Wednesday, October 31, 2007 Has The Scoop: Claudia Contrada is One Brave Lesbian

Head over to where Mark Snyder has the exclusive interview in which Claudia Contrada, daughter of Amy Contrada from has officially come out as a lesbian. Here is a teaser, and the link:

This week Contrada's daughter Claudia is starring in the Acton High School Production of the Laramie Project despite the fact that her mother helped to organize a forum against it, and no doubt opened the door for the similarly anti-gay Fred Phelps crew to plan their own protest of the event.

In a most brilliant display of resilience Claudia is standing up as an inspiring role model for anyone, especially young people, struggling with homophobia in their homes or communities. In addition to her acting, some of the things Claudia speaks out about include animal rights, AIDS, and war.

Read the rest at

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Governor Patrick, Secretary Kirwan Tap Jay Gonzalez as Undersecretary for Administration and Finance

Former Undersecretary Henry Dormitzer leading Department of Revenue

Wednesday, October 18, 2007—Governor Deval Patrick and Executive Office for Administration and Finance Secretary Leslie Kirwan today announced that they have promoted Jay Gonzalez to Undersecretary for Administration and Finance, following former Undersecretary Henry Dormitzer’s appointment as Commissioner of the Department of Revenue (DOR).

“Henry and Jay have done a terrific job during the first year of the Patrick Administration, helping us craft a balanced budget, creating the first ever five-year capital plan, and ensuring that the day-to-day operations of state government are performed in a fiscally responsible manner,” Secretary Kirwan said. “They have brought tremendous expertise from their private sector work, and in a short time have made a tremendous impact in this administration.”

Before his promotion, Gonzalez served as the Assistant Secretary for Capital Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs, managing the state’s capital budget, financing the state’s capital investments and overseeing the allocation of the state’s volume cap for private activity bonds.

In his new role, Gonzalez will continue to oversee the state’s capital program, including work on the administration's reform efforts for financing transportation infrastructure. Additionally, he will assist the governor and the secretary with collective bargaining contracts, serve as the secretary’s designee on a number of boards of independent authorities and other state entities, and will serve as the point on general budget and finance issues as the governor readies for the release of his budget in January.

Before joining the administration, Gonzalez was a Partner of the law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, where he focused on public finance. He served as counsel to cities, towns, school districts and governmental entities throughout New England in connection with the financing and development of major capital projects and other governmental programs.

Gonzalez holds a B.A in Government from Dartmouth College and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Dormitzer was named Revenue Commissioner in June, originally in an interim capacity. In his role as Commissioner, Dormitzer directs the agency and its 2,200 employees, which is responsible for enforcing the Commonwealth’s tax, child support and municipal finance laws in a fair and equitable manner.

Since joining DOR, Dormitzer has focused on the agency’s responsibility to enforce the individual mandate of the state’s health care reform law through the tax forms. There is an enhanced focus on leveraging technology to improve the user experience and maximize voluntary compliance with tax laws and filing requirements. He has also focused on promoting the Patrick Administration’s first-ever “Ten Most Wanted” poster of the Commonwealth’s worst child support delinquents. Additionally, Dormitzer plays an instrumental role in the work of the Tax Commission and its efforts to improve the tax code.

Prior to joining the administration, Dormitzer was an investment banker with UBS, serving as Managing Director and Manager of the Boston office. As head of UBS Investment Bank’s public finance office in Boston, he was the leading underwriter of municipal bonds in Massachusetts from 1995 to 2006 and assisted the Commonwealth on major infrastructure and affordable housing activities, including work for the Commonwealth’s transportation authorities and the State Treasury.

A graduate of Harvard College, Dormitzer worked for the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee earlier in his career. He previously served on the Program Committee of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and currently is Treasurer of the Board of Trustees for Worcester Academy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Little Larry Cirignano Visits Court

This blurp is shamelessly stolen from the my friend and his very excellent blog massmarrier:

I don't believe locking eyes with jurors is going to cut it, not for the middle-aged guy charged with tossing a young woman to the ground and saying his rights are worth more than hers. Yet today in Worcester District Court, he tried and that was just one peek into Larry Cirignano.

Unfortunately, neither the prosecutor nor the judge called the defense attorney on his conflation. Cirignano was executive director of CatholicVote, a private political advocacy group centered on reversing marriage equality in Massachusetts. His lawyer referred several times to his client doing the work of the Catholic Church. Of course, legally, the church cannot involve itself in such "work." In addition, while local Archbishop and Cardinal Sean O'Malley poses with Cirignano for pictures, the latter is not an employee of the archdiocese or any church arm. He may be up to dirty tricks that Pope Benedict approves of, but he's on his own as far as the church must be concerned.

For the rest on this story (you won't want to miss the details) head over to MassMarrier.

My health has denied me the opportunity to be there in person, so I want to give a big thank you to those of you who are taking time to make sure this trial gets the coverage it deserves. Were it not for a handful of dedicated people, this issue may have gotten swept under the rug like so many others.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cirignano Supporters Play Dirty Pool in Attempt to Take Heat Off Hot Head

As reported on and, Shari Worthington of Massachusetts Family Institute has now filed a criminal complaint against Sarah Loy, the victim of the December 16th Hate Crime Larry Cirignano is charged with. In a move right out Karl Rove's playbook Ms. Worthington has brushed off the timeliness of this filing by saying "As far as the timing of the filing, some of us have lives outside of blogging and politics!!" I'll add my voice to the chorus that already exists that are saying, "Are you serious?!" This incident happened last December, and you waited until three weeks before the trial to file your complaint? Let's call a spade a spade, this seems like nothing more than the intimidation of a witness. On Shari's website Shari states:

"A hearing has been set for Oct. 29, 2007, regarding the complaint against Loy. At that hearing, a magistrate will decide whether to press formal charges.

But this causes a big problem for Loy. If she testifies against Larry on Oct. 16, she risks incriminating herself in a trial against her!"

In my opinion, this comment proves the intent to intimidate by the nature of the speculation. She seems like she is trying to scare the witness into not testifying, but I think she underestimates Mrs. Loy's resolve. Mrs. Loy is a straight supporter of equality, and it is reported that she is a board member of the Worcester chapter of the ACLU. This is hardly the type of person that is going to bow down to these type of tactics. This is not the first time Massachusetts Family Institute has been under fire for using intimidation to "grease the wheels" so to speak. Right around the same time the incident in question happened MFI was circulating Wanted: Dead or Alive style posters of the legislators that voted against the now defunct constitutional amendment attempt to strip GLBT citizens of the right to marry whom they choose. I find both these intimidation tactics highly hypocritcal considering what dispersions MFI cast against

Ms. Worthington claims Mrs. Loy violated statute Chapter 272: Section 40 of Massachusetts Law which states:

Whoever wilfully interrupts or disturbs a school or other assembly of people met for a lawful purpose shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one month or by a fine of not more than fifty dollars; provided, however, that whoever, within one year after being twice convicted of a violation of this section, again violates the provisions of this section shall be punished by imprisonment for one month, and the sentence imposing such imprisonment shall not be suspended.

Some people may recall that I was actually there at this event and saw where Sarah Loy was, and what she was doing. As far as I recall she was in the thick of the Vote on Marriage supporters silently hold her sign, which is hardly the spin Ms. Worthington's complaint makes. There was no interruption of the assembly, which is what would be required for the law to be broken.

What is somewhat amusing to me in this sad attempt to demonize the victim of a Hate Crime, is a misstatement Cirignano's defense lawyer makes in his own brief. He incorrectly calls the "Take A Stand For Democracy" rally a "Let the People Vote" rally. I think it is kind of ironic that in a rally that claims to be about democracy, freedom of speech would be such an issue for them.

I suppose Cirignano has forgone the idea of throwing himself at the mercy of the court. He seems to want to go down swinging and take anybody he can with him. People may recall last December 16th when Larry Cirignano, former head of the Catholic Citizen's Group left the podium after speaking and in his words "escorted" Mrs. Loy, who wound up hitting her head on a concrete sidewalk. Mr. Cirignano has maintained his innocence in spite of multiple credible eyewitnesses, as well as photographic and video evidence that is against him.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Governator "Terminates" California Gay Marriage Bill

By Steve Lawrence

7:03 p.m. October 12, 2007

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday carried out his promise to continue to veto gay marriage bills.
The Republican governor turned down a measure by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that would have lifted the state's ban on same-sex marriages by defining marriage as a union between two persons, not just a man and a woman.

AdvertisementSchwarzenegger vetoed a similar Leno bill in 2005.
The governor announced in February that he would veto this year's version if it reached his desk and said last month that he would keep turning down such bills as long as lawmakers kept sending them to him.

“It would be wrong for the people to vote for something and for me to then overturn it,” Schwarzenegger said in September, referring to voters' approval of Proposition 22 in 2000. “So they can send this bill down as many times as they want, I won't do it.”

Proposition 22 was intended to prevent California from recognizing gay marriages performed in other states or countries.

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said voters and the state Supreme Court should decide the issue. The high court is likely to rule next year on whether California's ban on gay marriages violates the constitution.

The governor said voters “should then determine what, if any, statutory changes are needed in response to the court's ruling.”

Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, a gay rights group, said the veto was “hypocrisy at its worst.”

“We find it shocking for the governor to say he opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation and then veto a bill that would have ended discrimination based on sexual orientation,” Kors said.

Schwarzenegger said in his veto message that all Californians are entitled to full protection under the law “and should not be discriminated against based upon their sexual orientation.”

He said he supports state laws that give domestic partners many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, said the bill was a basic extension of fairness and that he was disappointed the governor had vetoed it.

“I firmly believe the day will come soon when California law is on the right side of this issue and the right side of history,” he said. “The California Assembly will continue working to make that happen.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"For the Bible Tells Me So.", The Movie About Gay Children and Their Parents

NEW YORK (AP) -- TV and film producer Daniel Karslake enjoyed working on segments about religion and gay relationships for the PBS gay news magazine "In the Life."

Yet as he watched the wrenching debates over Scripture and homosexuality in Protestant denominations and society at large, he felt a need to reach beyond an audience that already accepted partnered gays and lesbians. The result opened nationally Friday in New York, a documentary called "For the Bible Tells Me So."

The film takes a different approach to the gays-in-the-church debate. It focuses on devout Christians who learn their child is gay and how that affected their belief that same-sex relationships are prohibited by Scripture.

"I made this movie for the movable middle in America," Karslake said, before a private screening last week at New York's Marble Collegiate Church, where inspirational pastor Norman Vincent Peale preached for decades. Karslake, who is gay and a mainline Protestant, believes that "sincere, honorable, compassionate people" have been misled about how they should read the Bible.

The documentary features many pro-gay veterans of the theological debates.

Among them is the Rev. Mel White, the former ghost writer for the Rev. Jerry Falwell and founder of the gay and lesbian advocacy group Soulforce. So is Jimmy Creech, the former United Methodist pastor who lost his clergy credentials in the late 1990s for conducting same-sex union ceremonies. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Rev. Peter Gomes, the prominent preacher and Harvard Divinity School professor, also make a case for acceptance.

But the movie largely focuses on the personal stories of some well-known -- and not-so-famous -- mothers and fathers of gays and lesbians.

The parents of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, talk about how they knew nothing about homosexuality until Robinson came out to them. They bought some books about "gay folks" and decided that what they had been taught was wrong.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat, and his family talk about his daughter Chrissy, who is a lesbian.

A Bible-believing African-American couple from North Carolina, David and Brenda Poteat, told Karslake that while they still disapprove of homosexuality, they have found a way to build a good relationship with their lesbian daughter, Tonia.

And a woman who was raised to interpret the Bible literally tells of her daughter's suicide after her mother repeatedly said she would never accept the girl as a lesbian.

Christian conservatives are sure to be unhappy with their depiction.

They appear largely through outtakes from CNN's "Larry King Live" and other TV broadcasts, and as targets of protest. A pro-gay, Lutheran couple from Minnesota, Phil and Randi Reitan, are shown leading a protest at the Colorado Springs, Colorado, headquarters of Focus on the Family, the evangelical ministry led by James Dobson.

The Reitans, who had worshipped for years in the Evanglical Lutheran Church in America, were arrested when they tried to enter the office and deliver a letter to Dobson about the pain he causes gays and lesbians. Their son Jake came out early in his teens, and they describe their emotional journey from shock and fear for their son's safety, to becoming activists who press churches to accept gay and lesbian relationships.

In an interview, Robinson, who helped win support for the documentary when Karslake was just starting out, said the filmmaker had approached leading Christian conservatives about appearing in the film, but they declined when they learned about its approach.

Craig Detweiler, director of Reel Spirituality, a think tank for pastors and filmmakers at Fuller Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school in Pasadena, California, saw the documentary when it premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival with a group of Fuller students, who invited Karslake to meet with them afterward to discuss the movie.

Detweiler said he admires the film because, "it explores the human cost of the culture war. I think it tries to move the conversation beyond politics into the personal."

But he indicated the documentary might end up being more controversial than transformative.

"'For the Bible Tells Me So' represents one side of an ongoing argument, and the filmmakers seemed very interested in evoking a reaction," Detweiler said. "I think film at its best starts conversations, but this conversation will continue for quite some time."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Denial of Benefits Shows Limits of Civil Unions in New Jersey

Same-sex couples united in civil unions not receiving spousal benefits in New Jersey
by Julie Bolcer & Staff
August 2, 2007

Same-sex couples who entered into civil unions in New Jersey have already experienced the limitations of new legislation that does not specifically use the word, "marriage," to describe their relationships.Last month, United Parcel Service denied health care coverage to same-sex civil union partners of its unionized employees in the Garden State because they could not be described as "spouses." The company said that under its union contracts, benefits are available only to legally married couples who are in the bargaining units. Following advocacy from Lambda Legal and Garden State Equality and a letter to UPS from Governor Jon Corzine, on July 30 the company announced the reversal of its position. Coverage for non-union employees in same-sex civil unions was never in question.Some state legislators who championed the civil union law, approved in December, expressed surprise that civil union partners would be treated unfairly. They said they intended for everyone to be treated equally, despite the different legal language used to describe relationships between same-sex partners. Activists maintained the latest problem was the inevitable outcome of legislation that compromised full marriage equality

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Family Values in Action

A woman in Utah has a serious problem. She has four children for whom she cannot adequately care. She is in serious trouble with the law, due to her drug addiction.

Fortunately, she has an uncle who is a rock solid citizen.. He runs a stable, loving home with two children of his own; he knows and loves his niece's children and they adore him.

So she asked her uncle for help and he was more than happy to take her children under his wing, and care for them as his own. After all, he not only is a loving father of two, he has a steady job, no criminal record, and has been a positive influence in the lives of these beautiful children since they were born.

This should be a happy ending; a success story of family values in action. A story about families sticking together and picking each other up. A classic tale of love conquers all.

Why isn't it?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Straight Couple Brings National Gay Rights Vigil to Salem, MA


For Immediate Release

Straight Couple Brings National Gay Rights Vigil to Salem, MA

SALEM, MA -- Aaron and Susan Toleos, a straight couple from Boxford,
MA, will be spending their ninth wedding anniversary wrapping up plans
for a gay rights vigil they have organized for the following day,
Thursday, October 11 at the historic First Church in Salem from 6 to
8pm. Their event is part of a national campaign called "Seven Straight
Nights for Equal Rights" that has straight people leading similar
vigils in thirty cities and twenty-six states across America during
the second week in October.

"My wife and I have been humbled by the courage of the lgbt community
as they have fought to protect themselves and their children over the
last few years," said Mr. Toleos. "This vigil is a way for the
straight community to show its support as the struggle for full
equality continues."

Although the main audience is straight people, organizers hope that
many members of the lgbt community will attend to stand by their
straight allies as they "come out" in support of equal rights for all

As people arrive in the first hour, there will be entertainment, a
video display, and a book signing by the authors of "Courting
Equality: A Documentary History of America's First Legal Same-Sex
The formal part of the program will kick-off at 7pm with
the lighting of candles and remarks by gay rights leaders and state

The First Church in Salem is located at 316 Essex Street in Salem, MA.
It is near downtown Salem and a short walk from the train station.
There is usually plenty of on-street parking in this area.

Coffee, juice, and snacks will be available throughout the vigil.
Bring the kids!

More information is available at where you
can also make a donation. If you have questions or would like to
volunteer, contact Aaron Toleos at (978) 821-4620 or

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Just Gimme Some Truth

I don't know what happened here, but somebody does. It is absolutely imperative that we hold our leaders accountable.

From the Boston Globe"

The Massachusetts National Guard soldier from Quincy who died Friday in Afghanistan asked her relatives to press for answers if anything happened to her while she was deployed, according to her family.

"She did say to us that she had concerns about things she was seeing when she was over there," Ciara Durkin's sister, Fiona Canavan, said in an interview with WGBH-TV. "She told us if anything happened to her, that we were to investigate it."

Questions surrounding Durkin's death prompted US Senators John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy and US Representative William D. Delahunt yesterday to call for the Defense Department to thoroughly investigate the death of Durkin, a Quincy resident.

In a letter, Kerry urged Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates "to deploy your staff on this matter immediately, so that the answers and circumstances around Specialist Durkin's death are uncovered, expeditiously and thoroughly."

Delahunt, a Quincy Democrat, said his staff met yesterday with Army officials to find out how Durkin died. Kennedy's office said he had spoken to Army Secretary Pete Geren yesterday to relay the family's concerns.

The Defense Department says it is investigating Durkin's death, which it described as a "non-combat-related incident." Durkin's family says Army officials have told them she was found with a single bullet in her head, lying near the church where she worshipped on the secure Bagram Airfield.

The Army has not publicly disclosed whether a weapon was found near her body.

The Massachusetts National Guard initially reported that Durkin was killed in action, though a Guard spokesman later said the term meant only that Durkin was serving in Afghanistan at the time.

"When confusing information comes in, which is contradictory, it raises the level of anxiety during a very difficult time," Kerry said in an interview yesterday. "It's very important to know what the facts are."

Canavan said yesterday that the family is trying to be patient as the Army investigates. An Army liaison has met with the family every day, Canavan said.

Yesterday, the military told the family that investigators have interviewed every member of Durkin's unit "all day, every day."

Canavan expressed gratitude to Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, saying, "We feel like somebody's got her back."

"It's just a matter of when are you going to let us know if somebody accidentally killed her or purposefully killed her," Canavan said. "We're not letting it go. . . . We're not for one minute accepting anything at face value."

Canavan said the family was wondering whether someone might have targeted Durkin because she was gay.

"Ciara was a lesbian, and that's bound to come out," Canavan said. "It is possible that someone over there found that out, and, you know, maybe they were very homophobic."

The Adjutant General of Massachusetts, Major General Joseph C. Carter, pledged his support for the family.

"It is my focus to support the family by seeking the answers they need regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Specialist Durkin," Carter said in a written statement. "Along with the Durkin family, we are anxious for answers and are anticipating the conclusion of the investigation."

Durkin, the eighth of nine siblings, was born in Ireland and moved to Massachusetts at age 9. After working in information technology for a healthcare company, she enlisted in the Guard two years ago.

Her family says she admired military discipline and wanted to serve her country.

Kerry said the Durkin family desperately needs answers to three questions:

Why has the Army not responded to the Durkin family's request for an independent autopsy?

Why, after not responding to the family's request for an independent autopsy, did the Army fail to contact the Durkin family with the Army's autopsy results? The family was told to be available to receive a phone call between 1 and 3 p.m. on Oct. 1, and the Army never called.

Why has the Army refused to make Durkin's will and paperwork available to her family, so they can respect her wishes as they plan her funeral and burial?

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Withington, a Defense Department spokesman, said yesterday that Gates had not received Kerry's letter but that the Pentagon would respond.

"We do feel there's a great lack of information but we're trying to be patient with them," Canavan said of the military. "They keep telling us they're taking time so they get it right."