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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for January, 2011

AG: Marriage recognized in New Mexico

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2011

There are a small handful of states in which there is some question as to whether same-sex marriages conducted where legal are recognized within the state. The Attorney General of New Mexico has now issued an opinion that New Mexico law affords such recognition.

QUESTION:

Are same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions valid in New Mexico?

CONCLUSION:

While we cannot predict how a New Mexico court would rule on this issue, after review of the law in this area, it is our opinion that a same-sex marriage that is valid under the laws of the country or state where it was consummated would likewise be found valid in New Mexico.

AG Gary King was elected in 2006, and won reelection in November. He is the son of Bruce King, who served three non-consecutive terms as Governor of the state, and served 12 years in the NM House of Representatives.

It will remain to be seen what the outcome will be should any same-sex New Mexican couple challenge the state for recognition, but for now we will move New Mexico into the column of “marriages recognized here.”

Meet New Mexico’s cowards and enemies of equality

Timothy Kincaid

February 4th, 2010

What do you do when you want to kill a bill and you don’t want any publicity for your action? Well, if you are a New Mexico Legislator you can use a procedural tactic.

New Mexico’s legislature meets for 30 days in even numbered years. So if you tie up a bill in committee after committee, you just run out of time. Which is what cowards and enemies of equality are seeking to do with New Mexico’s domestic partnership law. (New Mexico Independent)

Before sending the legislation on to Senate Judiciary Committee a 5-4 vote, the Senate Public Affairs Committee approved sending the 816-page bill to a third committee, the kiss of death during a 30-day session.

A bill that must go before three committees for hearings in either the House or Senate during a 30-day budget session is seen as having too much to overcome to survive the session.

The bill does have one powerful advocate in Governor, Bill Richardson (D) (LA Times).

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is pushing for a vote by all state senators on a proposal to allow domestic partnerships.

Richardson said Wednesday he doesn’t want the bill to get bottled up in a Senate committee this session. The bill has cleared one committee but needs to get through two more to reach the Senate floor.

But even with the Governor’s support, the timing is difficult.

So those who sought to hide from the needs of gay citizens and shield their cowardice and animosity behind procedure may well succeed. However, as I don’t wish to reward their efforts at scurrying into the shadows, I want to introduce you to the cowards and enemies of equality in New Mexico:

eichenbergTim Eichenberg – Democrat
Senate District 15 – Albuquerque
Vice Chair of the Public Affairs Committee

On his website Eichenberg says

People dislike politicians for their self-serving agendas, their double-speak and for not honoring their commitments.

A healthy, robust democracy is one in which legislators listen to and are beholden solely to the voters in their districts — not big campaign donors and lobbyists.

In 2009 Eichenberg voted for domestic partnerships. This year he voted to have it disappear in commmittee. I guess that just makes Eichenberg a cynical politician. This is his first term. Let’s hope it’s his last.

asbillVernon Asbill – Republican
Senate District 34 – Carlsbad

On his website he lists the issues that he believes are a priority for his constituents.

• Family Values
This is a combination of many factors, mainly the preservation of our lifestyle and culture. These values are deeply rooted and need to be nurtured, instilled in our children and passed from generation to generation.

At least you know where you stand with Asbill. His family’s values will always trump your family’s civil rights.

boitanoMark Boitano – Republican
Senate District 18 – Albuquerque

He believes that “Religious faith and practice is an essential civil right and religious groups are important advocates in a pluralistic society.”

His views also link to the Fatherhood and Marriage Leadership Institute and he is somewhat obsessed with making sure that marriages be protected, advanced and given governmental advantage and financial preferences.

kernanGay Kernan – Republican
Senate District 42 – Hobbs

Gay seems to have no online presence. But she is a consistent vote for discrimination and inequality.

She hates treating all citizens equally.

Gay Kernan wants all of the rights that New Mexico has to offer. It’s a pity she cares nothing about what other gays may want.

munozGeorge K Munoz – Democrat
Senate District 4 – Gallup

Munoz also voted against civil equality last year.

If this guy has an internet presence, I can’t find it. The only link I found to a campaign website led to an obsolete site. (Maybe he’s afraid of going on record about anything.)

I guess George Munoz is the male, Hispanic, Democratic version of Gay Kernan.

So now you know the New Mexico state senators who oppose equality but are too cowardly to do it by means of a public vote.

Sunday Driver: “Cuba Needs More Hookers”

Jim Burroway

December 6th, 2009

To get to the Four Corners region of the American Southwest, you get off the plane at Albuquerque and take US 550 toward the northwest. But you best be sure to stock up on refreshments, gas and restroom breaks before you leave the northern suburb of Bernalillo, because that’s just about the last chance you’ll get to stop until you reach the small village of Cuba, NM (pop. 590). There, you’ll have a few places to stop and eat: McDonalds, a Subway, El Bruno’s for Mexican food, and the venerable Cuban Cafe, among a few other choices. Last time through there a few months ago, I stopped for a restroom break at the combination McDonalds/Chevron station and found this scrawled in large letters on the stall door:

Cuba needs more hookersCuba’s pretty small. I suppose that Cuba could probably use more of a lot of things. But for such a small town, it struck me as being relatively self-sufficient. I guess that’s out of necessity — the nearest other town of any size at all is a ninety minute drive away.

2004-09-14 001 (Cuba)My immediate needs resolved (the restroom break, not hookers), I decided to head over to the Cuban Cafe for lunch (split pea soup, a grilled cheese sandwich and a Coke). As I ate, I read a copy of The Cuba News (published monthly) to get a lay of the land. There was a great article about the very early days of the town’s founding as a mission outpost, another “news” article that appeared to be compiled by someone scratching down disjointed notes while watching Glenn Beck on Fox News, a rant against the local police department for their vigorous enforcement of traffic laws (Cuba is a notorious speed trap), and the usual assortment of announcements for pot luck dinners, revivals, and other community events.

But as I was reading the paper and thought that I had gotten an idea of what the local landscape was like, I came across another listing that reminded me that no place could be nailed down to just a few simple images, not even a place as small as Cuba. There in the Religion announcements, amidst the Catholics, the Baptists, the Presbyterians and Assemblies of God, there were two — two! — separate announcements for Bahá’i meetings taking place around Cuba.

The Bahá’i faith, if you don’t know, was founded in nineteenth century Persia and emphasizes three principles: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the spiritual humanity of all people around the world.  Their main focus is in peace around the world, and they believe that all religions in some form or another embody the wonderment of the one God that unites us all. Those are some pretty high-minded (one might say liberal) concepts. (Update: They may be “liberal” but not so much where homosexuality is concerned. But they are decidedly unconventional nonetheless.) There are an estimated six million Bahá’is around the world, and out of the 590 people living in Cuba, there are enough Bahá’is to support not just one, but two different meetings of the faithful for worship and meditation.IMG_0054Well that reminded me of a very important lesson, one that I should have known well from my own background, but that we all have a tendency to forget no matter where we come from. Wherever you go, you hold the responsibility to see exactly what is in front of you and not your preconceived expectations of what you expect to find. Any place — even an isolated town of six hundred souls — is more complex than any snapshot or isolated image can muster.

My great-grandmother used to defend her rural Kentucky background by saying that hicks are just people who don’t know anything about the rest of the world, and that you can find hicks in some mighty fancy places. With her definition, I’ve run across a lot of hicks in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, Dallas, Boston, London — just about everywhere you can imagine, I’ve met people who thought they knew everything there was to know about middle America. I expected to find hicks in Cuba according to the more conventional meaning of the word, but it turned out that I was the one my great-grandmother would brand the hick. I can’t say whether Cuba really needs more hookers or not, but the world could probably stand a few more trips to Cuba.

Sunday Driver: Surrounded By Indians

Jim Burroway

October 25th, 2009
NavajoRes1

On the Navajo Reservation

For several weeks over the past three months, my job has taken me to the Four Corners area of New Mexico on the Navajo Indian Reservation. While there, I’ve gotten a small, tentative peak at small snippets of Navajo culture from among my co-workers, the first thing being that they don’t call themselves Navajo. Instead, they call themselves Diné, which just means “The People.” The second thing I learned — and I know this runs the danger of indulging in meaningless stereotypes — is that on the whole, the Diné are a very friendly and humorous people. I am by no  means an expert on Native American peoples, nor have I done much extensive traveling on Indian lands, but of the tribes and reservations that I have come in contact with, the Diné have a very different vibe about them. They are both proudly Diné and proudly American. The Diné language is a flourishing, living language, Diné land is breathtakingly beautiful, and all in all — to this outsider at least — there just seems to be this sense of belonging and permanence. That sense that the Diné are here, they’ve always been here, and they will be here forever.

Shiprock

The Northern Navajo Fair in Shiprock, NM

My last business trip happened to coincide with the Northern Navajo Fair, held annually in Shiprock, New Mexico. It’s sort of like a state fair for the Navajo reservation. Since Shiprock was about an hour away from where I was working, and I was going to have to work through the weekend, I decided to take a Saturday evening off and make the two-hour drive to get there. That’s one hour to get to Shiprock, and another hour in traffic through that small town to park and walk to the fairgrounds. I mentioned my plans to one of my Diné co-workers. He smiled and said, “I don’t know. You might yourself surrounded by Indians.”

I did say the Diné have a great sense of humor, didn’t I?

Dust-covered carnival rides

Dust-covered carnival rides

Well, I went and had a great time. The fair itself is much like any other state or county fair. There was a midway with rides, typical fair food of funnel cakes, sausages, and turkey legs, carnies hawking games and other merchandise, livestock and horticulture exhibits, 4H and Future Farmers of America events. And a rodeo, a staple of all fairs in the American West.

And there was dust, dust like you can’t imagine. Gather thousands of people to walk around a few acres of desert, and you will stir up a fine dust that hangs in the air like a giant tan cloud. For that weekend, the Shiprock fairgrounds were without a doubt The Dustiest Place On Earth.

Navajo Fair Rodeo

The Northern Navajo Fair Rodeo

But of course, since this was the Navajo fair, there were several differences from your typical state fair. A traditional Pow-wow was taking place in one corner of the fairgrounds, a series of Diné community singing and dancing contests were held in a central pavilion, and just off the garishly-lit midway was a more humble, dimly-lit area of traditional Diné food vendors. While their operations were considerably simpler than the flashing lights of the corndog trailers, they had at least one huge advantage over their outside competitors: The Diné vendors constructed tents or simple plywood shelters to shield their diners from the dust.

Navajo Fair, Diné food vendors

Diné food vendors. I ate at the tent on the left.

Now each the sheltered areas were typically small, large enough to hold maybe four or five folding tables, which for me presented a small problem because I was feeling conspicuously White. I felt a great deal of trepidation about going into one of those small tents by myself, a White guy interloping among several Diné families enjoying dinner. But I found one vendor which was mostly empty, and so I decided to try that one.

It turned out to be a good choice. This vendor had arranged her tables differently from the others. Her tables were arranged in a U-shape, with diners sitting on the outside of the “U” facing the center. Since I was the only one there, I sat at the bottom of the “U” and gave her my order of roast mutton in frybread and a bottle of water. Soon after I sat down, several others joined me: an elderly couple on the leg of the “U” to my left, and a family of dancers later came in and sat along the leg of the “U” to my right. When my food arrived, two middle-aged sisters sat down to my immediate left, and an elderly gentleman crowded in to my right. Before I knew it, we had a full house.

With the configuration of the tables where everyone is facing everyone else, conversation naturally came easily. And I saw right away how foolish I was to feel out of place. The lady to my left immediately struck up a conversation with me and told me about the things I should see at the fair. She also insisted that I try the Navajo Tea, a traditional tea brewed from the Greenthread herb. So while I was sipping the tea, the elderly gentleman was telling me about himself, his late wife, his son in college, and, of course, the fact that “Navajo” is what White people call them, and that they call themselves Diné. Which I already knew, but I nodded respectfully as one would do for one’s elders, and I carefully inserted the word Diné in my conversation whenever it was appropriate to do so. Meanwhile, the lady at my left explained the grand finale performance that everyone was there to see later that night.

To give you a little bit of background, the fair begins the weekend before with a nine day healing ceremony known as the Ye’ii Bi Chei Ceremony. It is a series of dances performed continuously by several groups of dancers. The Ye’ii Bi Chei culminates with a grand-finale on the last Saturday night of the fair, that very same Saturday night that I happened to there. But because the Ye’ii Bi Chei finale was scheduled to begin at 10:00 p.m. and I was looking at another two-hour drive to get back to the hotel and going to work the next day, I wasn’t able to attend. So that’s one reason why there aren’t any pictures of it. But the other, much more important reason is that photography is strictly forbidden due to the sacred nature of the ceremony.

But as I said, there was so much more to see and experience. So after everyone had finished eating and we took our leave of each other, I walked over to the central pavilion where the singing and dancing contests were being held. Those I could photograph, even though all I had on me was my cell phone. Since taking snapshots is what tourists do, I played my part. Then I pocketed my phone and just stood and watched.

Navajo Fair, Singing and Dancing contest

Now I know we’ve all heard “Indian music” in the movies. It’s typically performed as a high-pitched wail set against the beating of a drum. Diné music, in those respects, is no different — at least superficially, and my untrained ears aren’t capable of going beyond the superficial. And when this music is performed in the movies, we White folks can only take so much of it before it becomes annoying. Maybe that’s why they keep those scenes short.

But I noticed something very different as I stood at the edge of the pavilion and listened as groups and families got up to chant and drum, while others gathered to dance in a slow circle. When you hear the drums beating with you right there, they take on the characteristics of a heartbeat. Maybe not literally, and I have no idea whether that’s what they’re intended to do, but they appear as natural and essential as a beating heart, accompanying the groups as they chanted their songs.

And what amazing songs they are. Every other performance I’ve ever attended, I’ve heard what sounds like a consciously planned, written and rehearsed performance, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. And they come off as well-rehearsed — or maybe not so well-rehearsed, as the case may be. But when you go to a concert, that’s generally what you pay to see. And here too, I also witnessed what must have been carefully rehearsed performances as well — these are groups singing in perfect unison, not individuals making it up as they went along — but it didn’t sound like it.

Instead, these songs sounded as if they were not made by human effort, but were the reflection of something much larger, both inside and outside the singers. It’s like the songs welled up from the dusty ground, pushed their way through the singers’ throats, burst forth from out of their mouths and into the cool night air, and swirled up to the stars and the full moon that shined down on the fairgrounds that night. And the songs themselves don’t feel like they are confined to the moment in which they are performed. Instead, they seem to transcend time, never beginning nor ending. They remain permanent, as permanent as the Diné themselves. And all the while there is the steady beat, beat, beat, steady and strong like a heart. Like the world’s heart, giving life to the crisp autumn night, and cutting through the dust and the noise of the carnival barkers and the DJ playing Pitbull’s Calle Ocho off in the distance. It cut through all of that because the Diné are here, they’ve always been here, and they will be here forever.

I pulled my cell phone back out of my pocket and called my partner back home. “Chris,” I said, “you’ve got to hear this…”

State Marriage Equality Update

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2009

There has been a lot of movement recently in various states on the issue of recognition for same-sex couples. Here is a brief synopsis (I apologize if I missed anything):

Arkansas – on March 27, a bill was killed that would have banned cities and counties from creating domestic partner registries.

California – the State Supreme Court is deliberating on whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008.

Colorado – at least two initiative drives are underway to either change the constitution to allow for gay marriage or alternately to statutorily create civil unions. The legislature has just passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.

Connecticut – last week codified – with bipartisan support – marriage equality in the state’s laws to agree with the decision of the state Supreme Court.

Delaware – proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage defeated in the Senate in the last week in March.

Hawaii – Civil Unions bill was tied up in committee. Although the bill has a strong majority of support in the Senate, they voted not to pull it from committee.

Illinois – a bill (HB 0178) has been introduced to legalize same-sex marriage along with a bill (HB 2234) to enact Civil Unions. The marriage bill is resting in the Rules Committee but the Civil Unions bill passed out of committee in March and now faces a House vote.

Iowa – last week the Supreme Court found that the state must recognize same-sex marriage. It will go into effect on April 27. The Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House have all announced that they will oppose efforts to change the Constitution. Iowa has no initiative process so it would require a change in leadership and several years before it would be possible to revoke this right.

Maine – both a marriage bill and a civil unions bill are before the legislature. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on April 24. Gov. John Baldacci is “keeping an open mind”.

Maryland – on April 7, the State Senate upgraded benefits offered to same-sex couples in domestic partnership relationships but do not allow for official state recognition of those relationships.

Minnesota – there is a bill before the legislature to provide new marriage equality. It is unlikely to pass.

Nevada – a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed out of committee and is before the Senate.

New Hampshire – at the end of March the House passed a bill to allow for gay marriage. It will be considered by the Senate, where Democrats have a 14-9 advantage (a dozen Republicans in the House supported the bill). Governor John Lynch has not stated whether he will veto the legislation, should it pass.

New Jersey – a commission has found that civil unions are inadequate and polls have found that residents favor gay marriage but a bill before the legislature appears not to be moving.

New Mexico – in March the Senate defeated efforts to enact Domestic Partnerships.

New York – the Governor has announced that he will push for a vote in the Senate on gay marriage. Although marriage equality has passed in the House, without support from some Republicans, the votes do not appear to be there in the Senate.

Rhode Island – a gay marriage bill is unlikely to make it out of committee. A “reciprocal beneficiary agreements” bill, a darling of anti-gays who want to label gay couples as identical to roommates or cousins, has been proposed as a “compromise”.

Vermont – this week the legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass marriage equality.

Washington - a bill to upgrade the state’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and will come before the House soon.

West Virginia – last week the House of Delegates defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.

Wisconsin - the Supreme Court is being asked to review the constitutional ban on marriage. The Governor, in his budget, has proposed Domestic Partnership benefits.

Wyoming – in February the House defeated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

District of Columbia – the Council voted unanimously to recognize out of state marriages. Same-sex marriage bill expected later this year.

New Mexico Senate Votes Down Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

February 27th, 2009

nm-flag.jpgLast week we told you that a Domestic Parterships bill was advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee to a full vote of the Senate. Now the Senate has voted and rejected the bill.

All 15 Republicans voted against this effort to provide same-sex couples with limited rights, responsibilities and protections. While 17 Democrats did vote in favor of this less-than-equal proposal (for which we are appreciative), 10 more were unwilling to give gay couples anything at all. The Democrats who said no are:

Pete Campos
Carlos R. Cisneros
Timothy Jennings
Lynda Lovejoy
Richard Martinez
George Munoz
John Pinto
Bernadette Sanchez
John Arthur Smith
David Ulibari

Perhaps it is time to start thinking about primary opponents.

New Mexico Breaks Senate Committee Block on Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

February 17th, 2009

nm-flag.jpgIn January 2008 the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill to establish Domestic Partnerships. However, that bill became locked up the the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This year, supporters started with the Senate, though acknowledging that they did not supporting votes in the Judiciary this time either.

But something unusual has happened. The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to send the bill to the full Senate without either a favorable or negative recommendation. This allowed Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, D-Albuquerque, to continue to deny her support while allowing the bill to advance.

It is uncertain if the Senate will approve the bill, but Governor Bill Richardson has made it a priority.

“I feel strongly that it’s a matter of human rights and civil rights,” Richardson said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We should strongly support it and I’ll work very hard to get it done.”

Marriage Rights Predictions for 2009

Timothy Kincaid

January 2nd, 2009

2008 was an exciting year – with both highs and lows – for marriage equality. But the upcoming year is likely to be exciting as well. Here are a discussions and some projections about the direction of marriage equality in 2009.

Of course, my crystal ball is probably no better tuned into the future than yours, but here are my guesses and some states to watch.

California: In March, the California State Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether Proposition 8 is a valid amendment to the state constitution.

The relatively close margin on the vote coupled with the dominance of political positioning in opposition to the amendment will provide the court with the sort of political cover that could allow them to judge in favor of equality. Further, as the state moved from a 61.4% opposition in 2000 to a 52.3% in 2008, jurists may hesitate to uphold an initiative that can predictably be contrary to the wishes of the majority of Californians within the next few years.

Additionally, there is little threat of voter reprisal for three of the justices who ruled favorably on In Re Marriage Cases. Carlos Moreno and Kathryn Werdegar are not up for a confirmation vote until 2014 and Joyce Kennard is safe until 2018. Chief Justice Ronald George is due for confirmation in 2010, but as he is already Enemy Number One to anti-gay activists it’s unlikely that this will weigh much in his decision.

Interestingly, Ming Chin – a dissenting vote on marriage in May – may feel pressure from two fronts in his consideration of this case. Chin is up for confirmation in 2010 and it would be naïve to think that he is not aware of the political backlash and massive organization that resulted from the outcome of Proposition 8. I think he is aware that his decision, either way, will engender a movement to oppose his confirmation. Additionally, Chin, as an Asian American, may recognize that the stripping of fundamental rights – whether or not he initially supported them – from a protected minority can establish a precedent that has long legs and severe consequences.

This is difficult to call, but I think that I will cautiously predict that the CA Supreme Court finds that a fundamental right cannot be removed from a suspect class by means of a majority vote. I will go so far as to say that I would not be surprised to see a greater than 4-3 split on this issue.

Should, however, the Court rule against equality, be prepared for state-wide protests and for the creation of a political machine to collect signatures to get a reversal amendment on the ballot in 2010 as well as to deny reconfirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin.

Iowa: The state Supreme Court heard arguments this month on whether the state’s ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional. They should announce their decision at some point within the first half of the year.

Although a Midwestern agricultural state, Iowa is not necessarily conservative. And the Supreme Court has a tradition of early progressive action. The notions articulated in California’s In Re Marriages about fundamental rights and suspect class may feel comfortable to Iowa justices.

I’m not making a call on this one. But should equality prevail, there is no initiative process in Iowa. Those seeking to overturn the decision would either have to rely on a constitutional amendment occurring by means of a majority vote in two consecutive legislatures (unlikely with the current Democrat legislature) and a popular vote in 2012 at the earliest. Alternately, the citizens could vote for a constitutional convention in 2010, which is rather unlikely.

New York: This state is situated to be the first state to voluntarily select marriage equality, should it so choose. The state Assembly has already voted favorably and the Governor is supportive; the only glitch is a handful of Democratic Senators who are seeking to hold up the confirmation of the Democratic Senate Leader in order to oppose marriage equality and advance their own political profile.

I predict that ultimately Senator Smith will become the Senate Majority Leader. And I think that the shenanigans of Senator Diaz have not endeared him to Smith or many in the Democratic Caucus. No doubt some Senators would like nothing better than legalizing gay marriage and conducting the first one on the sidewalk outside Diaz’ house.

However, with Diaz and two others (at least) balking, marriage equality cannot be achieved in New York without some Republican support. Interestingly, this comes at a time when the G.O.P. in the state is seeking to shed it’s anti-gay image. Currently, Log Cabin Republicans are active in both NYC and in the Hudson Valley and several Assembly Republicans voted in favor of marriage last year. And their relationship with the Party has been improving recently.

So while Dean Skelos, incoming Senate Minority Leader, will not support the effort, opposition to the bill will not be in the form of fiery homophobia and there will not be threats of reprisals against any Republican Senators that break rank and support marriage equality.

Frankly, I don’t think that New York has the votes in the Senate. And there may be reluctance on the part of legislators and the gay community to jump before enough votes are committed. So even though the Democratic Party ran on the issue of passing marriage equality in the Senate and even though much of the change in power came from gay support, I think we should not expect marriage in New York in 2009.

One factor that may influence this, however, is the action of New York’s neighbors (see discussion below). Should a New England state move to marriage equality, that might be a bit influential and supportive. But if it looks like New Jersey will legalize marriage, state pride may push New York legislators to twist arms and get this on the books.

New Hampshire: The state has had Civil Unions for a year and already there are expressions of discontent and a move to legalize full marriage. Last week, State Rep. Jim Splaine, D-Portsmouth, submitted a bill to legalize marriage.

However, Governor John Lynch opposes this effort and even if those who voted for civil unions all favor marriage, they do not have the votes to override a veto.

I predict that this bill will not make it to the floor for a vote.

Vermont: This state has had civil unions for eight years with no discernable negative consequences. A commission reported in April 2008 that marriages would provide many tangible and intangible benefits that are not achieved through civil unions. While this came too late for action in 2008, there will be a vote in 2009 whether to legalize marriage.

Governor Jim Douglas has stated his opposition to the bill but he’s not indicated whether he would veto the legislation or allow it to become law without his signature.

My guess is that this legislation will stall, eventually pass, but be vetoed by the Governor. But a public outcry in favor of marriage could result in Douglas passively letting the bill become law.

Maine: There is a relatively below-the-radar movement to bring marriage equality to a vote in the Maine Legislature in 2009. Whether or not successful, anti-gay activists are likely to try for a constitutional amendment in 2010. I have no predictions on this.

New Jersey: New Jersey has had civil unions for two years. But a commission released this month reported that civil unions were not adequate to address the needs of gay couples and recommended that marriage be instituted. A poll in August 2008 found that over half of New Jersey residents prefer marriage equality and nearly 60% would be accepting of the decision if the legislature were to enact gay marriage, especially if the commission recommended the change.

Governor Jon Corzine responded to the report by stating that marriage should be legalized in the state “sooner rather than later”. Legislative leaders are saying that the issue is a matter of “when” and not “if” marriage equality would be legislated. They may be seeking to feel the direction of the political wind as all of the legislators and the Governor are up for election in 2009.

Working towards equality, the NY Times editorialized on the 20th that New Jersey politicians should live up to their principles.

I tentatively predict that the legislature will vote early in 2009 for marriage equality.


New Mexico
: In 2008 the Senate Judiciary Committee tabled efforts to pass a Domestic Partnership bill which had passed the state House. However, efforts may have more favorable conditions in 2009.

The New Mexico Independent is reporting that HB21/SB12, a bill to provide all the rights and responsibilities of marriage to registered partners, will be considered shortly after the legislature reconvenes in later this month. The success of this bill will depend to a great extent on Senate committee assignments.

I predict that this measure will pass and that Governor Bill Richardson will sign it into law.


Other states
: I predict that some states other than those listed above will address marriage or couple recognition. Perhaps Washington will act on marriage or a Plains State will provide a domestic partnership or other registered benefits scheme. Alternately, emboldened by Proposition 8, some anti-gays may begin efforts to pass constitutional bans in other states.

Rallies Across America

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2008

Protesters turned out is scores of cities across America to protest the unprecedented stripping of rights from gays and lesbians with the passage of California’s Proposition 8, as well as the passage of anti-marriage amendments in Arizona and Florida.

Updated:
Here is a roundup from more than 110 cities across the United States, great and small where people joined the impact. From New York City to Wailuku, Hawaii; from San Francisco to Portland, Maine; from Anchorage to Miami Beach, people everywhere stood up for equality and against the travesty of Prop 8 which summarily stripped a minority of its rights.

Note: This post is a re-creation from the one originally created on Saturday. That post ended up getting corrupted due to the multiple updates I was making through the day. Unfortunately, when the post finally went completely haywire, it took some 20 comments with it.

In Wailuku, HI:

Sandy Farmer-Wiley (left) and Jean Walker participate in a rally Saturday in Wailuku supporting gays, lesbians and transgenders in a nationwide protest against the approval of Proposition 8 in California and other anti-gay initiatives passed in the Nov. 4 general election. The Maui women, who have been together for 32 years, formally declared their commitment to each other during a service at Keawala‘i Congregational Church in Makena 15 years ago and were married in a civil union in Vermont in 2000. “Marriage is a civil right, it has nothing to do with religion,” Farmer-Wiley said. “The Bible is being used as a stick to beat us.” A total of about 45 people attended the rally in front of the State Office Building held to coincide with similar demonstrations across the country.

 

In Sandpoint, ID:

It didn’t matter that it was cold outside. The occasional negative gesture or rude comment weren’t an issue. After all, the dozen or so protesters of a recent California vote banning gay marriage, those things paled in comparison to the lack of equal rights for all. “I’m a strong supporter of equal rights for everyone,” said Dr. Bill Barker, organizer of the Sandpoint protest.

A Sagle-based psychologist, Barker said he helped many people deal with issues of sexual orientation in their families. When the call went out from Join the Impact encouraging communities to hold a day of protest of Proposition 8’s passage, Barker said he knew it was something he wanted to do in Sandpoint. Everyone in the country was asked to take a stand for equal rights

The community is blessed by its diversity, and one of its strengths is its support for others of differing views, Barker said, adding reaction to the protest was mostly positive with only a few negative comments.

 

In Los Angeles, CA:

In Los Angeles, protesters clustered near City Hall, carrying rainbow-colored flags and signs bearing messages such as “No More Mr. Nice Gay,” “Where’s My Gay Tax Break?” and “No on Hate.”

… The Los Angeles Police Department estimated that 40,000 people would attend the march, which officials expected to be peaceful.

The protests will be a key test for a loosely formed Internet-based movement that has emerged since California voters banned gay marriage last week.

In the last 11 days, advocates have used the Web to organize scattered protests at places, such as the Mormon Temple in Westwood and Sunset Junction in Silver Lake, and mount boycotts against businesses that supported Proposition 8. Those efforts snowballed, and marches against the proposition are expected in more than 300 cities across the country.

In South Lake Tahoe, CA:

At least 100 people, gay and straight, couples and partners gathered at El Dorado Beach on Saturday as part of a coast-to-coast, nationwide day of protest. …Flanked with signs that said “equal rights for all” the Tahoe gathering generated a fair share of waves and honks of support along Highway 50. There were occasional finger gestures by motorists but all-in-all the protest was successful, said organizer Janice Eastburn.

In Stillwater, OK:

More than 50 people braved the cold and wind to wave signs and cheer honking vehicles in protest of California’s recent same-sex marriage ban on Saturday at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Husband Street. The demonstration began at noon with a handful of protesters on the sidewalk in front of the county courthouse lawn, but the line of people facing Sixth Avenue grew throughout the afternoon.

In Stillwater, the mood seemed positive: the crowd, consisting of both young and old, cheered as honking vehicles drove past, including a semitrailer hauling half of a house. Melanie Page, an OSU psychology professor, brought her two sons with her to the protest. Page said she came to support equal rights. “I would hope that the community sees that the majority of people support gay rights, and for couples who love each other to marry and have legal protection,” she said. “That only strengthens America, strengthens families. It doesn’t weaken families. It’s not just gay people supporting gay people.” A number of OSU students also joined in the protest.

In Fairfield, CA:

About 75 people showed up to a Fairfield rally organized by Fairfield High School student Crystal Nievera, 16. “Not everyone voted yes on 8 (in Solano County),” said Nievera, who feared a small showing based on what her Facebook group told her. The protesters met at Fairfield City Hall and marched to Solano County Municipal Court, where they would be more visible on busy Texas Street.

The protesters — many with their children in tow — waved signs, chanted and encouraged passing motorists to honk in support. In a reflection of the youth-driven nature of the national rallies, many in the crowd were teenagers, including 18-year-old Antigone de la Cruz Montgomery VanGundy, who was with her adoptive parents Gino and Chris VanGundy, a married Fairfield couple. “I graduated high school with honors and AP classes and a 4.0 GPA,” she said. “Do not tell me my family does not have good parents.”

In San Francisco, CA:

Thousands of protesters converged upon San Francisco’s City Hall Saturday morning to speak out against California’s controversial Proposition 8.

“And sometimes it feels we felt our whole lifetime digging out the lies that other people tell about us, but the truth is this: we are a movement based on love,” said Reverend Dr. Penny Nickson who spoke during the rally.


In Burlington, VT:

“It’s shameful. It’s un-American,” said one Burlington protester. “This is a very frightening development for all of us,” added another.

A steady downpour symbolized the mood in Burlington. Same sex couples stood in solidarity holding signs while speakers stepped up to the mike to share their fears. In 2000 Vermont became the first state in the country to legalize civil unions for same sex couples. Several other states have since followed suit.

In Minneapolis, MN:

Gathering in front of a banner said “legalize love,” more than 500 gay rights activists gathered this afternoon in downtown Minneapolis as part of a nationwide series of rallies to support gay marriage.

…Reg Merrill, 63, drove 4 hours from Ft. Dodge Iowa to join the demonstration.

“It’s hard to believe that people pass laws that take away rights, “ Merrill said.

Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff highlighted a series of speakers

“From Golden Gate Park to Loring Park, we will step together until this battle is won,” Schiff said.

In Baton Rouge, LA:

As part of the national day of protest Saturday, groups in Baton Rouge rallied downtown. “What I’m hoping is a new chapter in American civil rights history,” says Kevin Serrin with Capital City Allliance. The group raised the gay pride flag and held up signs in protest of the California ban.

In San Diego, CA:

As the march in downtown San Diego to protest the passage of Proposition 8 is taking place, the crowd of participants, which initially was numbered about 2,000, has swelled. As of 11:45 a.m., police estimated the crowd at about 10,000 people. Those participating in the march now stretch about three-quarters of a mile long.

In New York, NY:

Thousands took to the streets of Lower Manhattan Saturday to protest California’s new ban on gay marriage. The rally at City Hall was just one of many scheduled around the country, including San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. The cheering crowd stretched for blocks, as demonstrators waved rainbow-colored flags and held signs and wore buttons that said ‘I do.’ By standing here today we send the message we will move over, through and beyond Prop 8,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

In Escondido, CA:

Nearly 500 opponents of Proposition 8, the widely debated initiative voters approved Nov. 4, waved signs and chanted “Repeal 8″ Saturday as they marched through the busy streets of downtown Escondido. … Spearheading the march was Jennifer Schumaker, a self-proclaimed “lesbian soccer mom” of four, who held a “No on Prop. 8″ sign in front of City Hall for eighteen days before the election. “We’re marching for equality, for progress and for future generations,” Schumaker said.

In Boston, MA:

Four to five thousand people gathered in the rain on City Hall Plaza Saturday to protest the recent vote in California which reversed that state’s legalization of gay marriage. …The Boston rally took on special significance because of Massachusetts’ distinction as the first state to legally recognize gay marriages. The show of support on City Hall Plaza included same sex couples from all over the state who have married in Massachusetts since May 2004.

In Washington, DC:

What looked like tens of thousands (it’s impossible to know for sure) turned out today for the D.C. version of the Join the Impact protest in which gays and their allies voiced disdain for Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that passed last week outlawing same-sex marriage there.

Marchers met at 1:30 p.m. today at the Capitol Reflecting Pool and marched down the National Mall, past the Washington Memorial and to the White House. The length of the marchers appeared to be at least a few miles long. Many carried signs equating Prop. 8 with hate using the numeral 8 with an “h” in front of it to spell “hate” (i.e. H8). Call-and-response chants were heard in several variations.

Intermittent rain — at one point torrential — didn’t appear to deter anyone.

In Chicago, IL:

Thousands of gay marriage advocates took to the streets of downtown Chicago today, hoping to galvanize support and pressure the courts to overturn the passage of a same-sex marriage ban in California. .. [P]rotesters gathered at Federal Plaza, carrying rainbow-colored flags and signs with messages like “Fix Marriage, Not Gays” and “Repeal Proposition 8.” Organizers said they hoped to achieve “full marriage equality” in Illinois.

In Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota:

About 200 protesters gathered Saturday afternoon on the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Fargo and Moorhead to rally for equality and against California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in the state. Josh Boschee, organizer of the F-M Protest for Love, said he was extremely pleased by the turnout. “I was going to be happy with 20 to 30 people,” Boschee said. “There’s a lot of families and allies here. It’s more than just the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”

…The local protest, along with one in Grand Forks, N.D., were among several across the country in which supporters gathered to support gay rights and marriage.

In Honolulu, HI:

Here, more than 300 people crowded the lawn near Honolulu Hale, in protest of California’s newly passed ban on same sex marriage. “We’re out for everybody and it’s equality for all,” Thomas Larabee said.

In Oakland, CA:

Thousands converged on Oakland City Hall on Saturday morning to protest against the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California and to rally for equal rights. “I think as a community and across the nation people are standing up and saying, ‘We are not going backward,’” said Molly McKay, spokeswoman for Marriage Equality USA. “We are only going forward and equality is a proud American tradition for our lives and for our families.

In Salinas and Monterrey, CA:

More than 50 opponents of Proposition 8 are marching through downtown Salinas to protest passage of the measure they say discriminates against gays and lesbians who want to marry. …Carrying signs and chanting messages against the measure, protesters are marching from Salinas City Hall to the National Steinbeck Center and back to City Hall without incident. No Salinas police officers were present as protesters marched.

Opposition is small, with just one person coming out in support of Prop. 8. Another rally against Prop 8 is happening at the Monterey City Hall.

In Portland, ME:

Saturday’s rain didn’t stop people who feel passionately about the same-sex marriage issue from heading out to Monument Square in Portland to have their voices heard. People who attended the rally say they want equal rights for same-sex couples and it’s time for Maine to legalize marriages of gay couples. One supporter held up a sign reading, “My dads are married.” She says she wants people to know that even though she was raised by a same-sex couple, she turned out just fine.

In Albany, NY:

Roughly 500 gay and lesbian individuals gathered in front of City Hall Saturday afternoon to participate in a local section of the national “Join the Impact” protest… Patrick Harkins, the organizer of the event, said that the local rally was to show that local citizens disagree with the California decision, but also that the residents of Albany want equal rights.

In Baltimore, MD:

Hundreds of people gathered outside Baltimore’s city hall to protest the passage of a ban on gay marriage in California. Mike Bernard of Baltimore, who married his partner in Canada this year, is one of several people who shared their personal stories with the crowd. He says in the long run, Proposition 8 may be a good thing for those fighting for gay marriage in the United States. He says many thought a liberal state like California would never ban gay marriage, but now they may be shocked into action.

In Sacramento, CA:

About 1,500 people were gathered across from Sacramento City Hall at Ninth and I Streets for a rally in Cesar Chavez Park. Participants carried signs and listened to speakers railing against Prop. 8.

In Witchita, KS:

A group of about 100 people gathered at Wichita City Hall this afternoon as part of a nationwide protest of California’s ban on gay marriage. … They shared the sidewalk with a small group from the Rev. Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, who were protesting the protest, but there was no conflict between the two groups.

In St. Louis, MO:

A crowd of more than 500 spilled onto the street outside the Old Courthouse this afternoon as protesters gathered to voice opposition against California’s recent ban on gay marriage. A host of activists and politicians, including Mayor Francis Slay, state Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, and Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, spoke in favor of equal rights for gay couples at the rally.

In Nashville TN:

Tennessee may be one of the nation’s most red states politically, but all the colors of the rainbow were important Nov. 15 at a gay rights rally, where more than 200 people convened for a peaceful protest outside the Nashville Metro Courthouse. …The protestors received no negative backlash from local conservative groups or passers by, but police were on hand in case an incident was to occur.

A small crowd began to assemble at noon Saturday and grew quickly as event organizers handed out “Stop the H8″ pins. A nearly equal number of GLBT people and their heterosexual allies joined forces to demand equality for all.

In Charlottesville, VA:

People stood out in the rain today to protest the ban right here in Charlottesville. Organizers say it was more of a rally than a protest. People cheered, waved signs and sang at the gathering. Their main goal they wanted to get across was that laws like Proposition 8 are not fair and people should not be judged based on sexual orientation.

“All of us here feel that it’s a civil right and that it should be granted to all citizens in the United States. Prohibiting it on the basis of same sex relationship is illegal, un-constitutional and generally just unfair,” said André Hakes, a protester.

In Palm Springs, CA:

More than 500 demonstrators turned out in Palm Springs for a nationwide rally coordinated at city halls in major cities to protest the recently passed same-sex marriage ban. Today’s event marked the third time hundreds of people in the Coachella Valley had demonstrated against Proposition 8, which overturned a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

In Denver, CO:

Hundreds of protestors turned out today in Denver against Proposition 8, a ballot measure passed by California voters that overrules a state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

… Bob Vitaletti and his partner, Joe Moore, held up a sign with a photo taken of the two in 1984 during Pride Fest held in Denver. The couple have been together for 29 years. “You can’t put civil rights up for majority rule,” Joe Moore said.

In Detroit, MI:

What do we want? EQUALITY! When do we want it? NOW! That was the chant that rang out through downtown Detroit, Michigan today as over 300 hundred dedicated protesters rallied in the freezing rain and sleet as part of the National Day of Protest.

In Philadelphia, PA:

Several thousand gay-rights advocates turned the area around City Hall into a boisterous, rainbow-colored sea today joining others across the country in a simultaneous demonstration against California’s new ban on gay marriage.

… “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Philadelphia organizer Brandi Fitzgerald, looking out at chanting, sign-waving demonstrators on Dilworth Plaza.

At one point, the crowd pressed onto 15th Street, forcing police to redirect traffic by blocking one lane. When that happened, a group of demonstrators fell in behind the flashing lights of a patrol car, and within seconds hundreds had stepped off the curb and into the street for an impromptu march.

“I didn’t know there was going to be a march,” one woman said to a friend.

“Me neither,” the other answered. “Let’s go.”

And they did. At its longest, the march stretched three-quarters of the way around City Hall.

In Louisville, KY:

Several years ago, when Jefferson County was adding civil-rights protections for gays and lesbians in a fairness ordinance, Pam Becker was among those protesting outside the county courthouse. But today, she stood across Sixth Street at City Hall to call for the right to same-sex marriage, joining about 200 mostly gay and lesbian protesters — including her 18-year-old son.

The reason for her change of heart?

“My son coming out,” said the Jeffersonville, Ind., woman. “I have to support my child. “

The protesters — part of a coordinated series of demonstrations in cities around the country — gathered on a drizzly, gusty afternoon outside City Hall.

In Madison, WI:

Early Saturday afternoon, amidst the throngs of red-clad game day Badgers fans, a river of rainbow colors wound its way up State Street to the Capitol. … Thrown together over the last week and faced with cold, windy conditions, local organizers were pleased with the estimated 500-plus supporters who turned out today in downtown Madison.

In Ithaca, NY:

Hundreds of gay marriage supporters in the Southern Tier are protesting a California referendum that banned same sex marriage last week. Those supporters of same sex marriage say they’re fighting their own battle here in New York State.

…”In New York, it’s important we have marriage equality. The state assembly has already passed a marriage equality bill. The state senate has refused to even let it come up for vote. My rights are not up for vote.” Says Jason Hungerford.

In Santa Cruz, CA:

Chanting, cheering and carrying signs, hundreds of demonstrators gathered on the steps of the county courthouse and then marched to the Town Clock Saturday morning to demand equal marital rights for same-sex couples.

More than 500 people attended the rally, one of many held nationwide as a protest against the passage of Proposition 8, which calls for a Constitutional Amendment outlawing same-sex marriage. Speakers included Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County Supervisors Mark Stone and Neil Coonerty and Santa Cruz City Council members Cynthia Mathews and Tony Madrigal.

In Houston, TX:

Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of Houston City Hall this afternoon to protest the passing of Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment taking away the right to marry for same-sex couples. Along with the passing of other anti-gay measures across the nation, Prop. 8 made November 4 a day of mixed emotions for many of the progressives in attendance, who say they went to bed ecstatic about the election of Barack Obama but woke up the next morning to find out not everything had changed for the better.

In Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, FL:

Hundreds came to Miami Beach City Hall Saturday afternoon as part of a national Join the Impact movement to protest this month’s passage of anti-gay-marriage laws in Florida, California and Arizona. About 1,000 protested in Fort Lauderdale.

In Allentown, PA:

Calling for unity and equal rights, more than 150 gay rights supporters demonstrated Sunday in downtown Allentown to protest California’s recent ban on same sex marriage. Their anger as fierce as the cold winds that swept around them at Hamilton and Seventh streets, speaker after speaker criticized California’s Proposition 8 legislation, which banned same-sex marriage. ”We have a right to be angry, to be frustrated, to be insulted … because our community’s rights were voted against in the state of California,” said Adrian Shenker, president of the Muhlenberg College Gay Straight Alliance.

In Greensboro, NC:

Brant Miller is an unabashed romantic. He’s picked out baby names. He’s dreamed about his wedding – even designed some bridesmaid dresses for the occasion. There is one catch, however. Miller, a UNCG student, can’t get married because he’s gay.

On Saturday, he stood on the steps of the Melvin Municipal Office building and asked about 200 other rally participants to ask their legislative representatives to expand marriage rights to gay people in North Carolina.

In Indianapolis, IN:

Supporters of gay rights met at at a rally in front of the City-County Building as part of a nationwide protest over Proposition 8 Saturday, November 15, 2008.

In Jackson, MS:

Protests over California’s Proposition 8 spread to the Magnolia State on Saturday. About 50 people protested in Jackson outside the state capitol, upset the measure didn’t pass in California. Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage in that state. … They said they want to draw attention to what they say is a civil rights issue that affects America as a whole.

“So when people see protests happening around the country, they’ll understand that this isn’t just an issue that’s happening somewhere else, this is an American issue happening everywhere, because it affects all of us,” organizer Brent Cox said.

In Seattle, WA:

Thousands of people marched peacefully through downtown Seattle Saturday afternoon as part of a national protest to protest the California vote that banned gay marriage. Seattle police accompanied the marchers. Police estimated the crowd the number about 3,000. There were counterprotesters.

In Des Moines, IA:

About 100 protesters picketed at Des Moines’ City Hall to challenge voter passage of a measure that banned gays and lesbians from marrying in California. … The state’s first and only legally married same-sex couple attended the protest, as did Iowa’s only openly gay state senator, Matt McCoy.

…Six same-sex couples will go before the Iowa Supreme Court on Dec. 9 to argue for legal same-sex marriage in Iowa. It was legal in Polk County for two days in August 2007. One couple was married before a court ended the practice.


In Atlanta, GA:

At the Georgia Capitol, more than 1,500 opponents of California’s Proposition 8 crowded the plaza and steps, spilling onto Washington Street. Speakers led the crowd in chants during the Saturday afternoon protest.“We support marriage equality,” said Carlton Eden, who attended the Atlanta rally with his wife, Claire, and three daughters. “We believe everyone should be able to marry.”

In Montclair, NJ:

Bernie Bernbrock was born into the Mormon Church. He said he still believes in God and many of the faith’s doctrines but left the church because of its stance on gay rights. Today, Bernbrock, from Glen Ridge, took his 7-year-old daughter, Abby, and his partner of 10 years, Glen Vatasin to Montclair for their first-ever same-sex marriage march. “I don’t think any one family is in any position to judge another family,” he said. “It’s not their right to come into my home and take my rights away.”

He joined over 120 people who chanted through Montclair in support same-sex marriage as part of a national protest against California’s new ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8.

In Kalamazoo, MI:

More than 120 people lined the street in front of the Federal Building Saturday afternoon to protest the recent passage of a California ballot proposal banning same-sex marriage. Signs reading “Stop the Hate” and “Equal Rights for All” attracted honks as passing motorists showed support. The crowd stretched nearly a full block along West Michigan Avenue.

In Dallas, TX:

Louise Young never cast a vote on Proposition 8, but the measure changed her life. Married three months ago in California, Ms. Young and Vivienne Armstrong, her partner, joined more than 1,200 other Dallas-area residents who gathered outside of Dallas City Hall on Saturday to peacefully protest California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state.

“This is not a religious issue,” said Ms. Young, 61, of Dallas. “This is about legal rights. This isn’t right.”

In Duluth, MN:

Speaking out were more than one hundred protestors from all walks of life: young and old, students and professionals, and gay and straight. Tate Haglund-Pagel says “When I met my wife and the happiness we have gotten out of you know being married and being each others partners for ever I don’t understand why two men or two women can’t have the same happiness.”

In Peoria, IL:

In Peoria and across the country today, people petitioned in support of gay marriage and against a recent California vote. Dozens of people bared the cold weather to hold up signs opposing Proposition 8.

…Hector Martinez opposes Proposition 8 and said, “We just feel that you know we need to put a stop or this needs to see a reverse proposition 8. Eventually my partner and I, we’ve been together for 18 years, you know we’d like to see the legalization of marriage for us in Illinois.”

In Phoenix, AZ:

Donavon Goodsell, of Phoenix, celebrated his 67th birthday by marching for gay rights in a rally that drew a large group from the gay community and its supporters. He’s been in a relationship for 42 years, he said, and it’s time for marriage rights.

Goodsell was one of more than 1,000 people who gathered in Phoenix to protest the recently passed Proposition 102, an Arizona constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

In Oklahoma City:

Hundreds of protesters in Oklahoma City joined a nationwide call to protest the passage of a ballot measure in California that banned same-sex marriage. “It’s a huge, huge movement going on today,” said local organizer Bret Gaither. “We’re not asking for, you know, understanding or special treatment. We’re asking for equal treatment.”

In Tulsa, OK:

A group of about 300 activists and protesters marched Saturday through downtown to City Hall, where they held a short rally and observed a moment of silence as part of a worldwide protest for homosexual rights known as Join the Impact. The Tulsa rally was organized by Ashley Butler, who had no intentions of leading any such protest as recently as a week ago. “I sort of fell across it by accident,” she said.

In Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM:

Hundreds of people gathered in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on Saturday to protest the passage of Proposition 8 and anti-gay legislation in other states. About 500 people gathered on Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza with signs that read “What’s so scary? We just want to marry” and “Love and Let Love.” Rally organizer Rose Bryan says the event was about family and people being able to take care of and protect the people in their families.

In Santa Fe, a crowd of more than 100 people braved the chilly wind to speak out against Proposition 8.

In Columbia, MO:

More than 100 people bundled in coats, scarves, hats and gloves gathered on Saturday afternoon in front of the Boone County Courthouse in the ear-numbing cold and a stiff wind to protest the passage of California’s Proposition 8.

…On the steps in front of the courthouse, using a small PA system, [Mark] Buhrmester called the crowd together. He introduced the afternoon’s speakers and addressed the question of why Missourians and others outside of California were protesting an amendment that doesn’t directly affect them.

“The truth of the matter is that the hopes and fears of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community were riding on Proposition 8, and our hopes were dashed, and our fears were met,” Buhrmester said. “So that’s why we are here together — to stand up for our rights with our friends and our community.”

In Pittsburgh, PA:

Speakers in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood shared their personal stories with more than 100 people at the rally in Schenley Plaza.

In Cincinnati, OH:

An estimated 500 people stood in the rain Saturday afternoon in front of Cincinnati City Hall to protest the passage of California’s Proposition 8 … Cameron Tolle, a junior at Xavier University from Missouri, took the lead organizing the event. He admitted it was his first attempt at political action. “Nine days ago this protest wasn’t planned,” Tolle said. He said he and a group of friends decided “through Facebook conversations and convictions” that Cincinnati needed to be involved in this national protest.

Speakers included comedian Margaret Cho, who is in town tonight for her Taft Theater performance, and Victoria Wulsin, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.


In Olympia, WA:

About 300 South Sound residents, spurred to action by a recent initiative that overturned gay-marriage rights in California, gathered today at Olympia City Hall to rally support for the rights of gay men and women to marry. The 90-minute morning rally, organized by Anna Schlecht of Olympia, coincided with similar rallies across the country today. Schlecht said she was pleased with the turnout because there were so many new faces at the rally, people who had attended to show their support.

In Wilmington, NC:

More than 140 people assembled on the steps of the Federal Building in downtown Wilmington Saturday to protest the gay marriage bans recently approved in states across the country. The event was part of a planned nationwide network of protests, from Anchorage to Raleigh, largely organized via online word-of-mouth. Wilmington organizers Kati Heffield and Mary Eller assembled the Federal Building protest in just three days, primarily using the social networking Web site Facebook.

In Raleigh, NC:

Hundreds of people gathered this afternoon for a protest in downtown Raleigh against last week’s vote in California that made gay marriage unconstitutional there. …Braving a brief but drenching downpour, the marchers proceeded from the Capitol to the governor’s mansion — where one of them hoisted a rainbow flag on a pole just outside the gate. Police kept a close eye on the marchers while blocking traffic to maintain safety.

In Buffalo, NY:

150 people came out on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon to show support for same-sex marriage and solidarity with gay and lesbian people in California. …The Buffalo event was organized by Kara DeFranco and publicized through the web site jointheimpact.com. …Protesters gathered at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway with signs that advocated equality under state marriage laws for all people.

In San Luis Obispo, CA:

Opponents of Prop. 8 took to the streets in downtown San Luis Obispo on Saturday, vowing to fight the measure banning same-sex marriages in California. More than 100 protesters rallied in front of San Luis Obispo City Hall, waving signs with slogans such as “Abate the H8” and “Marriage Equality USA.” The demonstration was one of several such protests that took place nationwide Saturday.

In Boise, ID:

Protests in Idaho were on a much smaller scale than some metropolitan areas around the nation, but even in Boise, the turnout was much bigger than expected. … It was a rally that packed the sidewalk on Capitol Boulevard in front of Boise City Hall. An estimated 400 people gathered to take part in a nationwide protest.

“This is amazing and exciting to see this support and the common grounds that Idaho has,” said Ryan Jensen and James Tidmarsh, married in California.

In Asheville, NC:

There seemed to be two predominant questions at a rally in Asheville Saturday in support of same-sex marriage: Why, and why not? The “why?” had to do with California voters’ decision on Election Day to rescind the rights of same-sex couples in that state to marry.

The “why not?” had to do with rally-goers’ bewilderment that others would deny gay and lesbian partners who’ve been together for decades the right to enjoy the bonds of a committed marriage, just the same as heterosexual couples.

“We don’t want to take anything from you,” said Kathryn Cartledge, one of the speakers at the gathering in Pritchard Park that drew about 400 supporters.

In Syracuse, NY:

Same sex couples across the country including those in Syracuse sent a strong message to California. Nearly 200 people showed up at city hall protesting proposition 8. Scotty Matthews was one of them. Even as a New Yorker, Scotty says he has a lot on the line with the proposition’s passage. “I’m gay. I’m an American. That’s the only stake I need to have in it. I don’t think that institutionalized discrimination is something that should be happening in America and that’s why I’m here,” said Scotty.

In Colorado Springs, CO:

“We are angry, sad, and hurt,” said Kristina Conner, who protested with a group of roughly 100 at City Hall in Colorado Springs. …”We want to take these emotions and use them as a positive driving force for our future so we too can have a unity and equality for our love,” said Conner.

In Tracy, CA:

Patti Armanini and Jackie Snodgrass tied the knot, legally, back in 2004 in San Francisco and again in September, and today, they joined a group in front of City Hall who protested this month’s passage of Proposition 8, which takes away their right to marry. “This is just one step in the whole process of overturning this,” Armanini said. “We’ll get there.”

In Salt Lake City, UT:

Hundreds of demonstrators waving signs and rainbow-colored flags gathered in downtown Salt Lake City today as the fight over gay marriage continued to intensify more than a week after California voters passed Proposition 8.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ involvement in the issue has turned Utah into “ground zero” for the gay civil rights movement, Jeff Key, a gay Iraq war veteran, told the crowd gathered at the Salt Lake City-County Building. “You called us out,” Key said. “You did this.”

In Lake Worth, FL:

Gay, straight, black, white: Marriage is a civil right,” chanted hundreds of people on the corner of Lucerne Avenue and Dixie Highway.

Their shouts were met by syncopated honks from passing motorists. Their cause resonated throughout more than 300 cities throughout the country, organizers said.

“Today we’re making history,” said Jay Blotcher, one of several organizers of the Join the Impact event. “This is a chapter in the civil rights movement and we will prevail.”

In Rochester, NY:

More than 150 people stood in the rain outside the Monroe County Administration Building this afternoon, rallying in support of same-sex marriage. …“People are angry, frankly, and this is history,” said Ove Overmyer, one of the local organizers, of the first simultaneous nationwide action in support of same-sex marriage.

The crowd marched along West Main Street, carrying signs that read, “It’s about love,” and “My family matters, too.” They chanted, “We don’t need the state’s permission. We are not second-class citizens.” This rally, like the others, grew out of a grassroots, online effort, mainly using the social-networking site Facebook, officials said.

In Spokane, WA:

In Spokane people gathered outside City Hall to voice their concerns about this legislation. More than 125 people showed up as part of demonstrations in more than 300 cities across the country.

Smack in the middle of the boisterous crowd was Nancy Maloy, she stood quietly with a sign in her hand, a self-described mother on a mission.”My wonderful gay daughter called me last night and said, ‘Mom everybody’s marching tomorrow morning, go and take a sign’,” said Maloy.

In White Plains, NY:

Standing on the steps of City Hall, more than 70 gay men, lesbians and their supporters today protested a California vote banning same-sex marriage and called for all states to provide civil marriage “equality.” … “The whole idea is to go out and tell people that marriage is our right,” said Jean-Charles DeOliveira, 41, an Ossining real estate agent who organized the White Plains rally.

In Long Beach, CA:

More than a thousand peaceful Long Beach demonstrators joined thousands across the nation Saturday to protest California’s passing of Proposition 8, a measure banning same-sex marriage.

Braving afternoon heat and smoke from fires raging around the county, the crowd cheered as more than a dozen city leaders and local activists spoke in front of City Hall.

In Fayetteville, AR:

Hundreds marched from the University of Arkansas to the square hoping to get their voices heard. “They had pushed so hard in California to get marriage there. They finally had it, and then it’s all of a sudden overturned,” explains Anna Center, a protest organizer.

…Fayetteville’s protestors also took time to voice their outrage about the recent passage of Act One. The measure prohibits gay and unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children here in Arkansas.

In Orlando, FL:

Close to a thousand people gathered outside Orlando City Hall on Saturday to protest a recently passed amendment to Florida’s constitution which bans gay marriage. … On Election Day, 62 percent of Florida voters approved the marriage amendment, which defines marriage between one man and one woman.

“They want us to be quiet and not be vocal and not be who we are,” said Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan. “People don’t understand that by being quiet, by being silent, we have our civil rights taken away from us every day. That’s all we want, to be treated fairly and equally”

In Las Vegas and Reno, NV:

Gay rights supporters rallied in Nevada today as part of a string of protests reacting to the ban on same-sex marriage passed 11 days ago in California. Upbeat crowds of more than 1,000 in Las Vegas and 300 in Reno cried out for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

In Las Vegas, demonstrators gathered outside a gay and lesbian community center just east of the Strip.

In Reno, demonstrators marched through the downtown casino area and gathered around the landmark Reno Arch.

In Austin, TX:

Disappointed and angry about the passage of Proposition 8 in California last week , at least 2,000 people crowded Austin City Hall Plaza on Saturday afternoon to support equal rights and legal marriage for those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

Gay rights supporters cheered, chanted and waved rainbow colors in Austin and in cities across the country protesting the vote that banned gay marriage in California. Tens of thousands of people joined protests in Houston, Dallas and Arlington…

In Knoxville, TN:

:

More than 100 people rallied at the World’s Fair Park amphitheater Saturday afternoon in a cold wind to peaceably protest passage of a California ballot measure that recognizes marriages only between men and women. …Rally organizer Jen Crawford, 24, of Knoxville first heard from a friend that rallies were planned nationwide Saturday to protest the constitutional amendment. After considering going to a nearby city for a rally, Crawford decided to start one here. “I’m happy, as a straight ally, that I can pour into this and show my support,” she said.

In Fresno, CA:

Several hundred people showed up at Fresno’s city hall as part of the National Day of Protest. Several other demonstrations are planned Sunday as supporters of gay marriage take on the religious groups that supported Proposition 8.

Nearly two weeks after California voters approved a ban on gay marriage, members of Fresno’s gay and lesbian community say their fight for equal rights has just begun. They rallied at Fresno’s city hall Saturday, many still holding “Vote No on Proposition 8″ signs. “Rights were given to us and then eliminated by the majority of people and although the constitution guarantees the protection of the marginalized and the minority, it was allowed to pass,” said Prop 8 opponent Robin McGehee.

In Medford, OR:

Medford protesters joined a nationwide demonstration for gay rights. …Protesters say the goal of the demonstration was to spark a nationwide push for gay rights. For the people in downtown Medford today, there was a lot of emotion behind the issue. Their chant: “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!”

James Frank is a father and a grandfather, but he says he’s still fighting to be recognized as husband. “I’m not a two-headed monster; I put my pants on one leg at a time like every body else,” he says.

In Springfield, MO:

They stood In unity Saturday with a message intended to be heard around the nation. Hundreds of signs wrote it out in plain print, for all eyes to see. “It’s not even about being gay. It’s about being equal. It’s about being people, and recognizing that everybody loves just the same as everybody else,” said Stephanie Perkins who helped organize the local protest.

…Yet, some passers by didn’t take so well to the protest. “This is public. If they want to go protest, why don’t they go protest somewhere where there’s not a lot of people around,” said Amber Willis who is against gay marriage. But it was her very attitude that fired up the crowd even more. Within the crowd were dozens of stories, but for some it was a story about hope which they feel they are losing.

In Charlotte, NC:

More than 200 people gathered uptown Saturday to protest California’s recent ban on same-sex marriages and what it means for such couples nationwide. …Holding rainbow flags and braving strong winds, protesters rallied at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg government center and sang protest songs made famous during the country’s struggle for civil rights some 40 years ago.

In Macon, GA:

In Macon on Saturday, more than 50 advocates for Join the Impact, an international organization supporting equal rights for people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, protested the California Proposition 8 vote outside City Hall.

Protesters waved signs reading “What Would Martin Do?” “Fight the H8” and “Would You Rather I Marry Your Daughter?” Gatherers ranged in age and race. Some wore the traditional rainbow colors, expressing pride in their homosexuality. Others wore plain clothes and clergy attire.

In Tampa, FL:

Thousands of gays and lesbians and their supporters across the country – including more than 100 in downtown Tampa – rallied at 1:30 p.m. Saturday to protest bans on marriage and adoption approved by voters in four states.

…Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena told the crowd assembled at Joe Cillura Courthouse Square that “the tide is turning to say ‘we’re all in this together.’” She added: “I think it’s time for the county to revisit the human rights ordinance.” Attempts to add sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination ordinance have been made at least a couple of times since the county commission removed sexual orientation from the law in 2000.

In Sault Ste Marie, MI:

“We’re small but mighty,” said protest organizer Jennifer Rowe today. Rowe, along with Amanda Zuke, Kyle Cardoza, Liz Laplante and two other concerned citizens, gathered outside Sault Ste. Marie’s Civic Centre to protest the recent adoption of California’s Proposition 8, outlawing same-sex marriage. “We’re here to show our support for those in the United States who are fighting to get same-sex marriage recognized and for human rights across the board,” Rowe told SooToday.com.

In Bellingham, WA:

More than 100 people rallied on the corners of East Magnolia Street and Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham the morning of Saturday, Nov. 15, to protest California’s recent ban on gay marriage. Chants of “It’s about love not hate,” and “Hey mister president, what do you say, don’t hate families because they’re gay” filled blocks of downtown Bellingham during the two-hour protest. …The protesters in Bellingham were outside the Federal Building from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. A smaller group continued the protest outside the Bellingham Farmer’s Market after noon.

In Memphis, TN:

More than 150 people ignored the chilly winds to protest Downtown in front of the Memphis City Hall, bearing signs that said “Love makes a family,” “Support love not H8″ and “This is what democracy looks like.” “Because of our history in civil rights we felt it was particularly important for Memphis’ voice to be heard,” said Amy Livingston, a board member with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, which co-sponsored the protest with the Women’s Action Coalition. The gays, lesbians and supporters in attendance were also urged to talk to friends, family and co-workers about the need to for civil rights for homosexuals.

In Missoula, MT:

Jamee Greer took charge of a sizable crowd that united and protested Saturday in favor of gay marriage rights, a group pulled together in Missoula by the Internet and text messages. He gave the group its marching orders, announcing the rules of the road, as the protesters carried signs and prepared to march from North Higgins Avenue to the Missoula County Courthouse.

…In Missoula, Brian Cook wore a picture of his 21-year-old gay son, Andrew Sullivan-Cook, who was in Dallas marching with Join the Impact protesters. “I’m here, not only in support of my son’s rights, but it’s simply the right thing to do,” said Cook. “Even if my son wasn’t gay, I’d be here.”

In Evansville, IN:

Protesters gathered around the nation and in Evansville on Saturday. …One hundred people stood out in the cold in front of the Centre to get their message out.

In Denton, TX:

Horns were honking for several hours early Saturday afternoon, supporting about 120 gay rights activists with signs and flags who were protesting the recent approval of California’s Proposition 8. … There were many supportive honks throughout the afternoon, said John McClelland, president of the Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, a gay and lesbian political organization. However, one protester said she had seen an obscene hand gesture from one driver.


In Providence, RI:

The State House lawn was dotted with umbrellas on Saturday afternoon, as the hundreds of people gathered there maintained a hopeful spirit despite the intermittent rain. …For the duration of the rally, supporters held a rainbow banner with the words “Love” and “Equality” across the State House steps. People held signs with a variety of messages “Straight guy for love,” “Fight the H8″ and “Jesus had 2 daddies, why can’t I?”

In San Bernadino, CA:

On Saturday morning, about 30 people gathered in front of Colton City Hall to kick off the rally. …Most carried “No on Prop. 8″ signs and some actually wore them. Others had rainbow flags draped across their shoulders. After receiving political statements from Lopez, the crowd walked along La Cadena Drive carrying signs and singing songs with the lyrics: “Hey hey, ho ho, discrimination has got to go.”

As they made their way back up the street, a lone man carrying a sign saying “Homo Sex is Sin” staked out a spot near their final stop, the steps of the old Carnegie Library. The man, Paul Mitchell, described himself as a Christian from Riverside who showed up because of what the Bible says about homosexuality. …When the crowd gathered on the steps of the library to listen to inspirational words, Mitchell heckled them, yelling out “repent” several times, before leaving in a white van parked nearby.

In Gainesville, FL:

Huddled under rainbow–colored umbrellas, Amendment 2 protestors met in the drizzling rain Saturday afternoon with a message: equal rights for everyone. About 150 Gainesville residents rallied for an hour and a half at the corner of East First Street and University Avenue for the repeal of Amendment 2.

In Riverside and other cities throughout inland CA:

At least 250 people rallied and marched in Riverside. … Same-sex-marriage supporters also rallied in places that had no organized gay activism before Prop. 8, including Moreno Valley, Colton, Hemet, the Big Bear area and Victorville.

…In Riverside, protesters set off from City Hall and broke into several groups to march through downtown streets, waving signs reading “When do I get to vote on your marriage?” and “Black, Straight, Against 8.”

In Colton, about 40 people marched in front of Colton City Hall chanting slogans such as “Gay, straight, black or white, Americans for civil rights!” …Nicolas Daily, 19, a black gay man who grew up in Colton, said one reason he attended the Colton rally was to increase the visibility of gays and lesbians of color.

In Pasadena, CA:

About 300 demonstrators crowded onto the steps of Pasadena City Hall on Saturday to protest the passage of Proposition 8. …”I don’t know about you, but I am tired of using the quiet approach,” said 29-year-old Scott Boardman of Monrovia, who spearheaded the event. “I want the fair approach, and if that means knocking on every door or having rallies every week, then so be it.”

In Redlands, CA:

Mike Hinsley and Scott Ruiz have been partners for six years. When Proposition 22 was overturned in 2007, making same-sex marriages legal in California, they held off. “As soon as the Supreme Court overturned it, we heard about Prop. 8, so we were waiting to see what was going to happen,” Hinsley said. On Saturday, Hinsley, 26, and Ruiz, 28, joined about 150 people in front of City Hall to protest Prop. 8. The protest was one of many held all over the nation, organized by www.jointheimpact.com.

In Stockton, CA:

About 200 people gathered at City Hall late Saturday morning before marching along two of downtown Stockton’s busiest streets in one of hundreds of simultaneous demonstrations in support of gay-marriage rights planned throughout the state and country. …I just think that it was important to bring something like this to Stockton,” said Sarah Amaton, the Manteca resident who coordinated San Joaquin County’s rally. Another is planned for 6 p.m. Monday, also at City Hall.

In Northampton, MA:

Hundreds of demonstrators spilled down the steps of City Hall and onto Main Street Saturday, part of a wave of nationwide protests over the passage of Proposition 8 in California. The rally was boisterous, even by Northampton’s standards, where rallies for social change are a staple of the cultural landscape.

… The local protest drew hundreds of same-sex couples and gay rights advocates of all ages, plus openly gay five-term Mayor Mary Clare Higgins, who sat on the steps and sang with “The Raging Grannies,” a social activism group who led the crowd in a pro-gay rights sing-along. Organizer Kathryn L. Martini, of Greenfield, said similar protests took place simultaneously in all 50 states. She estimated as many as 900 attended the local stand-out.

In Portsmouth, NH:

Supporters began gathering in Market Square at mid-day and a small group of about 15 around 1 p.m. had grown to nearly 100 within the hour. “Gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right,” they chanted. Held on display in the middle of a crowd was a rainbow flag with “LOVE,” written across it. …Passers-by honked their horns in support, which led to cheers from the demonstrators.

In Pomona, CA:

“People tell us, `Go home. It’s over. It’s already been voted on,”‘ said Thuan Nguyen. “I say just because it’s voted on doesn’t mean homosexuality is going to disappear.” The 20-year-old Montclair resident was among more than 400

New Mexico Man Accepts Plea in Hate Crime Attack

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2008

Jerry Paul, 40, of Shiprock, New Mexico, pleaded pleaded no contest to false imprisonment, a fourth-degree felony, and misdemeanor aggravated battery. Paul, the second of three men accused of attacking Matthew Shetima in Farmington last September, faces more than two years in prison:

While walking through an alley near the Journey Inn on Glade Lane, Shetima said he was called over to talk to several men who began hitting him, calling him “faggot.”

When he fell, the men kicked him saying, “You want to die faggot?” arrest documents state. The victim was then allegedly pulled into the men’s hotel room, where they continued to punch and kick him before he could escape.

Also arrested were Scott Thompson, 22, Craig Yazzie, 37. Yazzie pleaded to the same charges in March. Prosecutors believe Thompson was the ringleader in the fight. His trial for kidnapping and aggravated battery charges begin on May 2. If he’s found guilty, Thompson faces up to 14 years in prison with the hate crime enhancement.

More Facts about Elane Photography

Timothy Kincaid

April 14th, 2008

UPDATE: Decision and Final Order [pdf]

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The Decision and Final Order of the Human Rights Commission lays out the facts leading to the determination.

Vanessa Willock sent to Elane Photography the following e-mail on September 21, 2006, a year in advance of her ceremony.

We are researching potential photographers for our commitment ceremony on September 15, 2007 in Taos, NM.

This is a same-gender ceremony. If you are open to helping us celebrate our day we’d like to receive pricing information.

Thanks

Elaine Huguenin responded

Hello Vanessa,
As a company, we photograph traditional weddings, engagements, seniors, and several other things such as political photographs and singer’s portfolios.
-Elaine-

Willock wrote again

Hi Elaine,
Thanks for your response below of September 21, 2006. I’m a bit confused, however, by the wording of your response. Are you saying that your company does not offer your photography services to same-sex couples?
Thanks,
Vanessa

Huguenin in conclusion

Hello Vanessa,
Sorry if our last response was a confusing one. Yes, you are correct in saying we do not photograph same-sex weddings, but again, thanks for checking out our site!
Have a great day.
-Elaine

In November 2006 Willock’s partner, Misty Collinsworth, contacted Huguenin and – without mentioning the sex of the partners – inquired about services. Huguenin responded enthusiastically and sought to follow up.

On December 20, 2006, Willock filed a charge of discrimination against Elane Photography.

The decision included two questions: did discrimination occur based on sexual orientation, and was Elane Photography a public accommodation. The commission found the answer to both questions to be in the affirmative.

Elane’s attorneys argued that Ms. Huguenin’s religious convictions provided exclusion to the New Mexico Human Rights Act. The commission found that questions of the constitutionality of the NMHRA was “not before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission for determination in this proceeding and, accordingly, are not addressed here.

Elane Photography Loses

Timothy Kincaid

April 12th, 2008

canon.jpg In February we told you about Elane Photography, a small company in New Mexico that is ran by Elaine Huguenin and her husband. In 2006, a lesbian couple had requested that Elane photograph their commitment ceremony and the Ms. Huguenin refused. Vanessa Willock, one of the couple, filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has the results:

The commission’s one-page ruling Wednesday said Elane Photography violated the state Human Rights Act by discriminating against Willock on the basis of sexual orientation, and should pay $6,637 for Willock’s attorney’s fees and costs.

The commission found that Elane Photography, as a commercial business, provided a public accomodation and could not, under law, discriminate based on sexual orientation.

I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised at the determination and still have unanswered questions about the thinking that went into it. Because the company was primarily one individual I was expecting that the commission would allow for Ms. Huguenin’s religious objections.

I am troubled by the decision and am not certain whether or not I think this is the best conclusion.

On one hand, I recognize the value of the limitations that society has placed on the application of religious beliefs and can see the societal benefits that have resulted from anti-discrimination laws. I would not want a plumber, for example, using religious freedom as an excuse to deny services to a Muslim. And I don’t want to return to the day when a store can refuse service to someone solely because they are black or Jewish or gay.

But, on the other hand, I don’t think we are best served by forcing photographers to participate at same-sex commitment ceremonies and I am not convinced of the wisdom of laws that don’t allow for religious objections. I fear that legislatures that might be considering laws that protect gays and lesbians from discrimination will balk if they believe that individuals will be forced to participate in events that they find immoral or objectionable.

But the story is not yet over.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian organization that defends religious liberty, plans to appeal to state district court.

Photographer Challenged for Denying Services to Lesbian Couple

Timothy Kincaid

February 28th, 2008

According to various anti-gay media including the Washington Times, Elaine Huguenin, a photographer in Albuquerque was brought before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission due to her denial of services to a lesbian couple. She is defended by Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay legal ministry.

When Elaine Huguenin of Albuquerque, N.M., declined in September 2006 an e-mail request from a lesbian couple to photograph their ceremony, one of the lesbians responded by lodging a human rights complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Division, the state agency charged with enforcing state anti-discrimination laws and sending cases to the commission to be adjudicated.

Because anti-gay media is notoriously prone to “error”, I am hesitant to assume that the facts are as stated in the Times, LifeSite, or the other propaganda arms of the anti-gay industry.

However, according to Francie D. Cordova, New Mexico Labor Relations Division Director, here are the bare facts of the case:

A Hearing Office conducted an administrative hearing whereby both the photographer and the complaining party were represented by attorneys. What occurred was a due process hearing and not an interrogation. The case was based on a denial of public accommodation. The Commission has not yet considered the case as the hearing officer has not rendered a recommendation.

I am not privy to any behind-the-scenes communication that led to the complaint. So we do not know what was said by Mrs. Huguenin or by Vanessa Willock, the complaintant.

But this case bothers me.

On one hand, I don’t think that denying services to individuals based on characteristics such as race, gender, orientation, or religion are admirable or have any basis in Christian faith (the reason purported to be behind Huguenin’s denial of service). I do believe that gay persons should be protected from discrimination in the public square.

One should not have the privelege – or so I believe – to bar the door of a restaurant, a barber shop, a grocery store, or a lunch counter due to bigotry or bias.

On the other hand, the type of services provided by Elane Photography require the personal services of Elaine Huguenin herself, at a specified time and place, participating in a ceremony that Ms. Huguenin finds offensive. This is not simply providing services to a gay person, among many persons, but rather it is imposing on Huguenin a level of discomfort that seems an autocratic interference in private business rather than a protection of gay citizens.

And I find the story to be a sad reflection on our society.

Elaine’s photography is, to my untrained eye, quite good. I can see why Ms. Willock would select her for the ceremony.

But what troubles me is that Christianity, as a whole, has become so hostile to gay people that it seems reasonable that faith would be given as a reason for not providing services. Would divorce, pre-marital sex, incompatible faith-affiliations, or a lack of religious adherence be any cause for denying service by Elane Photography? I very much doubt it.

And I am also troubled by an attitude that is inflexible of the sensitivities of others. Would it have been so difficult for Ms. Willock to choose someone else and let Huguenin and her biases alone? Does every slight require punishment?

I will be following this story and will report when more is known.

New Mexico Moves Forward on Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

January 24th, 2008

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The Las Cruces Sun-News is reporting that the New Mexico state House of Representatives voted to establish domestic partnerships.

The House approved the measure on a mostly party-line 33-31 vote. Two Republicans supported the bill and seven Democrats opposed it.

The state Senate has a Democrat majority (24 – 18) and if the vote mirrors that of the House, the bill could become law. It has the backing of Governor Bill Richardson.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the Senate would approve the proposal.

Although the legislature has chosen to use the language of “Domestic Parner”, a practice most common on the West Coast, the language of the bill provides that:

A. Domestic partners shall be entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits as are afforded or recognized, now or in the future, by the laws of the state to spouses, former spouses, widows or widowers, whether they derive from statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil or criminal law.

However, Domestic Partners do have to file state income tax returns under the same provisions as their federal income tax returns, i.e. as legal strangers.

A Hate Crime in New Mexico

Jim Burroway

August 3rd, 2006

What happened last weekend? First it was a gay bashing in San Diego, and now comes another report of terror from New Mexico:

The woman said she and the gay man left the party and had walked halfway down the driveway before the others caught them, knocked them to the ground and took them to an adjoining yard that contained “several large barking dogs” the warrant says. Smith told them they should get ready to be thrown to the dogs, but instead he and others took them to the camper parked in the mobile home’s front yard, the warrant states.

While some of the partygoers tied up the gay man with rope and began hitting him, “Uriah told them that this was a kidnapping and they were not going to die yet,” according to the warrant. A female from the party lifted the woman’s head and kicked her in the face, the warrant says. The woman said she felt her nose break, the warrant says.

“(The woman) was not tied up, but was held in the camper for most of the night while all of the male subjects kept hitting, kicking, slapping and knocking (the gay man) down,” the warrant states. “The male subjects would knock (the gay man) down and if he did not get up off of the ground within a certain count or if he would make any noise, they would jump on him, hitting and kicking him.

“This continued all night until the sun was about to come up.”

This is terror, pure and simple.

Three men have been accused in the crime. Uriah Smith, 17, and William York, 21, were arrested and each charged with two counts of kidnapping, aggravated battery, false imprisonment and conspiracy. Police are still looking for Leroy Segura, age and hometown unknown.

The unidentified 18-year-old male victim suffered bleeding on the brain, concussion, and facial lacerations and bruising. He has since been released from the hospital. The woman’s injuries did not require hospitalization.