Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone!

Today is the first day of Barack Obama's presidency. Which means that the struggle for equality will no longer have an adversary in the White House. Obama may not be the strongest advocate for human rights like he claims (he is a proponent of separate-but-equal civil unions), but if his actions match his rhetoric, we are in for an unprecendented era of progress.

The whitehouse.gov website now includes extensive details about Obama's agenda for civil rights, which specifically (and predominantly!) includes rights for GLBT Americans and their families. Copied below in full:

CIVIL RIGHTS

"The teenagers and college students who left their homes to march in the streets of Birmingham and Montgomery; the mothers who walked instead of taking the bus after a long day of doing somebody else's laundry and cleaning somebody else's kitchen -- they didn't brave fire hoses and Billy clubs so that their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren would still wonder at the beginning of the 21st century whether their vote would be counted; whether their civil rights would be protected by their government; whether justice would be equal and opportunity would be theirs.... We have more work to do."

-- Barack Obama, Speech at Howard University, September 28, 2007

President Barack Obama has spent much of his career fighting to strengthen civil rights as a civil rights attorney, community organizer, Illinois State Senator, U.S. Senator, and now as President. Whether promoting economic opportunity, working to improve our nation's education and health system, or protecting the right to vote, President Obama has been a powerful advocate for our civil rights.

* Combat Employment Discrimination: President Obama and Vice President Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: President Obama and Vice President Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section.
* End Deceptive Voting Practices: President Obama will sign into law his legislation that establishes harsh penalties for those who have engaged in voter fraud and provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote.
* End Racial Profiling: President Obama and Vice President Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.
* Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support: President Obama and Vice President Biden will provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society. Obama and Biden will also create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.
* Eliminate Sentencing Disparities: President Obama and Vice President Biden believe the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated.
* Expand Use of Drug Courts: President Obama and Vice President Biden will give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior.

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

* 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. President 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, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
* Fight Workplace Discrimination: President 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. The President 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: President 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: President 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: President 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. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
* Expand Adoption Rights: President 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, President 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. The President 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. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.
* 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. President 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.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Prop 8 maps

This website takes public information, and makes it a bit more... public. It goes perhaps a bit further than I'm comfortable with. But if you want to know where the donors are, here ya go:

http://www.eightmaps.com/

Now, PLEASE!!!!! Harassing donors is NOT going to achieve anything. Treat people with respect. And fight the bigotry, not the bigot.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Anti-gay violence, anti-mormon violence

Since the passage of Prop 8, there have been a number of acts of anti-gay violence around the country. I found most of these doing a google news search.

Anti-gay violence since the election
On November 9, a transgnedered woman was murdered in Tenessee.

December 3, a gay-bashing in Salt Lake City.

On December 7, a two Ecuadorian brothers were beaten in Brooklyn, NY. The attackers (assuming that they were a couple, because they were walking arm-in-arm) shouted anti-gay, anti-latino slurs at them. One of the brothers died of brain injuries. (His facebook memorial page is here.)

On December 10, a gay man was attacked in a DC restaurant.

On December 13, a lesbian in Richmond, CA was raped by a gang of attackers who targeted her because of her sexuality.

December 16, another attack in DC leaves a gay man dead.

Anti-mormon violence since the election
Um... none that I could find.

Of course, "mysterious white powder" sent to the LDS church in LA is a reprehensible act. It has NOT been linked to any gay-rights group, and frankly, antrhax attacks are historically the M.O. of right-wing extremists.

But I could not identify a single case of anti-Mormon or anti-Christian violence since the election. Please let me know if you are aware of any, and link me to a news source!

So all those cries of persecution coming from Prop 8 supporters ring a little hollow to me. These people have not had their safety jeopardized.
---

This blog is not meant to imply that the Prop 8 campaign directly led to acts of anti-gay violence--gay bashing has a long and inglorious history that preceded the election. But I wanted to put to rest the delusional claims of persecution espoused by religious extremists, who have never had to fear for their safety for being themselves.

Friday, December 19, 2008

This week in gay-bashing

-The US joins China, Russia, and pretty nearly every Islamic Country in refusing to sign on to a UN declaration opposing persecution of homosexuals. The Vatican takes its hypocrisy to new heights, letting its homophobia outweigh its opposition to the death penalty (the punishment for homosexuality in Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Yemen). (And this passes for spiritual leadership?)

-Obama extends an invitation to Rick Warren to preside over the beginning of his term as president. Warren not only supported Proposition 8, but he also equates homosexuality with incest and pedophilia. His campaign--delivered from his pulpit--was blatantly dishonest, fabricating legal implications for churches if Prop 8 failed. (And this passes for spiritual leadership?)

-Obama fails to include a single out gay or lesbian in his cabinet or his inauguration ceremony. Unless you count the marching band. (This isn't a huge slight, but it provides a context in which we can interpret Obama's other actions. Remember, this is the full extent of his outreach to the gays so far.)

-The Yes on 8 people (that would include Rick Warren) sue the state of California to force the nullification of the same-sex couples already married prior to election day. (If you want the names of this crew: youcanthideyourhate.blogpost.com)

That's a lot of abuse for a single week.

But then again, when the times are dark, a ray of light shines. There are at least a few people willing to stand up for what's right.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prop-8 backer Rick Warren to lead invocation at Obama's inauguration

Read the story here.

Many of us said that Proposition 8 put gays and lesbians on the back of the bus.

Well, now President-Elect Obama has thrown us under it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A flag for equal rights



My friends at The New Gay blog posted a piece about the Equal Rights flag, created by Carl Tashian, where there is one star for each state where same-sex and opposite-sex couples are treated equally.

The original version of this flag had three stars, for Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California. After November 4th, and the passage of Prop 8, that empty blue field got a bit emptier.

The backstory can be read here. It was a protest symbol from the women's suffrage movement.

I post this to remind the readers that we are NOT fighting about marriage, and we are NOT fighting for California.

Let's be clear about one thing: We will have a full field of stars, and soon. Not just in California, but in every state from Alabama to Wyoming. And we have our Constitution to thank for that. We've waited over 100 years for people to realize that the 14th amendment applies to us. This day will come sooner than you think.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hate the bigotry, not the bigot

This post is just a reminder that I'd like all the people to use these fliers to fight prejudice and bigotry, but not personally attack the people who promote it.

We have to view these people as victims. They were raised to believe that bigotry is morally correct. They were lied to by their religious leaders.

So, please, if you know anyone on this list, think of it as an occasion for dialogue, not an invitation for harassment.

If you don't know the people on the list, you probably don't want to go out of your way to contact them--odds are, angry confrontations with strangers will not be persuasive.

Santa Monica and nearby cities

This flier covers Santa Monica and surrounding areas, including Culver City, Venice, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Westchester, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, and Playa Vista. (For other communities in this area, check out the Westside Flier)

Download PDF here.



Saturday, December 13, 2008

Laguna Beach

Just one city on this flier! But wow, for such a tiny and gay-friendly city, Laguna Beach was certainly an outpouring of financial support for Prop 8!

Download pdf here.



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not boycotting anyone

Despite protestations from the editors and letter writers to the Press-Telegram, I am not boycotting any businesses on account of donations to Proposition 8.

When he interviewed me, reporter John Canalis asked me if I had ceased going to any businesses because of their involvement with Prop 8.

I couldn't think of a single one. There is no business I used to patronize prior to the campaign that I have ceased to patronize.

Largely, this is because most of the businesses I use are supportive of equal rights, or stayed neutral in the campaign.

So although some might boycott El Pollo Loco, Cinemark, or other such businesses, I can't, because I never patronized them in the first place.

No change in shopping behavior? No boycott. It's that simple.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Media coverage

Our blog has been making the press from coast to coast!

First the Long Beach Press-Telegram ran an article on us on Nov. 29, followed by a fairly critical editorial the next day (because, apparently, the P-T thinks that electoral persecution is more of a civil right than marriage).

Now the Boston University independent student paper, the Daily Free Press, has covered us as well!

In related news, both the LA Times and the Press-Telegram ran editorials today bemoaning the fact that some Prop 8 supporters are learning that their actions have consequences.

From today's LA Times:


Prop. 8 -- boycott, or blacklist?
Shunning businesses is one thing; intimidation crosses the line.
December 10, 2008

Gays and lesbians -- at least some of them -- plan to refrain from working and shopping today as an expression of their dismay over Proposition 8, the Nov. 4 measure that banned same-sex marriage, and as a showing of both their economic clout and their place within the larger community. If organizers carry it off, this is exactly the kind of tactic that can make a difference, though its impact might have been bigger before election day.

For all the complaints (mainly coming from the Yes-on-8 campaign), boycotts against corporations or organizations are a time-honored method of expressing opinions and pushing for social or political change. But in the superheated Proposition 8 debate, this venerable tactic has occasionally been used in ugly ways.

It started when the directors of the Yes-on-8 campaign sent letters to various companies that had donated to the opposition camp. The missives warned donors to pay an equal amount to the "Yes" side or risk being publicly outed as opponents of "traditional marriage" (the implication being that they would then face a boycott). The tactic looked and quacked a lot like extortion. It's one thing to boycott, or threaten it; a demand for hush money goes over the line.

Since then, postelection boycott efforts by the other side -- defenders of same-sex marriage -- have expanded into a vengeful campaign against individuals who donated to the gay-marriage ban, usually in the form of pressure on their employers. At least two people have resigned from their jobs and a third is considering it, including the artistic director of a stage company in Sacramento and a manager at an L.A. eatery.

As much as we abhorred Proposition 8, there's nothing to cheer about when private individuals are afraid to donate to the political campaigns of their choice because it may cost them their livelihood. In the case of Scott Eckern, who resigned from the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento, the future of the nonprofit company was at stake after some artists refused to work with him. But what if that situation were reversed and Eckern were targeted because he opposed Proposition 8? Or because he was gay? Professionals have to look past their personal and political differences or everyone with an opinion will be on an official list of undesirables.

The line between boycott and blacklist can be imprecise. Owners and officers of companies aren't just private individuals; they must accept that their political actions will reflect on the organizations they head and act accordingly. But a heated debate about a basic right -- in this case, the right to marry whom one chooses -- must also consider the rights of citizens to vote and donate without intimidation.


The LA Times wins points for pointing out that it was the Yes on 8 side who actually, collectively, attempted to intimidate donors from giving money to the No side. But they lose points for bringing up the false equivalency in pretending that defending your rights is the same as denying rights from others, and that our reactions should be the same.

From the Press-Telegram:

Tarred and feathered
Press-Telegram Editorial
Posted: 12/09/2008 11:49:43 PM PST

When Emerson Fersch contributed $3,285 to the "Yes on 8" campaign, he was acting on his conscience. A Mormon bishop, Fersch obviously felt strongly about preserving marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

On Nov. 4, a majority of California voters agreed with Fersch and voted "yes" on Proposition 8, which amends the state constitution to define marriage in the traditional sense.

But, unlike other ballot propositions, including ones that increase property tax assessments significantly, gay activists would not accept "yes" for an answer.

The day after, the boycotts and protests began. One of the first targets was the Mormon temple in West L.A., since Mormons were exercising their legal and moral choices by supporting and heavily funding Prop. 8. A restaurant owner whose daughter donated $100 to the "Yes on 8" campaign found his business boycotted, until the daughter made a tearful apology to gays.

Last month, a local Web site listed people who made perfectly legal contributions in favor of Prop. 8, and Fersch, who also happens to be city treasurer of Signal Hill, was high on the list. We said at the time that while the Web site's outings of contributors are perfectly legal, they do nothing to further the cause of civility.

Now gay activists are threatening to start a recall petition to have Fersch removed from his job. They will rally today in front of Signal Hill City Hall. But what will they be protesting? A person's
Advertisement
free choice as an American to support a cause he believes in?

Signal Hill Mayor Michael Knoll, who is gay, was quoted in Tuesday's Press-Telegram as saying, "What (Fersch) did in his personal views and life is his business." Knoll's voice of reason was shared by two other openly gay members of the council, Vice Mayor Ellen Ward and Councilman Larry Forester, although Forester called Fersch's donation "bigoted."

Fersch apologized to the three gay council members, although it's not clear why supporting a ballot measure is in any way "bigoted." Frankly, it sounds as if Forester needs a lesson in democracy.

In the 1950s, careers and lives were ruined by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his band of witch-hunters trying to ferret out communists in the entertainment and other industries. What's been happening since Nov. 4 is no less insidious.

Today, gay activists are planning to "call in gay." Instead of reporting for work, or spending money, they will do volunteer work. That is their right. Just as it's Emerson Fersch's and everyone else's right to do what their conscience and values dictate in a peaceful, legal and democratic way.



The P-T deserves a scolding for its over-the-top histrionics, and for failing to appreciate that their defense of pure, unadulterated democracy ought to lead them to defend a recall effort (against Signal Hill treasurer Emerson Fersch) as a way of holding our officials accountable. Their narrow definition of bigotry defends all prejudice, as long as the bigot smiles when he or she discriminates. Worse still, for a second time, they claim that one could actually support Prop 8 if they had a conscience!

What both of these editorial writers must realize is that oppressed people never accept inequality. These protests will continue until equality is achieved.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Humboldt County

Humboldt County, including Arcata, Eureka, McKinleyville, Blue Lake, Fortuna, and Ferndale.

No donors to Prop 8 lived in the towns of Carlotta, Trinidad, and Bayside.

Note: All the donors are listed on side 1. Side 2 just contains some extra info about the campaign waged by Prop 8 supporters. Interesting to read when people complain about boycotting and blackmail.....

Download PDF here.