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Posts for September, 2011

El Paso Priest Reassigned Over Anti-Gay Political Activities

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2011

An El Paso, Texas, Catholic priest, who campaigned against various city proposals to enact anti-discrimination ordinances to protect gay people, has been reassigned to a new parish because of his political activities in an upcoming recall election. El Paso Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa reassigned Fr. Michael Rodriguez to a new parish in West Texas because his political activities “raised serious issues regarding whether his participation could be attributed to the Diocese of El Paso.”

“(Father) Rodriguez has recently challenged certain city officials to participate with him in a partisan debate on issues related to an upcoming election,” said Ochoa. “This type of intervention in the political process by religious organizations such as the Diocese of El Paso and San Juan Bautista Church is not permitted under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

The bishop added that the diocese received “credible information and documents” showing that Rodriguez failed to comply with diocesan policies. Another evangelical church, Word of Life, is currently being investigate by the IRS for its political activities.

Last month, Rodriguez took out a quarter-page ad in the El Paso Times calling gays “putrid” and “depraved.”

Plane To Fly “It Gets Better” Banner for Ex-Gay Conference, but Ex-Gays Won’t See It

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2011

Exodus International is scheduled to conduct one of its Love Won Out ex-gay infomercial’s tomorrow at a Houston-area church. According to The Advocate, the It Gets Better Project will hire an airplane to fly overhead for an ex-gay conference near Houston tomorrow with a message saying that you can’t simply “pray the gay away.” I think that sounds like a great idea, except:

Exodus International’s Love Won Out conference is taking place this Saturday at the Sugar Creek Baptist Church, located near Houston. The plane is scheduled to fly around downtown Houston at noon Saturday …

Get a map and an alarm clock, fellas. The plane may be headed for downtown Houston, but Sugar Creek Baptist is nearly 25 miles away in Sugar Land. And everyone will already be safely ensconced inside the church at that hour, while nobody will be anywhere close to downtown Houston on a Saturday at noon (the weekend forecast: a “pleasant” 95 degrees and probably 195% humidity, with an air quality alert due to high ozone). If a plane flies a banner over a deserted downtown and nobody sees it, does it still send a message?

Why can’t anyone fly the plane over Sugar Land at 7:30 a.m. as people are pulling into the parking lot?

El Paso Priest: Calling Gays “Putrid” Constitutes “True Pastoral Care for Homosexuals”

Jim Burroway

August 30th, 2011

Remember, it’s all in the spirit of love-the-sinner-but-hate-the sin:

The main newspaper in El Paso, Texas, published a full-page ad Saturday from a right-wing priest who calls gays “immoral,””putrid,” and “depraved.”

The paid advertisement in the El Paso Times, titled “True Pastoral Care for Homosexuals,” is from Friar Michael Rodriguez of El Paso’s San Juan Bautista Catholic Church. The virulently antigay and antichoice Rodriguez first writes about showing compassion for gay people before explaining how gays are destructive sinners.

“Engaging in depraved and unnatural sexual acts will lead directly to the ruin of both the homosexual’s body and soul,” Rodriguez writes. “Our very anatomy cries out against the lie that homosexual acts are ‘ok.’”

Earlier this year, Rodriguez penned an op-ed opposing that city council’s attempt to provide non-discrimination protections for its city charter. Rodriguez blasted it as “a deliberate attempt on the part of our local government to initiate the legalization of same-sex unions.” He wrote:

In summary, the maleficent agenda which lurks behind the actions of City Council and has given rise to the group “El Pasoans for Equality” is an affront to God, our Catholic religion, human reason, marriage and the family.

This homosexual agenda is in direct violation of: (1) the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, (2) the infallible moral teachings of the Catholic Church (Catechism #2357), (3) natural law and the most rudimentary moral code, (4) recent pronouncements by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Dec. 29, 1975; Oct. 1, 1986; July 23, 1992; June 3, 2003), and (5) the 2009 pastoral letter on marriage by our nation’s Catholic bishops.

…Holy Mother Church has a great, wondrous and tender love for all her children, regardless of “sexual orientation.” She is committed to treating all persons with love, dignity, and respect. … If any person is engaging in sinful sexual activity, we Catholics are called to practice love and compassion, above all, by leading the person to the truth, and helping the sinner to renounce sinful behavior.

Written with love, of course.

The Advocate reports that last weekend’s ad has been removed from the El Paso Times’s electronic edition. Does anyone in El Paso want to scan me a copy?

Update: Thanks to a BTB reader, you can see the entire ad as it appeared in El Paso Times here (PDF: 376KB/1 page).

Less than 0.5% of Houston Show Up For Rick Perry’s Rally

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2011

Houston’s Reliant Stadium hold 71,000 people, but according to officials with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally, about 30,000 people showed up. That should mean that the stadium would be half full. Doesn’t look like it to me. Failure #1.

Perry also sent invitations to every governor in the nation to attend his rally. The only one to show up was Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida made a video that was played in the stadium. Only two others out of at least forty-nine — that’s failure #2.

The American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon addressed criticisms of the wholesale obliteration of the lines between church and state as represented by a religious revival organized by a political executive by saying “no political candidates will be speaking.” Candidate, perhaps not — although please, does anyone not believe Perry is running for president — but the criticism stems from two current, elected governors speaking from the stage with another one phoning it in. These aren’t just candidates. They are current office-holders sworn to uphold the Constitution. Failure #3.

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.

Anti-Gay Dem Party Chair Doubles Down

Jim Burroway

March 17th, 2011

Bexar County (San Antonio) Democratic Party Chair and yesterday’s LaBarbera Award winner Dan Ramos held a news conference this morning to announce that he was not resigning over comments he made last week likening gay people to “the “f*cking Nazi Party.” Not only that, but Ramos doubled down:

Bexar County Democratic Chairman Dan Ramos reiterated that he believed that gays were like “white termites who have infiltrated the party much like termites infiltrate your house,” and were co-conspirators with direct involvement in the theft of over $200,000 from party coffers.

…”I’ve always tried to be politically correct, however the gays, through the Stonewall Democrats, have taken over the party. Hell, my opponent in the election, Choco Meza, she’s a lesbian,” Ramos said. (Meza is not a lesbian.)

Ramos also referred to State Democratic Chairman Boyd Richie as a “racist bastard” and an “idiot” who’s been too busy to help the local party. “Gay people have been advising Richie,” he said, “and he slipped when he asked me to resign.”

Update: Oh, goody. We have video:

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LaBarbera Award: Dan Ramos

Jim Burroway

March 16th, 2011

Bexar County (San Antonio, TX) Democratic Party Chairman let loose with some seriously demented statements last week to the San Antonio Current:

While the LGBT community has long found support within the national Democratic Party in its search for equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgendered individuals, Ramos called the gay-rights movement a “very sinister movement” that is out of touch with San Antonio’s values.

In an interview with the Current today, Ramos blamed homosexuals in the party for both undermining his authority and for the poor election results in Bexar County in 2010. “They are all connected to the gay Democratic Party, the so-called Stonewall Democrats. Just like termites they managed to get some of their people in key positions,” he said.

The party faithful has been largely divided over Ramos since he was elected to office in May, 2010, but his chief detractors are all homosexuals, Ramos said.

Ramos said he opposes homosexuality on religious grounds and doesn’t believe gay-friendly Democrats like Stonewall reflect the values of Bexar County voters. “I liken them to the Tea Party — the Tea Party and the f*cking Nazi Party — because they’re 90 percent white, blue-eyed, and Anglo, and I don’t give a f*ck who knows that. Just like the blacks … they’re American, but you can’t get your way just because you’re black.”

Dan Ramos (Photo: Antonia Padilla/QSanAntnonio.com)

On January 31, 2010, Ramos appeared before the Stonewall Democrats asking for the group’s endorsement in his quest for Party Chair. At the time, he said “I do not condone discrimination.” It is unclear whether he received Stonewall Dem’s backing.

Democrats statewide have angrily denounced Ramos and are demanding his resignation. Unfortunately, state party leaders are powerless to remove him. A bill has been introduced in the state legislature to remedy that situation. Meanwhile, Ramos has called a press conference for tomorrow morning, but he hasn’t revealed the topic. According to the Dallas Voice, a spokesman for the Bexar County Democratic Party’s steering committee speculates that Ramos has “been in the trenches for a long time and he’s not going to go without a fight.”

Texas school supervisor would rather kick off Christian athletes than allow gay students to meet

Timothy Kincaid

February 26th, 2011

The Equal Access Act is pretty clear: if you allow student groups to meet on campus you can’t exclude groups because of the content of their position. Originally intended to force school districts to allow Bible Study clubs the same access as the Chess Club, this law has been the legal foundation behind Gay-Straight Alliances being allowed on campus.

But some school districts – and some supervisors – are so anti-gay that they would rather have no clubs than allow gay people to meet and provide emotional support for each other. One such district is Flour Bluff Independent School District, near Corpus Christi, TX, where Supervisor Julie Carbajal is determined that gay kids will continue to feel excluded from school life. So committed is Carbajal to her anti-gay agenda that she is willing to kick other groups off campus.

Superintendent Julie Carbajal said she has asked the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to meet off campus while the district studies the legality of allowing the club while disallowing a club supporting homosexual students. She said there is no chance the district will approve the proposed Gay-Straight Alliance, but she will make sure all other school clubs are following the district’s policy.

Now the school had already decided back in 2005 – in a move to preemptively exclude gay-inclusive organizations – that it would allow no non-curricular clubs on campus. But that was not enforced when it came to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. So now they have to go.

Carbajal would rather have a school with no student support, no organization, no community, no spirit, rather than have one that didn’t tell gay kids that they are worthless. She thinks that this is the moral position, one “fair and equitable to all students.”

What a tool.

Texas lesbians still divorced

Timothy Kincaid

January 7th, 2011

Texans Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly met and fell in love back around 2002. In 2004 they married in Massachusetts and soon after adopted a child. But things did not work out so last year Angelique and Sabina went their separate ways.

Separation being a difficult process, mediation failed the ladies leaving them desperate for final legal determination of their assets and parental rights. But they had a problem; although they married in Massachusetts, they were not residents of the state and could not divorce there.

So they thought they’d do the rational thing: ask the state that they lived in to put legal sanction on the terms of their division and enforce them. And, perhaps to everyone’s surprise, a Texas judge agreed, and their divorce was finalized on March 31, 2010.

But Greg Abbott, the state’s Attorney General, was having none of it. The constitution bans gay marriage and thus there can be no gay divorce he decreed.

Abbott had no empathy or even the slightest concern with the plight of the women who were in legal limbo. He was interested only in making his point, in fighting ‘the homosexual agenda’ and if he destroyed lives in the process that is of absolutely no concern to him whatsoever. (What a peculiar way of thinking, to be so opposed to some ‘social harm’ that you are willing to wreak havoc on your constituents – who are harming no one – in order to hold up your notion. The social good is subservient to getting your way. Can you imagine intervening to demand that these two women not be able to resolve their property issues because you don’t like gay couples?)

But even the Attorney General isn’t entitled to butt into every case he so desires. And the appellate court ruled that Abbott didn’t have jurisdiction to appeal the case because his assistants did not file a motion to intervene until after state District Judge Scott Jenkins orally granted the divorce.

So for now, the Angelique and Sabina are still divorced.

Asher Brown’s School District To Hold Candidate Forum Oct 19

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2010

A reader sent me this via email:

Jim, you may be aware that on Oct. 19 the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD is holding a candidate’s forum for the people running for their Board of Trustees?  I live too far away to attend, but someone should be there to ask the candidates some questions.  Do you know of any plans?

I wasn’t aware, but I am now. School Board Trustees are the ones who set policy and are ultimately responsible for the actions of the school district. In Cy-Fair’s case, the district had been ignoring what now appears to be a long-running problem with bullying, long before thirteen-year-old Asher Brown took his life earlier this week. School officials claimed not to know anything about Asher’s tormentors. Now they are trying to shift the blame for Asher’s death to his parents.

It might be a good thing to clear out the entire Board of Trustees in November, but it only makes sense to do so if those who are running against the incumbents are actually any better. This candidates’ forumwould be an excellent time to ask some very hard questions. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, Oct. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m., in the Board Room of the Instructional Support Center (10300 Jones Road). The forum will also be posted on the web the following day.

Texas School Officials Suggest Parents To Blame for Asher Brown’s Suicide

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2010

After thirteen-year-old Asher Brown committed suicide after years of bullying at Hamilton Junior High in Cypress, Texas, school officials first claimed that they didn’t know Asher was being bullied. Asher’s parents however deny that. “That’s absolutely inaccurate — it’s completely false,” Amy Truong said. “I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It’s like they’re calling us liars.”

Now school officials are trying a new and far more loathsome and disgusting tactic:

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD said the district’s counseling and psychological teams would be expanding crisis services for students at Hamilton.

“The district, together with the Hamilton community, is saddened by the death of Asher Brown,” the statement read. “A district administrative team is conducting a thorough and involved investigation into the allegations of bullying that have been made since the death of Asher Brown. Although the investigation is not completed, the initial findings indicate that Asher’s personal and family histories were very complicated.” [Emphasis mine]

Meanwhile seventeen-year-old student Jayron Martin has come forward again to remind everyone about the bullying he experienced in the very same school district just last November, when he was beaten with a metal pole. He suffered a concussion from those injuries. That attack occurred after Jayron reported that he had been threatened to two assistant principals, who did nothing to protect him.

How many red flags should administrators be allowed to ignore before they’re held criminally liable?

ABC News Covers Recent Suicides

Jim Burroway

September 29th, 2010

Here is ABC New’s extra web coverage of Dan Savage’s YouTube project, “It Gets Better”:

And speaking of “It Get’s Better,” here’s another contribution from a Muslim gay teen. He grew up in a Shia Pakistani family, and he says to hang in there. It Gets Better:

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Just another dead gay kid, age 13

Timothy Kincaid

September 28th, 2010

On another website I’ve been having a conversation with some folk who “do not perceive homosexuality to be a normal or healthy human variation or way of living.” And they support Focus on the Family in their opposition to targeted anti-bullying programs because such programs are all just a cover to “pass off pro-gay political fluff as curriculum in the guise of bullying prevention.”

And because they support the cultivation and continuance of a culture of disapproval towards homosexuality, they oppose anything that might suggest to kids that it’s ok to be gay. They even fear that telling kids not to pick on others due to sexual orientation might make some vulnerable questioning kid identify with being gay and send him on a path to sin and misery.

I could understand such fears if we were talking in the abstract. I could consider the fear and ignorance behind their concerns and try and find a way to assure them that just because a school accepts gay kids does not mean that it rejects those who believe that sexuality outside of the confines of a bronze age morality code is sinful.

But then I read stories like this one. (Houston Chronicle)

Asher Brown’s worn-out tennis shoes still sit in the living room of his Cypress-area home while his student progress report — filled with straight A’s — rests on the coffee table.

The eighth-grader killed himself last week. He shot himself in the head after enduring what his mother and stepfather say was constant harassment from four other students at Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District.

Brown, his family said, was “bullied to death” — picked on for his small size, his religion and because he did not wear designer clothes and shoes. Kids also accused him of being gay, some of them performing mock gay acts on him in his physical education class, his mother and stepfather said.

I am so f*cking sick of this. This little boy, 13 years old, was trying to come to terms with his sexuality (he had just come out to his family). His parents were trying their hardest to help. But they could not get his school to support them.

School district spokeswoman Kelli Durham said no students, school employees or the boy’s parents ever reported that he was being bullied.

That statement infuriated the Truongs, who accused the school district of protecting the bullies and their parents.

“That’s absolutely inaccurate — it’s completely false,” Amy Truong said. “I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It’s like they’re calling us liars.”

And this just makes me insane.

On the last week of his life he was kicked down a flight of stairs. When he tried to retrieve his book bag, other students kicked his books away. The school “turned up no witnesses.”

But is isn’t just the administrators that are morally responsible for Asher’s death. It is also all of those “good Christian people” who support Focus on the Family and their campaign to prevent schools from protecting gay kids.

I can understand how someone might not want a program that “promotes homosexuality.” But I cannot for the life of me understand their priorities. Is it really all that important to them that no one at Asher Brown’s school tell him that he’s okay and stop other students from tormenting him?

Because what we are seeing is the alternative. And I cannot fathom how you could possibly decide that it’s better for small gay children to die than support them.

UPDATE: reader tobyk reminds us that this is the same school district whose administrators refused to help Jayron Martin, a gay kid who was left with a concussion after being beaten with a metal pole.

HIV considered “dangerous weapon”

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2010

Back in October, a fellow by the name of Christopher Everett proved that the gay community is not exempt from including absolutely disgustingly foul creatures. From the arrest affidavit:

On October 20th, 2009 XXXX was interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Belton, Texas by Forensic Interviewer, Susan Schanne-Knobloch. During the interview XXXX advised that Christopher Everett invited him to “hang out” at Christopher’s home on the evening of October 16th, 2009. They arranged to meet by using their cell phones. XXXX left his home without his parent’s knowledge and Christopher Everett picked him and they arrived in Copperas Cove shortly after midnight.

Once they arrived at Christopher Everett’s home Christopher began kissing and touching him. XXX then explained that before Christopher Everett took XXXX back home Christopher Everett had penetrated XXXX anally (without the protection of a condom). XXXX also added that Christopher Everett knew his age which XXXX divulged when they first began to communicate through an internet social site called “grinder”. XXXX added that after the incident occurred he learned (through a friend who had also communicated with Christopher Everett through “Grinder”) that Christopher Everett claims that he is HIV Positive.

Everett is 26, XXXX is 16. There is no report on XXXX’s seroimmunity status but I hope that he did not become infected.

From KXXV:

Everett was in the Coryell County jail Tuesday in lieu of a $50,000 bond. He is charged with aggravated sexual assault with deadly weapon, an offense punishable by five to 99 years or even life in prison.

Now is one of those times when I’m glad that Texas is not lenient on criminals. I’ve seen too many kids who trusted a foul creature like Everett before they were old enough or wise enough to know better.

UPDATE:

Reader PR brought a follow-up story to our attention which adds additional detail (kxxv):

During an interview with investigators, Everett admitted he was infected with HIV and did not inform the teen.

He pleaded guilty to Aggravated Assault with A Deadly Weapon in June, with the deadly weapon being the virus.

Everett’s attorney argued for parole, because the victim’s blood tests haven’t tested positive for HIV. State prosecutors said the act was like “pointing a loaded gun at someone, and then it not going off.”

Everett was sentenced in the 52nd District Court to 15 years in prison and must pay a $3,000 fine.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

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