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Posts for May, 2014

Maine committee recommends fining NOM

Timothy Kincaid

May 19th, 2014

From the Bangor Daily News

Maine ethics investigators are recommending more than $50,000 in fines for a national anti-gay-marriage organization for failing to register and disclose its activities in Maine’s 2009 same-sex marriage referendum.

That year, an effort to legalize same-sex marriage — approved by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. John Baldacci — was repealed at the ballot box with 53 percent of the vote.

National Organization for Marriage was the largest contributor to the ’09 anti-gay-marriage campaign, and dumped roughly $2 million into the state. That money was integral in defeating the fledgling marriage equality law.

The Ethics Commission will decide later this month whether to accept the recommendation of the reviewers and to assess the fine.

Is Arizona a Turning Point?

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2014

It would appear that the outcry over Arizona’s license-to-discriminate bill that was finally vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer last night may have reached something of a high water mark. Major companies, business group, professional organizations, and major league sports all came out with strong statements denouncing the bill in the moments leading up to Brewer’s veto. Typical was this one from Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:

SB 1062 would serve to create an environment where consumers would not know how they would be treated – or whether they would even be served – when they patronize a business. This bill goes against the rule that every great business subscribes to, which is that the customer is always right. It will not only be bad for customers, but also bad for local business in the state. I also believe that it would be in consumers’ interests to be made aware of businesses within the state that did engage in discriminatory behavior. Since early 2010, Yelp has hired over 650 employees in Arizona. Over the next few years, we hope to hire hundreds more. It would be unconscionable for the state to encourage discrimination against any of them.

Arizona joins three other states in putting an end to their license-to-discriminate bills in just the past twenty-four hours:

  • Sponsors of Ohio’s license-to-discriminate bill withdrew their support yesterday. Moments later, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced that the bill was dead.
  •  The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late yesterday voted to strike almost all of the provisions of their license-to-discriminate bill, leaving only a provision adding “In God We Trust” to the state seal. This move came after the state Senate gave its unanimous approval in January.
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced yesterday that he will veto a proposed license-to-discriminate bill if it reaches his desk. Earlier that day, he had refused to address the question during an interview on MSNBC.

Over the past several weeks, license-to-discriminate bills have been defeated or withdrawn in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee, and Utah. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Similar bills are still working their way through Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Georgia, where Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has announced its opposition. The Idaho bill was returned to a House committee last week, with the sponsor saying he wants to “find the right language.” In addition, there’s a push to put a similar measure on the ballot in Oregon in November.

 

Maine Says No To Discrimination, Arizona (Naturally) Says Yes

Jim Burroway

February 20th, 2014

In a mostly party-line 89-52 vote, the Maine House defeated a bill that would have created a special exemption for those who wish to claim a right to discrimination based on religious beliefs.

While the exemption was supposedly aimed at allowing discrimination against LGBT people and same-sex couples, the bill itself did not provide such narrow grounds for claiming an exemption. Instead, the bill sought to exempt anyone from anti-discrimination laws or any other law or regulation if it would “Constrain or inhibit conduct or expression mandated by a person’s sincerely held religious tenet or belief.” That would include any kind of act, whether its discrimination against a gay couple or an African-American family or a single woman. Two Democrats, Rep Stan Short (Pittsfield) and Steve Stanley (Medway) voted for the measure. Five Republicans — Reps. Michael G. Beaulieu (Auburn), Richards Campbell (Orrington), Aaron Libby (Waterboro), Sharri MacDonald (Old Orchard Beach), Joyce Maker (Calais) — voted to kill the bill.

While Maine’s lawmakers showed their sanity in turning down the bill, Arizona’s lawmakers are working diligently to preserve their state’s reputation for being among the most hostile and retrograde in the nation. House Bill 2153 would provide a similarly broad exemption for religious people by allowing them to “act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” As Dan Savage describes it in a post titled “It Could Soon Be Legal For Satanists to Discriminate Against Christians in Arizona“:

That’s not the law’s intent, of course. Arizona’s proposed new law, like the ones in Kansas and Idaho, is about legalizing discrimination against gays and lesbians. But in an effort to hide the anti-gay prejudice behind their “religious liberty” bill, Arizona lawmakers have worded it so vaguely that it empowers anyone of any faith to discriminate against anyone for any reason—provided, of course, that the person doing the discriminating remembers to cite their sincerely held religious beliefs as a justification.

It also adds a new element of discrimination into the law: atheists would have no grounds to claim protection for refusing to serve gay people in a restaurant or rent to Latinos or hire Jews. This law and others like it carve out a special privilege available to religious people only.

An identical bill sailed through Arizona’s Senate last Wednesday in a 17-13 party-line vote. And true to form, the Arizona House passed the measure in another 33-27 vote. Republicans Rep. Kate Broohy McGee (Phoenix), Heather Carter (Cave Creek), and Ethan Orr (Tucson) voted no.  It will now land on Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk by nightfall.

Mother Jones reports that these rash of bills are hitting state legislatures in rapid succession:

Republicans lawmakers and a network of conservative religious groups has been pushing similar bills in other states, essentially forging a national campaign that, critics say, would legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Republicans in Idaho, Oregon, South Dakota, and Tennessee recently introduced provisions that mimic the Kansas legislation. And Arizona, Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Mississippi have introduced broader “religious freedom” bills with a unique provision that would also allow people to deny services or employment to LGBT Americans, legal experts say.

The Arizona and Idaho bills were brought forward by state policy organizations associated with CitizenLink, a Focus On the Family affiliate. Others, like the Kansas bill, were crafted by the American Religious Freedom Program, which is part of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The sponsor of the Tennessee bill withdrew it yesterday, while lawmakers in Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota turned back measure in their states. This came on the same day that the Kansas Senate president announced that her chamber would not consider a discrimination exemption bill that had passed the House earlier. The Kansas version was perhaps the broadest bill of all, as it would have covered all government employees including first responders.

Maine Gov. Candidate, Rep. Mike Michaud Comes Out

Jim Burroway

November 4th, 2013

In an op-ed that ran simultaneously this morning in the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press HeraldCongressman Mike Michaud (D-ME), who has announced his candidacy for Governor against the Tea Party incumbent Paul LePage, has made a major announcement:

Once I jumped to an early lead in the polls, I knew it was only a matter of time before individuals and organizations intent on re-creating the uncertainty that led to our current governor’s election three years ago would start their attacks. Already my opponents have tried to blatantly distort my support for a woman’s right to choose and my tireless commitment to our nation’s veterans.

So I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay.

Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes, I am. But why should it matter?”

That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation millworker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.

Michaud has represented Maine’s Second Congressional district since 2002. Last August, he announced that he would leave his seat to run for governor. This announcement makes Michaud the eighth openly gay or bisexual member of Congress: seven in the house and one in the Senate. If he is successful in his bid for Maine’s governorship, he will become the first openly gay governor in the U.S.

Anti-Gay Extremist Vows “Sexual Orientation Registry” of Maine Politicians and Staffers

Jim Burroway

July 18th, 2013

Teabag party favorite Gov. Paul LePage (R) of Maine has let his mouth fly again, and now the roosters are coming home to roost. Last month, LePage unleashed yet another round of controversy during a local television interview by saying that a Democratic state senator, Troy Jackson of Aroostook, who is trying to overturn LePage’s veto of the state budget, had a “black heart” and “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.” Lawmakers and Mainers denounced LePage’s comments as “vulgar,” and even a few fellow Republicans offered what the Bangor Daily News called “mild criticism” of the Governor’s comments.

LePage issued a half-hearted “apology” — along the lines of “if you were offended then I apologize,” although he pointedly didn’t apologize to Jackson, only to his constituents. And with that, the Governor’s office had hoped that they had exerted the absolute minimum amount of effort to put the controversy behind them. But now, the state’s most wing-nuttiest anti-gay extremist to come to LePage’s defense. Michael Heath — you may remember his unsuccessful 2012 campaign against what he called “sodomy-based marriage” — and his buddy Paul Madore, leapt to LePage’s defense and put the controversy back onto front page news yesterday:

“Gov. Paul LePage was in good company using an allusion to sodomy to condemn expensive, big-government solutions to the challenges confronting Maine people,” said Heath to reporters and about a dozen members of the public. “Those condemned by the governor’s remark are the very same leaders who are promoting sodomy in our schools. This fact makes his allusion even more powerful. He used figurative language to reveal a profound truth about our current situation. Maine is being sodomized by the left, especially our impressionable and innocent children.”

…He was angry and he spoke out very emotionally and like a man and I loved it,” said Heath. “It felt like thunder and lightning to me. It’s so refreshing in this age of insanity when it comes to sexuality to hear someone in public life use sodomy, gay, homosexual — pick your word — in the proper context. It’s negative. … What’s good is sexuality in marriage and what is linked to having children and grandchildren. Civilization has survived because we reward that behavior and discourage the other behavior.”

LePage’s office sought to distance themselves from Heath, but Heath won’t let go of the spotlight. this morning, Heath issued an email to his followers threatening to institute a “sexual orientation registry”:

It’s Time for the “Sexual Orientation” Registry

In 2004 I threatened to publish the sexual orientation of politicians and their staff. The Left went apoplectic. In the devilish agony of the moment I apologized. My board put me on paid leave for a month. On the day I returned to work the state’s capitol city newspaper published a glowing tribute to Maine’s most influential homosexuality advocate.

A year later, after spending another million or two — or three (I can’t remember) bucks to intimidate the chattering class and fool the people, they finally added “sexual orientation” to the Maine Human Rights Act. Sexual orientation is a term of art that means “the right to sodomize (read kill) everything good without even thinking that is what you are doing.” It’s a kind of demonic stupor. Think Gollum and you’re on your way to understanding.

I’m pondering whether the ten year anniversary of that original email would be a good time to begin publishing the “Sexual Orientation Registry.” That’ll be next April. I’ll go back and find the exact date. My “evil deed” was all over the news at the time so it shouldn’t be too hard to find the date.

I figure waiting until next year to start publishing will give everyone time to choose which one (or more) of the thirty or more sexual orientations they want to claim for their own. It will take some time, I think. I want to give the politicians, government employees, teachers, pastors … Maine’s chattering class … plenty of time to figure it out. I don’t want to get it wrong.

Of course, that’ll take money:

If you want to help me fight to end the Left’s sexual tyranny then please pray, and make a financial donation. I’m pleased to report God has provided a pledge of $250 a month already!

Unfortunately you don’t have many choices about where to put your hard earned money if you want to win this fight. Pray that God gives me wisdom, as well as resources, as I proceed.

In 2009, Michael Heath was forced out of the Christian Civic League because anti-gay activists feared that his extreme rhetoric would wreck their plans to ban marriage at the ballot box that year. He left, and they prevailed. Heath went on to become board chair of Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth (an SPLC-designated anti-gay hate group) and an Iowa state campaign director for Ron Paul in 2011. Heath returned to Maine in 2012 to press his crusade against “sodomy-based marriage when Mainers were asked to vote to overturn the 2009 ban on same-sex marriage. Heath lost and equality prevailed.

Maine Supremes hear NOM’s argument about why they alone don’t have to follow campaign law

Timothy Kincaid

April 11th, 2013

The State of Maine requires that campaigns disclose their contributors. The National Organization for Marriage pretends not to think that they are required to follow that law by engaging in a two step contribution process.

The campaign for banning equality in Maine was a separate organization from NOM. But NOM was their primary (almost exclusive) funder. So contributions were made to NOM and then NOM gave money to the campaign and the campaign only disclosed that NOM was it’s funder, thus keeping the identity of the Catholic Church original contributor secret.

NOM is arguing that they have no obligation to report the donors, as they were just regular ol’ contributions made for NOM’s general purpose, not targeted contributions to oppose equality in Maine. But the state isn’t buying it and the courts have ruled against NOM in every instance.

Their last ditch resistance is today, where they will make their losing argument one more time, this time to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. I anticipate that the Supreme Court will not find their duplicity any more compelling than have the lower courts or the Federal Court.

Much credit for this situation goes to Fred Karger, who filed the complaints and has consistently pushed for NOM to be transparent.

Midnight Maine Merriment

Timothy Kincaid

December 28th, 2012

December 29th is the day scheduled for the first same-sex marriage licenses to be issued in Maine. So starting at 12.01 the Portland city Clark’s office will open to allow marriages to begin.

This is a symbolic gesture of support from the city in celebration of a historic moment. It should be a joyous time.

But it also has a very pragmatic aspect. There are but a few days left in this year and it may well be that by marrying in 2012 they can take advantage of tax laws that benefit married couples. This is certain for state returns and I think likely to be the case for federal takes after SCOTUS rules on the Windsor DOMA3 case.

It’s not very romantic, but tax consequences are something that many straight couples must consider when picking a wedding date. So too must Maine’s gay couples (with much delight and a heart full of love) consider the mundane.

As for the rest of us, we will celebrate with Mainers of all stripes who now live in a freer, more equal, state.

NOM Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

Nope. Nothing historic to see here:

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), released the following statement today:

“Obviously we are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles by narrow margins. We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America. As our opponents built a huge financial advantage, the odds became even steeper. We ran strong campaigns and nearly prevailed in a very difficult environment, significantly out-performing the GOP ticket in every state.

Despite the fact that NOM was able to contribute a record amount to the campaigns (over $5.5 million), we were still heavily outspent, by a margin of at least four-to-one. We were fighting the entirety of the political establishment in most of the states, including sitting governors in three of the states who campaigned heavily for gay marriage. Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case. Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.

Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it. Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback. There is much work to do, and we begin that process now.”

From 1961 to 2012: Today’s Victories Were A Long Time Coming

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

Fifty-one years ago today, José Sarria, a drag performer at San Francisco’s famed Black Cat bar, lost his bid for election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Desite the loss, his election was historic as an openly gay candidate stood for election for the first time. Sarria earned nearly 6,000 votes, putting him in nineth place city-wide in a contest for five at-large seats. Ninth out of thirty-four, which mean that, as Sarria later recalled, “From that day on, nobody ran for anything in San Francisco without knocking on the door of the gay community.”

Fifty-one years later, the long-unimaginable happened. A president ended a ban on gays in the military, ordered his Justice Department to stop defending the DOMA, and announced his full support for the rights of everyone to marry. He was re-elected, against a candidate who was against all of those things. Five openly gay candidates for Congress won their races, and for the first time, a lesbian will sit in the Senate. In none of those races were the candidates’ sexual orientation a major issue.

And after voters in 31 states voted to add bans on same-sex marriage to their state constitutions, Minnesota voters stopped the tide and refused to write discrimination into their organizing document. But that’s not all. Voters in three states (assuming the victory in Washington holds) have gone much further than ever before. Citizens in Maine, Maryland and Washington have given their approval to allow their gay and leasbian neighbors to actually begin marrying in the next couple of months. They didn’t just say no to a permanent ban while existing laws continued to prevent gay people from marrying. They changed existing law so that those marriages can take place.

And they did that at the ballot box. Remember how our opponents always said that every time voters weighted in on marriage , they always voted to deny marriage equality? No more. I would love to be sitting in the offices at the Family “Research” Council and National Organization for Marriage right now. They have seen their era end right before their eyes. But make no mistake: they will also steadfastly refuse to acknowledge its importance.

Right now, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry. By the end of January, two and probably three more states will join them. But in the best case, less than 16% of Americans will live in states with marriage equality. Yes, that’s nearly a third higher now, but it just goes to show how far we still have to go.

It will be generations, I think, before we can win marriage equality throughout the U.S. at the ballot box. In fact, there are some states where that will never happen; it will also take some key court victories before all Americans are created equal. We will undoubtedly experience more losses and setbacks in the years ahead. But every great movement moves forward one step at a time. This was a big step, but it is only the latest one in a long line of just putting one foot in front of the other. We’ve been doing that for more than half a century. But right now it feels pretty good, now that we’re starting to get the hang of it.

Marriage Equality Wins In All Four States!

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

In the very early morning hours, vote tallies in Minnesota and Washington meant that those two states have joined Maryland and Maine in rejecting attempts by anti-gay activists to deny marriage equality to LGBT couples.

Voters in Minnesota rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, making Minnesota the first state to do so since 2006, when Arizona voters rejected a similar ban. (Arizona voters later approved a narrower ban on marriage only in 2008.) With 99% of the ballots counted, 1,504,189 (51.3%) voted against the Amendment 1 while 1,396,879 (47.6%) who voted for it. In addition, there were 31,886 (1.1%) blank ballots cast for Amendment 1. Those were ballots in which voters marked their choices for other races but left the ballot blank for Amendment 1. Because the Minnesota constitution requires that a proposed amendment pass with a majority of all ballots cast, the blank ballots are effectively count as “no” ballots.

In Washington state,the vote counting continues in the all mail-in state, but the news was also good. Referendum 74 was ahead by 985,308 (51.8%) to 917,197 (48.2%). Because a ballot must be postmarked by November 7, the vote count is likely to continue for several more days, but observers are optimistic that Washington will join Maine and Maryland in choosing marriage equality at the ballot box:

The holdup was King County, which still had tons of ballots to count. Still, with 65 percent of King County voters approving R-74 in the initial count, and that trend likely to continue through the full count, seasoned political watchers were predicting victory. “Fifty-two percent, with King County what it is—it’s still time to call Washington State for marriage equality,” said Governor Chris Gregoire.

Similarly, Matt Barreto, who runs the Washington Poll, projected that R-74 would be approved and added that he expected Jay Inslee to be the next governor. “King County delivered both,” Barreto said.

Gregoire, who had a late-career conversion on marriage equality, called her daughters up to the podium at the Westin and thanked them for changing her mind. “They told me, ‘This is the civil rights issue of this generation,'” Gregoire said. “They’re right.”

In related news, voters in Iowa rejected an attempted recall of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, who joined in the unanimous 2009 decision which found denying marriage to same-sex couples unconstitutional. Social conservatives had mounted a fierce retention vote campaign to remove Wiggins from the bench. With 83% of the vote counted, Wiggins was retained with 54% of the vote.

These results represent a colossal, historic loss for National Organization for Marriage, anti-marriage strategist Frank Schubert, and anti-gay activists generally. Even if the decision in Washington should be reversed, this day represents a historic turning point in the fight for equality. Not only did voters defeat an attempt to permanently and constitutionally bar same-sex couples from marrying, but for the first time in history voters gave their approval for the right of their LGBT neighbors to protect their families with the rights and duties of legal marriage. There will be wins and loses to come, but future generations will today as the day in which the politics of division and demonization broke down and failed to do what they had reliably been counted on to accomplish before.  We have just seen history being made before our very eyes.

By the way, NOM has been silent so far. No press releases, no blog post. Just this plaintive tweet from about 11:00 p.m. EST last night:

Here is the latest rundown for all four states:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 300,336 (53.3%) √
No: 262,820 (46.7%)
75.5% reporting.

Maine’s Secretary of State has up to 20 days to verify election results, and the governor has 10 days to do the same. After that, there is a 30 day delay before the law to goes into effect. Marriage equality will go into effect sometime between December 7, 2012 (30 days after the election) and January 6, 2013 (60 days after the election).

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 1,208,068 (52.0%) 
No: 1,112,998 (48.0%)
97.5% reporting.

Marriage equality will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 1,504,189 (51.3)%  √
Blanks: 31,892 (1.1%)
Yes: 1,396,879 (47.6%)
99.0% reporting.

There will be no change to Minnesota’s marriage law, which currently prohibits marriage between same-sex couples.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 985,308 (51.8)%  √
No: 917,197 (48.2%)
51.3% reporting.

Ballot counting will continue during regular working hours, with updated totals being posted throughout the afternoon for the next several days. If the current lead holds for Ref 74, marriage equality will go into effect on December 6, 2012.

Maine’s Question 1 Wins

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

With 46% of the precincts reporting, Maine’s Question 1, which will allow same-sex couples to marry, ha will be approved and become law according to the Associated Press. As of midnight Eastern Time, Question 1 was leading 182,516 to 152,921 (54.4-45.6%).

Election Liveblog

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2012

2:00 EST: One more thing:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Retention Vote:
David Wiggins:
Yes (retain): 54% 
No: 46%
83% reporting.

NOM is having a very bad night. A historically bad night. I’m going to bed now and I will sleep very, very soundly.

1:39 EST: President Obama is now giving his victory speech. And with that, I’m going to sign off for the night. I will provide an update with the latest results again tomorrow morning.

1:30 EST: Here is a rundown of all of the LGBT-related races I’ve been following:

BALLOT MEASURES:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.2% √
No: 45.8%
58.1% reporting.

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.2% 
No: 48.1%
96.8% reporting.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 49.2.5%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 49.2%
67.4% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.8.9%
No: 48.2%
49.9% reporting.

SENATE RACE:

Wisconsin:
Tammy Baldwin (D, openly lesbian): 51.2%
Tommy Thompson (R): 46.2.%
86.8% reporting.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES:

Arizona:
Kyrsten Sinema (D, openly bi): 47.4%
Vernon Parker (R): 46.3%
86% reporting.

California:
Mark Takano (D, openly gay): 54.4%
John Tavaglione (R): 45.6%
13% reporting.

Colorado:
Jared Polis (D, openly gay): 54.6%
Kevin Lundberg (R): 40.4%
45.3% reporting.

Massachusetts:
Richard Tisei (R, openly gay): 47.1%
John Tierney (D) 48.4%
98.3% reporting.

New York:
Sean Patrick Maloney (D, openly gay): 51.7%
Nan Hayworth (R): 48.3%
96.7% reporting.

Rhode Island:
David Cicilline (D, openly gay): 53.1%
Brendan Dohert (R): 40.7%
97.0% reporting

Wisconsin:
Mark Pocan (D, openly gay): 67.4%
Chad Lee (R): 32.6%
90.5% reporting.

12:55 EST: Gov. Mitt Romney is now giving a very classy consession speech, congratulating President Obama for his win.

12:50 EST: Here is a rundown of the ballot measures addressing same-sex marriage. Voters in two states have approved marriage equality. Voters in Washington are on their way to approving marriage equality, and Minnesota voters look poised to turn down a proposal to write a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. After voters in 30 states have written marriage equality bans into their state constitutions, we now have a remarkable turnaround in 2012. Remember this day.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54% 
No: 46%
51% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52% 
No: 48%
93% Reporting

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 48.5%
Blanks: 3.7%
Yes: 47.9%
53% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52%
No: 48%
50% reporting.

12:40 EST: Tammy Baldwin has now given her victory speech. With 79% reporting, she has defeated Gov. Tommy Thompson 51-47%, making her the first openly gay Senator in American history.

12:38 EST: Now I’m ready to call Maryland’s Question 6 a win for equality! With 92% reporting, Question 6 has passed 1,126,598 to 1,050,179 (52-48%) Maryland voters have joined those in Maine to approve marriage equality at the ballot box. I don’t know about you, but this really feels like a truly historic turning point.

12:30 EST: Colorado has now gone to Obama, bringing his lead to 290-201. There’s a lot of talk about whether Ohio was prematurely declared, but even if Ohio went red, this would still be Obama’s victory. An ugly one, especially if he doesn’t win the popular vote, but it is a win.

12:28 EST: Another gay congressman is headed to Washington. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) has defeated Rep. Nan Hayworth (R), 52%-48%.

12:15 EST: Believe it or not, Politico has had the results swapped between Question 6 and the “Illegal immigrant tuition” question all night long. For the love of god!!!  Question 6 is up, but only 52-48%, way too early to call.

12:00 EST: With 44.1% reporting in Maine, Question 1 is projected to win!

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.4%
No: 45.6%
44.1% Reporting

11:45 EST: With 81% reporting in Maryland, Question 6 is projected to win!

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
81% Reporting

11:31 EST: Remember James Hartline?

I took my Bible with me today and proudly honored God with my decisions. I refused to vote for the demonized Mormon Cultist Mitt Romney or Obama. Instead, like nearly two million other voters, I marked other and wrote in Jesus.

11:30 EST: Has Tammy Baldwin won her Senate race? Reuters called it, but right now with 53% reporting, she is only up 49-48%. She may yet win, but it looks like a lot of folks might have jumped the gun a bit.

11:23 EST: CNN has given Ohio to Obama. President Barack Obama, the most pro-gay president in American history, has been re-elected.

11:05 EST: A slew of new projections has put Obama on top 243-191. Ohio continues to lean toward Romney, but CNN is now mapping out multiple possibilities for Obama to win even without Ohio.

Here are the state marriage ballot measures. All of them are still looking good so far.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 53%
No: 47%
30% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
55% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 52%
Blanks: 3.8%
Yes: 45%
19% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:55 EST: Obama is now tied with Romney, 172-172. Ohio is leaning toward Obama, and FLorida and Virginia are very nearly tied so far. It’s going to be a long night.

10:35 EST: Great news so far in the three states with marriage on the ballot that are reporting:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 55%
No: 45%
16% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 60%
No: 40%
41% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 57%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 42%
7% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:25 EST. In Rhode Island, it looks like openly gay Rep. David Cicilline has defeated Republican challenger Brendan Doherty. With 82% reporting, Cicilline is ahead 50-44%.

In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei is trailing in his question to become the first openly gay Republican congressman. Rep. John Tierney is leading 49-47% with 58% reporting.

10:15 EST: We can celebrate Tammy Baldwin’s win now. Fox News is projecting that she will be the new fabulously openly lesbian Senator from Wisconsin. History is made!

Question 1 in Maine is now tightening. With 11% reporting, it is now up 53-47%.

10:00 EST: Mitt Romney has won his home state of Utah. But he lost New Hampshire

With 7% reporting, Question 1 is passing in Maine, 55-45%.

With 23% reporting, Question 6 is passing in Maryland, 61-39%.

With only 3% reporting, Amendment 1 is trailing in Minnesota. 61-38%, with about 1.5% of the ballots blank for the proposed amendment. Blank ballots are will be counted as no votes.

9:45 EST: CNN Projects Elizabeth Warren (D) has unseated Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts, and JOe Donnelly (D) has defeated Richard Mourdock (R) in Indiana. God’s will, you know. These are both pick-ups for Dems.

9:42 EST: NBC and Fox have given Wisconsin to Obama. CNN has finally given Pennsylvania to Obama also.

9:35 EST: The Associated Press has declared Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) the winner in her Senate race against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), making Baldwin the first openly gay Senator in U.S. history. Oops, take that back. The AP has NOT called for Baldwin.

9:20 EST: Fox called Pennsylvania for Obama. I’ll take it.

9:15 EST: Vote counts for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1 are excruciatingly slow. With 3% counted in Maine, Question 1 is trailing 4,253-5,362. In Maryland, Question 6 is passing 192,860-157,767 with only 1% of the vote counted. Obviously with vote tallies this low, it’s way to early to see any trends.

9:00 EST: Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Last polls close in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas. And with it, a whole slew of new projecitons, mostly lining up with expectations. So far, it looks like the red states are going heavily red, while the blue states are slower to come in. Right now, Romney is up 152-123.

CNN says that the Republicans will hold on to the House. Obama is getting a lot of grief for not campaigning in key House races on behalf of Democratic candidates.

8:50 EST: Alabama is red. Romney is up 82-64.

People are still in line in Florida and Virginia, even as polls have officially closed. Those who are in line will get to vote. Twitter hashtag #stayinline is now trending upward. It sure would have been nice if someone had mentioned to Florida and Virginia election officials that they were supposed to be ready for an election today.

8:30 EST: Polls just closed in Arkansas, which CNN has called for Romney. CNN has also called Tennessee as well, putting Romney ahead 73-64.

So far, only about 1% of the results are in for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1, which means that there aren’t enough results to talk about yet.

8:25 EST: In the Senate races, it looks like the Angus King, the independent candidate for Maine’s Senator to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) is headed to Washington. He hasn’t said which party he will caucus with, but most observers expect that he will caucus with the Dems. Another possible pickup for the Dems might be Joe Donnelly, who is leading Richard Mourdock by 50-44% with 30% of the votes counted. Mourdock, you may recall, got in trouble during the debate when he said that when a child is born as a result of rape, it’s God’s will.

8:16 EST: Georgia now goes to Romney, bringing the EC count to 64-56 for Obama.

8:00 EST: Polls have now closed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

CNN has called a Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for Obama, and Oklahoma for Romney. This puts Obama up 64-40 in the Electoral College, with Maine splitting its vote 3-1 for Obama. (Nebraska is the only other state that is not winner-take-all in the Electoral College.)

Virginia officially closed but:

Polls closed in Virginia at 7 p.m. ET, but with long lines at polling places around the state — and those in line still able to vote — the state is delaying counting votes so as not to unduly influence those still waiting in line. Smart move.

7:43 EST: CNN has now called South Carolina and West Virginia for Romney. Not much of a surprise. It’s now Romney, 33-3 in the electoral count.

Polls close in Maryland and Maine at 8:00. Hopefully we’ll start to get an early look at the marriage ballot measures in those states soon after.

7:30 EST: Polls have now closed in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. CNN’s exit poll has Obama up by 3 in Ohio and tied in North Carolina.

7:19 EST: CNN has called Kentucky for Romney, and Vermont for Obama, which means that Romney leads the electoral college count 8-3. And we’re off!

7:00 EST: Polls have closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. First results will probably begin within the half hour. Here are the races I’ll be watching, in addition to the presidential election and any others you think I should keep an eye out for.

Consider the comments thread for this post an open thread, which I’ll be watching for whatever tips you have. And jokes. We may need some jokes. Or videos of cute kittens. Whatever you got. You can also email them by hitting the Contact Us link on the sidebar.

Maine poll shows strong support for marriage

Timothy Kincaid

July 11th, 2012

The Portland Press Herald has conducted a poll of Maine voters to determine their position on the upcoming vote on marriage. The paper used the same language that is on the ballot:

In the upcoming November election, there will be a question on the ballot that reads: “Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?” If the election were tomorrow, how would you vote on this ballot initiative?

57% – Yes
35% – No
8% – I don’t know

Every age, sex, and education demographic supports marriage equality. The only group that does not is Republicans, who oppose the initiative 64 to 30.

I was unable to find the poll questions, but the language of the question is very neutral and absent some unknown biasing lead-up questions, I think we can reasonably assume that this is representative of the public positions of the voters. There may be some Bradley Effect and the upcoming election advertising may shift the support, but at present this is very very good news.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, June 9

Jim Burroway

June 9th, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA (Ours):
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Anchorage, AK; Athens, Greece; Birmingham, AL; Blackpool, UK; Bologna, Italy; Boston, MA; Bromsgrove, UK; Brooklyn, NY; Cheyenne, WY; Des Moines, IA; Edmunton, AB; El Paso, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Huntington, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee, WI; Olympia, WA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Prince Albert, SK; San Antonio, TX; São Paulo, Brazil; Saskatoon, SK; Split, Croatia; Spokane, WA; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Washington, DC.

Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Razzle Dazzle Dallas, Dallas, TX; Sierra Stampede Gay Rodeo, Rio Linda, CA; and Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel.

TODAY’S AGENDA (Theirs):
Maine’s “No Special Rights PAC” To Officially (Re)launch: Lewiston, ME. Yeah, I know. Conservative gadflies Michael Heath and Paul Madore already launched their “no sodomy-based marriage” outfit once before last April, but I guess nobody was paying enough attention, so they’re doing it again. Their press release reiterates their their campaign message against Maine’s upcoming ballot initiative to provide marriage equality, using language which we can only hope will become the loudest message for their side:

A hallmark of their campaigns is a willingness to be frank about both their Christian convictions, and the moral aspects of the so-called “gay” rights movement. Heath and Madore are known for their candor and directness in their public tactics, and use of rhetoric.

This is why they have decided to inject the idea of sodomy and sodomy based marriage into this campaign. For the first time in Maine a campaign will directly link the goals of the so-called “gay” movement to the evil and destructive act of sodomy.

Heath is ashamed of the fact that he stayed away from the use of that word, and especially the word “sodomite” while serving as leader of the Christian Civic League of Maine. Sodomite is used many times in the popular King James Version of the Bible to describe the practitioners of sodomy. It is a legitimate word. “We’ve allowed forces in our society aligned with soft-selling the condemnation of sex outside of marriage to dictate our tone, style and tactics,” said Heath. “Those days are over.”

Michael Heath was forced out of the Christian Civic League in 2009 because anti-gay activists thought that his extreme rhetoric would wreck their plans to ban marriage at the ballot box that year. He left, and they prevailed. But now he’s back, he’s refusing to go away, and I couldn’t be happier. Their (re)launch will take place this morning at 10:30 a.m. on the steps of Lewiston City Hall. I don’t know about you, but I hope reporters from every newspaper, radio station and television channel in the Pine Tree State shows up.

An “undesirable” discharge from the Navy, 1948 (click to enlarge).

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Newsweek on “Homosexuals in Uniform”: 1947. “Although Army regulations strictly forbade the drafting of homosexuals, scores of these inverts managed to slip through induction centers during the second world war. Between 3,000 and 4,000 were discharged for this abnormality; others were released as neuropsychiatric cases. Last week, with most of the records on homosexuals tabulated, Army medical officers, for the first time, summed up their strange story.”

That strange story, in retrospect, was that gay people came from all walks of life. But in 1947, neither the Army nor Newsweek in its June 9, 1947 story could wrap their heads around that fact. Gays on average were found to be intelligent, not particularly feminine, and “as a whole, these men were law-abiding and hard working. In spite of nervous, unstable and often hysterical temperaments they performed admirably as workers. Many tried to be good soldiers.” If gay soldiers were “nervous,” that undoubtedly came from the consequences of being found out. “Once this abnormality was detected, the man was usually evacuated by the unit doctors to a general hospital where he received psychiatric treatment while a military board decided whether or not he was reclaimable. A good number begged to be cured, but doctors usually doubted their sincerity, and recommended discharge.”

But being discharged was far from the end to these soldiers’ problems. During the first half of the war, they were brought up on court-martial, punished and dishonorably discharged. But by 1943, courts-martial were overwhelmed by the rising caseload, so the Army decided to let them go with an administrative “blue” discharge — neither honorable or dishonorable, and so named for the color of paper they were printed on. The suspiciously vague nature of blue discharges made it very difficult when these soldiers hit the job market. In an economy where nearly everyone served and the vast majority could report honorable discharges to their prospective employers, these blue discharges stood out. The Veterans Administration also routinely denied benefits to blue discharge holders, despite the law’s explicit language stating that only dishonorable discharges were grounds for denial of benefits. As of July 1, 1947, the situation was about to get worse: “Instead of leaving the service with the vague and protective ‘blue’ discharge, the homosexuals who had not been guilty of a definite office would receive an ‘undesirable’ discharge.”

Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Congress Allows Indefinite Confinement of “Sexual Psychopaths” in Washington, D.C.: 1948. The nation’s capital had experienced explosive growth through the New Deal and World War II. And in the relatively short time period, the sleepy Southern town became a major bustling East Coast city, with all of the attendant problems and anxieties which comes with rapid urban growth. Among those anxieties were worries over a declining moral environment in the growing city. In response, Congress passed and the President Harry Truman signed Public Law 615 on June 9, 1948 which provided for the indefinite interment and treatment for “sexual psychopaths” in the District. (Before D.C. was given Home Rule with an elected mayor and council in 1973, the district was ruled directly by Congress and administered by a three-person appointed commission.) “Sexual Psychopath” was defined as a:

“person, not insane, who by a course of repeated misconduct in sexual matters has evidenced such lack of power to control his sexual impulses as to be dangerous to other persons because he is likely to attack or otherwise inflict injury, loss, pain, or other evil on the objects of desire.”

The act specifically excluded rape or assault with intent to rape. Those charges were handled as normal criminal complaints. But according to this new law, the US Attorney was empowered to initiate proceedings against anyone else — even if they hadn’t been charged with a crime — to have them committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital until the superintendent “finds that he has sufficiently recovered so as not to be dangerous to other person.”

The law’s wording suggested the aim was to keep dangerous people off the streets, but the vague definition of “sexual psychopath” left the door open to all sorts of abuse. According to a paper read at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in 1950, the law’s reach naturally extended to gay men in consensual relationships. Dr. Francis Tartaglino of St. Elizabeth reported that as of March 1, 1950, twenty-four patients had been admitted to the hospital’s maximum security ward under this new law, “including 2 non-coercive homosexuals and 1 aggressive sodomist.” Nothing further was reported of the “non-coercive homosexuals.”


TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Cole Porter: 1891. American songwriters could match the sophistication, wit, and discreet naughtiness of Let’s Do It (1928), You Do Something To Me (1929), Love for Sale (1930), Anything Goes (1934), Let’s Misbehave (1937), Well Did You Evah! (1939) or Too Darn Hot (1948). That barely scratches the surface of Porter’s musical output. He was born to a wealthy family in Peru, Indiana, and after graduating from an exclusive prep school, he studied law, first at Yale (where he wrote two of Yale’s football fight songs that are still played today), then at Harvard for his graduate studies. But after finally deciding that he was more interested in music, he left Harvard Law and enrolled in Harvard’s music program. In 1917, he moved to Paris to lend his hand at the war effort, and where his luxury Paris apartment became the scene of lavish parties.

That was where he met Linda Thomas, a rich Kentucky divorced socialite who was eight years his senior. She was reportedly aware of Porters homosexuality — his affair with Ballet Russes star Borish Koncho in 1925 wasn’t much of a secret — but they both found marriage mutually advantageous. For Porter, a wife like Linda afforded a respectable heterosexual front, and for Linda, Porter’s success and growing fame only enhanced her social position. And besides, he was genuinely kind to her, which was very unlike her abusive first husband.

In 1928, Porter returned to Broadway, where he found considerable success and offers from Hollywood. The Porters moved there in 1935, but Linda didn’t appreciate Cole’s increasingly open dalliances with other men. She moved back to their home in Paris, and Porter became about as openly closeted as any other Hollywood A-gay. A severe horse riding accident in 1937, which left Porter with a permanently-crippling leg injury, brought the Porters back together, but they reconciled with an apparently renewed understanding. Linda was more than just a beard to Porter: by all accounts they were very close, at least in a spiritual or emotional sense. Yet throughout their marriage, Porter also had significant relationships with several men, including Boston socialite Howard Sturges, architect Ed Tauch (who inspired “Easy to Love”), choreographer Nelson Barclift (who inspired “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”), actor Robert Bray, and longtime companion Ray Kelly, to whose children Porter left half of his royalties when he died in 1964. (Linda preceded him in death ten years earlier.) Porter’s life was significantly de-gayed in the 2004 biopic De-Lovely: The Cole Porter Story with Kevin Kline inthe starring role. William McBrien’s 1998 biography however provides a much more complete picture of Porter’s life.

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?

Email of the Day

Jim Burroway

April 30th, 2012

The devil you know.

During my lifetime I have witnessed the descent from Playboy into the abyss of online porn. I started my ministry understanding that were Martin Luther here today he would fight the baby killers and the sodomites. He would understand the times. He would see clearly that Satan is pushing most effectively on the sexual morals of our generation. That is where the fight for righteousness is most fierce. He would not shrink from that battle, and adopt the language of the other side.

I fought to keep the (Christian Civic League of Maine) on the bleeding edge of the “gay” fight from 1994 to 2009, the year I resigned. I watched our finances remain somewhat stable year-to-year. But the leadership of the evangelical movement started to weaken, and then ultimately divide, as I continued my relentless advocacy to keep the “gay” fight as the League’s number one priority.

I felt my leadership was justified at the League until it became clear to me that the pastors had decided to follow someone else. To quote from a letter I received from a key supporter and friend just before I resigned, I “lost my momentum.”

Man didn’t put me at the League. Jesus Christ put me there. There is no doubt in my mind that he put me there to confront the sodomy movement. I am now convinced it is my fault that Maine experienced twenty years of evenly split statewide voting on sodomy.

I never should have put on the suit and blow dried my hair. I never should have tried to use my image, and the image of those around me, to win the battle. I always should have trusted God more than I did.

…The truth about the vote this November is that it isn’t a battle between nice people who happen to disagree.  It is not important that we respect the devil.  It is important that we condemn him, and those who wish to use the sexual instinct in humanity for their own ends.

Michael Heath was forced out of the Christian Civic League in 2009 because anti-gay activists thought that his extreme rhetoric would wreck their pans to ban marriage at the ballot box that year. He left, and they prevailed. Heath went on to become board chair of Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth (an SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group) and a state campaign director for Ron Paul. Heath is now back in Maine, where he vows to press his crusade against “sodomy-based marriage.” If that becomes the tag line for our opponents, then the campaign to re-legalize marriage equality this November gets way, way easier.

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