Marriage battle continues in Latin America, with more wins for our side

The Mexico Supreme Court ruled last week that a Mexico City law, passed by legislators there earlier this year, is constitutional. The ruling came in a challenge to the new law pressed mainy by the country’s Roman Catholic religious leaders.

In another victory for LGBT civil rights, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled yesterday (Tuesday) that same-sex marriages performed legally in Mexico City must be legally recognized throughout the country, even though other Mexican states have not legalized gay marriage.

Mexico’s Supreme Court was expected to rule Thursday on an appeal of another law — passed by the Mexico City Legislature the same day that lawmakers legalized gay marriage there — that gives same-sex couples the right to adopt.

And today comes word that the Supreme Court of Costa Rica has ruled that a referendum that had been set to go to voters on Dec. 5 and that would have banned legal recognition of same-sex civil unions is unconstitutional.

“Minority rights that are derived from claims against the majority cannot be subject to a referendum process where majorities are needed,” the court said in a statement, according to Inquirer.net.

The referendum, again pushed by the Catholic Church, had come in response to draft legislation, introduced in 2008, that would give Costa Rican gays and lesbians access to legal civil unions that would carry some of the legal rights of marriage, including inheritance, health benefits and the right to hospital visitation in the event of injury or illness. The legislation has been stalled since it was introduced.

—  admin

Politico polling readers on the Prop 8 ruling, and the haters are ahead by 16 percentage points

Back in 2008, the state of California let haters put our civil rights to a popular vote. We lost, and the California Constitution was amended to snatch away the rights of same-sex couples to wed.

On Wednesday, federal District Judge Vaughn Walker issued his ruling in a case challenging that amendment — Proposition 8 — and this time , we won. Judge Walker said the majority doesn’t get to take away our rights just because they don’t like us.

Now the public is voting again, this time on Politico.com, in a poll: “What’s your reaction to the decision that reversed California’s ban on gay marriage?” And guess what — we’re losing. The votes so far are “Like. Hurray for equal rights,” 40 percent; “Dislike. How dare the courts reverse the will of the voters?” 56 percent; and “I’m not sure,” 2 percent.

If you want to have your say, go to Politico.com, scroll down to the “Politico” on the lower right side of the page, and vote.

UPDATE: The final result was 57 percent to 41 percent.

—  admin

Local LGBTs contribute to 'Truth in Progress' dialogue on race, sexual orientation issues

Marilyn Alexander, C.D. Kirven and Rev. Gil Caldwell
Marilyn Alexander, C.D. Kirven and Rev. Gil Caldwell

At the Creating Change conference in Dallas earlier this year, I had the opportunity to have lunch with an old friend, Marilyn Alexander, and a new friend, the Rev. Gil Caldwell.

The two have teamed to create Truth in Progress. The project began as a dialogue on issues of race, sexual orientation and faith that began 10 years ago.

Truth in Progress developed into a multimedia project taking a special look at the similar yet different experiences and histories of the black civil rights and LGBT equality movements.

After the jump is the first video created by Alexander and Caldwell.

—  David Taffet

Memories of a segregated Dallas

The Rev. Gil Caldwell and Marilyn Bennett of Truth in Progress
The Rev. Gil Caldwell and Marilyn Bennett of Truth in Progress

Last week, I posted this blog about the Truth in Progress project, a three-year, multi-media project examining the intersection of racism and homophobia and how the black civil rights movement and the LGBT rights movement are alike, and how they differ. Marilyn Bennett and the Rev. Gil Caldwell are the forces behind Truth in Progress, and they are bringing the conversation to Dallas on Thursday.

The project grew out of a series of e-mails, and later a blog, between Marilyn, an old friend of mine, and Rev. Caldwell. So when Marilyn sent the link to the post to Rev. Caldwell, he responded with this letter, reprinted below (just FYI, Marilyn and Rev. Caldwell refer to each other in their e-mails as Younger Sister and Elder Brother, or YS and EB):

YS Marilyn,

Thanks for sharing the Dallas Voice announcement of “Truth in Progress coming to Dallas.” What a beautiful announcement of our visit to Dallas.

You spent time there at SMU/Perkins, and I  spent time there at St. Paul United Methodist Church where my dad was minister, and Booker T. Washington High School, across the street from where I lived, where I spent my freshman year in HIgh School. I arrived in Dallas in 1946 from North Carolina and left Dallas in 1950 to go with my preacher-father to Galveston. YS, you have your memories of Dallas (some good, some not-so-good) and I, your EB, have the same.

—  admin

Truth in Progress coming to Dallas

The Rev. Gil Caldwell and Marilyn Bennett bring their "Truth in Progress" project to Dallas on Feb. 4.
The Rev. Gil Caldwell and Marilyn Bennett bring their “Truth in Progress” project to Dallas on Feb. 4.

My old (“old” as in I have known her for years, not “old” as in age!) friend Marilyn Bennett is coming back to Dallas next week, and she is bringing with her the Rev. Gil Caldwell, and they are looking for people to participate in a project that looks to be very, very interesting,

It’s called “Truth in Progress: Conversations in Mixed Company,” and it is a “three-year multi-media project exploring issues of race, sexual orientation and religion, with some gender and age thrown in with a heavy dose of humor,” according to the Truth in Progress Web site.

Rev. Caldwell — a straight, black, male, older, retired civil rights movement foot soldier — and Marilyn — a younger, white lesbian author, sometimes-activist — are carrying their project to different cities around the country that have been significant in either or both the black civil rights movement and the LGBT civil rights movement to talk to people and film interviews that will be included in the project’s interactive Web site, its print publication and its full-length documentary.

Comparisons between the two civil rights movements are a touchy subject for many people. And Marilyn and Rev. Caldwell want as many people — with as many different opinions — as possible to join the conversation.

Go here to check out the Truth in Progress Web site for more information on the project, on Marilyn and on Rev. Caldwell. Read their blog. Start thinking about what they are saying, and start thinking about how you want to contribute to the conversation.

And make plans to attend the event in Dallas. next Thursday, Feb. 4, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at First Unitarian Church. 4015 Normandy Ave.

As the Web site says, “There’s no cost to get in, and no cost to get out. But if you want to leave a check or cash in between, that’s certainly acceptable.”

—  admin

eHarmony settles LGBT-bias lawsuit

eharmonyOn Tuesday, eHarmony settled a lawsuit that claimed they discriminate against people looking for same-sex partners. In a previous settlement, they agreed to create a separate site called CompatiblePartners.com. Now, the firm will establish a $2 million fund, with $500,000 going to gays and lesbians who can prove they were harmed by the site.

While most civil rights gains have come through lawsuits, I think this is the absolute dumbest civil rights lawsuit ever. In fact, I think it will backfire on those seeking LGBT rights.

eHarmony claims that they use techniques that they developed through research to match opposite-sex couples. They say they have done no research into whether these techniques work for same-sex couples. My unscientific answer — they don’t.

—  David Taffet

Holocaust march in solidarity with the LGBT community of Uganda

Latisha McDaniel
Latisha McDaniel

Equality March Texas will hold its first Holocaust Remembrance march on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Organizer Latisha McDaniel said, “The event is meant to recognize the sometimes forgotten victims of the Holocaust, the LGBT community. Many members of our community don’t even know the full meaning of the pink triangle and what happened to the people who wore that patch. It is extremely important not forget this horrific part of our history especially with the imminent legislation in Uganda and Rwanda. The persecution is far from over.”

There will be a march from the Highland Park fountain where Oak Lawn Avenue becomes Preston Road to the statue at Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. Afterward there will be speakers at the Warwick Melrose Hotel.

McDaniel said that marchers should park near the Crossroads and a shuttle will run from Cedar Springs to the start point of the march from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The march will begin at 7 p.m. and it will take 20 to 40 minutes to get to the Melrose depending on speed of marchers and traffic.  The presentation at the Melrose will begin at 8 p.m.

In case of rain, go directly to the Melrose Hotel.

—  David Taffet

Prop 8 trial day 9 (Thursday)

On Thursday, the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 trial in California continued to present their case. The day began with Stanford University political-science Professor Gary Segura being cross-examined by the defense. Segura said that gays and lesbians are under constant attack from religious groups and therefore deserve greater constitutional protection.

In the afternoon, the plaintiffs called one of the defendants, William Tam, as a hostile witness. They are trying to prove that Tam brought the case out of hatred. The Supreme Court has ruled that animus is not a just reason for passing a law. Plaintiff’s attorney David Boies tripped up Tam many times during the afternoon. He pounded him on the statement that gays are 12 times more likely to molest children. He pressed for a citation and Tam could provide none. Tam argued that San Francisco was run by homosexuals. Boies asked him if the mayor of San Francisco was gay. Tam admitted he was not. He entered e-mails Tam sent that said California would fall into the hands of Satan if same-sex marriage were legal.

The defense tried to distance itself and the Prop 8 campaign from Tam. They asked if any of his statements were cleared by the campaign and he admitted they had not been.

The plaintiff’s case ends today with testimony from a University of California-Davis professor who will testify on the nature of homosexuality.

—  David Taffet

Prop 8 trial continues

In the Proposition 8 trial in California on Wednesday, Ryan Kendall testified about having been forced to undergo “conversion therapy” by his parents. Kendall, 26, said his parents discovered he was gay when he was 13. They sent him to the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality in Encino where he became suicidal. He was asked whether the therapy made any difference.

“No, I was as gay as when I started,” he said.

The defense only asked him a few questions but tried to get him to admit that the therapy would work on people who attended voluntarily.

“It is my experience that people don’t want to go to programs like NARTH,” he said.

Stanford professor Gary Segura testified that gays and lesbians lack political clout and that no group has been the target of more ballot initiatives than the LGBT community. He pointed out that Don’t ask, don’t tell and the Defense of Marriage Act were put in place during the Clinton administration and Obama has not been a reliable ally.

“We have to look at the disconnect between rhetoric and action,” he said.

The plaintiffs said they have two more witnesses to put on the stand.

— from various press reports

—  David Taffet

Newsweek predictions: nothing on LGBT rights from Obama

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

Newsweek magazine made its predictions for 2010. The No. 9 prediction: “Obama does nada on gay rights.”

The article said that most LGBT people believe that Obama’s on their side and understands the issues of serving openly in the military, employment protection and the right to marry.

But Obama is pragmatic. In a congressional election year, he’s unlikely to push legislation that will benefit the LGBT community and energize the right wing in marginal congressional districts.

—  David Taffet