Today, I attended a protest led by GLBT advocate Brendan Fay in front of NYC's Iraq Mission. The demonstration was a result of the continued murder of gay men in this country. The demonstration became a shouting match with police, after NYPD tried to stop the organizers from ringing the building's bell and hand delivering a letter of protest.
The Gay City News reporter Andy Humm had it out with police - and rightfully so, as they were obstructing a lawful act.
The Jewish Alliance for Change will present a star-studded benefit concert that will feature a dazzling array of over 30 top-name performers from the worlds of Broadway, television, film, music, and comedy - including many Tony, Emmy, Oscar and Grammy Award winners and nominees. The event will showcase Broadway's support for marriage equality.
Hosted by Tony and 2-time Grammy Award winner Jim Dale
Richard Belzer, Mike Burstyn, Ann Hampton Callaway, Melissa Errico,
Tovah Feldshuh, Malcolm Gets, Judy Kaye & David Green, Robert Klein, Linda Lavin,
Nellie McKay, Anne Meara, New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Phyllis Newman,
Alice Playten, Seth Rudetsky, Billy Stritch,
The Accidentals, The Broadway Boys, The Broadway Tenors
Scott Blakeman, Darrian Ford, Cheryl Freeman, Shauna Hicks, Peter Joback, Michael Longoria, Karla Mosley, Krysta Rodriguez, Jeremy Schonfeld, Noah Weisberg...
Plus more to be announced and special surprise guests!!
Speakers at the event will include:
Evan Wolfson (FREEDOM TO MARRY, Founder and Executive Director) Steven Goldstein (GARDEN STATE EQUALITY, Chair) Ron Zacchi (MARRIAGE EQUALITY NEW YORK, Executive Director) Wayne Besen (TRUTH WINS OUT, Founder and Executive Director) and Rabbis J. Rolando Matalon and Marcelo Bronstein (CONGREGATION B'NAI JESHURUN, NYC)
Truth Wins Out is proud to accept a $5,000 gift today from Mitchell Gold, co-founder of the well-known furniture company, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. The following is a letter from Gold, articulating why he gave to Truth Wins Out and urging others to follow his lead:
I am proud to be able to offer Truth Wins Out (TWO) a $5,000 contribution today in support of its crucial, life saving work. I hope others will join me in donating to this inspiring organization, led by the articulate, courageous, and committed Wayne Besen. Truth Wins Out shines a critically important spotlight on the so-called ex-gay industry and exposes their lies and deceit. Of course, no one can "pray away the gay," and TWO makes sure America understands this simple truth. Just this past week I had lunch with two Southern Baptist ministers who asked me about the success of James Dobson's reparative therapy claims. Armed with information I've learned from Wayne over the years, I was able to answer succinctly and effectively. Changing these folks is not a one conversation deal, but I know this information gave them a jolt.
The unique work of TWO is particularly helpful to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, who are the target of these ruthless ex-gay programs. Organizations, such as Exodus International, run horribly damaging Youth Ministries, train summer camp counselors and even have teen boot camps. Alarmingly, ex-gay therapists diagnose and "treat" clients as young as three-years old -- calling them "pre-homosexual boys."
As the author of "CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay In America," I am acutely aware of the damage caused by these organizations. The ex-gay industry makes young people feel as if they are defective and less than whole human beings. They use religion-based bigotry to divide families and create destructive myths and misconceptions about homosexuality.
What I most admire about TWO is that it fights the right at "Ground Zero." Not every LGBT advocacy group leader is equipped to do this INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT WORK. When ex-gay conferences appear in conservative cities or small towns, we can always count on this organization to be where the action is, refuting anti-gay lies at their source. TWO has fought back in unlikely places such as Anchorage, Macon, Asheville, Charlotte, Phoenix, Orlando, Atlanta, Dallas, Omaha....and by my side in Taylorsville, North Carolina.
I am most grateful that our community has a first-rate organization like Truth Wins Out. Your immediate support is vital when you consider that TWO is up against powerful forces. The largest ex-gay organization, Exodus International, has 13 staff members and a one-million dollar budget. TWO is operating on less than one-fourth of their budget -- and needs our help. Imagine what amazing things TWO could accomplish if we give them the resources they deserve?
Please join me in empowering Truth Wins Out to combat the destructive ex-gay propaganda that has ruined so many lives. It is our responsibility to ensure that the next generation is not harmed by the same lies that hurt us. We cannot forget our own youth. I strongly urge you to match my commitment to Truth Wins Out by making a contribution today.
Mitchell Gold Co-founder, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
It did not take long for anti-gay groups to fight back after losing marriage battles in Vermont and Iowa. Here is an unbelievably dishonest ad by the National Organization for Marriage.
Now, courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign, here are the actor tryouts for the bogus ad. I wonder why they could not find real people who were harmed by gay people marrying?
HRC says the ad is set to run eight times per day in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and California.
Background Ad Rebuttal
"The Real Truth Behind the Fake Ad"
The general argument of the ad is that the push for marriage equality isn’t just about rights for same-sex couples, it's about imposing contrary values on people of faith. The examples they cite in the ad are:
(1) A California doctor who must choose between her faith and her job
(2) A member of New Jersey church group which is punished by the state because they can't support same-sex marriage
(3) A Massachusetts parent who stands by helpless while the state teaches her son that gay marriage is okay
The facts indicate that (1) refers to the Benitez decision in California, determining that a doctor cannot violate California anti-discrimination law by refusing to treat a lesbian based on religious belief, (2) refers to the Ocean Grove, New Jersey Methodist pavilion that was open to the general public for events but refused access for civil union ceremonies (and was fined by the state for doing so) and (3) refers to the Parker decision in Massachusetts, where parents unsuccessfully sought to end public school discussions of family diversity, including of same-sex couples.
All three examples involve religious people who enter the public sphere, but don't want to abide by the general non-discriminatory rules everyone else does. Both (1) and (2) are really about state laws against sexual orientation discrimination, rather than specifically about marriage. And (3) is about two pairs of religious parents trying to impose their beliefs on all children in public schools.
The real facts of each case are:
* The California doctor entered a profession that promises to "first, do no harm" and the law requires her to treat a patient in need -- gay or straight, Christian or Muslim -- regardless of her religious beliefs. The law does not, and cannot, dictate her faith -- it can only insist that she follow her oath as a medical professional.
* The New Jersey church group runs, and profits from, a beachside pavilion that it rents out to the general public for all manner of occasions -- concerts, debates and even Civil War reenactments -- but balks at permitting couples to hold civil union ceremonies there. The law does not challenge the church organization's beliefs about homosexuality -- it merely requires that a pavilion that had been open to all for years comply with laws protecting everyone from discrimination, including gays and lesbians.
* The Massachusetts parent disagrees with an aspect of her son's public education, a discussion of the many different kinds of families he will likely encounter in life, including gay and lesbian couples. The law does not stop her from disagreeing, from teaching him consistently with her differing beliefs at home, or even educating her child in a setting that is more in line with her faith traditions. But it does not allow any one parent to dictate the curriculum for all students based on her family's religious traditions.
Only ten years ago, it looked like gay people would not be able to marry until the cows came home. With an Iowa Supreme Court victory and the state legislature approving marriage in Vermont, gay couples will soon be coming home to their cows -- with marriage licenses in hand. The farm teams have brought us major league victories and reinvigorated the GLBT marriage movement.
"Today we have overridden the governor's veto," Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin said in a written statement released by the Human Rights Campaign. "I have never felt more proud of Vermont as we become the first state in the country to enact marriage equality, not as the result of a court order, but because it is the right thing to do."
It feels odd to be partying like it's 1999 in 2009. Just several long months ago, the GLBT movement suffered a stinging marriage defeat in California. But, our short period of tribulation was swiftly followed by surprising jubilation. It was downright shocking to see hog-wild homosexuals dancing in the streets of Des Moines. For anti-gay organizations, the once easy game of whack-a-marriage is feeling more like whack-a-mole. They can't be sure where marriage equality will pop up next.
On the same day that marriage for gay couples was legalized in Vermont, ice cream mogul Ben proposed on one knee to Jerry in Waterbury, saying that they went together like cookie dough and ice cream. Well, okay, that didn’t happen -- but the Washington, D.C. Council did vote 12-0 to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
"It's no secret that I have been working on legislation that would take us further," said openly gay Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) "This is the march toward human rights and equality. This is not the march toward special rights. This is the equal march and that march is coming here."
The barrier breaking in Iowa and Vermont rightfully caused a bit of urban envy in some places. Garden State Equality chair, Steven Goldstein, wasted no time scolding New Jersey's lawmakers for falling behind the times. New Jersey currently has a Civil Unions law, but has dragged its feet on a marriage upgrade.
"New Jersey legislators, when will you wake up and smell the inequality?" asked Goldstein. "Today's enactment of a marriage equality law in Vermont marks the official end of the failed civil union era in America. Civil union laws now join the Edsel, New Coke and 8-Track Tapes in the dustbin of history's failed inventions."
While the cows may have come home in some places -- it will take flying pigs to get states like Mississippi to allow marriage equality. Still, with advances in Iowa and Vermont, the writing is on the barn wall for social conservatives.
"The battle over same-sex marriage is on the way to being lost," wrote Cal Thomas, a founder of the modern Religious Right. He went on to say that those who think they can count on the political system to win are "closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge."
Recognizing the direction the nation is rapidly going, Thomas -- who is still anti-gay - questioned the priorities of his Bible-beating brethren:
"To those on the political and religious right who are intent on continuing the battle to preserve 'traditional marriage' in a nation that is rapidly discarding its traditions," wrote Thomas, "I would ask this question: What poses a greater threat to our remaining moral underpinnings? Is it two homosexuals living together, or is it the number of heterosexuals who are divorcing and the increasing number of children born to unmarried women, now at nearly 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?"
The big question on everyone's mind is will the Iowa Supreme Court decision amplify pressure on the California Supreme Court justices to overturn Proposition 8? I don't know if we will win, but I do think it increases the odds. After all, Californians are known for surfing large waves and the recent wins in Iowa and Vermont certainly qualify.
Our opponents will milk the marriage battle as long as it remains a cash cow. But with gay couples marrying in the countryside, it is clear what direction the country is headed.
I strongly urge all people interested in stopping the anti-gay violence in Jamaica to see "Taboo Yardies", a film-short on the issue. It will be shown on April 24th at General Theological Seminary, 440 W. 21st Street (6pm.)
I saw a preview of the movie and I highly recommend it. Filmmaker Selena Blake (pictured left) offers an in-depth, multi-layered snapshot of the problem. She is a heterosexual Jamaican woman who explores the roots of the homophobia and what it means for Jamaican society.
Get your free tickets today at www.tutucenter.org (click on events Taboo Yardies.) For more information about the movie, visit www.tabooyardies.com.