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Archives – February, 2012

How changed my life

This post is part of P8TT’s annual fundraising drive. Please become a Sustaining Member so we can keep this community together to fight the battles ahead (and to enter for a chance to win two tickets to the new “8” play premiere with an all-star cast in Los Angeles!). You can chip in here so P8TT can keep going with a sustainable source of funding.

By Rick Jacobs

Just over two years ago, our small but intrepid Courage staff kept pushing for a way to bring a trial into the lives of activists and vice versa.  It’s a tough thing to do.  The LGBT activist community had just finished a turbulent year in which the newly energized and enlarged base fought over when and how to return to the ballot to win back our dignity and equality.  A trial by design does not involve the public, is not meant for “lobbying” and certainly has no features of a campaign.

Then a few days before the Prop. 8 Trial, Judge Walker asked for public comment on whether to televise the trial. Within 48 hours, nearly 140,000  members of the Courage community stepped up, telling the judge to televise it.  By Monday morning, January 10, Justice Kennedy had put a stay on televising the trial.  I went upstairs to see what was going on.  As we have rehearsed here many times, this online organizing effort was the first ever to appear in a Supreme Court opinion.

We had set up this website called Prop. 8 Trial Tracker. We thought we’d use it to keep track of the crazy going on from Maggie and Ron Prentiss and Andy Pugno (who soon enough would badly lose an election for public office) and the parade of fringe folks who masquerade as moral and a majority. But very quickly, there I was live blogging a trial that would last 12 days.

My colleagues at Courage were as surprised as I that our blogging program developed a large following almost instantly.  For a time, we were the only ones “covering” the trial contemporaneously.  Eventually, others would follow and we were all the richer for it.

We were also surprised and somewhat delighted that Ron Prentiss and Andy Pugno and their website sued the Courage Campaign for parodying their logo.  Our lawyer are Morrison Foerster wrote one of the best letters ever, comparing their attack on us to the “woof ass” law suit by Big Dog.  You have to read it to enjoy it whether for the first time or again.  And finally, as we would see was their pattern throughout this trial, Pugno, Prentiss & Gallagher could not restrain themselves from carrying onto federal court where the judge again laughed them out the door before they got in.  We’ve seen that evidence, fact and law have never interfered with their relentless pursuit of bigotry and fear.

But the biggest and most pleasant surprise of all was the community that developed here.  For many months, I checked in with you, got to know you and at times met you in person.  You were and are the heart, circulatory system and soul of Prop 8 Trial Tracker.  You were there at every point in the trials and I’m sure you will be as we go forward. You corrected errors, explained obscurities, popularized legal speak. You shared and cried and laughed as we went along.

When Arisha and Anthony headed off on their Magical NOM Tour, you held Brian and Maggie’s feet (particularly Maggie’s feet—remember her bare feet in court?) to the fire.

And now that Adam and Jacob have so brilliantly taken the blog to new heights, you are there literally more than ever.  Our traffic on the Tuesday of the 9th Circuit ruling (Feb 7th) was the highest since 2010.

Adam wanted me to tell you why I love P8TT. It’s because it changed my life.  Sitting through that trial, living the evidence, sharing it all with you made me realize that it’s okay to be me, that’s the ghosts of the past can be vanquished and that the future for those who don’t have to live a hidden life is indeed bright.

I love P8TT because we’re all in this journey together and together we’re winning  the America that we deserve. Please becoming a Sustaining Member so we can go another year.

21 Comments February 27, 2012

Equality round-up: February 27, 2012

By Adam Bink

A couple of things floating around that are of note:

  • Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, hired by U.S. House Republicans, appeals DOMA ruling in California courts.
  • New Des Moines Register poll: 56% of Iowans are against a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
  • Gov. O’Malley to sign marriage equality bill on Thursday. Meanwhile, opponents have already worked to qualify a referendum for the November ballot.
  • Noted in the comments on an earlier post today, National Organization for Marriage’s challenge to Maine’s campaign finance disclosure law is denied by the Supreme Court.
  • Last, Pam Spaulding has an amazing run-down of all the action going on in North Carolina to fight Amendment One. Must-read.

What are you reading?

18 Comments February 27, 2012

Winning the war one battle at a time

This post is part of P8TT’s annual fundraising drive. Please become a Sustaining Member so we can keep this community together to fight the battles ahead (and to enter for a chance to win two tickets to the new “8” play premiere with an all-star cast in Los Angeles!). You can chip in here so P8TT can keep going with a sustainable source of funding.

By Mark & Robert Mead-Brewer

This has been a rollercoaster year for sure.  A couple setbacks here, and some large steps forward there have made for a truly wild emotional ride.  And there’s SO much more yet to come.  I am grateful on a daily basis for P8TT, and the family I have become a part of here.

For my family the last twelve months have been full of blessings, personal goals achieved, dreams fulfilled, and a fair share of sorrows as well. These things are life…normal occurrences in life, nothing more and nothing less.  We all as human beings go through these things in the course of simply living.  The fact that LGBT families experience the same issues as any other family is a fact our opponents would very much like to keep out of the public eye.  Gay, straight, Christian, Jew, Muslin, Atheist, Agnostic, Pagan etc. etc. etc., none of those differences matter….or shouldn’t when it comes to the pursuit of happiness, as is promised to all of us in our nation’s constitution.  Sadly however our pursuit of that happiness is still under attack.

The H8rs always talk about how the LGBT ‘agenda’ is an attack on religious freedoms and traditional ways of life.  We all know this is completely untrue.  Nothing more than lies, half-truths, twisted logic, and fear mongering at its worst.  It is up to each and every one of us to take a stand in whatever way feels right to us as individuals.  Battling on the front lines, volunteering on a phone bank, educating those we come in contact with to the truths, or making a monetary contribution to organizations that can better speak for us, organizations such as Courage Campaign.

Robert and I have been together since July 2nd 1983 (our first date).  We held our ‘Holy Union/Wedding’ on our five year anniversary (pic below).  Since that joyous day we have had three other ceremonies.  1993 in Washington DC at one of the great civil rights marches we participated in two mass weddings.  And finally our legal ceremony this past April 2011 in Iowa surrounded by family and friends, just three short blocks from where my husband graduated high school.  Now Washington, our current home state has legislatively voted to become the seventh state in the nation to embrace marriage equality, might there be a wedding number five?

If you are reading this, than you are members of the P8TT family, and must appreciate how important P8TT has become to us these past couple of years.   With that in mind I would urge you to make a donation in whatever amount you think you can afford.  Every little bit helps in this fight against discrimination and religious strong arming.  Please think about helping to keep P8TT and the Courage Campaign running in the ways we have all come to know and love.

16 Comments February 27, 2012

Why I love P8TT

This post is part of P8TT’s annual fundraising drive. Please become a Sustaining Member so we can keep this community together to fight the battles ahead (and to enter for a chance to win two tickets to the new “8” play premiere with an all-star cast in Los Angeles!). You can chip in here so P8TT can keep going with a sustainable source of funding.

By Carisa Cunningham, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

I love Prop 8 Trial Tracker for so many reasons.  As someone who works for an LGBT legal group on the other side of the country, I love the fact that P8TT engages and educates our community about why the courtroom is a critical arena for our community in making change.  Sometimes the law is obscure, difficult, intimidating – dare I say boring? – and hard to explain.  P8TT does with ease what I attempt to do in my job at GLAD: make the law relevant and alive, vibrant and important.

I am also grateful for the exposure that P8TT has given to GLAD’s DOMA cases – Gill v Office of Personnel Management and Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management. P8TT has helped illuminate the connections and differences between these cases and Perry – making the case that we always make, that the more marriage states there are by the time the Supreme Court hears a DOMA case, the better our chances of striking down that heinous law.

The P8TT community is lively, passionate, and well-informed.  Sometimes in the LGBT non-profit world, when you’re laboring in the wilderness, it’s extremely heartening to be reminded that your work is understood and appreciated – even as it is critiqued and questioned.  Critiquing and questioning are critical to sustaining the excellence and integrity of the work – and building robust online communities where those conversations happen is an invaluable service.  Thank you P8TT!

I hope everyone will pitch in to keep this incredible online community vital and engaged.

2 Comments February 26, 2012

We are winning this case together

This post is part of P8TT’s annual fundraising drive (penned last year). Please become a Sustaining Member so we can keep this community together to fight the battles ahead (and to enter for a chance to win two tickets to the new “8” play premiere with an all-star cast in Los Angeles!). You can chip in here so P8TT can keep going with a sustainable source of funding.

By Matt Baume, American Foundation for Equal Rights

You can’t force people to care.

Even when it’s as important as marriage. Even when everyone knows someone who’s affected. Even when our families, our homes, and our lives are at stake. And even when we’ve got a video starring Marissa Tomei.

The truth is, legal proceedings are boring, court dates are inconvenient, and poring over documents puts most of us to sleep.

And that’s why the Prop 8 Trial Tracker is so important. Beyond what its name suggests, it’s so much more than just a simple reporting of the trial. It gathers us when we are at our best, joins us together as we fight for what we know is right.

Whether we’re watching legal proceedings, coordinating a meetup in advance of a court date, or poring over documents together, we’re not doing it because someone made us — we’re doing it simply because we care. Because we’ve felt that innate human calling to make the world a better place.

And we have the Prop 8 Trial Tracker to thank for reminding us that there’s good in all of us, even in those who harbor prejudice.

As Justice Kennedy wrote in a 2001 decision concerning disability discrimination, “Prejudice, we are beginning to understand, rises not from malice or hostile animus alone. It may result as well from insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves.”

We’re not just winning this case. We’re winning this case together.

Please chip in here so we can get to the finish line- together- on Prop 8 Trial Tracker.

2 Comments February 25, 2012

Changing hearts: how marriage was won in Maryland, and how we will win again in the future

By Jacob Combs

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times has a touching take on a chance event that might have made all the difference in bringing marriage equality to Maryland this week:

A chance shake-up of Maryland House of Delegates seating assignments brought Republican Wade Kach face to face with gay couples who had come to make the case for a gay marriage law, and might have proved decisive in its final passage through the state’s General Assembly on Thursday.

In an effort to get the bill to the House floor, a special joint committee was formed and legislators were left scrambling for seats. Kach, who had previously backed attempts to define marriage as between one man and one woman, found a space right next to the witness table.

“I saw with so many of the gay couples, they were so devoted to another. I saw so much love,” he said. “When this hearing was over, I was a changed person in regard to this issue. I felt that I understood what same sex couples were looking for.”

A week later, Kach voted for the gay marriage bill on the floor of the House of Delegates, one of only two Republicans to do so. Their support proved vital, as the bill squeaked through the 141-member chamber on a 72–67 vote. The bill’s passage through the Senate also was close – it passed 25-22 Thursday – and Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat and a strong supporter the law, is expected to sign it soon.

This is how the battle is won.  In the end, it’s about showing that marriage equality is about love and commitment, not about any attempt to redefine marriage or push some social agenda.  Sometimes, even as we watch the tide of public opinion shift in our favor, it’s easy to feel that it’s not shifting fast enough.  As the LA Times piece shows, changing just one heart is sometimes all it takes.

4 Comments February 24, 2012

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