The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 12

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2012

Here is this week’s rundown of what’s happening with the four marriage ballot campaigns:

Maryland Question 6: If passed, Question 6 will provide marriage equality for Maryland same-sex couples. Marylanders for Marriage Equality is fighting for Question 6’s passage. This past wee, they launched their first TV ads in Baltimore featuring African-Amercan Pastors Donté Hickman and Delman Coatescountering the falsehood that Question 6 would force churches to perform same-sex marriage and reiterating that extending marriage equality to gay couples is “all about fairness.” Coates’s own experience counters the conventional wisdom that the Black community is homophobic: “We’ve had about 1,000 people join our congregation in the first nine months of this year alone. And we’re largely African American. That suggests to me that the people in the pews are further along on this issue than those on the pulpit.” Meanwhile the NAACP of Maryland launched radio ads in the Baltimore and D.C. markets featuring NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond in support of Question 6.

What you can do: You can participating in their One Million Conversations initiative, volunteer for one of their Weekends of Action, sign up to work with their Get Out The Vote team, Volunteer to work with Marylanders for Marriage Equality on Election Day, or have your contribution matched by celebrity chef Byan Voltaggio by donating here.

Maine Marriage Initiative: A “Yes” vote on Question 1 will allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine. Mainers United for Marriage is the main campaign behind the initiative. This week, a poll of likely Maine voters show that Question 1 is up by a 57% to 39% margin, with 4.5% undecided. Mainers  United has released two new TV ads, including one featuring a Republican voter who voted against marriage equality in 2009 but has since changed his mind after talking with other people in his life: “I don’t believe the government should be able to tell anyone who they can love, or who they can marry.” Meanwhile, Q1’s opponents continue to flail haplessly. For one, they are about a month into the campaign and whoever is running their Twitter feed still has trouble with sending out a working link. Then they released two new TV ads, but for some strange reason one of those ads used characters from Ukraine rather than real honest-to-God Mainers. Mainers United fact-checked those ads here.

What you can do: It’s not too late to see New England’s famed fall colors and sign up for a volunteer vacation or donate miles so someone else can travel. You can also sign up to volunteer (they even have volunteers signing up remotely from around the country), or you can donate here.

Minnesota Marriage Amendment: The ballot proposal to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage is known simply as “the marriage amendment.” Minnesotans United for All Families is the main group fighting against the amendment’s passage in November. This week, Public Policy Polling indicates that 49% of Minnesotans oppose the marriage amendment and 46% support it. With a margin of error of ±4.5%, this makes it a statistical tie, which means that every last vote on election day matters. This week, they launched a “Telling the Truth” page on their web site to serve as a rapid-response resource in response to opponents’ false claims about the amendment. They’ve also launched TurboVote to make registering to vote or voting absentee easier for their supporters. Meanwhile, it has been Catholic week for the amendment’s supporters, with the Minnesota Catholic Conference bringing in Canadians to rain fear and gloom on Minnesotans with horror stories about the so-called consequences of “redefining marriage” in Canada. Oh, and they’ve also launched some kind of “Great VOTE YES Pumpkin Carving Contest,” apparently in pursuit of the under-twelve vote.

What you can do: Login with your Facebook account and starting using the new kNOw Tool to help identify “no” voters that you know, you can sign up to volunteer, or simply donate here.

Washington Referendum 74: If Referendum 74 is approved, same-sex couples will be able to marry just like everone else in Washington state. Washington United for Marriage, which is working for R74’s passage, has launched a new TV ad, featuring GOP State Sen. Maureen Walsh talking about her own marriage and why she wouldn’t want to deny that freedom to others. On the other side, former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum was in Washington for a fundraising trip against R74,  and Catholic bishops is distributing misleading Sunday Bulletins in its parishes this weekend. Washington United’s latest MarriageFactCheck response to the scare tactics and false claims raised in those bulletins. Meanwhile, it was revealed that the National Organization for Marriage has contributed $400,000 to defeat R74 and the Knights of Columbus donated $250,000.

What you can do: You create your own “Raising Millions for Marriage” page to encourage your family, freinds and neighbors to help support the fight for marriage equality, sign up for one of 50 weekly phone banks across Washington, or you can donate here.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Ashland, OR; Atlanta, GA; Bakersfield, CA; Ft. Meyers, FLJacksonville, FL; Rio de Janeiro, BrazilTucson, AZ; Winston-Salem, NC.

AIDS Walks This Weekend:  Great Wall, China (seriously!); Louisville, KY; Sacramento, CA; Tucson, AZ; Watertown, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Iris Prize Film Festival Cardiff, UK; Gay Day at Disneyland, Hong Kong, China; Chéries-Chéris Film Festival, Paris, France; Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Seattle, WA.

Matthew Shephard Died: 1998. At about 4:30 a.m., the Poudre Valley Hospital’s CEO Rulon Stacey released this medical update during a hastily called press conference at 4:30 a.m.:

At 12 midnight on Monday, October 12, Matthew Shepard’s blood pressure began to drop. We immediately notified his family who were already at the hospital. At 12:53 a.m. Matthew Shepard died, his family was at his bedside.

Matthew arrived at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, October 7, in critical condition. Matthew remained in critical condition during his entire stay at Poudre Valley Hospital. During his stay, efforts to improve his condition proved to no avail. Matthew died while on full life support measures.

Michael Sandy: 1977. He would have turned thirty-five years old today if it hadn’t been for the fact that on October 8, 2006. he was lured to a secluded Plumb Beach in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn by four others who he met in an AOL chat room. When he arrived at the beach, the four men assaulted pulled him out of his car and assaulted him. When he tried to escape, they chased him tooward a busy freeway while he tried to call for help on his cell phone. They caught up with him at a guardrail. One of them pushed him over the guard rail and into the right lane, and punched him again. He fell back into the middle lane and was struck by a sport utility vehicle. His attackers then dragged him back to the side of the road, where one of them riffled through his pockets, and fled.

Sandy was taken to Brookdale Hospital was put on a respirator. He remained on life support for five days without regaining consciousness. He died on October 13, just one day after his twenty-nineth birthday, after his family decided to remove life support.

The police investigation showed that the four selected Sandy to be robbed because he was gay, believing that a gay man would hesitate to resist or call the police. Gary Timmins, 17, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery with a hate crime enhancement. As part of his plea agreement, he testified against his friends in exchange for a four-year prison sentence. John Fox, 20, who posed as a gay man in the chat room, was found guilty of Manslaughter and First Degree Attempted Robbery, and First Degree Attempted Robbery, all as hate crimes. He was was sentenced to between 13 and 21 years in prison. Anthony Fortunato, 21, tried to avoid the hate crime enhancement by claiming he was gay himself. He was the one who initiated contact with Sandy in the Internet chat room. He was convicted of manslaughter and petty larceny, and was sentenced to 7 to 21 years. Ilya Shurov, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes. He was the one who pulled Sandy out of his car, punched him, and led the chase onto the freeway. He also went through Sandy’s pockets at the side of the freeway. Before accepting his plea deal, he had been charged with felony murder as a hate crime and was facing a life sentence. He was sentenced to 17½ years.

Before the sentences were handed down, Sandy’s father, Zeke Sandy, stood up in court and said, “These hate crimes become a cancer; it’s a disease. I don’t know why we have to go butcher one another because we don’t like what they are, who they are.” Despite the police and prosecutor’s determination that this was a hate crime, Michael Sandy’s high-profile death was not included in the FBI’s 2006 hate crimes statistics.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?


October 12th, 2012

Nepal hosts South Asia’s first gay sports tournament.

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