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Posts for May, 2013

Gay Man’s Murder Sparks Massive Rally

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2013

Thousands of New Yorkers marched in Manhattan yesterday to protest the killing of Mark Carson, who was gunned down late Friday night after being taunted with homophobic slurs. The march began at the LGBT Community Center and proceeded to the corner of West 8th Street and Sixth avenue, where Carson was killed. Christine Quinn, New York’s first openly gay City Council speaker, led the march with Edie Windsor, the 83-year-old widow whose Defense of Marriage Act challenge is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly every major candidate for mayor and many city council members were there as well, as was one of Carson’s aunts, Flourine Bompars:

“He was a loving and caring person who is also loved and will be truly missed. And the family would also to have justice be served so that Mark’s death is not in vain,” Carson’s aunt, Flourine Bompars, said at the rally..

Elliot Morales, 32, was arrested and charged with Carson’s murder. He is being held without bail.

Carson’s death is part of a disturbing trend in New York. So far this year, there have been 24 bias-motivated crimes, compared to 14 as of this time last year. Carson’s murder was the fifth anti-gay attack in two weeks:

In the first incident on May 5, Nick Porto and his partner, Kevin Atkins, were beaten near Madison Square Garden after a group of men wearing Knicks shirts called them anti-gay slurs. Porto spoke at the rally Monday.

On May 7, a man was assaulted by someone hurling anti-gay slurs in Union Square, according to the Anti-Violence Project.

On May 8, a man was attacked by two people shouting anti-gay slurs as he left Pieces, a gay bar on Christopher Street, according to the Anti-Violence Project.

And early on May 10, two men tried to get into an after-hours billiards hall on West 32nd Street but were not let in, police said. They were then approached by a group of approximately five others who proceeded to shout anti-gay slurs and beat the men, police said.

Police have promised to increase their presence in the Christopher Street area and in nearby neighborhoods through Gay Pride at the end of June. New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has announced that the city’s 1,700 public schools will hold emergency assemblies about hate crimes bullying by the end of the school year.

Gay Man Shot To Death In NYC Hate Crime

Jim Burroway

May 20th, 2013

Mark Carson

Shortly after midnight Friday night, Mark Carson, 32, was gunned down in New York’s West Village by an assailant shouting anti-gay epithets. Police identified the shooter as Elliot Morales, 33. Morales and two other men were apparently looking for a fight in Greenwich Village:

Sources said Carson and his 31-year-old friend were dressed in tank tops and cut-off shorts with boots. Look at these f—–s,” one of the suspect’s crew barked at the pair. “What are you, gay wrestlers?”

The two groups exchanged words, but Carson and his pal decided it was better to walk away. But as they turned the corner, the suspect and one of his cohorts confronted the pair again and taunted them by shouting “f—-t” and “queer,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

One of the bigots got nervous and ran away as the suspect asked the two gay men, “Do you want to die here?” Kelly said. Suddenly, the suspect whipped out a silver .38-caliber revolver and shot Carson in the face. The shooter ran away as Carson collapsed on the sidewalk.

As Carson was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police arrested Morales just four blocks away:

Around 4 a.m., a police officer, responding to a radio alert of the shooting, came across the alleged gunman and apprehended him. The suspect turned over a silver Taurus .38-caliber six-shot revolver, according to police.

Police later identified the suspect as Elliot Morales, 33. Police said the suspect had forged identification and they used facial recognition technology to determine his true identity.

Morales faces a charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime, authorities said.

The identities of the suspect’s two companions — at least one of whom Kelly said left the suspect before the shooting — are still not known.

According to the New York Times, Morales has served more than ten years in prison for robbery, and had refused to answer any questions for several hours, until he was finally identified through facial recognition. He was arraigned on Sunday in Manhattan Criminal Court, and ordered held without bail. Police have also questioned the other two men who were with Moralies, but they say that the two men were questioned as witnesses, not suspects. Their identities have not been released.

Morales and the other two had apparently spent at least part of that night targeting gay men in the Village for a confrontation:

According to Mr. Kelly, the gunman was in the neighborhood with two other men shortly before midnight when he urinated in front of the Annisa bar and restaurant on Barrow Street at West Fourth Street.

The man then went inside and angrily confronted the bartender with antigay slurs, the police said, pulling up his gray hooded sweatshirt, and revealing a silver revolver in a shoulder holster. He threatened the bartender that if he called the police, he would be killed, the police said.

The man and two companions then headed south on the Avenue of the Americas and ran into Mr. Carson and another man at West Eighth Street, the police said.

Police Commissioner Kelly describe the murder as a hate crime:

Kelly said that the killing appeared to be “a hate crime, a bias crime.” There were no words that would aggravate the situation, and the victim did not know the perpetrator, he said.

According to Kelly, there have been 22 bias-motivated events this year. That’s up “significantly” from 13 this time last year.

Local LGBT leaders had been concerned about the increasing anti-gay violence taking place over the past several weeks. Last Wednesday, leaders staged an anti-hate crimes protest rally outside of Madison Square Garden. Hundreds turned out for a vigil at the scene of the murder Sunday night. The LGBT Center will hold a march to the crime scene on Monday afternoon.

Voters Send Record Number of LGBT Pols to Washington

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

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

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

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

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

Click here to see the latest results for Congress.

Election Liveblog

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2012

2:00 EST: One more thing:

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

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

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

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

BALLOT MEASURES:

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

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

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

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

SENATE RACE:

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

CONGRESSIONAL RACES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11:31 EST: Remember James Hartline?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia officially closed but:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McDonald drops out

Timothy Kincaid

September 27th, 2012

Sen. Roy McDonald has decided not to run as a third party candidate to retain his seat. Kathy Marchione, the NOM-supported Republican who beat him in the primary, will face off against Democrat Robin Andrews.

Gay marriage supporters of both parties had been backing McDonald (in appreciation for his pro-marriage vote). But now Andrews, who is a lesbian, is the only candidate who believes in equality under the law and it is hoped that McDonald’s supporters will see her as the better candidate.

McDonald gets Cuomo endorsement

Timothy Kincaid

September 26th, 2012

New York has an unusual primary process by which the same candidate can run for more than one party. The result is that one person could win the Democratic Party nomination, but their Democratic opponent could still be on the November ballot as the Working Families Party. Or the Republican Party nominee could face his challenger again running as the nominee from the Conservative Party.

Sen. Roy McDonald was targeted by the National Organization for Marriage due to his vote for equality. And after absentee ballots came in, he lost the Republican Party nomination by around 100 votes. But he was elected the nominee for the Independence Party and, if he chooses to stay in the race, he will be on the November ballot along with Republican nominee Kathy Marchione and Democratic nominee Robin Andrews.

Today McDonald’s decision received a significant nudge. (WSJ)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday pledged his “full endorsement” for a Republican state senator whose vote to legalize gay marriage is seen as a factor in his apparent GOP primary loss.

In a letter to McDonald released to reporters, Cuomo, a Democrat, said it would be “an honor to stand with you.”

If McDonald drops out of the race, gay support will go to Andrews, a lesbian who supports our community’s goals. It is also likely that a chunk of Wall Street Republican money would go towards ensuring that Marchione loses (several Wall Street Republicans put forward significant support for the marriage bill).

However, if he stays in, the organized gay support will rally around McDonald to keep NOM from holding his loss over the heads of other potential supporters. Other factors to consider are that the primary draws the “party faithful” which tend to me much more conservative than the significantly higher Republican turnout at the general election and that Andrews is a relative unknown.

Roy McDonald (Republican Four) appears to have lost primary

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage finally has a non-made-up-totally-bogus reason to celebrate. It appears that Roy McDonald has fallen victim to their attempts to punish those Republican New York State Senators who voted for equality. (Times Union)

Marchione was up by 110 votes when counting began Monday in two counties of the 43rd State Senate District. McDonald gained 23 votes in Saratoga County, but was offset by a 26-vote pickup for Marchione in Columbia County, according to election officials in Saratoga and Columbia counties. Elections officials in Rensselaer and Washington counties tallied their absentee ballots last week.

All things considered, McDonald trailed by 113 votes with 50 ballots set aside.

This is very sad news and probably will hurt us on some level with close legislative votes in which we need some Republican support. But on some level, this is an inspiring story.

Sometimes victory comes in unexpected ways. Sometimes someone goes against the odds, does the right thing… and loses anyway. But there is nobility in doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, and sometimes in the loss comes a different victory, the victory of example. Of honor. Of respect. Sometimes this year’s loss gives birth to next year’s greater success.

I don’t know if this is one of those times. Maybe politicians will see McDonald as an example of why you always put the safe bet first, of why you use polls rather than conscience, of why you should kowtow to right-wing extremists. Maybe they will see this as evidence that ill will and malice are tools more effective than integrity, of how you win by following instead of leading.

But maybe (and I know I’m often too optimistic), maybe this off-the-cuff, unprepared but totally honest answer that Sen. Roy McDonald gave to the press at the time of the vote will live on to encourage others:

You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing.

You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.

I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.

Saland (one of the Republican Four) wins primary

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2012

Steve Saland, one of four Republicans in the New York Senate to vote for marriage, has won his primary. On election day the results were too close to call, but now that the absentee ballots have been counted it is clear. (Poughkeepsie Journal)

After the remaining absentee and affidavit ballots were counted today at the Dutchess County Board of Elections Saland received 286 and Di Carlo 217, said Fran Knapp, Democratic election commissioner.

This gives Saland a grand total of 5,288 votes and Di Carlo 5,181 votes in Dutchess and Putnam counties — a 107 vote lead for Saland.

There are 34 ballots set aside for judicial review before the results become official.

Of the four, Sen. Alesi did not run for reelection, Sen. Grisante won his primary on election night, and Sen. McDonanald’s absentee ballot count has not been completed.

Klassy klassy NOM removes list of endorsed candidates

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2012

Earlier tonight the National Organization for Marriage had a posted list of candidates in New York whom they encouraged their followers to support. I went to double check to see if NOM was as much the kiss of death as they usually are … but just like magic that list had disappeared. Poof.

Oh NOM, you’re so klassy, you must be a Kardashian.

NY primaries pit anti-gay Republicans against pro-gay incumbents

Timothy Kincaid

September 13th, 2012

There’s nothing that angers an anti-gay more than a pro-gay Republican. They consider it traitorous for someone who runs as a conservative or a Republican to vote for equality and they vow revenge.

The National Organization for Marriage has, for example, made it a high priority to “punish” those Republican legislators that voted for marriage equality. The top article in the NOM blog today is:

We promised that we would hold accountable all the politicians in Albany who betrayed us on marriage. We have delivered on our promise to not let the actions of those who flip-flopped and voted against the will of the people be forgotten.

We have fought the good fight, in the name of honor and integrity across New York State—but today we need your help to finish the job!

Today is Primary Day in New York.

But NOM is not alone. Primary opponents too have taken up marriage as an Alamo cause. Though perhaps not exactly wisely.

One rabble rouser who wants to see Sen. Grisanti replaced decided that the smart way to attract people to his arguments is to email them gay porn. Matthew Ricchiazzi, some bisexual dude who unsuccessfully ran for Buffalo mayor (and who evidently opposes equality) sent out this:


Yeah, that wouldn’t have been my first choice of campaign literature but I get the impression that he’s not very bright.

And then there was Juan Reyes who decided that Republican NY city councilman Eric Ulrich was too friendly with gay people. So he sent out this:

That didn’t exactly go as planned. As a result, Rudy Guiliani, who had stayed out of the race, endorsed Elrich.

After seeing what his campaign has done, which is disgusting, Juan doesn’t belong in politics. I don’t know where he belongs, but he belongs someplace else… I find these attacks, the gay-bashing attacks, childish, silly, and a real indication you don’t belong in public service.

It will be interesting to see how the primary goes.

UPDATE: Both Grisanti And Ulrich won their primary races tonight.

You know that you’ve lost the “protect marriage” battle, when…

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2012

… you sue the State of New York because Republicans conspired to pass marriage equality. (Fox News)

The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Rochester ruled against gay marriage opponents who argued that Republican state senators violated New York’s open meeting rules ahead of the law’s passage last year.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said Cuomo and another gay marriage supporter, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, met behind closed doors with the Senate’s Republican majority in violation of the open meeting law.

Oh those dastardly Republicans, all meeting up in secret to impose gay marriage on the state!! The vote should be overturned!!

The appeals court noted 5-0 that caucuses can meet in private to discuss issues, even if there is a representative from the Governor’s office present. As of yet, no news source is reporting that any justices burst out laughing or called the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms a bunch of addled loons. Or, at least, not to their faces.

How the NY GOP responded to the four Senators who voted “Yes”

Timothy Kincaid

April 11th, 2012

Bill Keller has an excellent analysis in the New York Times of the consequences faced by the four Republican Senators who voted for marriage equality. The entire piece is worth reading and provides information that can be useful when talking to other legislators on the fence.

But, to me, the most fascinating response to the four defectors came from the New York State Republican Party:

Fortunately for Grisanti, black congregations will not have much of a chance to register their disapproval in November. The legislators who have designed a statewide redistricting plan took extraordinary pains to protect Grisanti by sculpturing him a friendlier district. The redrawn district cuts Grisanti’s black constituency to 5 percent from 37 percent and reduces the Democrat-to-Republican ratio to less than two to one. To accomplish this, the designers took two distant swatches of friendly territory and attached them by a long thin strand of Lake Erie shoreline where the only constituents are fish.

Indeed, Grisanti and the other three are in the improbable position of having grateful support both from the state G.O.P. leaders and from the Democratic governor. Cuomo, whose popularity is high, has lavished praise on the Republican Four for their courage. And Republican leaders are delighted that gay donors — who might, in the wake of a defeat, have mounted jihad against the state’s Republicans — are instead contributing generously to save these four Republican seats. Each raised between $400,000 and $540,000 in the 10 months after the vote, mighty war chests for State Senate races. Discreetly, because local party officials resent being leaned on, state Republican leaders have tried to wave off strong challengers from filing in the Republican primaries of the four defectors.

From the time of the vote I have believed that these four defectors were not flouting the Party and defying its will, but were instead playing a role that was exactly what the Party wanted and needed. I believe that the Republican Party wanted the marriage bill to pass, but also needed for most of its members to be on record voting no. That the party has since tried to protect the four who voted “yes” fits well with that analysis.

The unique voter options in Erie

Timothy Kincaid

February 27th, 2012

It’s always a good thing when a Republican politician is supportive on gay issues. It allows voters who support equality more options and brings issues that really are important higher prominence.

And so when four New York Republican Senators voted for marriage equality, it was of benefit not only to the gay community, but to their constituents. Unburdened by an issue that, absent prejudice and theocratic ideology, would not be debated, voters are free to address fiscal policy and matters that impact economic recovery.

Of course, the National Organization for Marriage will seek to make marriage equality an issue in hopes of “punishing” those Republicans for daring to stray from the fold and to put their principles ahead of their party loyalty (though I suspect that they were doing precisely what the party leadership wanted). But for the most part, this is not an issue on which voters are likely to respond; Republicans who may not feel comfortable with gay marriage are not inclined to switch their vote to a Democrat who not only favors equality but differs with them on other issues as well. Voters in these districts will not have to consider their position on the matter in their vote.

Except for one.

As it turns out, the district represented by Sen. Mark Grisanti is one in which pro-equality and anti-equality voters may have to take their position on marriage into consideration and determine the importance they place on social issues. In Erie, there is one candidate whose approach to social issues will be to use his “conscience” to dictate the behavior of others. And New York’s Conservative Party (a small but influential ‘third party’) has given him their endorsement.

The party instead endorsed Charles M. Swanick, a former member of the Erie County Legislature who once changed his affiliation to Republican before returning to the Democrats. Mr. Lorigo said Mr. Swanick had told the county’s Conservatives that he was against same-sex marriage and abortion and in favor of fiscally conservative policies.

“Swanick is not a fall-in-line Democrat,” Mr. Lorigo said. “Swanick will vote his conscience. He’s made a commitment to us that on our issues, on our values, he will vote his conscience.”

Swanick is not yet the Democratic Party’s candidate and it would be a rather peculiar move to coalesce around a social conservative. But Democratic leaders are desperate to win this seat and they are currently shopping for the best candidate with the Conservative Party’s power a consideration.

Should they select Swanick, gay voters and progressives who value individual freedom could have a strong reason to not only vote for the Republican but against the Democrat.

And, unlike some situations, this time a vote which supports a pro-gay Republican does not necessarily end in the support of Republican leaders who will work to defeat equality. In New York, the leadership could have blocked the marriage vote or used power and threat to bring these four representatives in line. Instead, Republicans met in private, came out of caucus, brought the bill to the floor and while the majority voted against the bill, enough voted in favor to secure passage. (I have theories about very bright politicians seeing the winds of change and how a party that effectively blocked equality in New York would be perceived.) Republican leadership is supporting the four in their reelection efforts.

So, depending on how this plays out, this may be a unique situation in which I can, without any hesitation, encourage voters to vote Republican in 2012.

Gay Senior Center To Open in New York City

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2011

Several studies have shown that LGBT seniors typically look to their final years with tremendous dread. Not only do they have to contend with declining health and loss of independence, but those who require nursing home care and special services find that, after perhaps decades of being out and proud LGBT people, they feel they have to go back into the closet on entering a long term care facility. Last week, the city of New York announced the opening of eight special senior centers catering to specific needs of seniors, including one dedicated to the needs of LGBT seniors. The new center, to open in Chelsea and serve all five boroughs, is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

Update: Silly New Yorkers, as commenter Ron points out, “The Golden Rainbow Center in Palm Springs has been around for years.” First in the nation, first in New York. What’s the difference, right?

Jamey’s Bullies Celebrate His Death

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2011

The parents of Jamey Rodemeyer, the Buffalo-area teen who killed himself following constant bullying, told NBC’s Today that the bullying is still going on even after his death. This time, they’re being directed toward Jamey’s sister:

The parents of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who was found dead at their home on Sept. 18, indicated in an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Ann Curry on Tuesday that their daughter endured further taunts at a school function immediately after Jamey’s wake. At a homecoming dance she attended shortly after her brother’s death, a potentially poignant moment turned ugly after a song by Lady Gaga, Jamey’s favorite artist, who recently dedicated a song at a concert in his memory.

“She was having a great time, and all of a sudden a Lady Gaga song came on, and they all started chanting for Jamey, all of his friends,’’ Jamey’s mother, Tracy, told Curry. “Then the bullies that put him into this situation started chanting, ‘You’re better off dead!’ and ‘We’re glad you’re dead!’ and things like that.

“My daughter came home all upset. It was supposed to be a time for her to grieve and have fun with her friends, and it turned into bullying even after he’s gone.’’

“I can’t grasp it in my mind,’’ said Tim Rodemeyer, Jamey’s father. “ I don’t know why anyone would do that. They have no heart, that’s basically what it comes down to.’’

Jamey’s parents said that he often spoke openly about the bullying at Heim Middle School, but he became more withdrawn at the start of his freshman year in high school.  His parents discovered an online post after his death, reading, “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so that people will listen to me?’’

Amherst police are investigating whether Jeremy was a victim of harassment or hate crimes before his suicide.

Buffalo Teen Latest Suicide Following Anti-Gay Bullying

Jim Burroway

September 21st, 2011

Fourteen-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer posted an “It Gets Better” video last May describing his struggles with the constant bullying he experienced at school. He expressed confidence at that time that his family and friends could carry him through the difficulties. But when he started  a new school year as a high school freshman, the bullying got worse. It turns out that that support wasn’t enough:

Soon after coming home from a family camping trip, Jamey was found dead Sunday. His parents say he was always under pressure because of struggles with his sexuality.

Jamey’s mother Tracy Rodemeyer said, “So he hung around with the girls a lot, so then the teasing started happening like ‘Oh you’re such a girl or you’re gay or whatever and that bothered him for many years.”

Now, they want to carry in his message in hopes of preventing another tragedy like this one.

Jamey’s father Tim Rodemeyer said, “To the kids who are bullying they have to realize that words are very powerful and what you think is just fun and games isn’t to some people, and you are destroying a lot of lives.”

NY Clerk May Be Sued for Imposing Religious Test for Marriage Licenses

Jim Burroway

September 16th, 2011

As Rob Tisinai argued, that should be the headline over every article describing the decision of Rose Marie Belforti, the town clerk in Ledyard, New York, to impose her personal religious test on every person who wants to get married in her town. Last month, she sent a letter to the town board announcing her decision not to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. On August 30, a lesbian couple applied for a license, but were turned away because a deputy who had been assigned the task of doing Belfori’s job for her wasn’t available.

People for the American Way sent a letter to Belforti and town supervisor Mark Jordan demanding that the board direct Belforti to do her job or resign. If they refuse to do that, the town and clerk could face a lawsuit compelling the town and clerk follow New York law:

“Elected officials don’t get to pick and choose what laws they follow,” said PFAW spokesman Drew Courtney. “A county clerk that doesn’t like hunting doesn’t get to not issue hunting licenses. People for the American Way will be the first ones to defend her freedom of conscience, but she signed up to do a job. If she doesn’t want to do that job, she should resign.”

Belforti is an elected official, and it appears the board does not has the authority to force her to resign. Clerks in two other New York counties have already stepped down.

The militant homosexual savage attack on the religious freedom of little old lady affidavit signers

Timothy Kincaid

August 12th, 2011

Anti-gay activists have a sense of entitlement that seems to know no bounds. They are entitled, they believe, to live their life without even acknowledging the existence of gay people. And furthermore, they are entitled to be free of the offense of knowing that you exist even when they have to hunt you down (like The Peter sneaking into a Leatherman event) in order to be offended.

When marriage equality was proposed in New York, victims abounded.

First there were the children, oh the children, same-sex marriage would harm the children. But after years of marriage in other states, they haven’t been able to identify any children who were in any way harmed.

So on they went to Society and the sacred institute of the marriage registry. But the harm to Society is intangible and it’s hard to pity a computer file, so it was religious freedom that they built their claim. The poor preachers and priests who would be forced to sanctify sin.

But most gay people (and all elected officials) are sympathetic to the indignity of a minister being forced to go against her beliefs, so exceptions were made for religious marriage. Even church halls are exempt.

The anti-gay ran individual business owners up the flagpole, but that one didn’t resonate. In this economy, there were probably more business owners secretly thinking “I hope my pastor doesn’t find out that I ran an ad in the gay newspaper” than were wanting to alienate any potential customers. And they’ve learned that when someone tells a news reporter, “I don’t want to sell to that kind of person” that it’s not a winning situation.

But the anti-gays didn’t have anything other options, so they stuck with their “religious freedom” guns. Surely there were victims if they looked hard enough. If gay people marry then someone will… well, be less religiously free in some way and we’ll get back to you on the details.

Laura Fotusky

Then they found their victims, the town clerks who are forced to put their signature – their very own personal signature – on homosexual “marriage” licenses. And a clerk promptly came forward to sacrifice her job, to live by her values rather than cooperate with sin. Laura L. Fotusky, the Town Clerk of Barker, resigned:

“I believe that there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible. In Acts 5:29, it states, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”

“I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure. Therefore, I will be resigning as of July 21. I wanted you to know my position as I understand the marriage law goes into effect on July 24.”

Now, I am one who completely supports Ms. Fotusky’s decision to obey God rather than man. Provided, of course, that God is signing her paycheck. Otherwise, taxpayers are taxpayers.

Actually, I do pity poor Laura. It’s not likely that she would have given it a second thought, if the anti-gay activists hadn’t told her what her moral conscience has to say. After all, it didn’t seem to be troubled by divorced people, mixed faith couples, those who were clearly incompatible, or those who were not financial prepared for marriage. And unless her Bishop has hired her as church secretary, he really owe her an apology.

But much as I sympathize for poor Laura’s plight, I may be alone in that. Her story got lost in the celebrations. With couples beaming through their tears, mayors toasting champagne, churches hanging out banners, and people dancing in the streets, Laura’s tale of woe got lost. And martyr’s aren’t much use if no hears about them.

So another approach had to be crafted. What they need is a martyr whose story can drag on a while, someone who gets enough attention that their lost cause has a name attached.

So the Alliance Defense Fund decided that there was an extra-special exemption in state law that allows government employees to not do anything they don’t want to do, provided that they could put it in religious terms. By their reasoning, if a bureaucrat felt that they couldn’t “participate in the licensing procedure” unless the spouses-to-be passed their personal religious test, then the city was obligated to make special accommodations.

The law said nothing of the kind, of course, but going to court would surely get some attention. Someone would feel badly for the poor civic servant. So they cobbled together a memorandum and set out to find a sympathetic character.

If they could.

But that isn’t as easy as it might seem. The funny thing about town clerks is that they get into that job because they like marriage, they enjoy seeing people in love, they believe commitment makes society better. And, based on what I’ve seen over the years, even in conservative communities the marriage clerks tend to support marriage equality. And in New York, rather than boycott, they opened on the weekend, some even opening at midnight.

But now their efforts have paid off. The town clerk in Ledyard in Cayuga County decided to let ADF crucify her for the cause. (Auburnpub.com)

Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti submitted a letter to the Ledyard Town Board saying that her religious beliefs prevented her from signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples and the board discussed Belforti’s letter at Monday’s meeting, according to John Binns, a member of the town board.

When reached for comment Thursday, Belforti said “that’s not your business” before hanging up the phone.

Rose Marie Belforti (left)

Okay, well she may not be the most sympathetic character, perhaps, but you use what you’ve got.

Now if the town council is smart they’ll just say, “let’s deal with that when it comes up”. With a population of less than 2,000 residents, it might be a long long time before Rose Marie’s religious liberties are put to the test.

But, whatever they do, I think it’s important to keep in mind exactly what Rose Marie’s role is in the licensing procedure. Rose Marie doesn’t conduct the marriage. She doesn’t bless the marriage. She doesn’t attend the marriage. She doesn’t offer approval of the marriage. She doesn’t validate the information on the marriage license. She doesn’t even confirm that the marriage took place.

Rose Marie looks at identification to prove that the spouses are old enough to marry and that they are who they are, she watches them sign the marriage license, she has them swear that the information on the form is true, and she signs the affidavit: “Subscribed and sworn to/affirmed before me”.

Rose Marie’s role is nothing but a notary. I’m not putting down the importance of a notary in recognizing which documents are legally valid, but they don’t exactly participate in the negotiation or agreement that they are notarizing. They don’t object to the terms of the agreement – they don’t pay attention to them.

And according to notarywise.com,

“The only circumstances in which the notary may refuse to serve you is if the Notary is uncertain of a signer’s identity, willingness, mental awareness, or has cause to suspect fraud. Notaries may not refuse service on the basis of race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, or because the person is not a client or customer.

So Rose Marie essentially wants to do the job of a notary, on the taxpayer’s dollar, but unlike other notaries she wants to get veto power over the documents she signs.

Yeah…. I’m not feeling much sympathy.

The Perry approach to the Constitution

Timothy Kincaid

August 1st, 2011

Texas Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Perry supports the Constitution. But his support appears to be based not on principle or conceptual idea but on legality. He endorses what it says, but seems at a loss as to what it means.

Perry invokes the Tenth Amendment when he says that he supports the right of New York to define marriage as they wish. This fits well with the ‘don’t mess with Texas’ independent streak that has been a part of that state since it gave up its separate nation status. This individualist desire for self-determination, though bipartisan, fits nicely with Republican rhetoric about smaller more localized government.

But Texas, Perry, and the Republican Party are also very socially conservative. And this combination results in policy and positions that often could best be paraphrased as “give me the freedom to chart my own destiny, but you must do as I say”. And it is the second half that Perry invokes when he endorses a constitutional amendment to overrule New York’s right to its own marriage criteria.

His thinking is revealed in an interview with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Gov. Perry leaped at a peculiar notion that allowed him to support Texas’ individuality while denying New York’s self determination (FRC Blog):

TONY PERKINS: Governor, we are about out of time but I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I think I hear what you are saying. The support given what’s happening across the nation, the fear of the courts, the administration’s failure to defend the defense of marriage act.

The only and thin line of protection for those states that have defined marriage, that have been historically been defined between a man and a woman. The support of a marriage amendment is a pro-state’s rights position, because it will defend the rights of states to define marriage as it has been.

GOV. PERRY: Yes sir, and I have long supported the appointment of judges who respect the constitution and the passage of a federal marriage amendment. That amendment defines marriage between one man and one woman, and it protects the states from being told otherwise. It respects the rights of the state by requiring three quarters of a states vote to ratify. It’s really strong medicine but is again our founding fathers had such great wisdom and their wisdom is just as clear and profound today as it was back in the late eighteenth century.

Perry has some small connection with principle in this statement, but it is based on false premises, perverted self interest, and results-driven thinking.

There are marriage-related issues which, one could argue, threaten a state’s right to self government. Divorce is a prime example. There is a pretty decent argument that having united two people for life, a state’s authority is challenged when another state undoes this act. But states have long since come to all provide for divorce and Perry is not challenging divorce laws.

And, using a real-case example, should Virginia refuse to recognize the custody decisions of Vermont, one could find a threat to the underlying function of federalism. But Perry is not coming down on the side of recognition.

And it must be noted that Perry is not predicating his support for a Federal Marriage Amendment on the repeal of DOMA, nor does his support extend only to protecting Texas’ autonomy. While I would oppose a constitutional amendment that was limited to giving states the right to refuse to recognize marriages conducted in other states as being deliberately discriminatory and a nightmare to negotiate or administer, I could respect those who supported such a “solution” as having some measure of consistency and logic to their position. But this is not Perry’s goal.

And it also must be clarified that Perkin’s assertions about the Defense of Marriage Act, upon which Perry leaped, are flat out distortions. The legal challenges and the government’s determinations have been limited in all instances to “Section Three: Definition of Marriage” of DOMA – that which deals with the Federal Government’s recognition of a state’s laws – and does not challenge “Section 2. Powers reserved to the states”.

Should Governor Perry truly respect a state’s right to define marriage within its borders (even over another state’s right to expect recognition of its acts by other states) then he would not be troubled by challenges to DOMA3 at all. Rather, he would support efforts to throw out this federal disrespect of states’ autonomy.

But Perry has a results-driven agenda. He wants marriage to be restricted according to his religion’s doctrines and is willing to impose those restrictions on others with no regard to self determination or personal freedoms. But to do so without contradicting his admiration for the Tenth Amendment, he spills out a justification that lacks any basis in principle.

The Tenth Amendment was not handed to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is, rather, language written to formalize and give structure to a principle. The notion underlying the words is that individuals should be governed according to shared community values and that such restrictions as are imposed on the individual should not be the result of some other community’s goals or dreams.

Interestingly, this notion is also seen in the provisions laid out for constitutional amendment. Recognizing that states would seek advantage, the authors set the rules of change to be so strict as to make imposition of unfair local or regional values on the entire nation very difficult.

And it is to these provisions that Perry appeals when he says that the rights of New York and its citizens are respected “by requiring three quarters of a states vote to ratify.” Perry argues that New York has the ability to convince just a quarter of other states to protect their autonomy. And yes, is just such an attack that the founders sought to avoid.

However, while Perry praises the language of the Constitution, he fails to see his role.

Yes, New York can appeal; but to whom? And with what argument? When the state of New York comes calling, asking for those who champion a state’s autonomy, what will Perry say?

And that is where Gov. Perry reveals his support for states’ rights to be a sham. He doesn’t really support the rights of a community of individuals to self-determination. Rather, he supports such rights such rights for him and his state, but others have this right only so long as they determine what he want them to determine.

The Catholic Church’s significant impact on marriage opinion

Timothy Kincaid

July 29th, 2011

The Washington Post has a new opinion poll out which indicates that support for marriage equality in New York continues to be greater than opposition. Politico provides some analysis on the demographic breakdowns.

Of particular interest are the responses of Catholics. The Catholic Church (and its quasi-secular adjunct, The National Organization for Marriage) was the primary voice of opposition to legal marriage rights. Bishops loudly (and sometimes rather nastily) denounced efforts to recognize same-sex couples and sought to mobilize the Roman Catholic Church’s large membership in response.

So I was interested in discovering if the Church and its teaching had any impact on the political position of the Catholic New Yorkers. And it does appear as though the Church’s teaching has significantly impacted its parishioners’ views on the subject.

Catholics are broadly supportive of the measure, with nearly 60 percent saying they view the new law favorably, although support drops off among those who attend church less frequently.

So those who go to mass more often support marriage even more? Well, preach on, Padre.

UPDATE: Alas, sad news. Politico made a typo (drat them) and it turns out that the churchy Catholics are actually less supportive of equality (48%) than the stay-at-home variety (66%).

And I also got the poll population wrong. It asked a question about the New York marriage law in addition to the more general support question and my brain evidently started the weekend before me. (thanks, Matt, for the corrections.)

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