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NOM breaks up the band

6 Jun
Former Scythian Drummer Andrew Toy

Former Scythian Drummer Andrew Toy

There’s some news in the world of Scythian, the band with three anti-gay members and two one pro-equality members.

You might remember that time when the anti-gay hate group, The National Organization for Marriage announced that an utterly unknown band called “Ultramontane” would be playing at their big anti-gay hate march in DC. Well, upon further digging, we discovered that “Ultramontane” was actually just 3/5 of Scythian. Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka and Ben-David Warner had made the decision to join the anti-gay group while members Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy decided to sit this one out, due to their fundamental beliefs that all people deserved to be treated equally under the law.

The piece I posted, titled “Will NOM be this band’s Yoko Ono” was never meant to actually be a prediction that NOM would cause the break-up of the band, but it’s appearing that it may have been a bit prophetic.

On Tuesday, Andrew posted to his Facebook page:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.09.43 PM

“I want to let everyone know that I will no longer be performing with Scythian. I want to thank all of the great people that I have met along the way, whose support and friendship has been incredible. I’m looking forward to sharing with you all my future musical endeavors, whatever they may be!”

Two days later, Scythian followed up with:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.10.35 PM

“After two years of fine drumming with Scythian, Andrew is moving on to pursue different musical endeavors, and we wanted to thank him for his great musicianship, hard work, and professionalism while traveling the country with us, and for truly making us into a better bunch of musicians. Please join us in wishing Andrew the very best as he moves ahead in his musical career! Thank you Andrew!”

I would like to think, based on these posts, that Andrew’s leaving was of his own accord. But upon some further research I discovered the band’s new drummer – Tim Hepburn, like the anti-gay members of the band – is hyper-Catholic and attended Franciscan University along with them.

Seeing as the anti-gay members of the band have remained cowardly and silent (except to the volunteers they depend on) leaving Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy to answer for their bigoted and naive decisions, I don’t expect to ever really know what happened. What I can say is that whether he left by choice, conscience or force, I believe Andrew will have a long and happy career without having to compromise his belief in a free and equal country for all Americans. We salute you, Andrew and thank you for standing with us on the right side of history.

Members of band hurt by NOM speak out

20 Mar

It’s been a tumultuous week for the National Organization for Marriage. Last week, they released a video to advertise their anti-gay hate march in Washington D.C. – that video has now been yanked from Youtube because NOM had stolen the background music from the equality-supporting Katie Herzig.

The Lee Boys, one of their two announced acts to play at the big anti-gay hate march pulled out seconds after they were announced. Seems someone tipped them off to the fact that NOM exists solely to attack gay families.

Then a little poll came out announcing Americans were 58% in favor of marriage equality.

And upon researching their 2nd announced act, I discovered the band didn’t exist. Called “Ultramontane,” the celtic fiddle boy band was actually 3 of the 5 members of a popular ensemble known as Scythian. There was great mystery shrouded in the circumstances surrounding the split, but the band released a statement essentially saying they agreed to disagree.

Scythian's Josef Crosby

Scythian’s Josef Crosby

Since then, an uproar from equality-loving and some gay-hating fans have caused them to delete their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The individual band members have also been approached on their personal social networking sites and while we’ve heard nothing from the band members who’ve decided to play for the anti-gay march, the two who’ve opted out are now speaking out.

Drummer Andrew Toy briefly took to his Facebook page to state his support for equality a few days ago and now his fellow equality-loving band mate has made a beautiful statement of his own:

“I’ve always made it a point to leave politics at the door when it came to Scythian, but I feel I have to go on record as saying that I am completely in support of full equality for all couples, no matter their orientation. I can only hope the Supreme Court agrees.”

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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.

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

What if your parents were gay?

25 Oct
Our conversations that have been pushing our movement forward so expediently most frequently revolve around rights and protections for ourselves. The conversation is most always focuses on why we can’t get married, violence against us or own rejection from our families, friends and society. It’s time for the conversation to change.

The Family Equality Council and Center for American Progress released a new MAP (Movement Advancement Project) study today which is the first comprehensive and thorough study of LGBT-headed families in the United States. Their findings not only change the conversation, but they blow apart the last walls of defense for those who continue to propagate bigotry and hatred.

The most devastating conclusion found in the report, which needs to be shared around this country – is that the discriminatory laws of this country are actually harming children. Here is a sampling of some of the staggering statistics:

  • There are up to 2 million children in this country being raised by LGBT parents.
  • Across 18 years, sams-sex parents will have an added $219,262 financial burden which heterosexual parents will not have.
  • Children of binational parents live in fear that one of their parents may be deported.
  • Children of LGBT parents may be denied health insurance if a parent’s employer requires documentation of legal adoption in a state which does not allow same-sex parent adoption.
  • LGBT parents may not be able to take time off work to care for a sick child or spouse under the Family Medical Leave Act.
  • LGBT families are more than twice as likely to live in poverty.
  • 18 states treat LGBT partners and non-adoptive parents and their children as legal strangers. This means if a parent has to take a child to the hospital, they have no right to make medical decisions.
  • Children of LGBT parents are denied financial protections should a parent die or become disabled.

These and many other findings in this groundbreaking report have the capacity to become game-changers. With a half-million children in this country living in foster care and 30 years of competent research stating that children of same-sex parents are just as happy, healthy and well adjusted as those from heterosexual parents, the laws need to change.

Those who so frequently claim that they are “fighting to protect children” as their primary defense of heterosexual-only marriage, can no longer claim that. We now have the facts to support the opposite. This is no longer about us working for our equality. This is about our children who face devastating inequality through no action of their own.

The Family Equality Council has put together a comprehensive website which includes not only the findings of the report, but the next action steps we can take to be certain this report is getting the attention it needs.

On the site, there is a place for LGBT families to “Tell Your Story.” I highly recommend that if you or someone you know is an LGBT family, that you take advantage of this. It is through stories like these, that we will best see these gross inequalities represented. Nothing is going to change if no one knows something is wrong.

Please enjoy the photos below from this morning’s panel on LGBT families and please share the following video wherever you can:

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler

Jeff Krehely, Center for American Progress

Jonathan Capehart

Bryan Samuels

Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council

The panel on LGBT Families

Jonathan Capehart

Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council

Bryan Samuels

Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council

Ineke Mushovic, Movement Advancement Project (MAP)

Ineke Mushovic, Movement Advancement Project (MAP)

Jeff Krehely, Center for American Progress

Aisha Moodie-Mills, Center for American Progress, Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council

Reverend Dennis Wiley

Jeff Friedman, Andrew Zwerin and their son Josh with Pulitzer Prize-winner Jonathan Capehart

Pastor Fired for Linking to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Story on Facebook

14 Oct

With so many stories of anti-gay teachers posting hateful things on their facebook walls, and a new campaign launched by the National Organization for Marriage, aiming to make victims out of bigots and defending their right to practice hatred towards LGBT people, you’d expect better when the tables were turned.

Blogger John Shore received a troubling email a few nights ago. A straight pastor who is married with 3 kids (and one on the way) was fired after posting a link to an article about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on his facebook wall. The pastor is receiving a severance package from the church, but that will end should he speak out publicly about his firing. With a large family and a baby due in December, unfortunately, losing his severance is not an option.

The pastor’s email said (in part):

“…Four weeks ago the discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally abolished. Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it, I felt like it was good to celebrate the end of discrimination. So I posted a link to an article about the end of DADT on my Facebook page. I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all…”

“Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on. Even more people were calling/texting/emailing our lead pastor and the chair of our elder board.”

“What resulted over the next six days was not fun. The chair of the elder board called for an emergency board meeting to deal with me. I was summoned to the board meeting, where I was forced to give my stance on homosexuality (even though the church has no official stance on the matter, and has never before talked about the issue). And even though I reminded them that we all agree on our church’s statement of faith, ultimately, when they learned that I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, and that I would be in favor of two gay people being allowed to get married, they came to the conclusion that I was unfit to be a pastor at [Name of Church]. And within a week of posting the article on FB page, I was fired from a church I’d served faithfully and helped to build for five years…”

“…Right now, three weeks after being fired, I have so many conflicting emotions. I’m devastated at being fired. I’m angry at the process by which it was done. I was just eliminated almost immediately. In the eyes of the church body and the staff I essentially just disappeared. I was there one week, and not the next. It’s made me feel like a leper, like someone who committed some heinous sin and had to be “dealt” with. I’m disappointed that the church I’d loved and served and believed in ultimately came up short. I desperately wanted [Name of Head Pastor] to stand by me, and say to the board and to the negative people in the church, “[Guy's Name] and I agree on what it means to follow Jesus. We agree on the essentials of the faith. And we have done ministry together for five years, and I want to continue to serve alongside him. We disagree on things, on non-essential elements of the faith–and you know what? That’s okay! We celebrate our unity in the faith, and we welcome different viewpoints and beliefs.” That’s what I wanted; that’s what I hoped for…”

I can’t help but wonder (if the pastor could come forward) if Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage would stand up for this man’s 1st amendment rights? Or are they only committed to those rights if they are protecting bigots who refuse to do their jobs and teach children intolerance and hatred?

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!

Help Defeat Anti-Gay Tea Partier in New York!

9 Sep

Last month, you’d have had to be living under a rock to not hear about Congressman Anthony Weiner’s Twitter scandal. For those of you who were living under a rock – Anthony Weiner sent some awkward photos of himself to some female Twitter followers. It provided weeks of unfortunate late night jokes and plays on the Congressman’s name. It was a stupid mistake, but in my opinion – did not warrant one of the most aggressive and progressive leaders on Capitol Hill to step down from his seat.

David Weprin

What does this have to do with LGBT equality? Right now, in New York – they are holding a special election to replace Weiner. The stakes couldn’t be higher: do we want the inner-NYC seat held by one of our great progressive and pro-equality allies to be represented by a Tea Party Republican?  I know all of you join me with a resounding HELL NO.  But we are in grave danger of Anthony Weiner’s House seat going to Bob Turner: a Tea Party Republican – who has accepted $75,000 from anti-gay bigot Maggie Gallagher and the hate group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM), as well as a host of Tea-Partry and ultr-conservative organizations.  This philosophy is in-line with a South Carolina worldview – it has no place in New York.

Bob Turner will vote in lockstep with John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Michele Bachmann.  Does this sound like New York City?  HELL NO.

Unless you can live with this, and I know I can’t, please devote a few hours to canvassing this weekend and after work Monday and Tuesday and helping to ensure that David Weprin is sent to Washington.

Please contact Jon Reinish at reinish.jon@gmail.com and he will connect you with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Avenue Q’s Rod & Ricky Tie the Felt Knot in NYC

24 Jul

I was honored to attend the wedding of Avenue Q’s infamous Republican showtune-loving puppet, Rod and his partner of nearly 8 years now, Ricky. We were happy to get a brief interview with the couple that we will be sharing later, but in the meantime, please enjoy some photos of their nuptials.

Rod says, “To have this finally happen for us — especially so soon after Will and Kate — is unbelievable to me.  I realize there are a lot of broken hearts out there now that Ricky and I are off the market — step back, all you chorus boys! — but I’ve known since Day One that Ricky is the husband for me.  He’s the furry fellow I want to spend my life with both on and off the stage.”

Now in its 9th year in New York — and with productions in countries around the world — AVENUE Q is a three-time Tony Award-winning musical about people and puppets fresh out of college in search of their purposes in life, living as neighbors in an outer-borough of New York City.

In AVENUE Q, Rod, a Wall Street banker, and Ricky, a “Chelsea boy,” meet through an online personal ad placed by Rod’s best friend and slacker roommate Nicky.  It is love at first sight.  And the rest is soon to become history!!

Also in attendance at today’s marriage ceremony was Amy Hausman, an All Peoples Wedding Officiant for the Starlight Rainbow Wedding Initiative and AVENUE Q’s Jennifer Barnhart, Jed Resnick and Howie Michael Smith.

Brian Brown Pulls Strings with Sen. Ruben Diaz for NY Hate Fest

13 Jul

Brian Brown, President of hate group, National Organization for Marriage (photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com)

As discussed during last week’s covert operation (sort-of), where I secretly transcribed a phone call that anti-gay activist and president of the National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown was having, it seems the hate rallies are indeed headed to New York.

While Brown was on the phone with NY Sen. Ruben Diaz, he became noticeably upset when Diaz told him he wouldn’t be going to the July 24th rally. Diaz made this decision apparently after Brown informed him that the Archbishop would not be attending.

It seems Diaz has changed his mind and has written a letter to Archbishop Dolan to try to get him to attend the hate anti-equality hate rally at the end of the month. One must wonder what Brown did to change Diaz’ mind on the topic.

“In the great spirit of interfaith unity, I invite you to join me and my fellow ministers on Sunday, July 24th at 3PM at a March for Marriage that has been organized by the National Organization for Marriage to be held outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midtown office at 633 Third Avenue.”

“Our peaceful and prayerful rally will protest the redefinition of marriage and demand that all New Yorkers have the right to vote on this very serious social issue.”

“You know that I have tremendous respect for you and I am most hopeful that you and your fellow bishops and clergy will join us on the 24th.”

Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz

This comes a day after Brown made waves by claiming that the NY Legislature “stole” the right of New Yorker’s to vote. Of course, Brown chooses to ignore that we have a representative government and we vote to give certain legislators the right to vote for us. He also said that the vote wasn’t transparent or fair, despite unprecedented media coverage and literally dozens of emails from Brown’s own National Organization for Marriage – not sure how a topic can be less transparent or fair. Unless of course it’s just not fair when Brown loses. Perhaps it’s more fair to ignore election laws in states like Maine and Minnesota and more transparent to not report the names of contributors as required by law. Seems Brown needs some lessons in transparency and fairness.

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