22 results narrowing the margin of loss to a slender 4%.
Imagine what we could have done with a well crafted campaign strategy.

We can learn from what went right in a County like Santa Barbara where
No on 8 succeeded 53-47 despite the state campaign strategy, not because
of it. This is a county where, due to culture and geographic isolation,
political campaigns are never won by media but by the shoe leather of
smart locally originated and implemented field operations. Unlike the
state No on 8 campaign strategy, local leaders targeted the very areas
lost to Prop 22, joined local precinct walk operations and GOTV
programs, organized the faith community, secured and publicized
important endorsements and, most importantly, they successfully
humanized the issue. It is an excellent case study since this one County
mirrors the most extreme political divisions of the state as a whole. If
you can win in a region that is evenly split between coastal progressive
voters and inland conservative voters, you can win almost anywhere in

The silver lining is that shifting voter demographics reveal an
inevitable generational and historical trend toward acceptance of gay
civil rights. As previously mentioned our community deserves huge
accolades for fundraising. Impressively, half of all donations to No on
Prop 8 were in amounts less than $100 which is promising as it indicates
width of active support.

This devastating loss jolted and awakened new generations of gay,
lesbian and our outraged allies out of their slumber around the world.
It is awesome to witness the sea of humanity at our protests. When our
civil rights are ripped away, we bleed.

To mangle a saying, now we need to get angry and get organized. Let's
build upon this new energy, build a new movement, and learn the new ways
of organizing. And let's learn from our mistakes, not by making bigger
and better mistakes, but by avoiding them next time. It is time for the
elders to begin passing along the successful strategies of our struggles
to the next generations and then join in a new torch relay together.

That many of our western allies are ahead of the United States on gay
marriage offers hope that America lead by an Obama Administration,
rather than bringing up the rear, will once again reassert it's
leadership on human rights issues in the world. And it is positive the
Mormon Church has finally been publicly outted for its obsessive
anti-gay electoral activities.

So the battle and the struggle continues and it now moves back to the
Supreme Court where only last May they recognized our fundamental rights
and made an unprecedented declaration that sexual orientation is a
legally protected class from discrimination.

Judging by their sweeping ruling last May, I believe they are
expecting us...

Terry Leftgoff is the founder of the Gay and Lesbian Business
Association of Santa Barbara (GLBA) and the GLBA Scholarship Fund, an
endowed foundation that provides grants to gay and lesbian students,
many of whom face rejection due to their sexual orientation. He formerly
served as the highest ranking openly gay officer of the California
Democratic Party and oversaw numerous campaign efforts including local
unified Democratic campaigns for Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, and
Barbara Boxer, among others. Leftgoff is a former political and
environmental consultant from Santa Barbara who ran both candidate and
issue campaigns which included media messaging and response. He lead
numerous regional fundraising and grassroots campaign committees against
a number of anti-gay issues including Propositions 64, 69, 96 and 102.
He is currently an Environmental, Government & Public Relations
consultant living in West Hollywood. He is single and hopes to be able
to marry someday.
1. 'Polling on Prop. 8 - California's Same Sex Marriage Ban', by Mark
DiCamillo, Director of the California Field Poll,, November
7,1008 . Early September Field Poll showed the opposition leading by 14
or 17%. depending on wording. Mid-September polling by Public Policy
Institute of California showed a lead of 14%. Prop 8 proponent ads began
airing mid-to-late September.
2. The term, 'Ick Factor', was coined by Eric Rofes to describe a
visceral recoil between gay men and lesbians.
3. 'The Church and the Negro', John Lewis Lund. Deseret Books.
4. CNN Exit Polling Data
5. Mulkey v. Reitman (1966) 64 Cal.2d 529, affd. sub nom.Reitman v.
Mulkey (1967) 387 U.S. 369

Although I disagree with the central thesis of the piece ("we blew it" since I actually do not think Proposition 8 was winnable unless we had reached 50% public approval on the marriage equality question) as well as the call to action to hold public forums where leaders of the campaign express contrition.

However, I do think there are numerous good points in the piece and thus are posting it here as a favor to a friend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Californa High Court Agrees To Hear Prop 8

San Francisco – The California Supreme Court today denied requests to stay the enforcement or implementation of Proposition 8, and at the same time agreed to decide several issues arising out of the passage of Proposition 8.

The court’s order, issued in the first three cases that had been filed directly in the state’s highest court challenging the validity of Proposition 8, directed the parties to brief and argue three issues:

(1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution?

(2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation-of-powers doctrine under the California Constitution?

(3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?

The court issued its order in three cases filed on behalf of a variety of parties, including same-sex couples who seek to enter into marriage despite the passage of Proposition 8, a same-sex couple who married in California prior to the adoption of Proposition 8, and a number of cities and counties whose officials seek to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Petitioners in each of these cases seek an order directing the relevant state officials to refrain from implementing, enforcing, or applying Proposition 8.

In response to the petitions, the Attorney General filed a preliminary opposition, in which he urged the court to assume jurisdiction over these cases to decide the important legal issues presented, but also argued that the court should not stay the operation of Proposition 8 pending the court’s resolution of the issues. The proponents of Proposition 8 also responded to the petitions, seeking to intervene as formal parties in the action and also urging the court to accept the cases for decision. The court’s order granted the motion to intervene filed by the proponents of Proposition 8.

In its order, the court established an expedited briefing schedule, under which briefing will be completed in January 2009 and oral argument potentially could be held as early as March 2009.

Six justices — Chief Justice Ronald M. George, Justice Marvin R. Baxter, Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, Justice Ming W. Chin, Justice Carlos R. Moreno, and Justice Carol A. Corrigan — signed the court’s order, although Justice Moreno indicated that he would grant the requests to stay the operation of Proposition 8 pending the court’s resolution of these matters.

Justice Joyce L. Kennard would deny these petitions without prejudice to the filing in the Supreme Court of an appropriate action to determine Proposition 8’s effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before Proposition 8’s adoption.

Nepal's Highest Court Issues Landmark Ruling Declaring LGBT Equality

The nation of Nepal will probably be enacting full equality for LGBT citizens before the United States. That nation's highest court just issued a ruling similar to California's In Re Marriage Cases which declares that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation (and gender identity) violate the constitution.

It reiterates that all LGBTIs are defined as a "natural person" and their physical growth as well as sexual orientation, gender identity, expression are all part of natural growing process. Thus equal rights, identity and expression must be ensured regardless of their sex at birth.

The writ petition was filed by Blue Diamond Society and other 3 LGBTI organisations in Nepal demanding the protection and defence of the equal rights of sexual and gender minorities.

"Reading this decision my eyes were filled with tears and I felt we are the most proud LGBTI citizens of Nepal in the world," said Sunit Pant, Nepal's only gay MP.

"A legal note of point has been raised for the new constitution of Nepal while ensuring the equal rights to individuals, like the bill of tights from South Africa, and non-discrimination provisions on the grounds of sexual orientations and gender identities must be introduced."

The Court has also issued a directive order to form a seven-member committee, with a doctor appointed by Health Ministry, one representative from National Human rights commission, the Law Ministry, one socialist appointed by government of Nepal, a representative from the Nepal police, a representative from Ministry of Population and Environment and one advocate as a representative from the LGBTI community, to conduct a study into the other countries' practice on same-sex marriage.

Based on its recommendation the government will introduce a same-sex marriage bill.

Hat/tip to PinkNews. Nepal borders China and India.
This is an amazing step forward for International LGBT human rights.

Obama-Biden Official Goals on LGBT Rights Published

The Obama-Biden Administration Transition website at has been updated with the officials goals of President Obama in the area of LGBT equal rights:

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

January 20, 2009 can't come quickly enough! (hat/tip TowleRoad)

Wanda Sykes Comes Out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jason Bentley To Become KCRW Music Director

One of the features of living in Los Angeles is having access to KCRW 89.9 FM, one of the largest NPR affiliates in the country and an amazing source of cutting-edge music. I have been listening to the station constantly since 1994 and usually will stream it live online when travelling, even when in other countries!

It has just been announced that the new KCRW Music Director will be Jason Bentley, following in the footsteps of Nic Harcourt, Chris Douridas and Tom Schnabel. Bentley has been the host of the program "Metropolis" which airs every weeknight from 7:30 to 10:00pm. He starts hosting the flagship program, "Morning Becomes Eclectic" (9am to 12noon weekdays) on December 1. I hope they give Garth Trinidad ("Chocolate City") or Raul Campos ("Nocturna") Jason's old early evening slot!

Detailing Partisan Shift Towards Democrats In 2008

This is an interesting post over at by brownsox detailing the partisan shift towards the Democrats in the 2008 election.

State 2004 2008 Swing Swing Relative to Average

USA R+3 D+7 D+10 0
AL R+26 R+22 D+4 -6
AK R+25 R+22 D+6 -4 (Palin Home State)
AZ R+11 R+9 D+2 -8 (McCain Home State)
AR R+9 R+20 R+11 -21 (Clinton Home State*)
CA D+9 D+24 D+15 +5
CO R+5 D+8 D+13 +3
CT D+10 D+23 D+13 +3
DE D+7 D+23 D+16 +6 (Biden Home State)
FL R+5 D+2 D+7 -3
GA R+17 R+5 D+12 +2
HI D+9 D+45 D+36 +26 (Obama Home State*)
ID R+39 R+25 D+14 +4
IL D+11 D+25 D+14 +4 (Obama Home State)
IN R+21 D+1 D+22 +12
IA R+1 D+9 D+10 0
KS R+25 R+16 D+9 -1
KY R+19 R+17 D+2 -8
LA R+15 R+19 R+4 -14
ME D+9 D+17 D+8 -2
MD D+7 D+23 D+16 +6
MA D+25 D+26 D+1 -9 (Kerry Home State)
MI D+3 D+16 D+13 +8
MN D+3 D+10 D+7 -3
MS R+20 R+14 D+6 -4
MO R+7 R+1 D+6 -4
MT R+20 R+3 D+17 +7
NE R+33 R+17 D+16 +6
NV R+3 D+12 D+15 +5
NH D+1 D+9 D+8 -2
NJ D+8 D+15 D+7 -3
NM R+1 D+15 D+16 +6
NY D+19 D+25 D+6 -4 (Clinton Home State)
NC R+12 D+1 D+12 +3 (Edwards Home State)
ND R+27 R+8 D+19 +9
OH R+2 D+4 D+6 -4
OK R+32 R+32 None -10
OR D+4 D+16 D+12 +2
PA D+2 D+10 D+8 -2
RI D+22 D+28 D+6 -4
SC R+17 R+9 D+8 -2
SD R+21 R+8 D+13 +3
TN R+14 R+15 R+1 -11
TX R+23 R+10 D+13 +3 (Bush Home State)
UT R+46 R+29 D+17 +7
VT D+20 D+35 D+15 +5
VA R+8 D+6 D+14 +4
WA D+7 D+17 D+10 0
WV R+13 R+13 None -10
WI D+1 D+13 D+12 +2
WY R+40 R+32 D+8 -2 (Cheney Home State)

The home states of the major presidential candidates are noted as they are likely to be outliers. The blue-red shift image was taken from the NY TIMES.

Focus on the Family Announces More Lay Offs

One happy side of the economic downturn is

Focus on the Family is poised to announce major layoffs to its Colorado Springs-based ministry and media empire today. The cutbacks come just weeks after the group pumped more than half a million dollars into the successful effort to pass a gay-marriage ban in California.

Critics are holding up the layoffs, which come just two months after the organization's last round of dismissals, as a sad commentary on the true priorities of ministry.


In all, Focus pumped $539,000 in cash and another $83,000 worth of non-monetary support into the measure to overturn a California Supreme Court ruling that allowed gays and lesbians to marry in that state. The group was the seventh-largest donor to the effort in the country. The cash contributions are equal to the salaries of 19 Coloradans earning the 2008 per capita income of $29,133.

So after spending more than a half-million dollars to attempt to divorce me and 18,000 other same-sex couples, Focus on the Family is having to lay off employees? Couldn't happen to a bunch off better bigots.

However, note that Focus on the Family's estimated 1500 employees is more than the entire number of people working at ALL THE 50 STATEWIDE LGBT ORGANIZATIONS in the country. Despite this setback, the heterosexual supremacists are more likely to be able to out-raise, out-spend and out-organize the "good guys" for LGBT equality.

MadProfessah is Progressive Blogger of the Month for November 2008

Progressive Victory has selected MadProfessah as the Progressive Blogger of the Month for November 2008!

Buckmire, a professor of mathematics at Occidental College, is the author
The Mad Professah Lectures blog.His blog focuses on progressive politics, civil-rights law, and LGBT equality.

Buckmire has used his blog to shed light on the antigay Proposition 8 in California. He married his long-time partner Dan Elzinga, and accomplished vocalist, soon after the California Supreme Court ruling that gave committed same-sex partners the right to marry and has testified before the California State Assembly and Senate regarding Prop 8.

Buckmire belongs to an L.A.-area grassroots progressive organization, the
Jordan-Rustin Coalition (named after the late Texas Congresswoman Barbara
Jordan and labor and civil-rights organizer Bayard Rustin), and has spearheaded efforts to organize African Americans against Prop 8.


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