Saturday, October 31, 2009

Venus and Serena To Play Final Final of the Year

Venus Williams defeated Jelena Jankovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 and Serena Williams won when Carolina Wozniacki retired down a set but up a break at 4-6, 1-0. The two will not be playing in the doubles final, having lost 2-6 6-4 (10-8) in a doubles tiebreak. It was only their second loss in doubles of the year. They have a career record of 130 wins and 18 losses.

Venus and Serena have played each other 22 times, with Serena leading 12-10. The two have played relatively frequently in 2009, with Venus winning once (Dubai) and Serena three times (Miami, Wimbledon and Doha). I predict Serena will win tomorrow, and become the first female player to earn over $6 million dollars in prize money, when she receive the $1.55 million dollar check for winning the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships, which Venus won last year!

Friday, October 30, 2009

No On 1 Responds With Devastating Ad: "Clear"

This latest (last?) television ad from No On 1/Protect Maine Equality should have the heterosexual supremacists running scared. I hope it gets seen as many more times by Maine voters than their hateful lying screeds.

Let me know what you think:

CA-GOV: Gavin Newsom Drops Out!

David Cannon / Getty Images

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom sent an email to his supporters dropping out of the race for the California Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination:
It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California. With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to and should be done.

This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats.

When I embarked on this campaign in April, my goal was to engage thousands and thousands of Californians dedicated to reforming our broken system and bringing change to Sacramento.

I would like to thank those supporters, volunteers, and donors who have worked so hard on my behalf. I have been humbled by their support and am indebted to their efforts. They represent the spirit of change and determination essential to putting California back on the right track.

I will continue to fight for change and the causes and issues for which I care deeply - universal health care, a cleaner environment, and a green economy for our families, better education for our children, and, of course, equal rights under the law for all citizens.

Newsom's departure leaves the field wide open for Attorney general (and 2-time former Governor) Jerry Brown to run mainly uncontested. Will this give Dianne Feinstein something to think about? Or Loretta Sanchez?

Venus and Serena Make Doha Semifinals

In Doha, Qatar, Venus Williams and Serena Williams qualified for the semifinals of the final tournament of the year in the "Maroon" section of the draw while in the "White" half, Jelena Jankovic and Carolina Wozniacki have qualified.

Venus will play Jankovic and Serena will play Wozniacki. I smell a Venus-Serena final on Sunday. Serena beat Venus earlier this week in a high-quality match 5-7 6-4 7-6(3) during the round-robin phase of the Year End Championships.

Obama Announces End of HIV Immigration Ban

President Barack Obama signed the Ryan White CARE Act re-authorization into law today and announced the end of the U.S. ban on HIV+ visitors and immigrants.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

THE PRESIDENT: We often speak about AIDS as if it's going on somewhere else. And for good reason -- this is a virus that has touched lives and decimated communities around the world, particularly in Africa. But often overlooked is the fact that we face a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic of our own -- right here in Washington, D.C., and right here in the United States of America. And today, we are taking two important steps forward in the fight that we face here at home.

It has been nearly three decades since this virus first became known. But for years, we refused to recognize it for what it was. It was coined a "gay disease." Those who had it were viewed with suspicion. There was a sense among some that people afflicted by AIDS somehow deserved their fate and that it was acceptable for our nation to look the other way.

A number of events and advances over the years have broadened our understanding of this cruel illness. One of them came in 1984, when a 13-year-old boy from central Indiana contracted HIV/AIDS from a transfusion. Doctors assured people that Ryan White posed no risk to his classmates or his community. But ignorance was still widespread. People didn't yet understand or believe that the virus couldn't be spread by casual contact. Parents protested Ryan's attendance in class. Some even pulled their kids out of school. Things got so bad that the White family had to ultimately move to another town.

It would have been easy for Ryan and his family to stay quiet and to fight the illness in private. But what Ryan showed was the same courage and strength that so many HIV-positive activists have shown over the years and shown around -- show around the world today. And because he did, we didn't just become more informed about HIV/AIDS, we began to take action to fight it.

In 1990, the year Ryan passed away, two great friends and unlikely political allies, Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch, came together and introduced the Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act -- the CARE Act -- which was later named after Ryan.

In a few minutes, I'm going to sign the fourth reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act. Now, in the past, policy differences have made reauthorizations of this program divisive and controversial. But that didn't happen this year. And for that, the members of Congress that are here today deserve extraordinary credit for passing this bill in the bipartisan manner that it deserves: Tom Harkin and Mike Enzi in the Senate, we are grateful to you for your extraordinary work; Speaker Pelosi, who's always leading the charge on so many issues; Frank Pallone, Jr., Joe Barton, Barbara Lee and Donna Christensen in the House, thank you for your extraordinary work -- oh don't worry, I'm getting to Henry. (Laughter.) Nancy is always looking out for members, but we've got a special section for Henry.

And Chairman Henry Waxman, who began holding hearings on AIDS in 1982, before there was even a name for AIDS, was leading here in Washington to make sure that this got the informed attention that it deserved and who led the House in passing the original Ryan White legislation in 1990.

I also want to acknowledge the HIV community for crafting a consensus document that did so much to help move this process forward. Some of the advocates so important to this legislation are with us here today: Ernest Hopkins from Cities Advocating for Emergency AIDS Relief; Frank Oldham, Jr., President and CEO of the National Association of People with AIDS; and Julie Scofield, Executive Director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

And I'm especially honored that Ryan's mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, is here today. For 25 years, Jeanne had an immeasurable impact in helping ramp up America's response to this epidemic. While we lost Ryan at too young an age, Jeanne's efforts have extended the lives and saved the lives of so many others. We are so appreciative to you. Thank you. (Applause.)

You know, over the past 19 years this legislation has evolved from an emergency response into a comprehensive national program for the care and support of Americans living with HIV/AIDS. It helps communities that are most severely affected by this epidemic and often least served by our health care system, including minority communities, the LGBT community, rural communities, and the homeless. It's often the only option for the uninsured and the underinsured. And it provides life-saving medical services to more than half a million Americans every year, in every corner of the country.

It's helped us to open a critical front on the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS. But let me be clear: This is a battle that's far from over, and it's a battle that all of us need to do our part to join. AIDS may no longer be the leading killer of Americans ages 25 to 44, as it once was. But there are still 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and more than 56,000 new infections occur every single year.

Some communities still experience unacceptably high rates of infection. Gay men make up 2 or 3 percent of the population, but more than half of all new cases. African Americans make up roughly half of all new cases. Nearly half of all new cases now occur in the South. And a staggering 7 percent of Washington, D.C.'s residents between the ages of 40 and 49 live with HIV/AIDS -- and the epidemic here isn't as severe as it is in several other U.S. cities.

So tackling this epidemic will take far more aggressive approaches than we've seen in the past -- not only from our federal government, but also state and local governments, from local community organizations, and from places of worship.

But it will also take an effort to end the stigma that has stopped people from getting tested; that has stopped people from facing their own illness; and that has sped the spread of this disease for far too long. A couple of years ago Michelle and I were in Africa and we tried to combat the stigma when we were in Kenya by taking a public HIV/AIDS test. And I'm proud to announce today we're about to take another step towards ending that stigma.

Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease -- yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic -- yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country.

If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that's why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It's a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it's a step that will keep families together, and it's a step that will save lives. (Applause.)

We are continuing the work of crafting a coordinated, measurable national HIV/AIDS strategy to stem and suppress this epidemic. I'm pleased to report that the Office of National AIDS Policy, led by Jeffrey Crowley, has already held eight in a series of 14 community discussions in cities across the country. They've brought together faith-based organizations and businesses, schools and research institutions, people living with HIV and concerned citizens, gathering ideas on how to target a national response that effectively reduces HIV infections, improves access to treatment, and eliminates health disparities. And we are encouraged by the energy, the enthusiasm, and great ideas that we've collected so far.

We can't give Ryan White back to Jeanne, back to his mom. But what we can do -- what the legislation that I'm about to sign has done for nearly 20 years -- is honor the courage that he and his family showed. What we can do is to take more action and educate more people. What we can do is keep fighting each and every day until we eliminate this disease from the face of the Earth.

So with that, let me sign this bill. (Applause.)

The announcement today means that two of the items on the "Gay Agenda"(hate crimes legislation signed into law, and end of HIV immigration ban) have been crossed off in one week!

WATCH: Christopher Hitchens v. Christian Pastor on Joy Behar

CA-GOV: Whitman Endorsed By Former L.A. Mayor Riordan

Republican insider Richard Riordan who was never able to get the brass ring of the California governorship himself has endorsed Meg Whitman for that position.
In the Whitman news release sent out this morning, Riordan says, "Meg believes the future of our state and the strength of our nation depend on Californians rededicating ourselves to education. Her commitment to returning control of our schools back to parents and teachers and demanding accountability makes Meg the best candidate."

Whitman repeated the education theme in her quotes in the news release.

"I appreciate Richard Riordan's steadfast commitment to education reform,'' Whitman said. "Over the decades, he has worked relentlessly to ensure every California student has access to a quality education. I am honored to have Mayor Riordan's endorsement and he will be an asset to my team."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Latest Maine Poll on Question 1: 48 No, 47 Yes

The latest poll from DailyKos on Maine is out:

QUESTION: As you may know, there will be one question on the ballot this November in Maine addressing the issue of same-sex unions. In part, it will read "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry?" A "YES" vote takes away the right of same-sex couples to marry. A "NO" vote keeps the right of same-sex couples to marry. If the election were held today, would you vote YES or NO on this question?

QUESTION: Regardless of how you might vote, do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?


This one is going to go down to the wire, folks! To do your part, don't forget that YOU can help from anywhere in the nation by calling Maine voters from your home, office or cell phone.

It is not a good sign that a bare plurality (instead of a majority) supports marriage equality in this poll. That is one of the pre-conditions I think one needs to have in order to move forward with a ballot measure enacting marriage in a state (the other two are a clear organizational plan and strategy and millions of dollars in the bank at the onset)

No on 1 Ad Shows Multiple Same-Sex Couples and Family

WATCH: Yes on 1 Repeats "They After YOUR Kids" Libel

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

VIDEO: Obama Remarks on Hate Crimes Bill Signing

Obama Signs Hate Crimes Act Into Law

President Obama with Judy Shepard, mother of Mathew Shepard,
in the Oval Office in June 2009

Here are the President's Remarks on the signing of the Defense Reauthorization Act (which included the Mathew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act) today white the White House emailed to its Press List:
Now, speaking of that, there is one more long-awaited change contained within this legislation that I'll be talking about a little more later today. After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are. (Applause.)

I promised Judy Shepard, when she saw me in the Oval Office, that this day would come, and I'm glad that she and her husband Dennis could join us for this event. I'm also honored to have the family of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought so hard for this legislation. And Vicki and Patrick, Kara, everybody who's here, I just want you all to know how proud we are of the work that Ted did to help this day -- make this day possible. So -- and thank you for joining us here today. (Applause.)
The haters are already complaining that Obama didn't use the word gay in his remarks, although he did have aseparate reception later with invited representatives of the LGBT community. No word on whether the White House will also release those remarks.

Pam's House Blend has a summary of reactions from LGBT organizations.

Safina Retires, Handing Serena Year-End #1 Ranking

Dinara Safina finished two games of her match with Jelena Jankovic at the Year-End Championships in Doha, Qata before retiring due to a back injury, a result which handed back Serena Williams the World #1 ranking without the two having to compete against each other.
"My body just gave up," the 23-year-old Safina told reporters after her hopes of becoming the first Russian to finish a year as world number one ended.

"I did everything possible to play here. I went yesterday to put injections, cortisone, but I could not handle this pain any more."

It was a sad end to the season for Safina, who spent 25 weeks at the top of the rankings but whose lack of grand slam titles, compared to the 11 of Williams, left many questioning her suitability for the No.1 spot.

"I think I should have taken a break after the U.S. Open but I was chasing this number one, so I was fighting with my body. God knows? Maybe I had to stop after the U.S. Open."

The withdrawal of Safina, who will be replaced by compatriot Vera Zvonareva in White Group, has left a void in the tournament that has already been struggling to attract fans to the Khalifa Tennis Centre on the shores of the Persian Gulf.
Serena opened her tournament with a 7-6(6) 7-5 win over 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and will face her sister Venus Williams tonight in a match that means much more to defending champion Venus who if she loses will most likely be eliminated, than the new World #1.

3-2-1 Countdown for Equality: No Bittersweet Victories


Who we are: Approve Referendum 71 is the campaign to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington State. By voting to approve, voters retain the domestic partnership laws that were passed during this year's legislative session, including using sick leave to care for a partner, adoption rights, insurance rights, and more.

What we need: We need phone bankers to get our supporters out to vote. Washington is an all mail-in ballot state, and we need to ensure our supporters put their ballots in the mail. Also, youth turnout is a critical component of our campaign, and youth turnout historically drops in off-year elections. So we need a lot of help to turn them out.

How you do it: Sign up here to make remote calls for Approve 71. We'll then contact you for a training, and you can make GOTV calls.

Maine:Who we are: The No On 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign is working to protect Maine's recently-passed law legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Our opponents have put the issue on the ballot for Nov 3, 2009. Because of Maine's early voting election laws, people are already voting at the polls, so we need help immediately to turn out our side at the polls.

What we need: We need you to devote a few hours to Call for Equality. Call for Equality is a virtual phonebank set up so that you can call Maine voters wherever you are. Much of Maine is rural, where canvassing isn't effective, so we need to reach these voters- along with other supporters- by phone. All you need is a phone and internet connection. No experience required! We'll provide the training, and all you need is a a few hours to help get a win in Maine.

How you do it: Click here to sign up for a training and your shift. There are lots of times available for your convenience.

Kalamazoo, MI:

Goal Thermometer

Who We Are: The Yes on Ordinance 1856 / One Kalamazoo campaign is working in Michigan to support the City Commission of Kalamazoo's twice approved ordinance for housing, employment, and public accommodation protections for gay and transgender residents. Opponents forced a public referendum on the ordinance so dedicated local volunteers, led by former Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley, are working to ensure voters say YES to fairness and equality and keep Ordinance 1856.

Why The Urgency: In the final weeks, the opposition has gone all out with aggressive disinformation and misleading red herrings to try to defeat the ordinance. This includes signs that say "No to Discrimination" (even though voting No actually supports continued discrimination of GLBT residents), transphobic door hangers and fliers, and now radio ads that falsely suggest that criminal behavior will become legal when this simply isn't true. The Yes on Ordinance 1856 supporters are better organized but many voters who want to vote for gay and transgender people are getting confused by the opposition.

How To Help:

1) Help the One Kalamazoo campaign raise a final $10,000 specifically dedicated to fight back against the lies on the local TV and radio airwaves and fully fund the campaign's final field and GOTV efforts.

Give here:

2) If you live nearby and can physically volunteer in Kalamazoo sign up here. If you know anyone that lives in Kalamazoo, use the One Kalamazoo campaign's online canvass tool to remind those voters that they need to vote on November 3rd and vote YES on Ordinance 1856 to support equality for gay and transgender people.

Contact voters:

WTA Year-End Championships Begin in Doha

The Sony Ericsson Championships have begun in Doha, Qatar. The prestigious tournament is the last tournament of the year and one of the most lucrative. This year it will also determine who ends up the year as #1: Dinara Safina, who has lost in not one but two major finals this year (Australia and Roland Garros), or Serena Williams who won in two (Australia and Wimbledon).

Craig Hickman has the draw:
White Group
Dinara Safina
Caroline Wozniacki
Victoria Azarenka
Jelena Jankovic

Maroon Group
Serena Williams
Svetlana Kuznetsova
Elena Dementieva
Venus Williams
The year-end championships features an unusual format where the eight competitors are split into two groups, playing a round-robin tournament for the top two spots. Then the top two in each group play against the top two in the other group in an elimination semifinal round for the last match of the year.

Venus Williams won last year, beating her sister along the way. Today she plays Serena again.

Referendum 71 Has Big Leads In Recent Polls

Washington Families Standing Together, the group protecting that state's comprehensive domestic partnership laws, released a poll showing a very strong lead for the Approve Referendum 71 side.
Approve: 53%
Reject: 36%
Undecided: 11%
This is a poll of 500 likely voters. Additionally, the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality at the University of Washington conducted a poll of 724 voters with margin of error of +/-3.6 points which shows registered voters approve referendum 71 56% to 39%, while likely voters it's leading 57% to 38% and among those who have already voted Referendum 71 is ahead 55% to 45%.

LAPD Chief Short List Revealed: All White, All-Male

Same as it ever was....

Despite having heard from several potential candidates for the LAPD top job who were Black (Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger), Latino (Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz) and female (Assistant Chief Sharon Papa), the Los Angeles Police Commission chose three white men for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to select his choice of the new LAPD Chief from.

According to the Los Angeles Times they are:
Deputy Chief Michel Moore, 49, is a 28-year veteran of the LAPD and is widely credited with helping to push down crime rates in the San Fernando Valley during his more than four years in charge of the bureau. As a captain in 2000, Moore was assigned the difficult task of helping to run the department's notorious Rampart Division in the wake of accusations of widespread corruption and abuses.

Deputy Chief Charles Beck, 56, is a 32-year veteran of the force and the son of a retired LAPD deputy chief. As commander of the Detective Bureau, he is a popular figure with the rank-and-file, who generally view him as a serious crime-fighter, and with the city's civil rights leaders, who hold him up as a progressive thinker on community relations and police conduct.

First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, 50, has served in the department for 28 years and, in addition to Bratton, has been the public face of the LAPD for several years in his role as chief of staff. Widely respected in the department and beyond, he was a candidate for chief in 2002 and Bratton went on to use an extensive plan developed by McDonnell as a blueprint for reshaping the department. With Bratton's frequent trips out of town, McDonnell has often been called to stand in as chief.
Villaraigosa will interview them all and make a decision over the weekend, which needs to be ratified by a majority of the Los Angeles City Council.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

VIDEO: Yes On 1 Latest Ad Promotes Maine DP

Fascinating. With one week to go, and mounting evidence that they are losing the electoral battle to defeat marriage equality in Maine, the Yes on 1 heterosexual supremacists have started running an ad claiming that "same-sex marriage is controversial" and lists the states that have voted to ban the practice (too fast a list to really be effective). However, then the shock is that they mention Maine's domestic partnership law and claims that gays are "provided substantial protections for gay couples" and highlight the Maine code which claims that domestic partnerships are "accorded a legal status similar to that of a married person" in yellow on the screen.

So, they just completely undermined their fellow heterosexual supremacists in Washington state who are claiming domestic partnerships are the same thing as marriage. However, in Maine the rights that go along with domestic partnerships are EXTREMELY limited, so to compare those to marriage is simply laughable. It's very interesting to see that they are switching tactics so close to election day. I think they're running scared. We'll see who is right in about 7 days.


Stephen Colbert Takes On Washington's Referendum 71

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Don't Ask Don't Tell
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Obama To Sign Federal Hate Crimes Bill Wed

President Barack Obama will sign the federal hate crimes bill into law on Wednesday and deliver remarks at a reception to which members of the LGBT community are invited.

The president plans to pen his name to the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill, which includes a provision known as the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The measure would make illegal hate crimes based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, among other categories, and would allow the Justice Department to assist in the prosecution of such crimes.

The legislation has languished in Congress for 12 years, and with strong support this congressional session, lawmakers put the finishing touches on the bill this month.

The House on Oct. 8 voted in favor of the defense conference report with the hate crimes measure, 281-146, and the Senate on Thursday approved the same report, 68-29.

I wonder how long the (white) LGBT community will give Obama credit for signing the first piece of federal legislaation ever to include civil rights protection based on gender identity as well as enacting a bill which has been on "the Gay Agenda" for over a decade. Don't hold your breath!

NYT on Timing Of Olson-Boies Prop 8 Federal Case

Monday's New York Times has an article on the much-debated "Olson-Boies lawsuit," formally known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Adam Liptak's piece begins with "In Battle Over Gay Marriage, Timing May Be Key":
In a San Francisco courtroom two weeks ago, a prominent lawyer opposed to same-sex marriage made a concession that could mark a turning point in the legal wars over the purpose and meaning of marriage.

The lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, has studied the matter deeply, and his erudite briefs are steeped in history. He cannot have been blindsided by the question Judge Vaughn R. Walker asked him: What would be the harm of permitting gay men and lesbians to marry?

“Your honor, my answer is: I don’t know,” Mr. Cooper said. “I don’t know.”
Unsurprisingly, the federal judge, Vaughn Walker denied Mr. Cooper's motion to dismiss the Olson-Boies lawsuit.

However, Liptak goes on to discuss the intra-community debate about whether the lawsuit will be "good for the gays" and generally seems to favor the argument that it is probably premature.
Mr. Olson’s problem, then, is that he may reach the Supreme Court too soon. Public support for same-sex marriage is gaining ground, particularly among younger people. But a majority of Americans remains opposed to the practice.

At the argument, Judge Walker seemed to share this concern. “Aren’t you just getting ahead of yourself by asserting this claim under the federal constitutional provisions?” the judge asked.

Mr. Olson responded by comparing his case to Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that held bans on interracial marriage to be unconstitutional. But 34 states permitted interracial marriage when Loving was decided. Only six states permit same-sex marriages.

The Loving decision, moreover, came almost two decades after the California Supreme Court struck down a state law banning interracial marriage in 1948 in Perez v. Sharp. The California Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision is a little more than a year old, and it has been repudiated by the state’s voters.


“We should buckle our seatbelts,” [openly gay New York University Law] Professor [Kenji] Yoshino said. “A comprehensive vetting of the empirical issues by a judicial tribunal is welcome and long overdue. Walker’s trial bids fair to be a trial in an almost scientific sense of the word.”
There were 19 years between the first state Supreme Court (California) striking down its interracial marriage ban and the United States Supreme Court following suit nationally. The first state High Court to strike down a marriage law was Massachusetts in 2003 (although 10 years before in May 1993 the Hawaii Supreme Court had ruled that it was likely to find that state's marriage statute unconstitutional but the voters amended their state constitution in 1998 before a final ruling could be made).

So, if one measures from Hawaii's Baehr v. Lewin case, a ruling from the United States Supreme Court in 2012 would also be 19 years between first State Supreme court action to federal imprimatur, but the more apposite case is Massachusetts' Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health which went into effect in May 2004. Following the Loving v. Virginia mathematics would mean the U.S. Supreme Court wouldn't legalize same-sex marriage nationally until 2023. Extending the analogy to the historical moment when interracial marriage was legalized nationally by then a majority of states would allow same-sex marriage, an unlikely prospect due to the 30 states where voters have amended their state constitutions to prevent their Courts and legislatures from expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

Soon we will find out when (and whether) states will start repealing these anti-gay marriage constitutional amendments. More likely than not, California will be in the vanguard in that battle, too.

Monday, October 26, 2009

With 8 Days Until Election Day, NO ON 1 Takes 53-42 Lead

A new poll out from Maine Public Broadcasting has good news for the good guys in the fight over marriage equality in Maine.
Pan Atlantic's Patrick Murphy says the survey of 400 likely voters found 53 percent opposing Question 1, which would repeal Maine's gay marriage law, while 42 percent favor the measure and six percent remain undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

Murphy says Question 1 is getting a different reaction in Maine's two congressional districts, with voters in the 1st District favoring the measure by a 20 point spread, while voters in the 2nd District remain nearly equally divided. He says among the state's Catholic voters, the measure has a narrow margin of support, 49 to 46 percent.
Notice that this is showing a lead for the NO side which is outside the margin of error of the poll. Also, with 8 days left to go, many people are voting by absentee (like these students at Bowdoin College) while some Maine towns are allowing early voting.

I am beginning to have a good feeling about this, VOTE NO ON 1/PROTECT MAINE EQUALITY!

Eye Candy: Narallan Rivas

Narallan Rivas caught my eye at the Another Guy Blog awhile ago and so I checked out his Model Mayhem page and scoped the images above for this week's Eye Candy feature. According to his profile, Narallan is a 24-year-old student who lives in Brooklyn, New York and is 5'8, 160 pounds, of Hispanic ethnicity. What do you think?

Lesbian Is Frontrunner In Houston Mayoral Race

Annise Parker is an openly gay former city councilwoman of Houston, Texas who is running to become the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city. Parker has been reported to be in the lead in published polls and has now been endorsed by her city's major newspaper, the Houston Chronicle:

Houstonians are fortunate to face a difficult choice for mayor this year between two exceptional candidates, public law attorney Gene Locke and City Controller Annise Parker. It's likely one or both will be in a runoff after the first round of voting winds up on Nov. 3.

With the city facing critical financial decisions early next year as a result of the economic downturn, the next mayor will occupy a pivotal leadership position. Parker and Locke offer deep roots in the city and a dazzling range of life experiences and public service that would well equip either to serve as the successor to term-limited Mayor Bill White.


The city's voters are very familiar with Parker, a Rice University graduate who worked in the energy sector for two decades while compiling a record as a civic activist, including a stint as president of the Neartown Association. She has won six citywide races: three for an at-large City Council seat starting in 1997, three for controller.

You go, girl!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

VIDEO: Maine TV Coverage of Bowdoin Students Voting

I quite enjoyed my visit to Bowdoin College earlier this year where I gave a talk about race, marriage equality and Proposition 8 called "Gay is NOT the new Black." It's good to see these students exercising their right to vote on Question 1, which will decide the fate of gay marriage in Maine for the near future.

Boston Globe Endorses Maine's No On Question 1

Boston Globe editorializes in favor of marriage equality today. It is so good, here it is in its entirety:
MARRIAGE AFFORDS unparalleled rights and benefits to people who commit to long-term relationships. All people, regardless of sexual orientation, should have an equal right to marry under the law. On Election Day, Maine voters should vote “no’’ on ballot Question 1 and respect the rights of their neighbors and fellow citizens to live how they choose.

Supporters of the ballot initiative argue that same-sex marriage erodes heterosexual marriage, but experience has proven them wrong: Since Massachusetts legalized gay marriage five years ago, the state has seen its divorce rate, already the lowest in the nation, decline further. But that hasn’t stopped supporters of the initiative from making other wild claims. No, gay marriage is not being taught, alongside spelling and long division, as part of the public-school curriculum in Massachusetts. No, an equal right to civil marriage has not rendered Massachusetts genderless.

Religions differ in their beliefs, customs, and ceremonies about marriage - none of which will be affected by a new Maine law that deals only with civil marriages. If Question 1 fails, churches and other religious groups could still refuse to perform same-sex marriages. But the law would ensure that courts will continue to marry gay and lesbian couples.

The law signed by Governor John E. Baldacci in May recognizes that legalizing gay marriage is a matter of fairness. A civil union, the governor said, is not equal to a marriage. Just as the state of Maine would not deny the equal rights and protections of the law to its other citizens, it should not deny them to gay people who wish to build stable families. A vote of “no’’ on Question 1 is a vote for equal protection of the laws, a guarantee in Maine’s constitution and in the country’s that all citizens should defend and embrace.

US Supreme Court Shields WA Referendum-71 Petitioners

On Thursday October 22nd, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 (Justice Stevens dissenting) in Doe v. Reed (pdf)to grant Protect Marriage Washington's appeal for an injunction against Washington State's Secretary of State Sam Reed from revealing the names of the 138,500 people who signed petitions to place Referendum 71 (which would repeal that state's comprehensive domestic partnership statute) on the November 3rd ballot.

The Supreme Court overruled a quite good decision (pdf) from a 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit which had ruled that signing a petition anonymously is not protected under the First Amendment. In a unanimous decision the 9th Circuit Court said:
We conclude that each of the State’s asserted interests is sufficiently
important to justify the PRA’s incidental limitations on referendum petition
signers’ First Amendment freedoms. See O’Brien, 391 U.S. at 376-77. We
conclude also that the incidental effect of the PRA on speech is no greater than
necessary. See Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781, 798-99 (holding that a
restriction need not be the least restrictive means of furthering the State’s interest
to survive intermediate scrutiny).

Finally, no one has claimed that the State’s interests are at all related to the
suppression or regulation of expression. The stated aim of the PRA, which itself
was passed through the initiative process, is to keep the citizens “informed so that
they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created.” Wash.
Rev. Code § 42.56.030. There is no indication that despite this clear statement, the
PRA was nonetheless intended to suppress free expression.

Accordingly, we hold that the PRA as applied to referendum petitions does
not violate the First Amendment.
Unfortunately, the High Court's action means that Referendum 71 will be decided without the information of who initiated the process being revealed and even whether the measure was properly qualified.

However, the legal dispute over whether petition signatories can have their names shielded is very much alive, and appears in a front page story in today's Los Angeles Times by David Savage, that paper's excellent court reporter.

Several constitutional (and election law) experts are quoted expressing doubt over the proposition that Protect Marriage Washington's legal position will eventually prevail:

First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh of UCLA questioned whether petition signers have a constitutional right to anonymity.

"As a matter of 1st Amendment law, you have the right to speak anonymously but you don't have a constitutional right to essentially engage in a legally significant action anonymously," he said. "The state can demand you identify yourself on a petition, and at that point it seems the state is entitled to publish it."

Signing a petition is more akin to a lawmaker's vote, which is usually required to be made in public so the citizenry can monitor the progress of the laws that will govern them, legal analysts say.

But Richard Hasen, a Loyola law professor, noted that the Supreme Court in the past has protected civil rights groups and socialists from revealing the names of their members because of fears they could be harassed and intimidated.

"The court would not necessarily construe signing a ballot measure as a 1st Amendment-protected activity," Hasen said. "But if it is, in fact, true that signers face harassment, I think that's troubling."
I'd love to see a full hearing on whether people who have signed petitions have been harassed or not. In Proposition 8, it was the names of donors to Proposition 8, not the names of the 1.1 million people who signed the petitions that were revealed and led to boycotts.

The question is whether the Court will grant certioriari on this legal question after the election, when the question may be moot (if the Referendum is approved). I hope that they do.

17 Women U.S. Senators and 6 Women Governors

There has been tremendous advances by female politicans in recent years and MSNBC's First Read has been running interesting facts about women and politics all week long. There are now 17 female U.S. Senators and 6 female Governors:
Jan Brewer of AZ
Jodi Rell of CT
Linda Lingle of HI
Jennifer Granholm of MI
Bev Perdue of NC
Chris Gregoire of WA

Lisa Murkowski of AK
Blanche Lincoln of AR
Barbara Boxer of CA
Dianne Feinstein of CA
Mary Landrieu of LA
Susan Collins of ME
Olympia Snowe of ME
Barbara Mikulski of MD
Debbie Stabenow of MI
Amy Klobuchar of MN
Claire McCaskill of MO
Kay Hagan of NC
Jeanne Shaheen of NH
Kirsten Gillibrand of NY
Kay Bailey Hutchison of TX
Patty Murray of WA
Maria Cantwell of WA
When do you think we will have a female President? The group She Should Run is trying to encourage women to consider running for public office.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

NY Gov Says He Expects To Sign Marriage Bill Soon

New York Governor David Paterson said Thursday night at Empire State Pride Agenda's gala dinner in New York City that he expects the State Senate to pass a marriage equality bill in the next few weeks.

''No longer in New York'' will same-sex couples have to worry about insurance coverage, being allowed to visit each other hospitals, or whether they will be guaranteed the same rights as other married couples under law, he said.


More than a year ago, Paterson had framed the debate as a civil right long denied. But divisions among Senate Democrats earlier this year made approval unlikely after a few Democrats in the 32-30 majority objected to the bill on religious grounds.

Now, however, Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County says GOP senators won't be asked to vote against the measure in a bloc and are free to vote for the bill.

A leading advocate and bill sponsor, Sen. Thomas Duane of Manhattan, who is gay, has declined to comment on the issue this week. Senate Democratic majority spokesman Austin Shafran said there has been no head count of votes on the issue.

To the crowd, Paterson joked that if anyone in a same-sex relationship had put off conversations about marriage because it wasn't legal, ''you'd better leave now because marriage equality is coming to New York City.''

Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont, and will start in New Hampshire in January. A referendum in Maine on Nov. 3 will determine the fate of a same-sex marriage bill passed by the Legislature in May.

Maine YES ON 1 Gets $1.1 MILLION from NOM

Sound the alarm! The odious National Organization for Marriage has donated $1.1 million dollars to the heterosexual supremacists called "Stand for Marriage Maine" in the last couple days to make up for the hefty financial advantage the NO ON 1/Protect Maine Equality side had been enjoying as of October 15th.

The latest totals are:
Stand For Marriage Maine            $2,547,860.40                  
Protect Maine Equality/No On 1 $4,069,053.71

Just last week, NO ON 1 had a lead of nearly $1.6 million dollars ($2.7m to $1.1m), now that lead has been reduced to $1.5 million.

With recent polls showing Question 1 basically tied at 48-48 this is the time to GET OUT THE VOTE and, if you live on the East Coast, GET THEE TO MAINE!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Celebrity Friday: The Obama Family

The First Family of the United States: Barack, Sasha, Michelle and Malia Obama. Have a nice weekend, y'all! (hat/tip Wonder Man)

VIDEO: New Ad From Yes on 1 Liars

This is wild. I was at the LGBT caucus at Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh this summer where Monique Hoefflinger made the remarks "Literally, we started this campaign in 2005." The 2005 Maine NOn-Discrimination Ordinance and the 2009 Maine Marriage bill LD-1020 have nothing to do with each other except the fact they both involve expanding rights for LGBT citizens!

Congress Sends Federal Hate Crimes Bill To Obama

Elections have consequences. Today's 68-29 vote on the final version of the Department of Defense spending bill means that the federal hate crimes bill will become the first piece of federal legislation that includes gender identity and the first major piece of civil rights legislation on the LGBT agenda to be enacted.

The New York Times said
The measure, attached to an essential military-spending bill, broadens the definition of federal hate crimes to include those committed because of a victim’s gender or gender identity, or sexual orientation. It gives victims the same federal safeguards already afforded to people who are victims of violent crimes because of their race, color, religion or national origin.

“Hate crimes instill fear in those who have no connection to the victim other than a shared characteristic such as race or sexual orientation,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said afterward. “For nearly 150 years, we have responded as a nation to deter and to punish violent denials of civil rights by enacting federal laws to protect the civil rights of all of our citizens.”


Opponents argued to no avail that the new measure was unnecessary in view of existing laws and might interfere with local law enforcement agencies. Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said he agreed that hate crimes were terrible. “That’s why they are already illegal,” Mr. DeMint said, asserting that the new law was a dangerous, even “Orwellian” step toward “thought crime.”
Republicans have also said that they may challenge the law in court.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Congress Passes Ryan White CARE Act

The Ryan White CARE Act was approved by Congress this week with a vote of 408 to 9 in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. The federal legislation is the most important means by which federal funds are delivered to fight HIV/AIDS in the United States.
The bill, if signed into law by President Obama, would provide federal funding to help low-income, uninsured, or under-insured Americans with AIDS gain access to healthcare.

The President’s Executive Office released a Statement of Administration Policy on Oct. 19 in support of the Act. "The Administration is committed to strengthening access to acre for people living with HIV/AIDS," the statement read. "The legislation reauthorizes all parts of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program."

"The House and Senate leadership and the Members of the committees worked closely with the HIV/AIDS community to maintain this critical program," said Rebecca Haag, the executive director of the AIDS Action Council.

"This bill will ensure the availability of life saving services for those living with HIV/AIDS in all states and territories while we determine the long term impact of health care reform legislation and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy on the health and well being of those infected, affected and at risk for HIV."
This is just the first but important step of authorization. Later, appropriation of funds to enact the authorized programs needs to occur.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rep. Who Shouted "You Lie!" Outraised Dem. by $1M

Democrat Rob Miller at first outraised Republican Joe Wilson when the South Carolina congressperson shouted "You Lie!" at President Barack Obama joint address to Congress on health care reform.

However, by the end of the fundraising reporting quarter on September 30th, it turned out that Wilson ended up raising $2.7 million to Miller's $1.7 million.

VIDEO: Approve Referendum 71 Ad

The latest ad in the fight to save Washington State's comprehensive domestic partnership statute has just been released.

Election Day is in less than 13 days, and all ballots must be mailed in by November 3rd.

I'm glad that they are putting a live LGBT face on the Referendum 71 fight, but did they have to make the ad so somber?

VIDEO: No On 1 On Rachel Maddow

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nadal Loses Shanghai Masters Final To Davydenko

World #2 Rafael Nadal of Spain lost the final of the Shanghai Masters 7-6(3) 6-3 to Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, someone World #1 Roger Federer has never lost to.

Latest Maine Poll on Question 1: 48-48 Tie

It's exactly two weeks until election day in Maine where they will be voting on Question 1, a measure to eliminate marriage equality, very similar to last year's Proposition 8 in California. A PPP poll released today shows a 48-48 tie with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 points. PPP surveyed 1,103 likely voters by phone between October 16-19.

Opinion on the issue predictably breaks heavily along party lines. 74% of Republicans are planning to vote yes while only 25% of Democrats are. Independents may end up deciding which way it goes- presently 50% of them support rejecting the law with 44% in opposition.

Older voters are strongest in their support of cutting off gay marriage. 54% are in support with 40% opposed. Senior citizens can often dominate the electorate in low turnout elections so the ultimate fate of this measure may lie in how many younger people get out to the polls and vote.

There is a strong gender gap on the issue with 53% of men but only 43% of women wanting to reject the law. It's also interesting to note that while white voters oppose undoing the law by a thin 47-45 margin, nonwhite voters in the state support rejection by a 55-35 margin, creating the overall tie.

It's all about turnout! If you live in Maine or know anyone in Maine make sure you let them know you want them to VOTE NO ON QUESTION 1!

Trailer for "8: The Mormon Proposition"

Monday, October 19, 2009

WA Heterosexual Supremacists Win Temporary Stay From Kennedy

The stakes are getting higher and higher in Washington state over whether the names of the people who signed petitions which allowed Referendum 71 to barely qualify for the November 3rd 2009 ballot will be released to the public. Earlier today, Justice Anthony Kennedy re-instated a U.S. District Court ruling that had been overturned by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Thursday which had shielded the names of heterosexual supremacists who were told they were signing petitions to ban gay marriage, when really what Referendum 71 would do is eliminate Washington state's recently enacted comprehensive domestic partnership law.

According to the SCOTUS blog which monitors all actions by the United states Supreme Court:
UPDATE 2:55 p.m. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on Monday afternoon put back into effect, temporarily, a federal judge’s order that protects the privacy of signers of a petition seeking a voter referendum on a gay rights law in Washington State. He did so, however, only until a further order is issued by himself or by the Court; the order is here. Kennedy acted on the basis of the application, before getting a response, due this afternoon, from state officials. FURTHER UPDATE 5:50 p.m. The state officials’ response is now in; it can be found here.
It is likely that Kennedy will refer the matter to the full Court and the matter will be resolved on Tuesday.

18-year-old Becomes 5th Chess Player Over 2800 Rating

Teen chess sensation Magnus Carlsen of Norway blew away the field in Nanjing, China by winning 6 games and drawing the rest for an amazing 8 points out of 10, a full 2 1/2 points ahead of the top-ranked player in the world, Veselin Topalov. Most tournaments at this level are won by a 1/2 point or 1 point.

Carlsen's victory gives him an insane performance rating of 3002 and an actual rating of 2801, which is only the fifth time in history anyone will have had a published rating above 2800. At 18, Carlsen is far younger than Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand, Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik who have achieved this feat (and all of these players have been World Champion, with Anand currently scheduled to defend his title against Topalov in a match scheduled for next year).

Already most chess columnists are speculating on when, not if, Carlsen will become the first Western chess champion since Bobby Fischer. Interestingly, Kasparov, who retired in March 2005 from chess to focus on politics in Russia has recently been coaching Carlsen and the Norwegian's results have been spectacular ever since.

Morehouse Issues Dress Code That Bans "Crossdressing"

Morehouse College, the all-male predominantly African-American college in Atlanta, Georgia which boats Martin Luther King, Lr. as one of its alums, is back in the news for an LGBT-related issue: issuing a new dress code banning cross-dressing by the students.

According to Frank Leon Roberts, a NYC-based blogger writing in Keith Boykin's Daily Voice website, here is the full text of Morehouse's Appropriate Attire Policy:
It is our expectation that students who select Morehouse do so because of the College's outstanding legacy of producing leaders. On the campus and at College-sponsored events and activities, students at Morehouse College will be expected to dress neatly and appropriately at all times.

Students who choose not to abide by this policy will be denied admission into class and various functions and services of the College if their manner of attire is inappropriate. Examples of inappropriate attire and/or appearance include but are not limited to:

1. No caps, do-rags and/or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues. This policy item does not apply to headgear considered as a part of religious or cultural dress.

2. Sun glasses or "shades" are not to be work in class or at formal programs, unless medical documentation is provided to support use.

3. Decorative orthodontic appliances (e.g. "grillz") be they permanent or removable, shall not be worn on the campus or at College-sponsored events.

4. Jeans at major programs such as, Opening Convocation, Commencement, Founder's Day or other programs dictating professional, business casual attire, semi-formal or formal attire.

5. Clothing with derogatory, offense and/or lewd messages either in words or pictures.

6. Top and bottom coverings should be wor[n] at all times. No bare feet in public venues.

7. No sagging--the wearing of one's pants or shorts low enough to reveal undergarments or secondary layers of clothing.

8. Pajamas, shall not be worn while in public or in common areas of the College.

9. No wearing of clothing associated with women's garb (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at College-sponsored events.[emphasis added]

10. Additional dress regulations may be imposed upon students participating in certain extracurricular activities that are sponsored or organized by the College (e.g. athletic teams, the band, Glee Club, etc).

11. The college reserves the right to modify this policy as deemed appropriate.
*All administrative, faculty, students and support staff members are asked to assist in enforcing this policy and may report disregard or violations to the Office of Student Conduct. "
Apparently, the College's gay student group, somewhat bizarrely going under the moniker "Safe Space" has endorsed the dress code.

It is item #9 which has garnered the College the most notoriety, recently.

As Frank says, "I must be missing something. Is there some kind of growing, critical mass of high-heel wearing, gold-tooth rockin' boys threatening to take over the campus? (if so, Big Up)."


VIDEO: No On 1 Responds To Yes on 1 Lies

I don't really see how this ad from Protect Maine Equality is a better response than the one last year from No On 8 with State Superintendent of Schools Jack O'Connell saying that nothing in California law required the teaching of gay marriage in California schools.

In fact, I have some issues with this ad in that it says that "it's common sense" that Maine teachers would not allow the teaching of anything "inappropriate." That's a dangerous road to go down--are you agreeing with your opponents that teaching about gay marriage is "inappropriate" or do you just not want to refer to their lies that gay sex is going to be taught in kindergartens because of LD 1020, the new Maine marriage equality law.

Also, since NO ON 1 has more money than Yes on1, do you really need to respond to an ad with more force than the original charge?

Still, I'm hopeful and encouraged that No On 1 has the resources and ability to respond quickly, especially since voting on Question 1 has now started in Maine.


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