Posts Tagged As: Massachusetts

Twelve States File Brief Supporting Transgender Coverage Under Civil Rights Laws

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

Notes: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect.

Notes: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect. (Click to enlarge.)

Twelve states, led by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, have filed a brief in federal court supporting the Obama Administration’s policies to include non-discrimination protections for transgender students and employees under current civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender. The brief was filed in the Northern District of Texas, where Texas is the lead plaintiff on behalf of thirteen states in a lawsuit seeking to block the Obama Administration’s policies.

According to Dominic Holden at Buzzfeed:

“The bottom line is that the federal guidance at issue here threatens no imminent harm,” reads a draft of the brief provided to BuzzFeed News.

The filing is led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose brief adds that federal protections for transgender people are “strongly in the public interest.”

Ferguson elaborated on getting involved in the litigation in an interview with BuzzFeed News, explaining, “I think this case could go all the way to the Supreme Court, and I want to make sure the trial court has our perspective and the perspective of like-minded states.”

I haven’t seen a copy of the brief. Buzzfeed reports that the brief argues, “Contrary to Plaintiffs’ claims, our shared experience demonstrates that protecting the civil rights of our transgender friends, relatives, classmates, and colleagues creates no public safety threat and imposes no meaningful financial burden.”

States joining Washington’s brief are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, as well as Washington, DC. All but New Hampshire and New York cover gender identity in addition to sexual orientation under their non-discrimination laws. New York has recently extended gender identity protections under regulations implemented by the state’s Division of Human Rights, which enforces the state’s non-discrimination laws.

(Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

Twelve other states have joined Texas in its federal lawsuit, and nine others have joined a a similar lawsuit being led by Nebraska. Two lawsuits in North Carolina seek to enjoin the Obama Administration from implementing its transgender protection policies.

Two others lawsuits have been lodged against North Carolina over HB2, which prohibits municipalities from enacting local non-discrimination ordinances based on either sexual orientation or gender identity, and which requires transgender people to use the rest room based on the gender listed on their birth certificates.

On Tuesdsay, Federal District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder set a November 14 trial date to consider whether the four North Carolina lawsuits should be tried jointly or organized in a different manner. But moments ago, the ACLU, which joined with Lambda Legal to represent plaintiffs in one of those lawsuits challenging HB2 has sent out a press release saying that Judge Schroeder will hear arguments on Monday, August 1, on a motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its anti-transgender provisions.

Lots of Trans Legal News: One State Adds, One State Defends, Ten More States Sue

Jim Burroway

July 11th, 2016

NOTES: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect.

NOTES: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect.

First, let’s start with the good news: on Saturday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) signed a transgender rights bill into law. Massachusetts’s anti-discrimination law had previously protected against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in housing and employment, but there was a special carve-out for public accommodations for its gender identity provisions. This new law, which goes into effect October 1, eliminates that carve-out and allows transgender people to use the restrooms and changing facilities consistent with their gender identities rather than their identified gender at birth:

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) will adopt policies to enforce its provisions, a statement from the governor’s office said.

“No one should be discriminated against in Massachusetts because of their gender identity,” Baker said after signing the bill Friday.

“This compromise legislation extends additional protections to the commonwealth’s transgender community, and includes language to address the public safety concerns expressed by some by requiring the attorney general to issue regulations to protect against people abusing the law.”

And there’s more good news: Washington state’s comprehensive anti-discrimination laws have prohibited sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations for more than a decade with nary a problem with any of it. Last December, the state’s Human Rights Commission clarified that law by issuing new regulations ensuring access to restrooms and changing facilities according to an individual’s gender identity. That clarification produced a backlash, which led by some conservative Republicans to roll hack the regulations. When that effort failed in the state Senate, anti-LGBT campaigners filed Initiative 1515 (PDF:19KB/8 pages), which would have restricted access to public school’s “private facilities” to those who are “biologically” male or female. It would also allow people to file lawsuits against school systems that allow access to facilities based on gender identity.

The campaign backing I-1515, Just Want Privacy, had until last week to turn in 246,000 signatures that would be needed to get the initiative on the ballot. Last Thursday, campaign officials notified the Washington Secretary of State Office that they were cancelling their appointment to turn in the petitions.

Map, US, Lawsuits

But it’s not all good news for the pro-T camp. Ten more states, led by Nebraska, filed a federal lawsuit on Friday seeking to halt the Obama Administration’s trans-rights rulings to Title VII and Title IX funding and its recent to schools instructing them to develop anti-discirmination policies protecting transgender students which would include allowing them to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. According to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner:

The Nebraska-led lawsuit contains many of the same claims raised in the Texas-led lawsuit, often repeating the same exact language as appeared in the Texas complaint.

Despite naming the same defendants as in the Texas-led lawsuit, however, the Nebraska-led lawsuit appears to focus on protections relating to transgender students — asserting that students have the right under federal law to use a restroom in accordance with their gender identity. Nonetheless, it does name the Education, Justice, and Labor departments, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as defendants and asks for relief against all of those agencies’ transgender-inclusive policies.

Nebraska’s attorney general, Douglas Peterson, is joined in the suit against the Obama administration by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

The lawsuit has been assigned to be heard by U.S. District Court Judge John Gerrard, nominated to the bench by President Obama in 2012. Gerrard previously had served as a justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

With this filing, exactly half of all states are involved with federal lawsuits challenging the Obama Administrations pro-trans policies.

Massachusetts To Add Gender Identity to Public Accommodations Law

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2016

As other parts of the country wring their hands over which (if any) bathroom transgender people should use, the Massachusetts House has approved a bill to add gender identity to its public accommodations anti-discirmination law. After seven hours of acrimonious debate, the House passed the measure with a bipartisan 116-36 vote after rejecting 22 amendments. There is a slight difference between the House version and the Senate version passed last month:

The House version tasks the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the attorney general with determining how to determine gender identity and how to enforce laws against anyone “who asserts gender identity for an improper purpose.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its re-approval or, barring that, reconciliation in conference. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has said he would sign the House version.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia offer some form of anti-discrimination protection based on gender identity. Massachusetts law currently includes gender identity as part of its housing, education and employment anti-discrimination laws. This measure adds gender identity protections for public accommodations, including hotels, restaurants, theaters, and other public facilities, including the right to use the changing room and bathroom corresponding to one’s gender identity rather than anatomical sex.

MA GOP leadership supports equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 5th, 2015

Among several amicus briefs being submitted to the Supreme Court in favor of marriage equality is one circulated and signed by Republicans and other conservatives. Among the fairly broad array of politicians, party activists, significant funders (including David Koch), and political thinkers, one group stands out.

From the first state to allow same-sex marriages, Massachusetts Republicans have had the longest opportunity to observe whether any feared repercussions came to pass. And they have overwhelmingly endorsed equality. Those signing include:

Governor Charlie Baker
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito
Former Governor William Weld
Former Acting Governor Jane Swift
RNC Committeeman Ron Kaufman
Romney advisor Beth Myers
Former Senate Minority Leader Rich Tisei

Wrongfully Convicted During Child Sexual Abuse Hysteria, Bee Baran Is Finally at Peace

Jim Burroway

September 3rd, 2014

20090610_073615_bernard_baran[1]Bernard Baran died on Monday night. Known as “Bee” to his friends, he died suddenly at his home wile talking with his partner, David, and his niece, Crystal. He was forty-nine years old. The cause of death is unknown at this time. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Some thirty five years ago, Americans were riveted by the shocking allegations of child sexual abuse in the McMartin pre-school case near Los Angeles. The bizarre allegations included satanic rituals and secret tunnels under the school. Seven employees and the owners were charged with 321 counts of child abuse involving 48 children. After seven years of hysteria, charges were finally dropped against five, and Peggy McMartin Buckey and Ray Buckey were finally acquitted after a three-year-long trial and nine weeks of jury deliberation. That hysteria led to other allegations — the Little Rascals day care center in Edenton, North Carolina, the Fells Acres day care center in Malden, Massachusetts, and the Early Childhood Development Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The latter case is where Bee Baran came in. Openly gay since he came out in high school, Bee began working as a teacher’s aide in 1983. Soon after the Fells Acres case made national news, the parents of a boy in Baran’s class complained to the board of directors of ECDC, saying they “didn’t want no homo” working with their four-year-old son, who had been placed at ECDC by social workers due to the child’s abusive home environment. The parents, who were drug addicts and police informants with the Pittsfield Police’s drug control unit, complained to police, charging that Baran had molested their child that day — a day which was actually three days after they removed their child from day care.

Bee Baran, at the time of his arrest

Bee Baran, at the time of his arrest

The panic quickly spread. Another mother, herself a survivor of child sexual abuse, interrogated her daughter about Baran and elicited an accusation. Other parents panicked and the hysteria spread. Baran, then just nineteen years old, was arrested. Investigators brought in so-called “experts” who, using suggestive and leading interrogation techniques, , extracted preciselty the kind of testimony from other very young and impressionable children they were looking for. During the subsequent trial, evidence was withheld from the defense attorney while a general atmosphere of hysteria spread throughout the community and the state.

Baran and his mother were from a working-class background and had very little money for a defense attorney. They found an inexperienced lawyer who took the case for only $500. He barely reviewed the evidence or mounted much of a defense. At trial, there were no eyewitnesses, the forensic evidence was practically nonexistent, and the children’s testimony came only after extremely heavy prompting and leading questions by the prosecution.

Baran’s case differed from the other nationally-known cases in two key ways. First, unlike the other defendants, he was openly gay in a conservative community where many unquestionably assumed that gay people were child molesters. The district attorney played on those assumptions in his closing arguments, comparing Bernard to “a chocoholic in a candy store.” And secondly, unlike most of the other defendants who were eventually acquitted or saw their cases dismissed, Baran was found guilty and given three life sentences on January 30, 1985.

Baran spent the next twenty-one years in prison, caught in a terrible catch-22. If he had accepted a plea deal, he would have been a free man after just a few years. If, after conviction, he had stopped denying that he had committed the crimes he had been charged with, he may have been able to win parole. If he had said that he was a pedophile, he could have been placed in a more protective environment at the minimum security Bridgewater Treatment Center instead of the maximum security facility at Walpole State Prison. As a convicted pedophile, Baran was marked for extra abuse by other prisoners:

After Walpole, Baran was shuffled through five medium-security state prisons to ensure his safety, but the abuse did not let up. At Concord, he was beaten several times, and fellow inmates stole most of his property. At the now closed Southeastern Correctional Center, three inmates beat and gang-raped him.

The beatings intensified at Norfolk, where Baran says his eye was split open in one incident. In another, a fellow inmate slammed a metal tray on his head in the cafeteria, giving him a concussion. Baran was hospitalized both times. Despite the DOC’s standard investigations into the savage beatings, he never identified the perpetrators.

“If you snitch, you’re gonna get killed,” Baran says. “At least if you don’t tell, you get a little respect for that.” It was also at Norfolk that he twice attempted suicide.

Baran was eventually sent to Bridgewater on a bizarre technicality: because he refused to admit his crime, he was labeled a “sexually dangerous person” and eligible for treatment.

Baran is finally released from prison in 2006.

Baran is finally released from prison in 2006.

In 2002, a new legal team took Baran’s case and began submitting motions for a new trial. As part of their briefs, they identified over 300 flaws from the original trial, including prosecutorial misconduct, suggestive and leading interviewing techniques, and ineffective counsel. The state retaliated by trying to get Baran transferred out of the relative safety of Bridgewater and back into the general population, but the transfer board refused to go along. In 2006, a court finally set aside his 1984 conviction, ordered Baran released from prison and granted a new trial. The Berkshire County District Attorney appealed the decision, but the Massachusetts Appeals Courtaffirmed the lower court’s ruling in 2009. In 2010, Baran’s lawyers began suing previous attorneys for negligence and the state for prosecutorial misconduct. The state settled for $400,000 but continued to oppose moves to expunge Baran’s record. Baran and his partner bought a home in Fitchburg with the settlement money, but with his wrongful conviction still appearing on his criminal record, he continued to have trouble finding work.

You can find a full timeline of Bee Baran’s case here.

Scott Lively Qualifies for Ballot in Massachusetts Governor’s Race

Jim Burroway

August 20th, 2014

Massachusetts voters will have an interesting lineup to chose their next governor from in November:

Scott D. Lively, a Christian pastor best known for his anti-gay activity, has submitted the necessary signatures and paperwork to qualify as an independent candidate for governor. He will appear on the November ballot, according to Brian S. McNiff, a spokesman for the Massachusetts secretary of state.

Ten thousand valid signatures were needed to qualify. Two other independents will also be on the November ballot. In addition, the state primary on September 9 will select the Democratic and Republican nominees for the race.

Lively ran for governor in 2010 as a write-in candidate with the backing of the Massachusetts extremist anti-gay group MassResistance. His current campaign website looks like it was hosted on Geocities in a previous life. His running mate, Shelly Saunders (“a Black Conservative Democrat”), is a member of his church.

Lively is currently being sued in Federal District Court brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of Sexual Minorities UGanda, charging him with conspiring to commit crimes against humanity by denying the LGBT community of their rights under International Law. Lively is being sued under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

Massachusetts GOP Senate Candidate goes to Pride

Timothy Kincaid

June 19th, 2013

Next Tuesday there will be an election for US Senate in Massachusetts. This is a special election to replace Sen. John Kerry after his move to Secretary of State.

Although Massachusetts usually sends Democrats to Washington, the GOP nominee, Gabriel Gomez, is within striking distance of his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Ed Markey. And it appears that Gomez, who supports marriage equality and has endorsed ENDA, is far more in line with Massachusetts values than are most Republicans. He may even have forged new ground.

It isn’t surprising that Ed Markey, who has long been a firm supporter of the community, participated in the Boston Pride Parade this year. And it is not at all unusual for Log Cabin to have a presence at Pride Events. However, I am not able to recall any previous time in which the Republican Nominee for Senate from any state had their own booth at a Pride Festival.

Naturally, the wackadoodles over at MassResistence are all kinds of unhappy about this.

A whole new reason to support equality

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2013

I’ll admit that this is not the first thing I think of when I ponder marriage inequality. But any injustice is worth fighting. (LATimes)

A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts who supports gay marriage has asked the Federal Election Commission to determine whether gay couples have the right to make joint contributions to political candidates.

In a request for an advisory opinion Friday, attorneys for state Rep. Dan Winslow, a moderate Republican running in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, asked the commission whether gay couples could donate to his campaign with a single check, as heterosexual married couples were allowed to do.

In heterosexual families, if wifey is the breadwinner, both her and hubby can contribute to the candidate of their choice using just one income. But if wifey’s spouse is a woman, then federal election law steps in and says “you ain’t really married; you’re just skim-milk married; you can only give half as much.”

So Winslow has teamed up with Log Cabin to have DOMA questioned in an area most of us haven’t thought of. And due to his election deadline, he’s asked for expedited ruling.

And while this may seem a bit, well, non-essential, it’s actually quite important that election law not discriminate against those who support equality.

Voters Send Record Number of LGBT Pols to Washington

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

“Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin’s first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member,” Baldwin said to loud cheers and chants of “Tammy, Tammy!” from her supporters. “But I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”

Yesterday’s election was a watershed moment for LGBT equality. Not only did voters defeat attempts to deny marriage equality in four states at the ballot box, but a record number of LGBT representatives will be going to Washington to serve in Congress, including the nation’s first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin (D) from Wisconsin. With 99.6% of the vote counted, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) 1,528,941 (51.5%) to ,363,994 (45.9%).

Five other openly gay representatives have won their races for Congress. Returning to Congress are Jared Polis (D-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI). New gay members include Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Mark Pocan (D-WI). Pocan made history himself be becoming the first openly gay representative to take over a House seat from another openly gay representative when he won Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s old seat.

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (D) leads in a tight race over former Paradise Vally mayor Vernon Walker (R) to become the first openly bi member of Congress. All precincts have been reported, but there are still a number of provisional ballots to be counted, making a final call in that race impossible.

Click here to see the latest results for Congress.

Election Liveblog

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2012

2:00 EST: One more thing:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Retention Vote:
David Wiggins:
Yes (retain): 54% âˆš
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:


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

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.2% âˆš
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.


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


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

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

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

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

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% âˆš
No: 46%
51% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52% âˆš
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.

Tisei’s new ad

Timothy Kincaid

November 1st, 2012

Globe endorses Tisei

Timothy Kincaid

October 23rd, 2012

The Boston Globe, the city’s more liberal newspaper, has issued an editorial endorsing Republican Richard Tisei. Endorsing a Republican is a rare move for the Globe and the decision is based both in a familiarity and comfort with Tisei and with growing frustration over Democrat John Tierney’s increasingly difficult-to-believe protestations of innocence in his family’s illegal offshore gambling operation.

There’s longstanding evidence of Tisei’s willingness to defy his party and even public sentiment at key points; he voted against rolling back the state income tax from 5.3 percent to 5 percent because he didn’t think the state could afford to do so. He argues that, because he would be the only openly gay Republican to be elected to Congress, he would have a national profile of sorts. He would, and he should use it to press for tolerance and moderation among his fellow Republicans.

The other reason to support Tisei is to underscore the principle of accountability — to make clear that service in elected office is conditioned on leveling with the electorate, and in responding to legitimate inquiries, in a way that John Tierney has not done.

Neither his brother-in-law’s involvement in an offshore gambling operation nor the fact that his wife received significant payments for handling his brother-in-law’s money should, by itself, disqualify Tierney from further service. Yet his insistence that he knew nothing about the matter strains credulity. And his efforts to fend off inquiries into the subject — for instance, by trying to stage-manage how the issue might be discussed in debates — seem high-handed and disrespectful of voters’ legitimate concern.

Currently polls are slightly favoring Tisei and the Globe’s endorsement could carry weight. Should Tisei win, he will be the first non-incumbent Republican to be openly gay when elected to Congress.

“He Completely Lacks Empathy”: Massachusetts Gay Advocates Recall Meeting Gov. Romney

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2012

The Boston Spirit, the LGBT-centric blog for The Boston Globe,  has a post which has also appeared in The Boston Spirit magazine in which Scott Kearnan spoke with two plaintiffs in Goodridge v Dept. of Public Health, the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case which opened the way for same-sex marriages in that state. After the court victory, Julie Goodridge and several other plaintifs had a meeting with Gov. Mitt Romney, who at that time was looking for a way to  keep the Goodridge decision from taking full effect:

For about 20 frustrating minutes, say those in attendance who Boston Spirit interviewed recently, they shared their stories, pled their case, and tried to explain how equal marriage would protect them and their families. Romney sat stone-faced and almost entirely silent.

“Is there anything else?” Romney asked when they finished. With that, the meeting was over.

David Wilson, one of the plaintiffs who was at the meeting, recalled that occasionally Romney would say something, like one offhand remark: “I didn’t know you had families.” Goodridge also recalled:

“I looked him in the eye as we were leaving,” recalls Goodridge. “And I said, ‘Governor Romney, tell me — what would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?'”

His response, according to Goodridge: “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.”

Romney’s retort enraged a speechless Goodridge; he didn’t care, and by referring to her biological daughter as “adopted,” it was clear he hadn’t even been listening. By the time she was back in the hallway, she was reduced to tears.

“I really kind of lost it,” says Goodridge. “I’ve never stood before someone who had no capacity for empathy. It went behind flat affect. It was a complete lack of ability or motivation to understand other people.”

The article also talks about events leading to Romney’s decision to kill the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, his defunding of the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes, his attempts to obstruct an anti-bullying guide, and his interactions with Massachusetts gay Republicans and government employees. His literal and figural dismissal of gay people has a long history, going all the way back to his high school days.

Typical Barney Frank

Timothy Kincaid

April 30th, 2012

I don’t know why our community is so enamored of Barney Frank; he certainly doesn’t reciprocate. Frank’s two great loves are himself and the Democratic Party, and the gay community comes in a far distant third, if that.

I first became aware of Frank’s priorities in 1990 when he endorsed Democrat John Silber over Republican William Weld for governor of Massachusetts.

Silber, president of Boston University, was a vocal anti-gay activist and an enemy of equality. And the death of his eldest son from AIDS in 1994 did nothing to diminish his ire. In 2002 Silber (then Chancellor of the University) demanded that the gay-straight alliance at a high-school affiliated with BU be dissolved, accusing the group of “homosexual militancy” to promote gay sex and of, naturally, “homosexual recruitment”.

Weld, on the other hand, had an established record of being supportive on gay issues. He attributed it to being a picked-on fat kid and to having his roommate come out to him shortly out of college.

From the perspective of who would be best for the community there was no question. There was no hesitant possible maybe really they weren’t all that far apart.

Weld won (narrowly) thanks to Democrats who found Weld to be far more consistent with their social policies. They didn’t change their mind, and Weld won a second term in the heavily Democratic commonwealth by 71% – 28%.

Nor did Weld disappoint the gay community. He was quick to appoint gay people to positions of leadership, established the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and signed executive orders providing equal treatment for such things as hospital visitations and bereavement leave for gay state workers. At some point early in his administration, became convinced of the fairness of marriage equality and when the Chief Justice of the commonwealth’s supreme court (a Weld appointee) wrote the opinion legalizing same-sex marriage for the first time in our nation, Weld’s response was to announce that he’d like to officiate at the wedding of his former chief of staff. The former governor also lobbied the legislature not to seek an amendment overturning the decision or replacing it with civil unions.

In short, Weld was the advocate that the community desperately needed. But Frank endorsed the homophobe.

I say this all to note that Barney Frank is consistent. He can’t be faulted for that. He still puts party affiliation far above what is best for our community.

For example, currently Richard Tisei is running for Congress in one of Massachusett’s six districts. The openly gay Republican is not a token candidate, having served as Senate Minority Leader and as the party’s Lieutenant Governor nominee.

But regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Tisei’s politics or thinks that he would serve the interests of the district, it goes without saying that Tisei’s presence in the Republican caucus would serve in our community’s best interest. It has long been seen that having a gay person present in any legislative body or subgroup significantly shifts opinion and votes. One can oppose Tisei as a candidate without questioning whether his inclusion in the caucus would be a positive step.

Unless you’re as partisan as Barney Frank. His response to the Daily Beast:

Tisei’s candidacy, said Frank, is “of limited relevance to the LGBT effort to win equality.” He added that were the Republican to win, “it would be a setback for LGBT issues,” since “the effect would be to help perpetuate a rigid and militant anti-LGBT majority in the House.”

What a pompous partisan petty fool. He’s fine to endorse Tierney (who is not an enemy of our community) or to explain how Tierney would better serve us as representative. But to blather as though Tisei would be bad for us illustrates the contempt that Barney Frank has for you and I and how little he thinks of our intellect.

Barney Frank is retiring. And, in fairness, I’m appreciative of the times when Frank could find no advantage to selling out our community and took whatever steps were convenient for him to take on our behalf. But I will not miss him as self-appointed spokesman for my community nor will I long for the days when he encouraged our community to vote against our best interests.

Counter-Protests Overshadow Boston Tea Party Rally

Jim Burroway

April 16th, 2012

The last thing you want is for the counter-protesters’ arrests and reports of “rushing the stage” to become the main story to emerge from an anti-gay rally, as that only serves to feed the persecution complex of anti-gay extremists. The only other story to compete with that meme is that of a photo that was posted on Flickr showing a Boston police officer’s hands around a protester’s neck. Criticism of the Boston police’s handling of the Tea Party rally prompted a statement from a department spokesperson saying that they would investigate, but that due to “the aggressive nature” of the protests (the short statement used the word “aggressive” twice) the department “supports the arrests made by the officers today.” The man in the photo was reportedly not among those arrested.

According to the narrative from Boston’s primary news outlets, those appear to be the main stories behind yesterday’s Mass Tea Party Rally held on Boston Common which featured Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries an SPLC-certified hate group, and Brian Camenker of MassResistance, another certified anti-gay hate group.

Turning back to the rally itself, it’s very difficult to learn exactly what was said there. MassResistance posted a headline saying, “Mob of homosexual activists overrun & nearly shut down Boston Common Tea Party event as police look on and do nothing.” But if the The Boston Globe and local television reports are any indication, it appears that the rally was neither overrun nor “nearly shut down,” nor that the police “did nothing” amid those reports of arrests and apparent abuse. Online accounts of what Lively or Camenker said are sparse. One is from Mike Ball:

Photo by Mike Ball

Lively came on at the very end to give a benediction. Of course, given his self-righteous bent, it wasn’t a blessing at all. It was the eternal-damnation version of Deuteronomy 30. His went beyond the “I have set before you live and death; therefore choose life.” It was if you warn someone what they have to believe and they don’t do it, they’re going to hell. So there.

Some benediction, Scotto.

During his time, the counter-demonstrators kept up their yelling, calling him a murderer, in allusions to his Ugandan politicking. They did shout him down.

Photo sent to me from Matthew Murphy, who is shown holding the sign.

Ball said that turnout for the rally on Boston Common was rather small, perhaps about 100 people. About 40 more were counter-protesters. Another account, from Join The Impact MA, puts the number of counter-protests at 20, but they were joined by “100 exuberant protestors from the Occupy movement (who) charged onto the scene.” According to that account:

The din became an uproar as Lively took the microphone. In his speech, Lively blasted conservatives who would minimize the importance of social issues. Then he denounced LGBT rights activists as “fascists” who were intent on destroying civilization. Camenker met with similar pushback as he criticized the work of GLSEN for allegedly promoting homosexual recruitment of public school students—in reference to the group’s efforts to prevent anti-LGBT bullying. Lively and Camenker were loudly booed, and much of their speech-making was drowned out by Occupy chants and “mic check” counterpoint.

Not all counter-protestors joined the chanting. I (Join the Impact MA’s Don Gorton) argued that Lively and Camenker should be allowed to speak, both out of respect for freedom of expression and because they tend to discredit the opposition to LGBT equality when their extremist views are publicized. Yet the passions these two hate group leaders stir are difficult to contain. Tea Party organizers learned that giving a platform to anti-gay bigotry effectively drowns out any other message they may seek to propagate. The Boston Police kept the peace while allowing everyone an opportunity to be heard. By the time anti-government activist Carla Howell took the podium after Camenker, most of the “tea party” attendees had frittered away, the momentum of the rally dissipated.

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