Category Archives: california

Odds on Marriage Equality in Prop. 8 Case

Pat Gozemba

Listening to Ted Olson and David Boies on Bill Moyers’ Journal gave me great hope that our cause for marriage equality was in good hands. Like many in the LGBT community, I had to evolve to this position. Olson’s role in the Bush administration gave me great pause in jumping to trust him. The presence of Boies made me believe that I ought to be open-minded.

If they are successful in challenging Proposition 8 with the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case, Olson and Boies may win marriage equality for LGBT people in 45 states. This would be a major sweep for civil rights. It would also make those of us in the five states and one jurisdiction that have marriage equality feel more secure.  There are, however, possibilities that the outcome of the case may have downsides for the LGBT community.

Matt Coles, head of  the ACLU’s LGBT Project, has given us some scenarios on Huffington Post of what the decision of the Federal District Court may be. Well worth reading.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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Lying to Defeat Marriage Equality

by Pat Gozemba

Karen Ocamb wrote an insightful and very instructional piece, “Federal Challenge to Prop 8 Hearing Today,” in LGBT.POV. Ocamb is focused on the Ted Olson and David Boies federal suit on behalf of Americans for Equal Rights. They have set out to prove the unconstitutionality of Prop 8. Ocamb gives important context for today’s case. All of us who are struggling to achieve marriage equality should read her article and consider the strategies that our opponents are mounting against us.

I’m back in Hawaii and looking forward to joining with the LGBT community and our many allies in trying to bring some semblance of equality to this island state where the contemporary marriage equality movement all began with a favorable court decision in 1993. Sure, the brave decision of the Hawai’i high court brought about the backlash of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, but it also woke up many of us to come to believe that we deserved the right to marry. No matter how many states put in place their own versions of DOMA, the very possibility of a hope for equality ignited the imaginations of millions of people committed to justice.

Since 1993, the creativity of civil rights activists across the country has brought us to courts, legislatures, and public forums of all sorts. It’s pumped up our grassroots organizations like the Courage Campaign and Join the Impact and some of the tried and true warriors on our side like the American Civil Liberties Union.

But that, sixteen year-old court victory in Hawai’i has done the same for the anti-equality movement, those who want to assure that they are more equal and more righteous. Their forums have largely been hidden behind church doors and fueled by church coffers. The religious engines that are stoking the denial of our civil rights are Catholic and Mormon. They have created the National Organization for Marriage, a slick hate group that has served as a conduit for Mormon and Catholic money and kept up an internet presence.

The anti-equality side also hit pay dirt when they hired political consultants Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint to run the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign in California (2008) and then the “Yes on 1 Stand for Marriage” campaign in Maine (2009). The campaigns were virtually the same and were fueled by the big lies of made up “consequences,” of marriage equality particularly the sure-fire inner, the teaching of gay marriage to schoolchildren. We will hear this and all of their other nightmarish projections all over the country. The lies work.

As the Hawai’i Family Equality Coalition focuses its attention on the state senate in hopes of passing HB 444 a civil unions bill, we would all do well to study Karen Ocamb’s analysis of the strategies that Olson and Boies are using in federal court as well as those of Schubert and Flint that local copycats like the Hawaii Family Forum and Transformation Hawai’i.

LGBT allies, read and study Ocamb’s article.


Losing a Civil Right in California

by Pat Gozemba

Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis represent one of the most compelling stories in the California civil rights struggle for equality for all people. Gaffney’s parents are of mixed heritage so once upon a time in California, they could not marry. Gaffney and his partner of over 20 years also could not marry because they are a same-sex couple. They decided to fight for civil marriage for same-sex couples in California and eventually became one of the plaintiff couples.

When the historic CA Supreme Court decision came down on May 15, 2008, Gaffney and Lewis made their wedding plans for June 2008. They are one of the lucky California gay couples that is married. Their story is historic. Check them out:

Please, No Gay Divorcees

On March 5th the California Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of Proposition 8. Opponents of marriage equality will have the infamous Ken Starr representing them and arguing in essence that the 18,000 same-sex couples married in California must divorce. The Courage Campaign brings us a touching video on what Starr’s assault on marriage will mean.

Hey Finally somebody in California got the idea that putting real gay people in the public relations materials might be a good idea. Dianne Feinstein, the Governator, and the rest of the abstract blatherers about our civil rights didn’t work. Now some folks with courage and common sense are presenting the gay and lesbian families whose civil rights have been voted on by the majority. And whose civil rights have been taken away by a slim plurality.

 

Get Wanda Sykes in Their Face

Patricia A. Gozemba
For those who doubt the efficacy of nation-wide rallies like last Saturday’s about Prop 8, I have two words: Wanda Sykes. It was worth dragging thousands of us out from Honolulu to Portland, Maine to have Wanda Sykes show up at a Las Vegas rally and come out to the world.

 Married for just 10 days before the Prop 8 vote torpedoed marriage equality in California, Sykes and her wife are in marriage limbo along with 17, 999 other couples. Hopefully Sykes’s public reflection on being in the closet will resonate with those in the LGBT community, still not ready to come out.

When Sykes told the crowd, “You know, I don’t really talk about my sexual orientation. I didn’t feel like I had to. I was just living my life, not necessarily in the closet, but I was living my life. Everybody that knows me personally, they know I’m gay. But that’s the way people should be able to live their lives. Now, I gotta get in their face.”

Yeah, Wanda, we all have to come out. We can assume that people who voted for Prop 8 didn’t know that you were gay. Maybe that would have shifted opinions. I can imagine a great 30 second ad with you and your wife. California could have used some gay people in their ads for sure. The elegant logic in “Wanda Sykes on Gay Marriage,” is a winner. “If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same-sex.”

Okay, Wanda, now that you’re out, I want more. You were right “our community was attacked” by the vote on Prop 8.  Your logic, “We shouldn’t have to be out here demanding something that we should automatically have as citizens of this country.” Wanda, tell the world. Feel free to get in the face of those who don’t believe that you are as good as they are. It will make a difference. Everyone’s coming out does.

Yes We Can

Last week, America voted for hope, not fear. For peace, not war. For love, not hatred. The election of Barack Obama represents what is best in the American spirit—fairness, equality, respect for hardworking people, a belief in a better tomorrow. It has been a long time coming. As Obama has said again and again over the last 21 months, America is a nation defined by its continued desire to form “a more perfect union.”

Unfortunately, for the LGBT community, voters who went to the polls in record numbers on Tuesday, voted their fears on the issues that matter to us most—respect for our families. We lost votes on marriage equality in three states: California, Florida and Arizona. And in Arkansas, voters banned unmarried couples from serving as foster or adoptive parents. This measure, clearly aimed at gay families, is perhaps the most damaging of this year’s initiatives in that it so blatantly carries the message that gay people are harmful to children.

Continue reading at Beacon Broadside.

Swift-Boating Gay Marriage

Swift-Boating Gay Marriage

Pat Gozemba

A look at the election maps for California shows how the LGBT community blew it on Proposition 8.

First of all, we ran TV ads that did not include LGBT people and our families. Jonathan Rauch called us “invisible.” No loving families smiling at each other on their wedding day, at the breakfast table getting their day started, or at their kid’s soccer game. Instead we had straight people from parents to politicians talking about us. Isn’t that what went on before we all came out and spoke for ourselves?

Secondly we forgot to use simple addition in calculating how many African-Americans and Latinos would come out to vote for Barack Obama in his historic candidacy. With all of these folks at the polls, we really needed to prepare them with our view of how important marriage is. Instead of doing this, we allowed bigoted fundamentalist preachers in the Catholic, evangelical, and Mormon churches to psyche these folks up to vote “Yes on Prop 8.”

How did Prop 8 succeed in Los Angeles and San Diego counties? Dismal. These counties are predominantly people of color. They came out to break a hold on another privilege denied all of us, having an African-American President  by voting overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. People who ought to “get it” about being denied civil rights voted to take away ours. They and people of color throughout the state did not vote to uphold our civil right to marriage. They never made the connection between our civil right and their civil right to marriage. We lost big-time in communities of color.

Did anyone on our “No on Prop 8”side, during the campaign, effectively remind people of color that until the California Supreme Court ruled in 1948 in Perez v Sharp that their marriage rights were limited?  They could not marry a white person. The same court that granted people of color that civil right of marriage granted us our right to marriage. Did any of the “No on 8” folks believe that deep organizing in communities of color was crucial? Did we believe that homogenized “No on 8″ ads would appeal to voters of all communities?

There is no question that the time of the campaign was short. But the lack of work that we have done in an ongoing way in communities of color came back to haunt us. We learned again the mistake of taking communities of color for granted.

Here’s what my friend and heterosexual ally Karen Rudolph, who coincidentally is married to a man of color, had to say about this:

“I think that we didn’t get LA and San Diego because of the larger African American and Latino populations.  The next time around we have to focus on them.  We need African American performers speaking in ads on Black radio stations.  We need television ads with Black grandmothers saying how they want their grandchildren’s father to have the right to marry his partner.  We need ads on TeleMundo in Spanish and Spanish language robo calls.  This intellectual stuff in the English language didn’t reach those communities.”

Rudolph went on to say, “I think that we need to let people know that gay marriage doesn’t turn kids gay, that no one is recruiting, that no teacher is forcing children to approve of gay relationships.  We need to let them know that no church will be forced to approve of the morality of gay marriage and no one will be forced to have gay weddings in their churches.  If we don’t confront those slanders head on, we allow ourselves to be swift-boated.”

And swift-boated we were.