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Archives – July, 2010

An amazing 24 hours: Round-up of NOM tour and marriage equality news

By Adam Bink

Over at my home blog, OpenLeft.com, I often do a round-up of LGBT-related news and actions that are worth noting. I thought I’d bring the same feature here for some noteworthy items you may have missed:

  • On
    • We didn’t get many other videos up yesterday of rally coverage in Indianapolis, so here’s one for folks to check out. As usual massive turnout #FAIL, and you can see that by how NOM always asks supporters to come closer so it looks like they have an actual crowd.

    • HRC and Fred Sainz are spot on in their release regarding NOM today:

    “The bus tour is a total sham, plain and simple,” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications. “NOM’s highly-touted bus tour is less about so-called ‘traditional marriage’ and more about creating an elaborate and cynical stunt. NOM rolled out a summer of nationwide events in order to draw lawful protesters, all so that NOM and its allies can pepper ongoing lawsuits challenging public disclosure laws with made-up stories of harassment. This unprecedented victimization crusade is the lowest denominator of political activism, and it won’t fly.”

    You can read the full release here.

    We’ll be reporting from St. Paul tomorrow. See you then.

    Meanwhile, if you have any links, videos or photos to share with the community in the comments, post away!

    175 Comments July 27, 2010

Madison, WI: In largest crowd to date, equality supporters outnumber NOM by more than 8 to 1

by Adam Bink

Fresh off a massive #FAIL in Indianapolis where pro-equality supporters more than tripled the number from NOM’s side, and where one of their supporters was caught with a sign claiming the solution to “gay marriage” was two nooses, we’re in Madison, WI today.

Arisha just radioed in- fifteen minutes before the NOM rally, the police already  started to surround the place with yellow caution tape.

Which can mean only one thing: Brian Brown and his anti-equality followers are back on tour.

But you know what excites me even more?

This:

466 equality supporters

That’s a hand-counted crowd of 466 pro-equality supporters, my friends. Four hundred and sixty-six. Easily the biggest crowd yet!

NOM’s side? Arisha counts 54.

Below, some excellent signs from the tour. We’ll have more details as this develops…

Signs for equality in Madison

Signs for equality in Madison

UPDATE BY ADAM (12:17 PST) : I just got off the phone with Anthony, our videographer on hand. He told me the pro-equality marchers came down from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to the State Capitol and took over the entire street- something you can see in the photo below:

Pro-equality supporters marching down to the rally

Sidewalk to sidewalk, the street was full of nearly what we counted as 466 pro-equality supporters. Amazing.

Anthony also confirmed that Brian Brown is indeed back on tour- and up to his old tricks. Where before Brian and NOM attempted to keep our NOM Tour Trackers from covering the event in Annapolis, this time they had the local authorities wall off their supporters in the statehouse courtyard with yellow tape– and refused to let equality supporters inside. It brings separate but unequal a whole new meaning. Anthony and Arisha did manage to get inside, though.

Anthony is uploading video of this soon. The question we at NOMTourTracker.com have to ask is, what are Brian and NOM afraid of that they need to wall off an entire section of the courtyard?

UPDATE BY ARISHA (12:22 PST): Poor Brian. Just as he and his supporters decided to re-join the tour, NOM was met with its largest equality counter-demonstration to date.  466  equality activists marched down the streets of Madison and up the steps of the State House to greet a decent-sized crowd of NOM supporters – relative to their other tour stops – that at one point reached 54 people.

Nonetheless, the massive upstaging of NOM couldn’t go by without a little spin from NOM’s speakers.

“Thank you all for coming,”  Julliane Appling , a representative from Wisconsin Family Action began.   “[We hoped our turnout would be larger], but our people actually have jobs.”

Maggie and Brian both cheered.

“I ran up the steps in front of the [equality] marchers,” Brandy, a Wisconsin equality activist said.  “As I watched the sea of rainbows ascend the steps, I was in tears.  This is my town – my community – and today, I am proud.”

“They had months to prepare for their rally, we organized our [counter-protest] in one week,” chimed in another equality activist, also in tears, a as a chant of “We are the majority” began in the background.

She stopped talking to me to join in with the chant and disappeared into the crowd before I could get her name.

“In many of the places we’ve gone to, people have attempted to silence us,” said Brown, acknowledging the sizable equality protest.  “In Rhode Island, protestors attempted to shout us down, to storm the stage.”

Oh Brian….Rhode Island was soooo two weeks ago. But now that you’re talking First Amendment rights, let’s talk a bit about our cameraman that you had the Maryland police threaten to arrest in Annapolis the last time you were on tour.

Stay tuned.  We’re working to upload Brian’s answer to our First Amendment query, along with a funny video you’ll love.

UPDATE BY ADAM (1:42 PM PST): Okay, our first video is in, courtesy of commenter “New”:

Wow.

The second is Anthony’s coverage standing from the Statehouse looking down at the throng of equality supporters marching up the street. It’s a bit of a different perspective than the video from the comments I posted above.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DqhFPfISnI]

The

Also, his frame “I believe we are part of the new civil rights movement” is laughable. Civil rights is about extending rights to those who are oppressed, and Brian supports amendments that restrict them. We all know it, and we’re going to continue to demonstrate it along with countless families and couples on tour.

More pics in the extended entry: (more…)

387 Comments July 27, 2010

Maryland Capitol Police Chief apologizes to NOMTourTracker.com

By Adam Bink

Last week, NOM Tour Tracker reported that the Courage Campaign Institute’s videographer, Jethro Rothe-Kushel, was threatened with arrest by the Maryland Capitol Police at the NOM rally in Annapolis. You can see the video that Jethro shot of the incident, along with footage of Arisha Michelle Hatch confronting the officer here:

Jethro wrote at NOMTourTracker.com, a project launched by both Courage and Freedom to Marry:

After some secretive communications on his mobile device, and a conversation between Mr. Brown and a police officer, he finally began his rally at about 25 minutes after the hour. Like clockwork, just thirty seconds after the rally finally began, I was approached by the same officer, as you can see in the video.

I then tried to shoot from about 100 yards away at the foot of the square over the heads of a handful of his staffers who he instructed to stay close to the stage. Brown started talking about the aftermath of Prop 8 in California, but just I was about to capture some solid footage of the event, the officer again approached me and quarantined me to a corner across the street. This time he was stronger and came with a threat:

“Don’t make me lock you up!”

As we wrote at the time, Jethro had the right to videotape in a public place. This week, we were proven right, as the Maryland Capitol Police Chief apologized to NOM Tour Tracker for the way in which this situation was handled. His statement to NOM Tour Tracker:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the situation that occurred on July 21 at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis. I have thoroughly investigated this incident and have concluded that the situation should have been handled differently.

I regret the way this was conducted and take full responsibility for any inconvenience or embarrassment this may have caused. We are already in the process of instituting corrective training measures to address issues of this nature in the future.

We are also in the process of modifying our website to include the rules and regulations on the utilization of Lawyer’s Mall for both those who apply and are approved for permits, for those who are observing, and for any counter-demonstrators.

Once again I greatly appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention. If I can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Phil Palmere
Chief of Police
Department of General Services, Maryland Capitol Police

Additionally, Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs spoke with Chief Palmere, accepted his apology, and conveyed his appreciation for he and his team for protecting our communities and our freedoms. We at NOM Tour Tracker appreciate Chief Palmere’s sincerity and his service.

Courage Campaign’s press release on this, including a statement from Rick, is in the extended entry. (more…)

50 Comments July 27, 2010

Adam Bink takes over NOMTourTracker.com site management: Please welcome Adam to the NTT community!

Hey everyone — I’ve got some great, great news. Adam Bink, who blogs for Open Left is going to be taking the lead on managing NOMTourTracker.com right up until the final event in Washington, D.C. on August 15.

After two amazing weeks of managing the Tour Tracker, we decided that giving Adam the reins would help increase our capacity to cover even more on the tour as well as give me the time to focus on promoting our tour coverage to the outside world, including more than 700,000 Courage Campaign Institute members.

If you’ve read Adam’s work over the years, you know that he’s one of the best bloggers out there, on LGBT issues as well as on the progressive movement. With his deep experience and knowledge of the LGBT movement and his passion for holding NOM accountable, I’m confident that we’ll be able to take NOMTourTracker.com to the next level.

Please take a moment in the comments and welcome Adam.

Eden James
Managing Director
Courage Campaign Institute


I said “Yes” because of you. Yes, you.

by Adam Bink

Hey there, fellow equality supporters! Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Adam Bink, an editor over at the progressive political blog OpenLeft.com, and I’m happy to be taking over the editorial reins from Eden here at NOMTrialTracker for the next coupla weeks. I want to do two things here- one is tell you a bit about myself, and two is get into how my role here came about.

OpenLeft is a blog founded in July 2007 to strengthen dialogues between “inside” and “outside” political organizations and activists. We’re also a blog that prides itself on combining writing and activism. We engage in strategic e-campaigns where we can. At OpenLeft, I’ve covered the LGBT “beat” since last year, and ramped it up when I started working with the No On 1 campaign to protect marriage equality in Maine (which is how I got to know Eden).

Last year, we raised over $1.4 million on ActBlue for the No On 1 campaign, helped supporters from all over the country travel to Maine, and built a killer web operation. I even had the opportunity to travel to Maine when readers contributed to cover my travel expenses. While on the ground, I both worked with the No On 1 team, as well as covered issues like the battle between the Catholic Bishop and equality supporters, helped raise awareness about the three LGBT elections that fall (along with 46 other blogs), and discussed some hidden truths behind past state ballot losses on marriage equality (you can read all of my coverage by clicking here).

I went on to cover the efforts to legalize the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in my home state of New York as well as New Jersey, and have been writing and organizing on this critical issue ever since. So I want to let you know that working on marriage equality is something I live and breathe personally, and I’m looking forward to working with you on that.

Second, let me get a little bit into how this new role came about.

Over the long weekend while Eden and I were at the Netroots Nation conference, he asked me to take over the blog management here at NOMTrialTracker for the rest of the tour. I’m a bit busy myself, so I wasn’t sure I’d have the time. Then I went back and re-read the posts for the last few weeks, along with your comments.

And I was inspired. I’ve been a longtime activist for marriage equality, and I’ve met folks out there in our great country at rallies and in campaign war rooms who just don’t give up. Their determination is inspiring. I saw the same thing in comment threads here. The research, photos, news tracking I see is fantastic. Even the snark (hi, Louis!) is awesome. And I knew we could finish this tour together, and even take it a step up.

So I’ll be e-working with our team to keep bringing you the same intrepid coverage of NOM and their big dose of #FAIL, day-in and day-out. And I’ll even be adding some new features to have a little fun at NOM’s expense. Together, we’ll keep beating back the narrative that NOM is a credible, successful organization- and keep marching towards winning equality for same-sex couples, nationwide.

Onward!

47 Comments July 27, 2010

(VIDEO) NOM supporter’s “solution to gay marriage”: Lynching gay couples

(Check out the news from the South Bend City Council meeting. Meanwhile, Bil Browning, founder of the Bilerico Project, was also in Indianapolis today. He posted the following on Bilerico and gave us permission to cross-post it on NOMTourTracker.com. Check out the sickening sign that NOM supporter Larry Adams created with two nooses as “the solution to gay marriage.” Also, watch the interview that Courage’s Arisha Michelle Hatch did with Adams, and the “handling” that Adams got from Justin, a NOM staffer, in the middle of the interview. — Eden):

By Bil Browning

The National Organization for Marriage’s “One Man, One Woman” bus tour hit Indianapolis today and the LGBT community came out to greet them.

Since we’re hospitable Hoosiers, of course, gay-hate-sign.jpgour welcome wagon outnumbered the small dog and pony show put on by NOM and local religious right groups.

Over 250 LGBT and allied folks protested the rally, but only 40 fundies showed up. At least 10 of the anti-marriage equality crowd were NOM staff or local speakers; the rest of the group were older Caucasians and skewed slightly female.

One older attendee held this sign and the Courage Campaign, there to document the entire tour, got an interview with the man. It’s included after the jump with another photo of the guy with the sign.

I’ll be posting Maggie Gallagher’s entire speech plus an exclusive interview with her this evening after I get back from the event sponsored by Freedom To Marry and local groups. Also behind the jump is a slideshow of photos that I took at the rally; it was a beautiful sight to see. It reminded me of when Fred Phelps church comes to town and the community always drowns out the sight of their hate and religious zealotry.

anti-gay-protestor.jpg

Photos courtesy of Alice Hoenigman and Wilson Allen.

Video courtesy of the Courage Campaign

174 Comments July 26, 2010

BREAKING: NOM diverts tour, heads to South Bend for City Council meeting tonight… NOMTourTracker.com to follow

by Eden James

We just learned from a source on the ground that NOM is breaking from its planned route to the next stop in Madison, Wisconsin, to cover a major event in South Bend, Indiana, three hours due north of Indianapolis (earlier report from today’s Indianapolis event).

Tonight, the South Bend Common Council will be voting for the fourth time on an amendment to the city’s human rights ordinance that protects residents on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity with respect to employment (PDF link. This is a letter by the sponsors filing the amendment. The meat of it is actually the FULL ordinance, and the UNDERLINED sections are the ADDITIONS to help LGBT people).

This will be our pro-equality side’s fourth attempt at winning the vote (previous versions of the bill pertained to housing AND employment). Two other cities in Indiana — Bloomington and Indianapolis — already has such an ordinance on their books. In 2006, we lost by a 5-4 vote. The hearing for the most recent vote went until midnight and we again lost by one vote. This time, we’re told our side has taken its time to ensure we win it, and that all our supporters show up.

Because we’re not the kind of organizers to let NOM go unchallenged, Courage Campaign’s trackers are responding in kind by breaking off the trail to head to South Bend as well. Arisha, Anthony, and Phyllis are headed straight there as you read.

If you are in South Bend, or nearby, please consider heading to the fourth floor of the County Council building to show your support and show NOM that we are going! The vote is at 7 pm, and it’s at the corner of Lafayette and Jefferson:

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=south+bend+county+council&sll=38.896143,-77.045617&sspn=0.007916,0.01929&ie=UTF8&hq=county+council&hnear=South+Bend,+St+Joseph,+Indiana&ll=41.675156,-86.253276&spn=0.007597,0.01929&z=14&iwloc=A&cid=17156902038345551544&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Indiana Family Institute, an anti-equality organization, is asking its supporters to gather at 3 PM local time in advance of the vote at 7 PM. We’ll have more details on our side’s plans to counter them as we confer with local organizers. For now, if you can make it, arrive early- we’re told it may be crowded.

Keep an eye on NOMTourTracker.com for more as it comes. We may continue to refresh this thread or create a new one for the event tonight, starting in less than three hours.

UPDATE BY EDEN: Our team arrived at the City Council meeting a little while ago and they are going to be posting updates soon. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, a post by NOM blogger Louis Marinelli claims that NOM is NOT diverting its tour to South Bend. Apparently, the information we got earlier was not accurate. Was it a head fake by NOM? Who knows, but it doesn’t much matter. We’ll be in Madison on Tuesday to document what happens at the next stop on the #NOMturnoutFAIL and we’ll be in South Bend tonight to document what happens with this amendment to the city’s human rights ordinance.

The more important question: Why is NOM avoiding the South Bend Common Council meeting? After all, it would seem to be a critical event directly connected to NOM’s mission. And it’s only three hours away from today’s tour stop in Indianapolis.

Is NOM concerned that anti-equality forces will lose the vote and they don’t want to be present for the embarrassment? Maybe they don’t want anyone to know about their association with some of the South Bend crazies that are bound to show up (based on what has happened in the past)?

As our press guy has said quite often, either you’re with folks like Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps or you’re against folks like Fred “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” Phelps.

Which is it, NOM?

UPDATE BY ARISHA:

From the noisy NOM rally in Indianapolis to a quiet overflow room at the South Bend City Council office, equality organizers in Indiana had their hands full on Monday.

More than 200 South Bend residents (about 80% seemed to be equality activists) sat quietly as the Common Council heard argument from proponents and opponents of Ordinance 30-10, a proposed bill that would amend an existing employment non-discrimination ordinance to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Five voted in favor of postponing the proceedings and four opposed the motion (all four expressed opposition to the ordinance). There was only one councilmember, Al Krisits, who voiced support for the bill, the other four said that they were willing to keep listening. It seems Councilmembers who are supportive want to make sure concerns are addressed before voting to enact the ordinance. Essentially, they punted.

“I only wish we could have this sort of turnout at other council meetings,” commented Councilman Henry Davis who later voted against the amendment because it violated “his moral fabric.”

“We tried this in 2006 and lost 5-4, but we’re hopeful,” stated Deb Drummond, a South Bend resident.

South Bend Common Council
The South Bend Common Council considering the ordinance

During the hearing, each side was given close to 45 minutes to present their cases in support, with a short rebuttal period at the end. Each councilmember then had an opportunity to comment.

Equality supporters stressed how an amendment of this nature would not have a large impact on the city, as whole – highlighting statistics indicating that claim increases would be marginal – and would serve to incentives more LGBT families to move to the city.

“A number of people have left here because they want to be in a place they’re protected,” stated Tricia Waynscott. “I’m not going to say this [ordinance] is going to change the climate entirely, but I think it will have some impact.”

“GLBT people, when they’re looking for a job and a home that’s one of the first things they look at,” continued Drummond. “I know it was for us; we ultimately decided to move [to South Bend] anyway.”

The audience at the hearing
The audience at the hearing

Opponents argued that an amendment would damage the small business owner leading to a negative impact on job growth in South Bend and further cited concerns about the religious exemption included in the amendment.

“One of the factors [small business owners] consider when choosing [a market] is local [law]” stated one opponent. “Why should a small business come here and stay here and have to deal with this legal risk? [. . .]Passing this ordinance would be a job killer.”

“We are wasting precious resources on an issue this is not about civil rights. [. . .],” stated another opponent of the ordinance. “Jesus never condoned this and the civil rights platform never supported it.”

In rebuttal, the Human Right Commission attempted to address the opponents’ concerns about the religious exemption.

“The [Human Rights] Commission is not going to be in a position to parse out religious doctrine,” a Commission representative stated attempting to reassure the council during rebuttal. “If a religious organization says that [they refused to hire someone because of religious purposes] [. . .] we will take them at their word.”

Councilman Rouse, who doesn’t seem quite inclined to support the amendment, made the following interesting statement:

“As far as I’m concerned, [the former-felon] is the most discriminated class in America,” Councilman Rouse said. “When you go to apply for a job, there’s a box asking whether you’ve ever been convicted – there is no box asking whether you’re” gay or lesbian.

“When we raised taxes, we didn’t get the hate mail we’re getting in this case,” stated Councilman Oliver Davis before making a motion to postpone the decision to address “vagueness concerns raised by opponents.”’

85 Comments July 26, 2010

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