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The Prop. 8 Trial a Year Later: The Education Continues

Background Community/Meta Prop 8 trial Televising Testimony Trial analysis

Stay tuned for an exciting new project we’ll be rolling out on this topic. -Adam

By Rick Jacobs

A year ago this weekend, my brilliant partner Shaun Kadlec joined me in San Francisco as we headed into the third week of the Prop. 8 Trial. Shaun and I had planned for months to be in Vienna to visit a college classmate of mine who’s now a senior diplomat there. I had always assumed that the Prop. 8 Trial would be on TV, meaning that everyone could see the proceedings. After that first day in the courtroom when it became clear that the trial would not be on TV, we canceled the trip and I stayed to live blog the rest of the trial (with lots of help from Brian Leubitz and Paul Hogarth, among others). That was one of the most important and best decisions of my life.

The full meaning and impact of that trial grow daily. A year later, in retrospect, the outcome seemed inevitable. The judge’s thorough and reasoned ruling followed the logic of the witnesses, the pleadings and the arguments. The defendant-intervenors put on no case and the ruling reflected that. But that’s hindsight. During those days of the trial, we could not know how the judge would rule. Would he rule that the state had no role in marriage? Would he decide that even though the evidence for marriage was overwhelming, the courts should stay out of this altogether? Would some other procedural delay intervene, holding the case at bay for months more than the eight it took?

We wait now to find out how –and whether–the California Supreme Court will reply to the appellate court on the issue of “standing,” that is, whether proponents (sponsors) of ballot measures have special rights to act. For a range of reasons unrelated to this trial, I hope that the Court decides they do not have those rights, but that’s a subject for another day. In time, this case or one like it will wind up at the Supreme Court. And that we hope will end what David Boies calls the last arena of legalized discrimination in America. With the fall of DADT and the ultimate legalization of marriage on constitutional grounds, the rest will follow quickly.

For the moment, let’s reflect on the courtroom drama I watched and so many here followed through this blog. That first day, Monday, January 11th 2010, was extraordinary in every way. After that vigil outside in cold San Francisco winter air, we’d heard that Justice Kennedy had put a “hold” on whether the trial could be on YouTube. I told my colleague, Andy Kelley, that I’d go upstairs into the courthouse just “to see what’s going on.” That was my first of dozens of trips through the magnetometer, depositing and collecting computer and keys on the beltway through the x-ray machine.

I tried to get into the main courtroom, but it was full. So I went upstairs and found the overflow room. The line to get in that day was not terribly long, but the room was pretty full. I found a seat in one of the pews, opened my laptop and waited. Once the proceedings began, I typed away, much to the chagrin of those sitting nearby. I guess I type loudly.

Courage had built this Prop 8 Trial Tracker site to keep track of what the right wing/NOM/Focus On the Family/ProtectMarriage.com had to say outside the courthouse because we thought the proceedings would be on YouTube. Instead, I emailed my typing to Julia Rosen who then put it up on this blog, added commentary sometimes and organized it so that it was readable.

At first, I did a pretty bad job. I was not sure about format or what to write. Should I actually try to transcribe or just describe? And of course, I had no clue whether anyone would ever read the blog. After all, we’d put it up in a hurry and did not promote it.

By the lunch break that first day, Julia and Eden James told me over the phone that we had about 20,000 hits, maybe more. I was stunned. Your comments also helped shape my coverage of the trial. You wanted more transcription and less description, which I tried to fulfill.

Monday morning began with the judge talking about the controversy over whether the trial should be televised. At the very outset, you were a key component of this trial.

Judge Walker said:

We have received a very substantial number of comments in response to that change (of rules that would allow the trial to be televised). As of — as of Friday, 5:00 p.m. Friday, we had received 138,574 responses or comments.

I think it’s fair to say that those that favored coverage of this particular case implicitly also favored the rule change, which would make an audiovisual transmission of this case possible.

And if these results are any indication of where sentiment lies on this issue, it’s overwhelmingly in favor of the rule change and the dissemination of this particular proceeding by some means through the Internet.

And the numbers frankly are 138,542 in favor, and 32 opposed.

(Laughter)

So I think the — at least the returns are clear in this case. …

I do think what we have gone through in this case in the last few days has been very helpful. Very helpful indeed.

The issue of the public’s right to access court proceedings is an important one. I think it’s highly unfortunate that the Judicial Conference and the courts have not dealt with this issue in the past, have not in a considered and thoughtful fashion worked through the issues.

He continued:

The briefs that you filed in the Court of Appeals and in the Supreme Court deal with those issues. And that’s true of both sides.

Certainly, the concerns that the proponents have raised here are concerns that should be considered, need to be considered, and in due course should be given thorough consideration.

But I think, in this day and age, with the technology that’s available and the importance of the public’s right to access judicial proceedings, it’s very important that we in the federal judiciary work to achieve that access consistent with the means that are presently available to do that.

And I would commend you for the efforts that you’ve made in bringing these issues forward, and I’m hopeful that this experience will have brought these issues to the fore. And maybe, finally, after some 20 years we will get some sensible movement forward.

Courage Campaign members provided nearly all of the public comments. When the judge asked for comment on Wednesday and gave 48 hours, until the Friday before the trial to provide them, you all jumped in with both feet. We collected over 140,000 comments, but by the cut off time of Friday afternoon when we had to deliver them, we brought in just over 138,000. The trial had become an object of considerable public interest, as well it should have been.

I excerpt the judge’s words above at such length because the very essence of this trial is public education. We have said it repeatedly. The trial testimony exposed the lies that have been used for generations to allow legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians. Those lies were at the very heart of the Prop. 8 campaign. The lies further alienated people from each other, led to more bullying, more suicides, more fundamental hurt.

You all here on this blog have been the heart and the bloodstream that have circulated the truth. Count on us at the Courage Campaign to continue to provide you with the tools and the platform to get the messages out. America’s social fabric has been rent apart by Prop. 8 and its spawn. This trial and your hard work can sew that fabric together into a quilt of justice, diversity and hope.

Even as I write, Arisha Michelle Hatch, Anthony Ash, Jackki Hirahara (from our Courageous staff) are with the folks at Granite State Progress (our sister organization) and the Cleve Jones Wellness Center in New Hampshire holding Camp Courage trainings to train folks on how to tell their own stories and how to use our brand new site–Testimony: Take a Stand (about which much more will be written later).

I’ll add further reflections in future posts, but we need your reflections as well. What have you learned? What messages need to penetrate society? How can we work together to assure that each of us, each of our friends and family members are part of the effort to disseminate the lessons of the trial, which means, really, to give our own testimony?

70 Comments

  • 1. Peterplumber  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:07 am

    ♂♂

  • 2. Ed Cortes  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Scribin'

  • 3. Kathleen  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Rick, it's wonderful to get a post from you.

  • 4. Papa Foma  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:23 am

    CC has grow with our requests – I'm so proud of you and the organization!

  • 5. Straight For Equalit  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:27 am

  • 6. Felyx&Kevyn  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Even from Russia we are watching and working hard!

  • 7. Peterplumber  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:36 am

    this post inspired me to donate another $100 to Courage Campaign.

  • 8. RebeccaRGB  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:39 am

  • 9. Sagesse  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:44 am

    What have we learned?

    I have learned from the parsing and dissecting of the anti-equality messaging that it is firmly based on 1960s and 1970s stereotypes of what marriage and families look like, and who LGBT people are. What messages should we send? Shine light on what has changed.

    What messages should we send? It's all about family. A family begins with a committed couple. They may or may not add children. It's not exclusively or primarily about procreation or responsible procreation or irresponsible procreation or accidental procreation. It's about family. It's about protecting all children and their families, and that includes the children of LGBT parents, and the gay children of straight parents.

    What message should we send? Straight people support marriage equality. Religious people support marriage equality. The families of LGBT people support marriage equality. Stand up for the 6.8 million Californians who voted No on 8, and their counterparts across the country, and let their voices be heard.

  • 10. Rich  |  January 23, 2011 at 3:13 am

    I have learned that it is, indeed, of paramount importance to keep the truths front and center and expose the lies and liars for whom they are. I will immediately contact the Portland (Maine) Press Herald and encourage one of its most popular columnists (Bill Nemitz) to take a fresh look at NOM, its deplorable actions with respect to the prospects for gay marriage legislation in NH, Maryland and RI. Bill was on top of this group during our gay marriage debate and subsequent vote in Maine two years ago. I believe he tried to expose them just as we continue to do through these blogs. Unfortunately for Maine, NOM snuck into the state, hopped into bed with the Diocese of Maine, hid completely its funding sources and spread the poison. Mission accomplished, it snuck back out but likes to trumpet the fact that Maine people voted their cause, as if Maine people were bigots to begin with. Maine people never knew what hit them. But after repeated accusations that Gay Marriage would lead to teaching gay sex to kids, would destroy marriage, would cause fundamentalist preachers to have to cater to gays, all even though the bill clearly supported religious freedom. Still they poured on the venom. The church was right there with them. Our own State Attorney General and Secretary of Education denied any plan was under consideration to add lesson plans re: gay sexuality or change in religious self-determination. Maine was taken by storm and the end result was a reflection more of fear than of fairness. I'll keep you posted.

  • 11. Ronnie  |  January 23, 2011 at 3:38 am

    =
    <3….Ronnie

  • 12. truthspew  |  January 23, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Rick,

    Thanks for taking point on this. And thank you to all the bloggers that covered this trial too.

    If we couldn't see it or hear it, reading the transcripts was great.

    The federal courts need to step into the 21st Century already. Cases heard without the disinfectant sunshine of audio and video smell badly.

  • 13. Ann S.  |  January 23, 2011 at 5:49 am

  • 14. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Thanks to every single P8TT community member. Sagesse answers the questions so well. Rich, thanks for your commitment to keep focusing on NOM.

    And Truthspew, your modernization of Justice Brandeis's quote from nearly a century ago fits perfectly today. Sunshine is the best disinfectant against ill doings. And having the modern means of communications, as Judge Walker so eloquently stated, make good, common sense.

    Imagine if this trial had been televised?

    That's why our collective work is so important.

  • 15. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Thanks, Kathleen! You make this place hum. I was talking with a friend in the mainstream media. I told her about how you and others post relevant court documents before anyone else. She jokingly said, 'yeah, that's annoying.' Think about what this site is: it's the modern town hall.

  • 16. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 6:30 am

    One day soon, I'll get to Russia again.

  • 17. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 6:30 am

    So well said!!!

  • 18. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Wow!!! Thank you sooooo much!

  • 19. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Papa, I'm moved by you. We are together.

  • 20. Steffi  |  January 23, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I've learned that even though the outcome of this trial has no direct impact beyond the boundaries of California, many many people from all over the world were here to read about the proceedings and took so great interest in it and it's outcome and spread the word because we all seemed to sense that this could be a landmark trial for the whole states and maybe even beyond.
    We've learned so much from the experts like WHY so many of these prejudices we hold today exist, and what impact it has on a person to be exposed to such a structural stigma and WHY it is SO important to support all LGBT.
    it has given me a well founded reason to the question of why keep on fighting for a case that might sometimes seem lost and maybe too exhausting when you are not personally affected.
    and one other thought: I think if this was televised it wouldn't have caught as much attention as it did now, and I don't think it'd have brought together so many great people to bild kind of an online community like we had here.

  • 21. Sagesse  |  January 23, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Teddy Partridge hosts Tracy Baim, author of newly-released Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage

    FDL Book Salon Welcomes Tracy Baim, Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage
    http://fdlbooksalon.com/2011/01/23/fdlbook-salon-

  • 22. Manilow  |  January 23, 2011 at 8:40 am

    This site has given me the ability to change minds. I live with someone who voted yes on Prop 8 for personal reasons (even tho he calls me, a gay man) his best friend. But by pointing out things I've learned here (specifically that NOM was pushing for civil unions in CA while simultaneously trying to get them banned in WI or MN) that separate but equal will never work.

    I check this site more than Facebook.

    Also – OT – but I feel like we're family and I have to share exciting news with you all – but I auditioned for the Gay Men's Chorus of LA last weekend and I just found out that I GOT IN!!!! I'm so super-excited!

  • 23. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 23, 2011 at 8:48 am

    And it has definitely been a year that has been filled with a HUGE educational growth for me–in the law, in transgender issues, in women's issues, and an even greater insight into the struggle for civil and human rights in this country. I have made so many new friends over this past year, and I have even had the privilege to meet some of these wonderful people face to face. Thank you so much for all that you have given me over this past year.

  • 24. Straight For Equalit  |  January 23, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Congratulations, Manilow! That's great news!

  • 25. Rhie  |  January 23, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I very much agree.

  • 26. Sagesse  |  January 23, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Congratulations! You should be very proud of your accomplishment :).

  • 27. Sagesse  |  January 23, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Oh barf!

    "The state's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, The Family Leader, which is headed by former GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, has announced it will hold a prayer meeting in support of the bill in Room 305 from 12 to 1PM.

    “Several of us plan to bring a token of Christian love (like a small bag of cookies or other treats) to share with homosexual activists who we'll be encountering Monday,” the group wrote in a newsletter to supporters. “It's time we dispel lies about Christians, by tangibly showing love to people who struggle with homosexuality.”

    Hearings On Gay Marriage Ban Set For Monday In Iowa House
    http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=7376&amp;…

  • 28. Kate  |  January 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Probably poisoned cookies.

  • 29. Sagesse  |  January 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Maryland's Allan Kittleman Steps Down Over Gay Unions
    http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=7375&amp;…

  • 30. Ray in MA  |  January 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

    This site makes me want to share…

    First Connecticut, now Australlia:
    http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/01/2

    Here, I enjoy watching history unfold with all of you.

  • 31. Ray in MA  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Sned this one to Anderson Cooper… for his REDICU-LIST.

  • 32. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Two great stories, two powerful stories. We'll want both of those on Testimony as soon as it's ready, which should be later this week.

    Congratulations!!

  • 33. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Richard, that means a lot. We've all watched you help us grow as well.

  • 34. Ray in MA  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

    …sharing with people on the RIGHT side of history.

  • 35. couragecampaign  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I've never been to Australia, but one day we'll all be equal. One day.

    The US is still respected or at least watched from everywhere in the world. When we overturn Prop. 8 and win full federal equality, other countries will see that we speak as a United States. That can only help. And it's what we all stand for.

  • 36. JonT  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:07 am

  • 37. Sagesse  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Marriage in Maryland by April?
    http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/01/2

    Yes, please.

  • 38. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Thank you. And it has truly been a blessing to me to become involved with all of you here. I really want to continue to pay this forward.

  • 39. Kathleen  |  January 23, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Congratulations, Manilow! You'll have to let me know when you'll be performing here in town so I can come to see you!

  • 40. Richard W. Fitch  |  January 23, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Perhaps the most important insight to me is our use of terminology. My love of language goes back over 60 yrs now. Words have meaning – both denotation and connotation. I have ejected from my vocabulary both "Gay Marriage" and "Same-Sex Marriage" because the true goal is **Marriage Equality**. We are not looking for special rights with special names. We are striving for the joy of being able under civil law to marry the person we love.

  • 41. Sarah  |  January 23, 2011 at 11:23 am

    So, did I miss the story in the Bible when Jesus and his disciples gave out cookies to the sinners? Maybe it's in the Catholic version? (is it called the Apocripha or something like that?)

  • 42. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 23, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Actually, the Apocrypha refers to fourteen books from the Jewish canon that were tossed out of the Christian Bible (seven of them were not included in the Deuterocanonicals of the Catholics, and NONE of them were included in the Protestant version) which are actually more stories to serve as a guide to doing the right thing and taking care of yourself and your neighbors rather than necessarily being dogma or being based in fact. And yet, when they were expunged from later versions of the Scriptures, the reason quoted is that they were never accepted as canon by the Jews. And yet, when you read the New Testament, there are many Scriptures Rabbi Yoshua ben Yosef quotes which you cannot find unless you have all fourteen of those books. And he was a Jew of the First Century CE.

  • 43. Sarah  |  January 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Richard, somehow I just knew you would be the one to respond to this question! :) Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    So tell me, does it talk about giving out cookies?!?

    Sorry, that thought makes me chuckle. 😀

  • 44. Carpool Cookie  |  January 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    "I excerpt the judge’s words above at such length because the very essence of this trial is public education. We have said it repeatedly. The trial testimony exposed the lies that have been used for generations to allow legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians."

    I can't believe the trial wasn't televised. We all got to pig out on watching the O.J. Simpson trial for weeks on end a decade ago, even though it didn't have anything to do with most people's lives, but then when there's a trial that's actually central to what's going on in America…the majority of the public's virtually shut out?

    One thing this last year reminded me of was what an exciting time we live in. I never thought the matter of Marriage Equality would be addressed so seriously, and with SUCH SUPPORT, in my lifetime. We're really not in high school any more! (Maggie and Brian's petty schoolyard tauntings aside.)

  • 45. Carpool Cookie  |  January 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Ooops….bold overdose!

  • 46. Kathryn Howie  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    “Several of us plan to bring a token of Christian love (like a small bag of cookies or other treats) to share with homosexual activists who we’ll be encountering Monday,.It’s time we dispel lies about Christians, by tangibly showing love to people who struggle with homosexuality.”
    Eeecgh! cring..
    Well we all know who is struggling with homosexuality…
    multiple meanings, deliberate…..
    maybe they should share their cookies among themselves.

  • 47. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Only if they are non-poisonous. The verse that is so often misquoted as thou shalt not permit a witch to live is actually thou shalt not permit a poisoner to live. That is why it is okay to kill rattlesnakes if they are in your yard and you don't have time to catch them in traps before they attack.

  • 48. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    And if we are going to hand out cookies, I would like double fudge chocolate chip, please!

  • 49. Kathryn Howie  |  January 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    This site and the contributers on it has been an inspiration to me to continue the fight for full Equality.
    Although the UK has , in theory, got legal parity of rights, just as has been found in New Jersey, separate is never quite equal, and there are anomalies – lack of foreign recognition, transgender issues, lack of awareness and respect as an equal institution …… to name but a few. And WHY create a separate process in the first instance – if not to maintain a separateness of perception and value.
    The Prop 8 case in California made the press even in rural Scotland and shone the light of day on the animosity and the twisted reality and untruth peddled by those opposing equal marriage and exposed for all to see the "religious values" underlying the opposition.

  • 50. Kathleen  |  January 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Kathryn, I'm fascinated to learn that this made the press in rural Scotland. Is any of it online? I'd love to see how it was reported.

    Related to this, I was talking to my son over the holidays. He wondered why this case was being so carefully watched around the world, evidenced by the fact of the wide geographic distribution of the participants here at P8TT. I explained that this was the first time the debate had moved into a courtroom, with evidence and witnesses subjected to cross-examination, rather than the spin and soundbites of politics – where people had to supply proof to back up allegations born of stereotypes and religious disapproval pretending to be science.

    I think for the first time he really understood the emotional impact of the trial on people – an impact that goes even beyond its potential to set legal precedent.

  • 51. Rhie  |  January 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Wow. Just one more piece of evidence showing exactly HOW far Right the Right has gone. I remember when Kittleman was considered the Conservative Republican.

  • 52. Rhie  |  January 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    THAT would be an EXCELLENT birthday present!

  • 53. Kathryn Howie  |  January 23, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Kathleen,
    this is one article(below) from our local rag, not renowned for its progressive views.
    There were reports in the Scotsman and the Daily Record, although I cant find them readily online right now. We also get the Guardian (newspaper) here too. http://www.guardian.co.uk/
    BBC News television and BBC Radio 4 has covered and reported on it too.
    I agree the educational value of the case was exceptional, and how it brought the issues to a nexus in a situation where truth could not so easily be avoided;
    it is a pity that audio recording and broadcast wasn't allowed, even if video wasn't, but perhaps the effort to make sure it got covered so extensively on blogs etc would not then have been so determined…?
    Sounds like you have a good relationship with your son, its great to talk. http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/121

  • 54. Kathleen  |  January 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks for the links!

    And yes, I have two incredible sons and have close, fantastic relationships with them both. It actually makes me verklempt when I think about it. So many people I know who bemoan the lack of closeness with their grown children; my kids seem to genuinely enjoy my company. I am blessed. BTW, oldest son lives in England, married to a Brit.

  • 55. Kathryn Howie  |  January 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Had to look up the v-word, very descriptive.
    I too lived in England for about 20 years, near Darlington (ex PM Tony Blair's parliamentary constituency was the next one over), before moving back to NE Scotland about 12 years ago. There are quite a few Americans in and around Aberdeen with the offshore oil and gas industry which also has the busiest heliport in Europe.

  • 56. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 23, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    And an excellent Passover gift, as well! Go, Maryland!

  • 57. anonygrl  |  January 24, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Wonderful!! Congratulations! That should be a LOT of fun!!!!

  • 58. Sheryl Carver  |  January 24, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Adding my congratulations, Manilow!

    Please let us know if the LA Chorus comes up to the San Francisco area.

  • 59. anonygrl  |  January 24, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Small bags of cookies? Small bags of COOKIES? You spend all your time telling me I am a second class citizen, I am not worthy of a stable, loving family, I don't deserve the protections that you take for granted, I should be CURED because I am somehow diseased, and you think a BAG OF COOKIES will somehow make all that better?????

    You disgust me, Mr. Vander Plaats, you self-righteous hypocrite. If you CARED, you would be handing out health care for our families who cannot afford it because we are not allowed spousal benefits. You would be distributing legal services to help us get our children properly adopted by BOTH their parents, which still can't happen in many states. You would be drafting up wills that cannot be broken by siblings who choose not to "recognize" our partners of many, many years because we cannot get a marriage license, so we must not really be important.

    You would not be thinking that we are some sort of children who, when we see that you have COOKIES, are going to suddenly say "Oh, well, THAT makes it all better!"

  • 60. anonygrl  |  January 24, 2011 at 12:17 am

    For ME too… April is a good birthday month!

  • 61. Andrew_SEA  |  January 24, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Rick – thanks as always for your posting!

    What have you learned?

    I have learned that more than ever I need to step up to the plate and stand for my rights. To be open – to share of myself and my 17 year MARRIAGE to my partner – the man that I love. To be forthright in my conversations with individuals that wish to limit the protections of my family and upfront in how harmful their attitudes are not only to LGBT people – but all people.

    I have learned that simply being myself and being an example of what a gay American citizen is more important than ever in the face of how NOM is portraying what LGBT citizens are like.

    I have learned to dispel the rumors and fears that people have about LGBT people simply due to a lack of information and understanding. The way fear of the unknown can dissipate when the truth is revealed that there is no “agenda” – but simply an understanding that we are all American citizens and we all deserve the rights and protections equally for our families.

    Specifically, I have learned that I need to go head to head, toe to toe with those whom feel it is their religious duty to judge me and my life as non-deserving of the most basic of human rights and dignity. To address their need to invalidate my life and my relationship simply because I believe differently.

    What messages need to penetrate society?

    That the LGBT citizens of this country have a natural inherited right as American citizens to freedom, equality, and justice from those whom wish to relegate them to a second class citizenship. That LGBT people are human beings and deserve the very same right to live with dignity and respect of their relationships and families and the protections guaranteed by our Constitution for ALL American citizens.

    That there is no “agenda” – unless you believe that freedom and equality is an “agenda”.

    How can we work together to assure that each of us, each of our friends and family members are part of the effort to disseminate the lessons of the trial, which means, really, to give our own testimony?

    By living each day as a positive example of our demographic. To stop being scared of the “majority” that wishes to vote on the rights of other people. To be more outgoing and embrace the negative stereotypes that people like NOM wish to brainwash others with and dispel each and every one of those stereotypes with truth, honesty, and openness.

    To put a human face and the story of my life out there as an example to show that LGBT citizens are just like everyone else. We work hard, provide for our families, put food on the table, care for each other, help the communities that we live in, and are just as important as any other citizen in this great country of ours.

  • 62. bJason  |  January 24, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Preacj it Anonygrl!! :)

    Notice he did NOT offer MILK!!

  • 63. Richard A. Jernigan  |  January 24, 2011 at 12:55 am

    And even if he did, I would not accept his "offer." Not sure what I would catch.

  • 64. Jim  |  January 24, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Andrew you are so right when you say it is important to be yourself with everyone. After being with my husband for 37 years (almost 3 years legally married in CA), we are the mainstay in our suburban neighborhood. Luckily, at work (VA Hospital) we could be ourselves. We did not work together but in the same building consisting of 2,000 employees. it became known that we were a couple. Being yourself is the best education for your co-workers. Yes we are normal, and yes gay people can have long time relationships.

  • 65. fiona64  |  January 24, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Congratulations, Manilow!

    Love,
    Fiona

  • 66. Maggie4NoH8  |  January 24, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Well said Andrew!

  • 67. Mouse  |  January 24, 2011 at 3:26 am

    So if these false Christians hand out poison cookies, then their bible tells us we have to kill them?

    Good thing for them I don't believe in their myths.

  • 68. Straight Ally #3008  |  January 24, 2011 at 3:34 am

    I've come away with one critical lesson that ought to guide the legal arguments: marriage equality is about equal protection under the law for all couples. We have this very long-standing civil legal arrangement, but same-sex couples – as part of an identifiable (and, alas, historically oppressed) minority group – do not have access to it when they would otherwise qualify had they been heterosexual. Call me a curmudgeon, but I wince a bit at the "love is love" arguments – it's hard to codify that in legal terms, and the Religious Right loves to use it to start the ball rolling down their slippery slope arguments. I believe that Equality Maine's retrospective video even noted that people didn't understand the argument of rights as well as they did discrimination. The combination of viewing this as discrimination plus getting to know LGBT people as fellow human beings will ultimately topple anti-marriage equality legal provisions.

  • 69. Don  |  January 24, 2011 at 5:01 am

    I think one of the problems we've faced is that it's hard to get the public or even activists involved in judicial confirmation campaigns. I've worked on a number and they are generally not covered by the press and it's hard to generate pressure on Senators. One reason is that most people don't think it matters who the judges are, that it's like an empire in baseball, that they all call the balls and strikes about the same. It's not.

    I've advocated for more people to read judical decisions, especially Supreme Court decisions. Many are very accessable to nonlawyers. I think the Courage Campagn has helped a lot in that regard. Now there are lots of people who know how the courts and who the judges are affects them in very important ways. It will be much eaasier to get them ingaged in confirmation campaigns. And to get the President to make good appointments in the first place

    With the inreased number of Republicans in the Senate , campaigns to confirm good judges will be even more important. It would be good if the Courage Campaign could figure out how to get other progressive groups to take on similar campaigns to inform people of the importance of the Courts ans who the judges are.

  • 70. Sagesse  |  January 24, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Another obnoxious phrase: "showing love to people who struggle with homosexuality.”

    What about people who don't struggle with it, who are comfortable with who they are and completely unrepentant. LGBT people who don't share your religious views, who don't consider their lives to be immoral? What about straight people, religious and non-religious, who accept and understand the rights of LGBT people to be who they are, who think that a person can be moral without subscribing to a particular faith tradition? Americans, taxpayers, citizens all? Do you love them too?

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