Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vermont Governor Shadowed by Pro-Equality Supporters

Associated Press - March 29, 2009 3:15 PM ET

POULTNEY, Vt. (AP) - Gay marriage supporters have been shadowing Gov. Jim Douglas since his announcement last week that he intends to veto same-sex marriage legislation if it reaches his desk.

Roughly 200 protesters greeted the governor and his wife when they showed up at Green Mountain College for a maple sugaring event Saturday. The crowd watched quietly, sang or chanted while Douglas used a hand-cranked drill to tap a tree in an arboretum decorated with rainbow ribbons.

Douglas did not address the crowd or respond to the protesters. He has said he believes marriage should be the union of a man and woman and complained that lawmakers were being distracted by the issue from addressing the state's reeling economy and budget woes.

Sex, Sex, Sex

Is that all they can think about?

The Traditional Families Coalition is very troubled about a bill introduced in Congress that would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

March 26, 2009 – San Francisco Values Democrat Ellen Tauscher (CA) has introduced H.R. 1283, the “Military Readiness Enhancement Act Of 2009.” She already has 136 co-sponsors. Her misnamed bill should be called the “Legalization Of Sodomy On The Battlefield And Barracks Act” to more accurately describe what the legislation will legalize.

And they go on to moan and groan about how such a law woud subvert our military:

One of the most obvious ways it will subvert the military is to drive out men and women who view homosexuality as a sinful or unnatural behavior. These straight soldiers will retire or refuse to reenlist if they are forced to serve with individuals who engage in bizarre sex acts on military bases.

Why the obsession with sex?

Do they really believe that our soldiers, who will lay down their lives at a moment's notice to protect to least among us are so shallow? And do they think that our straight soldiers have any less libido ?

Every time I read their site , I find myself struck by their preoccupation with sex.

Whenever they talk about gay people, they never talk about courage, or bravery, or creativity, or leadership, or loyalty or any of the myriad qualities that these fine women and men bring to our military.

No, they talk about sex.

Tell me, who has the dirty mind here.


Monday, March 30, 2009

GLBT Action Alert: New Hampshire Marriage Equality Needs Your Voice!

When I went to the New Hampshire State House this Thursday I expected to be reporting the events of the day regarding the NH vote on marriage equality. Instead I find a far more pressing need; a call for action. HB436 (the "gay marriage bill) is in need of GLBT support, not just from New Hampshire residents, but from anyone anywhere that supports liberty and equality. The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down HB436 by one vote. Luckily someone who was prepared for this possibility called a motion to reconsider before our opposition could move on to the next article of business. We won over some votes changing the outcome of the day 186-179 in our favor. The obstacles before us are a Senate that might not support us, a Governor who may veto the passage of this bill, and an emboldened opposition who sees the closeness of this battle as a sign they should throw all their weight into this fight in with the hope that a loss in New Hampshire will have a ripple effect. All people that would stand up and fight, your time is now! Go to Concord and lobby if you can. If you can't get there in person call or write the NH Senate by visiting http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/senate/.

Here is a copy of the letter I am sending as an example:

To: Members of the New Hampshire State Senate

The opponents of marriage equality imply that all homosexuals are part of a malevolent collective which other citizens need to be protected from without fulfilling their burden of proof. My sexuality neither defines me as a person, nor is proof of mea culpa. Section one of the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution states:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the
privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall
any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without
due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the
equal protection of the laws.”

I accuse that the fears lodged against marriage equality area mixture of hearsay and deliberate misrepresentations. Thomas Jefferson offers this insight written two hundred years ago:

“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the
will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be
rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal
rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be

We know separate but equal does not work, civil unions are merely a consolation that does not satisfy the Constitution’s requirements of equality for all. When defending equality in this instance I am reminded of Robert Kennedy who once said, “Some people ask why, I ask why not?”

General John Stark coined our state’s motto; “Live Free or Die!” His original statement was “Live Free or Die! There are worse things than death.” Worse things like oppression.

The Abenaki Indians native to New Hampshire have a saying similar to Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “You cannot stand in the same river twice.” We cannot strive to better ourselves if we do not embrace change. Robert Frost wrote “Two roads diverged in the woods, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” I expect we can move down this new path together as one people, remembering always the responsibility to respect one another.

Approving marriage equality will undoubtedly have a dramatic effect on the citizens it provides for without inhibiting the freedoms of anyone else. Massachusetts proves after five years of marriage equality that the sky will not fall. We can remain as we are, or we can grow with an understanding of who we hope to be. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I ask you, if not now, when? Thank you for your valuable time and consideration.

Unabashed Displays of Sexuality

The Concerned Women For America http://www.cwfa.org/ are "Concerned" again.

This time they are all upset about Starbucks "Same-Sex Kiss day.

“Show up at a Starbucks on Tax Day at 7:15 AM, 12:15 PM, 5:15 PM, or 8:15 PM ,
buy a cuppa joe, then share a kiss with your sweetie, or a friend, or even a
long-time crush! RAWR!”

While Starbucks is doing what it can for America’s nutrition with its new Vivanno drink, and at the same time working for the environment by introducing cups that reduce overall “greenhouse gas emissions,” it is unfortunately about to become a site for major cultural pollution.

“Same-Sex Kiss Day” is being held on April 15th, 2009, as a way for the homosexual community to spread its message of “equality” nationwide. Parents might want to take a pass on their lattes and keep their children from unabashed displays of sexuality in their local Starbucks on this day.

The whole article is here, but this is what gets me:

"Parents might want to take a pass on their lattes and keep their children from unabashed displays of sexuality in their local Starbucks on this day. "

Since when is a kiss an unabashed displays of sexuality ?

So THAT is why I am so immoral.

I grew up in home where my parents were constantly, right in front of me, showing unabashed displays of sexuality.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ben LaGuer's New Legal Team

Presidential Weekly Address

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Washington, DC

Even as we face an economic crisis which demands our constant focus, forces of nature can also intervene in ways that create other crises to which we must respond – and respond urgently. For the people of North and South Dakota and Minnesota who live along rivers spilling over their banks, this is one such moment.

Rivers and streams throughout the region have flooded or are at risk of flooding. The cities of Fargo and neighboring Moorhead are vulnerable as the waters of the Red River have risen. Thousands of homes and businesses are threatened.

That is why, on Tuesday, I granted a major disaster declaration request for the State of North Dakota and ordered federal support into the region to help state and local officials respond to the flooding. This was followed by an emergency declaration for the State of Minnesota. And we are also keeping close watch on the situation in South Dakota as it develops.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency continue to coordinate the federal response. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is helping to oversee federal efforts and she remains in close contact with state officials. Acting FEMA administrator Nancy Ward has been in the region since yesterday to meet with folks on the ground and survey the area herself.

In addition, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is assisting in the emergency construction of levees. The Coast Guard is aiding in search and rescue efforts while the Department of Defense is helping to move people and supplies. Members of the National Guard have been activated and are on the scene as well.

Hospitals and nursing homes in the area are being evacuated and residents in poor health or with special needs are being transported to higher ground. Teams from the Department of Health and Human Services are aiding in this work. And the Red Cross is in place to provide shelter and supplies for folks in need.

It is also important for residents in these states to remain vigilant in monitoring reports on flood crests and to follow instructions from their state and local leaders in the event that evacuations become necessary.

My administration is working closely with Governors John Hoeven, Mike Rounds and Tim Pawlenty. And I’ve been meeting with Senators Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, and Amy Klobuchar, as well as Congressmen Earl Pomeroy and Collin Peterson, to pledge my support. I will continue to monitor the situation carefully. We will do what must be done to help in concert with state and local agencies and non-profit organizations – and volunteers who are doing so much to aid the response effort.

For at moments like these, we are reminded of the power of nature to disrupt lives and endanger communities. But we are also reminded of the power of individuals to make a difference.

In the Fargodome, thousands of people gathered not to watch a football game or a rodeo, but to fill sandbags. Volunteers filled 2.5 million of them in just five days, working against the clock, day and night, with tired arms and aching backs. Others braved freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and falling snow to build levees along the river’s banks to help protect against waters that have exceeded record levels.

College students have traveled by the busload from nearby campuses to lend a hand during their spring breaks. Students from local high schools asked if they could take time to participate. Young people have turned social networks into community networks, coordinating with one another online to figure out how best to help.

In the face of an incredible challenge, the people of these communities have rallied in support of one another. And their service isn’t just inspirational – it’s integral to our response.

It’s also a reminder of what we can achieve when Americans come together to serve their communities. All across the nation, there are men, women and young people who have answered that call, and millions of other who would like to. Whether it’s helping to reduce the energy we use, cleaning up a neighborhood park, tutoring in a local school, or volunteering in countless other ways, individual citizens can make a big difference.

That is why I’m so happy that legislation passed the Senate this week and the House last week to provide more opportunities for Americans to serve their communities and the country.

The bipartisan Senate bill was sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Ted Kennedy, a leader who embodies the spirit of public service, and I am looking forward to signing this important measure into law.

In facing sudden crises or more stubborn challenges, the truth is we are all in this together – as neighbors and fellow citizens. That is what brought so many to help in North Dakota and Minnesota and other areas affected by this flooding. That is what draws people to volunteer in so many ways, serving our country here and on distant shores.

Our thanks go to them today, and to all who are working day and night to deal with the disaster. We send them our thoughts, our prayers, and our continued assistance in this difficult time.

Thank you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vermont Moves Closer to Marriage Equality

I just received an email from John regarding the vote in the Vermont legislative judiciary committee, 5-0 to go forward for a vote of the general assembly next week. This coincides with New Hampshire who is also voting next week on their own marriage equality bill, HB436. Maine legislators have also committed themselves to voting on marriage equality before the close of their legislative session, which would make this a very good year indeed for those who support an end to discrimination. It seems the race to follow Massachusetts into equality in America is on once again! My friend Mike over at MassMarrier has the links to the Burlington news.

It seems I was right all along, the inherent goodness in all people is coming out and supporting true equality for all. These changes will undoubtedly have a ripple effect in other states where they do not yet have equality, and it will serve as a reminder to New York as well as California to get with the program.

People should never expect to vote away their neighbor's rights, it's unconstitutional, and just plain vulgar. But let's not digress, let's celebrate our victories. Congratulations Vermont, your about to know what it feels like to be true and equal citizens at least from the state government's view! Thank you!

UPDATE 3/24/09: MassMarrier has more on the subject with a new article explaining the current status of the marriage equality vote in Vermont. The State Senate passed the bill onto the House in a courageous vote of 26 to 4! It is important to note that if the House of representatives passes by the same measure it will be veto-proof. The Governor has not expressed whether he intends on signing, nt signing or will veto marriage equality in his state if given the opportunity. Perhaps now is a time to call him and express your concern:

Governor Jim Douglas can be reached at 802 828-3333.

The four senators who voted against the measure are: Randy Brock (R-Franklin County), Vince Illuzzi (R-Essex/Orleans), Hull Maynard (R-Rutland County) and Bobby Starr (D-Essex/Orleans).

Governor Announces $280M in FEDERAL Funds to Assist MA Schools with Special Ed Costs

BROCKTON – Friday, March 20, 2009 – As part of his Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state’s economic future, Governor Deval Patrick today announced $280 million in federal education recovery funds will go to school districts to assist with costs for special education, care and support. The Governor also announced an additional $10 million for preschool special education services.

“Additional funding for special education is an important step toward helping all of our students reach their full potential,” said Governor Patrick. “Federal recovery funds are making a difference again.”

Funding will be available to all school districts across the Commonwealth over the next 27 months. Districts will receive half of the funding by the end of the month – $140 million through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with $5 million dedicated to preschool programs. This fall, the remaining $140 million will be allocated to districts with another $5 million for preschool programs.

The announcement comes after Governor Patrick’s announcement yesterday that he will commit $168 million in federal education recovery funds to 166 school districts to help them reach so-called foundation spending levels next school year to preserve programs and avoid teacher layoffs at a time when the global economic crisis is forcing communities to increase class sizes, cut positions and make other difficult budget decisions that threaten the quality of education in Massachusetts.

The new special education funding will help school districts boost student achievement through a variety of strategies and activities such as improving direct services to children, releasing technical assistance to schools and districts, advancing the integration of technology into curricula and classroom instruction, developing and implementing transition programs, and focusing on capacity building activities to improve the delivery of services by school districts.

Joined by Education Secretary Paul Reville and Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester at Brockton High School this afternoon, Governor Patrick spoke to parents, teachers and students about his commitment to ensuring school districts receive the necessary support to offer all students a world class education to prepare them for success in the global 21st Century economy. Brockton is set to receive $2.6 million for special education funding plus $100,851 in preschool IDEA funds.
“There are many very talented teachers in schools across the Commonwealth who have dedicated their careers to educating students with special needs,” said Secretary Reville. “The announcement of additional IDEA funds will directly support their work and improve the educational opportunities for all students.”

“These funds will allow our districts over the next two years to provide students who require special education with the services they need, without cutting into the regular education budget,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester. “In addition, I am asking our districts to devote at least half of the federal stimulus funds to strategic investments that will provide ongoing benefits and cost savings well into the future.”

Education investments are a critical component of Governor Patrick’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:
Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.

Governor Patrick played a key role in developing the federal recovery law’s State Stabilization Fund that is now being used to shore up state education funding as well as to prevent layoffs and cutbacks in other critical areas of government during the recession. Over the next two years, Massachusetts will receive an estimated $1.88 billion to support early education, K-12 education and higher education. For more information about what the federal recovery law means for Massachusetts, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Letter to NH Legislators

Greetings Esteemed Legislators,

I am contacting you to ask you to support HB436 and help bring equality to our state. The opposition to this bill hopes to convince you that GLBT people are all unworthy of being judged as individuals as our laws call for. Instead they bypass their responsibility to provide a compelling public interest that is outside of their religious beliefs. They also want you to forget your responsibility to provide Due Process where we are all protected from unjustified accusations. They expect you to look past the individual that I am and look instead to a stereotype where they can say I'm simply one of "them" and easier to fear.

I've lived in Salem my entire life, I went to St. Joseph's parish, and I even went with the youth group to see the Pope in 1993, the write up can be found on the front page of the Lawrence Eagle Tribune August 13, 1993 with me in it. I have been a respectful citizen all my life and have given back to my community all the while. I questioned myself if there was any truth to the opposition's fears as a person who loves their community enough to give up his own freedoms for the sake of the many. However, I will not give up on my freedom for the sake of a fearful few that are simply lacking exposure to diversity so that they can continue to live in the comfort of their habits at my expense. The arguments I have heard all fail the test when applied to people as individuals, leaving me to ask myself and you how many innocent people will be continue to be left as second class citizens when they have done nothing wrong to deserve such treatment. If we are not to use the standard of individual merit when judging others, what measure is just? If we do not hold accusers accountable to prove their accusations beyond a reasonable doubt, then what does that say of us as a people?

I believe it is time for legislators like yourselves to rise up and lead our people out of the darkness bigotry casts on otherwise notably good people. Failing that, you can at least vote for this bill and help end government sanctioned discrimination. General John Stark was the man that coined the phrase our great state is famous for, "Live Free or Die!" the whole of that phrase was, "Live Free or Die, there are worse things than death!" Worse things like living your life denied the equality others have without any justification. You have the rare chance here to lead not only this state's people but the rest of the country with your vote. Send a positive message of solidarity that shows we are one people, not just party lines. This will not risk your office as proven in Massachusetts, where those who where brave enough to take a stand for equality were rewarded with re-election in almost every single circumstance.

Elevating me and other GLBT people to the level of equal will not impact anyone else's ability to enjoy their own liberties, including the right to believe what they want and say what they want. My neighbors rights end where mine begin, please allow those who wish to marry their loved one the right to do so by voting in support of HB436. By voting against this bill you will be saying that there is not one single GLBT person who is worthy of a right that heterosexual people cannot have taken away simply because they are gay. This would cast our state in a very unfavorable light considering we are about to be surrounded on all sides by states that see the value of true equality, and I'm confident this action will be remembered by those it harms come election day. General John Stark was just a man until his actions made him great. What will you be remembered for?

If you are a New Hampshire resident and would like to contact your legislator here is a link for you to find them.

Here is the voting record of those who voted in 2007 for and against civil unions. You'll have to put in HB437 and the year in order to find the results.

The race seems on in New England between NH, VT, and ME to see which state gets full marriage equality first, however New Hampshire is expected to vote on this issue March 26, only one week from today.

Some minds will always be closed because they will not open themselves to the idea their beliefs should not be forced upon the unwilling, but I believe over time some will change their minds. Through logic and information we can at least make our cases and let the chips fall where they may.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Micheal Moore Takes on "God Hates Fags" Group on YouTube


BOSTON – Wednesday, March 18, 2009 – Governor Patrick today announced the nomination of three experienced litigators to the Superior Court: Mitchell H. Kaplan, a Newton resident and a partner at a major Boston law firm; Janet Kenton-Walker a Sutton resident, who has practiced civil and criminal litigation throughout the Commonwealth; and Thomas F. McGuire, a Fall River resident and veteran Bristol County litigator.

“Each of these attorneys is well known for their top-notch legal skills, even temperament, high integrity and long-standing commitment to justice that will serve all of us well on the bench,” said Governor Patrick.

Mitchell Kaplan is a Partner with the Boston Law firm of Choate, Hall & Stewart. Along with his extensive complex business and commercial trial and litigation practice, Kaplan has dedicated significant time to pro bono matters throughout his career. He has directed Choate’s pro bono program for 15 years, is a long-time Director of the Greater Boston Legal Services and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, formerly co-chaired the Delivery of Legal Services Section of the Boston Bar Association, and served on the Board of Bar Overseers. A graduate of Colby College and Cornell Law School, Kaplan began his career as an associate with Hutchins & Wheeler and then served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Joseph L. Tauro of the United States District Court. He is slated to fill the vacancy on the Superior Court created by the retirement of the Honorable Paul A. Chernoff.

Janet Kenton-Walker is of-counsel with the Boston Law Collaborative. Kenton-Walker is a highly experienced trial attorney, whose areas of practice include domestic relations and family law, business litigation, real estate, criminal defense, and general civil litigation. Before joining the BLC, Kenton-Walker worked for nine years at the law firm of Klieman, Lyons, Schindler & Gross, where she managed the firm’s litigation. Earlier in her career she worked for the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Springfield. Kenton-Walker served on the Board of Bar Overseers and was the past Chair of the Board for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. In addition, Kenton-Walker is a past Secretary and Vice-President of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Trustee of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, and a former President of the Hampshire County Bar Association. She is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and Suffolk University Law School. Kenton-Walker is slated to fill the vacancy on the Superior Court created by the retirement of the Honorable Isaac Borenstein.

Thomas McGuire, a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School, is a Bristol County litigator with over twenty-five years of experience. In addition to the representation of individuals and small businesses, McGuire’s varied civil practice includes serving as Corporation Counsel for the City of Fall River and as Massachusetts Counsel to Webster Bank, N.A. Early in his career, McGuire also handled a number of criminal defense matters. A Life Fellow of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, McGuire’s pro bono work has included helping to establish Hope House, a facility for AIDS patients, and creating charitable trusts in memory of police officers killed in the line of duty. McGuire is slated to fill the vacancy on the Superior Court created by the retirement of the Honorable Ernest B. Murphy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Queer Ducks

Here is the source:

It was hoped that feathers would fly when two rare male blue ducks were introduced to the only female of their species in Britain. Ben and Jerry were meant to fall for Cherry and help produce some much-needed ducklings. Instead, the two drakes only had eyes for each other – and have been inseparable ever since.

Paul Stevens, warden of Arundel Wetland Centre in West Sussex, said: “To our surprise the two males really took to each other.

"It would have been nice to get a last clutch of eggs from Cherry but Ben and Jerry do make a lovely couple.”

TV wildlife expert Chris Packham said: “Ducks are one of the few species that show homosexual behaviour regularly.”

But the gay love story does nothing to help the endangered blue duck, with just 2,500 now left in their native New Zealand.

Silly birds, don't they know God doesn't like gays? Do you think they'll go to bird Hell for lying in sin with each other? After all, what would they know about the birds and the bees... ;)

I know what the opposition to equality would say here, "That doesn't prove anything." Sure it does. It reminds us that same sex attraction happens to many different species, and it IS natural. If it is natural God must approve of it contrary to contemporary conservative religious teachings.

It is up to all of us to be informed citizens so we can make intelligent choices in our actions. Listen to what is being said and check the facts for yourself. I make a point to cite my sources so that people can read for themselves the same things I bring attention to and know the truth. The truth is that there are a few odd ducks out there, so what? Individuality neither breaks your leg nor picks your pockets.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Highlights $125M Chelsea St. Bridge project as first of major investments to create jobs, speed economic recovery

CHELSEA/EAST BOSTON – Monday, March 16, 2009 – With the 73-year-old structurally-deficient Chelsea Street Bridge serving as a backdrop, Governor Deval Patrick today unveiled his Massachusetts Recovery Plan, highlighting how integrating state, federal and private investments will put people back to work today on critical projects, speed the state’s recovery and ultimately secure our common economic future.

In keeping with his Administration’s nearly $10 billion commitment to fixing the state's crumbling transportation network, Governor Patrick announced his team has started construction on the $125 million project to replace the vertical drawbridge over the Chelsea Creek which connects Boston and Chelsea. Federal, state and municipal officials hailed the Chelsea Street Bridge project as a major victory for the local community and regional economy, noting the project will create or maintain 150 jobs, enhance community access and improve public safety by expanding tanker clearance.

“The unprecedented economic challenges confronting our Commonwealth have made the mission of government clear – we must secure our common economic future,” said Governor Patrick. “Our Massachusetts Recovery Plan will integrate state, federal and private resources so we can deliver immediate relief and long-term solutions. The Chelsea Street Bridge reconstruction is just one way to create and sustain the jobs and the opportunities that will move our people and our economy forward once again.”

The Massachusetts Recovery Plan will combine state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:
Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.
The Plan comes as Massachusetts is poised to receive between $6-$9 billion over two years through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for transportation, education, health care, housing, public safety and other critical programs. In the last two weeks, the federal government granted the state the authority to spend $437.9 million on transportation projects through federal highway funds, with $153.2 million of that funding committed to “shovel-ready” projects. Two days ago, the Patrick Administration put the first eight recovery projects out to bid, dedicating an estimated total of approximately $30 million for infrastructure improvements in every region of the state.

Federal recovery funds will enhance the Patrick Administration’s ongoing efforts to address a legacy of neglect that has created a $15-$19 billion funding gap for the state’s transportation network. In the last two years, the Administration, working with the Legislature, has approved nearly $10 billion for road, bridge and transit projects through Transportation Bond bills and an historic eight-year Accelerated Bridge Repair Program. The Chelsea Street Bridge, one of the state’s largest reconstruction projects, stands as a prime example of the effectiveness of these capital initiatives, and previews the work that will take place across Massachusetts in 2009.

“The Chelsea Street drawbridge is essential for the energy security and economic viability of the entire area, and this new bridge will ensure the smooth and safe flow of traffic, protect our environment and create jobs,” said Senator Kennedy. “I’m proud to have worked with Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino and our Congressional delegation to secure federal and state road and bridge funding for this important project. With President Obama's bold action, long overdue investments like this one can now become a reality elsewhere.”
“We passed this recovery package to help those struggling all across Massachusetts by providing safety nets and creating jobs, jobs and even more jobs. Hundreds of critical infrastructure and transportation, education, construction and public safety projects throughout our state will get a much needed economic boost to get our workers and their families back on the road to recovery. It’s good for the economy, good for struggling workers, good for our businesses and good for our environment. I am grateful to Senator Kennedy, my colleagues in Congress, Governor Patrick , Lieutenant Governor Murray and the elected officials all across Massachusetts for their hard work in ensuring that federal recovery funds will get into the hands of those who need it most as quickly as possible,” said Senator Kerry.

"I am proud to have gotten more than $31 million in earmarks over the years for the Chelsea Street Bridge, a span that is clearly in need of modernization. Today's groundbreaking brings us closer to the day when ships can more safely navigate the Chelsea Creek, reducing the likelihood of a spill while delivering home heating oil and fuel," said Congressman Michael Capuano.

“This project is an example of the efforts needed across the Commonwealth to jumpstart our economy,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “Targeted investments in infrastructure, education and training will put people back to work and give Massachusetts a solid basis for economic recovery and future growth.”

“This new project will improve boat and car transportation in the region and provide drivers in Revere with a safe alternative route into Boston,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. “I’m especially proud to see a project that will create jobs coming online.”

"The new Chelsea Street Bridge is a winning project for everyone involved," said Mayor Thomas Menino. "It's good for both the community and the economy. It will improve the infrastructure on a major roadway and ease traffic concerns for the residents of East Boston, while strengthening access and safety for the numerous ships that use this waterway."
The Chelsea Street Bridge project involves the replacement of a truss-type structure that spans 450 feet and will provide 175 feet of vertical clearance when raised. The new bridge and approach roadway match the footprint of the existing bridge and will provide for four lanes of traffic (two in each direction) and two pedestrian sidewalks. Approach roadways will be reconstructed to meet existing local streets and a complete warning signal and gate system is included in the project.
The project will address longstanding issues caused by the narrow passageway used by oil tankers that resulted in accidents. Since 1972, there have been 133 incidents in which ships, tugs or barges have struck the bridge. The new bridge has an environmental as well as a safety component, as the reduced potential for collisions will diminish the threat of oil spills. In June 2000, a tanker collision spilled 50,000 gallons of fuel oil, closing the waterway and delaying aviation fuel deliveries for three days.

The warning gate and bridge traffic signal operations will be coordinated with the Central Avenue/Marginal Street/Eastern Avenue intersection in Chelsea to control traffic flow during bridge openings.
The state's contractor on the project is J.F. White Contracting Co. of Framingham. The projected completion date is April 2012. For additional information, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery and www.mass.gov/youmovemassachusetts.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

White House Announces Nearly $8 Billion in Weatherization Funding and Energy Efficiency Grants

Will support energy efficiency efforts nationwide that will create 87,000 jobs and cut energy bills for families

Washington DC -- Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Chu today detailed an investment of nearly $8 billion in state and local weatherization and energy efficiency efforts as part of the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With an investment of about $5 billion through the Weatherization Assistance Program and about $3 billion for the State Energy Program, the Department of Energy will partner with state and local governments to put 87,000 Americans to work and save families hundreds of dollars per year on their energy bills.

To jump-start job creation and weatherization work, the Department of Energy is releasing the first installment of the funding – about $780 million -- in the next few days. The Department will release additional funding over time as states demonstrate that they are using the funding effectively and responsibly to create jobs and cut energy use.

“This energy efficiency funding for states is an important investment in making America more energy independent, creating a cleaner economy and creating more jobs for the 21st century that can’t be outsourced,” said Vice President Biden.

The funding will support weatherization of homes, including adding more insulation, sealing leaks and modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment, which will pay for itself many times over.

“Even as we seize the enormous potential of clean energy sources like wind and solar, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act makes a major investment in energy efficiency, which is the most cost effective route to energy independence,” Chu said.

The Weatherization Assistance Program will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades and will be available for families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level – or about $44,000 a year for a family of four. [$55,140 for Alaska and $50,720 for Hawaii]

The State Energy Program funding will be available for rebates to consumers for home energy audits or other energy saving improvements; development of renewable energy projects for clean electricity generation and alternative fuels; promotion of Energy Star products; efficiency upgrades for state and local government buildings; and other innovative state efforts to help save families money on their energy bills.

The DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program allows low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient, reducing heating bills by an average of 32% and overall energy bills by hundreds of dollars per year.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vermont to Become Fourth State to Legalize Marriage Equality

Vermont law makers are rallying support for a bill that provides full marriage equality for all of their citizens, and they are prepared to vote this bill into law this legislative session.

Here's a link to the video news coverage provided by WCAX.

For those of you who prefer you can read the whole story here at the source.

One of the things in this story that caught my eye was this comment:

"We are changing the definition of marriage,"
said Craig Bensen, who opposes gay marriage.

I have to ask readers, what is the compelling interest in this point? Does it outweigh the attempt to place a social cast on an entire group of people that have only their sexuality in common? No, it does not.

Bensen continues:

"It is not a positive social good to create a permanent class of motherless and fatherless children,"

Huh? I marry my partner of 15 years and suddenly it causes "motherless and fatherless children"? The obvious assumption is that all people want children, which is entirely untrue even in straight marriages. This goes along with the claim that marriage is about children, which is clearly untrue as demonstrated by the amount of people who marry and cannot have children.

In some states where equality was considered inevitable opponents had tried to put an obstacle in it's way by claiming that marriage was for straight people, the GLBT should consider civil unions not to upset traditionalists. Vermont was the first state in the nation to offer any form of equality to same sex partners. After having almost ten years to consider their position, five of which were spent with their neighbors in Massachusetts having full marriage equality, most Vermonters are ready for what they consider "The next most logical step."

Sunday, March 08, 2009


President Obama Presses the Case for Bold Action to Address the Economic Crisis

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama used his weekly address to detail his plans to fix our ailing economy, noting that reforming healthcare is necessary to ensure our long term fiscal health. While ending this crisis will not be quick or easy, the President’s plans will take the swift, bold, and responsible actions needed for the United States to emerge stronger and more prosperous than before. And that is why reforming healthcare, jumpstarting job creation, restoring lending, relieving responsible homeowners, and making hard choices are all so critically important right now.

The video can be viewed online at www.whitehouse.gov.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Washington, DC

Yesterday, we learned that the economy lost another 651,000 jobs in the month of February, which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession to 4.4 million. The unemployment rate has now surpassed 8 percent, the highest rate in a quarter century.

These aren't just statistics, but hardships experienced personally by millions of Americans who no longer know how they'll pay their bills, or make their mortgage, or raise their families.

From the day I took office, I knew that solving this crisis would not be easy, nor would it happen overnight. And we will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead. But I also believe that we will get through this -- that if we act swiftly and boldly and responsibly, the United States of America will emerge stronger and more prosperous than it was before.

That's why my administration is committed to doing all that's necessary to address this crisis and lead us to a better day. That's why we're moving forward with an economic agenda that will jumpstart job creation, restart lending, relieve responsible homeowners, and address the long-term economic challenges of our time: the cost of health care, our dependence on oil, and the state of our schools.

To prevent foreclosures for as many as 4 million homeowners -- and lower interest rates and lift home values for millions more -- we are implementing a plan to allow lenders to work with borrowers to refinance or restructure their mortgages. On Wednesday, the Department of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development released the guidelines that lenders will use for lowering mortgage payments. This plan is now at work.

To restore the availability of affordable loans for families and businesses -- not just banks -- we are taking steps to restart the flow of credit and stabilize the financial markets. On Thursday, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve launched the Consumer and Business Lending Initiative -- a plan that will generate up to a trillion dollars of new lending so that families can finance a car or college education -- and small businesses can raise the capital that will create jobs.

And we've already begun to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- a plan that will save and create over 3.5 million jobs over the next two years -- jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, expanding broadband and mass transit. And because of this plan, those who have lost their job in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage, while 95 percent of working Americans will receive a tax break beginning April 1st.

Of course, like every family going through hard times, our country must make tough choices. In order to pay for the things we need -- we cannot waste money on the things we don't.

My administration inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit, the largest in history. And we've inherited a budgeting process as irresponsible as it is unsustainable. For years, as Wall Street used accounting tricks to conceal costs and avoid responsibility, Washington did, too.

These kinds of irresponsible budgets -- and inexcusable practices -- are now in the past. For the first time in many years, my administration has produced a budget that represents an honest reckoning of where we are and where we need to go.

It's also a budget that begins to make the hard choices that we've avoided for far too long -- a strategy that cuts where we must and invests where we need. That's why it includes $2 trillion in deficit reduction, while making historic investments in America's future. That's why it reduces discretionary spending for non-defense programs as a share of the economy by more than 10 percent over the next decade -- to the lowest level since they began keeping these records nearly half a century ago. And that's why on Wednesday, I signed a presidential memorandum to end unnecessary no-bid contracts and dramatically reform the way contracts are awarded -- reforms that will save the American people up to $40 billion each year.

Finally, because we cannot bring our deficit down or grow our economy without tackling the skyrocketing cost of health care, I held a health care summit on Thursday to begin the long-overdue process of reform. Our ideas and opinions about how to achieve this reform will vary, but our goal must be the same: quality, affordable health care for every American that no longer overwhelms the budgets of families, businesses, and our government.

Yes, this is a moment of challenge for our country. But we've experienced great trials before. And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper -- to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis. That is what we can and must do today. And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do. I'm confident that at this defining moment, we will prove ourselves worthy of the sacrifice of those who came before us, and the promise of those who will come after.

President Obama Announces Key Treasury Appointments

WASHINGTON ⿿Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key posts at the Treasury Department: David S. Cohen, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, Terrorist Financing; Alan B. Krueger, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, Economic Policy; and Kim N. Wallace, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, Legislative Affairs. Each of the nominees is currently serving as a Counselor to the Secretary of Treasury.

President Obama said, "Out of crisis arises opportunity. With the leadership of these accomplished individuals and our whole economic team, I am absolutely confident that we will turn around this economy and seize this opportunity to secure a more prosperous future.⿿

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the follow individuals today:

David S. Cohen, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, Terrorist Financing

David Cohen is currently serving as a Counselor to the Secretary of Treasury. He was until recently a partner in the law firm of WilmerHale, where he focused on complex civil litigation, white collar criminal defense, internal investigations and anti-money laundering counseling. Immediately prior to joining the firm in 2001, Mr. Cohen worked at the Treasury Department, where he served concurrently as Acting Deputy General Counsel and Associate Deputy General Counsel, and was a recipient of the Treasury Secretary⿿s Award for outstanding service. Mr. Cohen received his J.D. from Yale Law School, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Cornell University. He resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his wife, Suzy, and their two children, Sam and Zeke.

Alan B. Krueger, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, Economic Policy

Alan Krueger is currently serving as a Counselor to the Secretary of Treasury. He is the Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, where he has held a joint appointment in the Economics Department and Woodrow Wilson School since 1987. In 1994-95 Mr. Krueger served as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. Mr. Krueger has published widely on the economics of education, unemployment, income distribution, social insurance, regulation, terrorism and the environment. He is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a member of the editorial board of Science, and serves as chief economist for the Council for Economic Education. He is the author of What Makes A Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism and Education Matters: A Selection of Essays on Education, and co-author of Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage, and co-author Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies?

Mr. Krueger is a member of the Board of Directors of the Russell Sage Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the American Institutes for Research. He was named a Sloan Fellow in Economics in 1992 and an NBER Olin Fellow in 1989-90. He was elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 1996, a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists in 2005 and a member of the Executive Committee of the American Economic Association in 2004. He was awarded the Kershaw Prize by the Association for Public Policy and Management in 1997 (for distinguished contributions to public policy analysis by someone under the age of 40) and Mahalanobis Memorial Medal by the Indian Econometric Society in 2001. In 2002 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and in 2003 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. He was awarded the IZA Prize in Labor Economics with David Card in 2006. From March 2000 to March 2006 he was a regular contributor to the "Economic Scene" column in The New York Times.

Mr. Krueger received a B.S. degree, with honors, from Cornell University⿿s School of Industrial & Labor Relations in 1983, an A.M. in Economics from Harvard University in 1985, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1987. He is married with two children.

Kim N. Wallace, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, Legislative Affairs

Kim Wallace currently serves as a Counselor to the Secretary of Treasury. Previously, Mr. Wallace was a Managing Director and head of the Washington Research Group at Barclays Capital. Before that he served in the same role, for 14 years, at Lehman Brothers Inc. From 1989-1994, Mr. Wallace served as a legislative aide to then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, specializing in fiscal policy. He also worked 3 years as an analyst on the Senate Budget Committee, under then-Chairman Lawton Chiles.

Mr. Wallace received an M.S in Business from Johns Hopkins University, and a B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife, Robin Vink, and their two children, Ava and Harrison.


More than $150 million in “shovel-ready” projects to move forward this spring through federal recovery funding

BOSTON – Friday, March 6, 2009 – Governor Patrick today announced the federal government has given Massachusetts the authority to spend $437.9 million on transportation projects through federal highway funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Of that funding, approximately $153.2 million will be committed to “shovel-ready” projects advertised for bid within the next 120 days.

Federal officials have also announced an additional $319 million in recovery funds will go toward Regional Transit Authorities and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. In addition to the total transportation funding, Massachusetts is in line to receive anywhere between $6-$9 billion over two years for education, health care, public safety, housing and other critical programs.

“Funds from the President’s recovery bill come to us at a critical moment, and we are well prepared to put these funds to work,” said Governor Patrick. “Thanks to a careful review process, we will soon have shovels in the ground on necessary road and bridge projects throughout the Commonwealth and start to put people back to work."

This first allotment of highway funds will be used for projects across all regions of the Commonwealth. Both highway and transit projects will be selected from the State Transportation Improvement Plan, which is comprised of projects submitted by the state’s 13 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO). Projects on each of the MPO’s lists are already qualified to receive federal funding. The State Transportation Improvement Plan is created through a collaborative public review process including the public and dozens of state, regional, and local officials.

This first phase of highway projects will cover all regions of the Commonwealth. Both highway and transit projects will be selected from the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) list – a list of projects that are already qualified to receive federal funding (see highway and transit lists attached). The MPO list is approved by 13 regional planning organizations through a collaborative public review process including dozens of state, regional, and local officials.

“Along with our partners on the federal and local levels, we are ready to move on projects that will create jobs in all regions of the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray. “The authorization of significant funding for transportation projects is a great first step.”

The State Transportation Improvement Plan includes dozens of projects that could receive federal recovery funding. Federal guidelines require MPO approval for projects to be eligible for stimulus funds. Additional projects will go through the MPO approval process and be added to the list of eligible projects over the coming months.

“By working with our Mayors and Selectmen along with federal, state, and regional partners in identifying projects, I am confident the infrastructure projects receiving these initial federal stimulus funds will address among the most critical needs in our road and bridge system,” said Transportation Secretary James Aloisi, Jr.

Road and bridge projects funded by federal recovery money will be selected from a list of eligible projects in all regions and move forward to bid based upon readiness and the Administration’s priorities, in order to meet the 120-day “use-it-or-lose-it” federal deadline. Additional projects will be funded by the remaining transportation federal stimulus funds, which must be used for projects advertised for bid by March 2010.

Massachusetts is prepared to proceed with the $153 million of eligible transportation projects because Governor Patrick began to mobilize in December for federal economic stimulus funding. The Governor established 10 task forces, chaired by the Lieutenant Governor and members of his cabinet, to begin the work of mobilizing the Commonwealth for the potential receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government for "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects.

"It's clear to people across Massachusetts that our roads and bridges are in great need of repair,” said Director of Infrastructure Investment Jeffrey Simon. “Together with the capital investment plans the Administration has already begun, these additional recovery funds will allow us to make long-delayed improvements in our communities and quickly create the jobs that the men and women of the Commonwealth need."

Governor Patrick appointed Simon to lead the Administration's economic recovery infrastructure program in February in order to maximize the Commonwealth's ability to create new jobs and lay a foundation for long-term economic growth.

The Patrick-Murray Administration has created an open, transparent process across transportation, economic development, and environmental agencies. The full list of projects eligible to be included in the first phase of federal transportation recovery funding will be posted on Governor Patrick’s Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Plan website. To learn more, go to: www.mass.gov/recovery.

Federal recovery will enhance capitol efforts already underway to address a legacy of neglect inherited from previous Administrations. In the last two years, the Patrick-Murray Administration, working with the Legislature, has approved more than $9 billion for road, bridge and transit projects through Transportation Bond bills and an historic eight-year Accelerated Bridge Repair Program to cut by more than 250 the number of structurally-deficient bridges.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

"In God's Name", An Excuse By Humans To Do Harm Others

My friend Kim of OutInWisconsin.org and ChristiansforEquality has posted this great article pointing out some interesting reading that sheds some light on how people have been using God as a reason to commit the unspeakable.

Visit here to read the story and comment.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

President, Senators Kennedy & Kerry, and Rep. John Tierney Announce Release of $1.3 M for Health Clinics in Massachusetts

Grants Will Help Serve 7,060, Create 50 Jobs

Acting to strengthen the health care safety net for the growing number of Americans in need, President Barack Obama, Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, and Rep. John Tierney today announced the release of $1.3 million authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will support one health center in Massachusetts. These health centers will help people in need -- many with no health insurance -- obtain access to the comprehensive primary and preventive health care services and create 50 jobs in Massachusetts.
“We have acted quickly to put Recovery Act dollars to good use in communities across America,” said President Obama. “The construction and expansion of health centers will help create thousands of new jobs and provide critical assistance to Americans who have lost their job and their health care. Health centers, primary care, and prevention are at the heart of my plan for an affordable, accessible health care system.”

Health centers in the following communities will receive support:

North Shore Community Health, Inc. – Salem, MA

Gov. Patrick to President: Massachusetts Prepared to Invest Fed. Aid

Governor’s action will allow billions of dollars to begin flowing to Massachusetts

BOSTON – Wednesday, February 25, 2009 – Returning from the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C. today, Governor Deval Patrick submitted written notice to the Obama Administration that Massachusetts is ready to receive billions of dollars in federal recovery aid. While in D.C., Governor Patrick attended meetings with the President and other leaders, focusing on how to invest these critical funds in projects that create and retain jobs and provide long-term economic value to the Commonwealth.
“These funds will help us get started rebuilding our economy,” said Governor Patrick. “We will work quickly and responsibly to maximize the opportunities ahead. There is no time for delay.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 requires the Governor to certify within 45 days of the Act’s passage that he will request the funds, and indicate that he will use them for their intended purpose. The Patrick Administration began mobilizing for recovery aid last December, establishing Task Forces to review and develop clean energy, education, information technology and other projects that may be eligible for federal funding.
Earlier this month, moving to ensure the funds are spent with integrity and transparency, Governor Patrick appointed a Director of Infrastructure Investment to oversee the Administration’s effort to invest an estimated $1 billion to $2 billion in statewide infrastructure projects. He also launched the state’s recovery website, www.mass.gov/recovery. Similar to the White House’s web site, www.mass.gov/recovery will allow the public to track recovery-related spending.
Based on preliminary estimates, Massachusetts is in line to receive between $6 and $9 billion over the next two-plus years from funds to be allocated through various formulas. For more information about the Patrick Administration’s efforts, visit www.mass.gov/recovery.

Monday, March 02, 2009

President Obama Will Nominate Governor Kathleen Sebelius Secretary of HHS

Announces Release of $155 Million of ARRA Funds for Health Clinics Across America
Leading Health Care Expert Nancy-Ann DeParle to serve as Director of White House Office for Health Reform

Today, President Barack Obama officially announced his intent to nominate Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. In this role, Sebelius will oversee a department with wide-ranging responsibilities essential to the American people, including the implementation of the President's vision for health care. As Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sebelius will work with Democrats and Republicans alike to cut costs, expand access, and improve the quality of health care for all Americans.

Nancy-Ann DeParle, one of the nation’s leading experts on health care and regulatory issues, will serve as Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office for Health Reform. As commissioner of the Department of Human Services in Tennessee, she saw firsthand the health care system’s impact on workers and families. In the Clinton Administration, DeParle handled budget matters for federal health care programs, and took on the tremendous task of managing Medicare and Medicaid.

“If we are going to help families, save businesses, and improve the long-term economic health of our nation, we must realize that fixing what’s wrong with our health care system is no longer just a moral imperative, but a fiscal imperative. Health care reform that reduces costs while expanding coverage is no longer just a dream we hope to achieve – it’s a necessity we have to achieve, said President Obama. “And today, I am proud to announce key members of my team who will be critical to that effort: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius for my Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Nancy Ann DeParle as Director of the White House Office for Health Reform.”

President Obama today also announced the release of $155 million authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will support 126 new health centers. These health centers will help people in need – many with no health insurance – obtain access to comprehensive primary and preventive health care services.

“We have acted quickly to put Recovery Act dollars to good use in communities across America,” said President Obama. “The construction and expansion of health centers will create thousands of new jobs, help provide health care to an estimated 750,000 Americans across the country who wouldn’t have access to care without these centers, and take another step toward an affordable, accessible health care system.”

The grants, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), are expected to create 5,500 jobs at the new health centers.

Rabbi Who Officiated California Plaintiff Couple Speaks Out

They Do: Rabbi Denise L. Eger officiates at the June 16, 2008, wedding of Robin Tyler (left) and Diane Olson, plaintiffs in the case in which California’s Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.

"The California Supreme Court will hear legal arguments on March 5 about Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage that was approved in November by 52% of the state’s voters. The point of law at issue is whether or not Proposition 8 constitutes a legal revision to the state constitution.

I am not a legal expert. But for me, and for the community I serve, this case is about much more than a legal abstraction.

On May 15 the California Supreme Court ruled that marriage was a fundamental right that must be extended to gay men and lesbians. In the months that followed, up until Election Day, some 18,000 gay couples married legally in the state of California.

As a rabbi, I officiated at more than 60 weddings for gay men and lesbians — including one of the first three such marriages performed in California following the court’s ruling. My wife and I — we were married with a ketubah and a chuppah more than 15 years ago — finally gained legal recognition for our relationship.

The couples at whose weddings I officiated tell me that there is a difference in the way their relationships are regarded by themselves and by others. Even if they had been a committed couple for many years, they woke up the day after their legal wedding and saw their rings and their paperwork. They finally felt that they were fully a family, fully next of kin. As Elliot, one of the grooms, said to me: “We have been in a committed relationship for nine years, but after my wedding day I knew and Peter knew we were joined together fully and completely and no one could separate us.”

I also see changes in my own life. Even though my wife and I have been together for almost two decades, people now treat us differently. They understand our relationship; they no longer ask if Karen is my business partner or my sister. Even strangers understand when I say, “This is my wife.” We now feel a sense of full equality with our neighbors.

Our 15-year-old son, who was the best man at our recent wedding, feels the bonds of his family in a different and deeper way. He is proud that his parents are legally married and feels that his family is more legitimate in his own eyes and in the eyes of his friends and schoolmates. “I am so happy that people finally see us as the same,” he said.

But with the passage of Proposition 8, the ability of gay men and lesbians to legally marry in California ceased. If Proposition 8 is upheld, gay and lesbian couples who have not yet married will not know the joy, dignity and protections that marriage can bring to them and their families. It is apartheid of love.

For those of us who married during the short window that opened last year, the legal status of our marriages now hangs in the balance. We wait anxiously for a ruling as to whether our marriages will be retroactively annulled. Our lives and our families are in the hands of the seven justices of the California Supreme Court.

One of the reasons we have courts is to protect members of minority groups from the tyranny of the majority. In California, a majority has taken away the civil rights of a minority. I pray that the justices will do what is just and protect our constitution by invalidating this vote that took away my rights and those of my congregants."

Rabbi Denise L. Eger is president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis and founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, Calif.

Live, Love, and Learn would like to acknowledge Melinda for sending us the story, and cite the original source.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

PollingPoint.com Shows People Who Disapprove of Homosexuality Likely Don't Know Anyone Who is Gay

From PollingPoint.com:

People with gay acquaintances were more likely to be accepting of homosexuality.

Are you in favor of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that legally defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman?

Should gay couples be permitted to adopt children?