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Posts for January, 2012

The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 20

Jim Burroway

January 20th, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA (Ours):
Launch of “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry”: Washington, D.C. Freedom to Marry will hold a press conference today to announce the launch of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry during the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C. More than 75 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors from across the country have pledged to support marriage equality. The coalition is chaired by mayors Jerry Sanders of San Diego, Thomas Menino of Boston, Michael Bloomberg of New York, and U.S. Conference of Mayors President Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. The news conference takes place this morning at 10:00 a.m. EST at the Capital Hilton, 1001 16th Street NW in Washington.

TODAY’S AGENDA (Theirs):
The Lepers Among Us: Belfast, Northern Ireland. If you wanted to put on an anti-gay/ex-gay conference, what title could you give it that would be the most offensive title imaginable? “The Lepers Among Us: Homosexuality and the Life of the Church” would have to rank pretty highly in my estimation. That’s the title American author Jim Reynolds chose for his self-published book which he somehow believes is a constructive outreach to “believers who struggle with gender identity issues.” The title of his 2010 ten book on a similar subject, Why We Don’t Shoot the Wounded, is only marginally better. Marginally. But that sets the stage for a two day conference that he is putting on with the Belfast-based ex-gay program CORE Issues, which begins today at 10:00 a.m., with a separate condensed version being held again on Saturday at the Orangefield Presbyterian Church, 464 Castlereagh Rd BT5 68H.

Local LGBT advocates will be protesting the event between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. today and Saturday at the conference site. John Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, told The Belfast Telegraph, ”We have a number of issues with the event. Firstly, the name which refers to lepers. Regardless of the organizers’ intention, we consider it to be homophobic to the LGB community. And, secondly, we consider the practice of reparative therapy to use methods that are possibly dangerous.”

“The Lepers Among Us” will hold a similar conference in London on Friday, January 27 at the Emmanuel Centre, Westminster.

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?

Are Lawsuits The Best Way To Go?

Jim Burroway

May 27th, 2009

I welcomed conservative Attorney Theodore Olson’s eagerness to try to overturn Prop 8 in federal court. But when I wrote that, I only addressed the fact that even conservatives are coming around to the idea that discrimination is fundamentally un-American.

What I didn’t address was the wisdom of trying to bring about change in the courts, especially when this particular tactic has almost no chance for success. I don’t think it’s wise to proceed in the courts. Eight prominent LGBT organizations agree:

In response to the California Supreme Court decision allowing Prop 8 to stand, four LGBT legal organizations and five other leading national LGBT groups are reminding the LGBT community that ill-timed lawsuits could set the fight for marriage back. The groups released a new publication, “Why the ballot box and not the courts should be the next step on marriage in California” (PDF: 70KB/3 pages). This publication discourages people from bringing premature lawsuits based on the federal Constitution because, without more groundwork, the U.S. Supreme Court likely is not yet ready to rule that same-sex couples cannot be barred from marriage. The groups also revised “Make Change, Not Lawsuits” (PDF: 105KB/7 pages). which was released after the California Supreme Court decision ending the ban on marriage for same-sex couples in California. This publication encourages couples who have legally married to ask friends, neighbors and institutions to honor their marriages, but discourages people from bringing lawsuits. [Hyperlinks added]

I tend to agree. The problem though is this: the LGBT movement has never been a monolith. Unlike the caricature painted by our opponents, there really has never been a behind-the-scenes entity to dictate a coordinated strategy. Advancement has been a messy process, at the ballot box, in the legislatures and in the courts.

But the whole reason that we have courts is they are the ones charged with dispensing justice for those with legitimate grievances. And when someone has a legitimate grievance, it’s hard to argue that they should not exercise their constitutional right to their day in court. This true whether that grievance is against negligent employer operating an unsafe work environment, a drunk driver whose recklessness resulted in the death of a loved one, or a state with discriminatory laws.

But I do think that the LGBT advocacy groups’ advice is what we need to heed now (PDF: 70KB/3 pages):

Rather than filing premature lawsuits, we need to talk to our friends, family and neighbors, and help them understand why denial of the freedom to marry is wrong. We need to build a vigorous, aggressive campaign to overturn Prop 8 and restore the freedom to marry in California. This is the moment to convince California and America that we should have the freedom to marry.

I hope Mr. Olson will consider deploying his considerable legal talents to help us win in other ways.