Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vote For Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard's mom, Judy, is speaking at colleges around the country asking students to get out and vote on November 7th. She is handing out buttons with a picture of her son Matthew that say, "Vote For Me on November 7th".

After Matthew's death in 1998, Judy founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
She has been working to pass hate crime legislation in states across the country. She speaks at colleges and events on a regular basis.

A recent edition of Bay Windows included a full page ad from the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The ad says, "Hate stole my right to vote 8 years ago. Don't waste your right to vote on November 7th".

She decided to start a Get-Out-The-Vote campaign aimed at young voters because they tend to be more accepting of gay and lesbians. In an interview she said that "Matt was passionate about politics and voting, so it seemed like a natural fit"

At Chicago's Roosevelt University Judy asked the students, "What happened to the days when we questioned authority? You don't yell. You don't scream. You should be just mad -- mad, mad, mad."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

10 Years Out

I have been out of the closet for 10 years today. It was October 26th, 1996 when I told the first person that I am gay. I was 14 years old.

I was aware of the fact that I was attracted to other guys for a while. I didn't realize that those feelings meant that I was gay until I was 13. I remember looking up the word "gay" in dictionary. I was terrified of the feelings inside me.

I remember having a crush on one of my classmates. My entire class when on a three day trip to Canada. I spent the trip tormented by my feelings. I prayed that they would go away. I was torn up inside.

I entered High School when I was 14 years old. I lived in a small town in central Massachusetts with about 9000 people. The High School had about 500 students. I remember walking down the hall one day and seeing a sign for the gay/straight alliance. BIGLASS (Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Society) was a club formed the year before I arrived at the school. They had a poster up in a window in the lobby of the school.

The poster had a pink triangle and some writing on it. I would walk by the poster and look at it real quickly so that no one knew I was reading it. I didn't want anyone to see me looking at it so I read only a part at a time. The first time I walked by I read the first line. On my second pass through that hall I read the second line and so on. Just seeing the word "gay" in writing on the wall of my new school was comforting, exciting, and scary.

I was about ready to burst. I needed to tell someone my secret. I could not hold it in any longer. I didn't really know how I was going to tell someone, but I knew that I had to do it.

On October 26th I was asked to attend a Halloween party and tell a ghost story. A friend of our family was having a party for his children and their friends. I invited one of my friends to come with me to the party. I was going to tell the ghost story and he was going to put on a mask and go outside and scare them.

My friend and I were talking before it was time to tell the story. I wanted to tell him so badly but I could not get the words out of my mouth. The way that I came out to him was kind of strange. I jokingly said that the Halloween mask he was holding was cute. Then I said that it was not as cute as the guy I had a crush on. He didn't understand what I meant by that. He then said to me, "You’re not gay, are you?"

I wanted to say that I was gay. I wanted to scream it. The words would not come out of my mouth. I couldn't even say, "I am gay". I did manage to answer his question though. I just said, "Yes".

Seconds later
I had to be out in the other room telling a ghost story. We didn't have a chance to discuss what had just happened at all. I don't remember anything I said in the story or if it was even scary. All I could think about is what I just did. I had come out of the closet.

When the story was over I had a chance to talk to my friend. We spent the rest of the night outside discussing my sexuality. I remember the cool October air and the big bright moon. He asked me a bunch of questions. He wanted to know how I knew that I was gay. I told him everything. I let it out. I was finally able to talk about my feelings. It was beautiful.

In the next two months I came out to all the rest of my friends, my parents, and my entire school. All of my friends stood by my side. For most people in my school, I was the only gay person th
ey knew. I was asked a lot of questions. It was a lot of pressure.

When I came out to my parents I sat them down together and handed them some pamphlets from PFLAG. I was then able to say out loud, "I am gay". I was so scared. They told me that they loved me. My dad said that I still had to do my homework. I am not sure if they even believed me at the time. Through everything they have been my biggest supporters.

As you might expect, there was a lot of harassment from some of the other students. I was called names and pushed around a little. However, most of the students remained friends with me. I also had a strong ally in the school administration. Most of teachers stood up for me as well.

It didn't take me long to be out and proud. I joined the gay/straight alliance, BIGLASS, and
become a leading member right away. I spoke out against homophobia and started a campaign to educate the student body. We had an anti-homophobia rally at the start of school one day. I put up the pink and green triangle stickers that said "GLB Safe Zone" on classroom doors. In 1996 the stickers only included "GLB", so I took a marker and added a "T" on all the stickers.

During Valentine's Day the school would participate in a "data match". Each student would fill out a survey with lots of different questions. One of the basic questions was: "male or female". A computer would match students with similar answers. You could buy you "data match" during lunch on Valentine's Day. This was a sm
all fundraiser for the Student Council.

The "data match" would only put men and women together. I protested this fundraiser by checking off the "female" box so that I would have men in my results. This got the attention of a lot of people. I was called to the principal’s office and reprimanded. Many of the male students that had gotten me on their list of compatible results threatened to beat me up. The school went crazy for a few days. I liked to stir things up. The Student Council immediately discussed added a box for gay and lesbian students.

A few months later I started a campaign to remove the military recruiters from my school. The law in
Massachusetts states that only employers that do not discriminate against any students, including gays and lesbians, may recruit in school. It was very clear that the military was not allowed to recruit in the school.

I wrote letters to the ACLU and other groups asking for help. I spoke to lawyers from many different
organizations. I was 15 when I made my case in front of the Superintendent of School. He disagreed with me and told me that I didn't understand the law. Again, many of the students were upset with my actions. This time a few parents were vocally upset with me as well.

Since the day I came out I have been fighting for equality. For ten years I have been an advocate for change. I believe that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered people are a repressed minority. A lot has changed since that Halloween party in October of 1996. We hav
e been making progress, but we still have a lot of work to do. We cannot simply ask for our rights, we need to fight for them. It all starts with coming out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Jersey Decision Cloudy

The New Jersey Supreme Court has just ruled in the marriage equality lawsuit. The court handed down the decision today at 3:00.

The decision is not great, but not too bad. The court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but that lawmakers must determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.

365gay.com is calling the decision "a major blow to marriage equality advocates".

In my opinion the decision could have been much worse.

Here are a few points:
  • Justices were unanimous in their conclusion that discrimination against same-sex couples violates the equal protection provisions of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey constitution
  • A majority of four justices conclude that same-sex couples must be granted the same rights as opposite-sex couples, and give the NJ legislature 180 days to their statutes to provide equal rights and benefits, whether it be called marriage or something else
  • A minority of three justices wanted to end the exclusion from marriage immediately
Garden State Equality is moving quickly to ensure the legislature grants full marriage equality. Read their statement on the decision and their plan for action here.

It is even more important that we keep equal marriage legal here. Massachusetts continues to stands as a beacon of hope for gays and lesbians throughout the nation.

New Jersey to Rule on Gay Marriage Today

The New Jersey Supreme Court will make a decision in the marriage equality lawsuit at 3:00 today. I will post the news as soon as I get it.

If the court rules in favor of marriage equality today it will be a huge victory for LGBT rights in the United States. It will have a significant impact in Massachusetts as well. If we win marriage in New Jersey it will force the radical right to split their effort and money between two states. It could also have a positive impact on the vote at the constitutional convention on November 9th.

Stay tuned here for up-to-date information. Be the first to know important LGBT news; sign up here to receive
TakeMassAction email updates and alerts.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Is New Jersey Next?

New Jersey could be the next state with legal same-sex marriage. There are rumors that New Jersey's highest court will be ruling on same-sex marriage sometime this week.

Seven gay and lesbian couples went to court in 2002 when they were denied marriage licences. A lower New Jersey court ruled against them and they appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Many people think that the court will rule this week to
coincide with the retirement of Chief Justice Deborah Poritz. Her last day on the bench is this Wednesday. Other people believe that the ruling will not come until after her successor is sworn in.

Garden State Equality is preparing for a decision that could go either way. They are planning events to celebrate a good ruling and discussing how to protest a bad ruling. This is what they say on their website:
If our side wins the case, this rally is about protecting the victory from a state constitutional ban on marriage equality. If our side loses the case, this rally -- and our entire campaign -- is about passing a marriage equality statute in the state legislature.
We are hoping for a good ruling in New Jersey, especially after the anti-gay New York and Washington decisions. It will take a lot of heat off of Massachusetts if we had another state with legal same-sex marriage.

The ruling could come down tomorrow or the next day. Although it might not be until next month. There is no way to know exactly when it will happen. Stay tuned here for updates on the New Jersey decision and other issues affecting the LGBT community.

To get up-to-date information and action alerts sign up for TakeMassAction emails.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hate Crimes Against Gays

The FBI released a report this week showing that hate crimes against gays and lesbians accounted for the third largest number of bias crimes in the country last year. Attacks on members of the LGBT community were reported in 14.2 percent of the cases. This number is considered low because not all gay victims report attacks on them because they don't want to be outed publicly and because some parts of the country don't track LGBT bias crimes.

In Massachusetts we can get married, we can adopt children, we can’t be fired from our jobs or evicted from our homes for being gay; but what does any of that matter if other members of our community are getting their face bashed in with baseball bats.

This week in San Diego a man was slashed with a knife when he tried to stop a teenager from being gay bashed on the trolley. It started when a man in his thirties was verbally harassing a gay teenager. The man then punched the gay teen in the face.

Another passenger on the trolley stepped up to help the young gay man. At that point the attacker took out a
knife and slashed the man that was trying to help the gay teen. The gay basher escaped at the next stop. Both the young gay man and the older man who tried to help him are OK. They are lucky to be alive.

In July six men were attacked after they left San Diego's gay pride festival. They were taunted with homophobic slurs and then beaten with a baseball bat. One victim needed reconstructive surgery on his face after being hit almost a dozen times with an aluminum bat.

The LGBT community is the third largest group attacked for being who we are. There are no federal hate crime laws against these attacks. This is a major probl
em we have to address.

We have our governor and a few legislators spewing anti-gay rhetoric from the
podium and in the newspapers. Politicians and anti-gay organizations are very loudly saying that gays are ruining families, destroying society, and are "intrinsically evil". I am not surprised that people are acting out violently against the LGBT community.

Anti-gay events such as Liberty Sunday spread hate all across America. That hate turns into violence. These politicians and organizations need to be held accountable for the climate of violence they are creating.

For more information on hate crime legislation, visit the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force or the Human Rights Campaign.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Historic Discrimination

For the first time in our nation's history, the federal government is denying death benefits to the spouse of a congressman because he is gay. Representative Gerry Studds made history as the first openly gay member of congress. He passed away last Saturday at the age of 69.

Gerry was legally married to his partner Dean Hara in May of 2004. When a member of Congress dies,
the surviving spouse collects more than half of the pension for the remainder of their lives. Gerry's husband will get nothing. Dean will not be receiving any portion of his husband's estimated annual $114,337 pension because he is gay.

"A gay spouse will not receive any sort of pension or annuity or anything like that," said Chad Cowan, a spokesperson for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which administers the congressional pension program.

The 1996 federal Defensive of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, blocks the federal government from recognizing the legal marriage between Gerry Studds and Dean Hara.

Interestingly, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) who pled guilty last week to conspiracy charges and faces up to 10 years in prison for taking bribes will receive about $29,000 a year from his pension for the rest of his life - even while he is in prison.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Openly Gay Candidates

Massachusetts continues to make history. We are lucky to have three pro-equality candidates running for governor. My favorite, Deval Patrick, is a strong supporter of LGBT rights. Independent Christy Mihos also supports same-sex marriage.

This election year also brings a few openly gay candidates. For the first time in
Massachusetts history, an out lesbian is running for governor. Grace Ross is the Green-Rainbow Party's candidate for the corner office. She has been active in the fight for social justice for a long time, including the struggle for LGBT rights.

Grace is an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage. She also knows that there are many other important issues facing our community. In a recent In Newsweekly article she said, "In some way, gay marriage is the icing on the cake. The real issue is that GLBT people don't have the same level of safety on the street."

The Democratic Party has an openly gay candidate again this year. There are a few out
legislators in Massachusetts already. Sarah Peake could very likely be added to the list after November's election. She is running in the Fourth Barnstable District, which is located on upper Cape Cod. Sarah is currently a selectperson in Provincetown.

Sarah ran against the Republican incumbent, Shirley Gomes, and lost two yeas ago. Gomes is retiring when her term ends this year. Sarah is a great candidate and an enthusiastic supporter of LGBT equality. She will make an excellent addition to the team of openly gay legislators already on Beacon Hill.

Sarah's opponent is an openly gay Republican named Aaron Maloy. Sadly though, he has taken a stand against LGBT equality. In a recent Bay
Windows article he "recalls being called a “fag” and doused with salad dressing by a fellow student. He hints that his experiences spurred him into gay activism during his teen years, but declines to elaborate for fear of alienating his conservative supporters."

As for marri
age, Maloy says it “is an institution between a man and a woman and I think that it’s part of the heterosexual culture. I don’t buy the whole separate but equal thing”. When he is asked about how banning equal marriage rights would affect him, Maloy answers, “It is probably going to hurt me”.

The Green-Rainbow Party has another openly gay candidate this year.
Owen Broadhurst is running for State Representative in the Third Hampden District. The western Massachusetts district consists of the towns of Agawam, Granville, Russell and Southwick.

Owen has been out of the closet for 16 years. He has been fighting for LGBT equality since he came out. He was a key player in the creation of the Green-Rainbow Party’s Equal Marriage Rights taskforce. He is also a strong advocate for safe schools and gay/straight alliances. On his website he states, "We must defend the growing Gay/ Straight Alliance movement in schools against continued efforts to level-fund or zero-fund their valuable and needed advocacy".

Congratulations to all of the openly gay candidates running in Massachusetts. This is how we make change. This is how we will win our struggle for LGBT civil rights. Being out, open, and honest is the way to win this fight.

Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in the United States once said, “You’ve gotta give them hope. Give hope to all those little girls and boys out there in America who need to believe that they do matter, and are capable of changing the world for the better. Without hope, not only gays, but blacks, seniors, handicapped, the us'es—the us'es will give up".

Seeing openly gay candidates running for public office gives me hope. I do believe that together we can change the world for the better.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Liberty Sunday Rally Successful

Congratulations to everyone who showed up to Sunday's vigil and rally against the radical right. The crowd across the street from the anti-gay "Liberty Sunday" conference was full of life. At the peak of the rally we were 200 strong. There was a candlelight vigil with singing and a few great speakers.

Watch a few short videos from the rally here.

The crowd ranged from young high school students to older married couples. There were a couple of churches who came out to show their support as well. Most of the rally was very peaceful and laid back.

When the "Liberty Sunday" attendees started to file out, things got a bit louder. There was a picket line in front of the church. Tony Perkins, President of the hateful Family Research Council, exited the building with six security guards to protect him. He waved to us as he walked by. We held our signs high and chanted "shameful" as he and other members of the conservative hate groups were escorted out of the building.

I am sure there will be more coverage of the event in the local papers. The Boston LGBT media was there with reporters and photographers. There were plenty of mainstream news reporters and news cameras there as well.

The vigil and rally was a success. We got our point across: Massachusetts is No Place for Hate!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

First Openly Gay Congressman Dies

Former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay person elected to Congress, died early today at Boston Medical Center, several days after he collapsed while walking his dog, his husband said.

Studds was first elected in 1972 and represented Cape Cod and the Islands, New Bedford, and the South Shore for 12 Congressional terms.

In 1983, Studds came out of the closet after a page revealed he'd had a relationship with Studds a decade earlier, when the page was 17. Studds was censured for sexual misconduct by the House, then went home to his constituents to answer questions in a series of public meetings and interviews with the press.

Studds defended the relationship as a consensual relationship with a young adult. The page later appeared publicly with Studds in support of him. He retired from Congress in 1997.

Studds married his partner, Dean Hara, shortly after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004. Hara said Studds was a pioneer who gave courage to gay people everywhere by winning re-election after publicly acknowledging that he was gay.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Pro-Equality Rep. Blumer Dies

A champion of equality, Representative Deborah Blumer, passed away just a few moments ago. She had a heart attack while driving her car this morning. She was rushed to the hospital when police found her.

Deborah Blumer has represented Framingham since 2000. She was running unopposed this year and campaigning for Deval Patrick. I will post more information when it comes out.

Rep. Blumer was a good friend to the LGBT community and will be greatly missed.

Update: Boston.com posted the story at 2:12PM.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Rally Against Radical Right

The Family Research Council will be holding their gay bashing event, "Liberty Sunday" on Sunday, October 15th at Tremont Temple. This event will include a national broadcast from Boston to homes all across America.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, had this to say about Massachusetts:
"This is the source of the problem...this is the origin of the immediate threat of same-sex marriage to the nation.”

In the anti-gay promotion video for the event, Perkins and a few bay state conservatives take aim at the LGBT community. They don't just want to end same-sex marriage, they want to destroy our community and send us all back into the closet.

Mitt Romney's wife will be speaking at the event. She will be introducing a video featuring him and other local politicians talking about “how same-sex marriage and how the homosexual agenda has impacted religious liberties in Massachusetts and around the country”.

QueerToday is reporting that the LGBT community and allies will be holding a peaceful prayer vigil and rally across the street from the Tremont Temple "Liberty Sunday" event. Senator Jarrett Barrios will join local clergy, activists, and community members at the event.

Prayer Vigil and Rally
Tremont Temple
88 Tremont Street

The event is being organized by the Religious Coalition for Freedom to Marry and the Arlington Street Church's Social Action Committee. There will be a few speakers to rally the crowd outside.

Boston has a long history of standing up against oppression. We must continue that tradition by attending the rally this Sunday. Be there at 6:30pm and bring your friends. Let's show the radical right how we do it in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. This is the day when you are supposed to tell someone who does not know yet that you are queer. This gay holiday is to commemorate October 11th, 1987, when 500,000 people marched on Washington DC for gay and lesbian equality. Since that day our community has celebrated October 11th as a day to come out to family, friends, and everyone else.

Coming out is the number one most important thing that any LGBT person can do in the struggle for equality. It really is the only way we will win our fight. When one person comes out, it promotes other to come out as well. Once everyone realizes that they have a gay family member, friend, or co-worker; we will be well on our way to full equality.

Harvey Milk said it best in a speech following the defeat of Proposition 6, which would have barred gays and lesbians from teaching the public schools:

"Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends, if indeed they are your friends. You must tell your neighbors. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize we are indeed their children, we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo, will be destroyed once and for all. And once... once you do, you will feel so much better."

Harvey Milk was the very first openly gay elected official in the United States. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. The story of his election made national news. Never before had an openly gay man run for office and won.

Tragically, twenty days after Harvey Milk made this speech; he was shot and killed by San Francisco Supervisor Dan White. Shortly before he was killed, Harvey Milk said, “If a bullet should go through my head let that bullet go through every closet door.”

If there is anyone you have not come out to yet, do it today. If you have come out to everyone you can possibly think of then I have some suggestions for you.

To celebrate National Coming Out Day:

1. Come out to your legislators
Write them a letter explaining why safe schools, marriage equality, and trans rights are important to you personally. Find your legislators here.

2. Hold hands in public
This is a great way of coming out to a bunch of people at once! Kidding aside, this really is important. When other gay couples see you holding your partner's hand in public, they will do the same. It will also remind everyone else that we are here and we are everywhere.

3. Come out on the sidewalk or in traffic
Wear a rainbow pin or gay button today. If you drive, put a rainbow sticker on your car. Other queers will see it and smile.

4. Come out at dinner
Take a date or your loved one to a romantic dinner. Don't be afraid to be affectionate.

5. Come out for a political candidate
The election is just weeks away. Pro-gay candidates need help on their campaigns. Volunteer for one near you. Let them know that you appreciate their stance on LGBT issues.

It is most important to come out to your family and friends. There are many ways to do it. The Human Rights Campaign has some coming out resources. There are many important reasons to come out as well. No matter how or why you do it; come out, come out, wherever you are!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

LGBT Fundraiser for Deval

Join friends and members of the LGBT community at a fundraiser for Deval Patrick on Thursday, October 12th. There will be an introduction by special guest speaker Congressman Barney Frank. Deval supports our community; let's make sure he knows that our community supports him. Donate to Deval's campaign today using his "GLBT for Deval" page.

Thursday, October 12th
6 - 7:30 PM
Westin Copley Place
10 Huntington Avenue

Deval is running a great campaign for Governor. He has a great grassroots structure, but Healey has big bucks. Republicans always have more money and therefore are better able to get their message out to voters.

Let's help Deval get his word out to people who are still undecided. Use this link here to donate to Deval's campaign through his "GLBT for Deval" page. This way he will know that the money being donated is from the gay community. Deval supports our community; let's make sure he knows that our community supports him. In this stage of the game that means supporting him with our cash.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mass "Family" Institute: Gays are Pedophiles

The conservative organization, Massachusetts "Family" Institute (MFI), is trying to link homosexuality to child abuse. The most recent MFI email update has a section titled:
Foley scandal shows link between homosexuality and child abuse

The email goes on to state:
"...neither party seems likely to address the real issue, which is the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse...While pro-homosexual activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two."
This is absolutely disgraceful. I expect this kind of garbage from the radical fringe anti-gay group MassResistance, but I am surprised to see MFI spewing this kind of hate.

The rest of the MFI email update whines about the Rhode Island gay marriage decision and complains about schools in Philadelphia celebrating gay history month. However, it is the absurd gays = child molester article that has me outraged.

MFI is the major organization leading the fight to ban gay marriage by amending the state constitution. They always claim that they are not anti-gay, and that they just want to let the people "vote on marriage". That is a flat-out lie. They are not against gay marriage; they are against gay human beings.

Most people in Massachusetts have a friend, family member, or co-worker who is gay. What would these people say if they knew that a major organization that is claiming to "protect family values" is calling their gay friends and family members pedophiles?

The anti-gay article was written by Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council. Tony and his crew are coming to Boston soon to celebrate "Liberty Sunday". This will be a day filled with gay bashing from bay state conservatives. I will have more on this later.

In the meantime, please watch this amazing video promoting the upcoming nationwide simulcast, Liberty Sunday. This video is absolutely hilarious! I beg you to take 4 minutes to watch this video. There are guest appearances by Mitt Romney, Kris Mineau (President of MFI), and lots of footage of happy gay couples...I mean, the "radical minority".

Now it's time to hear what Matt Foreman, the Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, has to say about all this:
"The GOP has only one response when it’s in trouble –– ‘blame the gays.' The latest blame-dodging tactic in the Foley scandal is ‘appalling, disgusting and pure McCarthyism’. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force calls upon Democrats, Republicans and straight allies to stand up for gay Americans.

Are you outraged about you or your gay friends and family members being called pedophiles? Let the Massachusetts "Family" Institute know that you and your gay family members are appalled at the lies being spread about us and our families.

Call MFI today at: (617) 928-0800
Email Kris Mineau (MFI President) directly at: kmineau@aol.com
Email MFI at: mafamily@mafamily.org

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Deval at the Debate

Deval did great at the debate in Springfield last night. My favorite part was when Kerry Healey and Christy Mihos were getting into it and Deval said to them, "alright, you two". The way he said it was perfect.

The debate turned to gay marriage for a moment when this question was asked to Kerry Healey: "Ms. Healey, Gov. Romney has dusted off and enforced a 1913 state law to prevent gay couples from other states from coming to Massachusetts to marry. My question is as governor, would you support this 1913 law, or would you file legislation to abolish this law and push to eliminate it?"

Healey's answer was exactly what I would have expected. She said that the courts upheld the law. We already know that. The law is on the books. So would she support legislation to abolish the 1913 law? No.

"Well, I think that what we've seen is that the courts have upheld this law. They do believe that it is correct. I think that each state should have the right to decide for itself what the laws of that state determining marriage should be. So I don't know that we would ever have any laws here that should suggest that we should control the definition of marriage in other states, but I definitely think that we have a right to determine our own laws on marriage and that's appropriate."
Notice at the end of her statement she adds, "I definitely think that we have a right to determine our own laws on marriage". She is referring to the current amendment before the legislature that would let the entire state vote on whether or not gay couples can marry.

Deval Patrick's answer to the question speaks for itself.

"Well, first of all, I think the court got it right on marriage equality because all the court did was affirm the principle that people come before their government as equals, and that's something I've been working on most of my professional life. I think the 1913 law has some very troubling origins. It seems to have come on the books just at the time when jurisdictions were looking to prevent marriage between blacks and whites and that worries me.

I understand that the court has affirmed the law, but the question was, 'is it something that ought to remain on our books?' And I think that something that seems to have origins as questionable and as discriminatory as they seem to be in this case, ought to come off our books."

I don't have to say anything more. Watch the candidates debate the 1913 law here.

Rep Foley Comes Out

Former Florida Congressman Mark Foley came out of the closet on Tuesday. He is in the middle of a sex scandal involving teenage congressional pages.

His lawyer delivered a statement to the press on Tuesday. He said that Mark Foley was molested when he was a child by a clergy member. Mark grew up in Newton, Massachusetts where there have been many cases of child molestation by Catholic priests.

At the end of the statement Foley's lawyer said, "Finally, Mark Foley wants you to know that he is a gay man."

So there you have it. We had another closeted gay Republican Congressman in the House. There had been rumors that Foley was gay for a while. In 2003 a newspaper in Florida reported that he was gay. Foley actually held a press conference to denounce the report. However he refused to answer any question about the subject, saying his sexual orientation had nothing to do with his duties as a lawmaker.

That is true, but the problem is not whether he is gay or not. The problem is his involvement with minors.

“Gay or straight, Democrat or Republican, it is completely inexcusable for an adult to have this kind of communication with a minor,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

No matter what happens, the radical right will use this against the gay community. They will try to say that we are all pedophiles and that we are sick people. MassResistance has already started the attacks, saying "
Apparently, Rep. Mark Foley is homosexual. And like many homosexual men, he likes young teen boys." I am not surprised by these ridicolous statements though. They have been saying stuff like this for years and will continue to do so no matter what happens.

I am interested in seeing what happens with the House leadership. Many gay Democrats have joined House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi in raising questions about whether House Republican leaders deliberately withheld information they learned last year about Foley's actions. If that is the case there will be big problems for the Republicans.

In the end it saddens me that Mark Foley was too ashamed about his sexual orientation and about being molested as a child to receive the help that he needs. I wish we could be celebrating the coming out of a Congressman. Instead, this whole story is just sad for everyone involved.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

NGLTF Criticizes House Leadership

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has issued a press release in response to comments made by religious conservatives about the scandal surround Republican Rep. Foley and the House Leadership.

"What's clear is that the House leadership elevated holding onto a seat above the interests of young people in the page system. And they want to talk about 'moral values'? Please," said Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman

On Tuesday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made these remarks, "[The House GOP leadership] discounted or downplayed earlier reports concerning Foley's behavior — probably because they did not want to appear 'homophobic.' The Foley scandal shows what happens when political correctness is put ahead of protecting children."

This is ridiculous. When has the GOP House leadership ever been concerned about appearing homophobic? They bash gays and lesbians openly on the House floor and on TV during debates. They are fighting to strip thousands of rights away from gay and lesbian people. The House GOP leadership is homophobic and very loud about it.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made a similar comment on Fox News. He was asked why top Republican House leaders said nothing despite knowing for months that Rep. Mark Foley had sent inappropriate e-mails to at least one teenage page. Gingrich responded, "I think, had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay bashing."

Matt Foreman, Executive Director of The Task Force responded with these words, “Given similar past sordid situations in the page program perpetrated by male members of Congress against female pages, it's absurd to blame the Foley spectacle on his being gay, closeted or otherwise. Given the fact that the current Republican leadership in the House has never hesitated to attack gay people, it's even more absurd for people like Newt Gingrich to say the reason they didn't take prompt action was because they didn't want to be accused of 'gay bashing.' Cut me a break."

Rhode Island Will Not Recognize Gay Marriages

There was disappointing news in Rhode Island Monday as the Attorney General, Patrick Lynch, stated that Rhode Island couples who marry in Massachusetts will not have their marriages recognized in their home state.

This is a let down after last week’s exciting court decision. This past Friday Massachusetts Judge Thomas Connelly ruled that Rhode Island’s laws do not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriages. This decision made it legal for Rhode Island gay couples to marry in Massachusetts. Unfortunately once they cross the border back to their home state, their legal marriage somehow disappears into thin air.

Rhode Island Attorney General Lynch mentioned that Rhode Island also does not recognize gay marriages performed in Canada or Europe. As if that makes it OK to not recognize legal marriages performed in the state right next door.

Rhode Island gay and Lesbian couples are saying that being able to marry in Massachusetts now has great symbolic importance to them. That is great, but symbolic importance doesn't grant you the 1,400 rights that marriage does. The good news is that Friday's ruling does open up a court challenge that would seek to have the Rhode Island marriages validated.