Posts Tagged As: Maine
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; SÃ£o 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
April 30th, 2012
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.
April 9th, 2012
Today the opponents of equality took efforts to ensure that Maine’s gay couples will soon achieve equality. That isn’t, of course, what they intended, but – being delusional – their misguided efforts can only work to our advantage. As we noted earlier today, the rhetoric employed by the wackadoodle Paul Madore and Mike Heath can only serve to our advantage.
And here is a sampling of news coverage they’ve received about their kick-off at a college campus on Pride Week:
Boston’s more conservative paper, the Herald reports
Madore said he opposes legalizing same-sex marriage because he considers it an attack on religious liberties. He further said homosexuality represents a “culture of death” because of its links to AIDS and because it “doesn’t bring forth life.”
In a press release, Madore characterized pride week as a time when students and faculty are encouraged to be proud of “sexual deviance.”
In the AP story, the reporter’s wry observations clearly express his opinion of Madore and Heath’s credibility.
As the name implies, the goal of the No Special Rights PAC is to convince voters that allowing members of the same sex to get married amounts to “special rights,” Heath said.
“There’s no basis in nature for a right to sodomy or a right to call two men or two women who are choosing to relate to one another sexually as a marriage,” he said. “There’s no intrinsic or natural right to that. So we believe that these are special rights.”
Heath and Madore’s PAC has yet to raise any money, and the amount of funds raised will determine what it does during the campaign, Heath said.
And the Bangor Daily News reporter happily relayed the impact of the Special Rights effort.
Michael Heath and Paul Madore, the PAC’s leaders, argued that Maine voters were being intimidated to change their minds after a similar gay marriage referendum failed in 2009.
Madore said gay marriage advocates are turning to the legal system to “force people to accept the homosexual lifestyle.”
The men distributed pledges to passers-by that ask potential voters to oppose “sodomy-based marriage” in November and contribute to the political action committee.
“We intend to take the gloves off,” said Madore, adding that he expects his group will be heavily outspent by gay marriage supporters.
About an hour after the press conference, a group of UMaine students, officials and faculty stood around a flagpole on the mall and cheered and applauded as a rainbow flag was hoisted into the air.
Evan McDuff, president of UMaine’s Wilde Stein Alliance for Sexual Diversity, said he was pleased that the demonstrations and announcement from the anti-gay marriage political action committee all occurred around the same time.
“It’s always good to have discussion, right?” McDuff said with a grin.
It seems no one sent a photographer to the press event.
In 2009, Micheal Heath was sent packing by the coalition who was funding and organizing the opposition to marriage. He was considered a liability and his speech far too incendiary to be affiliated with the movement. But Heath seems to be the primary leader of the anti-marriage position this time around.
And it’s still early. It may be that the Catholic Church assigns someone with a brain to fight their battle and sends Heath packing again. But it may also be true and anti-gay power-players see this as a losing battle and have turned the cause over to the loons.
April 9th, 2012
Remember when I said that anti-gay activist Mike Heath’s return to Maine was great news for advocates of marriage equality? Heath and Paul Madore announced plans for a news conference on the campus of the University of Maine. Their press release, I presume, tells you what their message will be:
“It’s time to get serious with society on the issue of homosexuality and the practical effects that are very harmful to society that this distorted and perverted lifestyle will have. It’s time to take the gloves off,” said Paul Madore. “Good people just keep moving the line back regarding homosexuality. But not anymore.”
Madore continued, “Maine people are coming together to say ‘enough is enough.’ Marriage does not belong to homosexuals. It never has and it never will. Even if people get tired of saying no, and end up caving on the issue.”
“On that note,” said Madore, “The only reason why the number of supporters for same sex ‘marriage’ may be increasing is because people are sick and tired. Homosexuals have made people sick and tired. Homosexuals have absolutely nothing good to contribute to family life, which is what marriage is all about. A sterile union (between same sex couples) is never in need of marriage, and has nothing good to contribute to marriage or family life – absolutely nothing.”
And sure enough, Madore and Heath lived up to their promise:
The men distributed pledges to passers-by that ask potential voters to oppose “sodomy-based marriage” in November and contribute to the political action committee.
I do hope “sodomy-based marriage” remains their talking point all the way up to the election. I even hope they can get TV air-time. If they become the face of the opposition to marriage equality, they’ll end up having about as much success as Scott Lively had back in the old Measure 9 days in Oregon.
Update: It only gets better. ThinkProgress has a copy of the pledge. Items 3 and 11 are priceless:
3. Use the term “Sodomy Based Marriage” and avoid the deceptive terms “same sex or gay marriage.”
11. Pray that God will deliver our State and Country from this attack by demonic force, and that marriage between man and woman will be restored to its rightful place of honor, to the glory of Almighty God.
March 22nd, 2012
Michael Heath, an anti-gay radical and former head of the Christian Civic League of Maine, has announced that he is forming a No Special Rights PAC to oppose the November ballot proposal to re-legalize marriage equality.
This is great news. Heath is so radical and off the charts, that he was prevailed upon to resign in 2009 because he was too much of a “lightning rod” when anti-gay activists began gearing up to repeal the recently-passed marriage equality bill. He went from there to do an (ahem!) stellar job for Ron Paul’s Iowa Campaign. Under Heath’s watch, the campaign trumpeted endorsements from one pastor who wanted gay people dead, followed by another pastor who wanted gay people dead, with both endorsements proudly displayed on the campaign web site.
Heath, who once said that the Wall Street meltdown of 2008 was the result of gay marriage. In announcing the new PAC in Maine, co-founder Paul Madore said that he and Heath are ready to “take off the gloves” in the November campaign. Heath gave a preview of No Special Rights’ message:
“There’s no basis in nature for a right to sodomy or a right to call two men or two women who are choosing to relate to one another sexually as a marriage,” he said. “There’s no intrinsic or natural right to that. So we believe that these are special rights.”
Heath’s entry into the Maine campaign is best news we could hope for in Maine’s upcoming fight for marriage equality.
February 23rd, 2012
It is official. The Secretary of State has reviewed the signatures and confirms their adequacy. In November, Maine voters will decide whether that state will recognize the rights of gay citizens to be treated equally by their government in marriage.
Voting on marriage equality is not a new thing. Thirty some states have already done so and four more are likely this year. But for the first time, the vote has been initiated by gay and supportive residents. And rather than the message being “stop those gay people from having rights”, it will be a positive “please recognize my rights.”
February 1st, 2012
The first marriage news of the day is a good start.
The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has upheld the decision that the National Organization for [Catholic] Marriage must follow campaign reporting requirements. This is no surprise but it is welcome.
Of course they will not do so. And so it’s off to the Supreme Court.
August 12th, 2011
The National Organization for Marriage lost two more court cases yesterday when the First Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their bid to avoid complying with Rhode Island’s and Maine’s campaign disclosure laws. NOM had asked a federal district judge to exempt them from Rhode Island’s requirement that they disclose money they spent to support various candidates. This case involves NOM’s support for political candidates. A separate case in Maine concerning NOM’s support for a ballot question that overturned Maine’s marriage equality law in 2009 is still pending before the First Circuit Court. A lower court had upheld Maine’s financial disclosure laws concerning ballot measures.
July 1st, 2011
The respected analyst Nate Silver has a major piece at The New York Times’ blog about the prospects for marriage bans if they were brought up today on the ballot. It’s worth a read. He uses two models based on public opinion polls, and based on those models, he says that in Maine, where LGBT advocates have announced a drive to place marriage equality back on the ballot for 2012, voters are predicted to approve same-sex marriage just three years after rejecting it by about six percentage points. But it’s worth recalling that in 2009, Silver also thought the ban on same-sex marriage would fail:
When we last discussed this model, it gave Maine’s Question 1 — which reversed the State Legislature’s decision to provide for same-sex marriage — a 3-in-4 chance of being defeated. In fact, the measure won and same-sex marriage was repealed in Maine, although the results were close and within the model’s margin of error. (There’s more discussion of the Maine result here.)
He’s done a lot of tweaks to his model since then, and he now believes that Maine — and California — would have a shot at overturning their marriage bans. According to Nate’s analysis, Maine has a better prospect of overturning its ban than California does. But the one thing that his model cannot predict is the effectiveness of the two particular campaigns — the pro-equality and anti-gay sides — to shape the messages and motivate voters who are much more interested in other things. And the other thing to keep in mind, is that this is only a model. Models can only try to predict the future, about the same way your local meteorologist tries to predict the future, using very sophisticated computer models based on weather patterns. There still remains that nasty margin of error, and Silver doesn’t disclose the possible impacts of that error.
But even if the models were perfect, it’s still up to the campaigns themselves to turn those predictions into reality. And as I mentioned yesterday, it’s worth raising the questions of what kind of a campaign they intend to run this time around. I’m sure Maine’s LGBT advocates have learned quite a few lessons since 2009, but if they are relying on the perception that they’ve changed a lot of minds in their d0or-to-door grassroots campaigns since then, then I worry that we are setting ourselves up for a very expensive fall again.
Don’t get me wrong. I wholeheartedly support every LGBT American who is willing to stand up and fight for our rights. Maine has my complete support. But I think that a key part of supporting a campaign is the ask the hard questions, particularly where we’ve seen mistakes before. And the biggest mistakes we have made in the past, we’ve made repeatedly, not just in Maine.
Mistakes is a loaded word, so let me clarify further: in raising these issues, it’s not my intention to question the commitment or competence of those who ran past campaigns. They worked their hearts out, and did the best jobs they could possibly do with the information they had at that time. The mistakes that were made were not, I believe, a reflection of their competence — when those mistakes are made the first time. But if they are repeated again, then it will truly be the case that we only have ourselves to blame.
Having said that, I think the mistakes we made in the past centered on three critical questions we failed to ask.
Question 1: What do voters really care about?
Here’s the first hint: It’s not same-sex marriage. Frank Schubert, who ran the Maine’s 2009 anti-gay campaign as well as the California’s pro-Prop 8 campaign recognized that fact early on. As former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Niel famously said, all politics are local. Schubert recognized that politics aren’t just local, but personal. It hinges on the question, “How will this affect me?” Karen Ocamb’s brilliant analysis of the California campaign, which should be mandatory reading for everyone, describes very carefully how Schubert came to this conclusion:
During the Prop 8 Case Study workshop, Schubert said he, Flint and their team spent hours “looking at where people were and what we needed to do to reach them.”
What they found was that most Californians were very tolerant of same sex relationships. Schubert said:
“They didn’t see how gay marriage effected them, per se. It wasn’t their issue. It wasn’t something they cared to think about. It wasn’t something they wanted to talk about. It was an uncomfortable subject generally for them event to get their arms around.”
Karen wrote that analysis in 2009 as a warning to Maine, a warning that was not heeded. I still think her analysis is just as germane today as it was two years ago. If we really want to win these battles, we need to begin with an understanding of this important but uncomfortable truth: Nobody cares about same-sex marriage.
Yes, I exaggerate. Everyone has an opinion about same-sex marriage. But nobody cares about it in the personally imperative sense simply because it is something that just doesn’t affect them. A lot of people care about global warming, but we’re not exactly seeing hybrid and electric cars flying off the dealers’ lots or solar panels sprouting on rooftops.
When people go to the pols, we cannot expect them to base their vote on altruism. People vote on how an issue affects them personally. And until we make the issue about something they have a personal stake in rather than a relatively abstract notion of fairness and equality (both are politically meaningless concepts: even bigots think they’re fair and open-minded), we’re not going to really get their attention.
Question 2: What do voters really care about?
That question is the same as question 1. Notice a pattern here? I’m repeating it because successful elections are all about how to get a voter to be motivated by something he or she really cares about — something personal. Schubert understood that if voters didn’t care about marriage — which most of them personally don’t have a stake in — they could be made to care about something else. That something else in both California and Maine turned out to be education. And so California and in Maine, Schubert took an election about something nobody cares about (gays being allowed to marry) and made it about something that everyone cares about. Again, Karen quotes Schubert with the a-ha moment:
What the research showed was that we could not win by simply affirming traditional marriage. People said, ‘Yeah, OK – but what’s the problem here. How does this impact me?’…. This forced acceptance [by the court] that gay marriage was now mandatory was a big deal – the consequences – specifically regarding religious freedom, religious expression and teaching of gay marriage in schools – and the education consequences become the most powerful in the course of the campaign.
We bet the campaign on consequences – especially on education. Education from the beginning – while it was one of three consequences – it was the one that was the most emotionally charged and the most powerful. And I remember testing an ad in focus groups in Southern California….[One ad was} with the Wirthlin couple from Massachusetts. She’s telling the story of her son Joey – about he’s being taught how a prince can marry another prince – and he’s in second grade.
There’s an African American gentleman in this group watching the ad [who] just shakes his head. So I [told the researcher to] ask him what he meant. And the guy says, ‘I’ll tell you what, if that happened to me – I would be pissed.’
And that was the moment that we decided that the campaign would rely on education.
Nate Silver’s models are based on whether people want to ban same-sex marriage. But it asks the wrong question. If he had asked whether schools want to “teach homosexuality in the schools,” he would get a very different answer. That’s why Schubert changed the question in voters’ minds.
Now you know that the issue of education was a red herring, and I know that the issue of education was a red herring, but voters don’t know that. And the beauty of that strategy is this: false charges and fears can be implanted in a little as thirty seconds, but they have an exceptionally long shelf life. Remember Willie Horton? Those adds ran twenty three years ago! Maine voters remembered the education issue very well, but I’m sure they’ve forgotten the pro-equality’s answer to that.
Question 3: What do voters really care about?
Voters care about a lot of things. They care about jobs, taxes, the economy, education (still), foreign wars, immigration — all kinds of things. They don’t care about equality because too many of them think that we have it already through other means. And they don’t get motivated by being preached to about fairness because they think they are already fair. Campaigns aren’t opportunities to teach voters what they don’t know, but rather the time to confirm to voters what they already believe with the issues they care about. That’s why our opponents changed the topic of the election.
The case of Arizona’s Prop 107 campaign in 2006 is instructive, simply because it is the ONLY campaign in which anti-marriage forces lost. People tend to dismiss it as a fluke, but it embodies a very valuable lesson. The proposed amendment to the Arizona constitution that year would have not only barred same-sex marriage, but all other domestic partnership registries as well. LGBT advocates ran a brilliant campaign pointing out how this proposed law would affect straight people — including large numbers of senior citizens who live together but haven’t married because they don’t want to give up their social security benefits. Because they weren’t married, they relied on local domestic partnership registrations for access to local services and to be able to make medical decisions for each other. It also affected a large number of unmarried straight firefighters and police officers, whose significant others would lose access to health benefits. Because it became an issue that straight people cared about — the majority in Arizona as elsewhere — it went down in defeat. A different amendment passed in 2008; that one focused exclusively on same-sex marriage, and LGBT advocates failed to find a hook that everyone could care about. And when we fail to find a hook that everyone cares about, we will lose every time.
And by the way, this isn’t true just about LGBT politics. It’s politics in general. When people voted in 2008 for president, most of them voted based on a desire for “hope” and “change” and “Yes We Can!” on the one hand, or — okay, I can’t remember what McCain wanted us to vote about. Maybe that’s why he lost as badly as he did.
Our failure to answer these three very important questions in the past have become a costly and painful lesson. Our failure in the future to heed those lessons will leave us with no one else to blame but ourselves.
June 30th, 2011
When I wrote about the United Methodists who are up in arms in Minnesota over marriage equality, some readers thought I was mocking them. This is the farthest from the truth: I respect and admire them.
But truly, Methodists tend to be a steady bunch. Very nice people, but just not all that excitable.
But every once in a while an issue comes along that fires them up and gets them agitating for change. And when they do, change happens. Which is why I am delighted that the United Methodist marriage movement is spreading. (Although, yes, I’m amused as well.)
Inspired by the Minneapolis letter, Methodists in New England are signing on to their own letter of defiance, declaring that they too will “offer the grace of the church’s blessing to any prepared couple desiring Christian marriage.” And they got a lot more support than expected. (Portland Press Herald)
“We used the exact same statement they used in Minnesota, and we invited like-minded colleagues to sign with us” during the conference, he said.
He hoped for 12 people to stand with them. Fifty signed the statement on the first day.
That number grew to 90 by the end of the conference, and it now stands at 123, about one in nine clergy members in the New England Conference.
Now it may not seem that one in nine is significant enough to represent drastic change. But this is one in nine willing to sign a letter of defiance, expressing intent to violate the rules of the church, declaring that this issue is one of such importance that unity and formality fall secondary. In other words, this is ten percent of the church that is pissed off, fired up, and ready to love their opposition into submission.
And never ever underestimate the power of a pissed off Methodist.
April 18th, 2011
A new documentary is due to be released this summer which goes behind the scenes of Maine’s 2009 campaign to deny marriage equality for same-sex couples. Documentarians Joe Fox and James Nubile obtained permission to film both camps on the provision that the documentary not air until after the campaign was over. Now that it’s due to air later this year, a trailer for Question One has been posted online, complete with a very candid admission from Yes on 1 campaign chairman Marc Mutty:
We use a lot of hyperbole and I think that’s always dangerous,” says Mutty during a Yes on 1 strategy session, at the time on leave from his job as public affairs director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine.
“You know, we say things like ‘Teachers will be forced to (teach same-sex marriage in schools)!’ ” he continues. “Well, that’s not a completely accurate statement and we all know it isn’t, you know?”
“No,” interjects a woman off-camera. “We don’t say that.”
“Let’s look back at our ads and see what we say,” Mutty persists. “And I think we use hyperbole to the point where, you know, it’s like ‘Geez!'”
Mutty admitted that what they were doing was the equivalent of slamming people over the head with “a two-by-four with nails sticking out of it,” adding, ” it’s the only thing we’ve got — it’s the only way. That’s the way campaigns work.”
Mutty now regrets allowing the filming, worrying that “what impact it will have on my professional life remains to be seen.”
Betsy Smith, the executive director of Equality Maine, summed it all up nicely by observing that opponents’ religious motivations (McNutty was an official with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine) didn’t translate into an ethical campaign:
Still, she said, “sometimes you want to believe that at least they believed in what they were saying. You want to believe that they feel so passionately about religion and tradition that the things they put out there, they believe, are true.”
“It’s striking to hear them say ‘No, we knew all along that wasn’t true,'” Smith said. “‘We were just hitting people over the head with a two-by-four with nails because that’s the only option we had.'”
December 1st, 2010
Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:
Marriage on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:
District of Columbia
Civil Unions – a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:
Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population
Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population
Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships
In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.
Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.
November 29th, 2010
The 2010 election has changed the dynamic in a few states and presents both opportunities and challenges for supporters of marriage equality. Here are how I see the current landscape:
Hawaii – Neil Abercrombie, the newly elected governor of Hawaii, is a strong advocate for civil unions. Earlier this year the legislature overwhelmingly approved a civil unions bill and such a bill is likely to be presented again.
Illinois – it is expected that the state legislature will vote this week on a civil unions bill during a lame-duck session. There is adequate support in the Senate, but the House vote is uncertain. Should it pass, Governor Pat Quinn, a strong supporter who was just reelected, will sign the bill. This bill seems to be taking on the impression of a Catholic v. Protestant fight, with NOM and the Catholic Bishop serving as the public face in opposition to civil unions, while a great many Protestants ministers have endorsed the bill.
Minnesota – Mark Dayton holds a lead in the governor’s election over anti-gay Tom Emmer, but the election will not be determined until a recount is completed. Republicans took control of both houses of legislature, so no pro-equality bills are expected; but if Dayton is confirmed there also will be no anti-equality bills either.
The one concern might be that Republicans could try and put a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot that bans both marriage and civil unions. While that may seem like a great idea to anti-gay activists, Emmer ran a homophobic campaign designed to appeal to those who oppose marriage equality and it does not appear to have been successful. I think it likely that an anti-marriage amendment would pass, but anti-civil unions may be too much, and it is becoming increasingly more risky for anti-gays to make such assumptions. Additionally, attitudes can change dramatically in the next two years.
Meanwhile, three couples are suing the state claiming that laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitution. Today, a judge rejected the request of the Minnesota Family Counsel to intervene:
“The Council’s alleged injuries would occur solely due to its sincerely-held belief that principles rooted in its interpretations of religious texts are best for the well-being of children and families, and that marriage only between one man and one woman accords with these principles,” wrote Minnesota Fourth District Court Judge Mary S. DuFrense (PDF). “The Court certainly understands that the Council feels strongly about the social issue of same-sex marriage. Strong feelings, however, do not establish a legal interest in a lawsuit.”
Iowa – after three Supreme Court Justices were denied confirmation, anti-gay activists were celebrating. But as the Senate majority leader has committed to blocking any changes to the Iowa constitution, it is unlikely that marriage will be reversed.
New Hampshire – NOM is crowing that anti-marriage activists have taken over both houses. However, my analysis suggests that any reversal of marriage equality is unlikely. While Republicans took a veto-proof majority, a significant number have already voted against any repeal of the law.
Maine – Republican Paul LePage was elected governor, effectively eliminating any forward movement on marriage equality. However LePage supports the current domestic partnership laws so things will remain status quo for a while.
New York – this one is a big question mark. Incoming Governor Cuomo has promised to get marriage legalized. And after the last vote, state legislators have discovered that “things as they are” may well be the most dangerous position to hold; gay activists refused to play the “any Democrat is better than a Republican” game and set their sites on defeating anti-marriage votes.
Going by last year’s vote count, the current best case scenario is that we are three votes shy of what we need (there are still some undecided elections). However, this time our side is taking to the airwaves to drum up public support, and polls show that New Yorkers support marriage equality. What was a party-line vote last year may well be viewed this year in terms of tolerance and New York values and there may be an entirely different dynamic.
Rhode Island – Former-Republican Lincoln Chafee, who ran as an Independent, beat both the Democrat and the Republican candidates to take governor of the tiny state. And one of his first actions was to inform NOM that their opinion on marriage was not of any value to him. Rhode Islanders support marriage equality, and with Chafee’s backing there is a good chance that RI will be the next marriage state.
Maryland – another contender for next marriage state, Maryland did not suffer party reversal. A plurality of voter support marriage equality, and gay State Sen. Richard Madaleno is guardedly optimistic that marriage will be voted in, perhaps as early as January.
His optimism stems from a number of developments on Election Day 2010, some of which ran absolutely counter to national trends. In the Maryland Senate, Democrats actually expanded their majority to a 35-12 advantage over Republicans. And some Democrats who lost their seats did so in primary fights with more progressive challengers, many of whom vowed to be even stronger champions for marriage equality.
And, of course, all of the above could be impacted by Perry v. Schwarzenegger should the courts find that marriage laws which restrict gay people from participation are contrary to the Due Process or Equal Protections clauses of the 14th Amendement.
August 19th, 2010
The National Organization for Marriage spent about 1.8 million dollars in Maine in 2009 to successfully support a referendum to block same-sex marriage. But in the process they refused to comply with Maine’s election laws about disclosure of expenditures and donors.
As part of their strategy, NOM sued the state in Federal court, claiming that campaign laws unconstitutionally burdened them and threatened their First Amendment rights to free speech. While this was not specifically tied to the Referendum 1 issue, but rather to NOM’s desire to anonymously fund campaign ads for or against specific candidates, it was their best chance at beating disclosure.
In this suit, they challenged:
* the definition of a Political Action Committee (PAC)
* independent expenditure requirements
* disclosure requirements.
Today District Judge Brock Hornby released his ruling. And – as some news sources are reporting – he agreed that the law is overly broad. But those areas of agreement with NOM were inconsequential to the conclusion: they must report the names of their donors.
Specifically, the judge found that within the language “for the purpose of promoting, defeating or influencing in any way the nomination or election of any candidate to political office”, the words “influencing in any way” were too broad and must be considered stricken from the language. But there is no ambiguity about NOM’s participation so this revision does not in any way impact NOM’s disclosure requirement.
The judge also struck down a requirement that any expenditure of $250 at any time must be disclosed within 24 hours as being unreasonably burdensome. But, again, this has no impact on NOM.
The judge recommended that the legislature tweak the law to adjust for those minor findings. (NPBN)
Anne Luther of the group Maine Citizens for Clean Elections is pleased with the court’s ruling.
“Our first reading of it is that this is 95 percent a vindication of Maine’s PAC reporting laws; that this is by and large upholding our reporting and disclosure laws. It’s entirely constitutional,” Luther says. “The judge carved out two very, very narrow exceptions, one of which may be able to be handled very easily by additional rule-making but these are very very narrow exceptions that leave the vast majority of our PAC reporting for this election coming up entirely intact.”
This is but one more victory leading up to the day that NOM is forced to disclose exactly on whose behalf they are a front. Current speculation is either the Mormon Church or the Catholic Church, but it could be any of several other wealthy but secretive sources.
But this ruling did disclose some information. For example, while they did have about 35,000 “members” last year, the dues from such membership only raised about $350,000, or around $10 each and there are not that many more contributions from small donors. NOM has a budget of about 13 million dollars for 2010. And about 90% of these funds will come in the form of large donors.
NOM is not a grass root organization.
July 14th, 2010
NOM’s Bus of Animus has rolled into Augusta, ME. And
thousands hundreds a hand full of people came out to greet them and support their wackadoodlery. (WCSH)
The National Organization for Marriage, a group which helped local efforts to overturn Maine’s law, made Augusta its first stop on a 20-city tour, targeting areas where it feels traditional marriage is under attack. Brian Brown, the organization’s executive director, told his crowd of about 50 people that court cases in Massachusetts and in California affect the marriage issue across the country.
Across town, a counter protest pulled in about 150 folks with the Governor making a surprise appearance. (Maine Watch Dog)
Should NOM be as successful in ever stop as they were with the launch of their 29 city tour, they have the potential to reach up to 1,000 people and change
hundreds of dozens of no minds.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.