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Tag: Gary Segura

Lack of Political Power in Minnesota and Script 5

By Julia Rosen

One of the main arguments by the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is that LGBTs lack the political power to protect their basic rights. Nowhere is that more evident today than Minnesota. Governor Pawlenty, who many expect will run for president in 2012, just vetoed a bill that would have allowed same-sex partners to decide what should happen with their loved one’s body when they die. Pioneer Press:

Pawlenty had said he would veto the bill, calling it unnecessary because partners can draw up a living will. But advocates argue that married couples do not have to do that and that legal documents often cost money to draft.

The “Final Wishes” bill would have been the second one supported by Project 515 to be passed into law. The group is named after the 515 Minnesota laws it says discriminate against same-sex couples, though the group is not seeking marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

Pawlenty’s actions are absolutely reprehensible. Can you imagine what it would be like for a surviving member of a same-sex couple to have to watch a perhaps distant relative make that decision because they forgot to go to a lawyer to pay them for documents that a marriage automatically provides?

This issue of political power is actually Script No. 5 “Gary Segura: Do gay and lesbians lack political power.” Fight back against Pawlenty. Go reenact Script 5 and spread the message that unless marriage equality is the law of the land, we will continue to have losses just like today in Minnesota.

53 Comments May 17, 2010

Pound Prop 8: Tracking the Trial Tweets

By guest poster Laura Kanter, a Deputy Field Organizer for the Courage Campaign

Perhaps it is because I’m Jewish, a Lesbian, married to a Black woman and living in Orange County that I am so highly attuned to the propaganda generated by the proponents of prop 8. Maybe there is something in my historical memory that insists that I be hyper-alert to dangerous rhetoric, given the knowledge that for centuries, propaganda has been used to stigmatize, marginalize, oppress, violate, and annihilate people like my wife and me. Like so many others, I was looking forward to watching the trial broadcast on YouTube because I knew that people would finally get to see for themselves the bigotry and lies that were at the heart of prop 8; they would get to see the testimonies of Kristin Perry & Sandra Stier, and Paul Katami & Jeffrey Zarrillo. Surely this would move many hearts and minds, regardless of the verdict.

When the media started paying attention to the battle over whether or not the trial would be broadcast, I noticed the comments coming from the defense. We know they didn’t want people to hear and see the testimonies; broadcasting the trial would prevent them from spinning the facts and might allow a reasonable public to hear the truth and identify with the very sympathetic plaintiffs. But with their spin, the propaganda began. Once again, they were attempting to control the public perception of gays and lesbians. There they were on the major news networks, talking about risking the safety of their clients and their clients’ families, and about needing to protect “the children.” This is the same propaganda that was used to dehumanize Blacks here in America and abroad, and Jews (and LGBTs), in nazi Germany. The rhetoric makes us into predators who pray on children and angry, out-of-control monsters who will destroy civilization.

I used to think that any reasonable person could see that the assertions made by the proponents of prop 8 were based in fear and hatred and were simply ridiculous. Sadly, however, as day 8 witness William Tam, so acutely demonstrated, people often accept what they are told as long as it fits into their cognitive schema. In many ways, the very extreme Dr. Tam is the quintessential American right wing voter. Or, as Brian Leubitz described him in another Trial Tracker blog post, “… that Cute Ignorant Uncle That Everybody Cringes At.” During his testimony, Tam indicated that he believed that in the Netherlands, the legalization of same sex marriage was followed by the legalization of polygamy and incest. (I commented that Dr. Tam got his data from wikipedophelia.) When asked where he got this information, he replied that someone found it on the internet, showed it to him and he believed it. This is exactly why prop 8 passed and how groups like Tam’s, Protect Marriage, and Alliance Defense Media get away with lie after lie after lie.

The ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court not to broadcast the trial was devastating. We were so hopeful that finally the scare quotes and lies generated by the anti-LGBT movement would be brought to light. Sadly, we were again denied the support of our government and left to fend for ourselves. At least this was nothing new.

Fortunately, by 8:31 a.m. on the very first day, a new way to bear witness to the trial emerged on twitter and then through the Courage Campaign Trial Tracker.

When I first started following the tweets, I noticed that the tweet lists that people had created did not include any of the prop 8 proponents. Once I started seeing the tweets, especially those coming from the Alliance Defense Fund (@ADFMedia) and Protect Marriage (@protectmarriage), I added them to my list and made it my personal mission to at least try to bring attention to their lies and hold them accountable for their words. Thus my obsession takes hold.

Using a tweet list , I started “tweet tracking” (say that three times fast) the comments from the prop 8 proponents to see how they aligned with what the other tweeters were saying. I don’t think we have had many opportunities to see spin spun on the spot like this and it was both fascinating and at the same time maddening. Its not like I hadn’t heard all this propaganda before; it was just so blatantly not what was going on in the courtroom. (more…)

141 Comments January 23, 2010

How Today’s Supreme Court Decision Affects The Marriage Equality Movement

by Robert Cruickshank

This morning David Thompson and Dr. Gary Segura got into an important discussion about the role of boycotts in politics. At the same time, the US Supreme Court was handing down one of the most important decisions of the new century, Citizens United v. FEC – a case that has direct bearing on the questions being raised at the Prop 8 trial, both this morning and more broadly.

The Supreme Court decision is bad enough – it throws out key parts of the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002 that had prevented corporations from spending money to expressly advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and overturns two previous decisions dating back to 1990 that had upheld these kinds of laws. The result is a corporate free-for-all, enabling them to spend as much money as they want on elections. That will in turn further corrupt an already broken political system, giving wealthy corporations the ability to dominate our elections and politics. Over at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick explains just how bad this decision is for our democracy.

And yet, some conservatives on the court wanted to go much further. Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the most ideologically far-right members of the court, wrote a concurring opinion that sought to rule all laws mandating public disclosure of campaign donations and disclaimers (such as those you see on TV ads telling you who paid for the ad) unconstitutional. To back up this truly radical effort, Thomas cited the Proposition 8 boycotts in almost exactly the same way that David Thompson did this morning in trial:

Amici ’s examples relate principally to Proposition 8, a state ballot proposition that California voters narrowly passed in the 2008 general election. Proposition 8 amended California’s constitution to provide that “[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Cal. Const., Art. I, §7.5. Any donor who gave more than $100 to any committee supporting or opposing Proposition 8 was required to disclose his full name, street address, occupation, employer’s name (or business name, if self-employed), and the total amount of his contributions. 1 See Cal. Govt. Code Ann. §84211(f) (West 2005). The California Secretary of State was then required to post this information on the Internet. See §§84600–84601; §§84602–84602.1 (West Supp. 2010); §§84602.5–84604 (West 2005); §85605 (West Supp. 2010); §§84606–84609 (West 2005).

Some opponents of Proposition 8 compiled this information and created Web sites with maps showing the locations of homes or businesses of Proposition 8 supporters. Many supporters (or their customers) suffered property damage, or threats of physical violence or death, as a result. They cited these incidents in a complaint they filed after the 2008 election, seeking to invalidate California’s mandatory disclosure laws. Supporters recounted being told: “Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter,” or, “we have plans for you and your friends.” Complaint in—Yes on 8 v. Bowen , Case No. 2:09–cv–00058–MCE–DAD (ED Cal.), ¶31. Proposition 8 opponents also allegedly harassed the measure’s supporters by defacing or damaging their property. Id. , ¶32. Two religious organizations supporting Proposition 8 reportedly received through the mail envelopes containing a white powdery substance. Id. , ¶33.

Those accounts are consistent with media reports describing Proposition 8-related retaliation…

Now more than ever, §§201 and 311 will chill protected speech because—as California voters can attest—“the advent of the Internet” enables “prompt disclosure of expenditures,” which “provide[s]” political opponents “with the information needed” to intimidate and retaliate against their foes. Ante , at 55. Thus, “disclosure permits citizens … to react to the speech of [their political opponents] in a proper”—or undeniably improper —“way” long before a plaintiff could prevail on an as-applied challenge. 2 Ibid.

I cannot endorse a view of the First Amendment that subjects citizens of this Nation to death threats, ruined careers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive and threatening warning letters as the price for engaging in “core political speech, the ‘primary object of First Amendment protection.’ ” McConnell , 540 U. S., at 264 ( Thomas , J., concurring in part, concurring in judgment in part, and dissenting in part) (quoting Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC , 528 U. S. 377, 410–411 (2000) ( Thomas , J., dissenting)). Accordingly, I respectfully dissent from the Court’s judgment upholding BCRA §§201 and 311.

In other words: Thomas believes that because there are some reports coming from Prop 8 proponents of harassment, all laws requiring disclosure of donations must be struck down. He believes that the law must protect the person seeking to take away rights, rather than protect the person whose rights are being taken away.

Segura addressed this overall topic on the stand this morning:

David Thompson (T): Reads NYT story about the ugly specter of people getting death threats and white powder being mailed and boycotts. Does that make the LG position tougher?

Dr. Gary Segura (S): To the extent that these acts make the already weak position of the LG community weaker, I’d agree with you. Boycotts are separate. Difficult to imagine the success of the civil rights movement without the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We can all the way back to the 1770s when women in Boston organized a boycott of English tea to see that boycotts are often instruments used by weaker parties.

Segura points out that acts of true harassment, such as death threats, are not only reprehensible, but self-defeating. As leading law blogger Rick Hasen pointed out last week, courts can and do address legitimate issues of harassment through specific exemptions, rather than striking down the entire edifice of public disclosure law.

But that’s not what Thomas and the Prop 8 backers want. As we saw last week, the right-wing movement wants to hide its true intentions from a public that fundamentally disagrees with their views and values. They don’t want you to know that your gym, your church, or your supermarket is using your money to work against the causes you support and the values you hold. In fact, they argue that you have no right to know, and that it would hurt them if you knew.

This is all part of the overall right-wing’s effort to cast themselves as the victims, when in fact it is they who are doing the victimizing. While the few isolated examples of harassment of Prop 8 supporters are unfortunate, they are no comparison to the brutal killings of Matthew Shepard and Gwen Araujo, to name just a few of the many victims of anti-gay discrimination. In fact, hate crimes against LGBT people have dramatically increased since Prop 8 passed.

Even though the US Supreme Court did not share Thomas’s view in this particular case, it’s a further sign that the right-wing is still very much interested in changing all the rules and laws of politics and the courts to suit themselves. In a democracy, we rely on public disclosure, public access to the courts, and the courts themselves to protect our freedoms and our rights. Instead we are witnessing a sustained attack on those laws, institutions, and rights coming from the right-wingers.

And they’re not going to stop at same-sex marriage. That’s why progressive activists need to be focused on these issues, not just as they affect the Prop 8 trial and marriage equality, but as they affect the very fabric of our democratic rights.

87 Comments January 21, 2010

Liveblogging Day 8: Daily Summary

By Julia Rosen

Wow! What a day. Dr. William Tam was the star of the show today. The comments were flooding in as Trial Trackers obsessively refreshed the page.

But before Tam took his seat on the witness stand, Dr. Segura finished his testimony. Then all eyes turned to Tam who brought the crazy, as everyone expected. The Prop 8 lawyers did their best, filing objection after objection to keep Tam and evidence out of the court record, but Judge Walker let it fly.

Note: Be sure to stick around. Brian Leubitz has a post on Tam going live in a little bit and Robert Cruickshank will be writing later about how today’s SCOTUS decisions on corporate dollars in politics relates to Prop 8.

With that said, here is your daily summary of Rick Jacobs’ liveblogging. He will be back tomorrow as the plaintiffs finish their case and the defense starts calling their witnesses. (more…)

45 Comments January 21, 2010

Liveblogging Day 8: Part III Gathering Storm aired

By Rick Jacobs

Theodore Boutrous (B) continues his redirect of Dr. Gary Segura (S)

S: Definitely want to look at hate crimes during campaign. Close correlation between hate crimes and election outcome/high emotion.

B: Puts up government report showing numbers of crimes against GLBT during campaign.

S: Range of crimes might be simple fisticuffs in protest to people who did not follow non-violent premises. Some of Freedom Riders fought back against crowds that greeted them with violence when they got off the bus in Mississippi.

B: 34 people died in Watts Riot. Was that a significant event of violence that many Americans saw and read about?

S: Yes. (more…)

147 Comments January 21, 2010

Liveblogging Day 8: Part II Segura epic cross continues

By Rick Jacobs

Back at 10:15 after the break

David Thompson (T): Reads NYT story about the ugly specter of people getting death threats and white powder being mailed and boycotts. Does that make the LG position tougher?

Dr. Gary Segura (S): To the extent that these acts make the already weak position of the LG community weaker, I’d agree with you. Boycotts are separate. Difficult to imagine the success of the civil rights movement without the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We can all the way back to the 1770s when women in Boston organized a boycott of English tea to see that boycotts are often instruments used by weaker parties.

Judge Walker: Just occurred to me since T is exploring this line of questioning, have you considered the riots and vandalism and other inappropriate behavior associated with the civil rights movement and associated largely with blacks and how that affected civil rights movement?

S: Yes. Any form of violence or disorderly behavior has a negative impact on the public. Non-violent protests play better. That said, it is conceivable that such outbursts may serve the long-term impact of the group. Eg, post Rodney King violence that spurred “Rebuild LA” that brought about investment in south LA. Not endorsing such acts, but there are times when such acts express powerlessness. (more…)

108 Comments January 21, 2010

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