Tag Archives: Brian Brown

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 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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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.

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!

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.

Brian Brown EXPOSED in Covert Gay Activist Operation (sort of)

8 Jul

Brian Brown at DCA (photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com)

So, I’m on my way to Fort Wayne, Indiana for an anime convention (for those who don’t know, I do voices for Pokemon, Yu Gi Oh! and a bunch of other animated things)…anyway…I’m going through the line at security and I recognize the man in front of me as Brian Brown, the President of the hate group, The National Organization for Marriage. Strangely, I thought he was taller. I also was surprised to see he was a smoker (Marlboro Lights). He almost forgot his plane ticket and passport on the conveyor belt, and like a good gay person, I handed it to him.

After that, we both happened to be in need of a place to charge our phones. I sat down at a small table and he stood at the phone charging station. How surprised was I when he picked up his phone, dialed and said “Hello Senator…” I went into stealth mode and immediately began transcribing.

It didn’t become clear until his next call that he was talking to Senator Ruben Diaz. He was begging Diaz to show up to a rally. Apparently Diaz was grilling him about who was going to be there and Brian told him that Archbishop Timothy Dolan would not be in attendance. Apparently, that’s when Diaz said he wasn’t going to come and Brian got noticeably upset. He started to raise his voice and told Diaz that his constituents were still very upset about the vote and he really needed to be there. The call ended. According to Jeremy hooper at GoodAsYou.org (the resident expert on all things NOM), This call more than likely had to do with the July 24th NY Family Research Foundation event. This is of course, the same day that New York plans to start recognizing marriage equality with the first marriage licenses handed out to same-sex partners.

Brian then called someone (presumably Maggie Gallagher) and mentioned he’d just spoken to Diaz and he wasn’t coming to the rally. he said he wasn’t worried though about the Hispanic turnout because “they love this stuff.” He turned his back a few times and became inaudible, but he did mention the recent Foxx Amendment to the Defense Bill regarding DOMA and said he’d picked up “16 Democrats.” He said he needed to “make a big deal about it today and on Monday.” He told whoever was on the phone that they should talk to Tom McClusky because he knows the most about it.

Then came the interesting part for me. He said he needed to talk to Justin about who to hire with regards to a “New York International” organization. He has a meeting planned with the Christian Institute of Scotland and then said he didn’t “have much faith in the Mexican group.” Again, Jeremy Hooper recognized that Thomas Peters (NOM staffer) has been tweeting about some of NOM’s “exciting new plans.” This could very well have to do with that.

I’m not sure if there’s any actual news here, other than the fact that NOM is planning some International work involving the Christian Institute of Scotland and that he doesn’t really care for the Mexican group. He certainly didn’t mind categorically assuming that Hispanic people love hating gay people. Jeremy Hooper also agreed that Brian Brown was much shorter than he expected.

Anti-Gay Campaigner Jumps Fence to Equality

13 Apr

Many of you have already heard the remarkable story of Louis J. Marinelli, a former campaigner against marriage equality who has since changed his mind. And so many incredible sites, especially our brilliant friend Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou.org have done brilliant work not only chronicling this story, but helping to make it happen.

Louis Marinelli in front of NOM's tour bus last summer

Tonight, Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC spoke about Louis’ story in a way that made me realize this is the perfect story for us to share at Talk About Equality. Louis once ran his own anti-gay organization called Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman. And last summer, he became a strategist and organizer for the hate group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Louis helped organize the “Summer for Marriage Tour” for NOM and even drove the bus. This tour met with counter-protests which greatly outnumbered their attendees in nearly every city. The final stop on the tour was Washington D.C., where Talk About Equality’s Sean Carlson led a group of organizers to put together “The Big Commit,” which was one of the largest cooperative events among LGBT organizations ever seen.

Also along the tour, California’s Courage Campaign followed every move NOM made. They recorded their interactions and the counter-protests all along the route. Arisha and Anthony from the Courage Campaign interviewed attendees to NOM’s tour in addition to some of the big players on the tour – one of those players was Louis Marinelli. In Louis’ letter to supporters of the Courage Campaign today, he said:

“Throughout the summer tour, Courage Campaign’s Arisha and Anthony approached me several times. I remember sitting on a bench in St. Louis, Missouri alone with Anthony for a few minutes. It was then that I empathized with Anthony and who he was for the first time, although I did not tell him. I understood that my work wasn’t affecting faceless, nameless political targets but instead good people like Anthony who just wanted to participate in all that America is.”

Through many interviews Arisha and Anthony gave with Louis, Louis felt that he was seeing them as more than just a political opponent. This all stems back to our theory of how our country is changing. Through telling our stories through educating others, we can change the world. As Harvey Milk said, “They vote for us 2-to-1 if they know one of us.” It is our stories and specifically how we tell them which will cause the most change.

Please. Think for a moment and craft your story of self. Think about the moment when you realized who you are – be it a gay man, a lesbian, bisexual, transgender or an ally. Tell that story to a friend and work on it. Keep it short and keep it simple and remember the things that made you want to fight for equality. Then tell it to another person. And another. And another. It is YOUR story that is going to change things. It is your story that is going to make this country a place where all people live equally. Look at how many brave people are out there telling their stories now – look at the kids who are fighting to bring their same-sex partner to prom. Look at the kids who are suing to have gay-straight alliance clubs in their high schools and colleges. Look at kids like Will Phillips, a straight 11-year old from Arkansas who one day refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because he didn’t feel it was true. Will believed the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” was incoherent with current laws because lesbians and gays were not allowed to marry. I’ll leave you with Will’s speech from “The Big Commit” in DC, where Will put NOM on notice.

Should We Give a Megaphone to the Bigots?

7 Dec

Over the past few years, we’ve seen all the nuts falling from the trees. Nowadays, it’s difficult to find a news program from CNN, MSNBC, Fox or anywhere else that doesn’t offer differing viewpoints on the topics of the day – no matter how bigoted those viewpoints might be.

But how far should the media go in giving a platform to bigots, racists, homophobes and the like? Julie Bolcer at The Advocate points out a brief interview with Tom Brokaw on a red carpet recently. Brokaw pointed out the fact that sometimes it’s outrageous anti-gay viewpoints that spark conversations nationwide. “You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.” Brokaw said.

As a journalist, one would think that you should be fairly removed from the topic you are reporting on, but it would seem with the evolution of news programs from most of the major cable networks, that commentary on these issues has become standard.

Anderson Cooper joined the fray earlier this year when he interviewed former Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell after Shirvell had harrassed and stalked openly-gay University of Michigan student body president, Chris Armstrong. Cooper was less-than-kind to Shirvell stopping just a few inches short of calling him a lunatic on national television.

And our beloved Rachel Maddow used her bully pulpit to eviscerate ex-gay therapist Richard Cohen, when he tried to explain his methods of “curing” homosexuality. While never being rude to Mr. Cohen, it was clear that Maddow found all his techniques to be…let’s say “outside the box.”

But do these appearances help in the struggle for civil rights by pointing out the shameless bigotry and hatred being displayed by individuals like The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown or Maggie Gallagher? Or does it hurt us by giving a national platform to these otherwise fairly anonymous individuals?

There’s also the bigger question of freedom of speech – which is the usual line of defense for the networks when questioned as to why they allowed these people on their shows. This argument doesn’t hold a lot of water for me really though, as you can still speak out without being handed a national platform to do so.

I tend to believe the former, but I live in a major metropolitan area where most of the people I know share similar politics with me. With such a huge influx in LGBT stories in the media the past few years, is it necessary to offer a counterpoint, even when it’s as offbeat and bigoted as some of these examples?

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