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Archives – October, 2011

DOMA: Sen. Reed isn’t listening, so we’re getting loud

By Adam Bink

As I wrote recently, we delivered petition signatures to Sen. Reed’s office in Rhode Island and DC, urging him to join 31 other Senators in supporting the Respect for Marriage Act.

Nearly a month ago, Sen. Reed was asked about the bill and said he would decide shortly (on an issue that has been around for years, including when he was in Congress voting on it in 1996). He hasn’t, so it’s time to amplify our voice to make sure he hears us.

Below is a note we at the Courage Campaign sent to our members in Rhode Island, and which our coalition partners will also be doing shortly. If you’re a Rhode Islander, or know someone who is, please take a minute to make a call and ask Sen. Reed to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act.

Courage Campaign

Dear Adam,
Last month, you signed our letter to Sen. Reed asking him to support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. At a press conference the next day, Sen. Reed said, “I’m looking very carefully at it…I think it merits a careful study and that’s what I’m doing and I’m going to do it quickly so that I can come to a conclusion.”
That was nearly a month ago. This issue has been around for years. Now, we have a critical Sen. Judiciary Committee vote coming up next month. All the other members of the Rhode Island delegation and 31 other Senate Democrats are on-board. What’s taking Sen. Reed so long?
It’s time to amplify our voice. Can you take a minute to call his office and ask him to support DOMA repeal? Click here for a phone number and a short script.
Last week, along with our allies at Ocean State Action, Marriage Equality Rhode Island and Freedom to Marry, we met with his staff in Providence and DC to deliver your signatures and talk about DOMA repeal. We told them about constituents in Rhode Island who work hard and pay their taxes, but are treated differently than other couples. Couples like Beth and Elizabeth of North Smithfield, who throw away over $7,000 a year on individual health insurance because DOMA prevents Beth from adding Elizabeth, her legal spouse and love of 26 years, onto her federal health plan.
Maybe Sen. Reed isn’t hearing us because the National Organization for Marriage has launched their own effort to convince Sen. Reed that DOMA is right for Rhode Islanders. If that’s the case, we can’t let our voice be drowned out by homophobes and liars.
That’s why it’s time to pick up the phone. Call Sen. Reed today and urge him to support DOMA repeal!
Thanks for all you’re doing,Adam Bink

Director of Online Programs, Courage Campaign

13 Comments October 26, 2011

Housekeeping: Creating Quick Hits for

By Adam Bink

In reading user feedback on our survey (which you should take if you haven’t!) and thinking about the site, there’s one problem that we’re looking to correct: good content being stuck in comment threads.

Here’s the current situation: Many of you post comments on different blog posts, but our traffic shows that a large percentage of people who come to the site don’t read comments. I know lots of people who don’t, including myself — I regularly read Paul Krugman’s blog over at the NYTimes, but almost never read comments. Sometimes it’s a time issue for people. Sometimes you’re only interested in what a blogger has to say. Sometimes you just aren’t into comments.

Whatever the reason, it leads to good content being left out in the virtual wilderness, so to speak. Folks like Sagesse, Ronnie and others post wonderful links, videos and more in thread after thread, but some days it gets so little traffic. This was noted by a number of people who responded in the survey.

So, I looked at a possible remedy. Back in a former blogger life, when I was a co-editor at, we created a system called “Quick Hits.” The idea is simple: a place to post these quick links, headlines, videos, or tidbits of information that people could read and respond to… but on the front page instead of in the comments section. The result? The Quick Hits get almost as many eyeballs as the front page posts (“main articles”) that I, Jeremy, Karen Ocamb, Rick and so many other folks write here. For an example of this, head on over to and take a look on the right (I copied the screenshot and pasted it on the right for an example).

Though we stopped publishing new content in February of this year, you can see that the Quick Hits were a vibrant place, sometimes even more so than front-page posts. Like diaries at DailyKos, but less involved — just “quick hits” of news items or video. People could comment on news items just as they did in comment sections. It also helped comment sections stay relevant to the blog post topic, which occasionally increased comment reads when people knew what discussions they were delving into if they read the comments. Also, we found some people wanted to post information but felt bad about creating “OT” (off-topic) comments on a post about, say, Prop 8, so they didn’t have a place to put it. Quick Hits became that place. In other words, a tool that helped improve the community in many different ways.

So, our technical team has been hard at work the last few days kicking the tires on a Quick Hits system for P8TT, and they’re installing it this week (we may get it up as early as this morning). I’m letting everyone know for two reasons:

(1) As with server migration, there may be a few extra bugs (though none on the scale of the server migration, oy vey). If there are, just drop a line to prop8trial at couragecampaign dot org and one of us will see it.

(2) To let you know what the new section is on the right when it goes up.

If you want to be a Contributor to Quick Hits, drop me a line at prop8trial at couragecampaign dot org. I just have to upgrade a permission for your account (you have to be registered) and then post away. You really don’t do much different — you’d post pretty much the same way you’d post a comment — just in a different place with some more attention. If you don’t want to, don’t. And it won’t interfere in any way with the user experience in general here for people who don’t post comments, people who post comments, and everyone in between. It’s just a tool to get more attention to the great content that’s sometimes buried in comments.

Last, of course, we welcome improvements and feedback on Quick Hits. This is an experiment, and the more people who kick the tires and give feedback, the better. Thanks!

14 Comments October 26, 2011

Housekeeping: Survey reminder

By Adam Bink

I’ll be doing these reminders all week in case anyone misses it, but don’t forget to take our feedback survey on the state of Your opinion really counts.

In other news, I join many of you in wishing the Nov. 8th election were upon us sooner so our Google Alerts would be less clogged with Prop 8 stuff that isn’t about the Prop 8 we think it’s about. Not that we don’t love water in Texas or anything.

This is an open thread.

21 Comments October 25, 2011

David Boies: Progress on Prop 8 lawsuit “frustratingly slow”

By Adam Bink

Tell it like it is, David.

NEW YORK — Speaking at the first gay wedding ceremony held in New York’s Four Seasons restaurant, lawyer David Boies, who is challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, told HuffPost on Sunday that progress on the case has been “frustratingly slow.”

Boies, who is arguing the lawsuit on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, noted that more than a year has passed since then-U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages in California. But the appeals court to which conservative groups took their case after that has yet to rule on whether it will uphold Walker’s decision. Same-sex couples cannot currently be married in the state.

“We still don’t have a decision,” Boies said. “Every day, people’s constitutional rights are being restricted.”

As Boies spoke, Aretha Franklin was belting out one of her legendary soul songs at the wedding of Bill White and Bryan Eure in Manhattan. The two well-connected New Yorkers made their marriage a high-profile affair to drive home the fact that gay couples in 44 states still don’t have the right to marry. White is the former president of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Eure is a senior vice president at the insurance brokerage Willis.

Celebrities in attendance included Barbara Walters, Lou Dobbs, record label impresario Clive Davis and Oprah confidante Gayle King. Many of New York’s political figures attended as well, including former Gov. David Paterson, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Mayor David Dinkins and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

The ceremony was wrapped in patriotic trappings: red, white and blue carpets, flanked by a Navy JROTC color guard, welcomed attendees into the iconic Seagram Building that houses the Four Seasons. Many of the guests inside were veterans friendly with White from his Intrepid days.

Evan Dash, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who was keeping watch over the color guard out front, said its presence at the wedding was sanctioned by the Navy.

“It went up the chain of command,” he said. He added that he thought the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which prevented gay members of the military from serving openly, “was inevitable, and a positive development.”

After White was married to his longtime partner, a broad smile stretched across his face. “We’re pretty damn lucky to be Americans,” he told his guests.

“It’s time for the rest of the country to get with the program,” he added.

Boies hopes that events like White and Eure’s wedding will eventually become “so ordinary that no one would think to comment on it.”

A reminder to the courts of the human cost of delay:

15 Comments October 25, 2011

DOMA: Senate Judiciary Committee to begin markup of Respect for Marriage Act on Nov. 3rd

By Adam Bink

Sen. Leahy’s staff let us know that the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin markup of the Respect for Marriage Act on Thursday, November 3rd. Voting on amendments and the full bill is likely to be delayed a week, given that the committee Republicans have used a procedure to force a delay on consideration for a week on everything before the committee this year. So it’s likely actual consideration and voting will be on November 10th, but the process itself begins on November 3rd.

It’s unclear what amendments the Republicans will offer to the bill, but we’re preparing for the worst.

As first noted here on back in April, we have the 10 votes in hand we need to pass the bill out of committee (all Democrats). However, whatever happens on amendments could change that calculus.

Stay tuned for coverage.

16 Comments October 25, 2011

NH House Judiciary Committee voting on marriage equality repeal

By Adam Bink

My friend Kevin Miniter, up in New Hampshire with Fred Karger’s campaign, texts me that the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee is currently meeting to vote on marriage equality repeal, sending in this photo:

Jeremy Hooper notes how even Cornerstone Action’s leader admits that civil unions would create two separate classes in New Hampshire.

All this, despite just 27% of adults supporting repeal.

Someone’s beholden to an agenda.

More as it comes.

Update: The bill passed 11-6.

Update 2: Statement from Standing Up for New Hampshire Families:

New Hampshire Legislative Committee Takes Step toward Ending Popular Marriage Law

Stowell: Such a move completely ignores will of the people

CONCORD – With great disregard for what more than 60% of voters want, the House Judiciary Committee today approved a legislative proposal sponsored by Rep. David Bates (R-Windham) that repeals New Hampshire’s popular marriage law. Today’s vote didn’t pass with even the majority necessary to override the governor’s veto, meaning this effort to undermine New Hampshire families lacks momentum as Republicans and Democrats are united in bipartisan opposition.

“The Bates proposal is bad for freedom and bad for families,” said Craig Stowell, Republican co-chair of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families. “There is no reason to overturn New Hampshire’s popular marriage law that simply protects all families and treats all loving couples equally. This isn’t a so-called compromise and it completely ignores voters’ wishes to leave this issue alone and get back to the real business of the state.”

Earlier this month, the nonpartisan University of New Hampshire Survey Center released a poll showing fully 62% of Granite Staters oppose repealing the law, including 66% of Independents.

“Strong opponents of repealing same-sex marriage continue to outnumber strong proponents by more than 2 to 1,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the UNH Survey Center. Smith said the same thing in February when UNH released a poll with nearly identical results.

The Bates Amendment calls for a virtually meaningless contract between two people. It also increases burdens for New Hampshire businesses.

“We did not send lawmakers to Concord to revisit the marriage law,” said Stowell, a former Marine. “But a fringe group of lawmakers are squarely focused on taking away freedom and liberty from their constituents and fellow Granite Staters.”

The bill as amended is expected to go to the full House for a vote in January.

18 Comments October 25, 2011

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