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Altoona, Pennsylvania

20 Apr

Due to life, I haven’t written in quite some time. And I’m not sure when I’ll write again, but I noticed something tonight I wanted to let you know about.

I’m on the mailing list for the anti-gay hate group, the National Organization for Marriage, which I’ve written about several times. They’re known primarily for spreading lies about LGBT families and screwing up amicus briefs when marriage equality is discussed in our court system. They’re signature event is an anti-gay hate march they hold in Washington DC each year titled “The March for Marriage.” I’ve attended twice and taken photos to show just how few people are showing up for their hate marches. Both years, they’ve publicly inflated their numbers by 1000-2000%.

But today, I received an email from NOM stating:

“I just received a phone call from a lovely couple in Altoona, Pennsylvania, who have chartered a bus and gathered 30 of their friends to come to the March for Marriage next weekend! Isn’t that wonderful?”

It seems like your usual fib. A made up phone call trying to show that anyone from anywhere can bring people to this hate march – but there is something different about this one. Altoona, Pennsylvania. Altoona is a small city, with a population just under 50,000. Nothing to write home about. But to those of us who’ve studied the history of LGBT equality, or just to those of us who saw the movie, “MILK,” Altoona, Pennsylvania seems a touch familiar.

From the tape recording made by Harvey Milk, to be played in the event of his assassination:

“I ask for the movement to continue, for the movement to grow, because last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all, that’s what this is all about. It’s not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power — it’s about giving those young people out there in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, hope. You gotta give them hope.”

I’d never heard of Altoona, Pennsylvania before I saw a documentary about Harvey Milk. Is it coincidence that the young man who called Harvey Milk was from the same town that NOM got a mysterious call from as well? Or is NOM purposefully trying to troll LGBT equality organizers by throwing in a dog whistle from a very famous Harvey Milk quote? I’ve certainly got my suspicions.

Photo (c) Danny Nicoletta

Photo (c) Danny Nicoletta

 

Ender’s Game author Card isn’t just homophobic, he’s racist too!

14 Aug

Orson_Scott_Card_at_BYU_Symposium_20080216_closeupI’m sure a lot of you have already decided you’re going to wait for Ender’s Game to show up on cable, but in case you hadn’t…

It’s no secret that well-known sci-fi author Orson Scott Card is an enormous anti-gay bigot with some severe power issues. His “gays are taking over the world and they’re all going to make us be gay with them” mentality has been well documented. His threat to overthrow the federal government should marriage equality become the law of the land is one of the other clues we have as far as his emotional stability goes.

“How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.”

Geeks Out, a new organization for LGBT gamers and sci-fi nerds has launched an extraordinarily successful campaign to get people to make a different choice than Ender’s Game with their movie-going dollar. As we know, some of that dollar will be going straight into Card’s pocket and used to spread more anti-gay bigotry.

As if that weren’t enough though, Card has decided the deep end wasn’t quite deep enough for him when it came to being crazy.

Slate’s Dave Weigel has apparently discovered Card’s most recent trip into political writing and it’s a doozy.

Among Card’s more paranoid statements are assumptions that Obama is a dictator:

“Obama is, by character and preference, a dictator. He hates the very idea of compromise; he demonizes his critics and despises even his own toadies in the liberal press. He circumvented Congress as soon as he got into office by appointing “czars” who didn’t need Senate approval. His own party hasn’t passed a budget ever in the Senate.

In other words, Obama already acts as if the Constitution were just for show…How far might he take his dictatorial disposition? Is there any plausible way for him to remain as president for life, like the dictators he so admires and envies in Russia, China and the Muslim world?”

Then comes the fun – the idea that Michelle Obama will be Obama’s appointed successor:

“This is because Michelle Obama is going to be Barack’s Lurleen Wallace. Remember how George Wallace got around Alabama’s ban on governors serving two terms in a row? He ran his wife for the office. Everyone knew Wallace would actually be pulling the strings, even though they denied it.

Michelle Obama will be Obama’s designated “successor,” and any Democrat who seriously opposes her will be destroyed in the media the way everyone who contested Obama’s run for the Democratic nomination in 2008 was destroyed.

But the plan goes deeper than this. Barack Obama, like Hitler and the Iranian dictators, announced his plan, though the media (as with Hitler) has “forgotten” it.”

Then, unshockingly, Card goes all-out racist and makes the prediction that Obama is going to make a national police force out of “urban (read: “black”) youth.” Gangs will become our national police force:

“Obama will claim we need a national police force in order to fight terrorism and crime. The Boston bombing is a useful start, especially when combined with random shootings by crazy people.

Where will he get his “national police”? The NaPo will be recruited from “young out-of-work urban men” and it will be hailed as a cure for the economic malaise of the inner cities.

In other words, Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama’s enemies.”

He goes on and you can feel free to check out the full amount of crazy in his piece here. So, if Card’s blatant homophobia wasn’t enough to keep you from seeing Ender’s Game in the movie theatre – will his blatant racism?

The very public, very desperate crumbling of the anti-gay Right

4 Jul

One week ago, I sat in front of the Supreme Court of the United States among hundred of others anxiously awaiting their decisions on marriage equality.

Interviewing the first openly gay person of color in Congress, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)

Interviewing the first openly gay person of color in Congress, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) photo by Sarah Baker

It’s strange, because there in the sun, just a few hundred feet from where the decisions were being read, we actually found out quite a bit later than many of you at home reading SCOTUSblog. Phone service was sparse and in the bright, direct sunlight, I couldn’t see a thing on my screen. Not to mention, I was busy hosting streaming coverage and interviews for WeActRadio. While talking with Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA), the decision striking down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came out.

I wanted to scream and hug the Congress member, but we didn’t quite have that kind of relationship yet. I continued covering the day’s events and followed up with several other interviews on radio stations around the country and finished up the day on SiriusXM Radio with my husband and another friend and her wife…and a bottle of champagne. What a day!

My husband, Sean and I standing with Brendon Ayanbadejo outside the Supreme Court in March

My husband, Sean and I standing with Brendon Ayanbadejo outside the Supreme Court in March

My husband Sean and I had helped to organize rallies that happened outside the Supreme Court back in March while the DOMA and Prop 8 arguments were being heard. So much of our time was spent considering what “the other side” would be planning while we rallied. Partly we wanted to know so that we could respond courteously and effectively to the things they said. But the other reason we wanted to be prepared for them was so we could protect the families we knew would be standing with us, from the hateful, toxic things the anti-gay right seems to spew when they’re angry. Our kids don’t need to hear that.

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Last week at the Supreme Court

Last week in front of the court was different though. Despite hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage and Family Research Council calling for “days of prayer” and for their followers to stand with them that morning on the steps of the court, no one came. I could count on one hand the number of people standing their with anti-gay signs. The rest was a sea of rainbows and love. Maybe despite their screams to the press that they would win, they knew what was coming, what was inevitable.

What followed that amazing day when my husband and I woke up without equality and went to bed with 1,100 more rights, was truly dumbfounding.

The National Organization immediately began attacking the court for making an “Illegitimate” decision. In their first email/blog post, they asked for money and linked to their fundraising page 8 TIMES. As a person who works in digital media for a living, I can tell you with some certainty that 3-4 times is excessive when asking for money in one email, but 8?!? Not even street canvassers will bother you that many times.

NOM President Brian Brown’s initial response to the court’s decision was scathing:

“There is a stench coming from this case that has now stained the Supreme Court. They’ve allowed corrupt politicians and judges to betray the voters, rewarding them for their betrayal. It’s an illegitimate decision. We and millions of other Americans will refuse to accept this rogue decision rewarding corruption. “

NOM President Brian Brown

NOM President Brian Brown

Then came the emails. The angry, angry emails. NOM’s emails accused California lawmakers of participating in “lawlessness” when they began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples (which was now legal following Prop 8 being struck down). Another email was filled with vitriol and borderline racist comments about CA Attorney General Kamala Harris. In this message, they refer to Harris’ “arrogance,” a term usually reserved for those we think don’t deserve a place in leadership. Additionally, they use the email to twist and misquote remarks made by the President about Harris a few months ago.

They followed with a tweet that said “Polygamists are actually celebrating the Supreme Court’s decisions this week as a personal victory for them” and linked to a blog post which of course, said nothing of the sort.

In other posts, they continued their usual outdated theme claiming that marriage equality is bad for children somehow. Yet they continue to ignore the fact that their argument completely discounts the millions of kids being raised by LGBT parents.

NOM wrapped up the week with a patriotic 4th of July email claiming that a person cannot be gay or a supporter of equality for gay people and an American at the same time.

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Graphic from NOM’s most recent email

The anti-gay Right is disintegrating before our eyes and the desperation with which they are clinging onto life has never been more apparent. They will never be gone forever, though. Just as we’ve seen with groups that fought integration and some in the South who are still fighting the Civil War, they’re never gone for good.

Happily though, with support for marriage equality in this country hitting all time highs and a Gallup poll following last week’s rulings finding support at 55% for and 40% against legalizing same-sex marriages, these hate groups will continue to lose funding and support.

The fight is far from over, and as NOM is only too quick to recognize, there are still 37 states which do not recognize marriage equality. I think this number will drop quickly, but not without our work.

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:

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“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:

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“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.

NOM’s Anti-Gay No-Show Band “Apologizes” (to volunteers)

30 May

dsc_0493A few months ago, my now-husband and I were involved in helping to organize the United for Marriage rallies at the Supreme Court. Our events, in support of equality for all Americans brought thousands to the steps of the highest court in the land and brought together over 150 different organizations in solidarity.

The first day of the rally, the virulently anti-gay group, The National Organization for Marriage had scheduled a rally to fight marriage equality. Their (sparsely-attended) rally was a topic of much discussion leading up to the events.

In working with GoodAsYou.org’s Jeremy Hooper, we immediately went on the lookout to find out just what they were planning. Jeremy did some incredible work to research the musicians slated to perform at the anti-gay event. One group backed out nearly immediately after being informed of NOM’s history and the truth behind their work. Another group, a band named “Ultramontane” was nowhere to be found. After some further research, we discovered “Ultramontane” was actually just 3 out of the 5 members of the band, Scythian.

NOM's "March for Marriage"

NOM’s “March for Marriage”

As we reported on this and as Scythian quickly removed all their online properties and social media to avoid the frustration of equality-minded fans, the two musicians who’d decided not to take part were left to deal with all the questions. To this day, 2 months later, the three bandmates who refused to do so much as state why they’d decided to support a hate group, have yet to make a public statement.

In the meantime, Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy have publicly and eloquently stated their support for equality.

The band is now back together after taking a bit of a hiatus while this all “blew over.” A rogue fan group upset about the band member’s actions started their own Facebook group. Many who belong to the group are also volunteers for the band’s “Street Team,” selling t-shirts and such at concerts.

It turns out the other three band members made a statement on their Street Team Facebook group back in April. I can’t help but feel a little amazed at how they manage to make themselves out to be victims or martyrs here – although that seems to be the main talking point of anti-gay Christianists nowadays. The truth of the matter is they never actually showed up to perform at the  anti-gay rally (something drummer Andrew Toy had no idea of even a week after the event). They explain why:

6a00d8341c503453ef017ee95bd88c970d“First of all, we wanted to let you know that we did not play the March for Marriage. Though still firm in our stance on traditional marriage, based in our deeply held faith as Catholics, upon researching the event, we decided that we did not want to be involved given its highly politically charged nature. Admittedly, there was some naivete involved on our part in accepting to play, and this was all a learning experience for us.

Those of you who civilly disagreed with our stance, we thank you for the respect you accorded us. You are true ambassadors of peace and much needed in this world. And we thank those who have respectfully shown support for us and assured us of their prayers.

We must say that we were deeply saddened by the ugly nature of the attacks leveled at us for expressing our convictions. We were especially alarmed when members of our family fell under these vicious attacks, wherein they were disparaged for their stance and wherein their personal information was disseminated. For this reason, as you might imagine, we were left with no choice but to shut down the main band page as we could not control what was posted. We choose not to respond in kind, and offer our prayers for those people, confident in the hope that love conquers, indeed has conquered all. We can’t help but believe that most of the ugly posts were not made by Scythian fans but by outsiders.

As far as the street team group goes, we wanted to address some of you who felt hurt in the past weeks. Due to the ugliness encountered, the band members stepped away entirely from the medium of Facebook, very much shaken by the ugliness that can be encountered through it. In the weeks since the turn of events, all administrative activity was taken care of by our friend and assistant. If some of you felt marginalized, we sincerely apologize. If there was any offense taken at her actions, please understand that she was in a difficult position, with no playbook in hand, and that if she erred, her actions were motivated from a place of protecting us. She too was shaken by what happened on the main page. We ask you for your understanding and forgiveness.

In all, this was a very disturbing and trying experience for us, and we hope to move on from it. Though tried by this experience, we sincerely believe that people can disagree and still have respect and love for each other. We hope you can understand where we are coming from and help us move on too. Our plan is to get the main Facebook page up and running soon. Stay tuned.”

Keep in mind this message was not sent to fans, but to volunteers they need to help promote their shows and sell their merch. The band has yet to actually publicly address why they chose to align themselves with an anti-gay hate group.

NOM Takes on HRC Viral Red Campaign

27 Mar

DSC_0493I’m not one to revel in the downfall of the anti-gay movement. LOL who am I kidding? It’s brilliant to see bigotry and discrimination going the way of the car phone.

After spending the past two days organizing and helping run the stage at the United for Marriage rallies at the Supreme Court, doing about a dozen radio interviews and holding my soon-to-be husband’s hand while Edie Windsor walked down the court steps, I’m tired.

Yesterday after the rally, Sean and I walked to the anti-gay rally and were surprised to find a remarkably tiny crowd and horrifically boring rally. The only fireworks were from a 15 year old gay activist being bullied by some adults in the crowd. I was able to take a few photos of the scant crowd before leaving (or being bored to tears). Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage claimed 15,000 people attended the rally and NOM President Brian Brown claimed over 10,000. Of course, the pictures show otherwise and the Capitol Police count (you know – the people in charge of counting crowds) claimed between 1,500 and 2,000.

The stage at the anti-gay march

The stage at the anti-gay march

The view from the stage at the anti-gay march

The view from the stage at the anti-gay march

And then there’s science. You may have notice 1 or 2 or 1,000 of your Facebook friends have changed their profile photo to a red equal sign or some version of it. According to SpotCo’s media team:

7580_434351313319009_1554855818_nMarriage Equality ‘Red & Pink’ Logo Dominates Facebook 3/26/13-HRC’s Facebook timeline was visited by over 9 million people yesterday.

-The photo was shared over 77,000 times just from the organization’s Facebook page directly.

-Number of profile photo changes to HRC logo estimated in the over 1 million.

-Big Brands jump on board to support. (Madonna, Beyonce, Martha Stewart Bud Light, among others…).

-People from 26 other countries chimed in for support – Japan being at the top of the list.

-Photo remixes estimated over 3,000 just yesterday

And then tonight happened. After at least doubling the crowd of the anti-gay group marching on Tuesday, Thomas Peters, Spokesman for the anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage (and might I add, the worst Communications Director of all time) has launched his own little viral campaign.
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I can’t wait to see the stats.
In case you’re looking for a better version of their icon, please share this one:
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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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