The Latest

Aqua Teen & City Incompetence

City officials clearly need to spend more time searching bridges and roadways and less time searching people on the subways. Deval Patrick said the hoax is "not funny." But we all know every 17-28 year old in Boston and beyond is laughing at the hugely successful publicity of the Cartoon Network, and the incompetence of our city officials. It took them three weeks to find these objects? It took them all day to let us know they were freaking lite brites?

BOSTON.COM: BREAKING NEWS: Turner Broadcasting is expected to issue an apology for causing today's series of bomb scares throughout Boston. A statement emailed to the Globe from Turner Broadcasting said: "The 'packages' in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger. They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities in support of Adult Swim’s animated television show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Parent company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and federal law enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards. We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger."

Isaiah Washington, T.R. Knight, and being black, white, straight, and gay in America

As the controversy surrounding African-American Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington and his usage of the word "faggot" in reference to white, gay co-star T.R. Knight grows in the spotlight, an article has emerged that addresses the issues within a context that deserves consideration.

In "The hypocrisy of White gay America" Jasmyne Cannick compares Washington's current predicament to a 19th century lynching by an angry white, gay, and hypocritical mob whose hypocrisy surfaces with its apparent indifference to, and even reverence of Charles Knipp, a white, gay male who dresses up in blackface as a character called Shirley Q. Liquor and caters to white, gay audiences across American metropolises. For Cannick, Knipp promotes the most negative and vicious stereotypes of blacks, and in particular black women, yet no protests erupt from white, gay America. Why? As Cannick puts it:

"The same racism and classism issues that exists between Blacks and Whites in general, applies to the gay community as well...Unfortunately, when it comes to the gay community, if it's not affecting their rosy White lives, then they couldn't give a [darn]. But hey, isn't that what White privilege is all about?"

Now of course, there are exceptions to every generalization, but Cannick opens another door to understanding how both homophobia and racism are present even within groups, like visible minorites and homosexuals, that have historically been persecuted. When will we learn? Read more.

Rehab: The Cure For Homophobia?

ABC has ordered Isaiah Washington to enter "rehab" because of his anti-gay remarks. Seriously. I do not think this whole story could get more bizzarre! Read about it here!

Our favorite anti-gay activist...

Activist rains on Romney's parade

Says the candidate is not conservative

It was 4 a.m. Brian Camenker , 53, a computer programmer, sat at his kitchen table in Newton, hunched over his Toshiba laptop. Strewn around him were papers detailing former governor Mitt Romney's alleged ties to gay youth conferences, gay judges, and abortion rights activists.

The documents, mostly printouts of news stories, represented weeks of work by Camenker and a few volunteers who had searched the Internet for material to disprove Romney's assertions that he is a conservative. Now, the results glowed on the screen in front of him, compiled into a 10,000-word dossier, "The Mitt Romney Deception."


State of the Union Undress

PETA: Where Women Are Treated Like Meat? See what some say on on this anti-peta site.

Equality is not Enough

Reprinted for with permission from renowned activist Peter Tatchell, founder of OutRage!.

PETER TATCHELL argues that campaigning for equality is short-sighted and inadequate. Queer emancipation involves much more than equal rights.

Apart from hard-core homophobes, who could possibly disagree with equality? I can! Perhaps I am being pushy and uppity, but I don’t feel comfortable with the way most of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has dumbed-down its aspirations to the limited goal of equal rights. Whatever happened to the lofty ideals of queer liberation and sexual freedom?

This dramatic shift in the homosexual zeitgeist started in the 1990s and coincided with a move into the political mainstream. Greater acceptance by the straight establishment precipitated greater compromise by the gay elite. They moved away from defining our needs on our terms, and instead began falling in meekly with the prevailing heterosexual consensus.

We have now reached a situation where the dominant gay agenda is equal rights and law reform, rather than queer emancipation and the transformation of society. That political retreat represents a massive loss of imagination, confidence, and vision.

Equality is important, but it has its limitations. It isn't the panacea that many claim. Equal rights for lesbians and gay men inevitably means parity on straight terms, within a pre-existing framework of values, laws and institutions. These have been devised by and for the heterosexual majority. Equality within their system involves conformity to their rules. This is a formula for submission and incorporation, not liberation.

Although getting rid of homophobic discrimination is a laudable aim, it doesn't go far enough. Ending anti-gay bias will not resolve all the problems faced by queer people. Some of our difficulties arise not from homophobia, but from the more general erotophobic and sex-negative nature of contemporary culture, which also harms heterosexuals. These destructive puritanical attitudes are evident in the witch-hunting of consensual under-age sex, the censorship of sexual imagery, the inadequacy of sex education lessons, and the criminalisation of sex workers and consensual sadomasochistic relationships.

The draw-backs associated with seeking mere equality are not, of course, limited to lesbians and gay men. They also apply to women, who are forced to compete on male terms to get ahead in the workplace; and to black people, who tend to only succeed if they adopt a white middle-class lifestyle and assimilate into the dominant European culture.

As women and ethnic minorities have discovered to their cost, the equal rights agenda is not about respecting difference, but obliterating it. Where’s the dignity in that? How can we have any self-respect if we sacrifice our queer identity and culture for the sake of parity? It is acceptance, but at a price not worth paying.

Moreover, equal rights do not equate with genuine freedom. Despite formal legal equality between the sexes, women’s earnings are still only four-fifths of men’s. Over thirty years after the end of racially discriminatory statutes in the US, the segregation of black and white communities is greater than in the 1950s and the black underclass is just as locked out of economic success as it was prior to the start of the civil rights era.

These are lessons that we queers ignore at our peril. The same fate awaits us if we jump on the equality bandwagon. We will end up with equal rights, but within a fundamentally unjust society where the rules are skewed against sexual choice and self-determination.

Isn’t it obvious? Equality for queers is a political deal that leads to social assimilation. As a condition of equal treatment, we homosexuals are expected to conform to the straight system, adopting its norms and aspirations. The end result is gay co-option and invisibilisation.

We get equality, but the price we pay is the surrender of our unique, distinctive queer identity, lifestyle and values (the important insights and ethics that we have forged in response to exclusion and discrimination by a hostile straight world).

The unwritten social contract at the heart of law reform is that queers will behave respectably and comply with the heterosexual moral agenda. No more cruising, orgies or sadomasochism! In return, the "good gays" are rewarded with equal treatment. Meanwhile, all the sex-repressive social structures, institutions and moralities remain intact, and the "bad gays" remain sexual outlaws.

This nouveau gay reformism involves the abandonment of any critical perspective on straight culture. In place of a healthy scepticism towards the heterosexual consensus, it substitutes naive acquiescence. Discernment is abandoned in favour of compliance. We trade our souls for the ‘gift’ of equal rights.

This is no exaggeration. The truth is that the advocates of gay equality never question the status quo. They are straight minds trapped in queer bodies. Accepting society as it is, these hetero homos want nothing more than their cosy place in the straight sun. Most are all-too-willing to mimic heterosexual norms. No attempt is made to distinguish between those elements of straight culture that are worthy of queer emulation and those that are not.

There is, unfortunately, plenty of evidence of the desire of many lesbian and gay people to mindlessly appropriate every legal right that heterosexuals have, no matter how crass and morally dubious.

All over the world a majority of gay pressure groups demand the right of homosexuals to serve in the armed forces, but never question the authoritarian nature of the military nor its bloody history of human rights abuses. While homophobic discrimination within the armed services is undoubtedly wrong and worthy of challenge, so too is militarism and imperialism. In the US, the gay rights group, the Campaign for Military Service, preaches a gung-ho, God-fearing patriotism, which exonerates American excesses in Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Iraq and Kosovo.

The British armed forces are no better. After the Second World War, they were used to suppress national liberation struggles in Malaya, Kenya, Aden, Cyprus and Ireland (where hundreds of innocent civilians have been shot by the British Army and by illegal undercover SAS hit-squads). Is that what we queers want to do? Abuse and kill? How can we, in the name of equality, demand (without calling for reform) the right of lesbians and gay men to participate in institutions that have perpetuated such gross violations of human rights?

On the age of consent, much of the gay community has similarly taken leave of its ethical senses. After a campaign lasting 33 years, the age of consent in England and Wales was finally equalised at 16 in 2000. Great! But what about young lesbians, gays, bisexuals and straights under 16? Don’t they have sexual human rights too? Equality has not helped them. Sure, this victimisation by the law applies equally to everyone who is under age, irrespective of sexual orientation. But is that what we want? Equal injustice?

Most teenagers now have their first sexual experience at 14. The law treats them as criminals. Two consenting 14 year olds in Britain can face a maximum sentence ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment! To end this absurd, grotesque criminalisation of the under-16s, the age of consent should be reduced to 14 for everyone - gay and straight – and consensual sex involving people under 14 should not be prosecuted providing there is no more than three years difference in the partners ages.

Where are the gay voices of reason and compassion on this issue? Although queers under 16 are some of the most vulnerable members of our community, most homosexual rights organisations refuse to support any reduction in the age of consent. They seem quite content with young lesbians and gays being threatened with arrest and imprisonment for consenting, victimless relationships.

This is the problem with the equal rights mantra. It helps nice, respectable gays who are prepared to compromise and conform to the status quo. But those who rock the boat and refuse to turn themselves into facsimiles of straight morality remain marginalised and excluded.

The lesbian and gay community’s demand for equality is often also tinged with a whiff of self-obsession and selfishness. Solely concerned with winning rights for homosexuals, it offers nothing to heterosexual people. Perhaps if queers supported the sexual human rights of straights, more of them might be inclined to support us in return?

In contrast to this shallow equal rights reformism, queer emancipation groups like OutRage! have a post-equality agenda. We seek the extension of sexual freedom and human rights in ways that benefit everyone, regardless of sexuality. Our idea is to reframe the queer rights agenda to make it an agenda for universal human rights and sexual liberation.

Sadly, many in the gay movement don’t see things this way. Much of the push for same-sex partnership rights is typical of this myopic attitude. Nearly all the leading campaigners endorse either Dutch-style gay marriages or Danish-style registered partnerships (which are basically civil marriage by another name). But why not aim for a more democratic, egalitarian option? A modern, flexible alternative to traditional heterosexual wedlock?

I have proposed an Unmarried Partners Act (UPA), granting new legal rights to all unwed couples - gay and straight. These rights would include things like recognition as next-of-kin, joint guardianship of children, and inheritance of property in the event of a partner's death.

The unique, pioneering character of this UPA is that it allows partners to choose the rights they want from a menu of rights. This flexibility enables each couple to create a tailor-made partnership agreement suited to their own particular needs.

Likewise, the promotion of specifically and exclusively gay anti-discrimination legislation is a big mistake. Far more preferable would be my suggested comprehensive Equal Rights Act to outlaw discrimination against all people (not just queers!) on all grounds (not just sexual orientation!). These grounds should include race, sex, language, disability, faith or belief, age, transgenderism, medical condition (such as HIV), genetic inheritance and, of course, sexuality.

This more inclusive queer agenda is not only right and just; it also makes good political and strategic sense. Gay rights bills narrow our constituency of support and create sitting targets for homophobes. Broad-based reforms, which include queer rights, mobilise bigger and stronger campaign coalitions and are much more difficult for our opponents to undermine.

Oscar Wilde once wrote: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars". We, too, need to rediscover the vision thing. That means daring to imagine what society could be, rather than accepting society as it is.

Gay equality within the status quo is a flawed version of freedom. It betrays both queers and straights alike. Society - not us - needs to change. This social transformation is the key to meaningful queer liberation. Equality, yes. But on the basis of a new and different kind of society where there are wider, more expansive human rights for people of all sexualities.

Copyright Peter Tatchell 2001. All rights reserved.

An edited version of this article was published under the title Beyond Equality, New Humanist, Spring, 2001.

QT Gets Shout Out From BayWindows

From BayWindows:
" broke the news Jan. 6 that club-goers under 21 were being “turned away from Boston establishments with no explanation.” Both Bay Windows and IN Newsweekly followed up with stories published Jan. 11 explaining that the city had temporarily suspended licenses to nightclubs catering to 19- and 20-year-olds in response to youth violence at some of the city’s dance clubs. Both reports credited for the story and noted that the ban had been in place for a week. The following day, the Boston Globe reported on the move with no mention of Bay Windows, IN Newsweekly or Must have been a coincidence."

Isaiah Washington Being Framed?

Many activists in our community are angry because Isaiah Washington , a star on Grey's Anatomy, said the following statement: "I did not call him a faggot." I agree that if he did call someone a faggot that it is an outrage, but I disagree with people who have a problem with that statement. Maybe his denial of calling T.J. a faggot is an honest denial. Why are we so suspicious of him? There is a big difference between calling someone a faggot, and saying "I never called him a faggot."

Gay rights activists seemed more enraged by the statement of denial than the initial allegations that he had called the other actor the name in the first place, pressuring him (or his pr specialist) to issue the following apology:

"I apologize to T.R., my colleagues, the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community for using a word that is unacceptable in any context or circumstance. "

S0 now I, as a queer person who is repeatedly called faggot, can't even use the word to talk about it? No context or circumstance... ever? Ridiculous. To hear the executive director of GLAAD agree with that statement is absurd, but that is exactly what
he did on CNN today(watch). I think if we ban words in any context it just gives them more power. If I was accused of calling someone a slur of anykind, I think I should be able to say "I did not call so and so a ____" and not get in trouble for it.

Considering actors and sports players make comments like this all the time I am curious as to why this particular incident has drawn so much attention... thoughts?

Daddy, Papa and Me

For all of you proud lesbian and gay parents and for all of you joyous readers of And Tango Makes Three, a book about two male penguins and their daughter, which continues to stir debate in the United States, the blog Daddy, Papa and Me is an impressive site about current events and issues as they surround one gay and happy family. Love it!

Stop Supporting HRC!

HRC endorsed, pro-war candidate Joe Lieberman continues to support the Bush plan to escalate troops in Iraq. It is time for our community to wake up and stop supporting HRC until they recognize the interconnectedness of our struggles. When an organization is so single-issue, and rewards incumbent candidates this heavily, they end up supporting a bloody, immoral war. Why didn't HRC support Ned Lamont who was not only against the war but also favored same-sex marriage (Lieberman is pro-civil union)?

Homeless Gay Sex Serial Killer

Ronald J. Dominique, 42, plead not guilty on Tuesday to killing 23 men, after first having sex with them, from 1997 to 2005. Dominique, and all of the 23 men were homeless. Throughout the years all of the bodies were found in ditches in south Louisiana. All of them were bound, and they all seemed to be killed in a similar fashion. Why did it take the police so long to find the killer? Was it a priority? Why does the story remain ignored by the mainstream media? broke the story.

Gay over the expected demise of sex-same marriage

By Bob Tremblay/Local columnist, Milford Daily News
Sunday, January 14, 2007 - Updated: 12:22 AM EST

Hallelujah! It seems that same-sex marriage in Massachusetts has a good chance of finally coming before the voters, giving the moral majority, in this case God-fearing heterosexuals, a chance to trample all over the rights of the immoral minority, in this case God-defiling homosexuals.

Now that assumes these sodomites even have rights to trample on. Considering their abhorrent behavior, they don't have rights as much as they have wrongs. Marriage isn't a right anyway, it's a commandment even if the dictionary doesn't say so. But the Bible sure does, and that's all we holy ones need to know, and we know that for homosexuals to be allowed to wed destroys the sanctity of marriage.

Never mind that half of all marriages end in divorce and that 60 percent of all married couples in the United States have experienced some type of spousal abuse in their lives. Marriage is still a sacred institution even if a huge part of the population doesn't treat it as such. Because no matter how many people get divorced and no matter how many spouses get abused, nothing can tarnish marriage like homosexuality. Click Here for more...

For the Bible Tells Me So

This clip shows filmmaker Daniel Karslake describing his approach to creating the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, one of 16 films in the US Documentary Film competition at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival (18-28 January) in Park City, Utah.

From the 2007 Sundance Film Guide:

"Filmmaker Daniel Karslake explores the way religious conservatives have systematically misled the public into believing that the Bible forbids homosexuality and how this campaign of misinterpretation continues to stigmatize the gay community and threaten America's rapidly diminishing separation of church and state."

Watch, read more about the film, discuss...

Contact Your Legislators For Trans Rights!

Please contact your legislators, and send a thank you to MTPC and GLAD.

From GLAD:

The Massachusetts Legislature took a big step yesterday towards ensuring that the Commonwealth remains a place where transgender people can work, shop, rent a home, get a bank loan, or just walk down the street without fear of discrimination.

An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes,” introduced in the Massachusetts legislature behind the leadership of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MPTC) and Rep. Carl Sciortino, would add “gender identity and expression” to all the state’s non-discrimination laws, as well as the hate crimes statute. The goal of this legislation is to make clear that transgender individuals have equal protection under the law. GLAD supports this development, and we hope you will make a couple of phone calls to help move the bill forward. MPTC is asking supporters to call their senator and representative and ask them to become co-sponsors of the bill. To find and contact your legislators, please click here. You can also learn more about the bill by clicking here.
GLAD is committed to bringing full equality to transgender people, through ground-breaking litigation and progressive legislation. If you want to read more about GLAD’s transgender work, please visit our web site. We will keep you posted on developments with this important legislation.

Sincerely, Lee Swislow
Executive Director

Events To Attend...

BOSTON COMMON - Park St. & Tremont St.BOSTON COMMON 11 Jan 04:00 PM
Joining concerned people across the country, United for Justice and Peace, along with, True Majority, the Stop the Wars Coalition, the American Friends Service Committee and Massachusetts Peace Action are organizing a rally to denounce an escalation of the war in Iraq. Following this rally, many will walk to Copley Square to join a previously scheduled demonstration to close the Guantanamo prison. Speakers there will include Jeff Gleason of the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents 6 of the Guantanamo detainees and Josh Rubenstein of Amnesty International.

Lets go to Gender Crash Thursday, Jan. 11! It's their 7th anniversary!Doors open at 7p show at 7:30pm Spontaneous Celebrations 45 Danforth St, Jamaica Plain Orange line stony brook stop all ages $5 - 10 at the door, open to everyone, more info?

Saturday, Jan. 13: The Neighborhood is a new queer/trans dance night in Jamaica Plain, MA, happening the 2nd SATURDAY of every month @ the Midway in JP. Every month, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a queer-trans/queer-trans posi non-profit.

Grace Ross on the ConCon & Marriage

Special Feature: Guest Post By Grace Ross

Will the anti-marriage amendment be on the ballot in 2008? Did we lose big on marriage on Tuesday?

Let me say first – the answer to both the questions above is: “no”. It was unfortunate but not a significant set back. So breathe- we have work to do but it’s not at all hopeless.

Second, as I talk about what happened at Tuesday’s Constitutional Convention, let me explain what I mean when I refer to those of us who support marriage rights for all as “pro-marriage”. I got asked by an Associated Press reporter when I said “pro-marriage”, didn’t I mean “pro-equal-marriage”. And I asked him, isn't that what marriage means in this state? It’s the law of our land now. And he agreed.

Before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) decision about 30,000 couples got married in the state. Since the decision, about 35,000 got married each year. Clearly this ruling has expanded marriage – so it is pro-marriage. And no one else can claim that. The folks who want to restrict marriage are trying to eliminate marriages, so that is more properly referred to as anti-marriage.

Anyway, a little background.

For citizens to amend the Massachusetts constitution is a many step process. You have to write up the amendment, get the language checked for legality by the Attorney General and collect a lot of signatures. Then it has to be passed on by two consecutive years of the Constitutional Convention. And if you manage that, then it goes to the ballot for a vote by the people of Massachusetts on a November ballot on an even numbered year.

What is the Constitutional Convention? This is a little tricky. The legislature, both house and senate, meet together to act as the state’s constitutional convention. They meet about four or five days per year with those days spread out across two years – and those meetings equal the constitutional convention session for that two year period.

Most decisions at the Constitutional Convention require a simple majority vote of 101 (one half of the legislators + 1). For the Convention to approve passing forward a constitutional amendment to the next session, or to move to the ballot at the end of the second consecutive session, only requires a quarter of the legislators, 50 of 200. Why a smaller number? Because the framers of the constitution wanted to make it harder for a people’s initiative to be stopped by the legislators who determine so many of our other laws.

Tuesday was the last meeting of the first constitutional convention session (con-con) that the anti-marriage amendment had to pass if it would move forward to a second, consecutive constitutional convention session where it will need another 50-of-200-legislator vote to get to the ballot.

So why was Tuesday so confusing?

Because the activists in the leadership of the pro-marriage effort were confused. And because there are key pieces of the story you had probably never heard about before. And of course, the pro-marriage activists had made a huge deal of proclaiming victory at the November Con-con as if the war was over.

We did not defeat the anti-marriage amendment in November by getting 151 “nay” votes and thus stopping them from getting 50 “yeah” votes. There were still over 60 anti-marriage votes among the legislators even though many, many have been reached and changed their minds; many of those originally anti-marriage have recognized the same thing more and more of the public has realized – our getting married has not hurt the institution of marriage at all. So the pro-marriage leaders and legislators had organized as has happened again and again, to use other procedures after debate to get votes that stopped the anti-marriage amendment from ever actually coming up for an “up-and-down” vote. They used votes that only require a simple majority (101 of 200) to, for instance, adjourn the con-con itself; they got 109 votes to adjourn.

But adjourning before an up-and-down vote in November did not mean it was over – even though the celebrating by the pro-marriage folks might have made you think so! There was still one more meeting this session (the one that just happened on Jan. 2). And those other pieces of the story were about to become really important. And everything would have gone better in other important ways too on Tuesday if those factors had not been mostly ignored by the pro-marriage leaders all along.

January 2, Tuesday’s Con-con was also a critical meeting for the Constitutional Amendment for universal affordable healthcare – in fact it was more critical because the healthcare amendment had already passed one Constitutional Convention session and was needing a vote this meeting, the last of its second, consecutive Constitutional Convention sessions to get on the ballot.

The healthcare amendment advocates had been trying to get to an up-and-down vote the whole two years. Overwhelmingly they are pro-marriage, but the legislative leaders who set the agenda for the con-cons kept putting the healthcare amendment vote after the marriage vote each meeting. The legislative leaders did this even though they knew they were going to create procedural votes to avoid ever getting to an up-and-down vote on the anti-marriage amendment. Which pretty much ensured they would never get to a vote on the healthcare amendment.

Now you might be asking yourself: why would the legislature go to such lengths to avoid voting on the universal, affordable healthcare amendment? Especially when we all support universal, affordable healthcare? In fact, didn’t the legislature pass a supposedly universal healthcare bill late this past spring? Yes, it’s now called Chapter 58.

There are at least 50 legislators prepared to vote for the healthcare amendment to move forward. Originally, one of its supporters was even the head of the Senate, the Senate President, Travaglini. And you are right if you think most people support universal, affordable healthcare; in fact, the only really strong force against it is the insurance companies and probably the drug companies.

The problem is that the passage of Chapter 58, the healthcare law passed last spring, was financed with $7.5 million mostly from the insurance industry. And lots of legislators want to see it succeed. Of course, if the law ends up being genuinely universal and affordable, then it is not in conflict with the constitutional healthcare amendment. You can draw your own conclusions about why many legislators including key leaders have turned against the healthcare amendment.

So Tuesday, two constitutional amendments were up in front of the con-con. The healthcare amendment advocates have actually tried to get the pro-marriage leaders to work together all along so the healthcare amendment would get taken up for an up-and-down vote in the con-cons before the anti-marriage amendment so the anti-marriage amendment could be stopped procedurally if necessary; the pro-marriage folks have not agreed to work with them.

Anyway, in November the healthcare amendment had once again been put after the marriage amendment by legislative leaders. So it had also been stopped procedurally when the con-con voted to adjourn before the marriage vote.

Healthcare amendment leaders were pretty desperate after the November con-con. They also knew they could file a case at the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) and ask the SJC to rule that constitutional amendments had to receive an up-and-down vote each Constitutional Convention. They consulted with the pro-marriage folks and agreed to wait until after the November con-con to file their case.

As soon as I heard the healthcare amendment leaders had filed the court case, I called Marriage Equality because I suspected that the anti-marriage folks would realize that if the healthcare amendment folks could file a suit, so could they. And while the healthcare amendment leaders may not be the best grassroots organizers, they are good lawyers and if they thought the SJC would rule for them – well, I figured they were probably right.

I did not hear back from the Marriage Equality folks but we all heard soon that the anti-marriage folks with Romney’s support filed a suit with the SJC; they asked for an immediate decision and they asked for lots of “remedies” from the court including getting to skip the con-con process completely. The healthcare folks rightly realized they needed to file their case as an “amicus brief” in the anti-marriage case because the cases were too similar; otherwise, the SJC would just apply its decision in the anti-marriage case to theirs without hearing their arguments. And they argued against the anti-marriage’s over-reaching remedies which may have helped us.

Having read the case the healthcare advocates filed, it was clear to me that the SJC would rule that our constitution required the con-con to make an up-and-down vote on the amendments. The Wednesday before New Years they ruled that the legislators had to vote “yeahs and nays”, up or down on both amendments. And that as the SJC they could tell the legislators this constitutional requirement but they had no way to force them to fulfill their oath to uphold the constitution.

Thursday, the pro-marriage folks were clearly surprised by the SJC’s decision and were caught off guard. You can count on it that the anti-marriage folks had been planning, hoping and preparing for the SJC to make that decision. And the pro-marriage folks I talked to seemed to think that the SJC had sort of reversed itself, reversed its earlier commitment to constitutional equality applying to marriage.

Now, it is important to understand what they had missed. The SJC had made two decisions – two unanimous decisions. One part of our constitution says we have equal rights. One part says that when the people try to amend the constitution, the legislature must let those amendments go to ballot on the basis of an up-and-down vote of 50 out of 200 votes. There are no contradictions between these two decisions. In fact, if we had secured 151 pro-marriage votes already, the SJC would never have been asked for a ruling. The decisions only act in opposite ways because we have not yet finished our organizing. We have another whole year in fact anyway.

There is an important understanding of democracy I need to mention here also. In a democracy, we are supposed to get to vote on issues. There is one major exception to that – the majority does not get to vote away the equal rights of a minority. This is important for many reasons, but a basic reason why is because otherwise the majority could consistently increase its power and concentrate its control by taking away the rights of others to participate at all.

Somehow, the pro-marriage leaders thought they could argue that one SJC decision was more “constitutional” than another, and ask legislators to ignore their constitutional oath – even though the SJC had just clearly ruled that they had to make an up-and-down vote, not stop an amendment procedurally. That’s like saying someone is a little bit pregnant. It is either constitutional or not, there is no “little bit” constitutional. In fact, Governor-elect Patrick had tried a version of that argument in also asking the legislators to ignore their constitutional oath; he tried to argue that the fact that a majority cannot vote on the rights of a minority somehow over-ruled the constitutional requirements for the process to amend the constitution.

Anyway, the pro-marriage folks only had 109 legislators willing to vote procedurally in November. For sure, at least ten of those legislators were going to listen to the SJC telling them they were breaking their oath if they did not allow an up-and-down vote. No amount of arm-twisting was going to stop an up-and-down vote on Tuesday and there were still going to be 61 anti-marriage votes.

The pro-marriage organizing strategy was telling all of us to just call our legislators and ask them to stop the anti-marriage amendment from coming to a vote by procedural means again. Partly because their message did not address the SJC decision, the outcome was so confusing to so many. Most pro-marriage supporters did not understand what had changed and thought we had actually lost power and ground when we had not!

Tuesday was the last day of the legislative and constitutional convention session. Wednesday, the new session, this session, started without the legislators who were replaced in November. As of Wednesday, the anti-marriage forces had lost five or six legislators in this new session. As of Wednesday, we gain five or six pro-marriage votes and so only need to turn another 7 or 8 votes this two-year session to win. And that is to win an up-and-down vote. If we need it this session, we may well still be able to get the legislators to use a procedural vote to stop the anti-marriage amendment going to the ballot.

So 24 hours after the vote Tuesday – which was predictable as soon as the healthcare advocates filed their case and inevitable after the SJC decision -- we are closer to victory than we have ever been. In fact it will only be a decisive up-and-down vote where we get 141 votes or more that will convince the anti-marriage forces to stop coming back again and again. And every year that passes more people in Massachusetts are pro-marriage.

The really bad news from Tuesday was that the legislators as a whole used procedural votes to kill the healthcare amendment. The SJC had ruled that they could not avoid an up-and-down vote on a constitutional amendment; they could not vote to adjourn or send an amendment to a study committee, etc. But they had already sent the healthcare amendment to study and the healthcare advocates had not succeeded in getting them to undo that and get an up-and-down vote.

So if they were constitutionally required to vote – why did they only follow the SJC ruling on the marriage amendment where there is real division among the public (we have a very clear majority but there is still real division) but they did not follow their constitutional responsibility on the healthcare amendment where there is overwhelming public support and it is only the insurance and possibly drug companies that really oppose it? Is the constitution only supposed to apply to we, the people, but the interests of the corporations are not governed by the constitution?

The marriage vote was merely a measure of where we really stood, predictable and in fact the constitution still gives us another year. Today we are already 5 or 6 votes closer to our goal. And with some hard work and smart organizing (including working with our allies who may be able to reach some of the remaining 56 or so votes because they have connections to them on other issues), our win is within reach. In fact, if the pro-marriage leaders had been working with other groups that support our rights but work on other issues (like the healthcare advocates), we might be even closer now!

It is not the SJC’s responsibility to try to misinterpret the constitution to protect our rights as a majority; it is the legislators which must come to understand that the majority does not have the right to vote to take the equal rights of a minority. Even if they oppose equal marriage, what if they come to understand that welcoming vicious prejudice into our state for a ballot fight is not something they want? And we need them to understand that if they have a constitutional obligation to vote on one amendment, then they have to apply that to all amendments. Otherwise, they cannot tell us they had to vote on the anti-marriage amendment – because then they would have had to vote on both. And they cannot tell us they have to vote to let one move forward, but not vote to move forward the one that is opposed primarily by corporations.

Since this was predictable at least by last Thursday, let me offer you a different vision.

Imagine if the pro-marriage organizers had realized that pressuring our friendly legislators to vote against what they now understood the constitution required them to do, was not a respectful way to ask them to fight for our constitutional rights under a different part of the constitution. What if they had emailed all of us and asked us to work on the remaining 61 anti-marriage votes. And if that did not work, what if our pro-marriage organizers had held a big press conference Tuesday morning. They publicly told all the pro-marriage legislators that they were released this time from trying to stop the vote – especially since 24 hours later we would have more supporters in office. And that since we clearly had the power to, we would reserve the request for them to kill it procedurally till late next year if we still needed it – which we might well not. Either way with some work, we are very likely to win in the coming session. And they told the legislators that we expected them to be consistent; if they were going to follow their constitutional obligation to vote up or down on the marriage amendment, we expected them to do the same on the healthcare amendment. Or we would know them to be frauds.

And thereby take the high road. Show our consistent support for the constitution. Not let the anti-marriage forces claim victory. Properly inform the public and our supporters. Keep up our momentum. And start the process with the healthcare activists of building the coalition-relationships we will need to convince another 7 or 8 legislators to vote for us in the coming session.

Win-win-win. We are worth it. We deserve it. And we are going to get there anyway.

There is a great quote that says “when noble causes conflict, they are not asking for enough”. Tuesday, too many of us acted out of desperation and fear and allowed the forces of good to be divided and we lost more, much more than we needed to. Not on the pro-marriage vote, so much as in acting defeated, seeding the upper hand to the anti-marriage forces in the media and losing guaranteeing our right to universal, affordable healthcare and requiring of our legislators that they fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.

Let’s make this session our session! Let’s take this as another lesson on why we must reach farther and work together. El pueblo unido jamás será vencido; the people united cannot be defeated.

Commission on LGBT Youth

Watch this story on NECN about the reinvigorated Commission on LGBT Youth.

TRAV-esty of Justice

When I found out that on January 2, the Massachusetts State Legislature voted to put marriage equality on the ballot, despite most predictions that it would be killed by procedural maneuvers, I was incensed. But that fury was nowhere near what I felt when I found out exactly how the vote went down in the State Legislature.

Sen. President Robert Travaglini first decided that he would use his power as Senate President force an up or down vote on the anti-same sex marriage amendment without debate, thus thwarting any procedural maneuvers that could have been made. Then, after this unspeakable slap in the face to the queer community, he moved to kill the health care amendment--through a procedural maneuver! What's worse, this unscrupulous man doesn't have an ounce of shame about his hypocrisy. According to blogger David Kravitz of Blue Mass Group, when Sen. Karen Spilka voted against the amendment's movement from committee, Travaglini arrogantly crowed, "Good girl." When I heard that, I was so angry, I could have spit fire.

Those who claim that their opposition to same-sex marriage was about "democracy" and letting the people vote should not be celebrating because, after all, the health care amendment was killed and the people were not allowed to vote on it. Surely they will be organizing protests and rallies demanding that we “let the people vote” and threatening to personally sue legislators for $5 million because the Legislature voted to put the amendment to committee. Oh, wait, they never were concerned about democracy in the first place! That was just a ruse to whip up anti-gay bigotry! So the bigots are celebrating and they subsequently withdrew their lawsuit against state legislators. Hypocrisy all around on January 2!

For those bright bulbs who claimed to support same-sex marriage while lecturing gay rights activists about how we should let the citizen initiative process run its course, because it's the "law" and the right "process," hopefully, the nature and reality of power has finally been unmasked. The only thing these worshippers of process did through their deification of rules and procedure was to provide rhetorical cover for those who opposed same-sex marriage. Charley Blandy of Blue Mass Group says we shouldn't blame these so-called “process liberals” and I don't blame them; I blame the bigots and homophobes.

But they should have known better, and I for one am furious that they fell for such a transparent political trap. First, they should have known that civil rights movements don’t operate on slavish devotion to law; they operate on moral and ethical principles. Sometimes, the execution of those principles requires breaking, bending and manipulating the law. Justice transcends the law, and if liberals can’t get that through their thick skulls, then we need to just pack up and go home because they don’t understand the basics of social movements--and they will continue sabotage our side with their hand-wringing quibbles about “process.”

Second, they perpetuated the absurd-on-its-face belief that the law and politics operate under abstract cause-and-effect principles detached from the reality on the ground or political context. They wanted people to believe that laws and processes themselves can protect the oppressed from abuse. “If we allow politicians to abuse the process, what’s to stop them from doing it to us?” they canted. The reality, now obvious to all, is that the law is routinely manipulated, flouted and ultimately bent to the whims of those in power. When a historically oppressed group has a viable opportunity to take power, they should do so without worrying about some insufferable magpies in the background chirping about “process.” The relationship between the law and power has been demonstrated so clearly and repeatedly in history that those who suggested otherwise are guilty of inexcusable ignorance.

If ACT UP or Queer Nation were still around, Travaglini, that sycophantic hypocrite, who kowtowed to the bigots, would have already been "zapped." And, quite frankly, I think making Travaglini a possible protest target would be a great future tactic for some queer and queer-friendly people in Boston. His decision to subject many gay and lesbian people to another year of uncertainty and angst, his legitimization of anti-gay rhetoric, and his emboldening of the right-wing in this state is unforgivable. Judging from editorial and blog reactions, people are absolutely livid about this blatant display of hypocrisy.

It's time to take off the gloves and put on the brass knuckles (figuratively). Just look at the tactics of the anti-gay lobby in this state. They went so far as to file a $5 million lawsuit against individual legislators who decided to recess until January 2. They did whatever it took to put pressure on legislators and create a climate where the legislators felt obligated to vote. If they're willing to do whatever it takes, why aren't we?

I’ve read a lot of bombastic “calls to arms” on the internet and blogosphere, but few people are proposing fresh tactics. Susan Ryan-Vollmar of Bay Windows says to write more letters to the editor and send more money to the major gay rights organizations in the state. She’s right, of course in that this would be a good thing to do. But I can’t help but feel as though this outrage calls for so much more than the same tactics. We need to assess ways in which dramatic displays of power and outrage by our community and its allies can be demonstrated. These tactics can include effective, targeted use of boycotts, civil disobedience (a mass “die in” on the steps of the State Legislature, for instance), angry rallies instead of Pollyannaish ones, organized heckling of anti-gay state legislators, so on and so forth.

Yes, now is the time for outrage. I think part of the problem is that people in this state don’t take us seriously because they have not truly heard the cry of the oppressed. We’ve had a lot of feel-good rallies and candlelight vigils. I think those are fine, but if those rallies are not backed up by some displays of power that show “we mean business,” politicians will get the message that they can screw us and all we’re going to do is sing “Kum-ba-ya” around the campfire.

don't think of an elephant

I think that appropriating the language of your adversaries may seem witty, but ultimately it is confusing and oppressive to your own community's language and expression. Saying that our side is pro-family too, is a true statement. But it is not strong enough to win. To win it will take years to redefine what family means to the American psyche - the word family has already been framed by the right. We can't just say wait, we are pro-family too, because we are not the same kind of pro-family that they are... are we? George Lakoff, author of Don’t Think of an Elephant would not be amused by this. Our community needs to come up with something a little better than this.

Subway Themed Condoms in NYC

New York City is going to start distributing condoms that will come in the same colors as the subway lines in the city. New York, where HIV is the third leading cause of death, will be the first city to have its own branded condoms.

Young Queer Community Stunned As Clubs Turn Them Away

During the past few weeks club-goers under the age of 21 have been turned away from Boston establishments with no explanation. Club promoters are blaming the city. The city is not answering questions. And the LGBT community is confused and distraught.

Even in this day and age of seemingly increased tolerance, for many LGBT people clubs and bars are the one place where we can feel truly accepted and free from judgement and societal stigma. If this is a permanent ban on under-21 parties it will be devastating to our community. Not only will our young people have no place to let loose, club promoters, drag queens, club owners, doormen, and taxi-drivers will suffer economic losses as well. One promoter for a popular gay night, informed that due to this mysterious ban he would lose $1200 per month making it impossible for him to afford his rent.

While the city continues to transfer us from department to department, and refuses to answer any questions, one local club employee speculated that the ban was enacted as a component of the city’s new efforts to curb gang violence. And another speculated that it was to curb under-age drinking.

It is time for the city to answer our questions.

the reality of our lives

(Toronto, Ontario) Gay rights organizations applauded while an evangelical group questioned just how many parents one child can have following a landmark Appeal Court decision that allows an Ontario boy to have three parents.

Legal recognition that the five-year-old has two mothers and one father which some say opens the possibility of nightmare custody battle scenarios was hailed by Egale Canada as the courts simply catching up to the reality of Canadian society. -

from the inauguration

Minutes ago: As Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the social justice director for the Reform Jewish movement, spoke of the silent struggles of immigrants and gays and lesbians, a man held this flag pole featuring a rainbow peace flag, the boots of his son who died in Iraq, and a Deval Patrick sign - a symbol of the hope for a better tomorrow that Deval has inspired in many people.

Governor Deval Patrick

Tuesday's defeat was difficult for many of us, and I too was very angry - spouting off quite a bit on bluemassgroup. The web seems to have provided us a nice medium to vent our anger, get a good night's sleep, and then get to work again. On Thursday September 18th, 2005 my roommate Trevor and I met Deval Patrick (pictured) at the Constitutional Convention. That was a day of victories for our community, and hopefully there will be more days like that now that Deval is not just visiting the state house. It is soooooo time to move beyond marriage and begin to really tackle the issues facing the LGBT community at large in our daily lives. Candlelight vigils are nice and important, and I encourage everyone to attend on Jan 10th at 6:30pm, but we must do more than have vigils. We must not be afraid to show our resistance to oppression, to not conform, and to not be silent.

Deval Day Links:
- Boston Globe Inaugural Blog

- "Patrick Gets His Term Off to Running Start with Gay Marriage Debate" - Black America Web

- Romney's New Presidential Web Site (EWWW!)

Reactions to Results of ConCon

I wholeheartedly agree. We have jumped the gun with the issue of gay and lesbian marriage. Now we must backtrack several steps into uncertain times for the queer community as a whole. The fight ahead will be long, and seems to favor those who would like to see our community harmed. We as a community must be more united than ever.

The first action we must take as a community deals with realpolitik:

Victory over the Religious Conservatives. This battle will be drawn out and painful, and most likely counterproductive, but we must fight it anyway. We must show a united front to those who would harm us. Also, we must also show our supporters that we are a force to be reckoned with. Even in loss we must remain united. Whatever disagreements we have internally should be silent.

We must fight this battle politically and economically. We should press pro-equality legislators into action, and remind them who helped put them into office in the first place. Also, we in the community must press those with financial resources to contribute to fight this fear-mongering campaign. Cash flow combined with grassroots energy may be helpful, and at least give us the visibility we need. Also, we must write letters to the mainstream papers, since this seems to be a mainstream issue now. Writing to Bay Windows or InNewsweekly will be preaching to the choir. Boston Globe, the Metro, and even the Boston Herald need to be flooded with letters to help sway public opinion our way.

There are two possibilities:

Number One: Rejection of a Gay Marriage Ban
1.) The people of Massachusetts will reject the ban at the ballot.
2.) The legislator will reject the ban if passed.
3.) The Supreme Court of Massachusetts finds the ban unconstitutional.
4.) Deval Patrick vetoes the ban. (This will need some more exploration, for I am admittedly unclear on the matters of Constitutional law as it pertains to Massachusetts.)

In case of victory, organizations such as QueerToday must press the privileged gay and lesbian community to support initiatives to support queer youth in education and health. Also, higher visibility for trans people and other communities within our own.

Number Two: Acceptance of Gay Marriage Ban.

This defeat will be truly devastating politically, economically, physically, and spiritually for us as individuals and a whole. Individuals will find the closet to be a safer space albeit harmful for the individual; anti-queer violence will surely rise, and anybody who supports queer equality is a potential victim. At this point the queer community must begin to regroup and rebuild. This will be a very difficult task for there are many different interests. This is an issue which can be dealt with in the future, and it is best to keep it in the family for the time being.

For the time being we must be vigilant, as well as cautious. We must keep our emotions in check, as well as be passionate. The things that drive to tear us apart, may only unite us!

In Solidarity
Arturo T. Meneses

devastating loss

Tuesday's decision on the anti-gay amendment is devastating to the youth, trans, and otherwise queer people of our community not just because we will have to continue to endure the prioritization of marriage over our more pressing issues such as the epidemic of homelessness among our youth, but we'll also have to endure the uptake in violence initiated by the anti-gay campaigns of the radical right.

watch the concon live online

Click Here to watch a streaming broadcast of the concon to begin at 2pm today.

Gov. Patrick's Queer Stance on Marriage

"For practical reasons as well, it's time to move on. Whatever one's views of marriage equality, all can agree that we have far more pressing issues before the Legislature and the Commonwealth. It serves no public interest to focus more time and attention on this issue when there are under-served and under-performing schools, an infrastructure showing signs of sustained neglect, gun and gang violence on the rise, jobs and people leaving the state, a growing homeless population, soaring health care costs, a looming deficit and a score of other serious challenges crying out for the attention and the creativity of the government and the people. We cannot in good conscience ask these unmet needs to wait while a few individuals try to insert discrimination into our Constitution. "

"I favor ending this petition initiative promptly. If adjournment can accomplish that, so be it. If the Constitutional Convention chooses to vote on the merits, I want to be utterly clear that I believe a vote to advance this question to the 2008 ballot is irresponsible and wrong. Given the significant challenges we face on so many other fronts, I would be deeply disappointed in such a vote. It would do nothing more than condemn us all to more years of debate and expense on a matter that is legally and practically settled."