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Archives – August, 2010

Courage Campaign blasts efforts to force Governor and Attorney General to defend Prop 8

By Andy Kelley

A conservative legal group is attempting to use the courts to force California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to defend Proposition 8 in court.

As reported late this afternoon by the Associated Press:

The Pacific Justice Institute petitioned the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento on Monday for an emergency order that would require state officials to appeal a ruling that overturned Proposition 8.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down the voter-approved measure as unconstitutional last month.

Its sponsors have appealed. But doubts have been raised about whether they have authority to do so because as ordinary citizens they are not responsible for enforcing marriage laws.

Though the state of California has until September 11th to file an appeal of Judge Walker’s ruling, both Schwarzenegger and Brown have stated they have no intention to do so.

Rick Jacobs, Founder and Chair of the Courage Campaign Institute called their lawsuit “the height of hypocrisy…frivolous and desperate” and released the following statement questioning why California taxpayers should be forced to defend a law which has already been declared to violate the United States Constitution:


Jacobs calls Conservative Groups’ lawsuit “the height of hypocrisy…frivolous and desperate”

LOS ANGELES: Earlier today, the conservative Pacific Justice Institute petitioned California’s 3rd District Court of Appeals to force Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to appeal a Federal District Court ruling that declared California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

Proponents of the law have pledged to appeal the District Court ruling—which found California’s ban against same-sex marriage to be a violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Both Brown and Schwarzenegger have publicly declined to appeal the District Court ruling.

In response to today’s events, Courage Campaign Founder and Chairman Rick Jacobs has issued the following statement:

“With California laying off teachers, police and firefighters amidst an unprecedented budget crisis, it is the height of hypocrisy for so called ‘conservatives’ to demand that California taxpayers foot the bill to defend a discriminatory law that has already been declared unconstitutional in federal court. This frivolous action shows just how out of touch and desperate those who seek to limit the freedoms of loving American families have become.”

More updates to come as news develops…

UPDATE BY EDEN: Karen Ocamb has quotes from the Pacific Justice Institute, Lambda Legal and Equality California along with some incendiary footage from Right-Wing Watch:

In a blog on their website, PJI posits failure to uphold Prop 8 as a “constitutional crisis:”

“California is teetering on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. Former bodybuilder, turned Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with former Governor, turned Attorney General, Jerry Brown, are putting their shoulders down to push California’s voters over the cliff. With them, the state’s republican form of government will fall.”

Lambda Legal’s Legal Director Jon Davidson makes an excellent point about “judicial activism:”

“This latest, desperate move by antigay recognizes that, without an appeal by Gov. Schwarzenegger or Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Perry case may be over and Prop. 8 a relic of the past. It’s ironic that groups that regularly attack the judiciary are now asking judges to second guess the highest members of the state’s executive branch who correctly have decided that Prop. 8 so clearly violates the U.S. Constitution that it cannot in good faith be defended. Those officials swore to uphold the federal Constitution which, under our federal system of government, overrides state law.”

Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors issued this statement in response to the PJI action:

“This is an outrageous attempt to try and force elected officials who have sworn to uphold the United States Constitution to defend a law that the Federal Court has found to be unconstitutional. It demonstrates their acknowledgement that the proponents of Proposition 8 lack standing to appeal, that the case should be dismissed and loving same-sex couples should be allowed to exercise their constitutional right to marry.”

Right Wing Watch reminds us how PJI President Brad Dacus at a Protect Marriage/Yes on 8 rally on Oct. 28, 2008 said “failure to pass Prop 8 in California would be akin to failing to stop Hitler.”


296 Comments August 31, 2010

NOM on “ex-gay” group: Merely “helping gay people lead Christian lives”

(Cross-posted at Good As You)

By Jeremy Hooper

On second thought, maybe the National Organization For Marriage and its officials no longer care about hiding their “ex-gay” support. Check out this little blip that was just posted to NOM’s blog:

NOMAn earthquake is beginning: If “gay is like black,” then “Christian is like racist.” The early warning signs are now taking place all over the globe. In New Zealand, Exodus Ministries was just stripped of its tax-exempt status, on the grounds that helping gay people lead Christian lives is not a charity

Exodus Ministries stripped of tax-exempt status in New Zealand. [NOM]

As most of you likely know: This New Zealand Exodus program is part of the American-based Exodus International/Exodus Global Alliance, a coalition where the sole focus — THE SOLE FOCUS! — is on changing gays into that scientifically-discredited state known as “ex-gay.” Which is exactly why in New Zealand, the Charities Commission denied charitable status to this group: Because of the staunch rejection that groups like the American Psychological Association have rightly shown towards these unbacked, potentially dangerous programs. Groups don’t get to be recognized as charitable, simply because they say it’s so. And LGBT-themed groups don’t get to say something is factual simply because it fits their “love the sinner, hate the sin” narrative!

Yet here we have NOM spinning this into an attack on Christianity? Standing up for “ex-gayness,” a notion that even a large percentage of marriage equality opponents proudly reject? Risking their reputation and capital (and reliable natural disaster allusions) on advocacy for “pray away the gay” programs?

Wow, you’re really getting sloppy, Maggie!

196 Comments August 31, 2010

Blast from the past: NOM’s Brian Brown used to “pray away the gay”

(Cross-posted at Good As You)

By Jeremy Hooper

Brian-BrownNowadays, National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown is way too politically savvy to encourage gays into scientifically discredited “ex-gay” change.

But that wasn’t always the case. Back when Brian was heading up the Family Institute of Connecticut and the national interest was much more lacking, a less public version of Brian was all about helping parents “prevent your child from embracing this destructive way of life”:


(click the image to enlarge)

“LOVE WON OUT” CONFERENCE IN BOSTON ON OCT. 29TH [Brian Brown]  On October 29th, 2005, Focus on the Family will be holding a Love Won Out Conference at Tremont Temple Church, 88 Tremont Street in Boston, MA. A complimentary Pastor’s Breakfast will be held Sept. 8th from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Tremont Temple Church for clergy wishing to learn more about the conference.  With Connecticut’s same-sex civil union law going into effect one month from today, pastors, parents and other concerned citizens will be increasingly forced to face issues relating to homosexuality. The Family Institute of Connecticut, therefore, strongly recommends that our members attend Love Won Out in Boston.  At the conference, you will hear from nationally known experts who have firsthand experience with the seldom-told side of the homosexual issue. You’ll learn how to minister to a loved one who’s dealing with homosexuality, respond to misinformation in our culture, defend biblical beliefs and prevent your child from embracing this destructive way of life.  Ministers who attend the Sept. 8th Pastor’s Breakfast will be Focus on the Family’s guests for a complimentary breakfast and morning seminar that will equip them to more effectively convey the truth about homosexuality, compassionately without compromising. Three of Love Won Out’s keynote speakers will share their testimonies and address specific topics.

Family Institute of CT (archive)

What do we hear from NOM all the time? False victimization. Charges that Brian and crew will be unfairly labeled “bigots.” An attempt to flip the script to make the anti-LGBT crowd seem like the sympathetic figures.

But here we have it, almost five years ago to the date: Brian ignoring a preponderance of credible science to say that gays can and should pray away the gay. When it comes to Brian’s career in LGBT politics, somehow we’re having a hard time feeling sorry for whatever historical meme might take hold.

173 Comments August 31, 2010

Will you thank Peter, Paul & Mary for telling NOM to stop using “This Land Is Your Land”?

by Andy Kelley
New Media Organizer, Courage Campaign Institute

If you hear a song being played at an event, it’s understandable to assume that the artist being featured supports the cause. After all, endorsements of musicians are common place within advocacy organizations, and a familiar voice helps lend legitimacy to a cause. To do so without permission would be to co-opt the groups name and to imply their endorsement of the event.

That’s why it was so shocking to Kathleen Perrin and many other participants in the Prop 8 Trial Tracker community when we first heard a Peter, Paul & Mary recording of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” in a video posted to the NOM Tour Tracker from NOM’s rally in Albany, NY. As Kathleen recounted on Friday in her front-page post (which includes video of the song being played at a NOM rally):

When I first heard this recording played in Albany, NY, I was stunned and deeply offended. Woody Guthrie and Peter, Paul & Mary are artists who have always unequivocally supported justice and equality for all.

I felt certain the surviving members of Peter, Paul & Mary would want to know of this grievous misuse of their recording, so I wrote to Peter Yarrow. In my correspondence, I provided a link to a video of the Albany rally and explained that their recording had been used at high volume to drown out the chants of “Equality” from the counter-demonstrators.

Mr. Yarrow responded, saying use of the song by NOM was “heartbreaking” and indicated he would be contacting NOM.

And Peter Yarrow did just that, sending a cease-and-desist letter to NOM. But Peter didn’t stop there, his letter went on to state “We strongly support the rights of all gays and lesbians to enjoy the rights and rituals of marriage that are enjoyed by their straight counterparts, and consider the abridgement of this right contrary to the sense of equal protection and fairness…” He went on to make an impassioned defense of equality for the gay and lesbian community.

His words are truly moving, not merely because of the force of passion with which they are spoken, but because of the powerful credence lent to those words by such a public and well known advocate as Peter, Paul & Mary. (A credence they refused to allow NOM to co-opt.)

We at Courage were so moved by their actions, and so inspired by the Prop 8 Trial Tracker/NOM Tour Tracker community that made this possible, that we decided to send Peter, Paul & Mary a “Thank You” card, which we launched on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend (and will be following up with an email action). The response from our community has been amazing so far and we want to keep the momentum going here on P8TT.

Click here to add your name to our card thanking Peter, Paul & Mary for taking a stand for marriage equality and read their letter to Brian Brown and NOM.

We’ll deliver your signature, along with thousands of other signatures, to Peter, Paul & Mary!

If you have thoughts on Peter, Paul & Mary’s courageous action, please share them in the comments as well.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine



110 Comments August 30, 2010

Maggie Gallagher meets St. Peter

By Rob Tisinai

Here’s an animation experiment about NOM’s Maggie Gallagher that I made using this site, whose software has set off a little boom in text-to-speech, user-friendly, 3-D cartoons.

Please share if you like it. Note that the Closed Captioning button is active if you want subtitles.

Frankly, I think maybe we ought to do an animation festival. Make a video, upload it to youtube, and post the link here. Anybody want to give it a try?

197 Comments August 30, 2010

Saying hello and talking equality: Welcoming Rob Tisinai to the Prop 8 Trial Tracker

Last week, we asked Prop 8 Trial Trackers to nominate participants in this community as potential guest writers on the P8TT front page. Rob Tisinai was one of the most popular choices in that comment thread. As a result of your support for Rob, as well as our enthusiastic appreciation for his thought-provoking blogging and videos at, we are welcoming him as a guest blogger at the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, writing at least a few times per week, along with all of our other front-page writers. (If you are one of the writers who applied to post on the front page as well, we are still reviewing applications and will select at least one more guest writer within the next week.)

You may be familiar with Rob from watching some of the videos he has produced. Here’s one that we haven’t featured on the front page as of yet. It’s called “Talking Equality” and it’s a great way to get to know Rob and his approach to the fundamental arguments made by those opposing marriage equality. I think you’ll really enjoy it. Please take a moment to watch now and then share your thoughts in the comments:


Rob has written his first post below for P8TT — a personal piece about what brought him to blogging. After you read it, please give Rob a warm welcome in the comments and, if you feel comfortable doing so, consider sharing your own story with the P8TT community about the personal experiences that may have motivated you to become an active advocate for marriage equality.

Eden James
Managing Director, Courage Campaign Institute

Saying Hello

By Rob Tisinai

Hey, everybody.  My name is Rob Tisinai, I’m a 48-year-old happily-partnered gay man in Los Angeles. I’ll be contributing to the Prop 8 Trial Tracker a couple times a week.

I’ve been writing (and will continue to write) an equality blog,, for the past couple years, but I wasn’t politically active before Prop 8 passed.  I gave some money during the campaign, and a friend dragged me out to work the polls on election day, but that was about it.  Its passage, though, shook my whole world view.

To explain this, I have to go back to when I was a kid: I was a great student and lousy at sports. That double-whammy will get you picked on even by the kids who get picked on. I was tall and scrawny with a great big head, a mouthful of braces, orthopedic shoes (pigeon-toed flat feet), a stutter, and hard contact lenses that constantly slipped out of place.

But I got older, the stutter faded, and I stopped looking so much like a greasy lollipop on a stick. Plus, I reached an age where people saw smarts as maybe a good thing. Now suddenly folks were nice to me right off the bat. Instead of mocking everything I said, no matter how smart, they nodded and smiled, no matter how awkward or odd.

That was…good? I would figure out what people wanted me to be, be that thing, and they’d like me. I’d already done it to manage my parents (they were conservative Catholics born in 1919 and 1920; I was a closeted gay teen), so why not try it with my peer group? No one got to know me, really, but it was better than being picked on, right?

It worked on the job, too. Be the go-to guy everyone enjoys working with. Be nice to everyone and everyone will be nice to you. You smother a lot of yourself in the process, but it’s safer, isn’t it?

Eventually I did begin to see safety-plus-misery as a dead end. Fast forward through lots of therapy and I’m making slow but steady progress. Slow. But steady.

On November 4, 2008, though, something broke. I was nice, but the voters weren’t. I didn’t make trouble, but they kicked my ass. And why? Because they were terrified their kids would learn about gays in school. Forget about whether Prop 8 actually mandated that – they believed it, and the idea that their kids would learn about people like me was so awful they stripped away my rights to keep it from happening.

I started looking more closely at what our opponents say about us.  It was so ridiculous, dishonest, and dangerous that I had to say NO!, dismantle their claims, and rake them over the coals for violating their own claims as moral pillars.  And boy, I like that.  It’s been the focus of my blog.

Lately, though, I’ve been jolted by research showing that facts don’t change people’s minds.  In fact, when most people are confronted with a fact that contradicts their worldview, not only do they find a way of reconciling the contradiction (however erroneously), but they actually feel better about those erroneous their beliefs afterward.  The only way to reach people – regardless of their intelligence or education – is to provide an emotional appeal that make them want to change their minds, and then follow that up with a rational reason for doing so. (For more on this, check out The Political Brain by Drew Westen).

I think that’s the strategy our movement needs to pursue.  Only after we open people’s hearts by showing ourselves as actual human beings will they listen to our facts and research.  All without losing our intellectual integrity.  That’s an avenue I’d like to explore.

Of course, part of me thinks, Who am I kidding?  I’ll always love ripping the other side’s arguments to shreds, even if I’m just preaching to the choir (as I do in the video from last year below).  But you know, preaching to the choir is important;  it gives them something to sing about.  And we need to raise as many voices as we can.

391 Comments August 29, 2010

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