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Archives – August, 2010

Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Gay friendly governator” or frenemy? You be the judge.

by Brian Leubitz

In their Opinion LA blog, the LA Times calls Governor Schwarzenegger “the gay friendly governator.” Sure, he has recently been getting a lot of respect for declining, repeatedly, to get involved on behalf of Proposition 8. But how much is that worth?

Here’s the Times take on the issue:

Who could have called it in 2003: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the body-building terminator who originally showcased his brutish masculinity as a campaign centerpiece and once called Democrats “girlie men,” could go down in history as California’s most gay-friendly governor to date. Sure, Schwarzenegger’s done more for gay men and women when he’s done nothing: Though he vetoed then-Assemblyman Mark Leno’s bill to legalize same-sex marriage in 2005 (legislation that was almost certainly illegal under Proposition 22), he and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown have refused to defend Proposition 8 in federal court.

This is in the context of a bill, AB 2199, that would delete from the state law books an official policy of curing homosexuality that recently passed out of the Legislature and is now heading for the Governor’s desk. He’ll likely sign the bill, as, truthfully, it isn’t all that controversial. It sailed through both houses, with but one dissenting vote. The one vote would be the anachronistic and bigoted Assemblyman from San Diego, Joel Anderson.

It is great that Arnold has been on our side in the last few years. But, he has never been willing to put any of his own political capital on the line. Instead, he’s content to wait it out. He vetoed the Harvey Milk Day bill before signing it. And with Mark Leno’s marriage bills, he ran for the hills. His rationale was that somebody, the judges, the people, anybody but him, should say something first. Regardless of whether he thought Prop 22 was unconstitutional back in 2005 or not, he was not willing to take the lead by just signing the bill. If marriage inequality was odious to the constitution 6 months ago, it was odious in 2005 as well. Would it have stirred up some controversy? Most definitely. But real leaders have a tendency to do that.

Or perhaps he could have expended a bit of energy in 2008 campaigning against Prop 8? He did make a token endorsement of Prop 8, but beyond that was out of the picture.

But, LGBT issues go beyond the single issue of marriage, and on transgender rights he hasn’t been quite so good, even of late:

On 12 October 2009, California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, fell short of ensuring full protection of LGBTQ people in the California’s prison system. Choosing to veto the LGBT Prisoner Safety Act (AB 382, Ammiano) and the Equal ID Act (AB 1185, Lieu), he has failed to cement two crucial policies into law. Needless to say, the LGBTQ community has been failed, and must now overturn the Governor’s cruel and unusual decision.

First and foremost, the Governor’s reasons for vetoing the LGBT Prisoner Safety Act (AB 382, Ammiano), was due to the fact that California’s prison system already takes gender identity and sexual orientation into account when housing prisoners. Whilst that is very likely the case, GLBTQ inmates shall remain vulnerable until this becomes actual law. Until then, human rights violations may continue.

As for the vetoing of the Equal ID Act (AB 1185, Lieu), the Governor’s reasons were similar. Thanks to a past landmark victory, Somers v. Superior Court, it had already been ruled unconstitutional to deny transgender inmates the right to petition a gender change. Despite this fact, the Transgender Law Center asserts that the “Equal ID Act would have alleviated any confusion in the statutory language itself.” (Examiner blogs)

These veto messages are hardly the stuff of civil rights heroes. You hope, you think gender identity is considered in jails and prisons? Well, that might be nice in theory, but in reality the situation isn’t quite so smooth. Transgender prisoners face very difficult conditions in the prisons, and very little extra caution is given to them.

In the end, I find it difficult to call this Governor gay friendly. Real friends are there for you, good times or bad. This one swoops in when the tide is clearly turning. At best, I would call him a frenemy. But let’s hear your take. As we approach the election in November to replace him, what do you think of California’s current Governor?

101 Comments August 28, 2010

NOM’s radio ad attack on Judge Walker: “Should ‘San Francisco Values’ be imposed on the rest of America?”

By Eden James

Get a load of this:

We’ll see where this new radio ad from NOM pops up.

Use this as an Open Thread to discuss NOM’s attack ad or whatever you would like to talk about…

198 Comments August 27, 2010

Peter, Paul & Mary’s cease-and-desist to NOM: Stop playing “This Land Is Your Land”

(Kathleen Perrin, who writes as “Kathleen” in the comments on the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, recently took the initiative to hold the National Organization for Marriage accountable. So we asked her to write it up in a NOM Tour Tracker guest post on the front page. I think you’ll enjoy this latest example of the people power exhibited by Prop 8 Trial Tracker community members. Let Kathleen know what you think in the comments! — Eden James)

By Kathleen Perrin

As we all know, the National Organization for Marriage’s ironically named “Summer for Marriage” tour ended recently and Courage Campaign’s NOM Tour Tracker team was there throughout. The team documented both NOM speakers’ messages of exclusion and discrimination and the powerful demonstrations by the people who stood up to NOM and spoke in support of marriage equality.

All along the tour we saw, time and again, how NOM inverted the truth, portraying themselves as the oppressed instead of the oppressor. NOM’s president Brian Brown even made the outrageous claim that he follows in the footsteps of Martin Luther King as the leader of a new civil rights movement.

In keeping with this twisted version of the truth, NOM played a Peter, Paul & Mary recording of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” during their rallies. You can hear the song being played in the background of this YouTube video showing marriage equality supporters walking away from their counter-protest at the end of NOM’s tour stop in Albany:

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. Here is the letter to Brian Brown from Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey, surviving members of the group who performed as Peter, Paul & Mary (reproduced with permission).

Peter, Paul & Mary Letter to NOM by Kathleen Perrin

Well, Brian Brown, Martin Luther King, Jr. may not be here to counter your offensive claims, but Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey are. And now you know what they think of you associating their voices and their message with your cause.

Brian, we heard NOM use this song again on August 15 during your final rally in Washington, DC. So now all of us in the Prop 8 Trial Tracker community and at the Courage Campaign Institute add our voices to those of Peter and Noel Paul and ask you to confirm that you will cease to use this recording in a way that associates these staunch supporters of marriage equality with your offensive anti-equality message.

Thank you Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey for standing with us in solidarity.

UPDATE BY EDEN: If you would like to thank Peter, Paul & Mary, you can on their Facebook fan page:


This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California, to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters,
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and rambled, and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was singing
This land was made for you and me!
This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California, to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters,
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me those golden valleys
This land was made for you and me!
This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California, to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters,
This land was made for you and me.
As the sun was shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting, a voice was saying
“This land was made for you and me!”
This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California, to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters,
This land was made for you and me.

312 Comments August 27, 2010

FRC’s Tony Perkins “saddened” by Ken Mehlman coming out

(Cross-posted at LGBTPOV)

By Karen Ocamb

The Call Tony Perkins.JPGTony Perkins, head of the antigay Family Research Council, is “saddened” by the news about former GOP heavy weight Ken Mehlman coming out as gay, according to an email to supporters he sent during a break from his vacation. Perkins (pictured) says that Mehlman has “chosen” to identify himself as gay. I guess Perkins didn’t read Mehlman’s interview with The Atlantic or skipped that part where it took Mehlman 43 years to “choose” that identity.

But there are so many other interesting tid-bits in Perkins’ email. Look at the phrase “unfortunate confirmation” – now what does Perkins mean by that? That he, too, knew that Mehlman’s sexual orientation was an “open secret” in Washington DC and Republican circles? If that’s true – why didn’t Perkins reach out to Mehlman, whom he says he “cares about as a person,” and invite him to join an “ex-gay” ministry with which FRC is connected? Hmmmm? Might he have thought that Mehlman’s sexual orientation was none of his business? A personal matter? But wait – Perkins thinks every other gay person’s personal life is his business so why make an exception for Mehlman? Or perhaps if Mehlman had said yes and then the “cure” failed – and Mehlman, having been exposed for trying – exposes the truth about “ex-gay” ministries – that they don’t work? Geez – and then he trots out the old homosexual-”conduct”-causes-disease trope – long discredited but still a money-maker with his unquestioning crowd.

But best of all is Perkins’ conspiracy theory – that Mehlman having been closeted all this time “helps explain the scandalous failure of many in the Republican establishment to vigorously uphold the values and policy positions expressed in the party’s platform in 2004 and 2008, particularly the need to protect the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman nationwide.” Yup – that’s it: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and all the other top right wing GOP leaders were afraid of blowing Mehlman’s secret or hurting his feelings so they refused to do the “grassroots” bidding. Never mind that that GOP team under Mehlman was responsible for antigay marriage constitutional amendments in 11 states in 2004 and 8 states in 2006. Not good enough.

I would love to be a fly on the wall when Mehlman and Perkins encounter each other again.

Here’s Perkins email to supporters:

The Update remains on Summer break and will return next week, but I wanted to respond to inquires and concerns that have been expressed about the news that former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman has now chosen to identify himself as homosexual.

First, I am saddened by this announcement. I’m saddened because I know Ken and care about him as a person. Homosexuality not only has negative implications for society, it also has profound, well-documented negative physical and mental health consequences for those who engage in homosexual conduct as well.

This unfortunate confirmation helps explain the scandalous failure of many in the Republican establishment to vigorously uphold the values and policy positions expressed in the party’s platform in 2004 and 2008, particularly the need to protect the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman nationwide. While grassroots activists succeeded in passing marriage amendments in dozens of states across the country, they received little support and even outright resistance from Party officials at the national level, which contributed to the GOP’s electoral failures in 2006 and 2008. Now we know one of the major reasons why.

With this announcement about his homosexuality, Ken also announced that he would join those who have mounted the assault on marriage through the activist courts. Not only does this run counter to the historical principles of the Republican Party, it stands in direct opposition to the Party’s platform which is clear on the importance of marriage and family. The Party’s unequivocal stand on life, marriage, and family is why many social conservatives have made the GOP their political home.

It is important for the conservative movement that the Republican Party remains committed to its longtime stance on core social issues. The Party and the movement will suffer if the GOP adopts a foolish strategy of seeking votes by pandering to the two-percent of the population who are homosexual or bisexual–and thereby alienating the majority of conservative voters.

** When the news about Mehlman hit the wires this morning, FRC’s two Kens–Blackwell and Klukowski–tackled the tough road ahead for the Republican Party in a brand new column. “If Republicans flinch on marriage,” they write,” America could have eight years of President Obama.” You can check out their op-ed, “Disaster Looms If GOP Changes Course On Gay Marriage,” on Fox News now.

101 Comments August 27, 2010

Political Science professors note marriage equality “groundswell”

(Cross-posted at LGBTPOV)

By Karen Ocamb

NYT interactive map on marriage

In an op-ed in the New York Times Sunday, Columbia University political science professors Andrew Gelman, Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips wrote that while “gay marriage is not going away as a highly emotion, contested issue….perhaps the public has reached a turning point.” The professors cite a recent CNN poll that “found that a narrow majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage – the first poll to find majority support.” But, they write, “this trend will continue” because nationally, “a majority of people under age 30 support same-sex marriage.”

The Times created an interactive map to go with the article – which shows the “groundswell” from 2004 to 2010. They also have a graphic that shows the trend state-by-state. (Hat tip to Pam Spaulding.)

83 Comments August 26, 2010

Show us what really happened on Brian Brown’s summer vacation: Create a NOM tour mashup video!

By Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign Institute

Eden sent me that Brian Brown fantasy tour summer video last night. I dropped what I was doing to watch it because I needed a break from reality. Thank you Brian, for delivering!


Yes, “Gathering Storm Chasers” was funny, but your video can be serious as well. Whatever inspires you to get creative.

Think about the incidents during the NOM tour that most affected you during NOM’s tour. Was it the man with the “noose” sign? Was it a family that really wanted simply to be a family but were being told they are not good enough? Was it the photos of the podium isolated by a sea of black top, surrounded by ten lonely staffers at the “big NOM rally” in Lima, Ohio? How about all of those great stats on the NOM tour that Adam put together?

If you need more material, just scroll back through the archives for a month’s worth of posts, pics and videos.

Let’s show the real Brian Brown summer vacation video, the one that has no followers, no energy and no future. The one that wants to divide families, attack judges and that does not trust America.

What do you say? You always rise to the occasion. Give it a go!

UPDATE BY EDEN: Not that I need to say so, but feel free to use this as an Open Thread to talk about Rick’s post above or whatever is on your mind…

73 Comments August 26, 2010

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