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    By Dennis McMillan 

    Salt Lake City, UT – Utah Marriage Equality Plaintiffs Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Review Case – 8.28

    The three couples challenging the State of Utah’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples asked the United States Supreme Court to accept the request of Utah state officials to review the case. In the brief filed, the plaintiffs argue that Supreme Court review is required because same-sex couples in Utah and across the country urgently need to have the security of marriage wherever they work or travel to fully protect themselves and their families. The brief argues that only a Supreme Court decision affirming their right to marry and to have their marriages respected nationwide can resolve this fundamental inequality.

    The plaintiff couples—Kody Partridge and Laurie Wood, Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity, and Kate Call and Karen Archer—argue that state laws banning marriage equality violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. The couples, who won favorable decisions from lower federal courts, asked the Supreme Court to review the case because the marriages of same-sex couples will not truly be equal unless they are respected throughout the country.

    In the past year, lower courts around the country have correctly recognized that state laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violate the Constitution. Yet because these rulings do not apply nationwide, same-sex couples continue to experience great uncertainty and serious harm.

    The couples in the case Kitchen v. Herbert are represented by lead counsel Peggy Tomsic of the Salt Lake City law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C., Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal of the law firm of Hogan Lovells.

    Kitchen was the first federal district court victory in a marriage equality case after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor, the first such victory in a federal court of appeals, and the first case in which state officials have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

    This is big! Kitchen will put national LGBTQ rights on the kitchen table for all!


    Richmond, VA – Christian Group Begins All-You-Can-Eat “Fast” to Protest Same-Sex Marriage – 8.27

    The challenge to Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is currently awaiting a ruling in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and will likely head to the Supreme Court.

    Talk about cheating on your diet: in an effort to influence the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against same-sex marriage when it hears the first of a series of appeals cases in October, a Virginia based conservative Christian group has kicked off a 40-day fast where participants will be allowed to eat.


    “The Family Foundation is asking that you join us for 40 Days of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance for Marriage from August 27 until October 5, 2014,” begins a statement released by the Family Foundation of Virginia. “The Supreme Court begins its session on October 6. We fully expect it to take a marriage case sometime in the next year. In the natural, it looks like a David vs. Goliath battle. The federal government, the news media, Hollywood, the public education system, and big business all are arrayed on the side of same-sex ‘marriage.’ Only the church stands in support of God’s design for marriage.” Their 40 Days will culminate on October 5 – just before the court begins its session.

    They continue: “We don’t know what the Lord will do. We do know that He is sovereign. Whatever happens, we must adopt the attitude of the three Hebrew children who refused to bow before the golden image in Babylon…”

    Except, the group later clarified that participants in the protest don’t actually have to give up food to take part in the “fast.” They wrote: “We are asking the entire Body of Christ to join us for this feast—giving up physical food isn’t necessary—but feeding on the spiritual food provided is vital.”

    In a 14-minute diatribe against same-sex marriage, the narrator states: “God…wrote the book on marriage, and He called it holy. And he expects His people to be holy…in marriage as man and wife.” It blathers on to discriminate because not just anyone can walk the sacred ground of marriage (indicating queers can’t tread the marriage ground): “The unclean will not journey on it.” The Foundation calls same-sex marriage “apostasy.”

    The all-you-can-eat fast has begun. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bible)!


    Bowie County, TX – Texas Internet Preacher Says Send Gays to Prison with Hard Labor – 8.26

    Here’s a great idea: Take a bunch of men who are already attracted to other men and who, according to stereotype, like to work out a lot, and put them all in a place where for ten years they’ll be getting all hot and sweaty in each other’s company. Then call it a punishment.

    All irony aside, a far right-wing Internet preacher, with an audience of about 10 subscribers, is calling on his followers in a new YouTube video to pressure members of Congress to enact a constitutional amendment that will make homosexuality a crime punishable by ten years in prison at hard labor.

    Michael Wilson is tired of how American homosexuals are becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian intolerance: “During the last 40 to 50 years, Christians have become increasingly tolerant of homosexuals. While Christians have become increasingly tolerant of homosexuals, homosexuals have become increasingly intolerant of us,” Wilson says. “They’ve agitated for laws giving them special protections.”

    Wilson then calls on his legion of followers to take action. “It’s time for Christians to resume obeying God and his word and re-criminalize homosexuality. Outlaw it again,” he says in the clip. “The only way to do this and keep it beyond the reach of activist judges is to create a constitutional amendment such as this:”

    “Proposed Amendment: 1 – the United States of America is a Christian nation with Judeo-Christian ethics, morals, principles, and values. 2 – The practice of homosexuality in the United States and in all its territories and possessions, and in all its States, Counties, and Cities shall be a felony punishable by ten years in prison at hard labor. 3 – This Amendment shall take effect the first Sunday after ratification.”

    Prior to this sermon, Wilson’s blog entries have rarely had an audience over three digits. Videos on his “Preaching Politics” channel have traditionally received roughly 40 views. When news of this sermon was uncovered and subsequently picked up by the Huffington Post and gay news blog sites, traffic to Wilson’s YouTube channel boomed. To date, 9,654 people have watched the video entry “Outlawing Homosexuality.”

    When homosexuals are outlawed, only outlaws will be homosexuals?


    Topeka, KS – Pro-gay Group Counters “God Hates Fags” Church’s Plan to Picket Robin Williams Funeral – 8.27

    A pro-LGBTQ group has raised over $40,000 for one of Robin Williams’ favorite charities, after the Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to protest his funeral. (Editor’s Note: According to multiple sources, Williams was cremated the day after he died, with his ashes scattered in San Francisco Bay.) The Topeka-based anti-gay church, known for their “God Hates Fags” banners, announced they would picket any memorial for the actor, who starred as a gay man in The Birdcage and cross-dressed in Mrs. Doubtfire. The group labeled him a “fag pimp” and a “fag enabler,” and posted pictures on Twitter of “Robin in hell.”

    However, Planting Peace, a group that last year set up a Pride-themed Equality House opposite the church, is attempting to overshadow the message of hate with one of love, by raising money for one of the actor’s chosen charities. Planting Peace owns the small house in Topeka, Kansas, and painted it rainbow colors to signify gay pride and diversity, with plans to turn it into a drop-in center supporting LGBTQ and anti-bullying initiatives.

    “When the WBC announced they were protesting Robin’s funeral, we felt like launching a fundraiser for a charity Robin loved would be the perfect way to honor him and counteract the message of hate and intolerance that the WBC continues to convey,” said the group’s co-founder Aaron Jackson. “Robin Williams played many different roles in so many people’s lives, and giving back to others was at the top of that list.”

    “Our neighbors at the Westboro Baptist Church have announced their intention to protest the funeral of Robin Williams. In keeping with our philosophy of addressing acts of hate and intolerance with compassion and love, we are inviting the public to show their respect and support of a man who spent his life making others smile, who was always there for others in their time of need, and who supported the greater good through works of service and charity,” Planting Peace stated. “Please join Planting Peace in counteracting the WBC’s message of hate through a fundraising event benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a cause Mr. Williams passionately and publicly supported.”

    Similar fundraising responses to Westboro’s constant homophobic vitriol have proven far more effective than shouting matches at protests.


    Tallahassee, FL – Charlie Crist Calls on Rick Scott Not to Defend Florida Same-Sex Marriage Ban

    Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist has penned an open letter calling on his successor, Governor Rick Scott, not to defend the recently struck down state ban on same-sex marriage. In the letter, Crist points to his own actions after a district court of appeals struck down the state’s gay and lesbian adoption ban.

    In addition to his support for ending the adoption ban in 2006 and 2007, the former Republican governor announced his own support for same-sex marriage back in May of 2013. Crist addressed his “chance” to do right when he declined to defend the adoption ban, and he called on Scott to do the same on marriage equality in his open letter, published by the Tampa Bay Times:

    “Last Thursday Federal District Judge Robert Hinkle gave you the same chance to speak out for what is right when, in a ruling that would apply statewide, he struck down Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. By declaring the marriage ban finished, you could discourage any future appeals and end the nightmare that loving same-sex couples all across our state endure every single day—ending court battles that could drag on for months or years. This desire for inclusiveness is near and dear to my heart.”

    In his book, Crist detailed his recognition of how his calls to include diversity in the Republican Party were repeatedly ignored and rebuffed. In December of 2012, Crist changed his party affiliation to Democrat and filed to take back his gubernatorial seat from Scott.

    “Courts throughout Florida are endorsing the principle that government ought not deprive an entire class of citizens the right to marry simply because of whom they love. Florida deserves a governor who will stand up for all of the people of this state,” Crist wrote.

    As Governor, Scott has the power to let this ruling go into effect without appealing it or calling for an injunction. Scott can choose to do what is best for the state and for the LGBTQ Floridians who have been unable to access a fundamental basic right under Florida law. Equal protection, Crist says, has been denied.

    Your move, Governor.


    Local News Briefs

    Future of Pink Saturday to be Discussed at The Sisters’ Fireside Chat

    The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc., are exploring hosting Pink Saturday for 2015. As part of that process, they invite all in the community—Castro Community MUMC members, Castro residents, and residents of surrounding neighborhoods—to join in the discussion entitled “The Pink Elephant in the Room.” It will be held at the Eureka Valley Rec Center on September 10, 6–8pm. Because the event has evolved dramatically over the years, this meeting will explore issues around cost (to the City, local business, and The Sisters); safety (of residents, event goers, and Sisters); and options for evolution of the event should The Sisters plan to host the event in 2015.

    The Sisters have a long and cherished history of making this event a queer community event. All can agree that the atmosphere of the event has changed dramatically over the last several years. The Sisters’ goal is primarily the safety of all in attendance in and around the event footprint, and for this they rely on help from the City, SFPD, and organizations like CCOP (Castro Community On Patrol) and residents in our communities. If Pink Saturday continues as a Sister Event, they want to bring it back to its queer community glory days, “but we can’t do it without your help and input,” says Sister Mora Lee D’Klined, SPI president.

    “Be prepared to tell us what worked, what didn’t, but more importantly, what your suggestions might be to improve the event and make this a viable and safe community event.” She adds, “This is not just an opportunity to bring up the bad, but also to discuss the good, and bring positive ideas that will help The Sisters, the City officials, and you as community members, to shape an iconic gay event and the future of queer celebrations.”

    Sister Selma, event organizer for the past three years, believes strongly that Pink Saturday can be reclaimed. “If the Sisters participate in producing the event again, there will be substantial changes,” she notes. “Primary decisions will be made in October after the Order has had a chance to process the feedback from the community meeting.”

    It’s big! It’s pink! Let’s pull its trunk and whip it into shape!

    Story by Dennis McMillan 

    ‘Yes on G’ Campaign Reaches Out to Voters to Protect Affordable Housing

    Thirty-six years ago, Supervisor Harvey Milk introduced an anti-speculation measure before the board of supervisors, but was tragically assassinated just two days before it was to be heard. Last November, his idea was resurrected at the annual Harvey Milk/George Moscone Candlelight Memorial and March. And it received more votes than any other proposed legislation by the over 600 attendees at the Citywide Tenants’ convention this past February.

    San Francisco is in the midst of a deepening housing crisis. Long-time residents are being forced out of the City, and newcomers are being charged rents few can afford. Evictions are up 40% in the last five years.

    Last Sunday, the “Stop the Evictions, Yes on G” campaign reached out to voters about how they can protect affordable housing and stop out of control real estate speculation—talking to voters one on one, handing out campaign literature, and answering questions about the City’s current affordability crisis.

    In a big win for tenants and the campaign, the San Francisco Democratic Party voted last week to officially endorse Proposition G on the November ballot. This puts the powerful political group on record urging every Democratic voter in San Francisco to vote “yes” on the proposed anti-speculation tax that will stop the evictions and protect rent-controlled housing.

    The elected members of the SF Democratic Central Committee voted to officially support Proposition G. “By voting to endorse Proposition G, the Democratic Party is sending a powerful message to voters that enough is enough, and we need to protect our residents from out of control real estate speculation,” said Quintin Mecke, campaign director for “Stop the Evictions.”
    Every day the campaign gains new support because people understand that real speculation negatively affects everyone by driving up the cost of housing, evicting long-time tenants, and harming our neighborhoods.

    In just the last week, Senator Mark Leno, California Democratic Party Chair John Burton, Supervisor David Chiu, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, United Educators of San Francisco, the Richmond Democratic Club, the District 5 Democratic Club, and the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee have all endorsed Proposition G. And the list of endorsements continues to grow.

    Story by Dennis McMillan