Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dear Republicans ...

Shut the hell up.

You no longer have any credibility or right to argue about who can and cannot get married. You are hypocritical sleazeballs. Your protestations on the "sanctity of marriage" is a sad pathetic joke, and stands in stark contrast with your own personal lives.

Let's look at the GOP record for a moment, shall we?

First we have Newt Gingrich, architect of the 1994 GOP Revolution, and ardent proponent of "Family Values".



More recently, in 2008 year we had the case of Conservative Republican Senators Larry Craig of Idaho and David Vitter of Louisiana. Last year we saw both these men show off their family values. Sen. Craig by soliciting an undercover cop for gay sex in an airport men's room.



Senator Vitter, endeared himself to social conservatives with his impassioned speech on the Senate floor in 1996 on the need to amend the U.S. Constitution to preserve the sanctity of marriage. More recently in 2008, Vitter really didn't want to talk about the sanctity of his own marriage.



Then just last week we had Nevada's "Family Values" Republican Senator John Ensign. Ensign, is the Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In 1998, while running for Nevada’s Senate seat against Harry Reid, Ensign called on President Clinton to resign in light of his admitted affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky:

Ensign has also been an ardent opponent of gay marriage. In Feb. 2004, Ensign announced his support for an amendment to the Constitution that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Ensign said the amendment, which ultimately failed, was necessary to protect “the institution of marriage“:

“Sadly, the effort to redefine marriage against the wishes of a majority of the people is, with help from activist judges, succeeding,” Ensign said. “In order to defend the institution of marriage, uphold the rights of individual states, and maintain the will of the people, I believe we are compelled to amend our country’s constitution.”

Apparently Ensign's efforts to defend marriage entailed having an affair with a married member of his own staff.



And most recently this past week, we had the curious case of the Republican Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford. Sanford A self proclaimed "Pro-family" Conservative, is Chairman of the Republican Governor's Association. Gov. Sanford literally disappeared for nearly a week. Neither his office, or his family knew where he was, and said they could not contact him. When pressed, his office said he was hiking the Appalachian Train.

We all have learned today, that apparently "Hiking the Appalachian Train" is a new slang term for flying down to Argentina to hook up with your married mistress.



Now let's be clear about a few things. Whatever Newt, Larry, David , John and Mark do in their personal private lives is NOBODY's business but theirs and their family's. I really don't care what any of these people do behind closed doors, bathroom or otherwise. It's none of my business. Their behavior is not the issue. Their rank hypocrisy is the issue.

You can't run around the country saying how your morals are so much higher than everyone else's. You can't go holding your marriage up as some sort of social ideal that should be the ONLY kind of marriage to be legal in the U.S. THEN turn around behind closed doors and throw those ideals you claim to uphold, out the window or under the hooker's bed.

What IS my business is the efforts all of these people have engaged in to codify their FAKE morality into civil law at the expense of the the basic civil rights of millions of other Americans.

So Republicans, until you clean up your own lives, you don't get to tell ANYBODY else how to live theirs.

Sit down and shut up. You have zero credibility.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Same Sex Marriage Debate explained...

Courtesy of Dan Savage's blog at "The Stranger"



Sort of puts the whole thing in perspective doesn't it?


Or for those who need a more concise explaination...



Amen Grover!

Friday, June 19, 2009

5 years of "getting Wiggy with it".




Once upon a time ... well ok, about 22 years ago I had the great good fortune to make friends with a fellow student at the University of Wisconsin. His name is James Wigderson.

James was, and remains to this day, the true "thinking man's conservative". Unapologetic, but never bombastic. Opinionated but never intellectually dishonest. In the arena of public political discourse James was and remains a true gentleman, a brilliant writer, and a first class political mind.

James and I rarely agree on issues, but the debate has always been engaging, challenging and rewarding. We may not see eye to eye in our conversations, but my thought process has always been the better for having had the debate.

I don't link many sites to mine, but his "Wigderson Library and Pub" blog - (http://wigdersonlibrarypub.blogspot.com) has been linked here since this mild attempt at blogging began in 2004.

Today James announced the "pub" is closing. He is going to focus on other projects and launch a new web effort in the fall. As much as I and his many other readers will miss the WL&P we look forward to new conversations in September.

So happy 5th birthday to your great blog James. Thanks for debate and for always being a class act.

See you in fall JW!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cut Off The DNC's Money! - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Conservative Out Blogger Andrew Sullivan declares war on the DNC.

Cut Off The DNC's Money! - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

One way to get the Obama administration's attention on civil rights is for gay people to stop funding the Democrats. That's all these people care about anyway when it comes to gays: our money. If the Democrats refuse to support us, refuse to support them. This is a start. But we need to get more creative. We need actions to highlight the administration's betrayals, postponements and boilerplate. We need to start confronting the president at his events. We need civil disobedience. We need to tell him we do not want another fricking speech where he tells us he is a fierce advocate for our rights, when that is quite plainly at this point not true. We will not tolerate another Clinton. No invites to these people for dinners or fundraisers. No cheering him at events while he does nothing to follow up on his explicit promises. Of course these things can be done. If anyone high up in the Obama administration or the Pelosi-Reid Congress gave a damn, much would have been done.
We need to swamp Pelosi with phone-calls.

We need to target Reid for his inaction. We have to pressure Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin not to excuse the disdain that the Obama administration is showing toward gay equality, and their cynical use of our votes, money and passion to enforce real and potent discrimination against us and our families. And we have to refuse to attend White House signing ceremonies like yesterday's farce. Really: until they are serious, we should not be coopted and placated with pathetic sops. I am not a Clintonite. I worked my ass off to get this man to power. On many issues, I support him and will continue to do so.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Another Blogger Dan Savage (of "Savage Love" fame...) also has weighed on this Obama Adminstration's "gay problem".

Speaking of fundamentalist Nutjobs...

Who needs the Mullahs in Iran? Just head over to West Bend, WI. It would seem there is new right- wingnuttiness from my home state of Wisconsin.

Apparently the home-schooled Troglodytes over in West Bend have taken time off from throwing rocks at people who say the Earth is round and revolves around the sun, and have found a new target for their wrath...



Christian group sues library over gay book and they want it burned

June 17, 8:02 PM · Trina Hoaks - www.Examiner.com

Controversy has been swirling for some months now in Wisconsin. Apparently, a library in West Bend has struck a nerve by including books like one by author Francesca Lia Block in its youth section. What's so bad about the book? That depends entirely on your perspective.



Some say there is absolutely nothing wrong with the book. Others disagree. The book, Baby Be-Bop, is a story about a boy named Dirk, who is gay.

As reported by Laura Miller on Salon.com (and brought to my attention by Hemant Mehta, aka the Friendly Atheist), a group called West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries approached the library back in February to get them to remove a list "of recommended titles about gay and lesbian issues for young people" from their Web site. They also "demanded" that the library move the books from their youth section to their adult section.

The reason the group wanted the library to comply with their request was "'to protect children from accessing them without their parents' knowledge and supervision.'" Among the listed titles was Block's Baby Be-Bop. They library did not immediately comply.

Another group, called West Bend Parents for Free Speech formed as the opposition to West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries. The new group made their presence known when, on June 3rd, a public hearing on the issue was held. Two petitions were presented - one from each group. There were 700 signatures from the Christian side of the issue and 1,000 signatures for the Free Speech side.

Statements were considered at the hearing as well. In the end, the library board voted unanimously to leave the books as they were. This vote has not put an end to the debate. In fact, it seems the decision just added fuel to the fire.

A new group, Christian Civil Liberties Union, has taken it upon themselves to file suit against the library. According to the report, the group hopes to have Baby Be-Bop deemed "hate speech." They claim that the book is "'explicitly vulgar, racial [sic] and anti-Christian.'" They will not be happy to just have the book removed from the library all together - they want it "publicly burned."

According to the book's author, the book, which is 112 pages, is "'a very sweet, simple, coming-of-age story about a young man's discovery that he's gay.'" She further said that the book is in no way racist and she is distressed by the allegation. One of the things cited in the charge is that the author uses the word "nigger" in her book. In response she said, "'Obviously I use those words, including "faggot," which is also in the book, to expose racism and homophobia, not promote it.'" She went on to say, "It's a tiny little book but they want to burn it like a witch."

America's Rightwing Brain Freeze....

I have not blogged on the events in Iran, largely because I am not really informed enough on specifics of Iranian domestic politics to make any kind of substantial comment. But also because, I think the LESS the U.S. says about the situation in Iran the better. As soon as the U.S. weighs in it gives cover to the more conservative elements in Iran to crack down, and claim any unrest is the result of "American interference".

However, it would seen that America's "neo-conservatives" can't help themselves.

Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:



So in honor of the recent disputed election in Iran, we offer this SNL Digital short "flash back"...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The New YorkTimes weighs in on the DOMA brief:

.


June 16, 2009
EDITORIAL
A Bad Call on Gay Rights

The Obama administration, which came to office promising to protect gay rights but so far has not done much, actually struck a blow for the other side last week. It submitted a disturbing brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which is the law that protects the right of states to not recognize same-sex marriages and denies same-sex married couples federal benefits. The administration needs a new direction on gay rights.

A gay couple married under California law is challenging the act in federal court. In its brief, the Justice Department argues that the couple lack legal standing to do so. It goes on to contend that even if they have standing, the case should be dismissed on the merits.

The brief insists it is reasonable for states to favor heterosexual marriages because they are the “traditional and universally recognized form of marriage.” In arguing that other states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages under the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause, the Justice Department cites decades-old cases ruling that states do not have to recognize marriages between cousins or an uncle and a niece.

These are comparisons that understandably rankle many gay people. In a letter to President Obama on Monday, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, said, “I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones.”

The brief also maintains that the Defense of Marriage Act represents a “cautious policy of federal neutrality” — an odd assertion since the law clearly discriminates against gay couples. Under the act, same-sex married couples who pay their taxes are ineligible for the sort of federal benefits — such as Social Security survivors’ payments and joint tax returns — that heterosexual married couples receive.

In the presidential campaign, President Obama declared that he would work to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. Now, the administration appears to be defending it out of a sense of obligation to support a validly enacted Congressional law. There is a strong presumption that the Justice Department will defend federal laws, but it is not an inviolable rule.

If the administration does feel compelled to defend the act, it should do so in a less hurtful way. It could have crafted its legal arguments in general terms, as a simple description of where it believes the law now stands. There was no need to resort to specious arguments and inflammatory language to impugn same-sex marriage as an institution.

The best approach of all would have been to make clear, even as it defends the law in court, that it is fighting for gay rights. It should work to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the law that bans gay men and lesbians in the military from being open about their sexuality. It should push hard for a federal law banning employment discrimination. It should also work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act in Congress.

The administration has had its hands full with the financial crisis, health care, Guant├ínamo Bay and other pressing matters. In times like these, issues like repealing the marriage act can seem like a distraction — or a political liability. But busy calendars and political expediency are no excuse for making one group of Americans wait any longer for equal rights.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rachel Maddow gets to the point...

HRC responds to Obama on the DOMA brief...

.

A Letter to the President from Joe Solmonese
June 15, 2009 2:27PM

Ed. Note: This morning HRC President Joe Solmonese sent a letter to President Barack Obama responding to the administration’s brief that argues for the Defense of Marriage Act to be upheld in court.

June 15, 2009

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I have had the privilege of meeting you on several occasions, when visiting the White House in my capacity as president of the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization representing millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people across this country. You have welcomed me to the White House to express my community’s views on health care, employment discrimination, hate violence, the need for diversity on the bench, and other pressing issues. Last week, when your administration filed a brief defending the constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,”[1] I realized that although I and other LGBT leaders have introduced ourselves to you as policy makers, we clearly have not been heard, and seen, as what we also are: human beings whose lives, loves, and families are equal to yours. I know this because this brief would not have seen the light of day if someone in your administration who truly recognized our humanity and equality had weighed in with you.

So on behalf of my organization and millions of LGBT people who are smarting in the aftermath of reading that brief, allow me to reintroduce us. You might have heard of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. They waited 55 years for the state of California to recognize their legal right to marry.

When the California Supreme Court at last recognized that right, the octogenarians became the first couple to marry. Del died after the couple had been legally married for only two months. And about two months later, their fellow Californians voted for Proposition 8.

Across this country, same-sex couples are living the same lives that Phyllis and Del so powerfully represent, and the same lives as you and your wife and daughters. In over 99% of U.S.[2] counties, we are raising children and trying to save for their educations; we are committing to each other emotionally and financially. We are paying taxes, serving on the PTA, struggling to balance work and family, struggling to pass our values on to our children—through church, extended family, and community. Knowing us for who we are—people and families whose needs and contributions are no different from anyone else’s—destroys the arguments set forth in the government’s brief in Smelt. As you read the rest of what I have to say, please judge the brief’s arguments with this standard: would this argument hold water if you acknowledge that Del and Phyllis have contributed as much to their community as their straight neighbors, and that their family is as worthy of respect as your own?

Reading the brief, one is told again and again that same-sex couples are so unlike different-sex couples that unequal treatment makes sense. But the government doesn’t say what makes us different, or unequal, only that our marriages are “new.” The fact that same-sex couples were denied equal rights until recently does not justify denying them now.

For example, the brief seems to adopt the well-worn argument that excluding same-sex couples from basic protections is somehow good for other married people:

Because all 50 States recognize hetero-sexual marriage, it was reasonable and rational for Congress to maintain its longstanding policy of fostering this traditional and universally-recognized form of marriage.

The government does not state why denying us basic protections promotes anyone else’s marriage, nor why, while our heterosexual neighbors’ marriages should be promoted, our own must be discouraged. In other words, the brief does not even attempt to explain how DOMA is related to any interest, but rather accepts that it is constitutional to attempt to legislate our families out of existence.

The brief characterizes DOMA as “neutral:”

[DOMA amounts to] a cautious policy of federal neutrality towards a new form of marriage.

DOMA is not “neutral” to a federal employee serving in your administration who is denied equal compensation because she cannot cover her same-sex spouse in her health plan. When a woman must choose between her job and caring for her spouse because they are not covered by the FMLA, DOMA is not “neutral.” DOMA is not a “neutral” policy to the thousands of bi-national same-sex couples who have to choose between family and country because they are considered strangers under our immigration laws. It is not a “neutral” policy toward the minor child of a same-sex couple, who is denied thousands of dollars of surviving mother’s or father’s benefits because his parents are not “spouses” under Social Security law.

Exclusion is not neutrality.

Next, the brief indicates that denying gay people our equal rights saves money:

It is therefore permitted to maintain the unique privileges [the government] has afforded to [different-sex marriages] without immediately extending the same privileges, and scarce government resources, to new forms of marriage that States have only recently begun to recognize.

The government goes on to say that DOMA reasonably protects other taxpayers from having to subsidize families like ours. The following excerpt explains:

DOMA maintains federal policies that have long sought to promote the traditional and uniformly-recognized form of marriage, recognizes the right of each State to expand the traditional definition if it so chooses, but declines to obligate federal taxpayers in other States to subsidize a form of marriage that their own states do not recognize.

These arguments completely disregard the fact that LGBT citizens pay taxes ourselves.

We contribute into Social Security equally and receive the same statement in the mail every year. But for us, several of the benefits listed in the statement are irrelevant—our spouses and children will never benefit from them. The parent who asserts that her payments into Social Security should ensure her child’s financial future should she die is not seeking a subsidy. The gay White House employee who works as hard as the person in the next office is not seeking a “subsidy” for his partner’s federal health benefits. He is earning the same compensation without receiving it. And the person who cannot even afford to insure her family because the federal government would treat her partner’s benefits as taxable income—she is not seeking a subsidy.

The government again ignores our experiences when it argues that DOMA § 2 does not impair same-sex couples’ right to move freely about our country as other families can:

DOMA does not affect “the right of a citizen of one State to enter and to leave another state, the right to be treated as a welcome visitor rather than an unfriendly alien when temporarily present in the second State.”

This example shows the fallacy of that argument: a same-sex couple and their child drives cross-country for a vacation. On the way, they are in a terrible car accident. One partner is rushed into the ICU while the other, and their child, begs to be let in to see her, presenting the signed power of attorney that they carry wherever they go. They are told that only “family” may enter, and the woman dies alone while her spouse waits outside. This family was not “welcome.”

As a matter of constitutional law, some of this brief does not even make sense:

DOMA does not discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of federal benefits…. Section 3 of DOMA does not distinguish among persons of different sexual orientations, but rather it limits federal benefits to those who have entered into the traditional form of marriage.

In other words, DOMA does not discriminate against gay people, but rather only provides federal benefits to heterosexuals.

I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones:

And the courts have widely held that certain marriages, performed elsewhere need not be given effect, because they conflicted with the public policy of the forum. See e.g., Catalano v. Catalano, 170 A.2d 726, 728-29 (Conn. 1961) (marriage of uncle to niece, though valid in Italy under its laws, was not valid in Connecticut because it contravened public policy of th[at] state.” [3]

As an American, a civil rights advocate, and a human being, I hold this administration to a higher standard than this brief. In the course of your campaign, I became convinced—and I still want to believe—that you do, too. I have seen your administration aspire and achieve. Protecting women from employment discrimination. Insuring millions of children. Enabling stem cell research to go forward. These are powerful achievements. And they serve as evidence to me that this brief should not be good enough for you. The question is, Mr. President—do you believe that it’s good enough for us?

If we are your equals, if you recognize that our families live the same, love the same, and contribute as much as yours, then the answer must be no.

We call on you to put your principles into action and send legislation repealing DOMA to Congress.

Sincerely,
Joe Solmonese

[1] Smelt v. United States of America, Case No. SACV09-00286, Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof (June 11, 2009).
[2] Gates, Gary G. and Jason Ost. The Gay & Lesbian Atlas. District of Columbia: Urban Institute Press, 2004.
[3] In fact, in the majority of relevant cases, courts have recognized the out-of-state marriage. See e.g. Pearson, 51 Cal. 120 (1875) (recognizing the marriage of a white man and black woman entered into in Utah that would have been invalid under California’s anti-miscegenation statute), see also McDonald v. McDonald, 58 P.2d 163 (Cal. 1936) (recognizing in Nevada marriage between a husband and his wife although the husband was only eighteen, a violation of California marriage laws).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Presidential Dogma on DOMA

That was then...



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is now...

LGBT Legal And Advocacy Groups Decry Obama Administration's Defense of DOMA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 12, 2009


We are very surprised and deeply disappointed in the manner in which the Obama administration has defended the so-called Defense of Marriage Act against Smelt v. United States, a lawsuit brought in federal court in California by a married same-sex couple asking the federal government to treat them equally with respect to federal protections and benefits. The administration is using many of the same flawed legal arguments that the Bush administration used. These arguments rightly have been rejected by several state supreme courts as legally unsound and obviously discriminatory.

We disagree with many of the administration’s arguments, for example that DOMA is a valid exercise of Congress’s power, is consistent with Equal Protection or Due Process principles, and does not impinge upon rights that are recognized as fundamental.

We are also extremely disturbed by a new and nonsensical argument the administration has advanced suggesting that the federal government needs to be “neutral” with regard to its treatment of married same-sex couples in order to ensure that federal tax money collected from across the country not be used to assist same-sex couples duly married by their home states.

There is nothing "neutral" about the federal government’s discriminatory denial of fair treatment to married same-sex couples: DOMA wrongly bars the federal government from providing any of the over one thousand federal protections to the many thousands of couples who marry in six states. This notion of “neutrality” ignores the fact that while married same-sex couples pay their full share of income and social security taxes, they are prevented by DOMA from receiving the corresponding same benefits that married heterosexual taxpayers receive. It is the married same-sex couples, not heterosexuals in other parts of the country, who are financially and personally damaged in significant ways by DOMA.

For the Obama administration to suggest otherwise simply departs from both mathematical and legal reality. When President Obama was courting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters, he said that he believed that DOMA should be repealed. We ask him to live up to his emphatic campaign promises, to stop making false and damaging legal arguments, and immediately to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA and ensure that every married couple in America has the same access to federal protections.

Signed,

ACLU , GLAD, Lambda Legal, NCLR, HRC , NGLTF

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A voice of reason and sanity at.... FOX NEWS?!?

Uh... WOW.

I'll admit I don't watch FOX News. But after seeing this I may start to tune in to Shep Smith. It would appear that there is at least one sane, rational talking head there.

Well done Mr. Smith.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Neil Patrick Harris brings the curtain down...

Maybe the best moment of Sunday night’s Tony Awards show was the bawdy closing number performed by Neil Patrick Harris, set to the tunes of “Tonight” (from “West Side Story”) and “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” (from “Guys and Dolls”). With brilliant lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

There's a New York Times article about the "true story" of the song. They also printed the lyrics too so we can all sing along with NPH. Enjoy!



TONIGHT, TONIGHT
THE TONY’S WERE TONIGHT
(cut to cast of “Next To Normal/Billy Elliot”)
AND ELTON’S BILLY WAS ALL THE RAGE

(cut to Angela Lansbury)
WHAT CLASS, WHAT DRIVE
NOW ANGELA’S WON FIVE
(cut to Angela Lansbury & Poison)
AND SHE HOOKED UP WITH “POISON” BACKSTAGE!

(cut to the Billy Boys)
WITH HEELS AS SORE AS POOR ACHILLES
THREE TUTU WEARING BILLYS
WERE SUCH A WINNING SIGHT
(cut to a different shot of Billy Boys)
TONIGHT ALL THREE
WON TONYS PLUS THEY HIT PUBERTY!

(cut to Geoffrey Rush)
AND GEOFFREY WON A TONY TONIGHT
(cut to Karen Olivo)
KAREN WON A TONY TONIGHT
(cut to Liza Minnelli)
LIZA AT THE PALACE
(cut to Alice Ripley)
MR. RIPLEY’S DAUGHTER ALICE
THEY ALL WON A TONY TONIGHT!

“Credits? That’s not gonna stop me!”

(cut to Chris Sieber)
CHRIS SIEBER PLEASE
PERFORMING ON YOUR KNEES?
DUDE, THAT ONLY WORKS TO WIN GOLDEN GLOBES

(cut to “HAIR” performance)
I HOPE TONIGHT
WHEN THEY’RE HIGH AS A KITE
TO BE THERE WHEN THE “HAIR” CAST DISROBES

THIS SHOW COULD NOT BE ANY GAYER
(cut to different shot of Liza)
IF LIZA WAS NAMED MAYOR
(cut to Elton John)
AND ELTON JOHN TOOK FLIGHT

THE CURTAIN FALLS
I’M OFF TO HIT SOME BIG TONY BALLS!
GOODNIGHT!
GOODNIGHT EVERYBODY
GO SEE A BROADWAY SHOW!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Why the UAFA (Uniting American Families Act) is so important...

By Mallory Simon
CNN


(CNN) -- Jared was forced to choose between a dying father and the love of his life.
Martha McDevitt-Pugh, left, moved to the Netherlands and married her partner, Lin, to be together. Judy Rickard had to quit her job and lose her full pension to be with the one she loved.

Martha McDevitt-Pugh packed up and moved to another country to be with her future spouse.

"Nobody should be in that position. Nobody should have to be an exile," Rickard said.

But all three said their hands were forced by federal immigration laws that don't allow Americans to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex partners for citizenship as a man may do for his wife or a woman for her husband.

"The problem is that I, as a woman, cannot sponsor my female partner for immigration. If I was a man or [my partner] Karin was a man, we wouldn't be having this discussion," said Rickard, 61.

She now travels outside the United States whenever she can to be with her partner, Karin Bogliolo, 68, who had to go back to Britain when her visa expired last year, but it's not the life together they dreamed of.

"I am finally with someone I really want to be with," Bogliolo said. "But we haven't got all the time in the world. We're both getting old." Watch couple's emotional plea to live together



An estimated 36,000 bi-national couples face the same dilemma each year, according to an advocacy group, Immigration Equality.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill for the first time Wednesday, after 10 previous attempts to have hearings on the Uniting American Families Act. The bill has 102 co-sponsors in the House and 17 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council which opposes same sex marriage, has condemned the bill as "yet another attack on marriage at the expense of U.S. taxpayers." Watch what's at stake in the same-sex immigration fight »

"Although Leahy frames the policy as an anti-discrimination measure, the truth is, this weakens our federal law and chips away at the unique status of marriage," Perkins wrote in a blog on the group's Web site.

"For the federal government to recognize homosexual pairs in any way, shape, or form is a violation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act."

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, who is openly gay, is a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill, but thinks it should be part of a larger immigration reform measure, according to his spokesman, Harry Gural.

Gural said Frank "doubts that it will be taken up in this Congress because of the overwhelming need to deal with other issues like financial regulation, climate change and health care." Gural said Frank supports the bill, but "he's just a pragmatist."

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from couples facing deportation and split because of the law. Nineteen other countries, including much of western Europe and Canada, Brazil and Australia among others, allow nationals to sponsor same-sex partners for citizenship.

"We're not asking for anything special," Rickard said. "This is a civil rights issue; it's about basic rights and right now, we are considered second-class citizens. But this bill, if it passed, it would mean quite simply that we could be equal."

The committee heard from opponents like Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that supports a restrictive immigration policy and the deportation of illegal immigrants. She testified that immigration numbers in the United States are already staggering and the bill would put further stress on the system.

Vaughan said that because the bill would allow sponsoring of "permanent partnerships," it would be difficult to accept applications because there was no documentation for those, the way there are for marriages.

"Without documents, how do you establish the relationship is bona fide?" she said. "And if we are going to make this change, it should be across all federal levels, not just immigration. What about Social Security and Medicare?"

For some same-sex couples, it is enough to start with immigration.

Jared, a Dutch national living in this country illegally who asked to be identified only by his English nickname, fell in love with Melvin Terry in 1978 while traveling in Europe. He had been with Terry for 18 years when he was told by the U.S. government that he had to leave.

"The fact that the government has the right to tell you your relationship is invalid, it's more than frustrating, it's insulting," Terry said.

Then, Jared's dad became ill in the Netherlands.

He was forced to choose whether to go back home to see his father before he died and risk being denied entry back into the United States because he is HIV-positive or of staying with Terry and never seeing his father again.

His father made the choice for him, sending him a letter and underlining "don't even think about coming here." And so for 13 years, Jared, 49, has remained in the United States illegally to be with his 62-year-old partner. iReport.com: Couple must live in Germany

Canadian Chris Waddling, who came to the United States to study and work beginning in 1994 as a research scientist, is one of the lucky ones -- his employer at UCSF has agreed to sponsor him for a green card and permanent residency.

But Waddling says he sees inequality every day at work, in the shape of a female coworker who married a foreign man and could sponsor him.

"Every single time somebody gets a green card based on a spouse's support, it's one more person who has jumped ahead of me in a line I should be in," Waddling said.

Martha McDevitt-Pugh, founder and chairwoman of the advocacy group Love Exiles, gave up waiting for things to change and moved to the Netherlands so she could be with her Dutch partner, Lin McDevitt-Pugh.

The two married in the Netherlands, but Martha McDevitt-Pugh has struggled to find work abroad.

"I realized that what I had in the U.S. I was never going to have that again," she said. "I wanted to have the same choice as everyone else and that was what made me so angry."

The McDevitt-Pughs are hopeful this will be the year things will change, and they encourage all gay people to stand up for the rights they deserve.

"What we have on our side is love," Lin McDevitt-Pugh said. "I know that those in exile are in exile because they love somebody so much that they are willing to leave their country and their families."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A clear consise examination of Marriage Equality

To be honest, I think most people here in CA are just sick of this whole debate. Not because the question of equal rights for all Californians is something we don't care about, but more because the arguments opponents of civil rights use when trying to make their case.

Folks like Maggie Gallagher and James Dobson, (who do not even live here in CA and certainly don't pay taxes here.) are determined to be the ones who decide which citizens of my state get civil rights and which do not.

I know dozens of Gay and Lesbian couples,and families that simply want the same rights as everyone else. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. Yet the arguments oppoents use to make a case against giving same sex couples equal rights are at best, ridiculous, and in all truth, bigoted and hateful.

The video below isone of the best examinations of the debate that I've seen so far..

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I wonder if James Dobson's head has exploded yet...

This was issued yesterday from the White House...


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release June 1, 2009

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

BARACK OBAMA
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Don't you just hate that whole "Liberty and Justice for All" nonsense?