Posts Tagged As: Wyoming

Marriage update – North America

Timothy Kincaid

January 25th, 2013

It’s getting marriagey all over the place. And it’s also getting hard to keep track of what is going on where. So here is an update to help (which will probably be outdated by the time I hit “publish”).

North America:

Canada – Marriage has been equal since 2005.

Mexico – Marriage is equal in Mexico City, and marriages conducted there are recognize throughout the nation. However, in December, the Supreme Court unanimously found that an anti-gay marriage law in Oaxaca was unconstitutional. Due to Mexico’s complicated legal system, this means that marriages are highly likely to eventually be legal throughout the nation, but the process requires that five same-sex couples in each state file an amparo (civil rights claim) and that the court issue the same ruling on each. It may take some time for the legality of the state by state process to catch up, but the reality is that any Mexican couple wishing to marry probably can, either immediately or through petition.

United States – Several locales provide or have provided marriage equally:

  • Massachusetts – 2005 2003
  • California – 2008, but rescinded that year
  • Connecticut – 2008
  • Vermont – 2009
  • Iowa – 2009
  • New Hampshire – 2010
  • The District of Columbia – 2010
  • New York – 2011
  • Washington – 2012
  • Maryland – 2012
  • Maine – 2013

In addition, two Native American tribes, the Coquille in Oregon and the Suquamish in Washington provide marriage equally to their members.

Current and upcoming movement on the marriage front includes:

* DOMA3 – several federal courts have found the federal prohibition on recognition of legally married same-sex couples – the Defense of Marriage Act, Section 3 – to be unconstitutional on several grounds. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear one case, Windsor v. the United States, a case in which Edie Windsor was assessed in excess of $300,000 in inheritance tax from her wife’s estate, a tax that does not apply to heterosexuals. On Tuesday, the special counsel for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (at the direction of House Speaker John Boehner) filed its arguments in defense of the law (I’ll try to get an analysis up soon). It argued that BLAG has standing to support the law, that only rational basis should apply to anti-gay discrimination, that the nation needs uniform recognition, and that states should be allowed to decline to offer equality if they so choose (thus, I assume, vetoing other states in the name of uniformity). Today Professor Victoria C. Jackson will, at the court’s request, filing a brief insisting that BLAG has no standing and on February 26th, Windsor’s team will present arguments as to why she should not be discriminated against. Oral arguments before SCOTUS will be on March 27th, and the Court will likely release it’s ruling in June. Whichever way it goes, it will probably only impact couples in states which allow marriage.

* Proposition 8 – this is the highest profile case, but it could end up having the least legal effect. In 2008, the California Supreme Court found the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage to be a violation of the state’s constitution. For several months, same-sex couples could legally marry, but in November the voters approved Proposition 8 by 52%, ending marriage equality in the Golden State. In May 2009, Ted Olson, one of the most prominent Republican attorneys and David Boies, one of the most prominent Democratic attorneys, teamed up to fight for the legal overturn of that proposition. In January 2010, though cameras were banned from the courtroom, the nation was captivated by the reporting about the case – a trial not only on the legality of the proposition but also on its merits. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker eventually found the proposition to violate the US Constitution on broad grounds. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, but on much narrower grounds: that a state cannot provide a right to all citizens and then take it away from a select few. Last month the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal, but added the question as to whether the proponents defending the law (the Governor and Attorney General declined to do so) have standing. On Tuesday the proponents of the law filed their brief (I’ll try to get an analysis up soon). Olson and Boies have until February 21st to respond, and oral arguments will be on March 26th with a likely result in June. While the Court could find that the US Constitution guarantees marriage equality across the land, it could also choose to narrow its ruling to the unique issues of the case and only impact Californians.

* Rhode Island – on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the marriage bill. The full House voted in favor today 51-19. However, the Senate is less certain. Although Rhode Island is virtually a single-party state (the Senate has 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent), the Senate President, Teresa Paiva-Weed, is an opponent to equality. She has said that she will allow a committee to hear the matter, but in times past she has made certain that committees were selected to prevent equality.

I have started a petition at Change.org to request that should Paiva-Weed obstruct or block the passage of this bill, that Rhode Island State Senators remove her from power. Please go sign this petition.

* Illinois – a marriage bill was submitted during the first week of the year in a lame-duck session. Due to difficulty in corralling members returning from holiday, the vote never took place.

After the new legislature was is session, the bill was reintroduced. Currently the status is a bit in limbo as the bill is yet to be sent to committee.

However, that does not mean that there is no excitement, just that it’s happening outside the legislature and in an unexpected arena. The GOP chairman has come out in favor of marriage, which has angered social conservatives in the state. Bit though they are demanding his resignation and threatening ouster, the party insiders are lining up behind the chairman. At the moment it seem like the prevailing position may end up, “we may not support equality, but we support those who do.” In any case, this latest public squabble serves our community well.

* Minnesota – fresh off a victory in turning back an anti-marriage bill in November, Minnesotans for All Families is fighting on and will present a marriage bill to the legislature next month. The political strategist who generaled the battle is staying on to finish the war.

Polls are breaking even in the state and the DFL (Democratic) party has a slim lead in each house, so they will have their work cut out for them. But I would be surprised if the state did not take some movement towards couple recognition.

* Colorado – supporters filed an everything-but-the-name Civil Unions bill which is pretty much guaranteed to pass. More than half of each house has signed on as sponsors. This is as far as that state can go at present, as there is a state constitutional ban on equality.

* Wyoming – out of pretty much nowhere and flying way below the radar, lesbian Sen. Cathy Connolly has file both a domestic partnership bill and a marriage bill. Both have significant Republican support.

They may not be attracting much buzz on these bills due to party power; Republicans dominate both houses by overwhelming numbers. But Wyoming Republicans are traditionally pretty libertarian in their thinking and local papers are mostly quoting the bills’ Republican cosponsors. It may be early yet, but so far there doesn’t appear to be any visible organized opposition. I would not be altogether shocked if one of the bills passed or, at least, got a decent vote.

* New Jersey – the legislature of this state has already passed a marriage bill which was vetoed by the governor. However there are the paths to equality that might be achievable.

One is to take it to the people. But though a supporter brought such a bill, it was quickly dismissed due to the inherent insult of voting on a minority’s civil rights. (Personally, I’d rather win at the polls that fight over whether its an insult to do so.)

The second path, the one favored by equality leaders in the state, is to continue building support one by one until we have the numbers to override a veto. That would require substantial Republican support and this would be held off until after the next primary to minimize conservative backlash.

The third possibility doesn’t appear likely, but it shouldn’t be written off. Governor Chris Christie is a politician, and politicians are susceptible to evolution.

Christie made his mark in the Republican Party by being hard nose on fiscal issues but being more progressive on social issues. He was the poster boy for supporting civil unions, a position that made him seem ahead of the curve. As the Party moves away from anti-gay hostility, he may find it necessary to move as well. It’s not a bet I’d take, but it’s not outside the realm if possible for the Governor to hold to his views but still find some way to allow marriage to become law.

* Hawaii – I’ve no idea why marriage hasn’t already become law.

I think it can be hardest sometimes in states in which one party dominates. In mega-red states, we have little hope (though i just made a case for Wyoming). But in all-blue states, its not always much better. There’s no reason for Democrats to show the voters the difference between them and Republicans, so they fell less pressure to live up to their potential.

I’m sure I’ve missed some state in there. And, of course, you have to always expect that something completely unexpected will happen.

Tomorrow I’ll try to provide an update for Europe and South America.

UPDATE:

Yesterday, a state representative in Hawaii filed a bill for marriage equality. She had no cosponsors. Also yesterday, 15 representatives filed a bill calling for a constitutional amendment banning equality. It was also introduced in the senate. Additionally, a state senator filed a pair of ‘take it to the people’ bills which would have voters choose to either allow or ban marriage in the constitution (he’s an opponent of equality). All in all, it looks dire for marriage in Hawaii.

The evolution of domestic partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

January 16th, 2013

Representative Cathy Connolly (D-Albany) has submitted two bills to the Wyoming legislature, one providing for marriage equality and one providing for domestic partnerships. Both bills have bipartisan support in the House, and the domestic partnership bill has bipartisan support in the Senate.

While marriage is highly preferable, either bill would be a great improvement in the lives of gay couples in the state. And even the domestic partnership bill has taken a step further than other DP bills have.

Domestic Partnerships were first proposed in San Francisco in the late 70’s. The City Counsel approved such a provision in 1982, but then-mayor Diane Feinstein vetoed the bill (San Francisco finally got domestic partnerships in 1990). In 1985, the newly chartered city of West Hollywood created the first Domestic Partner registry.

In 1999, the State of California passed the first state-wide domestic partnership bill. The benefits were limited; it provided for a public registry, hospital visitation rights, and authorized health insurance coverage for domestic partners of public employees. Over the next several years, additional benefits and obligations were added and the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 provided that (nearly) all provisions that impact marriage also impact domestic partnerships (though as recently as 2011, additional tinkering was required).

Oregon (in 2007) and Nevada (in 2009) started where California ended up. Oregon’s HB2007 Section 9 starts with “Any privilege, immunity, right or benefit granted by statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other law to an individual because the individual is or was married” and runs for about 500 more words. Nevada’s SB283 Section 7 manages to squeeze the definition down to about 365 words and begins thusly:

Domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.

But the proposed Wyoming law takes a unique approach and, I think, one which reflects the evolution in the nation’s thinking about same-sex couples.

For purposes of Wyoming statutes, administrative rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil or criminal law, the term “spouse” shall include a party to a domestic partnership contract evidenced by a certificate issued pursuant to this chapter.

No longer are domestic partners treated just like spouses. Should this bill become law, in Wyoming domestic partners would be spouses.

Wait wait wait wait wait… WYOMING?!?

Timothy Kincaid

January 15th, 2013

Either I’m dreaming, someone has hacked my browser and is playing a big joke, or the movement towards equality is in hypermegaoverdrive. (Jackson Hole Daily)

Laramie Democratic Rep. Cathy Connolly filed legislation late Monday afternoon that would create a path for gay couples to form civil unions or get married.

Okay, that sounds normal. It was the response of some Republicans that has me wondering if April 1 came early.

The dual approach already has won the backing of Reps. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, and Gingery. Both Teton County lawmakers said they would prefer to see gay marriage allowed in Wyoming but are willing to debate whether civil unions might be a better way to go.

That would be Catholic Republican Chair of the Judiciary Committee Gingery who did not support marriage in 2007, 2009, or 2012. But, in his words:

“It’s hard for anyone to be against gay marriage when there’s a face to it and that face is a friend or relative,” Gingery said.

Wyoming Supremes grant same-sex divorce rights

Timothy Kincaid

June 6th, 2011

The Wyoming Supreme Court has recognized the right of a same-sex couple married in Canada to divorce in that state. They avoided the larger question of whether out-of-state marriage were recognized as such in Wyoming, addressing instead the narrower issue of divorce.

[R]ecognizing a valid foreign same-sex marriage for the limited purpose of entertaining a divorce proceeding does not lessen the law or policy in Wyoming against allowing the creation of same-sex marriages. A divorce proceeding does not involve recognition of a marriage as an ongoing relationship. Indeed, accepting that a valid marriage exists plays no role except as a condition precedent to granting a divorce. After the condition precedent is met, the laws regarding divorce apply. Laws regarding marriage play no role.

Specifically, Paula and Victoria are not seeking to live in Wyoming as a married couple. They are not seeking to enforce any right incident to the status of being married. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are seeking to dissolve a legal relationship entered into under the laws of Canada. Respecting the law of Canada, as allowed by § 20-1-111, for the limited purpose of accepting the existence of a condition precedent to granting a divorce, is not tantamount to state recognition of an ongoing same-sex marriage. Thus, the policy of this state against the creation of same-sex marriages is not violated.

This does, however, give encouragement to those who would claim other marriage benefits or rights based on an out-of-state marriage.

Much thanks to reader embarcadero

Wyoming anti-marriage bill update

Timothy Kincaid

March 2nd, 2011

From the Star-Tribune

By a 31-28 vote, House members voted to accept a stripped-down version of House Bill 74 crafted by a conference committee on Tuesday. Conference committee members tore out all language on the two most contentious issues surrounding the bill – civil unions and court access for same-sex couples.

UPDATE: The bill died in the Senate 16-14

Which means that Wyoming law remains in limbo. Basically, there is no recognition of out-of-state marriages or civil unions, but Wyoming legislature still contains enough libertarian “western Republicans” that anti-gay legislation could not pass this year.

Civil unions dropped from Wyoming anti-marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

March 1st, 2011

House Bill 74 would ban the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages. Wyoming law, which was written before the first same-sex marriages, defines marriage as a contract “between a male and a female person” but also recognizes any valid marriage performed outside the state – a discrepancy which put same-sex marriages in limbo.

HB74 has passed both the Wyoming House and Senate, but in sharply different versions. Both banned the recognition of civil unions, but the Senate provided that state courts could address the dissolution of civil unions from other states and the House specifically banned courts from addressing such couples.

Until a few hours ago, it looked as though this bill might die due to an inability of the committee assigned to work out the discrepancy to reach any conclusion. The Senate had barely passed the bill and the Governor had indicated that he would veto the bill if it did not allow courts to remedy the legal problems of gay couples in a civil union. But the House was insistent that allowing same-sex couples to seek resolution in court was tantamount to giving the state’s sanction to their union.

Finally, the least likely of compromises was reached

But with the Legislature set to adjourn for the year on Thursday, the conference committee took out all language dealing with civil unions and court access.

Conference committee members said the changes bring the bill closer to other states’ Defense of Marriage acts. They also said it was better to have a narrowed bill than no bill at all, and they said it would be up to future Legislatures to tackle the issue of civil unions.

It must now go back to the House and Senate for approval of the revisions.

Wyoming Marriage Ban Dies

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2011

After a proposed constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed the state Senate, it went on to die in the House:

The Wyoming House adjourned Friday without taking action on a same-sex marriage bill that had already passed the state Senate. The bill failed to meet a procedural deadline that would have kept the bill alive.

It’s still unclear whether a separate bill banning recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages will clear the House. The snag is over whether they will allow Wyoming Courts to dissolve civil unions performed in other states.

Wyoming Senate narrowly votes not to recognize out-of-state marriages

Timothy Kincaid

February 18th, 2011

Tribune:

The Wyoming Senate narrowly voted Friday to stop recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from outside the state.

House Bill 74 passed 16-14 after tagging on a last-second amendment guaranteeing out-of-state couples in civil unions access to Wyoming courts.

This is closer than might have been expected. Ten Republicans joined all four Democrats in voting “No”.

Further, the language of this bill is interesting. It appears to invalidate all same-sex marriage, but only invalidate civil unions that would not be recognized in Wyoming. I may be misreading this, but it does seem to leave open the possibility of a civil unions bill being passed.

Wyoming House committee rejects civil unions

Timothy Kincaid

January 30th, 2011

From the Star-Tribune

Legislation that would have made Wyoming the third state to recognize civil unions narrowly failed in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.

The 5-4 vote to defeat House Bill 150 came after hours of impassioned testimony from supporters who said civil unions would give same-sex couples basic rights and opponents who claimed civil unions were a thinly disguised stepping stone to gay marriage.

Some who voted against the bill left open the possibility of support for a differently worded bill.

But state Reps. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, and Frank Peasley, R-Douglas, who cast the deciding votes against the bill, opposed the proposal not on ideological grounds, but rather because they worried the wording of the bill — which almost exactly mirrored the rights and responsibilities Wyoming law lists for marriage -– could lead to legal pitfalls in the future.

In the meanwhile, I would support a petition to have Wyoming change it’s motto from “Equal Rights” and it’s nickname from “the Equality State”.

And with Wyoming’s bill to ban recognition of out-of-state relationships, I would just love to see California, New Jersey, and others pass a truth in advertising law that requires all tourism advertising in the state to warn residents that their legal rights and contracts will not be honored.

Will Wyoming Governor veto “no out of state marriages” bill?

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2011

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead (R) made a statement today that suggests that he is not supportive of a bill that would deny recognition of out-of-state marriages or civil unions. (NECN.com)

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Mead said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

“But I also believe that we have to be very careful and pragmatic about how we approach this,” said Mead, a former U.S. attorney in Wyoming. “And the reason is that we do not want to, as a state, limit access to our court system.”

Child custody or property issues can arise with same-sex couples as they do in any marriage, Mead said. “You could have a situation where those needed to be decided quickly. We do not want to say to that couple, ‘Listen, you can’t use our courts. You have to go back to the state where you were married.'”

This certainly sounds to me as though Mead, who has previously indicated potential support for civil unions, would welcome some mechanism by which legal arrangements from out-of-state would have civil union status.

Wyoming Senate passes anti-marriage constitutional amendment

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2011

The Wyoming Senate has voted by the required two-thirds to present a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage – but not civil unions – to the voters of the state. Although the state has a 23 to 7 Republican majority, ten Senators voted against the measure.

The amendment now goes to the House, where it will need 40 members’ support. Although the House has 41 Republicans, this may not be an easy task. On Monday the vote to not recognize out-of-state marriages passed 32 – 27.

Meanwhile, House Bill 150 which would provide for civil unions, will be debated by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, where it appears to have adequate support.

Wyoming to ban marriage but pass Civil Unions?

Timothy Kincaid

January 24th, 2011

Wyoming has been a bit of a question when it comes to marriage equality. State law did not prohibit recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages, but no state agency had done so. Today, the House passed a bill to ban recognition of out of state marriage and civil unions by a 32-27 vote.

Considering that the House has 41 Republicans and 19 Democrats, this was a rather close vote. The bill now goes to the State Senate, which has a 23 to 7 Republican majority. (trib)

State Rep. Owen Petersen, R-Mountain View, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation is needed to resolve a conflict in Wyoming law, which defines marriage as a contract “between a male and a female person” but also recognizes any valid marriage performed outside the state. Other supporters have said the bill will help to hold back government intrusion into Wyoming traditions and culture.

And on Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage by a 3-2 vote. Although an amendment would require support from 20 Senators and 40 House members, and some Republicans are on record as supporting marriage-equality, it has strong support and could pass.

But while this is all troubling news, state legislators may prove unwilling to completely disregard the state’s motto, “Equal Rights,” or its it’s nickname, “The Equality State.” They may instead take a middle position that allows them to be “The (separation but) Equality State”. (trib)

This week, the House Judiciary Committee will take up legislation to establish civil unions in Wyoming that would give same-sex couples in the state the same legal rights and benefits as married couples.

The bill, House Bill 150, appears to have the votes to pass the Judiciary Committee.

State Rep. Cathy Connolly, the Laramie Democrat who’s sponsoring HB150, said she’s “very optimistic” the bill will pass the full House, as many gay marriage opponents have said they support civil unions.

Governor Matt Mead (R) has also indicated that he is open to the idea of civil unions. If House Bill 150 becomes law, it would be the first time that an overwhelmingly Republican state government had supported recognition on this level for same-sex couples.

I strongly believe that civil unions are inferior to marriage and that our community ought to strive for full equality. But absent that political possibility, I consider each small step towards equality to be a victory. And if civil unions is seen as supportable for western-state libertarian-minded Republicans, then our community certainly has something to celebrate.

Wyoming Lawmakers Take Aim At Marriage

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2010

Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Wyoming, but two GOP state lawmakers, Rep. Owen Petersen Sen. Curt Meier, see an opportunity to make it even more illegaller. They plan on introducing a resolution asking Wyoming voters to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage again. A similar resolution in 2009 failed, but that was before the GOP landslide in November.

Wheatland WY is a place for hate

Timothy Kincaid

January 23rd, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to oppose the defamation of Jewish people. Although their primary focus is still on anti-Semitism, they have expanded their focus to oppose all forms of bigotry, defend democratic ideals and protect civil rights for all.

One of their current projects is a school based anti-bullying program called No Place for Hate.

No Place for Hate® was developed to organize schools to work together and develop projects that enhance the appreciation of diversity and foster harmony amongst diverse groups. The campaign empowers schools to promote respect for individual and group differences while challenging prejudice and bigotry.

Every day we make choices. We can choose to let anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of bigotry go unchallenged and potentially escalate, or we can choose to confront the bias that we see in our workplaces, homes, schools, and communities. As our world becomes smaller and our schools and communities more diverse, it is more critical than ever to actively build bridges to cross-cultural understanding and mutual respect.

bannerSchools across the nation participate in the program, including Wheatland High and West Elementary in Wheatland, Wyoming. They went through the steps of qualifying for participation and received banners which they hung at school, announcing that their campuses were No Place for Hate.

But then there were some protests and the banners were removed. In order to offer the program free to schools, ADL had sponsors whose names were included at the bottom of the banner.

They weren’t upset that Qwest, the communications company was listed. And they didn’t mind that the David & Laura Merage Foundation helped pay for the program. But that red circle with the words “Gay and Lesbian Fund” was simply unacceptable. So down they will stay. (WyomingNews)

Platte County School District 1 trustees voted 4-3 to keep the Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate” banners down at Wheatland High and West Elementary.

The trustees made no pretense at masking their anti-gay animus:

“If this is the way one chooses, then they can lead this particular lifestyle, but I don’t believe it needs to be publicly displayed in a school,” Dunham said.

Joe Fabian, another board member, said he believes the Anti-Defamation League is pushing an “agenda that is pro-gay marriage” and that the community of Wheatland is not supportive of that.

“They wouldn’t want the organization, the Anti-Defamation League, dictating to their children that an alternate lifestyle is a normal lifestyle,” he said.

Oh, but they like the rest of the program. Can’t they just continue with being a ‘not place for hate except for gays‘?

No. The ADL was quick to note the irony and will not not let the schools participate in the program if they encourage and reward biases.

So Wheatland, Wyoming, a seventy-five mile drive from Laramie, now has a new designation, an adopted identity. Wheatland IS a Place for Hate. And if you’re a gay kid attending those schools, now you clearly know it.

No Marriage Ban on Wyoming Ballot

Timothy Kincaid

February 6th, 2009

Today the Wyoming House determined that it would not put an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot. (AP)

The Wyoming House has voted down a bill that would have allowed Wyoming voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to deny state recognition of same-sex marriages.

Rep. Owen Petersen, R-Lyman, sponsored House Joint Resolution 17. It failed by a vote of 35-25 after frequently emotional debate that lasted more than an hour on Friday.

And according to Michael Petrelis, the House also defeated, by the same margin, a motion to ban the state from recognizing out-of-state gay marriages.

This is especially encouraging when one considers that Republicans have a 41 to 19 advantage over Democrats in the House.

UPDATE: According to the roll call vote, 16 Republicans joined all 19 Democrats to defeat this resolution.

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