Monday, December 29, 2008

What's DOMA?

On January 10, 2009, the next nationwide protest takes place focused on DOMA. I know, I was like, what? DOMA stands for the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal bill signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton that says the federal government will not recognize same-sex marriages that occur in the state level. (Yes, even Clinton was against same-sex marriages despite how gay-friendly he says he is.) President-elect Obama is the same way, saying he's for gay rights but probably supportive of the intent of DOMA, to keep marriages recognized as between a man and a woman. So there's a movement to encourage Obama to change his mind and rescind DOMA. So far, there's no San Francisco protest set up yet, but you can take part by signing the online petition to Obama here. Change has to come in the local, state and national level. Even the world level!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Religious Case for Gay Marriages

I get frustrated by the religious sector arguing against same-sex marriages based on the Bible. As a Christian, I struggle with the interpretation of the bible, my faith and my life as a gay man. But I recognize that each church has the discretion to perform marriages by its definition. The overall argument, however, lies in the fact that the pursuit of marriage equality deals with government-sanctioned marriages.

The government’s role in offering the right to marriage shouldn’t be governed by religious arguments. That’s why it’s so frustrating when proponents of Prop. 8 come from the religious sector, blurring the lines between how the church defines marriage and how the state does.

So if they’re going to throw religion in our face, I think there’s no better article to read than the cover story in this month’s Newsweek magazine, “Our Mutual Joy.” The essay by writer Lisa Miller definitely slants toward same-sex marriages, but I think the questions it raises is worth any conservative’s time to read. I think it’s very enlightening in demonstrating how the Bible, written by men, is a reflection of the society at that time. And the Bible should be a living document, with its core messages in tact, but its interpretation open to the way we live today.

Not surprisingly, the cover story generated a lot of feedback on the Newsweek site. So much so that the editors had to close down the comments section. See what happens when you mix religion and politics?

Link to Newsweek article: "Our Mutual Joy," Dec. 6, 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

WTF: The Things People Say

With California Attorney General Jerry Brown now supporting the repeal of Prop. 8 before the California Supreme Court, that means the conservative, private outside groups who came into the state and confused the voting public with their hateful rhetoric are now taking the lead in arguing for Prop. 8 when the court hear arguments in spring. In a brief filed on Friday, this is what they had to say that I found most interesting:

"For this court to rule otherwise would be to tear asunder a lavish body of jurisprudence," the court papers state. "That body of decisional law commands judges — as servants of the people — to bow to the will of those whom they serve — even if the substantive result of what people have wrought in constitution-amending is deemed unenlightened."

What is so unbelievable about this position is that these people believe that majority rules, all the time, no matter how "unenlightened" the vote may be. Un. Be. Lievable. I mean, really? Have they not heard of the three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, Judiciary. The citizenry is not a part of that because the founding fathers understood that mob mentality cannot be the rule of a country. It has to be the thoughtful reasoning of impartial leaders.

Let's say the majority voted to allow the owning of slaves, does that make it right just because majority ruled it so? The thought that the Supreme Court works for us is an incredible leap of faith that every single American can make the perfect decision for his or her brother. Would you trust me in making decisions for you? I thought not.

Link to story of filing:
"Prop. 8 sponsors seek to nullify 18K gay marriages," San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Light Up the Night -- San Francisco Edition

Tonight I went to the Light Up the Night vigil in San Francisco's Union Square. It was a silent protest. (In fact, I think I heard someone sing "Silent Night." Also, there was a moving a capella version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.") It was a nice big crowd, and I was impressed by how mixed the crowd was. There were a lot of families, which was nice to see too. A lot of straights supporting their gay family members or friends. That's what this is all about at this time of year, the coming together of all people looking for hope. Let's hope this message will last throughout the coming year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Say a Little Prayer for Our Nation

There’s a lot of outrage among the gay community over the selection of President-elect Obama to have evangelical pastor Rick Warren deliver the opening prayer at Obama’s inauguration next month. Warren is a conservative who has spoken out against same-sex marriages and campaigned for the passage of Prop. 8.

While I agree with those who are upset about this selection, I’m not surprised.

I think it is upsetting because while I welcome Obama’s philosophy of bringing opposing viewpoints together, that doesn’t mean you should give a person with a history of hate messaging such a grand platform as an inauguration of the nation’s president. Sure, bring him to a conference of pastors to debate marriage equality. Have him give a prayer at an inaugural luncheon. But to have such a large platform for his opposing views? That’s just sad.

Still, I’m not as upset as some gay groups that are circulating petitions (you can check those out here) because it’s not surprising coming from Obama. He calls himself a “fierce advocate for gay rights” but he’s also the one who will not come out to demand equal rights for gays when it comes to marriage. He did oppose Prop. 8 but he didn’t support the other end, which is marriage equality for all. He believes gays should be satisfied with the less-powerful marriage equivalent promoted as “civil unions.”

I did vote for Obama because there was no other candidate who stood up for gay marriages, so Obama’s position on other issues was worth supporting in lieu of his stand on this one. But I wouldn’t call myself an ardent supporter of Obama Nation. I’m not going to go out and campaign for him, or raise funds for him, or stick my neck out for him when he hasn’t done the same for the gay community. A fierce advocate? PUH-lease.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Follow The Light for Equality

This Saturday is another protest, but one that takes a different form. "Light Up the Night" will be a protest with no shouting or any noise. It'll be a silent night, supposedly. Across the country, supporters for marriage equality are encouraged to gather with a candle for a peaceful vigil. The local San Francisco event will be at 5 p.m. Dec. 20 (Saturday) at Union Square. It might be cold and rainy, but hopefully we can gather a crowd. Again, the battle isn't over and we need to show that we're a united community ready to stand together. Click here for more information.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Small But Mighty Rally & March

Last night I went to the Day Without Gays Rally and March that started in the San Francisco's Mission neighborhood. It was a nice night for a march as the small but feisty group marched along Valencia Street (past all the Mission restaurants) to the LGBT Community Center on Market Street. The march was supposed to end there but the group decided to march all the way to the Castro. (A splinter group tried to go to City Hall until someone convinced them that City Hall was closed and it would be dark.)

I wanted to attend the march just to keep up the solidarity and awareness building. But the crowd definitely was smaller than earlier protests soon after the November election. Don't know if it's anti-Prop. 8 fatigue or Christmas shopping, but it was a small group. I hope people will still come out to show support, despite waiting to see what the courts will do, because we still need to win in the court of public opinion, as demonstrated in the elections. We can't be complacent, ever!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Harvey Milk: You Gotta Give 'Em Hope

I went to see Gus Vant Sant's "Milk" film last night and was deeply moved by this reminder of the gay rights leader and first openly gay elected politician Harvey Milk. Folding in actual footage from the times and giving the new footage a vintage look really took one back in time to the early struggles of the gay rights movement in the 1970s. People have said it before, but the the fight during Milk's time against Prop. 6 (banning gays from being teachers in California) mirrors the fight against Prop. 8 (banning gay marriages) today. The difference is the grass roots effort by the gay community fought back the ugly Prop. 6 proponents. Complacency today allowed Prop. 8 to pass. We need to remember history, and like Milk says, you gotta give 'em hope.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let's Put on a Show!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

What does liberal Hollywood do when it feels its voice isn't heard and it's struggling to understand the rest of society? Well, they put on a musical. The above is from the site Funny or Die and it's a musical about Prop. 8, starring several big names such as Allison Janney, Margaret Cho, Andy Richter, Jack Black (as Jesus no less) and the cutie Neil Patrick Harris. While it's not necessarily Emmy-winning material, I give them credit for trying. (I do feel, however, that there's too much emphasis on the monetary benefits of gay marriage. Yeah, we can add to the economy with gay weddings, but I don't think we should convince others based on the monetary benefits. It should be based on the constitutional issues.) Anywho, watch for yourself.

Day Without Gays Approaches

So there's a movement to have gays and lesbians call in "gay" next Wednesday, Dec. 10, in protest and solidarity in light of the passage of Prop. 8. I think there are a lot of mixed feelings among the community on whether this will really send a strong message. I think even with the mixed feelings, everyone should make their way to the march scheduled for 6 p.m. in San Francisco, meeting up at 24th and Mission Streets.

I think it's important that as we wait for the Supreme Court to make its ruling, we continue to keep the topic of marriage equality in the forefront of everyone's minds.

Here's a link to Protest8's Web site for more information about Day Without Gays and the San Francisco March on Dec. 10.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Taking It to the Capitol

There was another protest this weekend in Sacramento against Prop. 8. I couldn't make it because I don't have a car so it's hard for me to get out to the protests outside of the Bay Area, but my heart was with the crowds. It seems like people are experiencing a bit of the protest burn out because I notice the media isn't covering it as widely as before. For example, among the California newspapers, only the San Francisco Chronicle had major coverage. I think this typically happens as now people focus their attention to the Supreme Court hearings next year. But I hope people will remember that the protests show our solidarity and keeps our fight in the forefront. Maybe not as many and more larger ones now and then. We can't let our passion again fall into complacency like what happened prior to Nov. 4, 2008.

Link to local coverage:
"Gay Activists Protest Prop. 8 at Capitol" (San Francisco Chronicle)

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, November 21, 2008

Speaking With Courage

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is one of the strongest heterosexual advocate for same-sex marriage. He is one of the few politicians who speak on principles without truly any political gain. And for that, we should be thankful that he's leading the charge for marriage equality. Here's more of his words in this video taped soon after the passage of Prop. 8 in California.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Draw the Curtains on Cinemark

Across the nation, gays and their friends are calling for the boycott of the movie chain Cinemark. Now, I've said earlier that boycotts of businesses that donated to Yes on 8 is a double-edged sword because a business suffering financially could affect the employees who may be supporters of Prop. 8.

However, I think you can't ignore the really big companies with the deep pockets funding groups promoting hate against the LGBT community. Cinemark's CEO Alan Stock donated $10,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign, and you just can't ignore such a big donation and someone so high up in a company. (It would be different if the accountant made a donation.)

I actually never heard of Cinemark and thought I didn't have to worry about the boycott in my area, but turns out they own the movie theater I frequent at the San Francisco Westfield Shopping Mall at Union Square. I liked going to that theater because all their seats are leather and the screens are huge. But now, I won't go there because I'm boycotting Cinemark. I don't want my money contributing to the salary of a CEO who freely gives his money to groups that removes civil rights from gays and lesbians.

One particular group calling itself No MILK for Cinemark is making a point of avoiding Cinemark when the new "Milk" movie opens next week. Please support the latest movie from gay director Gus Van Sant, but don't do it at a Cinemark theater. There are alternatives. Make the effort to find them. I will.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prop. 8 Challenges Set for Supreme Court Review

The California Supreme Court today announced it will review the lawsuits filed by groups opposing Prop. 8, which enacted a ban against same-sex marriages into the state constitution. In the news reports, it says the state Supreme Court (which ruled in favor of same-sex marriages back in May) will likely hear the cases in March, which means a ruling might be issued again in May. Hopefully we can catch lightning twice.

Link to news reports:
"Prop. 8 Gay-marriage ban considered by California Supreme Court" (LA Times)
"Prop. 8 foes win right to challenge measure, but problems lie ahead" (SF Chronicle)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Images of a Rally for Love

Here are more shots from the National Day of Protest Against Prop. 8 (Join the Impact) this past Saturday. These are from a rally in San Jose, Calif. Thanks to my friend Denise for taking these shots!

Monday, November 17, 2008

WTF: The Things People Say

In reading various coverage on Prop. 8, I’m sometimes baffled at the quotes from proponents who are upset about the protests that have followed the proposition’s passage. Below is an example of a comment left by a user on relating to a story that state Attorney General Jerry Brown has filed petitions with the California Supreme Court to hear lawsuits filed against Prop. 8.

“I wonder what all of those making legal issues over this matter would think if the great number of people who voted McCain applied the same tactics to try to get the results of the presidential election overturned.”

— by glands

WTF? It’s like comparing apples and oranges. A proposition can affect the rights of individuals, as guaranteed in the Constitution. When you vote for a politician, you have the right to vote but not the right to have your candidate win. Your right only extends to the act of voting, not to the results. Even if your candidate loses, you still exercised your right to vote.

In the case of Prop. 8, the results harm the rights of a group of citizens. Therefore, it’s up to the courts to address that harm. If McCain won and those who voted against him were upset, we would learn to live with it. Just like how we learned to live with the past eight years of the Bush administration. But Prop. 8, if left intact, would be a rule that would last a lifetime. There are no term limits to Prop. 8.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Make Your Position Known: Sign the Petition to Repeal Prop. 8

A list of signatures got us where we are in the first place (dang propositions). So how can a petition help, you ask? Really, not much. Signing a petition to repeal Prop. 8 in California isn't necessarily going to be recognized by the courts. So it's really just a symbolic measure, showing that there is a large group of people angry about this. Wanting something to do, maybe signing an online petition will help you feel like you're bringing about change. Click here to sign this petition.

Comedienne Sykes Comes Out ... In Life and for Marriage

Several celebrities in the last week have come out in support of same-sex marriage and against the passage of Prop. 8 in California, people like George Clooney and Ellen DeGeneres. But someone who came out this weekend in support at a rally in Las Vegas also had a surprising announcement.

Actress and comedienne Wanda Sykes came out in support of same-sex marriage because she says she married her partner on Oct. 25 in California. I didn't see that coming but I'm glad Sykes was able to get married before it was banned. While her marriage is in limbo now because of Prop. 8, we now have another strong voice in the movement. Her comment from a New York Times article: "I felt like I was being attacked, personally attacked — our community was attacked."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Nation Rallies for Equality

Today was a national rally and protest day against Prop. 8. At city halls around the country, thousands gathered to express their anger. We're you among them? The slideshow above are shots from the San Francisco rally and impromptu march that I attended. At one point as the crowd broke into a march and started walking down Market Street, I saw all the signs and the bright unusually warm November sun shining bright and I choked up at the beauty of all these people supporting civil rights. It was a very moving march. ;-)

Links to news reports:
"Across the U.S., Big Rallies for Same-Sex Marriages" (New York Times)
"Prop 8 Opponents Rally Across California" (Los Angeles Times)
"Bay Area Demonstrations Condemn Prop. 8" (San Francisco Chronicle)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Most Impassioned Plea for Love

Wow. I just finally watched the Nov. 10, 2008 commentary by Keith Olberman of MSNBC. I've never watched this guy regularly, but his heart-felt commentary about the passage of Prop. 8 should teach us all about the lessons of a reasoned electorate. If we all could live in the world he describes, this planet would be a better place.

The Double-Edged Sword of Consumer Boycotts

So there have been some calls by gay activists to boycott companies that have donated to Yes on Prop. 8. It's a sort of protest with your wallet.

While I generally try to be a smart consumer, buying fish that's sustainable or clothing not from known sweat shop countries, I think this Prop. 8 boycott is a bit tricky. Why? Because it's not really that easy to find the company donors. (Believe me, I tried looking through the database, conveniently organized by the Los Angeles Times, and still my eyes glazed over from all the names and small donors, but rarely did I spot a company donor. See for yourself here.)

What a lot of activists have been doing is putting up names of individual donors and then boycotting the companies where they work. Case in point: Scott Eckern, the artistic director of the Sacramento, Calif.-based California Musical Theatre. It was discovered that Mr. Eckern donated $1,000 to Yes on 8 campaign. People like Marc Shaiman (composer for "Hairspray") called for a boycott of the theatre group.

Here's an example of how one person's donation affected the employer and the employer's workers, who probably included several LGBT members. Is it fair for the others to suffer on account of one person's action as an individual? I don't think so, and neither did Mr. Eckern who resigned from his position to avoid any harm to the rest of the group.

What was interesting to me is in a statement Mr. Eckern released after his resignation, he noted that his sister is a lesbian and she supports him and he supports her. But I really wonder how much discussion on the topic occurred, and whether we as gays and lesbians need to engage even our own friends and family about why we believe marriage is the only civil unions that will be equal and fair? Maybe Mr. Eckern's lesbian sister needed to do more convincing so that her brother would not have written that $1,000 check in the first place.

And then sometimes if we do find a company to boycott where they clearly donated, then you run the risk of putting innocent workers out of a job in a really tough economy. Is that really the way to engender goodwill from heterosexuals who we need on our side of this battle?

I think the better approach is to support the companies who donated heavily to the No on Prop. 8 campaign. That means buying an iPod from Apple, ordering tickets from Live Nation, or doing your searching on the Web exclusively with Google (like you don't already). Let's support those who supported us, and that's the best way to exercise our pocketbook power.

Links to news reports on the case of Scott Eckern:
"Scott Eckern of California Musical Theater Resigns" (New York Times)
"Prop. 8 donor Scott Eckern explains his resignation" (Los Angeles Times)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Next Protest: Join the Impact Nov. 15

The next major protest will be this Saturday, Nov. 15. There will be protest all around the country, but the one in the Bay Area will start at San Francisco City Hall at 10:30 a.m. Get your signs out! Go to the Protest 8SF Web site for more information.

To find a protest near you, check out the national Join the Impact site by clicking here.

LA County Joins the Fight

The roster of government entities outraged by the passage of Prop. 8 continues to grow as the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted to join the lawsuit seeking the overturning of Prop. 8 based on the fact that it was not the proper way to amend the state constitution and it removes a fundamental right to a particular class of citizens. Los Angles County joins the cities of San Francisco, LA, and Santa Clara who have already pledged their commitment to fighting Prop. 8.

Links from news reports:
"Emotional Board of Supervisors backs Prop. 8 Challenge" (Los Angeles Times)

Love Bursts Out in Connecticut

Connecticut started issuing marriage licenses today to same-sex couples! They're now the second state in the country to do that, with Massachusetts being the other. In October, the Connecticut Supreme Court struck down the state's civil unions law, saying it wasn't enough to satisfy the state constitution's equal protection clause. Why is it that the East Coast states are more same-sex-wedding-friendly than out here in the West? Anywho, congrats to all the couples in Connecticut. Happy Martha Stewart-style weddings to you all!

Links from news reports:
"Gay Marriages Begin in Connecticut" (New York Times)
"Judge Clears Way for Same-Sex Marriages" (Hartford Courant)
"Gays Get Right to Wed in Connecticut" (Associated Press)

The Day I Stepped Up to the Plate

Welcome to the first day of my blog, Love Not H8. It’s a big step for me. You see, I was never really the rabble-rouser type. I had my beliefs, but I was always an observer to the changes in our society, not the instigator.

On Nov. 4, 2008, when 52 percent of Californians voted to change the state constitution to allow the words that define state-sanctioned marriage as something only between a man and a woman, I knew I couldn’t sit on the bench any longer. (Yes, I’m a baseball fan if you can’t tell already.)

I felt disgusted. Not so much that I was denied the right to marry. I’m single, so it wasn’t a pressing issue for me, personally. But I hope one day that if I do find someone special, I will have the chance to get married like many of my friends (and maybe get some of those gifts back after years of attending weddings).

But I really was more disgusted at the idea that people in today’s society still viewed me as some what different. Sure, they say they have nothing against homosexuals and they probably do believe that we’re born the way we are. But despite all they’ve come to understand, they still don’t accept me as someone just like them, somenoe who should have the freedoms and liberties to do what they get to do. And that’s specifically to be married.

Last Friday night, I marched in my first protest in my 45 years of life. Surrounded by thousands of strangers, I felt that I belonged. At least for a moment, I belonged to a community who did believe in love not hate.

(Photo above is me in the middle of the Nov. 7 march in San Francisco.)