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2006: What's Next for Oregon's Gay Rights Movement

Friday, December 30, 2005

This is part two of a two-part report on what 2005 brought for Oregon's gay community and what is coming for Oregon's gay rights movement in 2006. Read Part One here.

As 2006 approaches, Oregon's GLBT rights movement has a lot to look forward to. It is inevitably going to be a year of ups and downs - though my predictions are many more ups - than downs. Why? Because every indication is that it is our time. We have an opportunity to make change like never before on our own terms. Opportunity, though, is only part of the equation. In order to create major change, we need to have a bigger base of involvement from not only the gay community, but also our straight allies.

To understand why we are now poised for change like never before, you first have to understand where we have been. This year--2006 will mark the ten year anniversary of Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), the largest and most influential GLBT rights advocacy group in Oregon. (The organization has been in some sort of existence for nearly 18 years, it's only officially been called Basic Rights Oregon for 10 years)

What would later become BRO was formed after the first of the Oregon Citizen's Alliance anti-gay ballot measures in 1988 by community members who knew that fighting these ballot measures would require a year-round organization, not just a periodic campaign. And the founders of BRO also knew that we couldn't just be defensive-we needed an organization in Oregon that would proactively work for equality.

While change has been made (look at anti-discrimination ordinances in counties and cities across the state as just one example of success), the truth is that our movement and the activism of Oregonians on GLBT issues has been largely defined by and limited to defending ourselves from extremist attacks at the ballot and in the legislature. That's partly because those battles sucked every bit of energy and resources we had out of our movement.

What many Oregonians don't know was that after each defensive ballot measure campaign over the past two decades the movement and BRO as an organization were deeply wounded. BRO was nearly always left with no continuous, experienced staff, in significant debt and forced to start from square one to rebuild for the next battle. Going into Measure 36, BRO wanted to make sure that this would not be the case - and they succeeded in that hope ending the campaign with continuous staff an enormous base of volunteers that followed into the legislative session and no campaign debt. And even though our community lost at the ballot, we came out on top on other fronts.

Ladies and gentlemen we are no longer on the defensive. While we should never forget that we are and will continue to be under attack in some way or another - we will spend 2006 and beyond working for equality on our terms. Our community is now more visible than ever before. The terms of the struggle have changed. Mark my words: 2006 will be unapologetic, determined and strategic. It will prove to be a banner year in the fight for full equality here in Oregon. And, although we may not see that work result in visible victory in 2006, we will lay a foundation this year that ensures that we will win. What we do now will determine the next five, ten and even twenty years of Oregon's fight for equal treatment under the law. The work is now within the movement, within the community. Oregon is ready - and we all need to demand nothing less than their full attention.

According to Rebekah Kassell, Communications Director at Basic Rights Oregon, BRO has developed, with much community input, a three-year strategy plan to build political power and create lasting change. This plan requires that we work on each and every front available to us to create change - be it in the state legislature, state courts or our own neighborhood.

BRO's three-year plan means that this year the organization will work to elect fair-minded candidates to the Oregon Legislature (particularly the Oregon House) and county and local governments. BRO will also work to challenge those legislators that stood in the way of equality in 2005. We all know who these people are - and no I am not pinpointing just one person.

This is all a part of a strategy to go into the 2007 legislative session with as much political power as possible.

My gut feeling is that if the Oregon legislature will not act - the movement will go from city-to-city, county-by-county until every single GLBTQ person in this state is protected by an anti-discrimination ordinance. And shit - if it were me, I'd be filing lawsuit after lawsuit until we see progress. Wishful thinking?

BRO will also work to build grassroots power in key legislative districts and counties around the state-power that if harnessed will help us to win in the legislature AND at the ballot, whether it is a proactive measure put forward by our community or defending against another attack from the radical right. This can take many forms, including mini campaigns to pass antidiscrimination ordinances or forming a Basic Rights Action Team.

Public Education will be a huge part of the work in 2006 as well. We all know that all the power in the world can only create temporary wins in 2006 if we don't change hearts and minds at the same time.

Oregon courts will also play an important role in the fight for equality. BRO has already filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Measure 36 and that case will be heard by the Oregon Court of Appeals in mid-2006. In addition, BRO promises to file additional lawsuits to force the state to answer constitutional questions about whether the state can legally discriminate against couples and individuals based on sexual orientation. Our opinion? NO.

"We cannot afford to approach our fight from only one angle," said Rebekah Kassell of Basic Rights Oregon in an interview with GayRightsWatch.com. "No movement has ever achieved full equality by pursuing only one method of change. Courts have always played a leading role, but courts alone will not end discrimination. Public education is important to build support for equality, but public education alone is not enough. We already have more than 80% support statewide for anti-discrimination legislation, but that public will does not automatically translate into law. Grassroots power is critical to success in ballot measure or legislative campaigns, but massive lobbying from around the state can't by itself make a bill the law. And, working to take Speaker of the House Karen Minnis out of office is an important way to build political power, but to really win we need to change more than one seat in the Oregon legislature this year."

Kassell continued, "Each of these components works together in our 3-year campaign. 2006 is just the beginning, but it will set the tone for where we end up and how quickly we reach our goal of full equality in this state."

So, to my fellow Oregonians - we've got a huge year ahead of us. It is a lot of work and I hope that Oregon's GLBTQ community will join together in this fight. DO NOT expect that others will do it for you. YOU need to be involved. Gay, straight - whatever. If you are an ally, it's time to come out of the woodwork. Contribute. Volunteer. Or at a minimun just sign up for the email updates. Get involved - stay involved.

It's been a wonderful year here on Gay Rights Watch and I hope you all continue to come back. Peace out boys and girls. This is our last post of 2005. Next week we will feature a special report about Portland's own, newly established, Q Center.

Have a fantastic New Years!

Post by Bryan Harding

2005: A Look Back at Oregon's Gay Rights Movement

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

This is part one of a two-part report on what 2005 brought for Oregon's gay community and what is coming for Oregon's gay rights movement in 2006. Part two is now availabble and can be viewed here.

In 2004, a movement and a community that had been accustomed to fending off attacks for decades - finally held in its hand, a little bit of what is possible if everyone was treated equally under the law. The positive thing about it was that it made the community hungry and impatient for nothing less than full equality in a way that had not yet been possible.

Following this euphoria, thought, the community had to get real about what creates long term change. What creates long term, lasting change is partially big moments of glory like that in Multnomah County and around the country in 2004 as thousands of couples wed, but more often it is years of perseverance and the willingness to work as hard as ever for small victories. The victories may not be as sexy, nor as glorious as full equality, nonetheless they are all victories.

"We should not minimize the small victories we achieve each day in this movement, because a lot of effort from everyone in this movement goes into even those small wins. These small victories are like rungs on a ladder", Rebekah Kassell of Basic Rights Oregon tells GayRightsWatch.com. "With each step we move up, and each step makes it easier to get to the next. At this time we need to climb a series of ladders - some one right after the next; some simultaneously."

As we take a look back at the year that was 2005, we saw a slight positive change in public opinion regarding marriage equality in Oregon and, despite a ballot measure loss in 2004 that many said would put a damper on the movement, a big increase in visibility and activism. Whereas in the past, about less than 100 activists would show up to lobby or rally at the capitol in any given year, this year the numbers swelled to thousands - I personally witnessed many with more than one-thousand people in attendance at various capitol events demanding equal treatment under the law.

In 2005, we saw the most progress to date on GLBT issues. Think back to Senate Bill 1000. Never in history had every single legislator been lobbied from constituents in their districts on a GLBT rights bill. This year that happened. We saw bi-partisan support on our bill and issues, even support from rural Republicans. Every single hearing on SB1000 was packed. Supporters of fairness and equality outnumbered the opposition at each one of those hearings, giving truly remarkable testimony. We outnumbered the opposition in the number of clergy, as well as business persons, that wanted to see our bill passed.

2005 also marked the first time that any governor in the United States had sponsored and pushed forward a bill like SB1000. Some have been critical of the Governor and while we won't get into those criticisms here, the Governor's actions were not insignificant. Thank you Gov. Kulongoski.

This past year also marked one of the most historic events in the history of the gay rights movement in Oregon. SB1000 passed the Oregon State Senate with bi-partisan support. The first time such legislation had even been given a committee hearing - let alone pass in one of the chambers.

And we had the votes to pass the bill if it had come to a vote on the floor of the Oregon House. While we all know and are disappointed that that didn't happen, even the actions of Speaker of the House Karen Minnis who singlehandedly blocked the bill from becoming the law represent a victory of sorts, "When it came to the Oregon House, we had a Speaker of the House whose actions indicated that she knew SB1000 had achieved a level of support even in the Republican-controlled House that scared her enough to take extreme measures to block our legislation from receiving a debate or vote in the House," Kassell said. "That in and of itself says that we have established a level of political power and credibility that allows all of us in Oregon to take this movement to the next level."

We've put together an archive of all of our coverage during SB1000. I encourage you to take a look back. Click here to view it. (opens in new window)

In 2005, Martinez v. State of Oregon was filed by roughly a dozen Oregon couples and clergy by attorneys for Basic Rights Oregon. This lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the notoriously anti-gay and anti-family Measure 36. Though we lost in the first round, we still have more rounds to go in this case as it heads to the Oregon Supreme Court and the decision at the lower court level is said by legal experts to position our side for a strong fight in the Oregon Court of Appeals. Arguments in that case are expected to take place mid-summer.

Some in the movement have taken a nay-sayers approach--noting that we've done all this work and yet still have no tangible change in the law. If our movement was only a year-by-year effort, I might agree, but the fact is, it's not. This is a decades long struggle that began long before this movement and will continue long after. And, I don't think we can minimize the important work that is being done to get us one step closer to equality each day.

Basic Rights Oregon's Rebekah Kassell says, "It's easy to dismiss all of these accomplishments over the past year as simply being BRO or legislative or legal PR spin - but the fact is that everyone who lobbied, contributed time or money or participated in any way deserve credit for these victories. In every civil rights movement there are always wins and losses. Right now the losses may seem more significant than they in fact are in the long run and our wins may seem insignificant now to many but will surely prove to be more defining than even we realize now, as we look back on what was."

Post by Bryan Harding

Check back Friday for part two in this report. "2006: What's Next for Oregon's Gay Rights Movement"

Ireland May Be Next To Recognize Gay Unions

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Republic of Ireland may follow the United Kingdom in legalizing same-sex relationships.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell met with LGBT community leaders in Dublin following the first civil partnership ceremonies in the UK and announced a the creation of a government committee to examine ways of recognizing gay unions.

McDowell said that the working group would look at various options and make recommendations to the government in March.

"Our view is that the center of gravity in Ireland has shifted," said McDowell. "Irish people know that being fair to everyone in the community is good for the community."

This week's meeting between the minister and the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) was the latest of a series of discussions over the past few months.

"We are arguing for equality of rights and responsibilities in relationships, we are arguing for civil marriages," said Kieran Rose, GLEN chairperson. "This is the last measure to finally declare lesbians and gay men are full and equal citizens in Ireland," he said.

McDowell said he also would support amendments to Ireland's immigration laws saying he believed the current laws were hampering foreign gay partners coming to Ireland and making it difficult for same-sex couples to have long-term relationships recognized.

He also said he supports adoption for same-sex couples adding that he believes gays and lesbians are "as good or as bad as heterosexual parents."

Read more here.

Brokeback Mountain: Expanding to 400 theaters

Friday, December 23, 2005

Brokeback Mountain is now only showing in 69 theaters nationwide. Focus Features is ramping up distribution plans for "Brokeback Mountain," going to 275 theaters on Jan. 6 and 400 on Jan. 13; much more than the 300 originally planned for the end of January. Also, test screenings at two conservative theaters - including one in Plano, Texas, that was among the highest grossers for "Passion of the Christ" - showed "Brokeback" ranking No. 2 and No. 3 in their complexes, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.]

The second weekend tally is in, and it looks like "Brokeback Mountain" is well on its way to match its critical acclaim with audience appeal. In its first weekend in broader release, the unusual Western love story - don't call it "the gay cowboy movie," says everyone associated with it - pulled in $2.4 million playing in just 69 theaters.

My boyfriend and I saw it on Wednesday night. I had read the reviews and heard the acclaim from friends - though it was not what I was expecting. It left me with a strange feeling... sort of a shocked feeling. Everyone calls it the 'gay cowboy' movie, which I guess it is. Though at the same time you seem to completely forget the gay aspect of the film. It's truly a love story, a painful one at that. Both Heath and Jake do an amazing job - but Heath carries the movie. Emotion spews from the characters even when they do not speak. I highly recommend seeing it.

Make sure to read Meg Daly's review of the movie here.

Sue the Fuckers.

Two girls are suing a Christian school after they were expelled because the principal believes they are lesbians. The students were expelled allegedly for being lesbians have filed a lawsuit against a Christian high school.

The complaint claims the California Lutheran High School Association - which oversees operation of a high school in Wildomar, Calif. - engaged in discrimination, invasion of privacy and unfair business practices in its handling and ultimate dismissal of two juniors, who are not named to protect their privacy, the North County Times in Southern California reported.

The students were called into the office of Principal Gregory Bork Sept. 7, the lawsuit claims, where Bork "individually and separately interrogated the (students) in a closed room, without the parents' knowledge or consent... and asked (them) inappropriate and personal questions such as whether they loved one another and were lesbians."

"In such a manner, Bork coerced one of the (students) to admit that she 'loves' the other," a court document states.

The next day, the parents received a phone call from Bork informing them the board had decided to expel the students. One day later, the parents confronted the principal in person and by phone and were told the two girls could not remain at school "with those feelings."

Bork wrote a letter Sept. 15 to the parents stating "while there is no open physical contact between the two girls, there is still a bond of intimacy... characteristic of a lesbian (relationship). ...Such a relationship is unchristian. To allow the girls to attend (Cal Lutheran) ... would send a message to students and parents that we either condone this situation and/or will not do anything about it. That message would not reflect our beliefs and principles."

Read more here.

Pentagon Spied on U.S. Gay Groups

Pentagon officials have spied on student groups opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly gay military personnel, according to media reports but there's more...

A February protest at New York University was one of the events under government surveillance, NBC News reported last week.

The network reported that the law school's gay advocacy group, OUTlaw, was classified as "potentially violent" by the Pentagon.

"I was shocked to read that OUTLaw was classified as a threat and investigated," OUTlaw Co-chair Rebecca Fisher said in a telephone interview on Monday. "Since we still don't know how the Pentagon went about investigating us, I'm wondering how far they went in invading our personal privacy to make their determination. Did they read our e-mail? Monitor our meetings?"

Ellen Kranke, a Department of Defense spokesperson who handles issues regarding sexual orientation at the Pentagon, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Fisher said the Bush administration continues to display an attitude that is anything but democratic.

"For all its talk about democracy and free speech, this administration seems to feel very threatened by our peaceful exercise of our First Amendment rights," Fisher said. "This does not reflect the values of our Constitution. It's what you'd expect to see in a totalitarian police state, not in a country founded on freedom of conscience."

NBC also reported that a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" protest at University of California Santa Cruz, which included a gay kiss-in, was labeled as a "credible threat" of terrorism by the Pentagon.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group dedicated to helping military members affected by the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, condemned the Pentagon surveillance and monitoring.

"The Pentagon is supposed to defend the Constitution, not turn it upside down," Dixon Osburn, SLDN executive director, said in a statement released Dec. 20. "Students have a first amendment right to protest and Americans have a right to expect that their government will respect our constitutional right to privacy."

Read more here.

Posted by Bryan Harding

Patterns of male aggression vary with sexual orientation

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Young men can be aggressive - even during the season of goodwill. Now, a new study by University of East London (UEL) psychologist Tom Dickins shows how patterns of male aggression vary with sexual orientation.

According to the findings of the study, forthcoming in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, homosexual men score higher for empathy and show significantly lower levels of physical aggression than heterosexual men.

Read the rest here.

Posted by Bryan Harding

Kudos Kari: The Oregon Politcal Tax Credit

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Today on BlueOregon, Kari put up a great reminder for us. Since this is a 'single-issue' blog, we're going to push for our Oregon readers to take advantage of the Oregon Political Tax Credit and use it towards the Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC. It's so easy. You contribute $50 - you get $50. It's basically free money from the State of Oregon (and what could be better?). As Kari said, "You've got a free $50. Now spend it."

So I am making a pitch. Donate your $50 to the Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC. The Equality PAC (Political Action Committee) is responsible for electing fair-minded candidates into office. This year it is even more important after the desecration of our civil unions/anti-discrimination bill (SB 1000).

From BlueOregon:

Through our tax system, the State of Oregon gives each tax-paying Oregonian a $50 gift. But you can't keep it. Instead, you must either pay it back in state taxes -- or donate it to a qualified political campaign or cause.

To put it another way: By donating $50 to a political campaign of your choice, you can reduce your taxes or increase your refund by that same $50. That's right: it's a full 100% credit, not a deduction.

Many folks forget to use their Oregon Political Tax Credit in these odd-numbered, non-election years. Don't let that be you.

Remember - you can't keep the $50. Either you pay it in your taxes - or you give it to a political candidate, campaign, or party of your choice.

So people - it's $50. Donate it and it comes right off of your state taxes. It's seriously that easy. Click here to donate to the Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC. Hint - MAKE SURE you click on the checkbox to give to the Equality PAC as that is where you will get your Oregon Political Tax Credit.

For other progressive organizations - check out the list that Kari has put together here.

Posted by Bryan Harding

They said it was about marriage. But now they're suing to take away health care.

Go figure. We've said it before and we'll say it again. These hypo-Christian groups that are fighting against marriage equality are NOT just anti-gay marriage. They are simply anti-gay. Anything they can do to keep the gays down - they will do it, even when it comes to basic health care needs for families.

"They", in this case are the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund. Two days before Thanksgiving, they filed a lawsuit with an ultraconservative Ohio legislator. They claim that Miami University's benefits for domestic partners violate Ohio's antigay marriage amendment. If they win, many LGBT people in Ohio could be stripped of their health care and similar cases could be filed in other states.

Lambda Legal has intervened in the case on behalf of two couples. Their clients include Jean Lynch and Helenka Marculewicz, who've been together for 20 years. Jean is a tenured professor at Miami University and relies on her domestic partner benefits to cover Helenka, whose employer does not provide health insurance. When Helenka had knee surgery last summer, it was covered by Jean's plan. Now the Alliance Defense Fund wants to take away Helenka's health care.

WTF? Learn more here.

Gavin Newsom: The Next Great Progressive Leader

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I went to a little fundraiser for Gavin Newsom last Monday night at SauceBox here in downtown Portland. Now, I've said it before - the man is sexy in so many ways. This was my first time actually meeting Mayor Newsom in person. It was a great event - and I saw many familiar faces including Kari Chisholm of BlueOregon.

At one point in the night, Gavin went behind the bar and stood on it in order to make his speech to the entire crowd. It was impassioned and bold. The man knows what he stands for, and he's not afraid to say it. I walked away that night with an even stronger sense that this man, Gavin Newsom, is destined to move up the political ladder and make a great leader in this nation. I can't wait to see that day.

Posted by Bryan Harding

Ford Shareholders Played Part in Reversal

As we've been talking about, Ford caved to the demands of the American Family Association, for about a week, when threatened with a boycott. Gay rights groups went crazy and demanded that Ford reverse its decision - they did.

Turns out that it was a lot more than just pressure from GLBT groups. Ford shareholders played a large part in the decision to not alienate the gay and lesbian community.

From 365gay.com:
But the decision may not have been the result of pressure from gay groups, but rather from at least two large institutional shareholders who supports LGBT issues.

One of them was the New York State Local Retirement System - the biggest state pension plan in the country.

Its administrator, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi confirmed Friday that he contacted Ford Chair William Clay Ford Jr. to voice his displeasure that the company had appeared to cave-in to demands from the AFA.

In a letter to Ford, Hevesi said he wanted the know the reasons behind the decision.

"I am interested to know what cost/benefit analysis you performed in order to reach the conclusion that ending advertising to that particular customer base would be a positive strategic move for the company," Hevesi wrote in his letter to the chair.

Hevesi not only pointed out the importance of diversity, but the importance of being seen as unbiased. He also noted that the LGBT market is worth an estimated $610 billion annually.

Hevesi is the sole trustee of the retirement fund which controls about 9.4 million shares of Ford stock valued about $107 million.

Ford, which this year teetered on economic disaster was concerned that its position could be weakened by shareholder dissent sources within the company said.

The company officially maintains the intervention of Hevesi and other shareholder groups played no part in the final decision to maintain its LGBT ads and made no mention of the groups in its statement to gay rights groups.

Posted by Bryan Harding

A Minor Redesign

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thoughts? Like it the old way better? Let us know if there are any issues in formatting on your browser - like if anything renders funky. Thanks!

My name is Bryan and I'm a homosexual. Whew!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

And no, that is not my picture... it's none other than "Accuracy" in Media's (AIM) editor Cliff Kincaid called for a "Quit Gay Sex" campaign - calling the "homosexual lifestyle" 'dangerous' and 'addictive'. I wonder why the "heterosexual lifestyle" isn't dangerous and addictive?

Should I check myself in for addiction?
My name is Bryan and I'm a homosexual. What a relief to finally say it after 23 years! Give me a fucking break.

Read more here.

Posted by Bryan Harding

Top Ten Signs You're A Gay Cowboy

Drum roll please...

10. "Your saddle is Versace"
9. "Instead of 'Home On The Range', you sing 'It's Raining Men'"
8. "You enjoy ridin', ropin', and redecoratin'"
7. "Sold your livestock to buy tickets to 'Mamma Mia'"
6. "After watching reruns of 'Gunsmoke', you have to take a cold shower"
5. "Native Americans refer to you as 'Dances With Men'"
4. "You've been lassoed more times than most steers"
3. "You're wearing chaps, yet your 'ranch' is in Chelsea"
2. "Instead of a saloon you prefer a salon"
1. "You love riding, but you don't have a horse"

From David Letterman's Top Ten last night. Brokeback Mountain opens tomorrow, Friday the 16th. Read our review here.

Posted by Bryan Harding

BREAKING: Ford Explains it's Actions, Agrees to Advertise in GLBT Publications

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I have to say that this seems like a victory for us. I'd love to see the statement from the American Family Association after this. After meeting with a large coalition of gay and lesbian groups on Monday, Ford sent out this press release today.

Ford said that it WILL continue to advertise in GLBT publications, whereas they were going to pull Land Rover and Jaguar ads - they will now be advertising all 8 of their brands in GLBT publications.

They will in fact target their ads to gay and lesbians. Ford said the following in its statement:

"You asked us to comment on reports that we had placed creative restrictions on the way our brands could speak to gay and lesbian audiences. We expect our brands to create advertising that supports their brand image and is appropriate and effective in connecting with the intended audience. That is unchanged. But we do not have to deal with this topic in the abstract. The best answer to your question will be in the ads themselves. I would ask you to judge our intent by what you see."

Read it here.

In a joint statement from the GLBT groups...

Hail "Reaffirmation of Commitment to Our Community and American Values"

Coalition Statement

"We welcome today's statement from Ford Motor Company and commend their firm stance in support of inclusion. It is an unequivocal reaffirmation of Ford's historic commitment to our community and the core American values of fairness and equality. Moreover, it is conclusive proof of what Ford leaders have repeatedly assured us -- that there never was any deal with anti-LGBT organizations concerning Ford's support for our community.

We are proud to be back in gear with Ford and look forward to working with them in the years ahead."

You all can draw your own conclusions.

Posted by Bryan Harding

Under Pressure From KKK, Ford Pulls Ads From Black Media

That's the headline of a story in one of the TOP corporate communications publications in the country that EVERY public relations agency reads. They eviscerate Ford.

At this point, the damage to Ford now goes FAR BEYOND any threatened damage from the extremist gay-hating groups. Ford better wake up fast and compare the publicity they got when the AFA threatened a boycott this past May with the publicity they're getting now that they caved to the AFA. There is no comparison. We have already damaged their brand - THEY have already damaged their brand - far beyond anything the AFA could have hoped for even had it launched a boycott.

- John @ AmericaBlog

From The Holmes Report:
Okay, so that's not quite the story, although the KKK should probably give it a try, because if Ford's craven response to pressure from the American Family Association is any indication, the company would buckle under at the first sign of trouble...

Ford spokesman Mike Moran told Washington, D.C.'s Metro Weekly: "Some months ago we began a constructive dialogue with them, just as we do with other customers and interest groups. While we don't agree on all issues, we expect the dialogue to continue so that we understand each other better." When asked whether the advertising was being discontinued because of the threatened boycott, Moran admitted that "ceasing advertising is an outgrowth of those meetings."

But later in the week, as human rights advocates began to attack the company's decision, Ford was telling reporters from the mainstream media that the decision to discontinue advertising was based on cost-cutting considerations. "As [the Jaguar and Land Rover brands] begin planning their marketing for next year," said Moran, "they've streamlined their budgets."

Assuming the earlier quotes are a reflection of the company's true motives-and given the timing of the announcement, and the fact that the AFA had an official statement on its website before Ford did, that's a reasonable assumption-there are two possible explanations for the company's actions.

The first is that Ford management sat down to discuss the whole issue of homosexuality in America and came to the conclusion that the AFA was right: that the "gay and lesbian agenda" had been pushed too far, that the growing acceptance of homosexuals among the general public was undermining the fabric of our society. The company felt it needed to make a principled stand against the campaign for equal rights, to draw a line in the sand, and to make it clear that homosexuality is so repellent that Ford no longer wants the business of the gay community.

The second is that Ford management sat down to discuss not the principles at stake but the cost in time and energy and financial resources of fighting the AFA versus the cost of capitulation. And it decided that the easiest course, the path of least resistance, would be to give in the AFA's demands and hope the group would go find some other company-one more concerned with integrity than expediency-to threaten with a boycott.

Neither explanation is particularly palatable...

Forty years ago, at the height of the civil rights struggle, the KKK had about the same economic influence, popular support and moral authority the American Family Association enjoys today. It's hard to imagine that Ford then would have negotiated with the Klan, far less given it an excuse to claim victory. The company's surrender to the AFA tells you all you need to know about the quality of leadership at Ford today.

Read entire piece here.

HT to AmericaBlog for this piece.

Bush Silences Gays at White House Conference on Aging

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
365gay.com reports: Once every 10 years authorities on aging gather for the White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA). They meet, present papers and make recommendations to the President and the Congress on national aging policies for the future.

The 2005 WHCoA is the fifth in the history of the United States and the first of the 21st Century. But, this conference, under the Bush Administration, any discussion on aging in the LGBT community has been squelched.

Today at a press conference elder advocates challenged the administration for refusing to include sexual orientation, gender identity and other vulnerable populations in its resolutions.

In addition, critics - including some WHCoA delegates - said rigid conference procedures and vague resolutions are preventing substantive discussion of critical aging issues, such as improving the cultural competency of service providers; providing adequate funding for the implementation of elder care services; and bolstering the economic security of a diverse aging population.

"The amount of control over this conference is appalling," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"It's outrageous that, in 2005 at the White House Conference on Aging, LGBT issues are not only excluded, but that there is no opportunity to officially introduce these issues into the discussion whatsoever."

By contrast, more than 2,200 delegates attended the 1995 conference, which allowed for resolutions to be submitted by delegates and considered on the floor.

This year, procedures permit no such input from delegates, whose numbers this year have been restricted to just 1,200.

Sexual orientation and gender identity were included in 1995 resolutions, but were ultimately eliminated. Now, 10 years later, sexual orientation and gender identity were not even included in resolutions at any juncture - nor has there been any opportunity for such inclusion - at WHCoA, which concludes on Wednesday.

Official WHCoA delegate Terry Kaelber - the only delegate invited from an LGBT organization - slammed the WHCoA at today's press conference at the WHCoA site in Washington, saying there has been a "concerted effort" by the administration to "limit discussion and control the outcome" at the WHCoA.

"The process has been to exclude, not include," said Kaelber, executive director of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). The New York delegation fired off a letter to the WHCoA policy committee - whose members are appointed by the president and Congress and in essence runs the show - questioning the integrity of the entire process. The letter was unanimously adopted by the delegation late last night and sent to the committee. The California delegation also expressed similarly strong criticism of the undemocratic process at the WHCoA.

Speakers at the press conference said government's failure to officially acknowledge the existence of LGBT elders means many of that population's particular needs will continue to go unmet.

Those concerns include the creation of an accepting climate among senior service providers so that LGBT elders are not forced to compromise their sexual orientation or gender identity in order to receive medical care and services. There is a need for caregivers who are properly trained in working with LGBT seniors.

Additionally elder care workers say there is a need to strengthen the legal recognition of LGBT relationships, including more equitable taxation, the ability to make medical care decisions and hospital visitation rights; and the need for meaningful participation in planning.

Brokeback Mountain Shatters Box Office Records

Sunday, December 11, 2005

You know - it's quite funny. Last week I was reading an article written by Focus on the Family regarding Brokeback Mountain. Christian extremists decided not to boycott the movie because it would only give the movie more publicity...

Focus on the Family stated the following:
Baehr said gay films usually do poorly at the box office.

The average homosexual movie averages only 600,000 dollars," Baehr said. "To put that in context for people, at six dollars a ticket, that's a hundred thousand people. In a country of 295 million people, it doesn't even register."

First of all where the hell can you get a movie ticket for $6 anymore? Though back to the point... not to burst their bubble, but Brokeback Mountain opened on Friday night in 3 cities (San Francisco, New York and LA) on a total of 5 screens and shattered records. The estimated three-day box office take was $544,549, an average of $109,000 per screen. This is both the highest per-screen average for any film released in 2005, and the highest per-screen average ever for an adult drama, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Focus on the Family went on to say such the following statements in their "review" of the movie:
"If you're not looking at this through the eyes of someone caught up in the 'love affair' between these two men," Baehr said, "then the movie appears to be twisted, laughable, frustrating and boring Neo-Marxist homosexual propaganda."

Whether it can draw large audiences may well be the real test - a sign of how successful gay activists have been.

Price said the movie will probably have trouble drawing an audience - because it has what he called a high "ick" factor.

That includes, Baehr explained, a "San Quentin-type rape scene" of sex between the two cowboys.

"If they're not vomiting their way out of the theater when they see that scene, they are certainly going to be uncomfortable, and even in the uncomfortable aspects, they are going to be bored silly," he said.

Wow - I'm even more excited to see it now.

On Friday, December 16, Brokeback Mountain opens in 21 additional markets on approximately 60 screens in cities such as Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Portland, and Washington DC.

On Saturday, December 10, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named "Brokeback Mountain" the year's best movie and Ang Lee as the year's best director. Brokeback has also won a whole bunch of other very noteworthy awards. I guess "it's a sign of how successful gay activists have been".

Don't forget to read Gay Rights Watch's own Meg Daly's take on Brokeback. Read her review here.

For ticket sales click here.

Posted by Bryan Harding

Ford Agrees to Meet With Gay Leaders

Saturday, December 10, 2005

In wake of Ford caving to the notoriously anit-gay and anti-family, "American Family Association", over the threat of a boycott (read story), in turn inviting an unprecedented amount of criticism, they have now agreed to meet with national GLBT groups over the company's decision to pull advertising from the gay media. The GLBT groups have been demanding it all week.

A huge coalition over gay rights groups demanded an explanation from Ford execs. The meeting is on Monday.

The groups include:

  • Family Pride
  • Freedom to Marry
  • Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
  • Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA)
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Mautner Project, the National Lesbian Health Organization
  • Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • National Black Justice Coalition
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National Center for Transgender Equality
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
  • National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
  • National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC)
  • Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
  • PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
  • Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
  • Triangle Foundation

    The Commercial Closet, which educates marketers and ad agencies about the GLBT community, said boycotts against companies that support gays have had little effect.

    "Boycott threats by anti-gay groups have proven over the years to have no measurable or adverse sales impact on targeted companies, including years-long efforts against American Airlines and Disney. As it has always been, success in the marketplace is dictated by the effectiveness of marketing strategies - not approval from bigoted organizations," said Michael Wilke, the executive director of the Commercial Closet in a statement Friday.

    Posted by Bryan Harding

  • Homophobia a Mental Disorder??

    Mental health practitioners say they regularly confront extreme forms of racism, homophobia and other prejudice in the course of therapy, and that some patients are disabled by these beliefs. As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis....

    "When I see someone who won't see a physician because they're Jewish, or who can't sit in a restaurant because there are Asians, or feels threatened by homosexuals in the workplace, the party line in mental health says, 'This is not our problem,' " the psychologist said. "If it's not our problem, whose problem is it?"

    Read the entire article at the WaPo.

    I personally do not agree with this at all. Is a person's fear irrational? Yes. Are there other mental issues that would create this fixation - yes. If homophobia is a metal illness, then people would be able to use it as a defense when killing a gay person. Think about it.

    Head on over to AmericaBlog to read John's insight and to discuss.

    NY: Bloomberg Calls For Legalized Gay Marriage

    Friday, December 09, 2005
    A day after winning a reversal of a court ruling that would have legalized same-sex marriage in New York City, mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will fight for the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed.

    Bloomberg in a statement said that if the Court of Appeals - the highest state in New York - affirms Thursday's ruling he would urge the Legislature to change the law to permit gay marriage.

    Bloomberg's statement was dismissed by LGBT rights groups who note that it is the mayor's office which is fighting the original ruling in Manhattan that would have allowed gay marriage. Lawyers for the mayor also will argue against gay marriage when the issue get to the Court of Appeals.

    Thursday, the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled 4-1 that New York City judge Doris Ling-Cohan erred in her ruling last February and then proceeded to wrap her knuckles for the way she did it.

    "We find it even more troubling that the court, upon determining the statute to be unconstitutional, proceeded to rewrite it and purportedly create a new constitutional right," the four majority justices said.

    In her ruling Ling-Cohan said the state's ban on gay marriage was not only unconstitutional but also that the New York City clerk may not deny a marriage license solely because a couple is of the same sex. Thursday's mid level appeals court ruling was the result of an appeal brought by Bloomberg.

    The case was brought by 5 gay and lesbian couples from Manhattan. The were represented by Lambda Legal.

    is one of three currently working their way up the legal system to New York State's highest court.

    It is expected that all three cases eventually will reach New York's highest Court, the Court of Appeal. It is also expected that the three cases will be rolled together so that the justices can issue a single ruling on same-sex marriage.

    via 365gay.com

    A bit confusing. He is calling for gay marriage - though his lawyer's will be arguing against it. I also came across this interesting piece that I completely agree with...

    New York City journalist and activist Andy Humm quickly moved to distribute a statement which challenges the story as reported. Here is Mr. Humm's statement:

    Why would you repeat this Bloomberg spin?

    Mike Bloomberg refused to support same-sex marriage until the day he went to court to appeal the decision that ordered him to provide licenses to gay couples--an action that Barney Frank among others called "terrible for us" because instead of reaching the high court in New York with thousands of legally married same-sex couples, we have none.

    Bloomberg isn't seeking clarfication from the courts. His Law Department, a formidable powerhouse, is using all of its resources to keep gays from marrying, using arguments from the bible and putting forth the procreative nature of marriage to defend it from same-sex couples. He was under no legal obligation to appeal this decision, but did it in February because he faced a Republican primary challenge from a conservative at the time.

    NY's Statewide gay rights group: Empire State Pride Agenda

    Portland to extend benefits to domestic partners via city contractors

    Portland would be the first city in Oregon and would join roughly 13 other states, counties and cities in the nation to require equal benefits for contractors' employees...

    Eleven years ago, the city of Portland extended health benefits to gay and unmarried domestic partners. Then an Oregon appeals court decision seven years ago required state and local governments to offer spousal benefits to same-sex domestic partners of employees. Now we've got the "EBO" (Equal Benefits Ordinance).

    Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams wants city contractors to extend benefits to their employees' domestic partners, too. The City Council is expected to approve the plan next month.

    "It pales in comparison to the rights gays or lesbians could achieve with gay marriage and civil unions," said Sam Adams. "But given our limited powers, it's what we can do."

    Commissioner Sam's idea would not require companies that offer no benefits to extend them to domestic partners or spouses. But it would require contractors who offer benefits to their employees' spouses to offer the same benefits to their domestic partners.

    The plan has already drawn criticism from conservative groups. Go figure. As I've said before - it's not about gay marriage for these groups - it's plain anti-gay. In this case it's very confusing as it would offer benefits to straight, unmarried couples as well. A bit confusing as to why these conservative groups need to be involved.

    Sam's proposal should pass without an issue. Mayor Tom Potter and commissioners Randy Leonard, Dan Saltzman and Erik Sten support the plan.


    For Adams' proposal, there's a small problem...

    Tigard-based Health Net, which insures 154,000 people in Oregon and Southwest Washington, doesn't offer domestic partner coverage for companies with two to 25 employees. I know this from first hand experience as well - when I started working at my company we had 5 people - we're now at 22 people and still cannot get it from HealthNet, our current health insurance provider.

    The company offers domestic partner coverage for larger employers and is exploring it for smaller ones, a HealthNet spokesperson said.

    Adams' senior policy director, Jesse Beason, said the proposal might possibly grant exemptions for smaller employers who can't get the coverage from their insurance company.

    Roey Thorpe of Basic Rights Oregon stated that Adams' proposal "sets the community standard for nondiscrimination that's really powerful."

    We'll see where it goes - though it is looking quite good at this point. Again, for more on this please visit Sam's blog.

    Posted by Bryan Harding

    New Pickup Truck: The 2006 Ford Klansman

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Damn that's great. via Jesus' General

    American Family Association akin to the Klan and neo-Nazis

    Ford Motor Company's new friend (see this and this), the extremist American Family Association (AFA), is promoting the research of a known "hate group" whose work "echoes Nazi German," according to one of America's premiere civil rights groups.

    The hate group, the Family Research Institute (based in Colorado) is run by a discredited anti-gay researcher named Paul Cameron. What is most troubling about the AFA helping to disseminate Cameron's "research" is that Cameron's "institute" has been declared a "hate group" by the highly-regarded civil rights leader Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization best known for successfully taking on the Klan.

    John Aravosis @ AmericaBlog dives deep into it. Read more here.

    Gavin Newsom: One Sexy Man

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Now when I say that Mayor Gavin Newsom is sexy - it's not simply the whole JFK look that he's got going on, not to mention he is one of the brightest stars among the next generation of progressive leaders in America. It's his political backbone. The man stands up for what he believes in and takes action based on that. He has done amazing things for the GLBT community - most notably standing up for marriage equality in San Francisco.

    When Oregonians needed help in last year's campaign to fight Measure 36, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom stepped up to the plate, making a personal contribution to the campaign and hosting a fundraising reception in California. Now, as the Mayor begins his bid for reelection, you have the chance to meet him in person and thank him for his courage and leadership in our fight for equality. He'll be here in Portland this upcoming Monday, December 12th.

    Click here for more information.

    Posted by Bryan Harding

    Ford to Lose $610 BILLION in Buying Power

    As we continue to report more and more on Ford I thought it would be interesting to research the buying power of the gay and lesbian community. We top the Asian-Americans, Hispanics and African-Americans.

    Gay People have money to spend

  • Influencial at Work - twice as likely to be in management positions. (@Plan 2005)
  • 79% are willing to pay a premium of quality products and services. (Simmons)

    Ford - Get This.
    The GLBTQ community is very "Ad Aware" - 94% of gays and lesbians go out of their way to purchase products and services marketed directly to them in gay media. (Greenfield)
  • 87% of gays and lesbians are highly likely to actively seek out brands that advertise uniquely to them. (Simmons)

    The gay community is educated and affluent
  • Twice as likely to have household income over $250K (@Plan 2005)
  • Over 60% of Gay Americans are College Graduates. (@Plan 2005)
  • Gay adults are less likely to be parents. Therefore, they have more discretionary income and more time for leisure activities.

    The term "pink dollars" means a lot right here. $610 billion dollars is a lot of money. Looks like Ford screwed themselves on this one.

    Another great resource to check out is this automotive industry specific report on the buying trends and power of the GLBT community. See it here (pdf).

    Posted by Bryan Harding

  • BREAKING: Ford Lied. It's Even Worse Than We Thought.

    When Ford caved into the demands by the notoriously anti-gay "American Family Association" by pulling ads for Land Rover and Jag - we thought that was the extent of their cowardice. Turns out we were wrong...

    From AMERICABlog:

    It's over. Ford lied.

    For days Ford has been saying this is just about a few ads. For days Ford has been saying they didn't agree to anything. And for days Ford has been saying Volvo will continue marketing to the gay community.

    Not true.

    We now find out that Ford has agreed to stop supporting gay events. We now find out that Ford's Volvo ads will continue in gay publications, but the ads will no longer target the gay community - meaning, they'll use generic ads that they're using elsewhere.

    Ford didn't just lie, they caved to the AFA big time. A major US corporation is no longer supporting gay and lesbian organizations - something it did to a large degree in the past - because an extremist gay-hating hate group threatened them.

    Ford is dead.

    This is from WardsAuto.com, the publication that broke the Ford story last week, and it's owned by Primedia, it's a real industry publication:

    Ford Motor Co.'s decision to cease advertising in gay publications for its Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands is part of a truce between the auto maker and the American Family Assn. (AFA) to avert a threatened boycott by the right-wing Christian conservative group, Wards learns...

    As part of the latest agreement hammered out Nov. 29, sources confirm Volvo Cars will continue to advertise in the publications but will use generic ads not tailored to the gay community.

    In addition, Ford has agreed not to sponsor any future gay and lesbian events but will continue to maintain its employee policies, such as same-sex partner benefits.

    Gee, isn't that swell. Ford agreed not to viciously revoke its benefits for all of its employees. Gosh, I'm so proud of them. Not to mention, if Ford is stating that it's not revoking its benefits, then it sounds like the religious right wanted them to. Yet Ford told us that the issue was only about a few ads.


    I think about companies like Nike and the integrity they showed during the past Oregon Legislative session. They were threatened with boycott from the same group for sponsoring SB1000, the bill that would have created civil unions and a statewide anti-discrimination policy. They laughed it off. Yet Ford, caved??

    Via HRC you can send a message to Ford: Click Here.

    For Oregon Ford Dealership Contact info click here.

    Posted by Bryan Harding

    Supreme Court Hears Don't Ask Don't Tell Today

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005
    The clash over military recruiters on campus has reached the United States Supreme Court today. The "Don't Ask - Don't Tell" policy is viewed as discriminatory by many institutions of higher education. These campuses have anti-discrimination policies which the military's ban violates. The Supreme Court must decide if schools can refuse to allow military recruiters on campus when the military blatantly discriminates against gays.

    From the Christian Science Monitor:
    At the center of the legal showdown: to what extent military recruiters should have access to law school campuses. The case involves conflicting conceptions of free speech. It also could erode some civil rights laws, which use federal funding to encourage non-discrimination.

    On one side of the current case are a group of law professors and law schools seeking equal treatment of gays interested in serving the nation as members of the armed forces. In protest of the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay individuals from the military, the law schools restricted military recruiters from fully participating in school-sponsored employment events.

    Military recruiters could still come to campuses, but the law schools' employment placement offices would not assist them. The message was that the schools would not abet military discrimination against some of their own students.

    Congress and the Pentagon responded to the law schools' restrictions by passing the Solomon Amendment. It threatens to cut off federal funding to any college or university that does not provide military recruiters the same access to law students as it does to any other potential employer.

    Such a sanction would cost Yale and Harvard universities $300 million a year each in lost federal grants and contracts, according to briefs in the case. New York University would lose $130 million. Overall, universities receive nearly $35 billion a year in federal funding.

    Concerned about the potential impact, the law schools and law professors formed the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights and filed suit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other government officials.

    Rumsfeld v. FAIR is significant because it involves Congress's constitutional authority to raise and support American armed forces at a time of national peril. It also pits Congress's constitutional power to use federal funding as an incentive against the First Amendment right of law schools and law professors to wage protests without facing massive government coercion and retaliation.

    Government lawyers argue that the Solomon Amendment is not a direct command that law schools abandon their protests against military recruiters. It is merely a common-sense condition upon which any donor would insist, they say.

    "The United States makes available substantial federal funding that assists in the education of students, and in return seeks only the same opportunity to recruit those students that is extended to other employers," writes Solicitor General Paul Clement in his brief to the court.

    In effect, the government is placing a price tag on the law school protests. Continue the protests and forfeit the money, or accept the money and allow military recruiters equal access.

    Lawyers for the law schools say this demand amounts to unconstitutional government-coerced speech. If the law school's policy is to only deal with those recruiters who sign a nondiscrimination pledge, the government's condition for receipt of federal funding is a demand not for equal treatment of recruiters but for exceptional treatment for a discriminatory employer.
    "It is a demand that a law school accord the military 'most-favored-recruiter' status, even as the recruiters discriminate against the school's own students," writes E. Joshua Rosenkranz in his brief on behalf of the law schools.

    In addition to the free-speech implications, the case is also being closely watched because how the high court resolves the dispute could undercut civil rights laws. Several statutes rely on the threat to withdraw federal funding as leverage to encourage recipients not to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, or disability, among others. A broad ruling in favor of the law schools could place some of those laws in constitutional doubt, analysts say.

    The law schools' First Amendment case is weak, says Daniel Polsby, dean of George Mason University School of Law. He says the Solomon Amendment is a regulation of behavior, not speech. "The government doesn't care about what positions anyone is taking. The Solomon Amendment leaves the schools free to teach what they want to teach, it leaves the professors free to say what they want to say," Professor Polsby says. "All it says is we don't want you to Jim Crow our recruiters anymore. Let them in the same way you let in hundreds of other recruiters and treat them the same way."

    Yale Law School Professor William Eskridge disagrees. He says his school's stand against discrimination sends an important message to gay students on campus that they are fully accepted members of the Yale community. The Solomon Amendment undermines that message, he says.

    He says conditioning the entire university's receipt of $300 million in federal funding upon the actions of the law school is like withholding someone's Medicare payment because of what that person's sister says about the government.

    Ford Motors Caves Like Pussies to American Family Association

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    [Update here]

    Good thing I don't drive a Ford... Ford Motor Company has pulled most of its advertising from LGBT media companies after a threatened boycott by the American Family Association but whether the two are related is unclear.

    The AFA, which fights gay issues across the country, is nevertheless claiming victory.

    The conservative Christian group launched a nationwide boycott of Ford in May over the automaker's support for LGBT issues. Weeks later it put the boycott on hold after dealers asked for time to see if the AFA complaints "could be addressed by them in cooperation with officials from Ford Motor Company."

    Late last week Ford, through its ad agency, began notifying gay media outlets that it was canceling all ads for Jaguar and Land Rover but would continue, at least for now, to run ads for Volvo. The giant automaker owns all three brands.

    AFA immediately declared victory over Ford.

    "They've heard our concerns; they are acting on our concerns," said AFA founder and chairman Donald E. Wildmon in a media statement.

    "We are pleased with where we are," the statement said. "Obviously there are still some small matters of difference, as people will always have, but generally speaking we are pleased with the results -- and therefore the boycott that had been suspended [is] now officially ended."

    A Ford spokesperson would say only that the cancellations were "a business decision", noting that it is still running ads for Volvo. However a recognized authority in the advertising industry, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told 365Gay.com that the decision to end advertising in the gay media was made "at the highest level" and was in reaction to the AFA threat.

    Read entire story here.

    Hypo-Christians Have 'Leave It To Beaver' Mentality

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    (Portland, Oregon) The debate over gay marriage has social conservatives decrying the destruction of the sanctity of marriage, but a nationally renowned marriage expert argues the institution was thrown into chaos long ago.

    Once people started eschewing marriage as a business proposition and instead partnered up based on something as fleeting as love, all convention was thrown out the window, says Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage."

    "Staying together 'til death do us part' is a bigger challenge than any generation ever had to face," she said. "The fact remains that you're never going to get back to a situation where you can assume every adult is going to spend the majority of their life in marriage."

    The author of five books, including "The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap," teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia. Coontz, 61, said she has spent years "trying to get past our 'Leave it to Beaver' mythology about what the traditional family was."

    And there are plenty of new models to pick from - couples who choose not to have children, couples who choose cohabitation over marriage, unwed mothers, stepfamilies, and gay couples who want to marry and have children.

    Proponents and opponents of gay marriage are anxiously awaiting a state Supreme Court ruling on whether gay couples should be allowed to marry in Washington State.

    "People may have their own opinions about the morality of homosexuality," Coontz said. "As a historian, I can only say: Heterosexuals revolutionized marriage. Gay and lesbian marriages, there is no evidence that they are going to make marriage worse. They are some of the few people clamoring to enter marriage."

    But social conservatives argue that gay marriage is an affront to traditional marriage.

    "Marriage is one man and one woman," said Carrie Gordon Earll, spokeswoman for Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. "It's defined that way by culture, by law, by history, by tradition."

    Gordon Earll contends that if gay marriage is allowed by law, that opens the door for polygamists and others.

    "If you take it out of the context of one man and one woman, it becomes any combination that people want it to be," she said. "Then if it becomes everything, it becomes nothing. That's a pretty radical social change to be advocating."

    But Coontz said that as gender roles became more equal in heterosexual marriage, and couples decided to put off or completely forgo children, the door opened for gays and lesbians.

    "Kids became a choice, they weren't essential to the economic institution of marriage," she said. "As soon as that happened, gays and lesbians could say 'why can't we be married?'"

    In the 1950s, married couples represented 80 percent of all households, Coontz said. By the early 21st century, they were only 50 percent of households. The percentage of households comprised of married couples with children was down to 24 percent, from almost 40 percent a decade or so earlier. For the first time ever, there are more single-person households than married couples with children.

    Coontz said the numbers aren't surprising.

    "The divorce rate has been rising ever since we created the radical idea that marriages should be good for people," she said.

    "When a marriage works, it works better than ever before in history. We get more out of it and our kids get more out of it," Coontz said. "But when it doesn't work, it feels less bearable, it feels more stressful."

    Coontz is also director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a national organization that serves as a think tank on family issues and trends. She started studying the dynamics of families 30 years ago, when she set out to write a textbook on the history of women but had a hard time finding anyplace in society where women weren't outnumbered by men.

    "Before 1975, women weren't in equal numbers in college and workplaces. I wanted to find a place where men and women were around in equal number, and a-ha, there's the family," she said.

    What she found was that marriage has changed more over the past three decades than in the last 3,000 years, and that women led the evolution.

    Many changes happened starting in the 1970s, including the dissolution of "head and master" laws in many states that gave the husband final say over where the family lived and other household decisions, including whether women could get their own credit cards and whether they could work outside the home. Add in more women going to college, getting jobs and using contraception, and the rules of marriage were turned upside down.

    "The woman's movement did destabilize marriage," Coontz said. "It gave women the means and the courage to say I won't marry you, I won't stay with you because I'm dependent on you."

    But Coontz said the divorce rate has stabilized as men have adjusted to the independence of their potential spouses.

    "More and more men, as well as women, say they want an equal marriage," she said.

    Even as more people are delaying marriage, Coontz said she's "cautiously optimistic" about the future of matrimony.

    "I think that both as a society and in people's personal lives, marriage will no longer be the main thing that organizes life," she said.

    But that doesn't mean people still won't dream of their wedding day.

    "In America, it remains the highest expression of commitment that they can imagine making," she said. "It is valued more highly as a quality relationship than it was in the past."

    via 365gay.com

    Orange County: Out me if you can(t)

    Friday, December 02, 2005
    Now, granted I have spent a ton of time in Orange County [all my family lives there] and it's full of money - which most of the time means conservative... that and the OC is known for being one of the most conservative locals in CA. BUT this is fucking absurd. Why the hell would a school feel even the slightest need to out a kid to his or her parents? The story below is via 365gay.com.

    A federal judge Thursday rejected an Orange County school district's claim that it was within its rights to reveal a student's sexuality to her parents.

    The ruling turns down a motion by the Garden Grove Unified School District to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the student, Charlene Nguon.

    In its motion to dismiss the case, the school claimed that Nguon did not have a legal interest in keeping her sexual orientation private because she was affectionate with her girlfriend at school.

    The court disagreed, ruling that Nguon can proceed with her legal claim that the principal violated her constitutional privacy rights.

    "I am very glad that the judge agreed Charlene can continue to stand up for her rights," said Nguon's mother, Crystal Chhun. "I love and fully support Charlene, but that's not the case for every gay student out there. The person to decide when and how to talk with our family about her sexual orientation should have been my daughter, not the principal."

    The suit, filed by the ACLU of Southern California, alleges that Nguon was singled out for discipline a number of times for displaying affection with her girlfriend, that she was outed to her parents, was forced to transfer and that her grades suffered as a result of the harassment.

    In addition to Nguon, the ACLU's representing her mother and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network in the case.

    Nguon was an 'A' student, ranked in the top 5 percent of her class, but when she kissed her girlfriend on campus she was disciplined and told either she or the girlfriend would have to transfer to another school.

    The teen, in addition to having straight 'A's, was enrolled in a number of advanced placement and honors classes and was a candidate for the National Honor Society until the offer was rescinded because of discipline, including one week-long suspension, for hugging her girlfriend on campus.

    Nguon's grades slipped when she switched to Bolsa Grande High School as she struggled to catch up with that school's curriculum and her commute grew from a four block walk to a 4 and a half mile bike ride.

    After the ACLU sent a letter to the district in late July, Nguon was allowed to return to Santiago High School where she had been enrolled since her freshman year. But the school has made no effort to improve the climate on campus or to ensure Nguon will not be targeted for discipline again, the ACLU said.


    "We are pleased that the court recognized that the school does not have the automatic right to disclose a student's sexual orientation just because that student is out of the closet to his or her friends at school," said Christine P. Sun, a staff attorney for the ACLU. "Coming out is a very serious decision that should not be taken away from anyone, especially from students who may be put in peril if they live in an unsupportive home."

    Posted by Bryan Harding

    South Africa's highest court: Gay Marriage Legal

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    South Africa's highest court has ruled in favour of same-sex marriages, which are banned under current legislation.
    The Constitutional Court ordered that parliament amend marriage laws to allow gay weddings within a year.

    The constitution outlaws discrimination against gays and lesbians, but social attitudes remain more conservative.

    The court ordered that the definition of marriage be changed from a "union between a man and a woman" to a "union between two persons".

    Last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal had ruled in a case brought by a lesbian couple that the current law discriminated against homosexuals.

    Read the rest here.

    Queer on the Range: A preview of Brokeback Mountain

    Earlier this week I had the good fortune to attend an advance screening of Brokeback Mountain (www.brokebackmountainmovie.com). The benefit event for my new employer, Frameline LGBT Film Festival, featured a live talk by director Ang Lee, who was charming, humble and clearly an artist's artist. It was a very special evening.

    Like so many of us, I have been chomping at the bit to see this movie for over a year. The chance to watch Jake Gyllenhaal as a gay cowboy (with the none-too-subtle name of Jack Twist)? The only thing that could have completed the uber-fantasy for this bi girl is if Jake's sister Maggie was in the flick as well, playing, say a tough ranch woman. (My close friends tease me incessantly about my dual Gyllenhaal crush. In fact, the morning of the screening, my girlfriend sent me an email with the subject line "U Pick" and three photos: Her, Jake, and Maggie. Can't I have all three?)

    But I digress...

    I had read the story by Annie Proulx several years ago when I reviewed the book, Close Range, for The Oregonian. I was floored by the story then and I knew with Ang Lee directing, I'd be leveled by the film version as well. And I was. You will be too. The film does something the exquisite, award-winning short story did in a quieter way: it creates a visual epic re-envisions American mythologies of the West, masculinity and queerness in a way we have not seen before. [Esteemed film critic B. Ruby Rich planted this idea in my head in her excellent preview in The Guardian]

    For all my Gyllenhaalism, it is Heath Ledger who I found most riveting, mainly because his role as Ennis del Mar is that of the silent, idealistic yet emotionally boxed-in cowboy I grew up around. I was raised in Wyoming in the 1970s and '80s, during the latter time period of Ennis and Jack's story. Ledger's interpretation of Ennis is pitch-perfect. In Ledger's Ennis, I saw my stepdad and his friends, the proud fathers and hardworking horsemen whose blood ran thick with a certain inherent sadness, whose eyes mirrored back the Western horizon they were always scanning, whose toughened bodies embodied a dying breed. I know I sound overly-romantic, but these people exist and with them all the pathos and raw, hardscrabble beauty of the land they inhabit.

    The film, like the story, has many layers to it, and certainly one is that of a good old-fashioned tragic love story. On another level the film asks us to look under the surface, to look at the passion men [and I'm speaking in specific gendered terms here] feel for one another, for their youth, their freedom, their land. The film begs the question, What would Jack and Ennis's world look like if they could live together passionately and freely, without the fear of being bludgeoned to death? How would our Western mythology be different if men of any sexual orientation didn't have to have their love for one another beaten or shamed out of them? How would communities, marriages, and working and living on the land itself be different? Importantly, how much more freedom would women have?

    Can we rewrite those mythologies? Can we, like Annie Proulx has, rewrite the landscape to include the buried, silenced, omitted passions that, if freed, might lead men to live fuller more compassionate lives?

    When I had the chance to shake Ang Lee's hand after the film, all I could manage to say was "Thank you for making this film."

    Written by Meg Daly

    Meg is a freelance writer, newly transplanted to San Francisco. She is the former features editor at Just Out, Portland's queer newsmagazine. Her articles have appeared in national and regional press, including Tikkun, Grist online magazine, Punk Planet, Portland Monthly, Oregon Business, and Willamette Week. She is the editor of two anthologies on women's friendships, including Surface Tension: Love, Sex, and Politics Between Lesbians and Straight Women.

    World AIDS Day: 8000 People Died Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

    Support World AIDS Day

    Today, December 1st is World AIDS Day. For our friends, our family members, and the millions others throughout the world infected with HIV/AIDS. We must not forget, that it is not over--in any sense. In 2005, over 3 million people acquired HIV, which means there are now over 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS.

  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.
  • Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans.
  • By December 2005 women accounted for 46% of all adults living with HIV worldwide, and for 57% in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Young people (15-24 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide - more than 6,000 become infected with HIV every day.
  • Of the 6.5 million people in developing and transitional countries who need life-saving AIDS drugs, only 1 million are receiving them.

    GET TESTED. It is better to know than to not know. HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence.

    A close family member of mine has been positive for 18+ years. You will not only save your own life--you may save others as well. Click here to search for a confidential testing location.

    Posted by GRW Contributors