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Houston’s LGBT Protections Ordinance Survives Initial Attack

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Texas mapThe City of Houston determined that the opponents of a new LGBT civil rights ordinance failed to gather enough valid signatures to put a repeal on the ballot.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will not appear on the November ballot, Mayor Annise Parker announced at a press conference today. “The petition is simply invalid,” said David Feldman, the city’s attorney. Officials said there were too many irregularities in the petition. Some of the pages weren’t notarized, and too many of the signatures were not registered voters, they said. Feldman said, essentially, that there were so many problems with the petition as it was submitted that the city couldn’t accept it. Mayor Annise Parker predicted that opponents will take legal action. Because of expected legal action, she will then delay implementation of the ordinance.

It’s sad that the implementation has been delayed, but this does shift the fight to the courts, which are a lot harder to sway than public opinion with lies and deception.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

Activists Should Go Ahead With Oregon Marriage Equality Vote

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageAn Oregon federal judge is likely to declare that Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. We wholeheartedly agree with that outcome, but the final say on this legal issue belongs to the U.S. Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court rules (likely in June 2015), it may disagree that the federal constitution prohibits same-sex marriage bans. Or it may agree that the ban is invalid.

Oregonians, however, need not wait another year for certainty on marriage equality. We are ready, willing and able to strike down the same-sex marriage ban this November. Oregon United for Marriage (OUM) has gathered the signatures for a ballot initiative. But, surprisingly, OUM is considering giving up just short of the finish line and trusting the U.S. Supreme Court to finish the job for them. They shouldn’t. Even if the federal court’s ruling allows same-sex couples to start marrying in Oregon immediately, there are compelling reasons OUM should still put marriage equality on the November ballot.

1. The U.S. Supreme Court cannot be taken for granted. If Oregon’s constitutional ban remains, and the Supreme Court disagrees that it violates the federal Constitution, future same-sex marriages will stop until Oregon passes the marriage equality ballot initiative in November, 2016 at the earliest. And marriages that take place between now and June, 2015 could be in legal jeopardy.

Authored By Andrew Altschul – See the Full Story at Oregon Live

Find more Oregon Marriage Equality articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, Michigan: Marriage Equality Ballot Initiative Planned as State Submits New Brief

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

MichiganThe campaign to put marriage equality on the ballot in 2016 will kick off today.

The Detroit News reports:

Community activists, religious leaders and other supporters of same-sex marriage in Michigan are expected to kick off a campaign Thursday for a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize gay marriage in the state. The initiative will be called Michigan for Marriage, organizers said. In Metro Detroit, organizers will kick off their effort at noon at the Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ Auditorium, located at 1200 N. Telegraph in Pontiac. Petition drives will also be launched in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a new brief with the 6th Circuit supporting the ban, but one thing was notably absent.

Joe.My.God reports:

Yesterday Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in defense of that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Notably missing from Shuette’s brief is any mention of debunked social researcher Mark Regnerus, who was brutally slapped down by the judge who ultimately overturned the ban.

In another interesting twist, he also points to the US Supreme Court’s upholding of the state’s affirmative action ban last month:

Mlive reports:

“The district court’s decision, to use (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony) Kennedy’s recent words, demeans democracy,” the state asserted, referring to the plurality opinion in the case that Schuette argued in defense of the affirmative action ban. “It denies each of those voters the dignity of a meaningful vote, labels each with the stigma of irrationality, and treats Michigan’s electorate as incapable of deciding this profound and sensitive issue.”

Kennedy wrote in his opinion on Schuette vs. Coalition to defend Affirmative Action: “It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds… Freedom embraces the right, indeed the duty, to engage in a rational, civic discourse in order to determine how best to form a consensus to shape the destiny of the Nation and its people. These First Amendment dynamics would be disserved if this Court were to say that the question here at issue is beyond the capacity of the voters to debate and then to determine.”

I haven’t seen this particular argument before, at least not with this basis… it will be interesting to see if it is taken seriously by the 6th Circuit.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Michigan.

USA, Oregon: Oregon United for Marriage Calls for Quick Ruling on Marriage Equality

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageBoth the group pushing for a marriage equality vote in November and a group of corporations in favor of it made news yesterday.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Sponsors of a ballot measure to legalize gay marriage in Oregon asked a federal judge on Tuesday to make a speedy ruling in a case that challenges the state’s ban on same-sex weddings. At the same time, top Oregon employers such as Nike and Intel threw their support to ending the restrictions. OregonThe campaign said in a court filing that it won’t go forward with its initiative if U.S. District Judge Michael McShane overturns the ban quickly. Otherwise, the sponsors said, they would press ahead with the campaign — at great time and expense. McShane has scheduled oral arguments for April 23 on two consolidated lawsuits challenging the gay marriage prohibition. The campaign must submit 116,284 valid signatures by July 3 to make the November ballot, and organizers say they have more than enough names.

What do you think? Will marriage equality come to Oregon by judicial ruling or by public vote?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oregon.

USA, California: Opponents of Transgender Kids Law Not Giving Up

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Transgender FlagOpponents of the new law to protect transgender kids in California are still trying to find a way to quality for the ballot.

SDGLN reports:

Opponents of a new law that allows transgender students a choice of which restroom and locker room to use are scouring thousands of signatures that were tossed out in San Diego County and elsewhere, hoping to uncover enough evidence to prove that their referendum should be placed on the November ballot. But it will not be easy. They must painstakingly double-check each signature for any hint that county elections officials erred. Statewide, nearly 132,000 were disqualified while about 487,500 were found to be valid.

These people never give up. We could learn from them.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in California.

USA, Oregon: Update from Oregon United for Marriage

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageOur friend Peter Zuckerman, Press secretary for OUFM, sent over an update on the fight there:

———–

It’s an incredible time for the freedom to marry in Oregon. In the courts or at the ballot, we will win—and defend—marriage in 2014!

RECORD HIGH SUPPORT

Support for the freedom to marry in Oregon is at a record high of 55%, according to polling Oregon United for Marriage released on February 20. This is a huge shift over just the past four years– which mirrors what we’re seeing nationally. More and more people are coming to understand that no one should be denied the freedom to marry the person they love.

OUR JOB NOW: DEFENDING AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

Over the next four months, we have a new–and huge–job ahead of us: we need to educate Oregonians on an effort by our opponents at the Oregon Family Council to qualify a discrimination initiative, a measure that would allow businesses to deny commercial services to people because of who they are and who they love. Treating people differently based on who they are is discrimination.

At a moment when Oregonians should be celebrating the imminent end of discrimination against loving, committed couples, we’re gearing up to fight another effort to write discrimination back into our laws. This hurtful measure weakens our current anti-discrimination laws so that corporations and commercial businesses can discriminate against gay and lesbian couples by denying them services on their wedding day. Freedom means freedom for everyone, and it is wrong to treat people differently because of who they are and who they love.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE FREEDOM TO MARRY IN OREGON?

Since we launched the Oregon United for Marriage campaign, our goal has been clear: secure the freedom to marry in Oregon through the surest, quickest means possible.

The amazing movement Oregonians have built is continuing the work to win and defend marriage. Oregon United for Marriage is sorting and prepping the signatures, so they’re ready to turn in on a moment’s notice if we need to. And supporters will keep organizing and talking to friends and neighbors to make the case that Oregon is ready for marriage–and not interested in adding discrimination back into our laws.

FREEDOM TO MARRY STATEWIDE TOUR

We hope you can join Oregon United for Marriage at one of the stops on the
TBD locations will be announced soon. Watch http://events.oregonunitedformarriage.org for more details in the coming days.

———–

The oral arguments in the marriage equality lawsuit are in mid April, and there could be a ruling as soon as May (though it may take longer). OUFM has until 7/3 to turn in their signatures to put marriage equality on the November ballot.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oregon.

US, Ohio: Marriage Equality Group Has More Than Enough Signatures to Make the Ballot

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

OhioA group pressing for a 2014 or 2016 vote on marriage equality has gathered almost twice as many signatures as they need for the ballot, but are pushing for more.

The Columbus Dispatch reports:

The group pushing to overturn Ohio’s 12-year-old constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman says it has 650,000 signatures on a petition to put a gay-marriage measure on the statewide ballot. FreedomOhio’s goal: a million signatures by this summer’s filing deadline for the November election. Only 385,247 valid signatures are needed. “We see strongest support amongst women, single moms, minority and youth voters, which is also termed the ‘rising American electorate,'” said the group’s leader, Ian James. “At FreedomOhio, we call these folks ‘the base.'”

But even if the group gets the million names, the decision on whether to go to the ballot in 2014 or 2016 remains up in the air. It will depend, James said, on “having the resources to identify and mobilize majority support.”

The last poll we’ve seen, from last April, favored marriage equality 48-44%.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Ohio.

USA, Florida: Big Marriage Defeat Looms in 2014 (Part 3)

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Rainbow FloridaOur friend Ned Flaherty has written a 7-part investigative series on what’s going on with marriage equality in Florida, and has graciously allowed us to repost it here. Below is part 3. You can find all 7 parts of the series at the New Civil Rights Movement.

Part 3: Counts for Workers, Signatures and Dollars

Republican political operatives are about to give anti-LGBT hate groups just what they crave: a lopsided defeat for gay rights in the deepest South. NCRM’s 7-part investigative series reveals how progress toward marriage equality in other states is threatened by current events in Florida.

In summary, then, most of Equal Marriage Florida’s work either never started, or else started but remains a secret. Florida law requires that donors who pay for campaigns must be publicly identified, but EMFL’s donors and donations — if there are any — have never been reported.

Treasurer Vanessa Brito reports different campaign results to different people. For example, she claimed that EMFL collected donations of at least $20,000, and spent at least $20,000. In correspondence for this article, she wrote, “Heather [Gray] and I have invested close to $20,000 of our own money — a list she is working on for you and for the latest reporting period as well.” But in the campaign finance reports required by state law, Treasurer Brito wrote to Florida officials that EMFL had received no donations, loans, or in-kind contributions, had spent no funds, and had no financial transactions.

Brito did not report to the state when her own $20,000 was contributed, or when or how it got spent. She also did not report the commissions paid to fund-raisers hired via Facebook. She also did not report the extensive in-kind contributions from the group’s Sponsor, Our America Initiative, from June through December. On New Year’s Eve, OAI spokesman Joe Hunter confirmed the 2013 support, saying, “OAI provided in-kind contributions, such as Web site set-up, social media expertise, and quite a bit of work, primarily at the start. We talk with EMFL, and are actively supporting them, and doing whatever they need us to do.”

On 21 August 2013, EMFL told South Florida Gay News that the collected signatures total was 48,349. On 13 September, EMFL wrote to a Huffington Post staff reporter that the total had exceeded 120,000. On 2 November, EMFL announced that the total was “over 200,000.” But after being asked multiple times to confirm how many signatures are collected vs. outstanding, EMFL Media Coordinator Heather Gray denied the accuracy of EMFL’s previously published figures, and also declined to provide any updates.

Late-Notice-to-EMFL-Florida-DoS-DoE-13-Jan-2014The mystery about how many workers, signatures, and dollars the campaign has taken in deepened on 18 December, when EMFL posted to its Facebook account an advertisement for a “second set of paid petition circulators.” Hiring two teams of contract workers would require EMFL to raise funds and to spend funds, but EMFL’s reports to state officials show zero dollars raised, and zero dollars spent. The Washington state campaign was victorious only after exerting over 30,000 hours of labor, but in Florida, no one from EMFL would confirm the hours worked so far, or the hours planned.

In an e-mail message for this article, Brito wrote on 17 December that her team members “have worked tirelessly since June. You will have the information you requested this week.” But no figures for staffing, signatures, events, or fund-raising ever arrived, and none of EMFL’s available leaders ever gave the long-promised phone interview.

Despite the secrecy, three stark facts blaze brightly.

* EMFL’s Web site still promises to collect 1,000,000 signatures by 1 February 2014, but the lack of people, funds, and progress makes reaching that goal impossible.

* MYami Marketing is the Republican political campaign firm that Vanessa Brito founded in 2009, where Heather Gray is Deputy Director, but its Web site, Facebook, and MySpace pages are all empty, both of its published phone numbers are disconnected, and it appears to be out of business. Owner Vanessa Brito claims that it is a “full-service” marketing firm which is circulating petitions, verifying signatures, and conducting surveys, but MYami Marketing appears to have no Web presence, no working phones, and didn’t answer repeated e-mail inquiries for this article.

* EMFL filed official reports at the Florida Division of Elections showing zero funds raised, zero funds spent, and zero transactions.

Those three facts — scant progress, unresponsive leaders, no transactions — intensify the early fear of some LGBT activists that this Political Action Committee might be just a false front, a staged theatric. The lack of verifiable progress, unavailability of leaders, and absence of funding also make it more likely that EMFL was created not to win marriage equality, but to defeat it, to ruin activist morale, and to burn up LGBT dollars so they can’t be spent anywhere else.

Tomorrow in this investigative series: Part 4 – Party Plans

Ned FlahertyNed Flaherty is an LGBT activist currently focused on civil marriage equality, and previously on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. He writes from Boston, Massachusetts, where America’s first same-gender civil marriages began in 2004. He suffered a childhood exposure to Roman Catholic pomp and circumstance, but the spell never took, and he recovered.

Here’s the list of the 7-part series:

Part 1 – LGBT Groups Oppose Equal Marriage Campaign
Part 2 – Leaders Retreat
Part 3 – Counts for Workers, Signatures, and Dollars
Part 4 – Party Plans
Part 5 – Haters Wait With Bated Breath
Part 6 – Promising the Impossible
Part 7 – Prognosis

USA, California: Anti-Transgender Initiative Unlikely to Qualify for Ballot

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Transgender FlagAn initiative that would overturn California’s new law allowing transgender kids to use the bathroom of their choice at school looks unlikely to make the ballot this year.

The Washington Blade reports:

A total of 504,760 signatures were due last Thursday, which are required to place the law, known as the School Success & Opportunity Act, on the ballot for the 2014 election. Opponents of the measure, led by the Privacy for All Students Coalition, submitted 613,120 signatures from a majority of state counties in favor of overturning the law. But they’re averaging just 75 percent authenticity in the random sample as of Friday, which is significantly below the average ultimately needed to qualify. If the number of valid signatures is less than 95 percent of the 504,760 needed, the measure would fail to qualify for the ballot.

Let’s hope this trend continues. It’s disgusting that these people going after kids. Especially transgender kids, who are going through one of the most difficult things imaginable just dealing with understanding and accepting their gender.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in California.

Brazil: Will Lawmakers Put Marriage Equality on the Ballot?

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Brazil - Google Maps

from Google Maps

Brazil lawmakers may send a gay marriage initiative to the ballot.

On Top Magazine reports:

According to Correio Braziliense, the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies is considering three proposals related to gay unions.
On Wednesday, the commission approved with little debate asking voters in October: “Are you for or against same-sex civil unions?” The text still needs the blessings of the committees on Finance and Taxation, the Constitution and Justice, followed by floor votes… Gay couples in Brazil gained the right to marry earlier this year through a court ruling which states that notary publics cannot deny a gay couple’s request for a marriage license.

Remember, though, this is the same commission that’s headed by a right-wing Christian bigot, so it’s likely they are looking for ways to shut down marriage equality, not support it.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Brazil.