Pass this one on to your friends and families. Tweet it to them. Email it to them.
Last week after the LGBT community enjoyed one of its biggest civil rights victories in our history with the assistance of four Republican senators, the right wing National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced a two million dollar campaign to defeat them in 2012. Nothing could pour cold water over our momentum for full marriage equality more if these Republicans lost and especially if the LGBT community was missing in action.
Right now we should be writing checks to these four men who showed amazing political and moral courage in the face of powerful opposition. They literally put their political lives at risk so we could enjoy full equality in New York State.
Below are the four men and the email address for them. Take a minute. Click on each one and make a donation. Doesn't make a difference if it is $5 or $500 because we must show them that we will not forget them and leave them at the mercy of the extreme right in this country. They stood up for us and marriage equality happened. We must stand up for them so those who support justice thrive!
And just in case you forgot Senator Roy McDonald's moment of clarity and truth, here, again, is his statement when he announced his YES vote for Marriage Equality:
“You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, f— it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing,” McDonald said…
“I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics…I’m tired of blowhard radio people, blowhard television people, blowhard newspapers. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing and that’s where I’m going with this.”
I've been reflecting on the recentnewscoverage of gay teen suicides for a week now. While for those of us in the queer community, where the knowledge of teens committing suicide as a means of escaping the daily psychological torture of coming to grips with sexual identity is nothing new, it seems the mainstream media have finally caught on to this very serious problem. But why now? Why not 40-50 years ago in the infancy of the American gay liberation movement? Why not 30 years ago during the peak of the AIDS crisis coverage? Why not 12 years ago when the Trevor Project started? Why are gay teen suicides finally getting mainstream national media attention? Because we're finally starting to see the overwhelming change in social attitudes required to shift mainstream thought to be inclusive of gay people in general, and the deaths of these young people are catalyzing that change. I know the phrase "paradigm shift" has been used ad nauseum since Thomas Kuhn wrote his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, but that premise still holds true. It takes years for a change in society to really take hold of people, and what I think we're seeing in this news coverage is a huge step forward not just for acceptance but more importantly for inclusion in the larger social fabric of the nation.
In this very year we have seen the transcript from the Prop 8 trial, and the ruling of Judge Walker in that case which held that the proponents of this proposition had no defensible reason to support the exclusion of gay people from the institution of marriage. What little evidence they presented was unsupported by history or fact, and their expert witness (of which there was only one) was basically rejected as unqualified to actually comment on the matter at hand. It was abundantly clear that the sole motivation of proposition 8 was to oppress a sexual minority for no good reason. Even members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who were instrumental in the campaign to support proposition 8 are looking back at the division and strife that they have caused and it is driving them to tears. I have no doubt that as the wheels of the judicial system continue to grind away, that this and all other state constitutional amendments that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples will be erased as a thing from a less enlightened time.
Also in this very year we have seen Bishop Eddie Long, Ted Haggard, and many, many others. These men, a product of a conservative ideology that says that homosexuality is sinful and wrong, have worked diligently to uphold that worldview, even unto the suppression and utter destruction of their own self-identity. The lives and well-beings of gay people everywhere have been dramatically influenced by people like this through religion and politics. These are gay men who live in denial, believing that their lives are wrong, that we must continue to support the heterosexual relationship as the only type of relationship that matters. But in secret, their hearts pull them elsewhere, and they turn to abusing themselves, others, or both. Ultimately we get fire and brimstone from these bully pulpits, where they push their own self-hatred outward to others, forcing more gay people and their families to experience the same pain and conflict that they are feeling. Again, there is no defensible reason for this, and ultimately these structures will change both from within and from without.
It's these very outre political and religious statements against homosexual people that have brought to light the gay teen suicides. It took a political campaign the size of prop 8, the national conversation that surrounded it, the trial that brought out the facts behind the prop 8 supporters, exposing the hypocrisy of the political and spiritual leadership who wrangled it into being and seeing the emotional damage that it caused, for people to finally realize that anti-gay speech and actions are a devastating practice that can drive young people to suicide. When your state tells you that you don't deserve the same rights as other people, when your minister tells you you're going to hell for what you feel, when you believe no one around you feels the same way you do and calls you names for what's inside of you, when you fear what may happen to you if you share this secret with your own family, is it any wonder that you would become isolated, downtrodden, lonely, despairing and feeling that there is no hope left. Suicide seems like the only option. It is a tragedy, and one that has sadly been repeated for a very long time, long before these most recent notable deaths.
But the fact that these suicides, which under any other circumstance would have been the story in a local newspaper if that, have been taken up by the mainstream media like CNN and the New York Times, to me that says there has already been a change. Poll numbers in support of gay marriages are rising. Important religious figures are taking a stand and changing the tone in the church and calling their faith traditions on their stance. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is on the brink of repeal. The teen suicide stories have sparked a number of celebrity campaigns to speak out against anti-gay bullying including the star studded "We Give A Damn" campaign and the more down to earth "It Gets Better" campaign onYouTube. Anderson Cooper called out a Michigan Assistant Attorney General for stalking and cyber bullying the openly gay president of the U of Mich student council in a hate filled blog. All of these stories combined tell me that we are already living in a different time, and that there is no turning back any more. The American public is finally looking critically at homophobia and its disastrous consequences, and it is only a matter of time before we have a sea change of public opinion.
WE can (and should) debate whether or not Marriage Equality is a fight worth fighting for or not. The assimilation of gay folk into an “institution” of such questionable history and stability has never really been talked about in a larger venue, as it needs to be.
But this video breaks it down in the simplest matter of equality. And if one should, or would, choose to be married, then, dammit, one ought to be entitled to all the same rights and responsibilities as the next person.
Bill Bowersock was with his beloved Harvey Frand for 32 years. Both paid into the Social Security system over that time and, in their retirement planning, they counted on both checks to get them through those later years. When Harvey passed away, Bill was not entitled to any of Harvey’s benefits, benefits that are granted to heterosexual couples.
Here is a video that was created to tell their story that has been picked up by numerous sources.
Thanks to David Mixner for bringing this to our attention.
Argentine Republic’s legalization of same-sex marriage July 15 came as
a complete surprise to those of us who think of Argentina as the land of
machismo, meat-eaters – Argentines are the world's biggest carnivores,
70 kilos (154 lbs.) of beef per person – and military coups. According
“Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia” (1998),
endured some of the most brutal campaigns of official and unofficial
of lesbians and gay men anywhere in the 20th century.” After the
coup of March 24, 1976, “some 400 gay men were ‘disappeared’ – kidnapped,
barbarically tortured, and executed . . . Encouraged by Roman Catholic
leaders, the dictatorship raided and closed gay bars, arresting as many
men in a particularly brutal 1978 campaign that took place on the eve of
World Cup soccer tournament in Buenos Aires. In 1982 and 1983, the last
two years of the dictatorship, paramilitary groups assassinated a number
men working in the arts. . . .” But with the re-establishment of
democracy in the 1990s, “Buenos Aires emerged . . . as the gay capital
America, with vocal rights organizations and a lively gay and lesbian
Argentina’s stormy past and promising present makes it uniquely
to lead Latin America in the field of LGBT rights and equality. Civil
unions are already recognized in Buenos Aires (2002), the Province of
(2003) and the cities of Villa Carlos Paz (2007) and Rio Cuarto (2009). On
November 12, 2009 a Buenos Aires court approved the marriage of Alex
José Maria Bello. (Though the Buenos Aires government blocked the
the two men were married on December 28 in Ushuaia, in Tierra del
In late 2009 the Argentine Congress took up a bill to change Article 172
Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage. The Chamber of Deputies
the measure on May 5 and the Senate on July 15. President Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner, a friend of the LGBT community, ratified the
which took effect a few days later.
"From today onward, Argentina is a more just and democratic
Maria Rachid, president of the Argentine Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Federation. The law "not only recognizes the rights of our families, but
the possibility of having access to health care, to leave a pension, to
our assets to the people with whom we have shared many years of life,
our children," she said.
It was a hard-earned victory, and Argentina’s LGBT community is
celebrate it. But it would be a mistake to think that Argentina has
a queer paradise. For one thing, machismo is still rampant in that
country. Diego Maradona (left), Argentina’s soccer god, reacted the way many
Argentinian men would when a reporter at the World Cup – where Maradona
the Argentinian Team – seemed to question Maradona’s fondness for his
players. “No, I have not gone limp wristed," Maradona protested,
vehemently. “But I like to acknowledge and congratulate my players when
they play as well as they did today. That was a pleasing result and
was a job well done. I still prefer women. I am dating Veronica, who is
and 31 years old." Though Maradona never misses an opportunity to
us he’s a jerk, his eyebrow-raising reaction to a reporter’s innocent
indicates that not everything is peachy-keen down Argentine way.
Nor is Argentina’s legalization of same-sex marriage approved
the land. What goes well in Buenos Aires might not go well in the
countryside, where folks are more religious, macho, and carnivorous. The
same-sex marriage bill was hotly opposed by the Roman Catholic, Mormon
evangelical churches, which organized a 60,000-person march on Congress
protest the measure. The Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge
Bergoglio, led the fight against same-sex marriage, saying that
to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a
mother." Another opponent, Senator Juan Perez Alsina, called
marriage between a man and a woman "essential for the preservation of
species." Opponents tried to derail the measure by proposing a weak
unions law as an alternative to “gay marriage,” but they were blocked by
parliamentary maneuvers. “I'm proud that we never tried for civil
always for complete equality," said Esteban Paulon, the LGBT
The legalization of same-sex marriage in Argentina, makes it the
country in the world to legalize “gay marriage.” (The others are
Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain
Sweden). It also puts to shame the United States, where the Defense
Of Marriage Act is on the books and a majority of states have
amendments barring same-sex marriage. “Today's historic vote shows how
Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic
how far the freedom-to-marry movement has come, as 12 countries on four
continents now embrace marriage equality," said Evan Wolfson, Executive
of Freedom to Marry. “America should lead, not lag, when it comes to
treating everyone equally under the law." Perhaps it helps that
Argentina’s religious lobby is not as powerful as the one in the States,
opposition to same-sex marriage is not a cornerstone of one of its major
political parties, as it is with the Republican Party in the U.S. Here
have a long way to go before we catch up to the “carnivores” of the
Jesse Monteagudo (email@example.com)
South-Florida based freelance writer. Jesse thanks Daniel Curzon, author
1978 gay novel “Among the Carnivores,” for inspiring the title of this
The Tenth Amendment (Amendment X) to the United States Constitution, which
is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791. The Tenth
Amendment restates the Constitution's principle of federalism by providing that
powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states by
the Constitution of the United States are reserved to the states or the people.
an enormous victory for marriage equality, a federal judge in Boston, Thursday,
July 8th, ruled, in two separate cases, that a critical part of the
federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.
one challenge brought by the state of Massachusetts, Judge Joseph Tauro ruled
that Congress violated the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it
passed DOMA and took from the states decisions concerning which couples can be
considered married. In the other, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, he
ruled DOMA violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Due Process
Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
few years ago the Zurich Zoo in Switzerland conducted guided tours that
centered around homosexual behavior among the zoo animals. Unfortunately,
the one hour tours were held in the early evenings, at a time when most
were asleep. But this did not stop the gay zoo tours from being a
success. Though there was no same-sex activity in evidence, tour guide
Myriam Schärz assured her tourists that same-sex behavior is a common
animal life: “I don’t know of any species that is exclusively
Schärz told “swissinfo”, Switzerland’s news and information platform. “Right here in Zurich we once had a gay flamingo couple who remained
for life. In Cologne Zoo they have a pair of lesbian penguins who each
year steal an egg from one of their neighbors and treat it as their
The last time I wrote about same-sex behavior among the so-called
species was in 1999. Later that year the standard work on the topic, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by
Bagemihl, was published. “On every continent, animals of the same sex
each other out and have probably been doing it for millions of years,”
wrote. “They court each other, using intricate and beautiful mating
that are the result of eons of evolution. Males caress and kiss each
other, showing tenderness and affection toward one another rather than
hostility and aggression. Females form long-lasting pair-bonds – or
just meet briefly for sex, rolling in passionate embraces or mounting
another. Animals of the same sex build nests and homes together, and
homosexual pairs raise young without members of the opposite sex. Other
animals regularly have partners of both sexes, and some even live in
groups where sexual activity is common among all members, male and
female. Many creatures are ‘transgendered,’ crossing or combining
both males and females in their appearance or behavior.”
According to Bagemihl, “Homosexual behavior occurs in more than 450
different kinds of animals worldwide, and is found in every major
region and every major animal group.” But we don’t need Bagemihl for
anecdotal evidence. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear stories
same-sex oriented otters or rabbits. You don’t have to go to the Zurich
Zoo to learn about “the indiscriminate and almost insatiable sexuality
apes” or “how gay male dolphins use their lovers’ blowholes for sexual
gratification.” Just last year a review paper by Nathan Bailey and
Zuk of the Department of Biology at the University of California in
concluded that “same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in
kingdom, common across species, from worms to frogs to birds.”
“Female western gulls sometimes pair off for several years and
other while incubating eggs,” Steve Hogan and Lee Hudson wrote in Completely
Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. “Similar behaviors have been
documented among female sage grouse, male mallard ducks, and female and
greylag geese and turkeys.” According to the authors of Out in All
Directions: The Almanac of Gay and Lesbian America, same-sex behavior
documented in all kinds of animal species, including antelope, bugs,
butterflies, cats, cattle, cockroaches, crickets, dogs, donkeys,
elephants, flies, geckos, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses, hyenas, lions,
mice, moths, octopuses, orcas, porcupines, raccoons, rats and wasps. “In
1994,” according to the Almanac, “two male flamingos in the Rotterdam
Zoo in the
Netherlands got the nesting urge and set up a same-sex co-habitation. After the two repeatedly sought to steal eggs from female flamingos to
them as their own, the zookeepers decided to provide them with a
egg. he proud parents successfully hatched their own little chick, and
remained faithfully by the side of the baby flamingo for a while.” The
whole world knows about Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at the
Park Zoo in New York who lovingly hatched and raised an adopted chick,
Tango. (The story of Tango and her two daddies appears in 2005's
often-censored children’s book, And Tango Makes Three, by Justin
Gay animal behavior seems to alarm religious conservatives almost
as the human variety, and they have tried their best to deny it. Those
do admit that same-sex behavior exists in the animal kingdom try to
away as being playful antics or dominance behavior to assert hierarchy. “Some conservatives and religious groups now admit that homosexuality is
in the animal kingdom, but many of them have also put forward theories
explain the phenomenon,” said Myriam Schärz of the Zurich Zoo. “Some
that homosexuality only occurs when animal populations become too large,
animals only turn to homosexuality when they have no other alternative ,
, , But
there is no evidence to back up the population theory, and there is
proof against the harem argument. Dominant silver-back gorillas, for
instance, have frequently been seen engaging in homosexual activity and
deliberately shunning available females.”
“Humans seem to be the only species where homosexuals are not
accepted in society,” Schärz said. “Animal societies tend to stay
together and accept each other. Of course, animals do get excluded
but that tends to happen if they get injured or if they are not liked,
than because of their sexuality.” Here is another instance where we
could learn from the animals.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and animal lover who lives
Florida. Send all gay animal tales to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People who sign petitions calling for public votes on controversial
subjects don't have an automatic right to hide their names, the Supreme
Court ruled Thursday as it sided against Washington state voters worried
about harassment because of their desire to repeal that state's gay
The high court
ruled against Protect Marriage Washington, which organized a petition
drive for a public vote to repeal the state's "everything-but-marriage"
gay rights law.
Petition signers wanted to hide their names because
of worries of intimidation. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
San Francisco refused to keep their names secret. The Supreme Court
stepped in and temporarily blocked release of the names until the high court could
make a decision.
The court now says disclosing names on a petition for
a public referendum does not chill the signer's freedom of speech
enough to warrant overturning the state's disclosure law.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the 8-1 judgment
for the court, said it is vitally important that states be able to
ensure that signatures on referendum petitions are authentic. Only one member of the Court, Justice Alito, affirmatively
indicated his belief that petitioners’ have a strong argument for an
exemption from Washington’s disclosure law because of the potential for
“threats, harassment and reprisals.” ven Justice Scalia, one of the
Court’s core conservative members, concluded in his concurrence that,
“[r]equiring people to stand up in public for their political acts
fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.”