Volunteers Stand Up for Chris Coons in Delaware

Delawareans are coming out in force to help elect Chris Coons to the U.S. Senate.  I’ve been working here in Lewes to turn out our members throughout Delaware, and the dedication of the volunteers is amazing.  With so much on the line and everyone watching, it’s been great to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers here in eastern Delaware.

The race is definitely a top target and it’s been exciting to talk to our members about why they need to vote.  There’s talk of an enthusiasm gap, but that’s definitely not the case here;  everyone that I have talked to is excited to go cast a vote for pro-equality candidates like Chris Coons.

The time here on the ground has blown by, and I’m sure that the time from now until Election Day  will go even faster. Here’s to getting out the vote.  Go Coons!

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Chris Coons for Delaware

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Covington, KY is taking a stand against recent anti-gay hate crimes

There have been a series of anti-gay attacks in Covington, Kentucky over the past few weeks:

Recent crimes targeting gay people in Covington spurred the Covington City Commission and more than 80 people to gather Tuesday at city hall to decry hate crimes and reaffirm support for the human rights ordinance the city passed in 2003.

Police said they have increased patrols in MainStrasse and will start tracking incidents of ethnic and anti-gay slurs and hate speech.

A group of residents has also formed “Zero Tolerance for Hate Crimes in Covington” and will host an event at six bars in MainStrasse on Saturday to raise money for an anti-hate campaign.

“We have had three incidents in the last several months and it has got to stop now, said Mayor Denny Bowman.

When a local tv reporter was doing a story on this issue — at mid-day in the downtown area — occupants of two cars yelled anti-gay slurs as they drove by. Video here.

But, as the mayor said, it has to stop. One recent attack seems to have galvanized the community and residents are organizing against the hate. Check out the facebook page for Zero Tolerance for Hate Crimes in Covington. It’s already got over 1200 fans. And, I got a press release and flier from the organizers of “Covington’s Night Out: A Night of United Community”::

Although there have been multiple instances in the area of violence aimed at gays, the recent attack by two men against two local women has shocked the entire Covington community into taking action. What began as a concern for gays & lesbians in the area has gained support from all members of the Covington community.

Around 1:00 am on Sunday August 15, a group of people were assaulted at the corner of Pike St. and Main St. near Yadda Club, a well known gay bar. The perpetrators, one tattooed with swasticas and a white supremacy mark, yelled hate slurs aimed at gays and lesbians. One of the women was beaten, and several bystanders who came to the rescue were knifed.

The attack drew sympathy and support from all members of the community, who began organizing to make a change. The facebook page “Zero Tolerance for Hate Crimes in Covington” clearly shows the attitude of the community, having reached over 1,100 supporters in the 10 days since it was created.

Now the group of concerned residents, patrons, and business owners are taking that energy and outrage forward in a positive way by creating an ongoing campaign to empower the community as a whole to embrace diversity, promote tolerance, and end violence and hate of any kind through education and communication.

Saturday August 28th ,“Covington’s Night Out: A Night of United Community” will be the first event associated with this movement. Six of the predominantly gay or gay-friendly bars in the Pike St. and Mainstrasse area will team up with the Covington Police Department to reclaim the streets as LGBT friendly, and raise funds for an ongo- ing campaign.

Turns out, the sister of one of my friends was a victim of that August 15th attack. She’s okay and has been instrumental in organizing the response.

The hate crimes really, really suck. The community response is really, really encouraging. Go Covington.


—  John Wright

Prop 8: Will the Real Appellants Please Stand Up


The marriage equality community is bustling with both frustration and excitement, like a drunk girl at a party.  As you know, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit today issued an order staying — postponing or delaying — the implementation of Judge Walker's August 4 order to give the Prop 8 proponents time to appeal.  

Ninthcircuit The three judge panel specifically asked the parties to address the standing issue on appeal and while such specific instruction does happen, it is certainly not the default in most circuit courts of appeal.  It means that this issue is front and center on the judges' radar. This panel — while not necessarily the panel that will hear the merits of the appeal — is curious as to how a party not covered or affected by an order could have the right to appeal such an order, i.e., having "standing" to appeal. Certain legal experts see this focus as a victory for the advocates of marriage equality. If the Prop 8 proponents do not have standing to appeal, the case is virtually over and Judge Walker's opinion will bring a second dawn of marriage equality in California.  That's great! 

But, if that is where this case ends, marriage equality will extend no farther than California. The state would be added to the list of states granting gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, but the case's precedential weight would be limited. Judge Walker's decision would have no effect on Washington State and Oregon and the other states in the Ninth Circuit territory. However, if the Ninth Circuit accepted standing for the Prop 8 proponents, an appellate decision affirming Judge Walker's order could impact the entire Ninth Circuit.  It would also weigh heavily on judges throughout the country as more persuasive. A district court decision, no matter how well-reasoned and air tight, is not as much of an influence to other federal courts addressing this issue than an appellate court decision.

Here are a few ways this can go (there are many others):

– Ninth Circuit denies standing to the Prop 8 proponents.  Marriage equality for California!

– Ninth Circuit accepts standing, hears the merits on appeal.  Affirms Judge Walker's opinion.  Marriage equality for California and, perhaps, the entire Ninth Circuit territory.

– Ninth Circuit accepts standing, hears the merits on appeal.  Vacates (overturns or sends back or says, "No way!") Judge Walker's opinion, Prop 8 and its ban on same-sex marriage stands.

What do you think? Do we want the Prop 8 proponents to lose on standing, securing a win for marriage equality in California? Or do we want the appeal to go ahead to a merits hearing and run the risk of losing on the merits at the Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court?

Ari Ezra Waldman is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. After practicing in New York for five years and clerking at a federal appellate court in Washington, D.C., Ari is now on the faculty at California Western School of Law in San Diego, California. His area of expertise are criminal law, criminal procedure, LGBT law and law and economics.

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

NY State’s Senate Leader Won’t Stand With Anti-Gay Bigot

Video courtesy of Natasha Dillon, Queer Rising.

I’ve seen more than a few people opine that demonstrating, protesting and taking to the streets, or making our professed allies uncomfortable with our unapologetic demands are pointless, outdated, no longer effective, or counter productive.

In the past weeks, New York LGBT activists put that idea to a test, and pulled out a great symbolic win. In New York, battlelines are being sharply drawn between bigotry and equality. And leadership is losing the will to stand with bigotry, no matter how well entrenched its proponents are, or that they share a party. Last night, Democratic Senate Majority leader John Sampson ducked for cover rather than be the target of the raucous scene created by Queer Rising.

It’s a big symbolic win for the LGBT community in New York state.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos, please rec if you can.
The background is, there was a fundraiser last night for New York State Seantor Ruben Diaz. A Pentecostal minister, Diaz has been the single biggest impediment to the progress of LGBT affirmative legislation in New York state. He stood alone on the Senate floor and urged a no vote on the historic marriage equality bill last December. Unfortunately, despite a dozen senators taking to the floor in suport of equality, and only one Senator speaking against it, the vote failed.

Just this June, Diaz also used his committee position to vote down the movement of GENDA bill, which would have extended discrimination protection to the transgender community. (Yes, NY still does not have that, shamefully.)

Increasingly, the LGBT community is recognizing that equality in New York State can not move forward, so long a Diaz remains in the Senate. Removing Diaz is the single biggest victory LGBT New Yorkers, and their supporters, could score.

When local LGBT activists got wind that New York State Senate Majority Leader John Sampson lent his name and planned to co-host a fundraiser for Daiz, Queer Rising planned a protest. It’s all well and good to protest Diaz himself, but he is frankly, unreachable. He has told supporters:

“These election results will be vital to us as Christians and God-fearing people to keep our family, moral and traditional values that our ancestors left us and that the Bible teaches us.”

Another politician who can’t distinguish the Bible from the Constitution, or Democracy from Theocracy.

So activists have expanded their focus to include John Sampson’s complicity with LGBT disenfranchisement. The message: you can’t have it both ways any longer. You cannot stand with our community, and with those who fight us.

And looks like the pressure worked. The Advocate reports today:

New York state senate majority leader John Sampson, under fire from gay activists for his support of Democratic colleagues who voted against marriage equality, did not attend a re-election fund-raiser for state senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. on Thursday.

Sen. Sampson lent his name as a cohost of the fund-raiser, which activist group Queer Rising protested on a dreary late afternoon in the Bronx. Organizer Natasha Dillon told The Advocate that Sampson did not show, and that the only state senator seen was the troubled Pedro Espada, Jr., who faces a strong primary challenge and is under state and federal investigation.

Sampson is quoted in the Advocate article as saying he supports Diaz, and had a prior outstanding commitment. (Spending time with the family, perhaps?) But the article goes on to describe a recent meeting with New York Stonewall Democrats that gave Sampson a particularly hard time about simultaneously supporting marriage equality, and the reelection bids of those Democrats who would vote against it, including Diaz and Shirley Huntley of Queens, who is facing a serious primary challenger in Lynn Nunes.

Elizabeth Benjamin reported in The New York Daily News Monday:

Dem leader John Sampson gets a nasty earful from disgruntled LGBT activists

Furious gay advocates gave Senate Democratic leader John Sampson an earful in Brooklyn in an angry exchange that got so heated Sampson threatened to walk out.

He didn’t.

Nor did he budge on the advocates’ key issues during the two-hour meeting with the Stonewall Democratic Club.

Sampson has angered gay advocates with his pledge to support all Senate Dems seeking reelection, including the six who voted against the same-sex marriage bill, killing it, 38 to 24.

He’s also refused to promise to put the controversial bill up for another vote.

Granted, Sampson taking a pass won’t seriously affect Diaz’ fundraising numbers. And as handily as Diaz has won in the past, it’s unlikely to have an effect on the vote. Many in the equality-minded New Yorkers may need to resign themselves the the Diaz theocratic machine is unstoppable this cycle.

But politics is a game of alliances and who you stand with. Sampson, the Leader of the Senate, declined to stand with Rueben Diaz last night. And if Diaz returns to Albany next year, he will find himself increasingly marginalized. He is losing allies. His outdated, theocratic ideals are isolating him.

That’s the beauty of this symbolic victory. New York’s LGBT community, challenged Sampson, you can stand with equality or you can stand with bigotry. But you cannot stand for both. New York’s LGBT community has become very aggressive about pursuing equality. Fight Back New York PAC is one such effort that is spear-heading a “Send ’em Packing” campaign, among others. They are well-funded, organized, strategically smart, and are already reverberating as a player.

State politicos also watched as the LGBT community played a key part in 86-ing Harold Ford’s hopes of unseating fierce LGBT rights advocate Kirsten Gillibrand from her US Senate seat, they roared to Gillibrand’s defense and Ford was dispensed with quickly.

So, Sampson made his choice, he ran for cover from the fire of LGBT activists.

He recognized that long-time stalwart of the Senate Diaz is on his way out. He may win in November, but he is already marginalized. Diaz’s criminal little BFF Hiram Monserrate has been run out of Albany on a rail. (Diaz was one of only 8 Senators to vote in support of Monserrate over a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend, while 53 voted for expulsion.) Other members of the corrupt little cabal Diaz runs with are living on borrowed time and Democratic machine inertia.

This cycle, Diaz has a primary challenger, a man named Charlie Ramos, who has been unambiguous in expressing his support for bringing marriage equality to New York and for the LGBT community in general. I’m sure he sees an opening, and equality minded New Yorkers would do well to escort him through it. Charlie Ramos’ campaign site is here, his Facebook page is here, his Actblue page is here.

The victory of bringing marriage equality to one of the most populist and influential states in the union, may even be worth a few out of staters breaking him off some buck (as this NYer did for Prop 8), or phonebank on his behalf. Ramos prevailing in the primary contest would play a very key part in moving LGBT politics forward in New York state, and ultimately the nation.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Costa Rica Takes Gay Rights Stand

The country’s top court blocks a proposed referendum that would have let voters decide
if civil unions should be recognized.
Daily News

—  John Wright

More info on Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas

If you’re interested in helping out with Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas but couldn’t make last night’s organizational meeting, there’s plenty of contact info and volunteer opportunities after the jump.

—  John Wright