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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 October, 2009

The Push Is On For Equality

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2009

We are just one week away from a very important election in three states. We are hearing that the National Organization for Marriage is making last-minute dumps of huge amounts of cash in Washington and Maine, while Kalamazoo, Michigan is facing a tremendous onslaught of misleading ads against their non-discrimination ordinance, which is also up for a vote. Not only can you contribute, but you can help out with phone banking — right from your own home or wherever you happen to be. The following message from the Courage Campaign is being carried by LGBT bloggers nationwide, including Box Turtle Bulletin. Please do what you can today and in the coming days to ensure that on November 3, there will be no regrets.

Washington:
Who we are: Approve Referendum 71 is the campaign to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington State. By voting to approve, voters retain the domestic partnership laws that were passed during this year’s legislative session, including using sick leave to care for a partner, adoption rights, insurance rights, and more.

What we need: We need phone bankers to get our supporters out to vote. Washington is an all mail-in ballot state, and we need to ensure our supporters put their ballots in the mail. Also, youth turnout is a critical component of our campaign, and youth turnout historically drops in off-year elections. So we need a lot of help to turn them out.

How you do it: Sign up here to make remote calls for Approve 71. We’ll then contact you for a training, and you can make GOTV calls.

Maine:
Who we are:
The No On 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign is working to protect Maine’s recently-passed law legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Our opponents have put the issue on the ballot for Nov 3, 2009. Because of Maine’s early voting election laws, people are already voting at the polls, so we need help immediately to turn out our side at the polls.

What we need: We need you to devote a few hours to Call for Equality. Call for Equality is a virtual phonebank set up so that you can call Maine voters wherever you are. Much of Maine is rural, where canvassing isn’t effective, so we need to reach these voters- along with other supporters- by phone. All you need is a phone and internet connection. No experience required! We’ll provide the training, and all you need is a a few hours to help get a win in Maine.

How you do it: Click here to sign up for a training and your shift. There are lots of times available for your convenience.

Goal ThermometerKalamazoo, MI:
Who We Are: The Yes on Ordinance 1856 / One Kalamazoo campaign is working in Michigan to support the City Commission of Kalamazoo’s twice approved ordinance for housing, employment, and public accommodation protections for gay and transgender residents. Opponents forced a public referendum on the ordinance so dedicated local volunteers, led by former Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley, are working to ensure voters say YES to fairness and equality and keep Ordinance 1856.

Why The Urgency: In the final weeks, the opposition has gone all out with aggressive disinformation and misleading red herrings to try to defeat the ordinance. This includes signs that say “No to Discrimination” (even though voting No actually supports continued discrimination of GLBT residents), transphobic door hangers and fliers, and now radio ads that falsely suggest that criminal behavior will become legal when this simply isn’t true. The Yes on Ordinance 1856 supporters are better organized but many voters who want to vote for gay and transgender people are getting confused by the opposition.

How To Help:
1) Help the One Kalamazoo campaign raise a final $10,000 specifically dedicated to fight back against the lies on the local TV and radio airwaves and fully fund the campaign’s final field and GOTV efforts.

Give here: http://www.actblue.com/page/3-2-1-countdown

2) If you live nearby and can physically volunteer in Kalamazoo sign up here. If you know anyone that lives in Kalamazoo, use the One Kalamazoo campaign’s online canvass tool to remind those voters that they need to vote on November 3rd and vote YES on Ordinance 1856 to support equality for gay and transgender people.

Contact voters: http://www.onekalamazoo.com/tellfriends2

Stephen Colbert on Washington’s Referendum 71

Jim Burroway

October 27th, 2009
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Religion

UW Poll: Good News on Ref 71

Timothy Kincaid

October 27th, 2009

From Seattle PI:

The Washington Poll, which interviewed a total of 724 voters, brings very good news for supporters of same-sex domestic partnerships.

Referendum 71, where an “approved” vote upholds the state’s new expanded gay rights law, garners 57 percent ‘yes’ to 38 percent ‘no’ with 5 percent undecided. Among voters who say they’ve already mailed in ballots, R-71 was carrying by a 55-45 margin.

However, Proposition 8 taught us to be cautious in believing polling numbers. So let’s not slow down or relax in our efforts.

Starbucks Says Approve Ref. 71

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2009

StarbucksThis comes to us via SLOG:

In a statement, the company said that approving R-71 “ensures that basic benefits and important protections are not taken away from committed couples, so they are able to take care of each other, especially in times of crisis.” Starbucks wants voters to approve the measure “because it is aligned with our business practices, providing domestic partner benefits, and one of our core values of treating people with respect and dignity.” [emphasis in SLOG's post]

Starbucks hasn’t contributed to the campaign, but they did send this message out to their employees. Starbucks has 3,000 employees in its Seattle headquarters and maintains 667 stores in Washington state, and each of them got this statement. That’s quite a venti.

Starbucks’ endorsement follows similar appeals from Microsoft, Boeing, Nike, and many other companies that employ large numbers of people in the Pacific Northwest.

With all the attention being paid to Maine, Washington’s LGBT citizens are feeling ignored. Karen Ocamb says they’re sweating bullets because they may well lose their hard-won Domestic Partnerships. Please show them your love by donating to Approve Ref. 71 today.

APPROVE71

New Washington Ref 71 Ad

Jim Burroway

October 21st, 2009

Charlene Strong’s partner Kate Fleming, died in 2006. While Kate was in the hospital, Charlene was initially denied access to see her. This is why approving Washington’s Referendum 71 is so important, and it’s why it’s important that this ad goes on the air.  Please do your part today.

YouTube Preview Image

Supreme Ct. Justice Blocks Release of Ref 71 Petition Names

Jim Burroway

October 19th, 2009

Last week we reported that a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals authorized the state of Washington to release the namesof those who signed the petition to put Referendum 71 on the ballot. Today, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocked the release while considering a request from Protect Marriage Washington to reverse the appeals court ruling.

Protect Marriage Washington had circulated a petition to put Washington’s Domestic Partnership Registry before the voters. If Referendum 71 passes, the Domestic Partnership Registry will be preserved. In September, U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle temporarily barred state officials from releasing the identities of those who signed the referendum petitions, saying that releasing the names could chill the First Amendment rights of petition signers. The Appeals court disagreed, saying that the petition process is a legislative process that is subject to the state’s open records laws.

White House Opposes Anti-Gay Ballot Measures

Jim Burroway

October 16th, 2009

Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate is reporting that the White House has come out against efforts in Maine and Washington state to strip LGBT Americans their marriage and partnership rights:

In response to an inquiry from The Advocate, the White House issued the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s position on same-sex relationship recognition voter referenda in Maine and Washington.

“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes ‘strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.’ Also at the dinner, he said he supports, ‘ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.’”

Update: This statement builds on what President Barack Obama said at the HRC dinner last weekend:

Will we uphold the ideals on which this nation was founded:  that all of us are equal, that all of us deserve the same opportunity to live our lives freely and pursue our chance at happiness?  I believe we can; I believe we will. And that is why I support ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.   I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples.

Names of Ref 71 Petition Signers To Be Made Public

Jim Burroway

October 15th, 2009

A three-member panel of the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals has reversed a decison by U.S. district judge who blocked the release of the names of those who signed the petitions putting Referendum 71 on the Washington Ballot. Referrendum 71 asks voters to approve or reject Washington’s domestic partnership law.

Washington’s Public Records Act requires names of petitions to be part of the public record. Last month, Judge Ben Settle in Tacoma set aside that law and approved Protect Marriage Washington’s request to keep the names hidden. Washington’s Atturney General’s Office argued that the law is important to ensure transparency in government and the release of these records is a vital part of that transparency.

What Happened to That Mormon Ad for Washington’s Ref 71?

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2009

A reader writes:

Jim – do you know what happened to the ad that you linked to this post? Was it a hoax? Or was it the real thing and got laughed off the air? I can never tell when I’m dealing with Mormons -which is too often since half my family is LDS. Did anyone get a copy of the ad before it was pulled?

Sure enough, that ad — complete with an LDS copyrighted image — was pulled from YouTube. Poof! Gone. Like it was never even there.

Washington’s First Ref 71 Ad

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2009

The first commercial calling for approval of Washington’s Referendum 71 is out, but I hear it’s not on television. That takes money. Please give generously today.

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Poll: Referendum 71 “Close”

Timothy Kincaid

October 7th, 2009

From King5.com

Another KING 5 News / SurveyUSA poll of 548 likely voters finds 45 percent plan to vote for approval of Referendum 71. Forty-two percent are voting to reject it and 13 percent remain undecided.

We have less than a month, folks. Contribute or volunteer.

Mormons Unleash New Ad Against Washington’s Ref 71

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2009

Okay, technically the ad is by Protect Marriage Washington, but the imagery is heavily Mormonism — copyrighted Mormonism at that.

YouTube Preview Image

The second image you see flashing on the screen, of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, is a copyrighted image from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can find a copy of that image on their web site as part of their Gospel Art Picture Kit. Another one found on a web page titled, “What Do Mormons Believe About Adam and Eve.” It’s interesting reading, since it hints at a fallible God — or at least a God that gives conflicting instructions and it’s up to us to decide which set of instructions to follow.

But the best part of this ad is that it confirms everything we’ve ever warned about. It really is their ultimate goal to impose, by coercion, their religious beliefs on everyone else.

I hope they show this ad on every television in Washington. Maybe dreams really do come true!

Thank You, Microsoft

Timothy Kincaid

October 6th, 2009

Seattle Times

Microsoft Corp. has donated $100,000 to Washington Families Standing Together, the campaign seeking through Referendum 71 to retain the latest expansion of the state’s domestic partnership law, up for a public vote on Nov. 3. The domestic partnership law extends marriage-like state benefits to gay and some senior couples.

Ken Hutcherson must be having a conniption.

9th Circuit to Hear Appeal of Special Treatment for Referendum 71 Signatories

Timothy Kincaid

September 22nd, 2009

Last month, U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma decided that public petitions to change legislation in the State of Washington were protected by a veil of secrecy. He declared that the First Amendment protected the anonymity of those who signed Referendum 71, an effort to deny rights to gay couples.

Anti-gay activists had argued that gay people and those who support them might deny their business to those who wanted to harm gay folk and therefore their identities must be kept secret so as to ensure that they could engage in anti-gay activism without any negative consequences.

The State, with an interest in open processes, has appeal to the Ninth Circuit, claiming that open government is in the best interest of the people. (Seattle PI)

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Attorney General Rob McKenna’s request for a fast-track appeal. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 14 in Pasadena, Calif.

Gay Philanthropist Donates $100K To Equality March

Jim Burroway

September 15th, 2009

From the Washington Blade:

Gay philanthropist Bruce Bastian of Utah has donated $70,000 to the National Equality March in D.C. and plans to contribute another $30,000 for the event because he strongly believes it will jump-start the LGBT rights movement.

Jump-start the LGBT rights movement? Nothing will jump-start it like two victories in Maine and Washington, and nothing will deflate it like two more defeats in November. Remember the huge letdown after Prop 8? Or are our attention spans really that short?

I appreciate the passion for the March but it is being foolishly misdirected. Not only are its goals ill-concieved and not thought through, but it’s slated for October 11 when Congress will not be in recess and President Obama will be out of town.

Frankly, this whole March idea may be a great ego boost for the organizers, but it’s incredibly selfish considering the needs of LGBT people who face ballot initiatives right now aimed at stripping them and their families of basic rights. That $130,000 can make a huge difference in those fights, not on the grassy lawn of the Mall while everyone else is out of town.

Please donate to No on 1 in Maine and Approve Ref.71 in Washington.

WA Anti-Gays to Remain Anonymous

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the opinions of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

September 11th, 2009

“There, I guess King George can read that!” declared John Hancock signing in a large firm script and thereby attaching his name, reputation, and fortune to the risky venture of independence.

It’s likely that Hancock made no such declaration. But the myth has become part of our national identity, less of an anecdote and more of a mindset. We Americans like those who stand behind their convictions, those who think that if you believe in something that you have to be willing to put your name on the line, to be willing to risk something for your principles.

We don’t have much respect for those who want the privilege of their position, but are unwilling to risk anything. We don’t like back-room dealers, vigilantes who hide their identity under a sheet, or politicians who say one thing and do another. Our laws demand that an accused be allowed to confront his accuser in court face to face. Our political process requires that votes by legislators – and even debate – be public so that we can see who stands where. If you want to make the decisions, you need to be accountable for them.

In short, we don’t like sneaks.

But in Washington, the anti-gays are sneaks. They managed to scrape together enough signatures (with the help of the Secretary of State) to qualify the anti-gay Referendum 71 for the ballot. But they don’t want to be accountable for those signatures. They want to deny gay people basic rights… but they want to do it on the sly.

The supporters of Referendum 71 have sued to force the State of Washington to hide the names of the signatories, to keep their identities secret. And a federal judge has agreed. (Seattle Times)

A federal judge has continued to keep private the names and addresses of those who signed Referendum 71, saying they likely are protected under the First Amendment and that the state failed to prove a compelling public interest in their release.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma granted a preliminary injunction today, blocking the state from making the petitions public.

Now the First Amendment of the Constitution of which I am aware says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And “the people” in Washington have petitioned, which is their right. But this judge thinks that they are entitled to do so anonymously. And I think that this is a most dangerous interpretation.

This sets a precedent for other petitions and other appeals to government. It opens the door for special interests of all sorts to change laws and propose initiatives under a cloak of secrecy, denying the citizenry even the basic knowledge of who is behind such efforts.

And it does not stop with petitions. If the First Amendment protects identity for petitions, what else does it protect? If, indeed, petitions can be without scrutiny, if the subjects of such petitions can be denied knowledge of the petitioners, what else in the First Amendment is also protected by the shield of anonymity?

Is the press allowed a veil of anonymity? Will the courts deny the victim of a libelous attack knowledge about who owns, operates, or writes for the paper that defamed him?

Is peaceful assembly now a masked mob?

Perhaps this judge is familiar with a First Amendment of which I am unaware. But if so, I’m sure it is one that is attached to a constitution that would be foreign to our founders who, like John Hancock, were willing to risk life, freedom, and property to loudly and largely put their names on their revolution.

Referendum 71 Cleared for Vote

Timothy Kincaid

September 8th, 2009

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee has rejected the arguments by Washington Families Standing Together that only signatures of actual registered voters collected in conformity with required procedures should be considered as valid towards the anti-gay referendum.

WFST may appeal the decision, but time is quickly running out.

Referendum 71 Signatures Released… But Not Public

Timothy Kincaid

September 3rd, 2009

The suit to release the names of the signatories of Referendum 71 to gay groups seeking to know who signed (and to publish the names) has been delayed for another week. But the opponents of the referendum seeking to have invalid signatures disqualified were provided with the names.

Yes, it’s confusing.

The Stranger:

In a dance between federal and state courts, US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle has just announced that petitions for Referendum 71 will remain sealed until September 10, when he will make his final decision whether the names and addresses of people who signed should be made public. However, Judge Settle did release petitions to Washington Families Standing Together (WAFST), which, earlier this afternoon, filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court to challenge the validity of signatures that were accepted by elections officials.

Washington Judge OK’s Referendum 71 Certification

Timothy Kincaid

September 2nd, 2009

In Washington, Judge Julie Spector has decided not to block Referendum 71 from being being certified. But her decision may be procedural rather than based on content. (Seattle PI)

Spector said challenges to a referendum must be filed in Thurston County Superior Court after certification – and supporters of the “everything but marriage” law still had that option for trying to get R-71 off the ballot. The group that brought the original lawsuit – Washington Families Standing Together – said it would go to court in Thurston County to try to block R-71.

As to whether the signatures were invalid, the judge found that question ambiguous.

In her ruling Spector said Reed has the power under state law to reject petitions with falsely signed declarations, petitions with blank declarations and signatures from people who weren’t yet registered to vote.

“It is conceded that the number of signatures represented by these inadequate petitions is significant. Without them, the secretary of state could not certify Referendum 71 for the ballot,” Spector wrote.

However she also said that state law does not require the secretary of state to not accept petitions that don’t meet statutory requirements. “In summary, under Washington case law it is unclear whether there are any limits to the secretary of state’s discretion as long as he has chosen to accept petitions rather than reject them.”

In other words, it was up to the Secretary of State whether he wanted to allow Referendum 71 to go to ballot. We will see if Superior Court agrees.

But judge also noted that there was language in the petition that may invalidate the entire process.

The judge also said there were highlights on top of the petitions that contain “apparent falsehoods,” such as the statement that if same-sex marriage becomes law public schools would be forced to teach that homosexuality is “normal…even over the objections of parents.”

Spector said the required signature-gatherers declaration swears that people who signed the petition did so “knowingly.”

“It is unclear whether a signature-gatherer can swear than an individual signer has signed the petition ‘knowingly’ when the signature-gatherer has allegedly misrepresented the contents of the petition,” Spector wrote.

Court Decision on Referendum 71 on Wednesday

Timothy Kincaid

August 31st, 2009

Seattle PI:

During a hearing Monday afternoon, King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector heard arguments from lawyers representing the Secretary of State, proponents of R-71 and Washington Families Standing Together, the group opposed to the referendum.

Families Standing Together filed a lawsuit last week requesting an injunction that would keep the referendum off the fall ballot. Spector said she will issue a ruling by Wednesday on the matter.

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