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Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.

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11 October 2010

Visibility = Equality. Come Out, Come Out... Where ever you are!

by: Gary

Yes, it's Columbus day, but it's also National Coming Out day!

I have read so much in the news of tragic teen suicides, incredibly awful bullying, beatings, torture, and hideously regressive rhetoric from politicians in the last few weeks. Just yesterday the Tea Party candidate in New York unleashed a torrent of hate on the gay community.

Hatred & ignorance are born of a lack of understanding and exposure. Assumptions are made about a people or a class of people from hearsay. These urban legends become common beliefs in the absence of meaningful experience. Visibility of the gay community is the only way to educate and soften the views of the heterosexual majority. I think every person in America knows and perhaps admires a great person who is gay. The trouble is that they don't know the gay part. Knowing that lifts us all up.

Knowing that can cause reflection, revelation, and perhaps even support in the place of hate, taunts, and trauma.

Not only is their safety in numbers. In numbers we have power. In numbers we offer exposure. With this visibility, we step closer to equality. With visibility we tell those kids that we understand. With visibility we tell politicians they are wrong and why. With visibility we change long held beliefs of the unexposed to the new support and understanding of friends.

So, like I did so many years ago. Come out! Be proud. You are NOT who they say you are! You are a PROUD, BRAVE American living the dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


· · · · · · · · · · ·
04 November 2009

On Silver Linings

by: Konagod

Pardon me if I don't want to focus on the silver linings from yesterday's election results. There are some, and I'm honestly sick of dealing with them, but here are a few:

1. 47% of Maine voters were in favor of marriage equality. That would be fine and dandy if the other 53% would just keep on marrying and divorcing and having affairs on the side, taking their marriage benefits for granted, and stopped trying to tell the rest of us that we can't have it because it's not "normal."

2. In Kalamazoo, Mich., voters, by a wide margin, approved a measure that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation. Nice, but you've got to wonder if marriage equality had been on the ballot, Michigan as a whole would reject it and possibly even a slim majority of voters in Kalamazoo. In essence, this tells me some of them don't believe in discrimination until such time as us Queers try to attain genuine equality and then they would be more than willing to discriminate.

To the credit of Michigan, there are 15 other cities with a gay-rights ordinance. But again, this is a no-brainer. Equal rights and anti-discrimination ordinances shouldn't be creeping along incrementally, city by city, state by state.

3. Referendum 71 in Washington state which grants same sex domestic partners all the rights of married couples is passing... barely.. with 51% of voter support. And only because it's not marriage... just feels like it. Kinda, sorta.

For those of you who want to focus on the silver linings, go right ahead. They are incremental baby steps in the general direction of progress which is not a bad thing. Except we have about 1,000 miles to go and baby steps aren't really doing it for me since I'm not going to be here in this body in 2187.

Gee, does that make me seem selfish?

Sorry, but the idea of John Q. Public and Joanne Q. Public groping my basic human rights in the voting booth after hearing right-wing Bible-thumpers spewing hatred and vitriol makes me feel violated.

I want to ask these same people who argue that marriage is a sacred institution, designed for optimal child-rearing by the picture-perfect mommie and daddy, why they aren't pursuing legislation to outlaw divorce and impose severe penalties for infidelities. I want to know why they aren't spending outrageous sums of money to require that newlyweds start screwing without protection right away so they can pump out babies which is God's will.

The answer is simple. It's really not about that. It's just about their contempt for us. And you know what? The feeling is mutual.

You, the 53% in Maine and elsewhere, can vote to prevent us from having the same rights and equality which you enjoy. That much is apparent as 30 other states have shown. What you cannot do, much to your dismay, is vote to drive us back into the closet. You cannot vote to break us apart and prevent us from falling in love. You cannot vote to prevent us from buying homes, French kissing, snuggling on the sofa, paying taxes, working our asses off to have a comfortable retirement, dining out, buying shit we don't need, and having wild sex.

Like it or not, we're free to do all those things just like you. We are just like you, except for our sexual orientation. And we will continue to be here, in your face, day in and day out, serving you food in restaurants, selling you shit you don't need, cutting your hair in salons, landscaping your yards, fighting on the battlefield, and providing services which make your life easier, all the while pushing our "agenda" to have exactly the same rights.

Deal with it.
28 April 2009

Iowa: Alive and Well

by: Konagod

After a day in which same-sex marriage was legal in Iowa, the sky didn't fall. The foundations of society didn't collapse.
The large, angry protests some had imagined never materialized in this city, the state’s most populous. Neither did the crowds of couples from all over the nation that some feared might create a carnival-like atmosphere captured in earlier images from other places.

By noon, no protesters could be found outside the marriage license office. Extra sheriff’s deputies assigned to keep order milled around the Polk County recorder’s office, looking bored. And an early-morning line of dozens of same-sex couples waiting to apply for licenses had dwindled into a few people discussing recent rainfall patterns.

[...]

By the end of Monday, more than 200 couples had applied and paid $35 for marriage licenses in Iowa.

The Des Moines Register is reporting same-sex marriage applications on Monday to be in excess of 380.



ARTURO FERNANDEZ/THE REGISTER

Chris Patterson, 36, and Jennifer Harvery, 37, both of Des Moines, applied for a marriage license Monday morning. With them is daughter Harper Patterson, 6 months.

Iowa is bracing for a possible swine flu outbreak; however there are no indications this is a result of the same-sex marriage licenses issued on Monday.
21 April 2009

Some Recent North Dakota History

by: Konagod

Janne Myrdal, State Director of Confused Concerned Women for America of North Dakota, mounted an intense and successful effort in the ND state legislature last month against a bill which would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Check out this piece of rubbish.
At the core of this agenda is an effort to remove from our society all traditional notions of sexual morality and replace them with a post-modern concept of sexual relativism. That is to say, when it comes to sex, there is no right or wrong, all sexual preferences are “equal.” This then establishes a society, by law, wherein natural distinctions between male and female are dissolved.

Yes, that is correct, there is no right or wrong. There is only normal for each of us. And they are NOT, repeat: NOT, sexual PREFERENCES anymore than YOURS are. It is an orientation, and driven pretty hard by forces of nature I might add.

Yesterday I wrote an email to North Dakota State Representative David Drovdal, Republican, who represents district 39 in North Dakota where my spouse is from. Representative Drovdal, writing in a piece for the McKenzie County Farmer, spewed rubbish in his April 8th column, "District 39 Legislative Report."
Opponents of [SB2278] are concerned mainly about men being able to use women's bathrooms because they consider themselves gay.


Here's what I wrote the Rep. Drovdal...and I would like to apologize ahead of time to my transgendered friends who might take issue with my scantily-clad gloss-over as to the origins of gender identity issues. I'll confess I was distraught and in a hurry.

Representative Drovdal,

My partner, Sheldon Linseth, a native of McKenzie County, and I, just read your column in the April 8 issue of the McKenzie County Farmer and would like to point out a few facts regarding sexual orientation which might have been useful to other members of the state legislature as opposed to the packet of misinformation presented by the Confused Concerned Women of America.

Gay people have no interest in using public restrooms designated for the opposite sex. I’m a 49-year-old gay male and I’m quite content to use only men’s facilities. I have, however, known and seen a number of heterosexual woman using a men’s restroom for the sake of expediency in a crowded bar or club for instance.

Transgendered people (referred to as “gender confused” if I recall, by the CWA “fact sheet,” would prefer to use restrooms designated for the gender with which they identify. And this is not confusion. I know a number of transgendered individuals and they have no confusion about their gender whatsoever. The presence of a vagina or penis does not solely dictate ones gender or gender identity. There are hormonal issues which have been present since birth or earlier which contribute to this identity. It is nothing to be mocked or ridiculed. However, a bit of understanding as opposed to a knee-jerk opposition would go a long way. It’s a shame more lawmakers won’t take the time to understand an issue.

Opponents such as CWA love to drag out the sexual preference vs. sexual orientation argument and falsely claim that all gay people can be “corrected” and that being gay is not normal. On the contrary, it is normal or there wouldn’t be so many of us. I did not choose to be gay anymore than you chose to be straight. The idea of having a “normal” sexual relationship with a woman provokes the same reaction from me that a straight man might feel at the thought of having sex with another man. What’s natural for me isn’t natural for someone else and vice-versa. The point is, the definition of “natural” cannot be claimed by one side or the other. And it’s a shame the ones who try to legislate morality always use THEIR definition.

There are undoubtedly many bisexuals and I suspect those who stand as examples of such “correction” might merely have narrowed their bisexual playing field.

I wanted to take this time to give you some brief insight into these complex issues and hope that you and others in the future might be armed with more relevant and truthful data than what might be presented to you by opposition groups such as CWA.

By the way, Sheldon and I have been in a relationship for almost 19 years, completely unrecognized by the state in which we reside or by the US Government. That must, and will eventually, be corrected.



I have yet to hear back from The Republican Dude. You can also contact him at this email address:

ddrovdal[a@t]nd[d.o.t]gov

Address: 2802 131st Avenue NW, Arnegard, ND 58835-9127
Telephone: 701-586-3761

Play nice, but set him straight (no pun intended) about what's right and what must happen, not only in North Dakota, but the nation.
24 March 2009

Homosexuality -- Go Ahead, CONDONE It

by: Konagod

The Vermont Senate voted 26-4 yesterday in favor of same-sex marriage. It is expected to pass in the House vote.

Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, opposes the measure. Natürlich.

While this is an important step for equality, I never cease to be amazed by the delicate dance of politicians who try hard not to seem too gay-friendly.
“We are not condoning homosexuality,” said Sen. John Campbell, D-Windsor, as he introduced the bill to the Senate. “What we’re doing is recognizing some people are homosexuals.”

Gee, thanks! I'll take what I can get. But you know what? Homosexuality is real. It's as real and natural as your heterosexuality, Senator Campbell, just not as common. And there's nothing wrong with condoning a natural love. You make it sound as if you are passing a law legalizing cocaine and heroin. We don't condone it but we acknowledge there are addicts out there.

I can't believe I actually have more respect for a Republican response:
Sen. Phil Scott, R-Washington, said he didn’t know how he was going to vote when he walked into the Senate chamber Monday afternoon, but made up his mind while listening to the debate. “I said if I’m going to err on one side or the other, I would err on the side of basic human rights.”

But to be fair, it was arguments by Senator Campbell which persuaded Scott to "err" on the side of human rights when Campbell said this:
“You know who those ‘they’ people are? They’re our policemen, our firefighters, our teachers, garbagemen, the guy who plows the street. They’re our children. Our sisters, brothers, they’re human beings, and as such, as it’s said in this bill, they should be treated equally,” Campbell said.

Treated equally.. but not condoned. That would just be a step too far.

condone: to regard or treat (something bad or blameworthy) as acceptable, forgivable, or harmless.


via konagod

24 August 2008

Flashback 18 Years

by: Konagod

It was on this day in 1990 when my life would change forever. However, at this exact moment 18 years ago I was a single guy still looking for the love of my life. Little did I know, my wait would only be another six hours or so.

I had only been living in San Diego about two months. But I knew I agreed to move there with a friend because I had a hunch I'd meet my soul mate on the west coast. I was getting a little antsy after 2 months because I've always wanted instant gratification.

My mood was so-so as I got ready to go out with my friend to a dance club called Metro in the Hillcrest area. We got there, had a few drinks, I danced for a bit, and then I sat down at a table alone on a dark side of the bar. I was facing a dark wall. I wasn't having a lot of fun. I just sat there nursing my drink until I happened to notice a person standing very close to my table.

I must have looked up at some point to see his face and had eye contact. I looked back down at my beer as my heart began to race. He was cute! And he was standing close enough to touch. His hand was dangling at his side close to where I was holding my beer. I reached over to touch his hand and he did not recoil.

Our pinkie fingers entwined. At that exact moment, I remembered why I moved to San Diego. And I had found what I wanted.

In Santee, California. September 1990.



And 18 years later, I'm still single in the eyes of the law. Just thought I'd mention that fact.


Crossposted from konagod
17 March 2008

None Of The Above

by: Konagod

Married, single, divorced or widowed.

We've all seen those options on various forms for classifying our status. And while it's not surprising in states like Texas where recognition of same sex relationships is about as likely as a tax on the Southern Baptist Church, I think we expected a bit more from states such as Connecticut which do, in theory, recognize civil unions. It's actually not such a surprise that it is not working. Separate but equal just doesn't cut it.
Eager to celebrate their partnership, Tracy and Katy Weber Tierney were among the first in line when Connecticut created civil unions three years ago as a way to formalize same-sex relationships without using the word “marriage.”

But when Tracy was giving birth to their son, Jake, five months ago, a hospital employee inquired whether she was “married, single, divorced or widowed.”

“I’m in a civil union,” she replied. When the employee checked “single,” Tracy protested. “I’m actually more married than single,” she said, leaving the employee flustered about how to proceed.

And the case made by the states against same sex marriage is infuriating.
The state also argues that the plaintiffs have no case because they are free to marry, just not to someone of the same sex, and that there is no gender discrimination because men and women are equally constrained.

Nice logic. We have the right to marry -- it just can't be the one we love.

Frankly, until the playing field is level and there's full equality, I have no interest whatsoever in participating. I probably can't afford it.
For Jean Csvihinka, 48, who works at a bank in Milford, getting a civil union meant paying tax on an additional $6,000 a year. Ms. Csvihinka said that adding her partner, Gina Bonfietti, 43, a self-employed piano technician, to her health insurance obligated her to pay a federal tax on the value of the additional coverage that married couples would not owe, and that since the civil union she has also had to pay tax on her daughters’ coverage even though the girls were on her plan, tax-free, before. She said she was told that “it’s a systems issue.”

Experts blame some of these problems on the disconnect between state taxes, which civil union couples can file jointly, and federal taxes, which they cannot because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Since we obviously cannot rely on the states or voters to rectify this problem, we are probably at the mercy of the judges.
Amy Pear, a 39-year-old police captain in Middletown, said she was reminded again this month of her own murky legal status when she returned home from an overseas trip with June Lockert, 46, her better half for the last 14 years.

Arriving at Kennedy International Airport, the couple were asked whether they were one household. Captain Pear said she explained that they were, in Connecticut, because of their civil union. She said the customs officer sent them back to be processed separately since the federal government took a different view, and remarked “Welcome home” as she passed.

Welcome home, my ass! If there is one thing I expect (or demand) to see happen during the next administration, it would be to resolve this absurd discrimination and let us have the basic human dignity of our relationship being recognized and putting an end to the second tier status. The current murky waters are completely unacceptable.

Crossposted from konagod
18 December 2007

Iraqi Gays Facing Tougher Life

by: Konagod

Chalk up one more group in Iraq who are who are facing tough times since the American-led invasion: gays and lesbians.

And while that probably isn't a big surprise, it certainly speaks volumes about our "progress" in building a safe, Democratic Iraq where freedom and equality rule.
Mohammed, 37, has been openly gay for much of his adult life. For him, this has meant growing his hair long and taking estrogen. In the past, he said, that held little danger. As is true throughout the Middle East, men have always been publicly affectionate here.

But, at least until recently, Mohammed and many of his gay friends went one step further, slipping into lovers’ houses late at night. And, until the American invasion, they said, Iraqi society had quietly accepted them.

But being openly gay is not an option in the new Iraq, where the rise of religious extremism has left Mohammed and his gay friends feeling especially vilified.

[...]

In 2005, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for gay men and lesbians to be killed in the “worst, most severe way.”

He lifted it a year later, but neither that nor the recent ebb in violence has made Mohammed or his friends feel safe. They yearn to leave Iraq, but do not have the money or visas. They agreed to be interviewed on the condition that their last names not be used.

These extremists are an unpleasant lot, for sure.
His hand drifted to his newly shorn hair. He had lopped it off days earlier. There had been reports of extremists stopping long-haired men, shearing their hair and forcing them to eat it.

At least 400 people have been killed in Iraq since 2003 for being gay, according to an Iraqi gay rights group.

And some in the American military are not really helping matters with their adolescent condescending attitudes toward gays.
The American invasion was expected to usher in better times.

“We thought that with the presence of Americans, life would become paradise, that Iraq would be Westernized,” Mohammed said. “But unfortunately the way things were before was so much better than where we are now.”

One night shortly after Saddam Hussein fell, American soldiers burst into the apartment that Mohammed shared with his two brothers. They were looking for insurgents, but took one look at Mohammed, with his long hair and shapely body wrapped in a robe, and teased him, he said.

“What are you, a lady man?” he remembered them barking. “A boy? Or a girl?” They turned to one of Mohammed’s brothers, “Who is this?” they asked, “Your girlfriend?”

Being gay in Iraq now keeps them constantly on the move seeking safety. Not surprisingly, many of them want out of Iraq.
One of Mohammed’s friends, a 25-year-old law student named Rafi, said he was especially desperate to get out of Iraq. It is a sentiment shared by millions of Iraqis, but Rafi believes his future here is especially bleak. The influence from Iran is growing, he said. And in Iran, homosexuality is often punishable by death.

“I want to get out, but not just out of Iraq, out of the Middle East,” Rafi said, “to a country that has respect for human rights. And for us.”

Good luck. And if you are casting an eye on the United States, I'd wait until January 2009 -- at least.

Crossposted from konagod


07 November 2007

ENDA Passes

by: Foiled Goil

Employment Non-Discrimination Act Is Passed

The Gavel:

House Passes ENDA

The House has just passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 3685, by a vote of 235-184.
This bill will prohibit employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using an individual's sexual orientation as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation. The bill extends federal employment protections to gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers similar to those already provided to a person based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.
Bringing this nondiscrimination bill to the House Floor is an historic occasion. This bill has been introduced in every Congress since 1975. In the 94th Congress, on January 14, 1975, Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) introduced the first bill to prohibit sexual-orientation discrimination. And in every Congress since then, legislation prohibiting sexual-orientation discrimination has been introduced. However, this year, Congress is making history. The October 18th vote by the Education and Labor Committee to report this bill to the floor was the first vote ever taken on this critical legislation in the House of Representatives.
Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 3685.


· ·
17 October 2007

Andrew Sullivan on Watching Larry Craig

by: Minstrel Boy

I read Sullivan pretty regularly. There are times where he and I certainly part company, but, at our core, we are in the same boat, as essentially libertarian conservatives who found our party co-opted by racists, sexists, and christian extremist whack jobs.

This one, though, is a thoughtful, and humanely generous account of the emotions raised by issues like this.

Like when he says:
And he constructed an identity in opposition to this "lifestyle" early, out of pain and defensiveness and terrible fear. He is now wedded to this life he created - more than to his wife


or this:
If you want an argument for why the cause for gay visibility, dignity and equality is necessary and indeed noble, just watch that interview again.


or especially this:
Craig was seeking in that toilet stall a connection, a shard of intimacy, that the world would not give him, or that he could not give himself. No one should have to live without that intimacy and dignity - no one. Living a life like that - a deeply lonely, compromised, painful interior existence - is a very sophisticated form of hell. No human can keep it up for ever. No human should have to keep it up for ever.

He is a hypocrite; and he made his choices. I am not going to dispute that. His voting record helped sustain the misery for others that he lived with himself. He is for ever responsible for that.

But he is also a victim. And to see such a victim's pain exposed brutally in a public restroom pains me. He needs help. So do millions of others.


Bravo Mr. Sullivan.

harp and sword


· · ·
25 August 2007

Gender Blender

by: Konagod

I just had to make a liquor store run for tequila.

The last time I was in there my purveyor of fine tequila and exquisite wines was having an issue with the new lesbian employee. Something about the lesbian getting invited to a wine fest when my purveyor is far more experienced. It was pure jealousy.

I went in there tonight and I only saw the lesbian. I asked "where's Denise?" (Not her real name.)

The lesbian replied, "she's in the back. I'm new."

"I know," I thought.

But you sure are boyish, cute and young. Damn.

Nothing is finer than a hot lesbian working in a liquor store.

When I told this story to txrad, he said something about people not understanding about gender blending.

Hence, the title of this post.
20 August 2007

You Never Know Whose Dad is Pierced

by: spyderkl

Stolen shamelessly from the front page of the latest BME zine*, it seemed like the most appropriate title.

By now, it's well known that Karl Rove's adoptive father, Louis C. Rove, Jr., was gay. That was covered in The Architect: Karl Rove and His Dreams of Absolute Power. This particular piece, written by someone who supposedly know the elder Rove well, goes quite a bit further. Rove was a piercing enthusiast, a knowledgeable play piercer (according to the article), and had a number of fairly advanced piercings, which are currently gracing the BME photo collection. It's an interesting, and ultimately sad, essay.

You might be tempted to ask if any of this matters. After all, Rove the elder has been dead for a little while now. He was never in the spotlight himself. However, when the man who he raised as his own son, of whom he was reportedly proud, decided to frame his client's Presidential campaign on the platform of "god, guns and gays"; who has stood by and watched as others demonized his father and men and women like him, even immediately after his death (Rove died in 2004), and had a big part in that demonization - I think it matters. It matters very much.

*A word or two of explanation (well, okay, just one); BME stands for "Body Modification Extreme". It's the online version of a long-time zine that explores the wonderful world of tattoos, piercings, and other body modifications.

Evil Mommy.

12 June 2007

Another Self-Hater Forced From the Closet

by: spyderkl

You know, I was feeling kind of depressed about life in general. I wrote about it a little yesterday, but this has been going on for some time now.

But all that changed when I opened up the newsreader this morning. It seems our, um, Congressional representative - the one who can't be bothered to either show up for work anymore or resign his seat, since he has more important things to do - has a little gay problem.

That's right - Tancredo's staffer/webmaster for Team Tancredo, 18-year-old Tyler Whitney, has been outed. Considering Tancredo's record on the subject of LGBT rights, it's more than a little problem for him:



The younger Whitney's candidate, Rep. Tancredo, has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which means he has never voted in favor of any pro-LBGT legislation. In addition, the long-shot presidential candidacy is mired with allegations of support from white supremacy organizations, like the National Alliance, as well as endorsements from David Duke. Tancredo is attempting to ride to the presidency on a wave of anti-immigration campaign promises including English only balloting, and deportation of every single illegal alien in America. He has also called for a "time-out" on legal immigration into the U.S..

On the one hand, Whitney is only 18 years old. It's tough to come out at any age; and the younger you are, the tougher it is. I'm not getting any great joy out of his personal struggle. On the other hand, he's not just any 18-year-old. This particular 18-year-old is/was a member of WMU's Young Republicans group and the Michigan chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, the latter of which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. So he's clearly got things to work through. I wish him well, even though he doesn't seem to be backing away from his recent past.

In the meantime, I'm making some popcorn, cracking open a diet cream soda and sitting back in a comfy chair. Watching Whitney's boss go down in flames will be way too good to miss.

I should say that I am one of Rep. Tancredo's constituents. Not happy about it, but there you are.

Cross-posted from Evil Mommy.

05 March 2007

Hillary Runs Left To The Gays: "I Am Proud To Stand By Your Side"

by: Gary

Hillary Clinton speaks at HRC and declares herself a strong ally of the LGBT Community! How refreshing to hear a candidate speak for our rights instead of purely against them, or in vague terms that barely reference them, or work to completely avoid the issue. She has declared herself proudly against the Federal Marriage Amendment. And I quote:

"We will not stand idly by when anyone tries to write discrimination into our Constitution"
"We want to make sure that all Americans in committed relationships have equal benefits, from health insurance & life insurance, to social security & property rights, and more. It is wrong that so many people are unable to care for those they love; to leave them their homes & belongings, to ensure they can see a doctor, to visit them in the hospital when they are sick. These are fundamental rights, and we will continue to push until they are equally available."
Now, this stops short of declaring all committed relationships fully equal, but it is the most encouraging rhetorical step forward I have heard in a very long time. Certainly, this is the strongest step towards equality that has ever been offered by a serious contender for the White House. The "Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act" should it be passed would be a very positive step in the right direction, but it only extends to Federal employees. Obviously, that is problematic, but I think it a strategic move forward in an increment that has both the possibility of passing, and the least number of hurdles. I am thinking of it in terms of "baby steps." Admittedly that may be naive, but the rhetoric she offered was clear and resolute. If and when she becomes President, she will be our ally, not our adversary.

"You will always have an open door to my office in the White House."
I think few declarations could be more clear. Hillary definitely wants the support of the LGBT community. She is unafraid to offer it before she enters the White House, and is willing to bravely promise her support once she is there.

She also came out strongly against her husband's failed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" legislation. Progress is clearly manifesting itself in the former, and possibly future Clinton Administrations.

"Courage, honor, patriotism, and sacrifice; the traits that define our men and women in uniform have nothing to do with sexual orientation."
Calling an end to, and rightfully claiming a part in the demise of this ridiculous policy is but another positive step for equality in America.

Other high points included support for adoption rights, ENDA, and the passage of the Federal Hate Crimes Legislation.

I am not ready to throw my full support behind any Presidential candidate, but for now Hillary has me in her corner. She is offering just the sort of "partnership" that the LGBT community needs if we wish to see equality in our life times. Her words are strong and carry power with them. The mere fact that she is drawing a line of equality in the sand with logical arguments to our credit is enough to offer great potential momentum to our rights as a community. She speaks of making us full American citizens on paper, not just by birthright.

That works for me.

You can see the entire speech on YouTube at this link.

Enjoy and share! I think we have a horse in the coral that could win the race, and she has chosen to wear the proud colors of the rainbow.
01 March 2007

Less is Less; NOT More! -- NJ Civil Unions in Pennsylvania

by: Gary

They mean nothing.

Unless you are willing to move your life, your job, and your home to New Jersey, there is no such thing as protection for you and your partner in Pennsylvania. That would be one of the key reasons Civil Unions at the state level mean little or nothing to me. While they are fine within the home state lines, how do they help me if one or both of us has to travel for work, for vacation, or just because we want to? They don't. They aren't fully portable. Marriages are, and that is why anything else doesn't even qualify as "marriage light" to me.

According to the Pocono Record:

"Will gay couples in Pa. seek civil unions in N.J.?

BETH BRELJE
Pocono Record Writer
February 28, 2007


Liz Bradbury's partner of 19 years, Patricia Sullivan, was injured in a traffic accident. She followed the ambulance to the emergency room. Doctors didn't know if Sullivan was going to live.

Bradbury wanted to be in the hospital room, but a nurse stopped her because she was not family. "You have to let me in the room!" she argued. It was one of several similar conversations she would have that day.

Fortunately, Bradbury keeps a power-of-attorney paper in her pocket just in case. With the paper she was able to gain access to the room. But she says if it had been her husband, nobody would have questioned her.

Bradbury kept watch over Sullivan in the hospital that night, all the while "scared some anti-gay person would tell me to leave."

In some states, power of attorney would not have been enough to get into the room. The couple avoids those states."
Having to "avoid" states that aren't friendly to civil unions, and or basic legal documents defining powers of attorney, is not an acceptable solution. In fact, nothing could be more unacceptable! Why should I have to curtail the states I visit in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, "one nation" under God or otherwise?! I am a tax paying, law abiding American citizen, and my rights shouldn't be infringed on just because of my partner's gender. Laws in this nation are to be ignorant of class, creed, color, and any other subcategory. Laws in America are to be administered equally to all citizens. In America membership has it's privileges, and as a member they are mine to claim!

And this is not an issue that will be simply solved at the state level. Even now according to the article some couples who live in PA but work in NJ are getting partner benefits from the NJ employer for their PA lover. This will surely cloud the waters of boarders. And as I am a resident of PA, a state that recently tried to enact one of those hideous anti-marriage equality laws; you know the one..."nothing that resembles marriage or attempts to recreate it's protections will be legal"...That kind?! Well, if ever there was something that will force a backlash with the wingnuts, this kind of loophole in the system is just the thing.

That is why I say that all discussions of marriage equality at the state level are just bullshit distractions. They aren't progress, they're pacifiers. Distractions designed to take the pressure off the federal legislature, and push the "tough" decision to the state. It's easy to pass the buck, it's scary for them to stand up and do the only thing that they know is right and are afraid Americans will see as wrong. Federal legislators are terrified of the backlash from the vocal minority if they grant legal equality to all Americans, so they pass the buck and the states take the heat.

It makes no sense to me!

The federal government grants the legal protections of your state issues marriage license. Sure, each state may have a few special things it will do for a married couple, but it's not the 1,138+ protections and rights that are documented as conferred by the federal government upon the execution of a marriage license. This is the federal ball of wax, and if the states were doing their jobs they would kick this ball back into their court where it surely belongs.

The time for state level discussions, fights, and rhetorical hat tricks is over. It is time that the Congress got it's act together and while they are busy overturning the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" bullshit of the Clinton era, they should start working towards marriage equality for all Americans. They can start by explaining to America that marriage is a legal construct decorated by an optional discretionary religious ceremony. You get married without a church, but you can't go to the church for a wedding without a licence; that's just a party.

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