Friday, February 29, 2008

Look to Human Rights Pioneers in Gay Marriage Debate

(February 29, 2008) — There's a famous line from a speech Sojourner Truth delivered at a women's rights convention in 1851 that comes to mind as Monroe County fights against recognizing gay marriage.

"Ain't I a woman?" said the former slave and early feminist, in response to concerns that women weren't strong enough, smart enough or Christ-like enough to merit equal rights.

Those are among the arguments against allowing same-sex marriage. But County Executive Maggie Brooks says she's looking out for taxpayers in appealing a state court decision recognizing gay marriages performed outside of New York state.

Ain't gays taxpayers, too?

Indeed. Read the whole article at The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Fear Mongoring MFI Still "Out There"

One of our readers was nice enough to pass on an email from Massachusetts Family Institute That I will post in it's entirety, then comment on. I remind the readers that MFI is the main group that is supported by Focus on Family, the group headed by James Dobson. Dobson has been called out several times by professionals that he quoted because of how he shades the truth. Most memorably for me is the youtube post (cited below) of Professor Carol Guilligan of the New York University school of Law. She was outraged to find Dobson cited her work in an interview for time magazine, and asked Dobson not to quote her in the future because he doesn't cite the facts correctly.

Birds of a feather flock together, it seems dishonesty does not stop with the parent organization. MFI was the major backer of the failed amendment to add discrimination of gay people into the state constitution last year. When MFI found out several of their supposed supporters had changed their vote they alleged that backroom deals had been made akin to bribes. Those accusations of course were never proven, it was simply the prattle of sore losers. Let us never forget that these are the same people that brought our state outside petition gatherers who were proven to have stolen signatures for this failed amendment. Their defense was that they didn't know this would happen. How come they didn't know it would happen when they had hired Arno Political Consultants, a group that has a history of lawsuits against them of the same nature? My opinion is that they knew they would not muster popular support, so they used any means available. Their dishonesty adds credence to my accusation.

Here is the email letter from MFI recently sent:

Radical Transgender Bill Hearing Tuesday!
Plan to Come to State House

We have just confirmed an important hearing on Beacon Hill. The Joint Committee on the Judiciary will be hearing testimony on H.1722, a radical bill about "transgender rights," as part of a hearing on bills pertaining to "privacy."

Judiciary Committee Hearing
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
1:00 PM - Hearing Room A1

Rep. Carl Sciortino (D-Somerville) filed the bill to grant special rights to people with Gender Identity Disorder (a.k.a. transgender) and has found strong support within the homosexual movement for passage of this legislation. The bill would add the vague category of "gender identity or expression" to the state ban on sex discrimination, defining it as "gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual's assigned sex at birth."

The Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), who drafted the bill, leaves its terms vague to allow for future interpretations as new "genders" are discovered (the most recent being "intersex"). GLAD's goal is to deny the immutable biological differences between the sexes.

If this bill were to become law, the consequences would be chilling. School children would be taught that they can change their gender if they want. Sex change operations and hormone treatments would be topics in sex education classes. Women and children would be put at risk since anyone, regardless of their biological sex, would be allowed access to sensitive areas such as single-sex bathrooms and locker rooms as well as college dormitories. Nothing would prevent a male sexual predator from pretending that he is confused about his sex to gain access to a woman's bathroom or to join a female-only fitness club.

CLICK HERE to download and read MFI's Policy Briefing on H.1722.

Please plan to attend the hearing next Tuesday at the State House. We need numbers of people there to protest this radical legislation which puts women and children in danger. Additionally, the language in the bill would open a "Pandora's Box" of legal wrangling and gender redefinition, exposing our children to even more sordid sexual content in schools in the name of diversity.

Watch for more information in subsequent emails this weekend.

This call for action is in the tradition of irresponsible acts that Massachusetts Family Institute is known for. Their fear is that "Nothing would prevent a male sexual predator from pretending that he is confused about his sex to gain access to a women’s bathroom." They still haven't explained how children are at risk, but I guess it looks good on paper. Rather than take an action that would alleviate the cause of their fears, they seem to decide that because only a few people are effected by Gender Identity Disorder, their needs aren't worth addressing.

How about this folks, we reserve the changing of gender for those who have been to a doctor and who have created a legitimate case for themselves. We should NEVER deny a minority it's rights on the idea that they are too small a group, that is simply oppression.

"The will of the majority is in all instances to prevail, however for that will to be rightful it must be reasonable. The minorities have their equal rights, and to deny them would be oppression" ~Thomas Jefferson

There is a far better way to address the fears that Massachusetts Family Institute raise. I think that if we work together we can find solution that promotes the rights of this group without it being at the expense of others. That seems to be part of the problem with MFI; they don't play well with others.

I have added this video of Kris Mineau, head of MFI to give people an idea of who is behind the curtain. Ask yourself if bigotry is the traditional family value you want supported. When he is asked during his "interview" (conducted by his wife) what are the key issues in Massachusetts, Mineau starts with Gay Marriage; not homelessness, drugs, poverty, or education. See for yourself:

Professor Carol Guilligan defends her work against Dobson's misinformation campaign:

Gay Marriage Boon, Not Bane

Aaron Toleos over at email alerted me to this article. Seems that after all the fear and hype, gay marriage is actually turning out to be a benefit to our state. This should give pause to those who listen to the unfounded fears and lamentations of people that deal poorly with diversity.

Massachusetts native Jeffrey Webb loved the Los Angeles lifestyle. He had a great job as a law partner in the L.A. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and his life partner, Mark Schuster, was equally happy with his work as chief of general pediatrics and professor at UCLA. "We both had positions that were hard to replicate," said Webb, 43.

Even so, Webb and Schuster left the California sunshine in December and moved to Brookline with their twin sons. It wasn't the promise of enduring a gloomy Massachusetts winter that beckoned them -- it was the ability to live in Massachusetts as a legally married couple.

"That was something that was really important to us," said Webb, who married Schuster in Massachusetts soon after the couple bought a vacation home in Truro in 2004. Webb has since joined the law firm McDermott, Will & Emery LLP as a partner in the trial department, and Schuster is now the chief of general pediatrics and vice chair for health policy research at Children's Hospital Boston.

Read the rest of this article from it's source at the Boston Business Journal.

Why the Obsession With Sex?

Ed Brayton is covering this story, and there will certainly be lots of comments on his thread, so I recommend you go over there and check it out.

More evidence that the anti-gay crowd is absolutely obsessed with gay sex. Look at this brilliant statement from Texas Gov. Rick Perry that homosexuals are all about sex because the very word contains the word "sex." Excerpt from this interview below the fold:

PERRY: ...Scouting ought to be about building character, not about sex. Period. Precious few parents enroll their boys in the Scouts to get a crash course in sexual orientation.

SOLOMON: Why do you think a homosexual would be more likely to bring the subject of sex into a conversation than a heterosexual?

PERRY: Well, the ban in scouting applies to scout leaders. When you have a clearly open homosexual scout leader, the scouts are going to talk about it. And they're not there to learn about that. They're there to learn about what it means to be loyal and trustworthy and thrifty.

SOLOMON: But don't you think that homosexuals might also be interested in being loyal and thrifty?

PERRY: The argument that gets made is that homosexuality is about sex. Do you agree?


PERRY: Well, then why don't they call it something else?

He seems unaware that the word "heterosexual" also includes the word "sex." What a dolt.

However, I want to add my two cents to this:

I have mentioned numerous times before that I believe the religious opposition to equality is the toughest nut to crack, just because religious bigotry does not easily yield to logic or reason, but the second toughest nut has to be this obsession with sex.

I find it truly mind-boggling this obsession.

Is it possible that most straight people just have never really gotten to know enough gay people? Or do they know better and just not care?

I happen to believe it is the former, but then I am not typical so I am biased.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Learning to Speak Modern Language

Baby Steps

The language the media use makes a difference in the reader's perception of the issues. The Washington Times has long been a conservative voice. They still are, but there are changes coming in the newspaper's language, which I hope signals to conservative readers that it is high time to retire bigoted language:

According to Bill Walsh, the Times will now speak in modern language.

A memo from the editor in chief reads as follows:

From: Patrick Tuohy
Date: February 25, 2008 4:43:13 PM EST
Subject: Style changes


Here are some recent updates to TWT style.

1) Clinton will be the headline word for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

2) Gay is approved for copy and preferred over homosexual, except in clinical references or references to sexual activity.

3) The quotation marks will come off gay marriage (preferred over homosexual marriage).

4) Moderate is approved, but centrist is still allowed.

5) We will use illegal immigrants, not illegal aliens.


Baby Steps

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Separate but Equal

GREENSBORO, Ga. - Nearly four decades after this rural Georgia county stopped segregating its schools by race, it wants to divide students again — this time by sex.

Greene County is set to become the first school district in the nation to go entirely single-sex, with boys and girls in separate classrooms — a move born of desperation over years of poor test scores, soaring dropout rates and high numbers of teenage pregnancies.

"At the rate we're moving, we're never going to catch up," Superintendent Shawn McCollough told parents in an impassioned speech last week. "If we're going to take some steps, let's take some big steps."

Maybe I am just too cynical, but I don't trust the government to educate boys and girls separately. I remember the bad old days before Title IX.

I believe that separate but equal is never equal, and I am convinced that this will be to the detriment of our girls.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Florida Voters Ask Important Questions About Equality

From the editorial pages of the Sun-Sentinel in Florida (yes, I have that much free time)we find this written:

How does marriage between my lesbian sister and her partner of 11 years affect my circumstances? Or anyone else's?

I ask because voters are being asked to approve an amendment to our state Constitution that would forever deny her the right to a legal union of any kind. Why? Certainly not because it harms anyone else. I have racked my brain and can come up with no ideas about how it would affect anyone else's life.

Read the rest here. All evil needs in order to be triumphant is for good men to do nothing. It's nice to see that in Florida we have some good people that are asking themselves questions in line with the parable of The Good Samaraitan. MLK phrased it right, "If I do nothing, what will happen to him?" We all need to be asking ourselves questions in order to seperate the truth from deception. I've always contended that the easiest way to find out which side is telling the truth is to not trust wither one, and check all the facts. Once you begin to find lies, you know not to trust that side. Thank you to all those people who invest enough time into this issue to become aware of the problem ahead.

Governor Patrick Urges Congress to Protect Children’s Health Insurance

Asks Congressional committee to support reauthorization of SCHIP; Success of health reform on the line

BOSTON – Tuesday, February 26, 2008—Testifying in Washington, DC, today, Governor Deval Patrick urged members of a Congressional committee to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a federal program that provides funding for states to provide health insurance to children who are otherwise ineligible based on family income.

Governor Patrick asked members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to rescind an August 17th directive from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that imposes new enrollment, administrative and procedural requirements that impair the Commonwealth’s Medicaid and SCHIP programs. Labeled as “guidance” by CMS, they impose significant new requirements for states like Massachusetts that cover children over 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The current regulations are slated to expire March 2009 unless Congress acts.

“A child with quality healthcare is a child with a better chance in every aspect of life,” said Governor Patrick. “Failure to reauthorize SCHIP will leave thousands of children uninsured and will greatly compromise the success of health reform in Massachusetts. I urge Congress to rescind the federal directive and continue to support a program that is keeping children and families across our nation healthy.”

SCHIP was designed in 1997 to cover uninsured children in low and moderate income families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

The SCHIP program has been a crucial element to health reform in the Commonwealth. CMS agreed two years ago to permit Massachusetts to expand SCHIP to children at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. As a result, Medicaid and SCHIP enrollment has grown by 40,000 children, including 18,000 newly eligible because of the expansion from to 200 percent to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

Governor Patrick told the committee that without continued federal support and flexibility within the SCHIP program, health reform in Massachusetts and other states is in jeopardy.

Governor Patrick also urged Congress to rescind several other CMS Medicaid regulations that will shift an estimated $15 billion in costs from the federal government to states. These regulations restrict how Medicaid pays for hospital services, graduate medical education, outpatient services, school-based health services, services for individuals with disabilities, and case management services.

Though still in its early stages, health reform in Massachusetts has been successful. More than 300,000 adults and children who were uninsured one year ago are insured today.

Monday, February 25, 2008


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Monday, February 25, 2008 —Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Governor Deval Patrick met with Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to discuss the renewal of Massachusetts’ Medicaid waiver. The waiver helps hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents receive life-saving health care services. Today’s meeting was the first in what will be a series of meetings as the renewal process begins for the waiver. It currently expires on June 30, 2008.

Senator Kennedy said, “This was a constructive first meeting and good start on the process of renewing the Massachusetts waiver. Massachusetts has defied the odds and is leading the nation on providing good affordable health care for our citizens. I look forward to working with the Governor and the Bush Administration to continue our progress.”

“Senator Kennedy, Secretary Leavitt and I had a very positive and productive meeting to discuss the importance of health reform, our successes so far, and the challenges ahead,” said Governor Patrick. “I thank the Senator and the entire Congressional delegation for their continued support of this grand experiment, and Secretary Leavitt for his strong partnership from the start.”


Patrick Also Voted by Coalition of Northeast Governors to Lead Group on Energy Issues

BOSTON – Monday, February 25, 2008 – The New England Governors' Conference today selected Governor Patrick to be the group’s Vice Chair for 2008 and 2009. The group met today during the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.

“I look forward to helping shape our region's strategy on energy and global climate change, and ways to use those challenges to spur economic development,” said Governor Patrick.

The New England Governors' Conference, an informal alliance since colonial days, was formally established in 1937 by the Governors of the six state region to promote New England's economic development. In 1981, the Conference incorporated as a non-partisan, non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)3 corporation. The region's six governors serve as its Board of Directors.

The NEGC's framework permits the Governors to work together, to coordinate and implement policies and programs which are designed to respond to regional issues. Maine Governor John Baldacci was made chair.

Governor Patrick was also chosen to lead the Coalition of Northeast Governors (CONEG) on energy issues. The Coalition voted this weekend at its annual meeting. As Lead Governor for the Northeast states on energy, Governor Patrick will focus on energy and transportation issues relative to global climate change. Transportation through fuel choice and public transportation can help manage the region's carbon footprint. Public transportation, such as the commuter rail, helps encourage smart growth development, which is another path to smart energy use.

The Coalition named Vermont Governor Jim Douglas as Chair, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as Vice Chair, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine as transportation lead and New Hampshire Governor John Lynch as lead for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Tomorrow, Governor Patrick will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce in Washington, D.C. in favor of SCHIP – the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides critical and cost-effective preventive care to children while helping keep skyrocketing healthcare expenses in check.

Worldwide Boycott of Provincetown MA Picks Up Steam

You might remember Barry Scott from last year, 5'4" disc jockey for the lost 45s, who was brutally assaulted by Provincetown police last year in what they claim was an arrest for disorderly conduct. It seems Scott was beaten and arrested merely because he announced at the turning 40 birthday party he was working that the party was being broken up by police for noise complaints. The police didn't care for his choice of words. Does freedom of speech mean anything anymore?! Despite public outcry and the obviousness of the police overreaction when trying to subdue a 135lbs. non-combative man who has never had any trouble like this before, the prosecutor has seen it fit to waste our taxpayer dollars and the court's time by moving forward on these charges.

Barry Scott, my hat is off to you. You are one of the few people who will not bend to pressure and be silent while the outrageousness of the Provincetown authorities falls around you like rain. You act in the same spirit of those like Tom Lang (, who could not watch silently while the "moral" majority tried to steal people's signatures for their intolerant cause. Like Lang, Scott could easily live his life without bringing much attention to his case, but there is something inside both men that burns for justice to be delivered. The "Rowdy Citizen" within them has awakened, and they push for the truth to be told even at their own personal cost. I have a deep respect for those who self-sacrifice for the betterment of mankind, and in Scott's continued actions to gain attention to last year's serial violence in Provincetown. You can visit Barry Scott's website for more information, and to contact him with your support. It is a hero that stands his ground firm and trudges on while legal eagles try to plant the seeds of intimidation in their path. Few people make such a stand, we should offer them our thanks and our help whenever we come across such courage.

Please visit the archives of and see the four part series on the violence that public officials for the most part seem to be ignoring. See for yourself what is going on and decide for yourself if you want to put your hard earned money into a community that is more interested in your tourist dollars than your safety. As it stands there is still a Traveler's Advisory in effect for Provincetown MA over these issues, and it will remain in effect until they are properly addressed to the satisfaction of the Boston Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.

More importantly than Scott's incident is the attitude with which the GLBT community is received by emergency and government officials. Look at the larger picture in which all these events portray an enviornment where we are not as safe as we once thought, not even in Provincetown, where there is supposedly no place for hate. Check the links below and feel free to share your thoughts with others here and elsewhere. These links are just some examples of things that have past, but there are so many more.

Somerville Attack
The Murder of Daniel Yakovleff
Jacob Robida
James Nickola
Larry Cirignano
Diane Steele

Paul Martin's Eloquent Stand for Equality

I missed the anniversary by a few days, but this date should be remembered.

It was February 16, 2005 when Paul Martin rose to the occasion, and took a stand for equality.

I am reprinting his speech here:

Address by Prime Minister Paul Martin on Bill C-38 (The Civil Marriage Act)

February 16, 2005
House of Commons, Canada

I rise today in support of Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. I rise in support of a Canada in which liberties are safeguarded, rights are protected and the people of this land are treated as equals under the law.

This is an important day. The attention of our nation is focused on this chamber, in which John Diefenbaker introduced the Bill of Rights, in which Pierre Trudeau fought to establish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our deliberations will be not merely about a piece of legislation or sections of legal text - more deeply, they will be about the kind of nation we are today, and the nation we want to be.

This bill protects minority rights. This bill affirms the Charter guarantee of religious freedom. It is that straightforward, Mr. Speaker, and it is that important.

And that is why I stand today before members here and before the people of this country to say I believe in, and I will fight for, the Charter of Rights. I believe in, and I will fight for, a Canada that respects the foresight and vision of those who created and entrenched the Charter. I believe in, and I will fight for, a future in which generations of Canadians to come, Canadians born here and abroad, will have the opportunity to value the Charter as we do today - as an essential pillar of our democratic freedoms.

There have been a number of arguments put forward by those who do not support this bill. It's important and respectful to examine them and to assess them.

First, some have claimed that, once this bill becomes law, religious freedoms will be less than fully protected. This is demonstrably untrue. As it pertains to marriage, the government's legislation affirms the Charter guarantee that religious officials are free to perform such ceremonies in accordance with the beliefs of their faith.

In this, we are guided by the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, which makes clear that in no church, no synagogue, no mosque, no temple - in no religious house will those who disagree with same-sex unions be compelled to perform them. Period. That is why this legislation is about civil marriage, not religious marriage.

Moreover -- and this is crucially important -- the Supreme Court has declared unanimously, and I quote "The guarantee of religious freedom in section 2(a) of the Charter is broad enough to protect religious officials from being compelled by the state to perform civil or religious same-sex marriages that are contrary to their religious beliefs."

The facts are plain: Religious leaders who preside over marriage ceremonies must and will be guided by what they believe. If they do not wish to celebrate marriages for same-sex couples, that is their right. The Supreme Court says so. And the Charter says so.

One final observation on this aspect of the issue: Religious leaders have strong views both for and against this legislation. They should express them. Certainly, many of us in this House, myself included, have a strong faith, and we value that faith and its influence on the decisions we make. But all of us have been elected to serve here as Parliamentarians. And as public legislators, we are responsible for serving all Canadians and protecting the rights of all Canadians.

We will be influenced by our faith but we also have an obligation to take the widest perspective -- to recognize that one of the great strengths of Canada is its respect for the rights of each and every individual, to understand that we must not shrink from the need to reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of Canadians in an evolving society.

The second argument ventured by opponents of the bill is that government ought to hold a national referendum on this issue. I reject this - not out of a disregard for the view of the people, but because it offends the very purpose of the Charter.

The Charter was enshrined to ensure that the rights of minorities are not subjected, are never subjected, to the will of the majority. The rights of Canadians who belong to a minority group must always be protected by virtue of their status as citizens, regardless of their numbers. These rights must never be left vulnerable to the impulses of the majority.

We embrace freedom and equality in theory, Mr. Speaker. We must also embrace them in fact.

Third, some have counseled the government to extend to gays and lesbians the right to "civil union." This would give same-sex couples many of the rights of a wedded couple, but their relationships would not legally be considered marriage. In other words, they would be equal, but not quite as equal as the rest of Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, the courts have clearly and consistently ruled that this option would offend the equality provisions of the Charter. For instance, the British Columbia Court of Appeal stated that, and I quote "Marriage is the only road to true equality for same-sex couples. Any other form of recognition of same-sex relationships ...falls short of true equality."

Put simply, we must always remember that "separate but equal" is not equal. What's more, those who call for the establishment of civil unions fail to understand that the Government of Canada does not have the constitutional jurisdiction to do so. Only the provinces have that. Only the provinces could define such a regime - and they could define it in 10 different ways, and some jurisdictions might not bother to define it at all. There would be uncertainty. There would be confusion. There would certainly not be equality.

Fourth, some are urging the government to respond to the decisions of the courts by getting out of the marriage business altogether. That would mean no more civil weddings for any couples.

It is worth noting that this idea was rejected by the major religions themselves when their representatives appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in 2003. Moreover, it would be an extreme and counterproductive response for the government to deny civil marriage to opposite-sex couples simply so it can keep it from same-sex couples. To do so would simply be to replace one form of discrimination with another.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, there are some who oppose this legislation who would have the government use the notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights to override the courts and reinstate the traditional definition of marriage. And really, this is the fundamental issue here.

Understand that in seven provinces and one territory, the lawful union of two people of the same sex in civil marriage is already the law of the land. The debate here today is not about whether to change the definition of marriage - it's been changed. The debate comes down to whether we should override a right that is now in place. The debate comes down to the Charter, the protection of minority rights, and whether the federal government should invoke the notwithstanding clause.

I know that some think we should use the clause. For example, some religious leaders feel this way. I respect their candor in publicly recognizing that because same-sex marriage is already legal in most of the country, the only way - the only way - to again make civil marriage the exclusive domain of opposite-sex couples is to use the notwithstanding clause.

Ultimately Mr. Speaker, there is only one issue before this House in this debate. For most Canadians, in most parts of our country, same-sex marriage is already the law of the land. Thus, the issue is not whether rights are to be granted. The issue is whether rights that have been granted are to be taken away.

Some are frank and straightforward and say yes. Others have not been so candid. Despite being confronted with clear facts, despite being confronted with the unanimous opinion of 134 legal scholars, experts in their field, intimately familiar with the Constitution, some have chosen to not be forthright with Canadians. They have eschewed the honest approach in favour of the political approach. They have attempted to cajole the public into believing that we can return to the past with a simple snap of the fingers, that we can revert to traditional definition of marriage without consequence and without overriding the Charter. They're insincere. They're disingenuous. And they're wrong.

There is one question that demands an answer - a straight answer - from those who would seek to lead this nation and its people. It is a simple question Will you use the notwithstanding clause to overturn the definition of civil marriage and deny to Canadians a right guaranteed under the Charter?

This question does not demand rhetoric. It demands clarity. There are only two legitimate answers - yes or no. Not the demagoguery we have heard, not the dodging, the flawed reasoning, the false options. Just yes or no.

Will you take away a right as guaranteed under the Charter? I, for one, will answer that question, Mr. Speaker. I will answer it clearly. I will say no.

The notwithstanding clause is part of the Charter of Rights. But there's a reason that no prime minister has ever used it. For a prime minister to use the powers of his office to explicitly deny rather than affirm a right enshrined under the Charter would serve as a signal to all minorities that no longer can they look to the nation's leader and to the nation's Constitution for protection, for security, for the guarantee of their freedoms. We would risk becoming a country in which the defence of rights is weighed, calculated and debated based on electoral or other considerations.

That would set us back decades as a nation. It would be wrong for the minorities of this country. It would be wrong for Canada.

The Charter is a living document, the heartbeat of our Constitution. It is also a proclamation. It declares that as Canadians, we live under a progressive and inclusive set of fundamental beliefs about the value of the individual. It declares that we all are lessened when any one of us is denied a fundamental right.

We cannot exalt the Charter as a fundamental aspect of our national character and then use the notwithstanding clause to reject the protections that it would extend. Our rights must be eternal, not subject to political whim.

To those who value the Charter yet oppose the protection of rights for same-sex couples, I ask you If a prime minister and a national government are willing to take away the rights of one group, what is to say they will stop at that? If the Charter is not there today to protect the rights of one minority, then how can we as a nation of minorities ever hope, ever believe, ever trust that it will be there to protect us tomorrow?

My responsibility as Prime Minister, my duty to Canada and to Canadians, is to defend the Charter in its entirety. Not to pick and choose the rights that our laws shall protect and those that are to be ignored. Not to decree those who shall be equal and those who shall not. My duty is to protect the Charter, as some in this House will not.

Let us never forget that one of the reasons that Canada is such a vibrant nation, so diverse, so rich in the many cultures and races of the world, is that immigrants who come here - as was the case with the ancestors of many of us in this chamber - feel free and are free to practice their religion, follow their faith, live as they want to live. No homogenous system of beliefs is imposed on them.

When we as a nation protect minority rights, we are protecting our multicultural nature. We are reinforcing the Canada we value. We are saying, proudly and unflinchingly, that defending rights - not just those that happen to apply to us, not just that everyone approves of, but all fundamental rights - is at the very soul of what it means to be a Canadian.

This is a vital aspect of the values we hold dear and strive to pass on to others in the world who are embattled, who endure tyranny, whose freedoms are curtailed, whose rights are violated.

Why is the Charter so important, Mr. Speaker? We have only to look at our own history. Unfortunately, Canada's story is one in which not everyone's rights were protected under the law. We have not been free from discrimination, bias, unfairness. There have been blatant inequalities.

Remember that it was once thought perfectly acceptable to deny women "personhood" and the right to vote. There was a time, not that long ago, that if you wore a turban, you couldn't serve in the RCMP. The examples are many, but what's important now is that they are part of our past, not our present.

Over time, perspectives changed. We evolved, we grew, and our laws evolved and grew with us. That is as it should be. Our laws must reflect equality not as we understood it a century or even a decade ago, but as we understand it today.

For gays and lesbians, evolving social attitudes have, over the years, prompted a number of important changes in the law. Recall that, until the late 1960s, the state believed it had the right to peek into our bedrooms. Until 1977, homosexuality was still sufficient grounds for deportation. Until 1992, gay people were prohibited from serving in the military. In many parts of the country, gays and lesbians could not designate their partners as beneficiaries under employee medical and dental benefits, insurance policies or private pensions. Until very recently, people were being fired merely for being gay.

Today, we rightly see discrimination based on sexual orientation as arbitrary, inappropriate and unfair. Looking back, we can hardly believe that such rights were ever a matter for debate. It is my hope that we will ultimately see the current debate in a similar light; realizing that nothing has been lost or sacrificed by the majority in extending full rights to the minority.

Without our relentless, inviolable commitment to equality and minority rights, Canada would not be at the forefront in accepting newcomers from all over the world, in making a virtue of our multicultural nature - the complexity of ethnicities and beliefs that make up Canada, that make us proud that we are where our world is going, not where it's been.

Four years ago, I stood in this House and voted to support the traditional definition of marriage. Many of us did. My misgivings about extending the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples were a function of my faith, my perspective on the world around us.

But much has changed since that day. We've heard from courts across the country, including the Supreme Court. We've come to the realization that instituting civil unions - adopting a "separate but equal" approach - would violate the equality provisions of the Charter. We've confirmed that extending the right of civil marriage to gays and lesbians will not in any way infringe on religious freedoms.

And so where does that leave us? It leaves us staring in the face of the Charter of Rights with but a single decision to make Do we abide by the Charter and protect minority rights, or do we not?

To those who would oppose this bill, I urge you to consider that the core of the issue before us today is whether the rights of all Canadians are to be respected. I believe they must be. Justice demands it. Fairness demands it. The Canada we love demands it.

Mr. Speaker In the 1960s, the government of Lester Pearson faced opposition as it moved to entrench official bilingualism. But it persevered, and it won the day. Its members believed it was the right thing to do, and it was. In the 1980s, the government of Pierre Trudeau faced opposition as it attempted to repatriate the Constitution and enshrine a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But it persevered, and it won the day. Its members believed it was the right thing to do, and it was.

There are times, Mr. Speaker, when we as Parliamentarians can feel the gaze of history upon us. They felt it in the days of Pearson. They felt it in the days of Trudeau. And we, the 308 men and women elected to represent one of the most inclusive, just and respectful countries on the face of this earth, feel it today.

There are few nations whose citizens cannot look to Canada and see their own reflection. For generations, men and women and families from the four corners of the globe have made the decision to chose Canada to be their home. Many have come here seeking freedom -- of thought, religion and belief. Seeking the freedom simply to be.

The people of Canada have worked hard to build a country that opens its doors to include all, regardless of their differences; a country that respects all, regardless of their differences; a country that demands equality for all, regardless of their differences.

If we do not step forward, then we step back. If we do not protect a right, then we deny it. Mr. Speaker, together as a nation, together as Canadians Let us step forward.

Progress in Israel

Israel legalizes the adoption of children to gay couples:

The attorney general of Israel ruled on Sunday that gay couples will be allowed to jointly adopt children that are not biologically linked to either partner. Menachem Mazuz ruled that there was no legal basis for differing treatment of gay couples to straight couples.

His ruling means that gay couples will be entitled to the same rights as adopted parents as straight couples.

"It was decided there is no legal hindrance from approving same-sex couples, or one of the partners, to adopt an unrelated child who is not the child of either partner," the justice ministry said in a statement.

Naturally, the opposition counters with an argument that makes absolutely no sense:

But former deputy welfare minitster Avraham Ravitz told Haretz that the government's decision is "hallucinatory."

"The attorney-general completely missed the point.

"This is not an ideological question of whether or not a same-sex couple should be recognised before the law. Rather, this is a question of education.

"This is a question of what is best for the orphan child.

"Two women cannot take the place of a normative mother and father. A woman cannot take the place of a father, and a child needs a father.

"In a normative family, a child has a better chance of growing up healthy.

"Don't we want the next generation to build normative families? How will they learn to do it if they don't have someone to learn from?"

From pinknews:

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Institution of Marriage Isn't Under Attack by Gays



I find it necessary to respond strongly to blatant demagoguery, particularly of the customary right wing nature, regarding defense of the so-called marriage amendment or the concept of traditional marriage. That concept always seems to be predicated upon the militant onslaught of so-called homosexual activists.

Tom Uebbing's charges in his Feb. 5 Michiana Point of View, "Defending marriage should not be a partisan issue," are so blatantly biased that one can only assume he has lost sight of what appears to be a repetitive and childish prejudicial attitude toward gay people.

The institution of marriage is not under attack, nor is it the least bit challenged by gay folks seeking a measure of union equality for their partnerships. To attack a minority group such as homosexuals by using them as an obvious scapegoat for all the vulnerabilities and failures within the institution of heterosexual marriage is simply disingenuous or, more to the point, mean-spirited and it makes transparent the more entrenched personal and biased attitude of the author.

Please read the rest of the story from the South Bend Tribune here.

Our opponents have always contended that we will ruin the institute of marriage if we are allowed, yet all indications show this is untrue. In fact, some of the evidence shows a renewed interest in marriage since it has been so talked about in recent times. One thing is for certain, the troubles of marriage have NOT been created by the GLBT community, since we have only one state that allows them. No, the right wing is going to have to look within their own failures to find the solution to their marriage problems.

Graphic Sexual Content

Since both my children are out of elementary school, I no longer read books written for 2nd graders. So I am asking my readers (all 6 of them) to clue me in.

Concerned Women for America is all upset about a children's book that contains Graphic Sexual Content, and I suppose that I should be, too.

After all, I do not condone teaching young children with books full of Graphic Sexual Content, but I am too squeamish to check it out for myself.

Can anyone help me out? Should I be worried about this?

From their website:

A book has been written about the "gay" penguin couple that zoo keepers blessed with an orphaned egg. And Tango Makes Three is the story of those penguins, and this book has received literary recognition. While Dr Janice Crouse, Senior Fellow and Director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, says most will not be surprised that this book, which exalts homosexual parenting, contains graphic sexual content, most would be surprised to learn that the book is in the children's section of many public and school libraries.
If anyone reading this has read the book, could you please post a description (sanitized, please, I am sensitive) of the Graphic Sexual Content?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The True North Strong and Free

I congratulate our friends to the north for their courage in honoring those who fight for Liberty, Justice and Equality for all.

Jean Chretien is to receive Canada's highest citation, the Order of Canada.

Our enemies are not pleased.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Maryland Ready for Marriage Equality

Thank you, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, for joining the ranks of courageous leaders - people such as Coretta Scott King, Kweisi Mfume, Julian Bond and Archbishop Desmond Tutu - who dare to put themselves on the line for equal marriage rights ("Gansler backing same-sex nuptials," Feb. 15).

Last week, I went to meet with my elected officials to urge their support of civil marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

After explaining that civil unions would not protect gay families but would set up a separate and unequal system for same-sex couples and that only civil marriage will ensure those families equal protection under the law, I heard several legislators explain that although they personally abhor discrimination, they could not support civil marriage for gay couples because of the way they were raised.

Well, we were all raised in a culture that promotes the idea that gays and lesbians are second-class citizens, whose families are not equal because they are not what we were raised to think of as "normal."

But that is no excuse for failing to do what is right.

I can think of no better words to express this than those of Rep. John Lewis, who said: "I've heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry."

This is a moment in Maryland when we can take the difficult but just path and stop condoning institutionalized discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Read the rest of this article in the Baltimore Sun.

As we come closer and closer to the end of discrimination in all forms I must say that I couldn't be more proud. Individuality is what makes us as strong as we are. When we allow people to be themselves we learn what unique strengths they have to offer the world, and we grow stronger from that knowledge. Inclusion, not exclusion is the American way.

Bad Blood

"The United States government did something that was wrong—deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens... clearly racist."

—President Clinton's apology for the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to the eight remaining survivors, May 16, 1997

From infoplease, comes this reminder of one of the darkest chapters in American History.

When one goes to a doctor, one expects to be treated, not be used a lab experiment. Imagine the outrage you would feel if you or one of your loved ones were suffering from a serious disease, and the doctor had no interest in even trying to help, rather just sit back and watch, waiting patiently for death, so data could be collected on the corpse.

Imagine a doctor saying of his patients:

“As I see it, we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”

For forty years, the government of the United States conducted an experiment on the effects of syphilis on white vs. black people.

They simply told the their patients that they were suffering from "bad blood", but the doctors had no intention of treating them.

For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for “bad blood,” their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all.

The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis—which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. “As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”

As if that weren't enough, the government did not care one whit that these men were passing their disease on to their wives and children.

By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis. How had these men been induced to endure a fatal disease in the name of science?
The government simply lied to the people.

To persuade the community to support the experiment, one of the original doctors admitted it “was necessary to carry on this study under the guise of a demonstration and provide treatment.” At first, the men were prescribed the syphilis remedies of the day—bismuth, neoarsphenamine, and mercury— but in such small amounts that only 3 percent showed any improvement.

These token doses of medicine were good public relations and did not interfere with the true aims of the study. Eventually, all syphilis treatment was replaced with “pink medicine”—aspirin.

To ensure that the men would show up for a painful and potentially dangerous spinal tap, the PHS doctors misled them with a letter full of promotional hype: “Last Chance for Special Free Treatment.” The fact that autopsies would eventually be required was also concealed.

As a doctor explained, “If the colored population becomes aware that accepting free hospital care means a post-mortem, every darky will leave Macon County...” Even the Surgeon General of the United States participated in enticing the men to remain in the experiment, sending them certificates of appreciation after 25 years in the study.

Distrust of the Government? I wonder why.

In 1990, a survey found that 10 percent of African Americans believed that the U.S. government created AIDS as a plot to exterminate blacks, and another 20 percent could not rule out the possibility that this might be true. As preposterous and paranoid as this may sound, at one time the Tuskegee experiment must have seemed equally farfetched.

Who could imagine the government, all the way up to the Surgeon General of the United States, deliberately allowing a group of its citizens to die from a terrible disease for the sake of an ill-conceived experiment? In light of this and many other shameful episodes in our history, African Americans' widespread mistrust of the government and white society in general should not be a surprise to anyone.

Read the whole thing here.

Now I Have Heard Everything

Of course, I say that every day, because every day I read of still another completely batshit insane rant from what passes as conservative thought today.

Over at the Corner at NPR Lisa Schiffren makes the extraordinary claim that Barack Obama is a communist.


Because he is of mixed race. And that can mean only one thing.

"And yet, all of my mixed race, black/white classmates throughout my youth, some of whom I am still in contact with, were the product of very culturally specific unions. They were always the offspring of a white mother, (in my circles, she was usually Jewish, but elsewhere not necessarily) and usually a highly educated black father. And how had these two come together at a time when it was neither natural nor easy for such relationships to flourish? Always through politics. No, not the young Republicans. Usually the Communist Youth League. Or maybe a different arm of the CPUSA. But, for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics. (During the Clinton Administration we were all introduced to then U. of Pennsylvania Professor Lani Guinier — also a half black/half Jewish, red diaper baby.)"

Read the whole thing; it is highly amusing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Law of Unintended consequences

Last year, [President]Bush announced a plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil by cutting gasoline use by 20 percent by 2017. As a key to reaching his goal, he signed a bill requiring wider use of ethanol. Many farmers are now drunk with profits from the higher corn prices.

I yield to no one in my belief that energy independence is critical to our way of life and our national security.

But what is the price? Are you willing to pay it?

I am not convinced.

Separate but Equal Ain't

You would think with our long history we would know intuitively that Separate but Equal will never work.

Don't take my word for it; read the testimonials of real people.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Paul Jamieson on Latest Arrests; McGee, Ryan

The following is a comment by Paul Jamieson posted to an article about Dennis Mayer and Ben LaGuer, so I moved it to it's own post for discussion.

Top Gay Marriage Lobbyists Busted for Raping Pre-Teen Boys
02/14/08 · 12:24 am posted by Aaron

Earlier this week the business and lobbying director of the gay rights machine MassEquality, also a Deval Patrick Aide, was busted in Florida for Raping a 15 year old boy while vacationing in Florida. Then today it was revealed that Provincetown Human Rights activist John Perry Ryan was arrested for engaging in child pornagraphy, also while on vacation. Carl Stanley McGee, now also one of Deval Patricks highest paid staffers, played a key role in defeating supporters of traditional families in the legislature and replacing them with candidates financed by MassEquality donors. He also used MassEqualities powerful "machine" to help Patrick win the Democratic primary and general election. Governor Patrick really appreciated this and rewarded him with a $150,000.00 a year job as an executive manager in his office. The residents of this State should be appauled. But then again this is Massachusetts, where this kind of behavior seems to be acceptable. If you speak out against the sleazy wing of the gay community, it not very politically correct for the liberals (and the quick to sell out Republicans).

When I ran for State Representative in 2006 I begged to media and voters to be very cautious when blindly throwing their support behind candidates who were backed by gay "human rights" groups and special interest homosexual lobbyists like MassEquality. I refused their support for a reason. I knew that they were run and financed by a lot of sleazy perverted gay men. If that offends you, go visit these perps in jail, because you probably shouldn't be lurking in public areas either.

I can't even count the amount of time that I was yelled at and called a self-hating homophobe because I refused to be bossed by MassEquality and other gay power brokers from Beacon Hill. I couldn't in good conscience allow myself to be corrupted by people who were turning being gay into a business and recruiting high school and college students to be their soldiers. My opponent Sarah Peake, and all those other legislators who sold out did, and many of them were very aware of the sleazy nature of those running the organization.

The day before my election last year I got a call from a college age phone banker from MassEquality. He told me that he was calling on behalf of a "pro-family equality organization" and that the fate of thousands of families depended on me voting for Sarah Peake in the election the next day. "Oh yeah" I replied. "Why is that?" I asked him. He told me that Sarah Peake's Republican opponent (me) would strip away people's rights and enshrine discrimination into the constitution. Basically he was using deceptive language from a script that he was reading from. In reality he was saying "Vote for Sarah Peake. She let our pedophile Business Director help her raise $150,000.00 from rich gay men and she will do what we say."

I asked him how old he was. He told me that he was 18 and a freshman in college. Stunned by this I outed myself to him and told him that I was that "Republican opponent" of Peake's. I also mentioned that I too was gay and had no desire to strip away people rights or enshrine discrimination into the constitution. He was speechless. "Don't let those people at MassEquality use you like that," I urged of him. I let him know that I was also young, gay and naive at one point in my life too and that he should focus more on studying for his finals than being an agent of the power and money-hungry agenda of MassEquality's sleazy businessman. At this point he could no longer use his script and almost uttered a sincere apology to me. I, unlike Sarah Peake or the cronies at MassEquality, wasn't trying to use him for my political benefit, and he realized this.

This should send a very important message to voters in Massachusetts. In the upcoming legislative election those legislators who allowed this pedophile business director at MassEquality who was caught raping a 12 year old boy to raise money for their campaigns and help them get elected should be defeated. The two gay powerhouses who were recently busted while engaging in sexual behavior with pre-adolescent boys during their out of State vacations had no business influencing Massachusetts legislative elections. Both of them were the leading homosexual marriage advocates, and both of them ran smear campaigns against people with sane views on marriage like myself. THEY ARE THE VERY REASON WHY I TOOK THE POSITION THAT I DID IN 2006. I saw who was running the gay marriage agenda and said, "NO THANK YOU." My opponent Sarah Peake is on record attending MassEquality parties, begging them for more support and sending them a letter urging them expand, broaden and fortify their agenda here in Massachusetts. IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dennis Maher Found Innocent After 19 Years

The tale of Dennis Maher is so similar to Ben LaGuer it is startling. They were both convicted for rapes occurring the same year and received life sentences without any physical evidence solely by the victim's ability to visually identify the attacker. The difference in Dennis' case is that there was enough DNA from the attacker to prove it wasn't him in spite of how sure both the witnesses and jury were that he was guilty.

"Maher had always asserted his innocence. In 1993, he wrote to the Innocence Project. The Project tried repeatedly to gain access to the biological evidence collected from the victims but was told that the evidence could not be located."

This reminds me of the fingerprints taken from the phone in the Ben LaGuer case. Once the police realized they didn't match LaGuer they filed them away without sharing them with defense, then lost them. Since the phone was ripped from the wall by the assailant they could have been used to prove LaGuer's innocence.

A short review of the website will make anyone interested wonder how our justice system can make so many mistakes in the same case and still try to imply there is no cause to question the conviction. Here is some information about Mr. Maher from the The Innocence Project:

Dennis Maher
Incident Year: 1983

Jurisdiction: MA

Charge: Rape, Assault w/ Intent to Rape, Assault & Battery, Aggravated Rape

Conviction: Rape, Assault w/ Intent to Rape, Assault & Battery, Aggravated Rape

Sentence: Life
Year of Conviction: 1984

Exoneration Date: 4/3/03

Sentence Served: 19 Years

Real perpetrator found? Not Yet

Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification

On November 16, 1983, a 28-year-old woman was attacked as she was walking home from work in Lowell, Massachusetts. An unknown man accosted her and tried to engage her in conversation before forcing her into a nearby yard, where he sexually assaulted her. The following evening, a 23-year-old woman was attacked less than one hundred yards away from the site of the first assault.

The second victim had been on her way home from work when she was pushed to the ground by a man wielding a knife. She was able to escape her assailant after a vehement struggle and notified the police. The victim described her attacker as a man wearing a red, hooded sweatshirt and a khaki military-style jacket.

Dennis Maher was stopped and questioned by police on the night of the second attack. He was wearing a red, hooded sweatshirt and a subsequent search of his vehicle turned up an army field jacket, a military issue knife, and a rain slicker. Maher, then a sergeant in the United States Army, was arrested and charged with the two attacks, as well as an unsolved rape that occurred the previous summer in Ayer, Massachusetts. Though their descriptions varied, all three victims identified Maher in photographic lineups.

The Lowell attacks were tried together. Although no biological evidence linked him to the crime, Maher was convicted of both crimes. A month later, he was convicted of the Ayer rape, where biological evidence was introduced but never tested. The prosecution relied, instead, on the identifications made by the victims.

Maher had always asserted his innocence. In 1993, he wrote to the Innocence Project. The Project tried repeatedly to gain access to the biological evidence collected from the victims but was told that the evidence could not be located. In 2000, the case was transferred to the New England Innocence Project. The case picked up momentum when, in 2001, a law student discovered two boxes of evidence from the Lowell case in the basement of the Middlesex County Courthouse. The boxes contained the pants and underwear collected from the rape victim. The Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory found seminal stains on the underwear and possible blood stains on the pants. The New England Innocence Project and the prosecution agreed to send the evidence to Forensic Science Associates (FSA) for DNA testing.

Testing performed on the pants did not yield conclusive results. Testing on the underwear, however, produced a genetic profile that excluded Dennis Maher as the donor of spermatozoa to the sample. Shortly after testing was completed, prosecutors were able to locate a slide from the Ayer case, which was sent to Orchid Cellmark for testing. Results from the Ayer evidence were received in March 2003, again excluding Maher as the source of spermatozoa.

After reviewing the results, the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office joined with the Innocence Projects in filing a motion to grant Maher a new trial and agreed to drop all charges against him.

On April 3, 2003, after 19 years of proclaiming his innocence, Dennis Maher was exonerated and freed from prison.

I wonder why there is so much confidence in Ben LaGuer's conviction that we cannot re investigate the circumstances and be sure. The most prominent response that I have heard to this question is that LaGuer has had his day in court and that he was convicted. In light of the factual truth that some people have been wrongfully convicted like Mr. Dennis Maher, is this answer good enough? Our government, our justice system, is only as good as our participation in it. Review LaGuer's case and ask yourself, is this the justice I want for myself and my loved ones? Precedent has been set, and in LaGuer's case there seems to be no relief in site. Our system is set up to assume guilt once you have been convicted, and it makes questioning a wrongful conviction almost impossible. If we learn nothing else from LaGuer's case we should take this lesson home and find a better way to handle these issues.

LaGuer is up for parole in June 2008, having served 25 years of a life sentence. He's made a name for himself as a writer, winning a PEN award, and he has graduated from Boston University's undergraduate program Magna Cum Laude. Although a model prisoner his release is planned to be denied as it has been before based on his inability to confess to his guilt. LaGuer has said, "I will not admit to this horrible crime of which I am innocent. I will not besmirch my father's name, even for the sake of my freedom." Ask yourself this question; when was the last time you saw a man so concerned about proving his innocence while so unconcerned with his freedom? Perhaps the victim was wrong, just like in the case of Dennis Maher.

Congratulations to Dennis and the Innocence Project for having the faith and determination to bring about justice when those who are charged with the resonsibility have neglected it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"It looked like it was personal between the two of them"

Or so they say.

"A student at an Oxnard [California] junior high school shot another classmate Tuesday in front of two dozen other students who were settling into their first-period English class, police said.

The 15-year-old victim was rushed to St. John's Regional Medical Center, where he was initially listed in critical condition. By day's end, his condition was described as improving."

Police said they had not determined a motive for the crime.

But, reading further, we see this:

Some students said the victim, whose name was not disclosed, sometimes wore makeup and feminine jewelry and had declared himself gay. They said he was frequently taunted by other boys and had been involved in an argument with the alleged shooter, an eighth-grader who also was not named, and others Monday.
I certainly don't know the truth, but hate crimes are real, and this must be investigated from all angles.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In the Name of Family Values

Utah State Senator Chris Buttars is a special kind of bigot. A steadfast champion of "Family Values", he will do anything, it seems to guarantee that gay people suffer, even if that means damaging the financial well-being of the sick and elderly.

"Melanie Schertz's father died two years ago on Friday the 13th - under a full moon.
The death left her mother, who suffers from Parkinson's and fibromyalgia, with no insurance and a monthly medicine tab of $400.

Fortunately, Salt Lake City's adult-designee ordinance allowed Schertz - a single mom who works as a capital crime-lab tech - to insure her 65-year-old mother and housemate.
"If that's gone, we're going to lose everything," Schertz says. "We would end up losing our home."

Enter Chris Buttars:

"Now, like the bad omen that befell her father, a bill in the Legislature looms over her family's financial security. Designed to eradicate Mayor Ralph Becker's newly adopted domestic-partnership registry, SB267 also would kill the city's adult-designee provision.
Drafted by West Jordan's conservative Sen. Chris Buttars, the bill is intended to block benefits for same-sex couples."

But Salt Lake City's domestic-partnership registry provides an important benefit for many.

"...according to the city, 78 percent of city employees who use the adult-designee program are not gay. What's more, 10 percent use the provision for their mothers.
"It's not just a gay thing," Schertz says. "It's helping people who are financially dependent on each other to be able to survive. We're not destroying the morality of the world."
You just don't get any more mean-spirited than Chris Buttars.

Whole story here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Slowly but surely, the truth is coming out.

Of all the opposition to full equality for GLBTI people, the toughest nut to crack is religious bigotry.

I firmly believe that it is the Evangelical community that is the final frontier in the battle for equality.

When religious leaders search their souls, their conscience and their scriptures with their minds open and their hearts inspired by Gospel's message of love and inclusion, the truth becomes clear.

The Bible, and God, is on the side of equality and inclusion.

Bishop James Jones of Liverpool is the latest to examine his conscience and speak the truth to power.

May God bless the Rev. James Jones, and may his sheep hear his call.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Calif. Supreme Court Sets Date for Hearing on Gay Marriage

The California Supreme Court said Wednesday that it scheduled a March 4 hearing on the legality of same-sex marriages, assuring that a ruling will be issued by June.

The plaintiffs are the city of San Francisco, the state’s leading gay advocacy group, and several same-sex couples who have not been allowed to marry.

The battle over same-sex marriage first unfolded four years ago when Mayor Gavin Newsom temporarily issued marriage licenses to gay couples. Nearly 4,000 marriages were performed back then. The marriages were nullified in August 2004 when the court ruled that Newsom had no authority to disregard the marriage law.

In April 2005, San Francisco’s Superior Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages but the court of appeal overturned the decision in a 2-1 ruling. The California Supreme Court unanimously granted review in December 2006. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed Assembly Bill 43, which would have allowed same-sex marriages in California, but he preferred to leave the decision up to the Supreme Court, according to his veto message in October.

For the rest of the story, read the original story here.

June is a very good month for marriage equality here in Massachusetts! Good luck Californians.

Say What?

Mitt Romney, the supposedly well educated businessman had this to say yesterday:

The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography -- even celebration of it -- and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today's grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out-of-wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children, and 25% of White children.
I glad he's gone, but there is so much fail in this statement that I don't where to begin.

Pornography causes children to be born out of wedlock? (and how come it affects blacks and Hispanics disproportionally?

Welfare incentives? Oh, really? Tell you what Mitt. Trade places with a "welfare" family and get back to me.

Good grief and good riddance.

I read the whole sordid speech and it made me sick.

Naturally, he blames gays in Massachusetts(which has the nation's strongest marriages) for damaging the institution. He blames judges for not taking his religious bigotry into account.

But it was the welfare comment that set me off because, while I won't quibble with the accuraccy of his statistics, I have a serious problem with equating welfare with social dysfunction.

What Mr. Romney and others of his ilk are doing is concluding that the nation has problems (I agree) and all the nation's problems are the fault of the poorest and the most powerless of our poor.

I don't buy it.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

George Washington Bush

In honor of Black History Month I am reprinting an excellent essay from about the life of an extaordinary pioneer.

George W. Bush settles with his family at Bush Prairie near Tumwater in November 1845.

In November 1845, George W. and Isabella James Bush and their five sons settle near Tumwater on a fertile plain that comes to be known as Bush Prairie. They and their party, which includes their good friend Michael T. Simmons (1814-1867) are the first Americans to settle north of the Columbia River in what is now Washington. The Simmons party makes the historically significant decision to settle north of the Columbia primarily because the discriminatory laws of the provisional government of Oregon Territory prohibit George Bush, an African American who is a key leader of the group, from settling south of the river.

George Washington Bush (1790?-1863), an experienced frontiersman and successful farmer, was one of the wealthier pioneers to follow the Oregon Trail west. His father, of African descent, was said to be a sailor, and his mother was an Irish American servant. As a young man, Bush worked as a voyageur and trapper for fur trading companies, including the famed Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). During this time he traveled extensively in the Western plains and mountains, perhaps reaching Puget Sound.

Seeking Freedom in the West

By the 1830s, Bush had settled in Missouri and married Isabella (or Isabell) James (c. 1809-1866), a young German American woman with whom he had five sons (a sixth was born in the West). Bush farmed and raised cattle, and the family was well off. However, Missouri, a slave state, had passed racial exclusion laws, and Bush and his sons faced increasing bigotry and discrimination. In an effort to escape the discrimination, the Bushes joined the family of their friend Michael Simmons, a white Kentuckian, and three other white families related to the Simmons, to head west on the Oregon Trail. Bush’s frontier experience made him a valuable addition to the party.

When the Simmons party reached the Columbia River in the fall of 1844, they found that the provisional government of Oregon Territory had enacted discriminatory laws, like those of Missouri, barring settlement by African Americans. Not wishing to separate from the Bush family, Simmons and the other members of the party decided to locate north of the Columbia, where American settlers and their provisional government had not yet extended their reach. The party spent the winter of 1844-45 on the Columbia, not far from Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Vancouver in present-day Clark County.

The New Settlement

In 1845, Simmons led an exploration around Puget Sound, and ultimately decided to settle at the head of Budd Inlet in what is now Thurston County. In October 1845, the entire party set off from Fort Vancouver down the Columbia River to the Cowlitz, and up that river to Cowlitz landing. From there they spent 15 days making a road through the forest to Budd Inlet, where Simmons established a settlement he called New Market, which later became Tumwater.

In early November 1845, George and Isabella Bush and their sons settled nearby, on a fertile prairie that soon took their name. The family began a farm, using seeds they had carried with them, that soon became the most productive in the region. Within a few years Simmons and Bush had set up a sawmill and a gristmill near their claims.

As more settlers poured into the region, Bush became famous for his generosity. From his stores of grain, he provided newcomers, sometimes half-starved from the journey, food for their first winter and seed to start their farms, asking no payment other than to return, when they could, the amount they took. Bush was also known for his friendly relations with and influence among the Indians of the region.

Discrimination and Exception

Ironically, the discriminatory laws the Bushes were trying to avoid had followed them, at least in part due to their own pioneering efforts. The 1845 American settlement north of the Columbia was one of the catalysts for the 1846 Treaty of Oregon, which resolved the U.S.-British boundary dispute by giving the territory south of the 49th parallel to the U.S., thus bringing what is now Washington under the discriminatory law of Oregon Territory. As a result, Bush did not have a clear legal claim on the 640 acres he and his family had painstakingly cultivated.

When Washington Territory was organized in 1853, many of the new legislators were friends and neighbors of the Bush family and beneficiaries of their generosity. Although this experience did not necessarily make them less prejudiced, it did inspire them to make an exception for George Bush and his sons. The first territorial legislature voted unanimously for a resolution urging Congress to pass a special act confirming George and Isabella Bush’s title to the land they had claimed and farmed. Congress did so in 1855, and the Bush Prairie farm remained in the hands of the Bush family for generations.

George Bush died on April 5, 1863, and Isabella Bush died on September 12, 1866. Several of their sons went on to play active roles in Thurston county civic and political affairs. The eldest, William Owen Bush, was a member of the first state legislature in 1889-1890 and an award-winning farmer who worked the Bush Prairie farm until his death in 1907.

In 1973, acclaimed artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), a Washington state resident since 1971, painted a series of five paintings depicting George Washington Bush’s journey by wagon train across the continent from Missouri to Bush Prairie. The series is in the collection of the Washington State Capitol Museum.


Ruby El Hult, The Saga of George W. Bush (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1962, reprint of Negro Digest, September 1962), 89-95; Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings, and Murals (1935-1999) ed. by Peter T. Nesbett (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 179; Clinton A. Snowden, History of Washington (New York: The Century History Company, 1909), Vol. 2, p. 422-34, Vol. 3, p. 37-38, 242-43; Paul F. Thomas, George Bush (M.A. Thesis, University of Washington, 1965); Kit Oldham, “Bush, George W. (1790?-1863), Washington Cyberpedia Library ( By Kit Oldham , February 01, 2004

Phelps / Westboro Litigation Updates

KipEsquire has an update on the Phelps/Westboro Litigation.

This case is important because all of us fair minded people (I hope), while detesting everything for which the Phelps clan stand, also support the right of bigots to be, well, bigots.

We cannot sit back and ignore the despicable hatred of this man and his church, but at the same time, we must diligently defend our precious freedoms of speech and assembly.

At issue is whether their freedom of speech trumps the right of the family's privacy and right to be free of intimidation.

It is not a simple First Amendment case, and it appears the courts are working through the issues with the proper focus on the balance of the competing interests.

--A federal judge reduced the punitive damages award against Westboro and the Phelps from $8 million to $2.1 million, based on Maryland precedent and recent Supreme Court guidance regarding punitive damages (see, e.g., BMW v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996)). Bottom line: Westboro and the Phelps are apparently too poor to come up with $8 million, so the damages were reduced to a level that is punitive but not oppressive. The reduction is completely unrelated to the nature of underlying torts or the facts of the case.

--The judge upheld the verdict itself (i.e., a reasonable jury could have found the invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress claims meritorious).

More here.

In New Hampshire, the Shit has Hit the Fan

Dr. Marty Klein has documented the disaster in New Hampshire, and it is not a pretty sight!

Dr. Klein observes:

"At midnight on January 1, New Hampshire became the fourth state to legalize same-gender civil unions. Amid the New Year's Eve hoopla, twenty-three couples tied the knot on the State House steps.

As predicted, the world did more or less come to an end:

  • Heterosexual spouses across the state were disappointed with each other. While the sources of dissatisfaction were many, sex was a recurring complaint.
  • Horses and goats around the state asked for civil unions with their farmers or farmers' daughters (depending, of course, on the gender of the horses and goats).
  • Children showed various effects. There were many reports of peculiar behavior such as inattention in school, disobeying parents, and spending way too much time in the bathroom.

The other states to previously legalize gay civil unions are Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Only Massachusetts has legalized same-gender marriage. Some people see a sinister force at work, as the state's Boston Celtics are having a supernaturally good season--thus far winning 90% of their 30 games. Thus far, no has been able to prove that the citizens of Massachusetts have not sold their souls to the Devil.

As proof that God disapproves of homosexuality, several clergy members cited the unusual weather during the civil ceremonies--cold, with snow and some wind, despite the fact that it's January."

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mad Dad Parker Loses Again!

As expected, Mad Dad Parker has lost his bid to exercise a "Helker's Veto" over the Lexington School System perfectly reasonable use of books that treat gay families with equal dignity.

Please read Massmarrier's outstanding legal analysis.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I Love New York !

In a unanimous decision, a New York appellate court today ruled that marriages of same-sex couples entered into outside of New York must be recognized. The case, filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, is the first appellate court decision in the state and the first known decision in the country to hold that a valid same-sex marriage must be recognized here.

"This is a victory for families, it's a victory for fairness and it's a victory for human rights," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. "Congratulations to all same-sex couples validly married outside of New York State: You are now considered married in New York as well. Now we need to work toward a New York where you don't have to cross state or country lines to get married."

..."If a marriage is valid in the state or country in which the marriage took place, New York law generally requires the recognition of that marriage," said Arthur Eisenberg, the NYCLU's legal director. "This case involved a straightforward application of that principle."

..."Today's decision is a great step forward for same-sex couples in New York," said James Esseks, Litigation Director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project of the ACLU.

"But there is still lots of work to be done here. It's now up to the state legislature to finish the job it started last year and pass the marriage bill so that lesbian and gay New Yorkers won't have to leave the state to celebrate their commitments."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Governor Patrick Signs Bill Preventing Salem School Layoffs

Legislation gives Salem the ability to take final step in closing budget gap

BOSTON—Thursday, January 31, 2008—Governor Deval Patrick today signed legislation that will prevent the city of Salem from laying off dozens of school employees midway through the school year.

The bill filed by the Governor earlier this week grants the city the ability to close a budget gap discovered last fall after the departure of the school business manager. It allows the city to borrow up to $1 million or spread the deficit over seven years. Under current law, municipalities are prohibited from borrowing for operating expenditures or a known operating deficit.

“I am proud to sign this legislation today, and I thank the Legislature for its swift action,” said Governor Patrick. “The officials and residents of the city of Salem have done a fantastic job in the face of a very difficult challenge. They are a model for other communities grappling with tough fiscal circumstances, proving that through engagement, creative thinking, and partnership, municipalities can overcome these kinds of obstacles.”

Since discovering a $4.7 million budget deficit, city officials and residents have worked together to find ways to close the gap in ways that would minimize the impact on students and teachers. Officials found about $3.5 million through a combination of cuts, layoffs and new revenues, and are in the middle of a highly successful campaign to raise private money, collecting $300,000 so far, which has prevented the layoff of 14 teachers.

"These last few weeks have been difficult for all of us who care about delivering quality public education,” said Senator Frederick E. Berry. “I am grateful that Governor Patrick and his team recognized an opportunity to return the focus to education. This bill will ease the impact of the fate Salem was dealt. I also want to thank Senate President Murray, Speaker DiMasi and both legislative bodies for their swift action on behalf of Salem."

"Public education is the bedrock of every community. I want to thank Governor Patrick, Speaker DiMasi, Minority Leader Jones and Senator Berry for all their help in enacting this bill so quickly," said Representative John Keenan, whose two children attend the Salem public schools.

The bill also supports Mayor Driscoll’s plan to consolidate the administrative functions, including the finances, between the City and the schools.
“I thank the Patrick administration and the Legislature for acting quickly to pass this legislation,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll. “The budget shortfall brought this community together in a manner that I never imagined possible. We still have checks coming in on a daily basis and just about everyone is thinking of ways they can help - from raffling off patriot game tickets to band concerts and t-shirt sales. The local dollars generated, combined with the funding made possible by the state, will certainly aid in retaining jobs.”