Guest Column: The freedom to marry is denied to Ben & Danny on Valentine’s Day

Note from Lurleen: On Valentine’s Day 2011 Ben Crowther and Danny Canham joined dozens of other LGBT couples in over 13 states taking part in GetEqual’s direct action “drawing attention to the fact that loving couples – some of whom have been together for decades – are still living as second-class citizens without the right to marry.”  I asked Ben and Danny to describe their experience and they kindly agreed.  Here is their story in their own words.


On Valentine’s Day, two students marched down to the local courthouse in Bellingham, WA and demanded they be given a marriage license. As expected, they were denied and turned away, but not without giving bystanders a show first.

As the Washington State Co-Lead of GetEQUAL, Ben Crowther started hearing about Valentine’s Day protests several weeks ago. The stories and plans of other activists from around the country and the energy, passion, and creativity he heard from them inspired him to organize an event where he lives in Washington. The night before the action was to take place, he asked who among his friends wanted to try and marry him the next day.

His friend, Danny Canham, volunteered to be his partner in crime. While Danny doesn’t view marriage as a necessity for equality or something that should be aspired to, actions for equality are still actions for equality. No matter the cause, even if one doesn’t believe in marriage equality specifically this was an action worth participating in.
While neither intends to get married in the near future, they want the opportunity for this to be available in the future. Additionally, institutional inequality is inherently damaging because it establishes a system wherein some identities are designated as inferior.

That afternoon, Ben and Danny met to plan their action. Together they filled out their application for a marriage license. As they reviewed the application, Ben noticed the gendered language of the form and quickly decided to correct it so the form read “male” and “fe male.” They alerted their friends and reporters from the campus newspaper and within an hour were headed to the courthouse.

Knowing the reality that they would be rejected, Crowther and Canham approached the demonstration to prove a point. They wanted to challenge the state office, forcing them to justify the law while simultaneously showing how ridiculous it was. Further, they aimed to raise awareness of this as an important issue. As they learned from reading the article in the school paper the next day, this was the first time the Whatcom County state auditor had had a same-sex couple apply for a marriage license in her 23 years.

Entering the Licensing Office with an entourage of media in tow and forms in hand, they took their place in line. A county records clerk called them forward, and as they explained their intent to apply for a marriage license, the clerk became uneasy and explained that Washington does not allow same-sex couples to marry. The clerk suggested that they instead apply for a domestic partnership, which offers all the state benefits of marriage. When they questioned the value of domestic partnerships and demanded to know why they were excluded from marriage, the clerk quickly called in the state auditor.

By this point, others in the office were taking notice of the fuss being made at the counter, their heads peaking over cubicle walls. The state auditor approached the counter. When Ben asked why the pair couldn’t get married that day, she urged them to speak to the state legislature attempting to remain polite as possible while clearly becoming increasingly frustrated.

Ben immediately pointed out that she was the one who ultimately decided whether or not they would walk away with a marriage license that day. As the person in a position of authority at the moment, she was the one saying no, and he would be approaching the legislature regardless.

When she made the argument that she was not legally allowed to give them a marriage license, Ben countered with the fact that she was under no obligation to follow a law that is unconstitutional under multiple court rulings specifically that stating laws against marriage equality are against the constitution. Ben made similar arguments to President Obama at a protest before the fall elections when it was first ruled that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was unconstitutional.

He asked how she would react if they were an interracial couple. Would she deny them in that instance even though it has been ruled unconstitutional? He was met with the same lines. Talk to the legislature to change the laws, talk to the Secretary of State office about getting a domestic partnership. The problem with domestic partnerships is that they create a separate but equal system that is inherently flawed. If it were actually equal to marriage, there would be no reason for different names.

He brought up the point that even if he and Danny had been together for 20 years, regardless of their relationship, they would still be denied access to the 1138 Federal rights associated with marriage, simply because they both had penises. Yet he could have married Eliza Chan who Ben only known for about a week simply because she has a vagina. Comically, he stood between Eliza and Danny saying “marriage” and “domestic partnership” as he stepped from one to the other.

After one final question, Ben wished the room a happy Valentine’s Day and walked out the door. He was told later that as the debate escalated, a security guard had entered the office.

Outside, they were asked what they would have done if the auditor had granted them a marriage license. Both approached the action presenting themselves as a hypothetical couple, the idea being to bring light the failures within the system not to actually get married. Had they been offered, they would have accepted the license, being the first same-sex couple in state history to have received a license.  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

News: Twin Peaks, Medal of Freedom, Hipstamatic, Coca-Cola

 road Obama awards Medal of Freedom to Jasper Johns, Maya Angelou, 13 others

Twinpeaks roadIn art: Twin Peaks' 20th anniversary.

 roadDusty: Real-life 'cat burglar' has committed more than 600 crimes in one neighborhood.

 roadAtlanta cops drank alcohol before brutal raid on Eagle gay bar: "Three undercover officers were already in the Atlanta Eagle bar before the Sept. 10, 2009,  raid started. At least two of them were drinking heavily, according to the bartender and the receipts they filed for the costs of their drinks."

 roadDan Radcliffe to play "Amateur Photographer" in new indie film.

 roadLook and listen: Preview of Katy Perry's "E.T." featuring Kanye West.

 roadMan pleads not guilty to October hate crime at West Village bar: "Frederick Giunta, 45, is expected to get a 3½-year prison sentence for the October incident at Julius, a Manhattan tavern where a 1966 'sip-in' helped usher in the gay-rights movement." 

 roadRoboCop fans collect enough funds to erect statue of him in Detroit.

Hipstamatic  roadCan a photo shot with Hipstamatic be considered "photojournalism"?

 roadRemains of ancient neolithic population spotted by satellite in Saudi Arabia?

 roadCalvin Klein's boy toy Nick Gruber battles Playgirl editor Daniel Nardicio. 'You only want me because of my fame, so you can go f**k yourself.'

 roadThis American Life discovers Coca-Cola's secret recipe.

 roadACLU asks high school students to monitor and report web filtering of LGBT sites at their schools: "Some schools have improperly configured their web-filtering software to illegally censor LGBT-related websites such as the GSA Network and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. At the same time that they block access to websites for positive LGBT rights organizations, those schools still allow access to anti-LGBT sites that condemn LGBT people or urge us to try to change our sexual orientation. This is called viewpoint discrimination, and it’s illegal."

 roadMark Salling's gun show.

Banksy  roadBanksy goes to Hollywood.

 roadMichigan high school establishes gender-neutral prom court: "Mona Shores High School senior Oak Reed was voted king by his classmates, but then stripped of his title because the administration said he was enrolled as a girl. Students protested the decision, and now the school has changed its policy: according to Wood TV, this spring's prom court, and prom and homecoming courts in the future, will be gender-neutral."

 roadDiesel selling blow job knee pads.

 roadNYCers: Sidewalk rage is real.

 roadResearchers: Benefits of Zinc impressive for fighting colds. "A sweeping new review of the medical research on zinc shows that sniffing, sneezing, coughing and stuffy-headed cold sufferers finally have a better option than just tissue and chicken soup. When taken within 24 hours of the first runny nose or sore throat, zinc lozenges, tablets or syrups can cut colds short by an average of a day or more and sharply reduce the severity of symptoms, according to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a respected medical clearinghouse."


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

It’s The Gay Walk Of Fame vs. The Gay Freedom Trail

Sure, San Francisco might be planning the Rainbow Honor Walk — a Walk Of Fame-style memorial where LGBT heroes like Allen Ginsberg, Bayard Rustin, Sylvester James, James Baldwin, Frida Kahlo, and Yukio Mishima will be honored with outdoor plaques — but Scotland's East Lothian is putting together a gay "history trail," which we're imagining is sort of like Boston's Freedom Trail, but with fewer Gaps.


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Queerty

—  David Taffet

Calling for the Freedom to Marry in Maryland

HRC volunteer Vanessa Watson prepares for her first call.

I spent this Saturday afternoon with eight terrific HRC volunteers on the phones calling for the freedom to marry in Maryland.

We were calling HRC members and supporters in Maryland to make sure they know about the January 31st Why Marriage Matters Day at the State Capitol in Annapolis.  This great event will start with a gathering at five o’clock on Lawyers’ Mall at the State House.  The Equality Maryland team will then provide participants with talking points and a quick training before teaming them up with other supporters of equality from their legislative districts for in-person meetings with their legislators.

With votes in the legislature likely coming up fast, there’s nothing more important than supporters of marriage equality telling their stories directly to their state legislators and explaining why they support the freedom to marry.

If you’re a Maryland resident, sign up today to participate in the January 31st Why Marriage Matters Day.  And to get more involved in the campaign for marriage equality in Maryland, fill out our online survey or send a message to Sultan Shakir at sultan.shakir@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Facebook Founder Chris Hughes + Freedom To Marry’s Sean Eldridge Are Engaged

Chris Hughes, the 27-year-old Facebook co-founder (worth an estimated 0 million!) who went on to work on Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and has since started the philantrhopic social network Jumo, is engaged to his boyfriend Sean Eldridge, the political director of Freedom To Marry. Naturally, they made the announcement — surrounded by friends/guests like Ivanka Trump, Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler, Christine Quinn, Jared Kushner, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — at a Freedom To Marry fundraiser at their SoHo loft. "This is very timely for Chris and I to have you here tonight to celebrate marriage and work on marriage," Eldridge told his guests. ""We got engaged two weeks ago, so there is a real sense of urgency. As you know, we can't get married in New York, so there is more of an urgency to approve gay marriage, so we can get married here. We're going to get married in the next year or two for sure — we're hoping as soon as possible." Well, at least they have some skin in the game now! Congrats, gentlemen.


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Queerty

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The Stripping of Freedom: A Careful Scan of TSA Security Procedures

excerpt from The Stripping of Freedom logoEPIC’s kicking off the new year with a bang on January 6 in Washington DC:

This one-day public conference will be devoted to an assessment of the  TSA airport security procedures and recommendations for reform. Experts  in law, aviation security, and health safety, advocates for flyers  rights, privacy protection, and religious freedom, as well as lawmakers  and policy advisors will participate in the event.  The event will also  include a rich media display, with images from airport protests, YouTube  videos, and campaign materials.

Speakers include a lot of the key advocates: Kate Hanni of FlyersRights, Chip Pitts of BORDC, Prof. Jeffrey Rosen, security expert Bruce Schneier, pilot Michael Roberts of Fed Up Flyers, Nadhira Al-Khalili of CAIR, Jim Harper of the Cato Institute, and Ginger McCall and Lillie Coney of EPIC.  It’s a great program, ending with a strategy session involving Congressional staffers. And the timing is perfect: taking the initiative as everybody comes back from vacation.

For those of us who can’t be there in person, it’ll be streamed live via the http://epic.org/events/tsa/, and there will be Twitter discussion on the #ScanTSA hashtag.  There’s also a Facebook event.  Invite your friends!

Stay tuned for more information — and help get the word out!
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Freedom federation’s freedom-fettering letter

First ditch:

Screen Shot 2010-12-02 At 6.27.15 Pm

Second ditch:

Screen Shot 2010-12-02 At 6.27.30 Pm

Third ditch:

Screen Shot 2010-12-02 At 6.27.55 Pm

Last ditch:



DADT letter

Our favorite part? That Linda Harvey is apparently so special, she gets her name listed twice. It must be her bold work warning America about the stealth, “cleaned up” gays.




Good As You

—  admin

WATCH: Gov. Rick Perry is totally unable to defend Texas’ denial of civil rights to gays

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Rick Perry Extended Interview
www.thedailyshow.com

We finally got around to watching Texas Gov. Rick Perry on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. And it turns out the interview contains an interesting discussion related to same-sex marriage. As if he’s reading directly from this blog, Stewart brings up Perry’s statement in his new book that if you don’t like medicinal marijuana or gay marriage, you shouldn’t move to California.

“Even within Texas, it’s not a monolith,” Stewart tells Perry. “You got 55 percent of the vote, and that’s a big victory, but 45 percent of the people in Texas didn’t vote for you. Thirty percent of those might want medicinal weed or gay marriage. Are there certain basic rights that all Americans should have no matter where they live, even if the majority would suggest otherwise? Are you with me on that? And can’t freedom also be protected by government?”

“Absolutely, I get that,” Perry says, before doing some sort of ape-like gesture with his hands on Stewart’s desk and saying that he thinks the federal government should only perform certain basic functions like delivering the mail.

Gee, that’s very fuckin’ enlightening, governor.

—  John Wright

Giving truth the Schlaf: Iowa For Freedom edition

Another completely misrepresentative take on the recent “Iowa For Freedom” campaign, this time from conservative doyenne Phyllis Schlafly:

The powers that be in Iowa tried to tell Iowa voters that they had an obligation to vote yes on the three judges in order to maintain an independent judiciary. But what kind of an un-ColumnistsschlaflyAmerican election is that when you are told by important people you should vote yes but not no?

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who for several years has been trucking around the country to support judicial supremacy, injected herself into the Iowa campaign by trying to make it unacceptable to vote no on any judge.”

Phyllis Schlafly: Judges Get Their Comeuppance [TownHall]

Okay, first off: The “Iowa For Freedom” campaign was 100% designed to tell voters that they had to vote one way: NO. In fact, IFF supporters were often told that a non-retention vote was the only godly choice available. And they did all this on the basis of one ruling — ONE. RULING! – based on little more than faith-based disdain for same-sex marriage.

On the flip side: The defenders of the judges were not, by and large, saying to vote an unquestionable yes. Supporters were defending judicial independence in general, telling voters to cast a vote on the basis of the judge’s entire careers, after reasoned considerations of all of their rulings (independent of personal faith views), and while using a fair assessment of the judiciary’s role in civil rights conversations. So it’s simply galling for Phyllis to suggest that it was the judicial supporters who were leading their witnesses!

Then, on to Sandra Day O’Connor: Again, the former SCOTUS justice did not at all encourage a blanket “no” vote. What she encouraged was a fair-minded outlook of the retention process and its usage:

We have to address the pressures that are being applied to that one safe place, the courtroom,” O’Connor said. “We have to have a place where judges are not subject to outright retaliation for their judicial decisions. That’s the concept. Sure they can be ousted and that’s part of the system, but what the framers of our federal constitution tried to do was establish a system of judicial selection where the judges would not be subject to retaliation by the other branches for their judicial actions.

IowaPolitics.com: O’Connor touts Iowa’s merit system of selecting judges [IowaPolitics.com]

And what’s even more egregious about Schalfly’s usage of O’Connor now, is that the Iowa For Freedom campaign actually truncated O’Connor’s words and USED THEM AS A WEB AD THAT INTIMATED SUPPORT FOR THEIR CAUSE!:

6A00D8341C503453Ef0134874A45B8970C

Sandra Day O’Connor on Removing Activist Judges [Iowa For Freedom]

From start to finish, the Iowa For Freedom campaign was one with no legs to stand on, so they manufactures bully clubs to support their platform instead. Now Schlafly is keeping that same mentality alive, suggesting that it was her socially conservative team that managed to triumph over the cruel tyranny of her opposition. We’re just not sure when basic civics, mindful examinations, informed legal opinion, and one co-equal branch of government became the tyrants here.




Good As You

—  admin

Audio: Iowa For Freedom might win. But not with a clean conscience.

More deliberately anti-intellectual assessments of the Iowa judicial retention vote, this time from Maggie Gallagher:

(click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: Maggie Gallagher, segment 2 [Drew Mariani Show, 11/1/10]

That whole “what is this, Russia?” thing? It comes straight from NOM’s latest e-blast. It’s their strategy here: To act like opponents of the vindictive attempt to oust judges based on one personal whim about one certain decision are opposing the right to vote itself. Maggie and Co. know that their unbelievably narrow read of these judge’s long careers is an indefensible misuse of the retention system (which was designed to take politics out of the independent judiciary), so they’ve changed the conversation to make it sound as if they are the ultimate defenders of the retention process, while the pro-equality, pro-fairness side is standing in opposition to the same.

As per usual, it’s outright deceit designed to cleanse the hands and moral compasses of those who are lashing out in unneighborly ways. And once again: It just might work here in talking point-happy America, where everything from the “[insert rock star] had to have his stomach pumped” story to the “protect marriage” rhetoric survives due to repetition rather than truth.




Good As You

—  admin