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VIDEO: Harvey Milk was assassinated 32 years ago today

By Eden James

On this day in 1978, Harvey Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White.

For those in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Annual Milk-Moscone Memorial March will take place at 6 p.m. The vigil will last one hour and the march will begin at the Castro Muni station (Castro & Market Streets) at 6:45 p.m.

According to the SF Sentinel, speakers include:

Cleve Jones, Founder, Names Project, and friend of Harvey
Harry Britt, former Supervisor, and friend of Harvey
David Campos, SF Supervisor
Carol Migden, former State Senator
Tom Ammiano, State Assembly member

Whether you’re able to attend or not, watch the “You’ve got to give ’em HOPE” video of one of Harvey’s most famous speeches. This speech was the “It Gets Better” of its time. Share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter today…

… and let us know in the comments your thoughts on the meaning of this day, given how far the LGBT community has come and far it has to go.

21 Comments November 27, 2010

Boxer and Feinstein on repealing #DADT in the lame-duck session

This news from yesterday is somewhat dated, but we thought it might be of interest to folks. Cross-posted at LGBTPOV.

By Karen Ocamb

Boxer news conf dadtAt a press conference Thursday morning with about 13 Senate colleagues and LGBT rights groups, California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (pictured) called for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the lame duck session of Congress. Both senators have been reliable LGBT allies, though they have taken different paths to supporting LGBT equality. Recently re-elected Boxer is a longtime liberal who opposed DADT when it first came to up for a vote in 1992. But she was slower to support marriage equality. Feinstein, on the other hand, has been a more conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat, who has long had gays on her staff but was not exactly a leader on LGBT issues – until she came out for marriage equality. Feinstein’s up for re-election in 2012 unless she retires. In 1993, when the Defense Authorization bill came to the floor with DADT language in it, Feinstein voted for a Boxer amendment (to which Boxer referred today) to remove the DADT language and replace it with language leaving the policy up to the president. The amendment failed 33 to 63.

LGBT Californians – this is how your senators spoke up for you this morning:

Feinstein said:

“I’m an 18-year member of the Judiciary Committee. I’m not a lawyer, but I believe in my heart of hearts that ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is unconstitutional.

And as a matter of fact, a federal district court has found that, in fact, this is the case. The reason is simple: this policy treats the same class of people differently, and that, I think, deprives them of their right to equality under the law.

Additionally, as has been said, this policy denies our nation good talent. That’s just plain wrong.

Let me just give you three cases:

This cost us Lacye Presley, a United States Army medic. She was awarded a Bronze Star for actions in Iraq. And she was discharged for being a lesbian.

It cost us Anthony Woods, a West Point graduate. He was also awarded a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal for leadership in Iraq. And he was discharged due to his sexuality.

It cost us Dan Choi and Steve Benjamin. Both are Arab linguists whose skills were desperately needed. Both served in Iraq. And both were discharged for being gay.

Now thousands more have been discharged, not because they didn’t excel at their jobs, but because of their sexual orientation.

This law is unconstitutional, and the Senate should take action before the Supreme Court and make the record crystal clear that we agree.

Thank you very much.”

Boxer said:

“I for you leadership, Mark and Kirsten – thank you.”

Also at the press conference, called by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), were Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Roland Burris (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

Lieberman said, “We are here to make clear that the reports of death of the movement to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ have been greatly exaggerated.” Lieberman also said it was “very clear” that the 60 votes are there, according to The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld. She reported:

“I am confident that we have more than 60 votes prepared to take up the Defense authorization with the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ if only there will be a guarantee of a fair and open amendment process, in other words, whether we’ll take enough time to do it,” Lieberman told reporters at a press conference, naming GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Richard Lugar as “Yes” votes. “Time is an inexcusable reason not to get this done.”

Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Third Way issued a joint statement following the press conference saying the reaffirmation of the Senate leadership and the White House’s commitment to end DADT, along with this morning’s Senate press conference, “are encouraging signs. There is no reason why the Senate cannot complete the work of repeal this year which is supported by nearly eighty percent of Americans, said the groups.”

The joint statement also noted Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement Wednesday night that he intends to bring the Defense Authorization bill with the DADT repeal amendment to the Senate floor after Thanksgiving recess. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said he would hold a hearing in early December on the report of the Pentagon Working Group studying DADT implementation.

At his confirmation hearing Thursday morning, however, Gen. Carter Ham, who is in charge of the report, said it is not ready to be released, though he’d tried to expedite it, in concert with Defense Sec. Robert Gates’ office. Gates has said he wants the repeal handled legislatively this year. Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell said “that’s what we as an administration are pushing for, and we certainly see the merit in using that as the legislative vehicle to ultimately get to repeal.”

Not to sound too cynical – but there have been so many ups and downs with DADT – I’m not believing anything until DADT is dead. Until then – the push for repeal continues, as does Log Cabin’s court federal court fight to have it finally and officially declared unconstitutional.

44 Comments November 19, 2010

NOM Election Report Card: Anti-gay investment continues to deliver hate with mixed results

Today, the Human Rights Campaign and the Courage Campaign released a report card on the political activities of the so-called, anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) that shows a mixed outcome this election cycle despite pouring an estimated $5 million into federal and state campaigns in the 2009-2010 election cycles. NOM endorsed at least 29 candidates in the midterm election and as of today, it had lost 19 of those races.

2010 GENERAL:
» 10 “wins” for NOM
» 19 “losses” for NOM
» 1 to close to call
» 1 unclear winner

“NOM has emerged in the last two election cycles as the leading fringe, anti-gay political force in the country,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “It’s clear they will stop at nothing, including repeatedly ignoring state campaign finance laws to elect anti-gay candidates and punish elected pro-equality officials. And nothing illustrates NOM’s cynicism more than the defeat of three Supreme Court justices in Iowa who were part of a unanimous decision that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. An independent judiciary is now threatened and no organization is more responsible for that than NOM.”

“The rejection of most of NOM’s candidates shows the growing support for LGBT equality across the political spectrum, and just how out of touch NOM’s extremism is with the bread and butter concerns of everyday Americans,” said Courage Campaign Founder and Chairman Rick Jacobs. “Considering the national political environment, NOM’s support was undeniably toxic for many candidates, and NOM’s focus on intimidating judges, attacking families and flouting tax and election laws tells us why.”

The National Organization for Marriage spent at least $2.7 million pushing their nationwide anti-gay agenda during the 2010 election cycle. The outcome? It became clear that jobs and the economy, not marriage, topped voters’ concerns. In fact, LGBT issues had no or minimal influence on how or why people voted.

Read NOM Exposed’s analysis of NOM’s 2010 activities.

Although voters were resoundingly focused on the economy this midterm election – and ranked social issues, to include same-sex marriage dead last– the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a Washington D.C.-based anti-gay, fringe organization, put an estimated $5 million into the 2009-10 election cycle to influence the outcome in dozens of federal and state races, according to campaign finance filings, NOM and press reports.

The Report Card

While NOM made significant investments this cycle, its electoral win/loss record is decidedly mixed. In fact, NOM lost more races than it won. NOM endorsed at least 29 candidates. As of Wednesday afternoon, NOM had lost 19 of these races, won eight, and the remaining two (the Minnesota governor’s race and a New Hampshire statehouse candidate) were undecided. With the exception of a judicial election they hijacked in Iowa, NOM lost its most expensive and high-profile gambits in California and New Hampshire and all of its races in Maine and the District of Columbia. And it fought campaign finance laws all along the way.

NOM lost signature battles for governor in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, lost both the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in California, and its star candidate there, Andy Pugno, vying for State Assembly, lost. On the other side of the ledger, NOM was successful in ousting three Iowa Supreme Court justices by spending more than $600,000 and hijacking a retention election that generally attracts little notice or money.

As of October, an unofficial estimate of spending for the midterm election is $2.7 million. For the 2009-10 election cycle, NOM spent more than $5 million. (Again, an unofficial estimate pending state-by-state filing deadlines.)

  • In California, NOM joined with the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and together spent $1 million on a statewide bus tour supporting U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. Incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer was a special target for NOM (at least $220,000 in advertising) because she is one of the few senators still serving who voted against DOMA (the so-called Defense of Marriage Act) in 1996.
  • In New Hampshire, NOM claims it spent $1million on television ads targeting the re-election of Gov. John Lynch, who signed the equal marriage bill into law.
  • In Minnesota, NOM bought $200,000 worth of TV ads in the governor’s race, targeting DFL candidate Mark Dayton, and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, for supporting marriage equality. (That race is still undecided.)
  • In Iowa, NOM spent approximately $600,000 in the state’s generally sleepy judicial retention election because the three state Supreme Court justices were involved in the unanimous decision holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

What the Elections Say About NOM

  • By targeting federal and state races, NOM established itself as the leading anti-gay political force in the country. NOM started three years ago with a budget of $500,000. The group’s budget has swelled to at least $10 million, according to NOM’s president.
  • NOM’s president Brian Brown moved to increase the group’s political exposure and activity by announcing the establishment of ActRight.com, which “offers conservatives a central hub for online activism that will hopefully grow in strength to counter” progressive online fundraising.
  • NOM’s engagement in Iowa had little to do with Iowa. It had everything to do with instilling fear in judges across the country. As its president, Brian Brown, said last month:

“Many people…are looking at the Iowa judicial retention election [and] actually saying this is the most important election because it will send a clear signal to the Supreme Court and other judges that they don’t have the right to make up the law out of thin air. If the people of Iowa…remove these judges, there will be reverberations throughout the country all the way to the United States Supreme Court.”

  • In addition, NOM inserted itself in legislative or district races in New Hampshire, New York, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Maine, California, and Minnesota. In most of these states/jurisdictions, same-sex marriage is either legal or under consideration. NOM is looking to either contain further advances in places like New York, Rhode Island, Maine and Minnesota, or to defeat pro-equality legislators, elected officials or council members in New Hampshire and the District of Columbia.

In its local election effort, NOM was unsuccessful in defeating a single council member in the District of Columbia. In California, State Assembly candidate Andy Pugno, the architect of Prop 8 and its chief lawyer lost. In that race alone, NOM spent $112,000. In Maine, where NOM was the largest single contributor to Question 1, which reversed the marriage equality law in 2009, NOM lost every single legislative race.

Donor Disclosure

Similar to other secretive political organizations this cycle, including American Crossroads GPS, NOM has kept donors to its campaign efforts under wraps and challenged campaign finance laws to maintain donor anonymity.

  • NOM filed lawsuits in Rhode Island and New York arguing it should be able to run ads on behalf of Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille and New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, respectively, without abiding by state laws governing campaign finance disclosure. NOM was unsuccessful in both lawsuits.
  • Last year, NOM received a warning from Iowa’s ethics agency. Engaged in a special election there, NOM promised supporters they could contribute anonymously—without disclosure. The problem is that this promise violated state election law.
  • NOM remains under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for refusing to disclose the donors to its $1.9-million campaign which overturned Maine’s marriage equality law in 2009.
  • In California, NOM contributed more than $1.8 million to the Prop. 8 campaign. The group sued the state in federal court to avoid disclosing its donors. California law requires campaign committees to report information for any contributors of $100 or more, which is then made publicly available.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE NOM EXPOSED ELECTION SCORECARD FOR EACH OF THE FOLLOWING STATES (scroll down to the bottom):

California
DC
Hawaii
Iowa
Maine
Minnesota
New Hampshire
New York
Rhode Island

56 Comments November 5, 2010

Prop 8 proponents, Imperial County file response briefs to 9th Circuit Court

By Eden James

First off, apologies to all for the delay in posting this to P8TT. Getting folks to the polls in California has sucked yours truly into a non-P8TT election vortex today. But I am emerging for a few minutes to get this post up for our community’s edification and, er, enjoyment.

Short story: Andy Pugno, Charles Cooper and the legal team leading the opposition’s case to appeal Judge Vaughn Walker’s historic decision to strike down Prop 8, filed their response brief last night to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. And Imperial County filed their response brief as well.

As usual, Johnny-Kathleen-on-the-spot posted the Scribd docs last night on the DADT stay news thread and, as usual, P8TT folks got into a spirited discussion about it. Check it out (around comment #60).

Proponents’ Reply Brief:

[scribd id=40678663 key=key-18dma1d3i50hl2py02z3 mode=list]

Imperial County Reply Brief:

[scribd id=40693307 key=key-1psyiufi48mru9266an6 mode=list]

So, there you go. More than 100 pages of the opposition’s arguments, recycled as response briefs for the 9th Circuit Court to digest. Looking forward to what folks think in the comments.

(If you are interested in writing a more in-depth analysis of these briefs, feel free to send it to prop8trial@couragecampaign.org and we’ll consider posting it on the front page, as we have done in the past).

60 Comments November 2, 2010

20 hard questions Brian Brown needs to answer

By Eden James

The Courage team has been brainstorming some questions for NOM President Brian Brown to answer while he’s on their “Judge Bus” tour in Iowa this week. Arisha will do her best to ask these questions if she gets the opportunity.

We’ve got 13 questions so far — maybe you can help us come up with seven more?

1) Brian, you live in New Jersey right? What makes you a more qualified advocate on Iowa’s courts than, say, someone who actually lives in Iowa?

2) If someone from Iowa spent $500,000 putting ads on in your hometown telling your neighbors your family was immoral and second class while driving around your neighborhood with a similar message on the side of a bus, would you be OK with that?

3) Why haven’t you apologized for your actions that led to a Courage Campaign videographer being threatened with arrest, undermining his first amendment rights in Annapolis, Maryland, this summer? The Annapolis Chief of Police apologized — why didn’t you?

4) Will you apologize for NOM’s California Tour organizers assaulting a member of our staff in Santa Ana, California, this summer?

5) Where do you get all your money? Seriously, according to campaign finance reports, 857 people gave you more than $400,000. That means someone wrote some big checks. Who were they?

6) In 2008, letters surfaced confirming that Andy Pugno, who you are spending over $100,000 to support in California’s AD 5, wrote letters blackmailing businesses who had given to pro-equality organizations, if they did not given an equally large gift to the “Yes on 8” campaign. Do you condone that type of conduct? Since your support of Pugno implies that you condone this conduct, isn’t it hypocritical for you not to release your donor lists?

7) Especially in this economy, what would you say to a homeless person who didn’t get clothed or fed by a charity group like the Knights of Columbus so they could give a multi-million gift for NOM, which was then used to pay your salary and take away the rights of loving, committed families?

8) Which number is higher—the amount you’re spending on advertising this election cycle, or the amount you are spending on lawyers trying to evade compliance with election and tax laws?

9) Jennifer Roback Morse, who works for NOM’s Ruth Institute, recently admitted to a Michigan paper that she “blurred the lines” of her tax-exempt status for her actions on behalf of candidates for elected office. Should she be punished for that, or is NOM above the law?

10) After Courage and HRC announced that the Ruth Institute had violated its tax-exempt status, which you denied, you removed a press release from your website announcing Jennifer Roback Morse’s support for Carly Fiorina. Isn’t that an admission of guilt on your part?

11) Do you believe gay people are second-class citizens? What about second-class parents? Or second-class soldiers?

12) Do you think that gay teens who are outed think of themselves as second class? Do you think that contributes to their higher propensity for suicide? What would you do about it?

13) Millions of Americans of all faith backgrounds support marriage equality. Why do NOM’s supporters call for killing gay people, or restricting their ability to be teachers, adopt children, or serve in the military, citing the Bible as their rationale?

What questions do you have for Brian Brown and NOM? Share them in the comments and we’ll try to get to a hard 20.

163 Comments October 26, 2010

Equality arguments galore: More than 20 Prop 8 case amicus briefs filed to the 9th Circuit in support of Plaintiffs-Appellees

By Eden James

It’s a few minutes after midnight and the deadline set by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for amicus briefs — or “Friend of the Court” briefs — just passed.

Though a few briefs may still come in that haven’t been posted yet by the court (which we’ll be sure to post to this thread), so far 24 briefs have been submitted to the 9th Circuit in support of the American Foundation for Equal Rights legal team’s argument validating Judge Vaughn Walker’s historic decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. (Click here to read the opposition’s collection of amicus briefs.)

As I wrote last month, the byline on this amicus brief post should really say “Kathleen Perrin” — because, Kathleen is the one who spent who-knows-how-many-hours today uploading these amicus briefs to her Scribd account so that the P8TT community could digest them in the comments and here in this post.

If folks are up for it, the community could crowdsource reading these briefs, for the benefit of all involved — just as many of you did last month when the opposition filed their briefs.

OK, click into the extended entry to read the full list of more than 20 briefs and counting. Enjoy!

(more…)

40 Comments October 26, 2010

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