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Maggie’s Flip-Flop on Immigration and Baiting of the Latino Community

5 Apr

NOM's Maggie Gallagher

In case you haven’t heard or are living under a rock, a couple weeks ago the National Organization for Marriage found themselves in hot water following the release of some internal documents.

The NOM papers, which had been released as part of a court agreement in Maine revealed some rather atrocious plans to divide the LGBT, African American and Latino communities. I don’t need to rehash the story here, but if you haven’t read about it, you can check it out here, here and in the New York Times.

I want to focus for a second though on one of the divisions NOM tried to make. In the released papers, NOM states:

“The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values?” the document asks. “We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity – a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”

Maggie Gallagher, former President and Chairman of the the board for NOM more than likely helped craft much of this messaging. So I thought I’d do a little research into Maggie’s stance on immigration. At first I was really pleasantly surprised by a 1995 column written by Maggie. It was titled “America’s Meltdown Can’t be Blamed on Immigrants.” Of course, this is from 1995, before immigration was such a hot-button issue. In the column, she acknowledges her own status as a 2nd generation American and even goes on to mention how the post-60s immigration wave helped her “snag a husband.”

“Immigration is an easy scapegoat for our own cultural meltdown, our failure to maintain and transmit to our children a unified and vigorous vision of American history, institutions and heritage. Our system of government is under assault and our way of life threatened by ignorance, crime and social disorder. But grind immigration to a total halt, and you’ve done nothing about this real cancer eating away at the heart of American civilization.

The fault… lies not in our immigrants but in ourselves.”

Me…dumbfounded. Did Maggie just write something I agree with and goes utterly against her own party’s platform? Did she really just use our own pro-immigration argument to say that our country’s history and very founding depended on immigration? Wait…no. She didn’t “just” say it. She said it in 1995.

Upon further Googling, I find Maggie’s column from 10 years later, after George W. Bush, (her former employer) made immigration a “thing.” Maggie has clearly changed her tune and taken on the mantle of a racist, “illegals” hater.

“For me, personally, illegal Mexican immigration means that when a foot of snow falls, two nice guys show up and offer to shovel the driveway for $25.

But for my friend “Mary,” the whole issue looks different. She cleans houses and baby-sits for a living. Her son paints houses. In both cases, they are competing directly with a new flood of immigrants who don’t mind living doubled or quadrupled up (changing the character of neighborhoods) and for whom $10 bucks an hour is a premium wage.”

Happily though, Maggie’s opinions and her organization’s racist tactics don’t seem to be making much of a difference. According to a poll released yesterday from Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos support LGBT equality by a number of 59% to 30% who oppose it. Another takeaway from the study is that 3 out of 10 Latinos consider themselves “liberal,” compared to just 21% of the general population.

LGBT equality should not be a Republican or Democratic issue as all people should share in the equality offered by our Constitution. Immigration is similar in that our country is a country made up entirely of immigrants. Outside of indigenous peoples, we all came from another country…not so long ago in the grand scheme of things. It is utterly hypocritical of Americans to be anti-immigration.

Catholic Church Fires Gay Music Director Suffering From Parkinson’s

26 Feb

As gay people, we are certainly no strangers to criticism, hatred and discrimination coming from the Catholic Church. And those who stand against equality are very fast to make claims that if marriage equality is passed, they will most certainly be sued until gays can marry in their churches. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they continue to make these bogus statements.

Of course, we see the utter hypocrisy coming from a place that has been no stranger to sexual scandals for generation upon generation, but what about the gays and lesbians who are still practicing Catholics? Specifically, what about the gay employees who continue to work for an employer which promotes intolerance against them?

Steav Bates-Congdon (R) and his husband Bill

One such former employee, Steav Bates-Congdon, worked as music director for St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC. Steav had worked for the congregation since 2004, and parishioners claim he’d been very open about his sexuality and his relationship of 23 years since his first job interviews. So imagine his surprise when he returned from his honeymoon after getting hitched in New York, to find his job was no more.

After a visit to the church following an emergency hospital stay for a burst appendix, he was handed a note by Rev. Frank O’Rourke which stated: “Employees of St. Gabriel … are expected to live within the moral tradition of the Church. … Your civil marriage stands in direct opposition to the teaching of the Catholic Church, therefore ending your employment with us.”

In June of 2011, Steav told Rev. O’Rourke of his intended nuptials and O’Rourke responded with a “Congratulations, I’m happy for you,” and followed with “but I can’t give you my blessing.” Steav replied “I wouldn’t ask you to.” More than six months later, he was out of a job. Had O’Rourke raised any concerns at the time, Steav said they would have postponed the wedding until they didn’t have to depend so much on his income.

To add insult to injury, Steav suffers from young-onset Parkinson’s disease and participates in Michael J. Fox Foundation clinical research in the hopes of finding a cure. We hope that he is able to find another job that will pay his health insurance as the compassion of the Catholic church that once employed him has seemingly gone out the window.

Thanks to a Supreme Court decision, the church, along with 29 states can legally fire anyone they want for being gay or lesbian.

Ten States* Where I Can Get Married?!?

25 Jan

There is a whole lot going on around marriage equality in this country right now and it seemed like as good a time as any to review what’s going on! As of right now, as I’m planning my wedding, there are 7 places I can get married. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont (gotta love New England), Iowa, New York and Washington D.C.. While 7 weddings would be fun, wouldn’t 10 be funner?

Washington State: Our friends in the northwest are poised to become the 7th state to legalize marriage equality! The measure was proposed by Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire and immediately, we began counting the votes. In the past few weeks, it was seeming more and more likely as we counted. Then after several undecideds had taken a stand on the right side of history, we stood just one vote shy before stating conclusively that we could win this. Then Democratic Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, after having taken time to listen to her constituents and consider her own beliefs and values, she announced that she would be supporting the bill.

“For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman,” Ms. Haugen said in a statement. “That is what I believe, to this day. But this issue isn’t about just what I believe. It’s about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It’s about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.”

A vote there has not yet been scheduled, but when it passes, opponents are expected to challenge it with a voter referendum in the fall.

Maryland: The Free State has grappled with marriage on several occasions before. In 2004, a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU and Equality Maryland on behalf of 10 gay and lesbian couples. The suit claimed that the anti-gay marriage law on the books was unconstitutional because it discriminated based on sex. The judge found in favor of the plaintiffs, but her decision was immediately taken to appeals, where it was overturned.

Anti-gay legislators spent the next few years going crazy, trying to pass additional amendments to the constitution to make sure the discrimination was enshrined in their laws. They even went so far as to have the judge who first found in favor of the plaintiffs impeached for her decision.

Then last year, a new marriage equality bill was widely expected to pass. With Catholic Governor Martin O’Malley announcing he would sign it into law, things looked good. The Senate (which was seen as the biggest hurdle) passed the measure and then it was sent to the House. That’s when the religious groups and the out-of-state National Organization “for” Marriage jumped in and began lobbying legislators to vote against it. The bill was sent back to committee as it was clear it would not pass if brought for a vote.

This month, a new bill which contains the most explicit religious protections of any in the nation, was introduced by the Governor. Keep your fingers crossed!

New Jersey: Having moved from New Jersey to DC just this past year, I have particular interest in this race. You see – when anti-gay Republican Governor Chris Christie was elected, it was made clear that NJ would not be seeing marriage equality anytime soon. Christie made an election promise that he would veto any marriage equality bill that landed on his desk.

In recent weeks though, as discussions of a marriage equality bill made their way around, Christie seemed to hedge. There were some thoughts that he might let the bill pass without actually signing it. There’s a rule that says if it sits on his desk for 30 days without him signing it, then it becomes a law. But just in time for the debate to start, Christie announced he would stick with his homophobic decision to veto the bill should it be given to him.

But then this happened. State Senator Steve Sweeney was asked by a reporter why they were still going through with a debate and vote if the Governor had already promised a veto? What followed was one of the most poignant and clear arguments I’ve ever heard from a legislator:

Reporter:Senator Sweeney, would you comment on this veto promise of the Governor as to what the point is of even going through this exercise?Senator Sweeney: The point of going through a fight for civil rights? Are you kidding me? For standing up for people to give them the same rights? I’m offended by that.

The Governor’s a governor. He’s got his opinion. But there are many Republicans — because I’ve spoken to them — that want to vote for this bill. Now, if the Governor wants to stifle and silence his colleagues that’s one thing, but he’s not going to stifle or silence us. Someone has to stand up for equality and fairness.

You know, I apologized in the past, but I’m telling you right now, I’m fighting to get this done. And if we have to go for an override we’ll work every angle we possibly have to. But right now it’s about getting it onto his desk.

And it’s offensive for anyone to think, why bother if the Governor doesn’t want to do it. Well guess what? He’s wrong on this one.

You know his announcement today was to try to put a damper on what we’re trying to do. It’s not happening. We’re not walking away, we’re not backing down, we’re not giving up. This is about civil rights, period.”

* – About the asterisk – While Washington D.C. is not technically a state, it is still a US locale where I can get married. Some of you may not realize that D.C. has no representation in the Congress or Senate, which means we are fighting the same thing the U.S. fought in the American Revolution. We still pay local and federal taxes but have no representation. For more information on this, visit DC Vote.

I Said Yes: The Video

2 Jan

It’s been a little more than 36 hours since my boyfriend got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

Since then, more than a thousand people have commented, liked, called, texted or sent smoke signals congratulating us. We couldn’t be more happy at the outpouring of love and support.

I’m still in so much shock every time I look at my finger. I just keep jumping back to when I was a kid thinking this wasn’t something that would ever happen for me because I was gay. Even when I was older and I’d become more comfortable with myself, I would rent gay movies like Maurice or Beautiful Thing,  and while it was certainly encouraging to see our stories being told on film, there was rarely a “happily ever after.”

Our friend, Tom captured the moment on his iPhone and just posted it to youtube this morning and we wanted to share it. To be honest, I don’t recall it being that loud or 3/4 of the things that were said, but it certainly is nice to have this record of it. Please watch and share if you like.

Maybe some kid out there will watch this and realize that their prince or princess is out there looking for their fairytale ending too.

He Died Waiting to Get Married

8 Dec

Ed Watson and Derence Kernek

A heartbreaking story out of California tonight.

Last March, we posted this article about Derence Kernek and Ed Watson, who recorded a video for California’s 9th Circuit Court, requesting that they allow Judge Walker’s decision to overturn Prop 8 to stand. This request was because Watson had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and they wanted to be married while he still had memories of their 40 years together.

On August 4th, 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional as it denied gays and lesbians due process and equal protection under the law. As Walker had not disclosed that he was gay and in a relationship at the time, Prop 8 supporters filed a motion to dismiss his decision as he would stand to benefit from it. Of course their argument fails to recognize that according to their anti-gay claims – any heterosexual judge would stand to benefit from a decision in their favor.

That argument failed in a lower court and today’s hearings before the 9th circuit were in regards to the anti-gay side’s appeal of that decision.

Last night, on the eve of these arguments, Ed passed away due to complications from his quickly-advancing Alzheimer’s and Diabetes. They were never married.

On top of that, because of the inequality in the law, and the couple’s inability to marry, Watson had been denied coverage under Kernek’s retirement plan (as any heterosexual couple would be entitled to). This caused incredible financial hardships.

Kernek could not be reached for comment as their phone had been disconnected.

Please watch the video that this couple put together urging for marriage equality in California

Michelle Bachmann Campaign Chair: “Gay Marriage leads to…Eiffel Tower Marriage.”

25 Nov

As we’ve discussed here before, Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann doesn’t care for the gays too much.

Well, a few days ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s recently appointed Iowa campaign co-chair Tamara Scott had a little conversation with virulently anti-gay Bob Vander Plaats in which she makes the incredible leap from gays and lesbians marrying to someone marrying…wait for it…the Eiffel Tower.

While I too am enamored by the Eiffel Tower – like many other adults, I understand that I cannot marry it. One can only hope that this idiocy will be the final nail in Bachmann’s candidacy (in which she’s now polling at 3-4%).

Hate Group NOM Attacks Newborn Son of Rep Jared Polis

4 Oct

Welcome to the world, Caspian Julius!

We are frequently unsurprised when hate groups such as Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) or others go after gays and lesbians who want to be married. In fact, it’s expected. But today, NOM outdid itself in its rhetoric around Congress’ first openly gay father.

In a post on their blog, NOM wrote:

“We have no clue whether it was a planned motherless family or whether he and his partner stepped in to give a motherless child a family–since he will not say.”

Last week, Rep. Jared Polis and his partner Marlon Reis, welcomed into the world Caspian Julius, weighing 8 lbs, 12 oz. The birth was greeted with statements of support and love from around the country and today, an attack from hate group NOM.

NOM followed-up it’s blog post with a tweet:

“Openly gay #CO Rep. @JaredPolis announces with pride that his child has no mother.”

According to their website, NOM “is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.” They claim that they exist to protect marriage, yet their tweets and comments and blog posts focus solely on attacking lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

Clearly in their current attack on Congressman Polis, they are ignoring the fact that an extraordinarily large majority (some say as high as 75%) of children do not live with their biological parents. NOM’s own former president Maggie Gallagher, was herself a single parent for many years. And current president Brian Brown spends much of his time traveling the country to attack LGBT people, while his wife raises their children essentially on her own.

So please don’t be fooled. The National Organization for Marriage, exists only to attack LGBT people, they’re protecting nothing. If they were actually interested in protecting marriage, maybe they’d spend a little more time on their own.

Welcome to the world, Caspian Julius and Congratulations Congressman Polis!

NJ Bridal Shop Denies Lesbian Bride Over ‘Illegal’ Wedding

18 Aug

Alix Genter is getting married next July. She lives in New Jersey and is going to get a civil union there, followed by a wedding in New York City (where marriage equality is now a reality).

Alix spoke to the Philadelphia Daily News all about her impending nuptials as she completed her PhD in history.

Last Saturday, Alix’s whole family joined her as she tried on her wedding dress at a store called “Here Comes the Bride” in Somers’ Point, NJ. Her mom and dad, her aunt, her cousin and two friends were there to cheer her on during this incredible time in her life by watching her don the dress and veil she thought she may never get to wear.

She tried on several gowns and finally found the one she loved – which if you’ve ever watched “Say Yes to the Dress” you’d know how trying a chore this can be. She asked Donna, the store manager if the designer might make the gown with a more lightweight fabric for her wedding next summer, and Donna agreed to look into it. It seemed to be a very happy smiling endeavor for all involved.

So naturally, Alix was floored to receive a call from Donna a few days later saying she would not be getting that dress. On the customer information sheet, Alix had crossed out the word “groom,” written in “partner” and put down her fiancee’s name. That didn’t sit well with Donna, who called Alix and told her she would not work with her because she is gay. She told her “There’s right. There’s wrong. And this is wrong.”

Donna went on in the voicemail to say that what Alix was doing was “illegal” and that the store would “not participate in any illegal actions.” The author of the article, Ronnie Polaneczky, called Donna back and they had quite the conversation.

“When I called Donna yesterday to get her side of the story, she both confirmed your version of events and accused you of “stirring up drama.” She said that your writing the word “partner” was basically a provocation, evidence of a need “to show that she’s different.”

“They get that way,” she told me.

By “they,” she meant women who were fed up with men because “men can be difficult,” and so now they “experiment” with female relationships because they’re tired of having men boss them around.

“She told me about a friend whose wife left him for another woman. And about a young family member who was molested by a same-sex adult male. And about a gay man who once plunged a knife into a chair in the restaurant where she worked. And – she finally lost me here – something about the Navy SEALs.”

According to New Jersey’s State Judiciary website, it is illegal to refuse service to someone based on their sexual orientation in that state. We’d like to refer Alix (and anyone else who has experienced discrimination there) to visit http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/factsheets/fact_sexordis.pdf. Please read the passage below on places of public accomodation:

“Examples of places of public accommodation in which sexual orientation discrimination is not allowed include places generally open to the public where goods and services are provided. This includes restaurants, movie theaters, stores, camps, organizations, schools, professional offices (such as doctors and lawyers), and other facilities.”

Please check out the shop’s Yelp review page and feel free to let them know how you feel about discrimination. And make sure you read the original poignant article here.

 

Bert & Ernie Petitions Bring Out the Haters

11 Aug

So there’s a really interesting/ridiculous discussion going on regarding a Change.org petition that was created last week to out the ambiguously gay duo, Bert & Ernie. There is another petition saying they should get married (as Sesame Street is clearly located in New York, and since the puppets from Avenue Q tied the knot, it seems to make sense).

There have been many discussions about whether or not Bert & Ernie are gay. While they adorn the t-shirts of many walking through Chelsea and the West Village, do we have any real evidence? Well last year, regarding the A-Team movie that was released, Bert tweeted:

“Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T’s? The only difference is mine is a little more ‘mo,’ a little less ‘hawk.’”

Most assumed this was Bert’s coming out tweet, as “mo” was clearly short for “homo.” No other explanations have been offered. We’re not so sure about Ernie, but they’ve lived together 32 years, so…I think it’s safe to assume.

However the real interesting part came today. Now that the story of these petitions is getting out, it seems it’s ruffling a few feathers. People who are against the famous Muppets coming out of the closet have taken to Change.org to create petitions against the felt nuptials. What’s striking me though, is the anti-gay language that is being used in these new petitions’ comment sections.

Petition Signer Sharon Howell says:

“Im so sick of gay people pushing they’re life style on everyone else, first they wanted acceptance and gay rights, okay they got that, then they wanted gay marraige okay they got that which is ridiculous, and they’re still not satisfied. Is’nt sesame street a children’s show? can’t we leave something pure and untouched for the children for god sake they’re exposed to so much already, I have nothing against gays, but sometimes you guys just go way too far, if you want to push for gay marraige and rights that’s your thing, but leave the children alone please. I really hope the shows creators DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN, children should continue learning AB’CS and 123′s not about adam and steve god created man and woman to marry!!!”

Firstly, maybe Sesame Street should be teaching a little more about use of apostrophes and commas. Secondly, I’m still trying to figure out when we got gay rights and gay marriage. Last I heard, the government was ripping apart a married gay couple because one spouse isn’t a US citizen. Thirdly, in case you missed it – everything she says should be taken with a grain of salt because she “has nothing against gays.” I just love how that little sentence absolves people of being a bigot.

Rachelle Rose says:

UNBELEIVABLE! i have nothing against gays.. i have many friends and bestfriends who are. but my ONE YEAR OLD does not need to be watchin shit like that!, shes to young to even know about any of that!…if they do that i will not put that on for my kid

Again with the “i have nothing against gays.” She has lots of friends and bestfriends who are gay but apparently behind their backs refer to their relationships as “shit.” fun.

Latabitha King says:

“Kids are too young to try to process this type of information PERIOD.”

And here…in this one simple sentence, we have the reason we have lost referendums in 31 states for marriage equality. I just spent a week with hundreds of LGBT families and hundreds of their children. Do you think these children look at their parents and think “I wonder what my moms having sex is like?” I watched Sesame Street as a kid and I knew that Gordon and Susan were married. Did I ONCE consider what was happening in their bedroom? Nope. If there was a gay couple on Sesame Street, who just happened to live in the same apartment and hold hands and sing songs together, will kids automatically start thinking about gay and lesbian sexual relations? I doubt it.

While at first I thought the Ernie and Bert getting married petition was fairly silly, I’m now in support of it. I think the better scenario would be for a human couple to be introduced on the show that happened to be gay, but I’ll take what I can get. Bert & Ernie, I hope to one day be “doin’ the Pigeon” at your reception.

Fox News’ Van Susteren Defends Married Binational Gay Couple

11 Aug

Bradford Wells and his husband Anthony John Makk (photo by Noah Berger, Special to the SF Chronicle)

We posted the other day about the tragic story of Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk, a binational couple being split up by our federal government. Makk, an Australian citizen has been with his American husband for 19 years. This week, the Obama administration made the decision to deport Makk who was legally married to Wells in Massachusetts in 2004.

In addition to being legally married, Makk is Wells’ primary caregiver through his AIDS treatment. Their heartbreaking story is making the rounds on the internet and was featured on CNN:

http://youtu.be/tgPV8pw05nk

And in this storytelling and sharing of the couple’s life, minds and hearts are being changed. Coming from an unlikely source, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren took to her blog defending the couple in a post titled: “THIS IS CONFUSING: PRESIDENT OBAMA SENDING MIXED SIGNALS TO GAY AMERICANS”

One other personal, not legal, observation…these two men have been together 19 years….do you have any idea how many phoney applications are made by heterosexual foreigners who come to the USA, find a spouse (sometimes money is exchanged), marrying, getting a green card and then divorcing? It is a racket. We sure don’t try and stop those fraudulent relationships/marriages with any vigor. These two men, whether you are for or against, gay marriage, have been together 19 years (and yes, paying taxes!)

Of course the blog post is just a veiled attempt to attack President Obama and vilify him to the LGBT community, but the substance of it is clearly in support of protecting our rights. Minds can change so long as we continue to talk about equality.

UPDATE: After a little research, it seems Greta is talking out both sides of her mouth (which would be an accomplishment as she usually only uses one side). Greta invited John Boehner onto her show back in March to discuss Obama’s decision to stop defending DOMA in court. In the interview, she clearly sides with Boehner and claims that Boehner (in defending DOMA) is “doing the job that the Executive branch won’t do.” So this is just another case of someone using the LGBT rights movement as a political football. Either she believes that this couple should not be separated or she believes that DOMA should be the law of the land. Talk about mixed messages…

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