Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Message of Hope from the United States Senate

Joad Cressbeckler Homosexuality A Necessity On Cold Mountaintops

Obama LGBT Pride Month

Via JMG: Feds Drop Deportation Case For Gay Man

In what the New York Times says may be a precedent-setting decision, the federal government has dropped its deportation case against a gay Venezuelan legally married to an American man.
The announcement comes as immigration officials put into effect new, more flexible guidelines governing the deferral and cancellation of deportations, particularly for immigrants with no serious criminal records. Immigration lawyers and gay rights advocates said the decision represented a significant shift in policy and could open the door to the cancellation of deportations for other immigrants in same-sex marriages. “This action shows that the government has not only the power but the inclination to do the right thing when it comes to protecting certain vulnerable populations from deportation,” said the couple’s lawyer, Lavi Soloway. The case has been closely watched across the country by lawyers and advocates who viewed it as a test of the federal government’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Washington Post: Evolve Already

From the editorial board of the Washington Post:
With a presidential campaign that promises to be closer and more contentious than the one that got him elected four years ago, Mr. Obama and his team might be reluctant to embrace a controversial social issue when the economy and jobs are of paramount importance to voters. At some point, though, doing the right thing must trump politics. If Mr. Obama does come out in favor of gay marriage, his base would surely rally around him.

And all supporters of gay rights should be girding themselves for battle with those who would use the president’s position to deny him a second term. The first question at the news conference was about Republican recalcitrance on tax increases. “Hopefully leaders at a certain point rise to the occasion and do the right thing for the American people,” Mr. Obama said. Later, he would say, “If you know you have to do something, you just do it.” The same words apply to him on marriage equality. So just do it already.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: HomoQuotable - Dan Savage

"The mistake that straight people made was imposing the monogamous expectation on men. Men were never expected to be monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitar­ian and fairsey. [Rather than granting women] the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed, we extended to men the confines women had always endured. And it’s been a disaster for marriage." - Dan Savage, quoted in an extensive NYT Magazine article on fidelity.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG; Rahm Emanuel Backs Gay Marriage

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has endorsed same-sex marriage, saying that he hopes Illinois soon follows the example of New York. Emanuel is Barack Obama's former White House chief of staff.
"I would hope that the state would move in that direction," Emanuel said in the interview that aired Wednesday. "Tremendous progress has been made across the country on a value statement and I think that's very important." Emanuel declined to comment on Obama's stance on the issue, but noted that the president has signed into law legislation that recognizes hate crimes based on sexual orientation and a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevented gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

reposted from Joe

JustaBahai: Flexibility in Bahai Law in relation to homosexuality

"In my whole life I've never come across such hateful posts against gays made by Bahais"

Flexibility in Bahai Law in relation to homosexuality

May 19, 2010 
The following is a response to a thread on the Bahai Planet forum called “AIDS Faith conference” where the intitial poster was curious to know if there had been any Bahai statements on AIDS and the loss of life due to this. The discussion quickly turned to the rights and wrongs of homosexuality. I stepped later on in the discussion and the following is one of my posts.

Via AmericaBlogGay: Dan Savage wears "evolve already" pin to White House LGBT Stonewall reception with President

UPDATE: Politico's Julie Mason was providing the pool coverage of the reception, and she got a chance to talk to Dan Savage (and noted our pin):
Dan Savage, a columnist, author and gay activist was there with his husband (they married in Canada), Terry Miller. Dan was wearing a black and white plaid shirt with a small button that said, "evolve already." Terry wore a white shirt with a hot pink bow tie.

"I believe the president should evolve," Savage said. "He says he's evolving, I believe him." He added, "I want to hurry him along."
Dan Savage was invited to the LGBT Stonewall reception at the White House today with the President, and true to form, was sporting a pin saying "evolve already."  Joe and I just had the pins made last night, based on our "evolve already" campaign, calling on the President to evolve on the gay marriage issue back to where he was in 1996, namely in favor of it.

Dan and his boyfriend in America, husband in Canada, Terry   

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Via JMG: Anniversary

It was June 27th, 1969.

That was the day that the queers of New York City finally said "Enough!" For some historical perspective, I'm posting the story that the New York Daily News ran about the Stonewall Riots. Note how the reports drips with condescension and ridicule. We've come a long, long way in 42 years and we've still got some distance to cover, but today we should all offer up a shout, a snap, and a moment of thanks to the people who started us down this road.


-by Jerry Lisker, New York Daily News, July 6th 1969

She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn't bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.

Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. "We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over," lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.

"We've had all we can take from the Gestapo," the spokesman, or spokeswoman, continued. "We're putting our foot down once and for all." The foot wore a spiked heel. According to reports, the Stonewall Inn, a two-story structure with a sand painted brick and opaque glass facade, was a mecca for the homosexual element in the village who wanted nothing but a private little place where they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do when they get together.

The thick glass shut out the outside world of the street. Inside, the Stonewall bathed in wild, bright psychedelic lights, while the patrons writhed to the sounds of a juke box on a square dance floor surrounded by booths and tables. The bar did a good business and the waiters, or waitresses, were always kept busy, as they snaked their way around the dancing customers to the booths and tables. For nearly two years, peace and tranquility reigned supreme for the Alice in Wonderland clientele.
The Raid Last Friday
Last Friday the privacy of the Stonewall was invaded by police from the First Division. It was a raid. They had a warrant. After two years, police said they had been informed that liquor was being served on the premises. Since the Stonewall was without a license, the place was being closed. It was the law.

All hell broke loose when the police entered the Stonewall. The girls instinctively reached for each other. Others stood frozen, locked in an embrace of fear.

Only a handful of police were on hand for the initial landing in the homosexual beachhead. They ushered the patrons out onto Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A crowd had formed in front of the Stonewall and the customers were greeted with cheers of encouragement from the gallery.

The whole proceeding took on the aura of a homosexual Academy Awards Night. The Queens pranced out to the street blowing kisses and waving to the crowd. A beauty of a specimen named Stella wailed uncontrollably while being led to the sidewalk in front of the Stonewall by a cop. She later confessed that she didn't protest the manhandling by the officer, it was just that her hair was in curlers and she was afraid her new beau might be in the crowd and spot her. She didn't want him to see her this way, she wept.

Queen Power

The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.

Urged on by cries of "C'mon girls, lets go get'em," the defenders of Stonewall launched an attack. The cops called for assistance. To the rescue came the Tactical Patrol Force.

Flushed with the excitement of battle, a fellow called Gloria pranced around like Wonder Woman, while several Florence Nightingales administered first aid to the fallen warriors. There were some assorted scratches and bruises, but nothing serious was suffered by the honeys turned Madwoman of Chaillot.

Official reports listed four injured policemen with 13 arrests. The War of the Roses lasted about 2 hours from about midnight to 2 a.m. There was a return bout Wednesday night.

Two veterans recently recalled the battle and issued a warning to the cops. "If they close up all the gay joints in this area, there is going to be all out war."

Bruce and Nan

Both said they were refugees from Indiana and had come to New York where they could live together happily ever after. They were in their early 20's. They preferred to be called by their married names, Bruce and Nan.

"I don't like your paper," Nan lisped matter-of-factly. "It's anti-fag and pro-cop."

"I'll bet you didn't see what they did to the Stonewall. Did the pigs tell you that they smashed everything in sight? Did you ask them why they stole money out of the cash register and then smashed it with a sledge hammer? Did you ask them why it took them two years to discover that the Stonewall didn't have a liquor license."

Bruce nodded in agreement and reached over for Nan's trembling hands.

"Calm down, doll," he said. "Your face is getting all flushed."

Nan wiped her face with a tissue.

"This would have to happen right before the wedding. The reception was going to be held at the Stonewall, too," Nan said, tossing her ashen-tinted hair over her shoulder.

"What wedding?," the bystander asked.

Nan frowned with a how-could-anybody-be-so-stupid look. "Eric and Jack's wedding, of course. They're finally tying the knot. I thought they'd never get together."

Meet Shirley

"We'll have to find another place, that's all there is to it," Bruce sighed. "But every time we start a place, the cops break it up sooner or later."

"They let us operate just as long as the payoff is regular," Nan said bitterly. "I believe they closed up the Stonewall because there was some trouble with the payoff to the cops. I think that's the real reason. It's a shame. It was such a lovely place. We never bothered anybody. Why couldn't they leave us alone?"

Shirley Evans, a neighbor with two children, agrees that the Stonewall was not a rowdy place and the persons who frequented the club were never troublesome. She lives at 45 Christopher St.

"Up until the night of the police raid there was never any trouble there," she said. "The homosexuals minded their own business and never bothered a soul. There were never any fights or hollering, or anything like that. They just wanted to be left alone. I don't know what they did inside, but that's their business. I was never in there myself. It was just awful when the police came. It was like a swarm of hornets attacking a bunch of butterflies."

A reporter visited the now closed Stonewall and it indeed looked like a cyclone had struck the premises.

Police said there were over 200 people in the Stonewall when they entered with a warrant. The crowd outside was estimated at 500 to 1,000. According to police, the Stonewall had been under observation for some time. Being a private club, plain clothesmen were refused entrance to the inside when they periodically tried to check the place. "They had the tightest security in the Village," a First Division officer said, "We could never get near the place without a warrant."
Police Talk
The men of the First Division were unable to find any humor in the situation, despite the comical overtones of the raid.

"They were throwing more than lace hankies," one inspector said. "I was almost decapitated by a slab of thick glass. It was thrown like a discus and just missed my throat by inches. The beer can didn't miss, though, "it hit me right above the temple."

Police also believe the club was operated by Mafia connected owners. The police did confiscate the Stonewall's cash register as proceeds from an illegal operation. The receipts were counted and are on file at the division headquarters. The warrant was served and the establishment closed on the grounds it was an illegal membership club with no license, and no license to serve liquor.

The police are sure of one thing. They haven't heard the last from the Girls of Christopher Street.

They sure fucking haven't. Now get your ass up and get down to the parade.

reposted from Joe

Via AmericaBlogGay: Michele Bachmann’s problem with gays

Michele Bachmann’s problem with gays

Given last night's momentous victory in New York, I'd like to re-visit Matt Taibbi's piece on Michele Bachmann, just to highlight one element — her obsession with gay issues (our first visit was here). Here's from near the middle (my emphasis):

Bachmann's anti-gay crusade in Minnesota was born of similar stuff. Right from the start, she made sure that everyone knew the awesome importance of the task she was taking on, trying to outlaw an already outlawed practice. "This is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in, at least, the last 30 years," she said. She called gay marriage an "earthquake issue," insisting that failure to pass her proposal would mean that "sex curriculum would essentially be taught by the gay community" and that "little K-12 children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural, and perhaps they should try it." Much as Sarah Palin's actual speeches sometimes melt indistinguishably into Tina Fey's SNL parodies, Bachmann's anti-gay rhetoric at times features a campy, over-the-top quality that makes it hard to tell her apart from a tranny cabaret act. She described the gay lifestyle as "bondage" and "personal enslavement," even claiming that suicide among gay teens is due not to discrimination but to "the fact of what they're doing."

Bachmann's obsession with gay culture led her to bizarre behavioral extremes. In April 2005, after the State Senate refused to even vote on her constitutional amendment, she hid in the bushes outside the State Capitol during a gay-rights rally. A photo shows Bachmann, only the top of her Stepford head visible, crouched alone in an extreme catcher's squat behind the Capitol shrubbery. She later insisted she wasn't hiding at all, but resting because her heels hurt.
Or something. (Here's one shot, from the Minnesota Post. Another here. The google gets you a few more.) Later he retells her story of being "'held against her will' [in a restroom] by what may or may not have been a pair of angry lesbians."

Now from near the beginning of Taibbi's piece:
Bachmann was born Michele Amble in Waterloo, Iowa, to a pair of lifelong Democrats, but grew up in tiny Anoka, Minnesota. By her teen years, her parents had divorced; her mother remarried and brought step-siblings into the home, creating a Brady Bunchian group of nine kids. One of Bachmann's step-siblings, Helen LaFave, would later come out as a lesbian, a fact that Michele, who became famous opposing gay marriage, never mentions on the campaign trail. For the most part, though, Bachmann's upbringing seems like pure Americana, a typical Midwestern girl who was "in a couple of beauty pageants" and "not overtly political," according to her stepbrother Michael LaFave.
Something to keep in mind as her sad star rises. Bachmann's story is nuanced, as the full Taibbi article shows; but a telling detail nonetheless.


Via AmericaBlogGay: Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald on the NY marriage victory

My reaction to last night's enactment of same-sex marriage by the New York State legislature is more personal than political, so I'll defer to Andrew Sullivan -- one of the nation's earliest advocates of gay marriage -- to explain its significance. But I can't let this rare genuine political progress go unmentioned, so I will share one reaction: in 1991, when I was a first-year law student at NYU, I regularly attended, for about a year, meetings and demonstrations of ACT-UP. I was a passive observer, but very impressed and inspired by the unyielding refusal of gay men with AIDS in that era (in indispensable conjunction with lesbian activists) to passively accept their consigned fate and their status as marginalized, condemned outcasts: the expertise in politics and medicine they developed, the creative and brave civil disobedience they pioneered, and the force of collective will they mustered under the most trying of circumstances was nothing short of extraordinary.

The first meeting I ever went to was attended by Tom Duane, who spoke to the group. At the time, Duane was seeking to become not only the first openly gay man elected to the New York City Council, but one of the first openly HIV-positive candidates to be elected to any political office. Remarkably, Duane won, went on to be elected to the State Senate in 1998, and last night -- 20 years older and now a veteran establishment Democratic lawmaker in Albany -- he was at the emotional center of that vote. It's hard to describe how inconceivable such an event was back in 1991 -- it was barely the end of the Reagan era, when "gay" and "AIDS" were still unmentionable in much decent company and much of gay activism was more about finding a way to survive (literally) than anything else -- but the fact that this amazingly improbable event just happened should (like the events in the Middle East) serve as a potent antidote against defeatism. Significant and seemingly impossible social and political change happens more often than we think, and it happens more rapidly than we realize. Even the most momentous change is always possible if one finds the right way to make it happen.

Via AmericaBloggay:

NY Daily News great front page on marriage victory

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Via SacBee: Gay marriage backers: NY vote has national impact

Many obstacles still lie ahead for supporters of same-sex marriage, and eventually they will need Congress or the Supreme Court to embrace their goal. For the moment, though, they are jubilantly channeling the lyrics of "New York, New York."

Via AmericaBlogGay: Victory in New York!!! Marriage passed in the State Senate tonight: 33 - 29

Victory in New York!!! Marriage passed in the State Senate tonight: 33 - 29

UPDATE @ 12:15 AM: And, yep, the Governor signed the bill at 11;55 PM on Friday, June 24, 2011. Marriages begin on July 24, 2011.

Also, NOM Is in major meltdown mode. Alvin McEwen reports they're comparing their loss in New York to the betrayal of Jesus. Blasphemers.
UPDATE: Watch Governor Cuomo discuss this great win (11:15 PM ET): The Governor's presser is over, so I removed the embed. He was very eloquent and did say that he'd sign the bill tonight, so it takes effect in 30 days. Check out the photos and video from Stonewall at the bottom of the post.
The State Senate just approved the marriage equality legislation by a vote of 33 - 29. Same-sex marriage becomes legal in New York 30 days after Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law.

We've all been on the losing side too many times. Winning is way, way, way more fun.

The trend line is moving in the right direction. This was a huge step forward. HUGE!

Congrats -- and thanks -- to all those who made it happen.

The arc of moral justice is long, but tonight in Albany, it bent a little more towards justice.

UPDATE: Here's the statement from our friend -- and a hero of the marriage debate, Danny O'Donnell:
"Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions.” Today, the New York State Legislature has affirmed the truth of that fundamental principle with the passage of the Marriage Equality Act."

"This day is a momentous one, not only for the thousands of same-sex couples across our state who find themselves suddenly on the cusp equality, now awaiting only one person's signature before being able to marry, but for all New Yorkers who have recognized and fought against legalized discrimination. I have been with my partner John for over 30 years, and, at long last, the state where we were both born, raised, and have lived our adult lives has agreed that all New Yorkers deserve Marriage Equality in the eyes of the law."

"Speaker Silver and my courageous colleagues in the Assembly who have staunchly supported this bill since 2007, when we became only the third legislative body nationwide to approve same-sex marriage without a court order, deserve immense praise for their continued and repeated votes for Marriage Equality. The State Senators who possessed the courage and conviction today to vote for my equality receive my profound thanks for taking this bold step forward. And, Governor Cuomo, who has been a resolute and powerful ally in this fight since long before the beginning of his term this past January, cannot be thanked enough for his continued support in this battle for justice."

"I am proud to have played a central role in this crucial moment for our state. Once Marriage Equality is signed into law, our state will be the most populous in the entire nation with these rights. I hope that with this prominence, our great state will shine as a beacon of equality and lead other states from the darkness of injustice. I will never forget this day."
UPDATE: tonight, New Yorkers are gathering in front of the Stonewall Inn to celebrate a victory that seemed inconceivable just a couple years ago. Paul Yandura sent some photos.

And some video:

Via Kate Clinton: Pool Party

Via HRC:

Human Rights Campaign
Dear Daniel,

The hopes and dreams of millions just came true: Marriage equality is about to become the law of the land in New York.
Just now, in a bipartisan vote, the New York State Senate approved a bill granting same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities of marriage as everyone else. It'll soon go to Governor Cuomo – a stalwart champion of marriage equality – for his signature.
This was no easy victory. In 2009, right-wing groups helped derail marriage equality at the last minute. And just a few weeks ago, the extremist National Organization for Marriage (NOM) committed $1.5 million to stop us from passing this law. But you helped prove once again that with commitment, dedication, and the will to fight, anything is possible.
Here's how your support has helped make this win possible:
  • First, you laid the groundwork by investing staff and money in key campaigns that put pro-equality lawmakers in office last year, including Governor Cuomo.
  • For the marriage fight, you helped recruit more than 1,000 volunteers, deliver more than 75,515 post cards, and place more than 25,622 phone calls to state senators. You also helped deploy 30 grassroots organizers across the state, who mobilized volunteers and got tens of thousands of people involved.
  • Then you helped power a major media campaign featuring actors, athletes, three NYC mayors, two U.S. senators, President Bill Clinton, and even President Bush's daughter, Barbara.
  • And you helped fund a unified coalition of LGBT groups that lobbied the New York Legislature and aired TV ads all over the state.
Here's another way to see the impact we've had together:
Soon, New Yorkers young and old will be able to marry whomever they choose. Loving, committed couples will be recognized by law. And the cause of equality will have advanced yet again, in one of our nation's largest states. New York joins just five other states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex couples to marry.
But this isn't just a victory for New Yorkers – it's a victory for supporters of equality nationwide. It brings us closer to the day when fair treatment is not just a hope or an aspiration, but a reality.
Daniel, you and I both know we won't win every fight along the way. But even the most heartbreaking losses are only temporary detours on the path to full equality. When we stand together, fight smart, and refuse to give up on a dream, we will get there in the end – just as we have in New York.
Thank you for all that you have done, and will do, to continue winning the civil rights battle of our generation.
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese

P.S. To join the thousands of people on HRC's Mobile Action Network who are among the first to hear about exciting victories like these, text MAP4NY to 30644. We'll text you instructions on how you can add a note to our map of support for New Yorkers.