Prop 8 Victory Activates Young Queers Of Color

News Report, Jazmyne Young
YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia

SAN FRANCISCO—In an election year that has already seen a big surge in youth involvement around the president-elect Barack Obama's campaign – the victory of California Proposition 8, which defines gay marriage as between a man and a woman, has been a catalyst for a new wave of youth activism in the LGBTQ community and beyond.

Since the November decision, LGBTQ community members and their allies haven't wasted time fighting the marriage ban. From street protests to legal actions urging the Supreme Court, which previously ruled in favor of same-sex marriage back in May of 2008, the issue has been kept in motion.

Young queers of color have found themselves in a special position after the media instigated tensions by blaming the loss of Prop. 8 on the black vote – with exit polls suggesting that black voters tipped the scales with an alleged 7 out of 10 blacks voting to support the measure. This news led to name-calling and slurs at protests.

"As one of many black people who opposed Prop 8, it's kinda scary that there's this group of people who were so willing to turn against black people," says 20-year-old Terry Taplin, an African American poet nationally recognized for his advocacy of LGBTQ causes. "At the same time, there are a lot of homophobic sentiments in the black community that now are hard to deny."

But other polls and research show that even combined with Latinos, these two groups -- African-Americans and Latinos -- still represent less than one third of the total electorate, and therefore should not the scapegoat for why Prop 8 passed. Perhaps the real culprit was Republicans and the Religious Right.

"I think that in the wake of Prop 8, now more than ever, it's important for the LGBT community to be as visible as possible. The protests and the rallies have to continue. Human rights has never been a matter of diplomacy, it's always been a matter of fighting for it," says Taplin.

The excitement surrounding this year's election among young voters, created a perfect platform for young organizers and activists like Allan Acevedo, a 19-year-old San Diego State University student. Acevedo wanted to be involved at a local level this year so he volunteered for State Assembly candidate Marty Block – an educator with a long history of community activism – in order to really learn about political organizing.

Acevedo is also a member of the board of directors for San Francisco's Gay Straight Alliance Network, so he had been politically activated around gay rights for some time – but Prop 8 gave him a platform to really organize.

"We went to Wal-Mart and Target to counteract paid signature gatherers in support of Prop 8," Avecedo says, "A lot of them lied and got people to sign the petition in support of Prop 8 by telling them that they were signing a measure to oppose it."

In his on-campus student efforts, Acevedo noticed that a lot of young people were complacent and unenthusiastic during the campaign believing that Prop 8 would never pass.

But it did – with a 53 percent majority in San Diego.

One pre-election organizing mistake that Acevedo acknowledges, was about race. "I think the campaign should have done more to outreach to people of color, even though I think people are distorting the statistics," he says.

Post-election, Acevedo began volunteering for the People of Color committee, organizing effective ways to outreach for different communities.

"We said that when we went to the black community we would not talk about segregation or compare their struggle for civil rights to ours – although there are several correlations – it wasn't about using logic, it was about touching people's hearts."

He also thinks that young people didn't quite understand the value of the outreach work they were doing before the election.

"Our whole campaign was phone banking," he says. "People weren't inspired until they saw people going out into the community. They began to send Facebook invites and text messages to come to protests and rallies. It suddenly became so much bigger than they thought it would be. We had students in the hallway, on the floor, and outside on benches. It was amazing to see so many young people take action when it mattered."

Now, Acevedo is president of the Stonewall Young Democrats, and he spends time passing out fliers for rallies, and recently organized a forum where 50 young people came to discuss further action.

He says that even though Prop 8 won, he is proud that so many college students are educating themselves and speaking out in support of gay marriage now.

"Young people have turned this from an issue into a movement," Acevedo says.

Our Mutual Joy

By: Lisa Miller-Newsweek

Let's try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments—especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. "It is better to marry than to burn with passion," says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple—who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love—turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so.

The battle over gay marriage has been waged for more than a decade, but within the last six months—since California legalized gay marriage and then, with a ballot initiative in November, amended its Constitution to prohibit it—the debate has grown into a full-scale war, with religious-rhetoric slinging to match. Not since 1860, when the country's pulpits were full of preachers pronouncing on slavery, pro and con, has one of our basic social (and economic) institutions been so subject to biblical scrutiny. But whereas in the Civil War the traditionalists had their James Henley Thornwell—and the advocates for change, their Henry Ward Beecher—this time the sides are unevenly matched. All the religious rhetoric, it seems, has been on the side of the gay-marriage opponents, who use Scripture as the foundation for their objections.

The argument goes something like this statement, which the Rev. Richard A. Hunter, a United Methodist minister, gave to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June: "The Bible and Jesus define marriage as between one man and one woman. The church cannot condone or bless same-sex marriages because this stands in opposition to Scripture and our tradition."

To which there are two obvious responses: First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else's —to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes. "Marriage" in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other—in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer—in accordance with God's will. In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.

In the Old Testament, the concept of family is fundamental, but examples of what social conservatives would call "the traditional family" are scarcely to be found. Marriage was critical to the passing along of tradition and history, as well as to maintaining the Jews' precious and fragile monotheism. But as the Barnard University Bible scholar Alan Segal puts it, the arrangement was between "one man and as many women as he could pay for." Social conservatives point to Adam and Eve as evidence for their one man, one woman argument—in particular, this verse from Genesis: "Therefore shall a man leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh." But as Segal says, if you believe that the Bible was written by men and not handed down in its leather bindings by God, then that verse was written by people for whom polygamy was the way of the world. (The fact that homosexual couples cannot procreate has also been raised as a biblical objection, for didn't God say, "Be fruitful and multiply"? But the Bible authors could never have imagined the brave new world of international adoption and assisted reproductive technology—and besides, heterosexuals who are infertile or past the age of reproducing get married all the time.)

Ozzie and Harriet are nowhere in the New Testament either. The biblical Jesus was—in spite of recent efforts of novelists to paint him otherwise—emphatically unmarried. He preached a radical kind of family, a caring community of believers, whose bond in God superseded all blood ties. Leave your families and follow me, Jesus says in the gospels. There will be no marriage in heaven, he says in Matthew. Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he roundly condemns divorce (leaving a loophole in some cases for the husbands of unfaithful women).

The apostle Paul echoed the Christian Lord's lack of interest in matters of the flesh. For him, celibacy was the Christian ideal, but family stability was the best alternative. Marry if you must, he told his audiences, but do not get divorced. "To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): a wife must not separate from her husband." It probably goes without saying that the phrase "gay marriage" does not appear in the Bible at all.
If the bible doesn't give abundant examples of traditional marriage, then what are the gay-marriage opponents really exercised about? Well, homosexuality, of course—specifically sex between men. Sex between women has never, even in biblical times, raised as much ire. In its entry on "Homosexual Practices," the Anchor Bible Dictionary notes that nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women, "possibly because it did not result in true physical 'union' (by male entry)." The Bible does condemn gay male sex in a handful of passages. Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as "an abomination" (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat—or a lamb or a turtle dove. Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions. Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?

Paul was tough on homosexuality, though recently progressive scholars have argued that his condemnation of men who "were inflamed with lust for one another" (which he calls "a perversion") is really a critique of the worst kind of wickedness: self-delusion, violence, promiscuity and debauchery. In his book "The Arrogance of Nations," the scholar Neil Elliott argues that Paul is referring in this famous passage to the depravity of the Roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula, a reference his audience would have grasped instantly. "Paul is not talking about what we call homosexuality at all," Elliott says. "He's talking about a certain group of people who have done everything in this list. We're not dealing with anything like gay love or gay marriage. We're talking about really, really violent people who meet their end and are judged by God." In any case, one might add, Paul argued more strenuously against divorce—and at least half of the Christians in America disregard that teaching.

Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition (and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument). Common prayers and rituals reflect our common practice: the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer describes the participants in a marriage as "the man and the woman." But common practice changes—and for the better, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." The Bible endorses slavery, a practice that Americans now universally consider shameful and barbaric. It recommends the death penalty for adulterers (and in Leviticus, for men who have sex with men, for that matter). It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites. A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.

Marriage, specifically, has evolved so as to be unrecognizable to the wives of Abraham and Jacob. Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century; husbands' frequent enjoyment of mistresses and prostitutes became taboo by the beginning of the 20th. (In the NEWSWEEK POLL, 55 percent of respondents said that married heterosexuals who have sex with someone other than their spouses are more morally objectionable than a gay couple in a committed sexual relationship.) By the mid-19th century, U.S. courts were siding with wives who were the victims of domestic violence, and by the 1970s most states had gotten rid of their "head and master" laws, which gave husbands the right to decide where a family would live and whether a wife would be able to take a job. Today's vision of marriage as a union of equal partners, joined in a relationship both romantic and pragmatic, is, by very recent standards, radical, says Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage, a History."

Religious wedding ceremonies have already changed to reflect new conceptions of marriage. Remember when we used to say "man and wife" instead of "husband and wife"? Remember when we stopped using the word "obey"? Even Miss Manners, the voice of tradition and reason, approved in 1997 of that change. "It seems," she wrote, "that dropping 'obey' was a sensible editing of a service that made assumptions about marriage that the society no longer holds."

We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future. The Bible offers inspiration and warning on the subjects of love, marriage, family and community. It speaks eloquently of the crucial role of families in a fair society and the risks we incur to ourselves and our children should we cease trying to bind ourselves together in loving pairs. Gay men like to point to the story of passionate King David and his friend Jonathan, with whom he was "one spirit" and whom he "loved as he loved himself." Conservatives say this is a story about a platonic friendship, but it is also a story about two men who stand up for each other in turbulent times, through violent war and the disapproval of a powerful parent. David rends his clothes at Jonathan's death and, in grieving, writes a song:

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
You were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
More wonderful than that of women.

Here, the Bible praises enduring love between men. What Jonathan and David did or did not do in privacy is perhaps best left to history and our own imaginations.

In addition to its praise of friendship and its condemnation of divorce, the Bible gives many examples of marriages that defy convention yet benefit the greater community. The Torah discouraged the ancient Hebrews from marrying outside the tribe, yet Moses himself is married to a foreigner, Zipporah. Queen Esther is married to a non-Jew and, according to legend, saves the Jewish people. Rabbi Arthur Waskow, of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, believes that Judaism thrives through diversity and inclusion. "I don't think Judaism should or ought to want to leave any portion of the human population outside the religious process," he says. "We should not want to leave [homosexuals] outside the sacred tent." The marriage of Joseph and Mary is also unorthodox (to say the least), a case of an unconventional arrangement accepted by society for the common good. The boy needed two human parents, after all.
In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified. Jesus reaches out to everyone, especially those on the margins, and brings the whole Christian community into his embrace. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, cites the story of Jesus revealing himself to the woman at the well— no matter that she had five former husbands and a current boyfriend—as evidence of Christ's all-encompassing love. The great Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann, emeritus professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, quotes the apostle Paul when he looks for biblical support of gay marriage: "There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ." The religious argument for gay marriage, he adds, "is not generally made with reference to particular texts, but with the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness."

The practice of inclusion, even in defiance of social convention, the reaching out to outcasts, the emphasis on togetherness and community over and against chaos, depravity, indifference—all these biblical values argue for gay marriage. If one is for racial equality and the common nature of humanity, then the values of stability, monogamy and family necessarily follow. Terry Davis is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Conn., and has been presiding over "holy unions" since 1992. "I'm against promiscuity—love ought to be expressed in committed relationships, not through casual sex, and I think the church should recognize the validity of committed same-sex relationships," he says.

Still, very few Jewish or Christian denominations do officially endorse gay marriage, even in the states where it is legal. The practice varies by region, by church or synagogue, even by cleric. More progressive denominations—the United Church of Christ, for example—have agreed to support gay marriage. Other denominations and dioceses will do "holy union" or "blessing" ceremonies, but shy away from the word "marriage" because it is politically explosive. So the frustrating, semantic question remains: should gay people be married in the same, sacramental sense that straight people are? I would argue that they should. If we are all God's children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color—and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that. People get married "for their mutual joy," explains the Rev. Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Center in New York, quoting the Episcopal marriage ceremony. That's what religious people do: care for each other in spite of difficulty, she adds. In marriage, couples grow closer to God: "Being with one another in community is how you love God. That's what marriage is about."

More basic than theology, though, is human need. We want, as Abraham did, to grow old surrounded by friends and family and to be buried at last peacefully among them. We want, as Jesus taught, to love one another for our own good—and, not to be too grandiose about it, for the good of the world. We want our children to grow up in stable homes. What happens in the bedroom, really, has nothing to do with any of this. My friend the priest James Martin says his favorite Scripture relating to the question of homosexuality is Psalm 139, a song that praises the beauty and imperfection in all of us and that glorifies God's knowledge of our most secret selves: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." And then he adds that in his heart he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for "Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad." Let the priest's prayer be our own.

Jon Stewart, Mike Huckabee Clash Over Gay Marriage

From Jason Linkins

Jon Stewart has had Frost/Nixon on his mind a lot lately, so it's not at all surprising to see the Daily Show host channeling those old interviews in his sit-down with Mike Huckabee. The two men devoted an entire segment of a two-part interview to a debate over gay marriage. Commendations all around, to both parties, for having a civil and even-tempered talk about the issue, though I'll personally confess: I have no idea what needs to be done to my brain to make it understand Mike Huckabee's "reasoning" on a structural level. When I hear that gay marriage threatens the sanctity of marriage in general, I have my own marriage as evidence that this is not the case. And anyway, it's a lot like saying that my preference for chocolate ice cream over vanilla threatens the sanctity of dessert. Must we have these conversations over harms that are entirely imaginary?

It seems we must. Huckabee's key point is that people should have "the right to live any way they want to" but that marriage is about men and women, basically making babies. "Anatomically, let's face it," Huckabee says, "the only way we can create the next generation is with male-female relationships." I must have missed the news about the steep population decline we're undergoing! Stewart covers the whole history of how marriage has been redefined, including how only recently, interracial marriage (you know...the sort that produced the next POTUS?) was illegal. This doesn't move Huckabee in the least: "There's a key difference between a person being black and a person practicing a lifestyle."

Stewart does a good job penetrating that argument, mostly for the audience's benefit. He also seemed to score a hit on Huckabee when he said, "It's a travesty that people have forced someone who is gay to have to make their case, that they deserve the same basic rights." That suddenly sent Huckabee off into a new realm of argument, where he insisted that just because he doesn't "support the idea of changing the definition of marriage doesn't mean I'm a homophobe." Is that where the barricade to denying people this basic right has been built?

The Meme That Will Not Die: Blacks Enabled Prop 8 To Pass

By: Pam Spaulding

It's really time to stop dancing around the fantasy of a post-racial America, particularly with the exposed nerves around Prop 8. Here's another example of jaw-dropping color arousal and unhelpful ruminating, this time in an op-ed by Caitlin Flanagan and Benjamin Schwarz in the New York Times, "Showdown in the Big Tent" -- it asserts most blacks are homophobic, apparently due to race itself.

Christian teaching on marriage is not the only reason so many blacks supported Proposition 8. Although it has come as a shocking realization to many in this community, a host of sociological studies confirm that many blacks feel a significant aversion to homosexuality itself, finding it morally and sexually repugnant.

None of these studies are cited by the way, and besides, if we run with that ludicrous statement and take a look at general demographics in this country -- many whites feel a significant aversion to homosexuality as well, or we'd have marriage equality in quite a few more states. Homophobia has nothing to do with race; religious beliefs, levels of education and class are much better predictors -- and that applies across color lines.

A blanket statement about blacks and homophobia overlooks black LGBTs, secular blacks, those with high levels of education -- those who did vote against 8. Did these folks turn in their Negro card when they lost their homophobia? It's absurd thinking.

But acknowledging this that would render this op-ed's hysteria useless, facts and logic are inconvenient. It's amazing how intelligent people can so easily fall prey to their own biases, and display them so publicly.

Again, it's clear there are unique cultural factors that make homophobia in the black community worth exploring and combating, but this op-ed is unbelievable, even suggesting that

Many gay activists have begun quietly to suggest that had Hillary Clinton been the Democratic nominee, Prop 8 would not have passed.

Why will this zombie meme -- that the black vote was the cause of the failure to defeat Prop 8 -- simply not die?

Left-leaning California's horror about this newly revealed schism between two of its favorite sons is a situation that cries out for a villain, but the one that liberal white Hollywood has chosen for the role probably won't make it all the way to the third act.

"It's their churches," somebody whispered to one of us not long after the election; "It's their Christianity," someone else hissed, rolling her eyes.

Their churches -- those black churches did it. Have they forgotten who bankrolled Yes on 8 and exploited the cultural conservatism of a slice of the religious black community -- white evangelicals and Mormons. Gee, aren't the vast majority of those folks white?

More after the jump, including the unsettling news delivered to me on Saturday just before I had to go onstage to moderate a panel about building coalitions.

This kind of irresponsible baiting is incredible, yet I have to say that this kind of thinking is still roiling inside the LGBT community. On Saturday, just prior to the one I moderated at the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference, I had more than a few people come up to me to say that this kind of irrational, unproductive blaming was stirring among some of the attendees of a panel about Prop 8 moments ago.

Of course I was told this just before I had to go on stage and discuss "Winning Coalitions for the Common Good." Needless to say, it was intimidating to think that a good number of people in the room arrived agitated over Prop 8 and race, and here we were, there to talk about communication, reconciliation and moving forward.

As I said in my post about the plenary session, I had prepared opening remarks to lay the foundation for opening honest communication, and in light of what I was told about the rancor just before going on, I had no idea what to expect:

Today I'm here with my colleagues from the National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative that is being held just a few blocks away. In many ways the issues we are discussing there have much in common with those this panel will address. In our workshops we are dealing with long-simmering communication challenges between blogs, traditional LGBT media, elected officials, community leaders and LGBT advocacy organizations. We're meeting to learn how to build mutually beneficial ties as we advance, report on, and provide commentary about the LGBT rights movement. The bottom line is that we have to add effective communication tools to our toolboxes to make that happen.

And here we, at your conference, to being a discussion about how to achieve similar goals on a different front -- how to build stronger coalitions, in this case between the LGBT community and communities of color, labor, women, the faith community and other potential political allies for the common good. And that involves developing a framework for productive dialogue in the wake Prop 8. In the blogosphere the reactions were raw, long-simmering tensions were unearthed in a very public way.

The fact is, this wasn't surprising to those of us who inhabit both worlds as LGBT people of color. What it laid bare was the long-standing dire need for better communication between the LGBT movement and communities of color, and discussion about LGBT issues within communities of color. So I see this as an amazing opportunity for all of us to add tools to our toolboxes to reach our common goal of equality.

The panelists on stage with me, Kathryn Kolbert, President of People for the American Way; Assembly member John PĂ©rez of the California State Assembly; Robert Raben, of the Raben Group; and Dr. Kenneth Samuel, African American Ministers Leadership Council deftly negotiated this difficult territory, and the Q&A with the audience was productive. I left the stage with a sigh of relief; I do hope that there was active listening going on because that's the only way to move forward.

I did receive positive feedback about the session, so I left somewhat reassured that what was said gave people food for thought, and that they were perhaps ready to actually take action individually to leave their comfort zones to do the difficult work needed to use those tools in the toolbox and communicate beyond our fears about race, religion and difference. If we don't, the religious right will continue to exploit our inability to come to grips with the solvable schisms in our community.

Calling In "Gay" Latest Prop 8 Protest

By: Lisa Leff
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Some same-sex marriage supporters are urging people to "call in gay" Wednesday to show how much the country relies on gays and lesbians, but others question whether it's wise to encourage skipping work given the nation's economic distress.

Organizers of "Day Without a Gay" _ scheduled to coincide with International Human Rights Day and modeled after similar work stoppages by Latino immigrants _ also are encouraging people to perform volunteer work and refrain from spending money.

Sean Hetherington, a West Hollywood comedian and personal trainer, dreamed up the idea with his boyfriend, Aaron Hartzler, after reading online that a few angry gay-rights activists were calling for a daylong strike to protest California voters' passage last month of Proposition 8, which reversed this year's state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.

The couple thought it would be more effective and less divisive if people were asked to perform community service instead of staying home with their wallets shut. Dozens of nonprofit agencies, from the National Women's Law Center in Washington to a Methodist church in Fresno collecting food for the homeless, have posted opportunities for volunteers on the couple's Web site.

"We are all for a boycott if that is what brings about a sense of community for people," said Hetherington, 30, who plans to spend Wednesday volunteering at an inner-city school. "You can take away from the economy and give back in other ways."

Hetherington said he's been getting 100 e-mails an hour from people looking for volunteer opportunities, and that his "Day Without a Gay" Web site has gotten 100,000 hits since mid-November.

Despite Hartzler and Hetherington's attempt to fashion a positive approach, some organizers of the street demonstrations that drew massive crowds in many cities last month have been reluctant to embrace the concept, saying that it could be at best impractical and at worst counterproductive to "call in gay."

"It's extra-challenging for people to think about taking off work as a form of protest, given that we are talking about people who may not be out (as gay) at work, and given the current economic situation and job market," said Jules Graves, 38, coordinator of the Colorado Queer Straight Alliance. "There is really not any assurance employers would appreciate it for what it is."
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Graves' group nonetheless is arranging for interested participants to volunteer at the local African Community Center in Denver. The agency said it could find projects to keep 20 people busy, but so far only 10 have pledged to show up, said Graves.

Join The Impact, the online community that launched protests last month over the passage of gay marriage bans in California, Florida and Arizona, has urged people to withdraw $80 from their bank accounts Wednesday to demonstrate gays' spending power, and to devote the time they might otherwise spend watching TV or surfing the Internet to volunteer work.

Witeck-Combs Communications, a public relations firm in Washington that specializes in the gay and lesbian market, published a study this year that estimated that gay and lesbian consumers spend $700 billion annually.

Bob Witeck, the firm's chief executive officer, said it would be difficult to measure the success of Wednesday's strike since gay employees occupy so many fields. And rather than suspending all consumer spending for the day, gay rights supporters would have a bigger impact if they devoted their dollars to gay-friendly businesses year-round, Witeck said.

"Our community leaders who are running book stores, newspapers, flower shops, coffee houses, bars and many, many other things are hurting right now, so paying attention to their needs during this hard time is an effective form of activism," he said.

Hetherington said he has been careful to design A Day Without a Gay _ he came up with the name after the film "A Day Without a Mexican" and liked it because it rhymed _ so no one feels excluded or threatened.

He has specifically urged high school students not to walk out of their classes and assured college students they won't be disloyal to the cause if they go ahead and take their final exams. He also has listed opportunities _ ranging from writing letters to members of Congress about federal gay rights legislation to spreading the word about Wednesday on social networking sites _ to gay marriage backers who cannot miss work.


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Bring A Special Dish To This Year's Thanksgiving Table

This Thanksgiving we are reflecting on what family means to us. For those of us at the ACLU and many people across the country, that will bring to mind what happened to families in California as a result of Prop 8.

So -- in what is becoming an ACLU tradition -- I’m writing to share some pointers for talking turkey this Thanksgiving about issues that really matter.

Here’s my biggest piece of advice for when Prop 8 and gay marriage come up over the Thanksgiving dinner table: Don’t shy away from the conversation. Do what I’m hoping thousands of ACLU supporters will do over the holidays. Talk to someone you’ve never talked to about same sex marriage and explain that it’s just not right to deny someone their freedom because of who they are or who they love.

And you can tell them something else: Tell them the fight to stop Prop 8 from disrupting people’s lives and denying gay couples the full measure of their freedom is far from over. Tell them your ACLU has gone to court to stop Prop 8.

On the day after the elections, the ACLU and our partners, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and Equality California filed suit asking the California Supreme Court to strike Proposition 8 down.

The case we are making is a powerful one -- and I want you to know its details -- because if we are going to secure equal rights for everyone in our great nation, the argument for equality has to be made not just in a California courtroom, but in countless conversations between families and communities all across America.

Here are the specifics on our lawsuit: Under California law, major changes in the Constitution -- called revisions -- have to be first approved by two-thirds of the legislature before going before the voters.

The forces of intolerance behind Prop 8 went through a process for less serious constitutional changes called amendments. They didn’t go through the legislature.

So, our lawsuit -- and your Prop 8 conversations over the holidays -- will all come down to the same question: Is it a big deal -- a revision, rather than a mere amendment -- to take the right to marry away from an entire group of people?

We firmly believe it is.

What could be more serious than rejecting the very idea that everyone is equal before the law?
And what could be a more drastic change than undermining the essential constitutional principle that we all have rights, which can’t be taken away just because a majority of people might like to do so?
These are the questions we’re asking the California Supreme Court to consider at crucial hearings coming up in December. And, they are the questions I hope you won’t avoid addressing in holiday conversation with friends and family.

The passage of Prop 8 has hit a powerful nerve all across America. People are seeing for themselves the unimaginable pain and anguish it has caused. And the sense of outrage is growing stronger every day.

With holiday gatherings of family and friends right around the corner -- I’m urging you to make the case against intolerance in a very personal way.

Prop 8 has made clear that we all have a lot of work to do challenging discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. And we can’t do it without you.

So, be a little bolder this Thanksgiving.

When someone makes an uninformed remark about gay marriage, don’t let it slide. If they say they’re glad Prop 8 passed, tell them you love them. Then remind them that no one should ever lose their rights or face bigotry because of who they are and who they love.

Make it clear that, no matter how someone feels about same-sex marriage, gay people are a part of our community entitled to the same rights, the same dignity, as everyone else.

Today, it is clearer than ever that the struggle for LGBT equality is one of the defining civil liberties challenges of our time. You can count on the ACLU to defend LGBT rights in courtrooms, classrooms, and legislative hearings all across the nation.

We’re counting on you to do the same around the water cooler at work and over Thanksgiving dinner.
Be brave and outspoken. It’s the only way to move freedom forward.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

P.S. – Heads up! You're invited to the ACLU’s Bill of Rights Day Celebration in San Francisco on Sunday, December 7. The event is a rare and spirited mix of reflection, ambition, pride and humor – we take stock of what it means to protect freedom nationally, locally and vocally. The talk of the town this year is on how we will move marriage equality forward. Treat yourself to an advance look at our program and watch your Inbox for more details later this week.

Proposition 8 Broke My Heart and My Trust in My People

From: Silicon Valley DeBug
Story and Photo By G. Melesaine

The day before the elections, my heart became heavy with anger and sadness. Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage on this years ballot is probably, (to me) the most intense initiative that was on the ballot.
I had become deeply emotional after seeing that the majority of the people I saw rallying for Proposition 8 were Polynesians, and not surprisingly they were Mormon. I am Polynesian, my father is Mormon and he tried to raise my sisters and brothers Mormon as well. I disassociated myself from the religion at a young age and could not believe in a religion that taught homophobia. I had my words with the Yes On 8 protesters at De Anza College, which became a war zone between yes and no on propositoin 8 groups. One of the yes on 8 protesteers, probably not even a student, responded by saying, "I don't know about this, I just came for the fuck of it." I was the only Polynesian on the opposing side. When I arrived it seemed as if they thought I was going to join their side and moods change when it became apparent who I was fighting for. I asked them if they knew who made their signs that they held. The Mormon church whom consists of some of the richest white people were donating so much money all the way from Utah towards the Yes On 8 campaign. I had become emotionally overwhelmed to see that none of those rich white people were out here doing the dirty work, but rather were having my people do their work.

It's like seeing your family on crack, brainwashed by that white stuff only to answer with "God is on my side." Murmuring the word "faggot" in between laughs and throwing flyers in our crowd, I felt like I was wasting my breath on people who didn't care. People who didn't understand to care. My Mormon cousin whom I've been staying with for the last two weeks had been part of the yes on 8 campaign. She had made homophobic derogatory remarks and I had bit my tongue to make my 2 week stay a little lighter. It made me sad that my beautiful people had used words that were so ugly to me and I figured it stemmed from this religion.

I am deeply saddened seeing images on the news of Polynesians becoming the majority of the Yes On 8 protestors. This had been pretty much the first time I've seen so many Polynesians organize protests. With all the detrimental things -- drugs, violence, gangs, domestic violence, incarceration, lack of education -- that keeps our community from upward mobility, the issue that brings Polynesians out to protest is a proposition to keep two people of the same-sex who love each other from marrying. At the action, my friend and I tried to interview one of the Samoan elders, he asked me if I was Samoan and after I said yes he stopped talking to us. In the corner of my eye there was a child they had brought along, playing with a Yes On 8 sign. That killed me. This was a child who had no idea what was going on but to hold a sign that they told him to hold. I thought about when I was young in that church, and how as an adult everything I was taught was no longer truth to me. I don't even consider the religion a religion but more of a corporation now. Just because my father has been working for them ever since I was in elementary, and for them to have that much money to back this and never give him a raise to a salary that can actually be worth surviving on, made me realized that they have other things to keep in check.

On the evening of the election, news that Obama had won gave me an intense feeling of joy, but it was a bittersweet moment. I, probably the only one in the room representing the queer community among a diverse group mainly young people who color, knew how it felt at that moment to be considered less than a citizen. Prop 8 had passed.

Personally I don't want to get married, it just seems like undocumented bullshit to me, but on the contrary there should be options for those who want the option to get married. At a time when someone like Britney Spears gets married under intoxication (probably) and get divorced the next day, where's the equality in that?

I don't know what I should do now. Even those close to me have their innermost fears about homosexuality which to me, seems at odds with actual liberation. Maybe I haven't done enough for my community, maybe I've been trying to help people who didn't care about me in the end and wearing a button really didn't mean shit. I remember reading a homophobic comment from a black nationalist who was yes on 8. To me, those who seek liberation and then practices the same oppression means that we are really far from actual revolution or change. I went to sleep reading a chapter from Howard Zinn's "A People's History of The United States" in which he talked about the double oppression that women slaves faced. I wondered how many times my oppression was multiplied for just being who I am.

Same Sex Marriage, Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships

From: National Conference Of State Legislatures
Last Update: November, 2008

Quick facts on key states:

* Issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples: Massachusetts, Connecticut, California*
* Recognizes same-sex marriages from other states: Rhode Island
* Allows civil unions, providing state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples: Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire
* Statewide law provides nearly all state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples (Domestic Partnerships): California, Oregon
* Statewide law provides some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples (Domestic Partnerships): Hawaii, Maine, District of Columbia, Washington, Maryland

* The California Supreme Court ruled on May 15, 2008 that same sex couples have the right to marry in California. Proposition 8, which limits marriage to one man and one woman, was passed on November 4th, 2008. The decision is being appealed. It is unclear if the same-sex marriages performed before Proposition 8 was passed will remain valid.


NCSL's Same-sex marriage timeline provides a chronological account of significant events related to same-sex marriage since 2003.

A chart summarizing civil unions/domestic partnership state statutes provides information and links to laws in states that allow civil unions or domestic partnerships.

A table listing states with statutes defining marriage between one man and one woman, constitutional amendments defining marriage between one man and one woman, states without any laws prohibiting same sex marriage and states with constitutional amendments on the ballot this year.

Same-Sex Marriage Overview

In November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from civil marriage was unconstitutional. The Senate then asked the Court for an advisory opinion on the constitutionality of a proposed law that would bar same-sex couples from civil marriage but would create civil unions as a parallel institution, with all the same benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities under law. In February, the Court answered, "segregating same-sex unions from opposite-sex unions cannot possibly be held rationally to advance or preserve" the governmental aim of encouraging "stable adult relationships for the good of the individual and of the community, especially its children." Under this decision, the state of Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in May 2004.

This ruling is part of a larger public discussion of "marriage" and "family" that started in 1993 when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that laws denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated state constitutional equal protection rights unless the state could show a "compelling reason" for such discrimination. In 1996, a trial court ruled that the state had no such compelling reason and the case headed back to the Supreme Court. Voters adopted a Constitutional amendment in 1998, before the final ruling was issued, giving the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples and effectively ending the lawsuit.

In April 2000, Vermont approved landmark legislation to recognize civil unions between same-sex couples, granting them virtually all the benefits, protections and responsibilities that married couples have under Vermont law. The Vermont legislation was a result of the state Supreme Court ruling in Baker v. Vermont that said same-sex couples are entitled, under the state constitution's "Common Benefits Clause," to the same benefits and protections as married opposite-sex couples. The court ruled that the Vermont Legislature must decide how to provide these benefits and protections, either by legalizing marriage for same-sex couples or by establishing an alternative system. In April 2005, Connecticut became the first state to legalize civil unions without prompting from the courts.

The Vermont Legislature chose to preserve marriage as the "legally recognized union of one man and one woman," but at the same time create a parallel system of civil unions for same-sex couples that goes beyond existing "domestic partnership" and "reciprocal beneficiaries" laws that exist in California and Hawaii and in many localities in the U.S. today.

In October, 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the legislature to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples or to establish a separate legal structure, such as civil unions, to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual marriage couples. In late 2006, the New Jersey legislature passed a statute allowing civil unions beginning February 19, 2007. New Hampshire passed legislation authorizing civil unions, which will take effect on January 1, 2008.

On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples should have the right to marry. The ruling takes effect in mid-June, but could be stayed by the courts for six months, which would allow California residents to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman. If the amendment passes in November, same-sex marriage would again be banned in California.
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to do the same. Since 1996, many states have enacted legislation prohibiting same-sex marriages or the recognition of same-sex marriages formed in another jurisdiction. States have traditionally recognized marriages solemnized in other states, even those that go against the marriage laws of that particular state. Under the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, states are generally required to recognize and honor the public laws of other states, unless those laws are contrary to the strong public policy of that state.

Over half of the states have passed language defining marriage between a man and a woman in their state constitutions. Arizona is the only state where a constitutional amendment on the ballot in a general election has failed (2006). Typically, constitutional amendments have passed with an overwhelming majority.

There have been several proposals before Congress to amend the federal Constitution, defining marriage as between a man and a woman and ensuring that states would not be required to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. President Bush has announced his support for such an amendment, however, he is receptive to allowing states to "define other arrangements." This could indicate that the President does not favor enacting a federal ban on civil union or domestic partnership laws. Opponents of the amendment cite federalism concerns in addition to support for same-sex marriages. A constitutional amendment requires 2/3 of the U.S. House and Senate and 3/4 of the state legislatures for enactment. For a summary of proposed federal legislation from 2002 to present, click here.
Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMA)

Forty-one states currently have statutory Defense of Marriage Acts. Three of those states have statutory language that pre-dates DOMA (enacted before 1996) defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Thirty states have defined marriage in their constitutions. Arizona is the only state that has ever defeated a constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman (2006), but subsequently passed one in 2008.

States with Statutes Defining Marriage Between One Man and One Woman

New Hampshire
North Carolina
North Dakota
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Total: 41

*In January 2006, a state judge found the Maryland statute unconstitutional but it remains in effect pending appeal.

**In October, 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court invalidated the state statute banning same-sex marriage

States with Constitutional Language Defining Marriage

North Dakota
South Carolina
South Dakota

Total: 30

States Without Law Prohibiting Same-Sex Marriage

New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island

Total: 5

States that passed a DOMA Constitutional Amendment in 2008

Total: 3

Film fundraiser for 'Like a Lady: The Fakaleitis of Tonga'

by Michael Lehet
Chicago Gay Examiner

“Like A Lady: The Fakaleitis of Tonga” explores the lifestyle and socio-cultural role and impact of a group of men and boys who identify as women in the Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific. The new movie by local filmmaker Brian Favorite is currently in post-production.

Earlier this summer, Brian spent several weeks in Tonga where he gathered more than 30 hours of video footage that he is working to shape into a film featuring the Fakaleitis. Brian, a member of the Peace Corps, was stationed in Tonga from 2004-2007, and he was encouraged to "stay in the closet" about his homosexuality for fear of being rejected by the local villagers and his coworkers. While he was in Tonga he became friends with a group of Tongan boys who identified as Fakaleitis, boys raised as girls.

Traditionally, fakaleiti, which translates to "like a lady" or "in the manner of a lady," are boys raised as girls to help manage the day to day activities of the home, such as cooking, household chores or dress making, when no daughters are available. The fakaleitis hold a precarious position in Tongan society; some feel they are revered by doing for others instead of doing for themselves, while others look at them with disgust as typically Tongan men are very macho. Favorite is hoping to share the story of the Fakaleiti through his film.

For more info: For full details about the Production please visit HERE

Calif. gay-marriage ban creates legal uncertainty

From: Samoa News
November 25, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hundreds of protesters took to the streets Thursday over California’s new ban on gay marriage, amid deepening political turmoil and legal confusion over who should have the right to wed.

Legal experts said it is unclear whether an attempt by gay-rights activists to overturn the prohibition has any chance of success, and whether the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California over the past four months are in any danger.

California voters Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment disallowing gay marriage. The measure, which won 52 percent approval, overrides a California Supreme Court ruling last May that briefly gave same-sex couples the right to wed.

On Thursday, about 1,000 gay-marriage supporters demonstrated outside a Mormon temple in the Westwood section of Los Angeles. Sign-waving demonstrators spilled onto Santa Monica Boulevard, bringing afternoon traffic to a halt. The temple was targeted because the Mormon church strongly supported the ban on gay marriage.

"I’m disappointed in the Californians who voted for this," said F. Damion Barela, 43, a Studio City resident who married his husband nearly five months ago. He noted that nearly 70 percent of black voters and a slight majority of Hispanic voters voted for the ban.

"To them I say, ‘Shame on you because you should know what this feels like,’" he said.

Some spectators cheered from apartment balconies; one person threw eggs at the marchers. Two people were arrested after a confrontation between the crowd and an occupant of a pickup truck that showed a banner supporting the amendment.

On Wednesday night, police in Los Angeles arrested seven people as more than 1,000 protesters blocked traffic in West Hollywood. One man was wrestled to the ground by police after he jumped up and down on the roof of a squad car. Another man was clubbed by police. Hundreds of protesters also gathered on the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall, some holding candles and carrying signs that read, "We all deserve the freedom to marry."

Gay-marriage proponents filed three court challenges Wednesday against the new ban. The lawsuits raise a rare legal argument: that the ballot measure was actually a dramatic revision of the California Constitution rather than a simple amendment. A constitutional revision must first pass the Legislature before going to the voters.

"Where do you draw the line between ‘revision’ and ‘an amendment’ when those are words in conversation we would use interchangeably?" asked Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine law school. "It’s a highly technical legal question in a highly charged political atmosphere."

Andrew Pugno, attorney for the coalition of religious and social conservative groups that sponsored the amendment, called the lawsuits "frivolous and regrettable."

"It is time that the opponents of traditional marriage respect the voters’ decision," he said.

The high court has not said when it will act. State officials said the ban on gay marriage took effect the morning after the election.

"We don’t consider it a ‘Hail Mary’ at all," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "You simply can’t so something like this - take away a fundamental right at the ballot."

With many gay newlyweds worried about what the amendment does to their vows, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said he believes those marriages are still valid. But he is also preparing to defend that position in court.

"I wish I could be comforted by Attorney General Brown’s statement that it has no retroactivity," said Loyola Law School professor Bill Araiza, who married his same-sex partner Oct. 29. "But it’s in flux and I just don’t know."

The amendment does not explicitly say whether it applies to those already married. Legal experts said unless there is explicit language, laws are not normally applied retroactively.

"Otherwise a Pandora’s Box of chaos is opened," said Stanford University law school professor Jane Schacter. Still, Schacter cautioned that the question of retroactivity "is not a slam dunk."

An employer, for instance, could deny medical benefits to an employee’s same-sex spouse. The worker could then sue the employer, giving rise to a case that could determine the validity of the 18,000 marriages.

Supporters of the ban said they will not seek to invalidate the marriages already performed and will leave any legal challenges to others.

A 2003 California law already gives gays registered as domestic partners nearly all the state rights and responsibilities of married couples when it comes to such things as taxes, estate planning and medical decisions. That law is still in effect.

The Civics Lesson In The Aftermath Of Proposition 8

By: Byron Williams

Recently, a friend lamented if those opposed to Proposition 8 had worked as hard before it passed as they have after voters approved the initiative, banning same-gender couples from marriage, the outcome may have been different.

Maybe, but we're certainly witnessing a public civics less.o.ns.

Since Prop. 8 passed, there have been widespread protest throughout the state and nationally. Attorney General Jerry Brown has already urged the California Supreme Court, whose ruling for same-gender marriage put Prop. 8 on the ballot, to once again decide whether the voter-approved ballot measure is constitutional.

Brown's request will most likely fast track Prop. 8 so that the justices will render a decis.ion on its constitutionality sooner rather than later.

For those wondering why the protests seem to persist after the passing of Prop. 8, from the political theorist perspective we may be witnessing a backlash to the tyranny of the majority.

The concept of tyranny of the majority has its roots in Plato's Republic; it is used in reference to democracies and majority rule. The actual term originated with Alexis de Tocqueville; it is a criticism of any scenario in which decis.ions made by a majority would place its interests above a minority's interest to the point that majority will becomes "tyrannical."

I am quite certain that proponents of Prop. 8 would not consider their view as tyrannical, but such issues should never be confined to the micro contours of a single matter but rather the macro outcome. Does it suffice for society if the majority wants to be selective with its application of equal protection under the law?

As John Stuart Mills opined, "Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities."

By simply being in the majority opinion can lead one to believe they are impervious to the type arrogance that robs one of their self-reflective impulses that can to lead to an abuse of power. And as de Tocqueville argued in Democracy in America, majority rule carries with it an implied moral authority that " there is more intelligence and wisdom in a number of men united than a single individual."

This is the popular, but erroneous, notion that gives rise to the "judicial activism" argument, especially when a ruling by the judiciary branch of government goes against what may be viewed as the popular opinion.

I have received countless e-mail justifying their support of Prop. 8 based on the majority rule of Prop. 22 in 2000 and that the state Supreme Court caused this problem by "legislating from the bench."

This is an elementary understanding of our democracy that has most likely embraced the juvenile orthodoxy of conservative talk radio. But the Framers of the Republic were not unaware of the potential problems associated with the tyranny of he majority, or as some would benignly call the "will of the people."

Left to its own unbridled interests; the potential for the majority to abuse its power is as great as any other group.

James Madison wrote in Federalist Number 10:

"The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression."

Madison goes on to write, "Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens."

How does the sphere extend in relation to Prop. 8? This is the tension that the state Supreme Court must now negotiate.

It is certainly impractical to assume, as Madison would argue, there can be a society comprised of homogeneous opinions and interest. But the court will now be charged to find the moral line that distinguishes between majority rule and the tyranny of the majority.

Video Clip Of November 22nd's Anti-Prop 8 March

An inspiring video clip of a large support march against prop 8 at the Capital on November 22,2008.

Anti-Prop 8 Rally On The West Steps Of The California State Capital

Posted: Friday, November 21,2008

EqualityActionNow & PFLAG(Parents of Lesbians And Gays)along with the GLBT community and supporters against Proposition 8 are gathering to form a peaceful rally on the West steps of the California State Capitol at 2:00 pm on November 22nd. Organizers believe this will be the largest rally of its kind at the Capital.

Celebrity-Comedian and Activist Margaret Cho will be one of the key note speakers at the rally.

Organizers are encouraging supporters to join in and outreach to all the citizens of California to demonstrate that California is a state that will not stand by and allow discrimination to be written into the State Constitution.

Where: California State Capital Building (West Steps), Sacramento, CA
When: Saturday, November 22, 2008
Time: 2:00pm-5:00pm
Parking:10th and L lot

Prop 8 Gay Marriage Ban Heads Back To The Supreme Court

(From the HuffingtonPost)
LISA LEFF | November 20, 2008 12:17 AM EST | Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — California's highest court agreed Wednesday to hear several legal challenges to the state's new ban on same-sex marriage but refused to allow gay couples to resume marrying before it rules.

The California Supreme Court accepted three lawsuits seeking to nullify Proposition 8, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that overruled the court's decision in May that legalized gay marriage.

All three cases claim the measure abridges the civil rights of a vulnerable minority group. They argue that voters alone did not have the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change.

As is its custom when it takes up cases, the court elaborated little. However, the justices did say they want to address what effect, if any, a ruling upholding the amendment would have on the estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that were sanctioned in California before Election Day.

Gay rights groups and local governments petitioning to overturn the ban were joined by the measure's sponsors and Attorney General Jerry Brown in urging the Supreme Court to consider whether Proposition 8 passes legal muster.

The initiative's opponents had also asked the court to grant a stay of the measure, which would have allowed gay marriages to begin again while the justices considered the cases. The court denied that request.

The justices directed Brown and lawyers for the Yes on 8 campaign to submit arguments by Dec. 19 on why the ballot initiative should not be nullified. It said lawyers for the plaintiffs, who include same-sex couples who did not wed before the election, must respond before Jan. 5.

Oral arguments could be scheduled as early as March, according to court spokeswoman Lynn Holton.
Story continues below

"This is welcome news. The matter of Proposition 8 should be resolved thoughtfully and without delay," Brown said in a statement.

Both opponents and supporters of Proposition 8 expressed confidence Wednesday that their arguments would prevail. But they also agreed that the cases present the court's seven justices _ six of whom voted to review the challenges _ with complex questions that have few precedents in state case law.

Although more than two dozen states have similar amendments, some of which have survived similar lawsuits, none were approved by voters in a place where gay marriage already was legal.

Neither were any approved in a state where the high court had put sexual orientation in the same protected legal class as race and religion, which the California Supreme Court did when it rendered its 4-3 decision that made same-sex marriage legal in May.

Opponents of the ban argue that voters improperly abrogated the judiciary's authority by stripping same-sex couples of the right to wed after the high court earlier ruled it was discriminatory to prohibit gay men and lesbians from marrying.

"If given effect, Proposition 8 would work a dramatic, substantive change to our Constitution's 'underlying principles' of individual equality on a scale and scope never previously condoned by this court," lawyers for the same-sex couples stated in their petition.

The measure represents such a sweeping change that it constitutes a constitutional revision as opposed to an amendment, the documents say. The distinction would have required the ban's backers to obtain approval from two-thirds of both houses of the California Legislature before submitting it to voters.

Over the past century, the California Supreme Court has heard nine cases challenging legislative acts or ballot initiatives as improper revisions. The court eventually invalidated three of the measures, according to the gay rights group Lambda Legal.

Andrew Pugno, legal counsel for the Yes on 8 campaign, said he doubts the court will buy the revision argument in the case of the gay marriage ban because the plaintiffs would have to prove the measure alters the state's basic governmental framework.

Joel Franklin, a constitutional law professor at Monterey College of Law, said that even though the court rejected similar procedural arguments when it upheld amendments reinstating the death penalty and limiting property taxes, those cases do not represent as much of a fundamental change as Proposition 8.

"Those amendments applied universally to all Californians," Franklin said. "This is a situation where you are removing rights from a particular group of citizens, a class of individuals the court has said is entitled to constitutional protection. That is a structural change."

The trio of cases the court accepted were filed by six same-sex couples who have not yet wed, a Los Angeles lesbian couple who were among the first to tie the knot on June 16 and 11 cities and counties, led by the city of San Francisco.

Mormon Polynesians Split on Prop 8

By: Jean Melesaine
From: New America Media

Editor's note: Mormonism has made heavy inroads in the Polynesian community and in the recent battle over Proposition 8, the anti-gay message of the church caused painful rifts for author Jean Melesaine, who is queer, Polynesian--and raised Mormon. Video by Tiburon accompanies the essay. Melesaine and Tiburon are contributors to Silicon Valley Debug

I've never seen Polynesians as publicly engaged in an issue as they were with Proposition 8. Many of them are Mormons, and the Mormon Church really pushed for Yes on 8. I'm Polynesian, queer and raised in the Mormon Church. Of all of the issues our Polynesian community could organize around -- drugs, violence, gangs, education for our youth -- they choose the one that is against me.

I had words with the Yes On 8 protesters at De Anza College, the college I attend in Cupertino, Calif. The campus became a war zone between Yes and No on Prop 8 groups. The majority of those who came to rally for Yes on 8 were Polynesians, and probably don't attend De Anza. Not surprisingly, they were Mormon, and as deeply personal as this issue is for me, they seemed as if they were blindly just doing what they were being told to do. One of them, probably not even a student, responded by saying, "I don't know about this, I just came for the f--- of it."

I was the only Polynesian on the opposing side.

I was baptized in the Mormon Church and according to my full-blown Mormon cousin, technically I'm still Mormon until I'm ex-communicated. I renounced Mormonism when I was 10, two years after my baptism, but I still attended church because it was the only place where other Polynesians organized. I attended a church where the pastor adamantly pushed for the passage of Prop 8. It became obvious that I couldn't stay in his congregation after he used the word "faggot" in his sermon.

Polynesians are always seen as being big people in small groups -- minorities on campus or in the community. As in any group, there's a good number of Polynesians who are gay, so even being seen as a small group of people, to be gay within that group makes you even smaller. Feeling like a minority at times gets overwhelming because I'm usually the token Polynesian, or if I'm not the token Polynesian, I'm usually the token queer. From my perspective being gay has made me a stronger person because I have to make visible the invisible and give voice to the voiceless for the future to come.

I became deeply emotional after seeing that the Mormon Church, which consists of some of the richest white people, were donating so much money—more than $20 million—all the way from Utah to the Yes On 8 campaign. Yet none of those rich white people were out here doing the dirty work of campaigning against gay marriage. They were having my people do their slave work – making the signs, marching in the rain, telling obnoxious and bigoted jokes at college campuses.

And who knows, maybe my people want to do the work. It's like seeing your family on crack, brainwashed by that white stuff only to answer with, "God is on my side." At De Anza, I thought perhaps they would listen to me more than the other No on 8 students because I was Polynesian. But as I tried, and they murmured "faggot" in between laughs and threw flyers at our crowd, I felt like I was wasting my breath on people who didn't care. People who didn't understand enough to care.

My Mormon cousin, whom I'd been staying with for the last two weeks, was part of that. She made homophobic remarks anytime the proposition came up on the news or we drove by signs. I bit my tongue to make my two-week stay a little lighter. One day we were driving on a freeway and there were two people waving their "No On 8" signs on the overpass. My cousin yelled, "Yes on 8!" and then I told her that I was against Prop 8. There was an awkward silence and I left her house earlier than I had planned. Any time I brought up my experience and homophobia, she would immediately end the conversation. Her strong religious beliefs and homophobia made it impossible for me to stay with her.

The strange this is, the basis for so many Polynesians being against gay marriage – their Mormon faith – was never ours to begin with. We had, and still have, our own religions from the islands, ones that are inclusive and embracing of everyone in the community. If our community wants to move forward, we need to embrace the parts of our culture that bring us together and let go of the things that are tearing us apart.

My PROP 8 Incident

By: Island Gamer
Early last Saturday morning at around 2:20 am, I was wrapping up my bouncer duty at a bar here in SOCAL. I was on my way home when I noticed a young man blocking a car from reversing it's way out of the parking lot. It was a drunk Christian guy not allowing two women lovers to leave because of his stance on PROP 8. I start to approach him and I'm licking my chops because I've been a "NO" on PROP 8. I've been really pissed off at how religious groups have misled to rally behind PROP 8 all week. I started to cry when I saw the early results on PROP 8 Tuesday night. WTF is California thinking! After all, isn't California supposed to be a liberal state? Isn't California the state that sets the trend for the rest of the nation in terms of tolerance? As I'm walking toward this car of two trapped women, I'm hopeful that this drunk Christian guy will try to approach me with some violence so I can defend myself and beat the shit out of him. I haven't beaten anybody up in a while, it might as well be this guy who's stance on PROP 8 is one I'm disgusted with. Right?

I make it to the vehicle and ask him nicely to move away from the car so the two women can leave. He doesn't move. I reach out and I move him out of the way. The women were able to reverse their car out of their stall and I tell them to have a good night. As they pull away, they said, "NO on PROP 8."

I probably shouldn't of said anything, but I replied with "That's right ladies, NO on PROP 8. It's discrimination."

As I'm walking away, the drunk Christian guy looks at me and says "What the FUCK! What are you talking about?" I turned to him and motion to him to go home. He starts to raise his voice and at this point, we have to escort him out of the parking lot because the neighbors will make complaints. As I'm escorting him out of the parking lot, he continues to get in my face and he's making it difficult. I grabbed him by his neck... and as I'm ready knock this guy out, I realized at that moment that I was becoming the forceful one now. This drunk Christian guy was trying to force his misguided stance on PROP 8 by not allowing the two LBGT women from leaving ... and here I was. Here I stood with my eyes full of disgust ready to punch this guy with a "NO on PROP 8" label on my fist. I was becoming the forceful one now and I needed to back off. This is a battle of intelligence. This is a fight that I would have to fight in a different arena. It has to be fought on changing the way people think about LGBT folks in general, especially in my Samoan community.

Christianity has been embedded into the Samoan culture, whether you're Catholic or Protestant (including the Mormon faith), Samoans are born into this world 99% of the time Christian. To my dismay, this heavy influence of Christianity meant the "YES on PROP 8" campaign penetrated and took a lot of votes even in my inner circle of friends. I've been disappointed for a week now and now I'm ready to do some real fighting.

There have been blogs here, but a lot of them were aimed in the wrong places no matter what side you're on. I've seen posts / blogs on racism and ones that say "Fuck this ___" and "Fuck that ___". My stance is that the "YES on PROP 8" campaign was the more un-Christian stance to take. You don't force your beliefs on other people and you don't take rights away from other individuals, no matter who they are. The other stance is that the divorce ratio, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, is approximately 1 of every 4 heterosexual marriages ending up in divorce. Shouldn't all that campaign money wanting to "protect marriage between a man and woman" be geared toward counseling couples or preparing teens for choosing their partner or partners (if you're a polygamist Christian faith) instead?

The last stance on politics is that it needs to stay out of the schools, churches, and the workplace in most cases AND VICE VERSA! In schools, the PROPs should be listed, but let the students formulate their own opinions. In churches, keep the politics out of the church and allow members of the church to formulate their own opinions. Keep your PROP signs off of church grounds. In the workplace, be respectful of other people's stances. Remember, it's harassment if you force your beliefs on others.

Confrontation in Southern California Over The Passing Of Proposition 8

video news clips of anti-prop 8 protestors that were upset about the passing of Proposition 8 who rallied throughout the day and into the evening in front of a Mormon church in Southern California. Polynesians LDS members appear in both clips confronting the protestors right to free speech.

Two arrested in Proposition 8 fight

(From:The Future Is Brown Blog)
By:Dana Yates

Two people were arrested after a girl was knocked to the ground and spit on when a fight over Proposition 8 broke out at a San Mateo intersection yesterday afternoon.

The assault took place at the intersection of Third Avenue and Humboldt Street at approximately 4 p.m. Monday. Responding officers located approximately 20 people who were involved in a verbal altercation and one girl was pushed to the ground, hit on her head and was spit on, according to a press release issued by the San Mateo Police Department.

The release did not state whether she was supporting or opposing Proposition 8.

Police determined that a group of approximately five to seven No on Proposition 8 supporters were displaying their signs at the intersection. A group of approximately 10 to 15 Yes on Proposition 8 supporters were displaying their signs on the opposite side of the street, according to police.

A verbal argument occurred and a suspect described as a Polynesian man, in his 20s, 6 foot 2 inches tall, 250 pounds wearing a white T-shirt, grabbed a 17-year-old girl, knocking her down and striking her in the head. Another suspect, identified as Ivan Schaumkel, 35, of San Mateo, allegedly ran up to the victim and spit in her face. A nearby resident was punched in the face by a young boy when he tried to break up the fight.

The juvenile and Schaumkel were arrested for assault and the initial suspect is outstanding. Both were processed and released from the Police Department.

The case is being forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review of charges and prosecution.

Samoans Rally In Support Of Proposition 8

Below is a Youtube clip taken by one of the supporters of Proposition 8 with a group of Samoans that identify themselves as San Francisco based Mormons in the 5th Ward rallying on a public street corner for proposition 8.

Other video clips of Polynesians(uncertain if Samoan or Tongan)