Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lagging behind

Today New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed that state's civil unions bill into law, and last Tuesday (May 22) Vermont Governor Jim Douglas signed into law a bill banning discrimination based on gender expression or identity. Because of this, we thought we'd put out an update on which states 1) currently offer comprehensive protections for same-sex couples or/and 2) have gender expression non-discrimination legislation:

States offering comprehensive protections for same-sex couples:


District of Columbia: domestic partnerships (limited family recognition laws)


Hawaii: reciprocal beneficiaries (limited family recognition laws)


Vermont: civil unions (broad family recognition laws)


Maine: domestic partnerships (limited family recognition laws)
Massachusetts: marriage (full marriage equality)


California : domestic partnerships (broad family recognition laws)
Connecticut: civil unions (broad family recognition laws)


New Hampshire: civil unions (broad family recognition laws)
New Jersey: civil unions (broad family recognition laws)
Oregon: civil unions (broad family recognition laws)
Washington: domestic partnerships (limited family recognition laws)

States where discrimination based on gender expression/identity is illegal:




Rhode Island


New Mexico


District of Columbia


New Jersey



Number of times New York appears on this list: 0

Morning Sweep

Be sure to read the beautiful story of Thea Spyer and Edith Windsor, ages 75 and 77, respectively, who made good on a 40 year engagement and married in Canada last week.

California may soon have its first openly gay appellate court justice. Michael Nava--who is also Latino and Catholic--may get the nod from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sometime during the summer.

"The radical homosexual movement in the United States is a Jewish movement" says a website run by Chechen mujaheddin. Their "exhaustive list" includes everyone from Harvey Fierstein to Barney Frank.

Pride Buffalo is this weekend--Sunday, June 3--and the theme is "Happily Ever After, Legal or Not." Bryan James Whitley, Executive Director of Pride Center of Western New York, writes about the history of Pride and what it means to Buffalonians.

The British University and College Union says that it should be considered an act of discrimination for teachers to negatively characterize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Morning Sweep

Always editorializing, the NY Post's Fred Dicker writes about growing support for gay marriage among New York voters younger than 55, "strongly suggesting time is on the side of those favoring the radical move." (emphasis added)

Assembly Democrats conferenced the marriage bill last night.

LGBT rights advocates in the Hudson Valley will be honored at GLSEN's Hudson Valley gala for their work on making schools a safer place for LGBT students.

After 100 days, plenty of evidence suggests that civil unions in New Jersey are not the separate-but-equal institution that lawmakers insisted it would be.

Lots of Jerusalem officials are unhappy about a new tourism ad campaign encouraging gays and lesbians to visit the Holy Land. As if they don't have bigger problems to worry about.

Writing as a guest blogger on Bilerico, Family Pride Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler discusses Mary Cheney's noticeable absence in the widely distributed photo of new son Sam with grandma and grandpa Cheney.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A suspect poll

Siena’s poll results on gay marriage—which found that 47% of New Yorkers opposed and 43% in support—leave out some important pieces of the puzzle.

We know that 620 registered voters were polled, but we don’t know the breakdown of their demographics—a crucial element in determining the validity of the findings because it demonstrates whether or not the poll adheres to the reality of voter demographics in New York State. For example:
  • The poll points out that a majority of Democrats support marriage equality. But it does not tell us how many/what percentage of the respondents were actually Democrats. If the poll is going to accurately represent New York, there needs to be 2.5 registered Democrats polled for every 1 registered Republican.

  • The poll also tells us that a majority of voters under the age of 55 support marriage equality, even though the overall number of those polled oppose rather than support the law. Because we do not know how many/what percentage of the respondents are above/below 55-years old or what the breakdown is for each age group, it's hard to explain this result. So again, more questions here than answers.

The Pride Agenda’s most recent polling shows almost a flip of what Siena reports—that 53% of registered New York voters support marriage equality, while 38% are opposed. Given that we have two polls and only one provides methodology and a demographic breakdown of all respondents (see page 3), one could easily assume that the findings in the Siena poll just might not mirror the reality of NYS voter demographics.

Siena needs to provide a bit more transparency in order for these findings to be respected.

Morning Sweep

Russia's gay pride "celebration" turned nasty as protesters made good on their promise to spill blood at the rally. Among the attacked were members of the European Parliament. Unsurprisingly, Russian authorities did nothing to prevent or stop the violent behavior of the anti-gay mob.

Binghamton's Pride Palooza coincides this year with Frankin Graham's (son of Billy) evangelical conference, which is expected to bring 10,000 people to Binghamton University. Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan says that he'll still be raising the "gay flag" at City Hall on June 1 for the start of pride month.

Outcome Buffalo provides a list of Buffalo's Pride Events starting June 2 and running through the end of the month.

A boardwalk in Staten Island is the latest target for "cleanup," as it's been identified as a popular rendezvous spot for gay men. While public lewdness laws should certainly be upheld, we hope that some of the city's straight-oriented "lover's lanes" will equal application of the law.

A New York Post columnist mentions Kirk Snyder's book, "The G Quotient: Why Gay Executives Are Excelling as Leader," which claims that at least five Fortune 500 CEOs are gay and closeted.

One of the world's most famous university towns now has a transgender mayor.

A gay groom boutique is set to open in Barcelona, Spain, where gay marriage is legal. Looking at the prices of just the tuxedos proves that gay marriage can be great for the economy!

Friday, May 25, 2007

OffSprung! - Save the Date

On Wednesday, June 13, the Pride Agenda will be launching OffSprung! - a series of programs and events aimed at the next generation of LGBT community leaders. Armani Exchange in SoHo is hosting the event and will provide cocktails and music by DJ Sin Morera. Also--10% of all sales made that evening will go to the Pride Agenda.

If you have any interest in getting involved (in any capacity) with LGBT issues or just meeting/networking with other fabulous 20s/30s gay and straight New Yorkers, put this event on your calendar. It's free and you can RSVP here.

More info coming later.

Morning Sweep

Isaiah Washington's PSA calling for an end to name calling based on "sexual orientation, race or gender" aired during a repeat of Grey's Anatomy last night and directed people, interestingly enough, to (rather than the organization's .org URL). The .com site seems to have been set up specifically for the traffic generated by the PSA.

Because the United Methodist Church has no specified ban on transgender clergy, Rev. Drew Phoenix (formerly Ann Gordon) is allowed to remain a minister at a Maryland congregation. The congregants are fully supportive.

Mitt Romney says that he is not anti-gay, he's just anti-gay marriage because it's not "in the best interest of children."

John Edwards, possibly responding to claims that he's not so gay friendly, came out publicly in favor of the Uniting American Families Act, which would provide the same immigration rights for binational same-sex couples as currently exists for binational opposite-sex couples.

Edwards also answered HRC's LGBT rights questionnaire, and Pam Spaulding has all of his answers.

Controversy in Albany--among Democrats--over proposed legislation that would require H.I.V. testing of all indicted rape suspects.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Morning Sweep

Lawmakers in Washington will hold hearings over the Defense Department's policy of dismissing linguists on the basis of sexual orientation. So far 58 Arabic language experts have been released because they are openly gay or lesbian.

Hillary held her first major gay fundraising event in Washington last night.

Gay Pride Rockland has been set for June 10. The family-oriented event will take place in Nyack and features openly gay former NFL player Esera Tuaolo.

Mary Cheney gave birth to a baby boy yesterday. Maybe someday Samuel David Cheney will ask grandpa why he was so strongly in favor of policies that discriminated against his family.

The FDA has decided to continue its policy of discriminating against gay men who want to donate blood.

A Brooklyn couple who suffered sustained harassment from a landlord because they are lesbians are now suing their (now former) landlord for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Amherst Times ran an opinion piece in support of the marriage bill written by Progressive Western New York blogger BuffaloPundit.

David Mixner writes on how gay Dallas has become.

Kansas now has its first municipality recognizing domestic partnerships.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Morning Sweep

After three years, the annual number of same-sex marriages has plateaued in Massachusetts. Anti-gay groups claim it's because gays don't really want marriage after all. Pull-out fact: 64 percent of the marriages have been between women.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court will hear a complicated lesbian divorce case: because the state recognizes same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts, the Court must decide if R.I. can perform divorces if the married couple decides to split.

All My Children tries out a transgender storyline and falls flat on its face. GLAAD gives the show an A for effort, though.

Garden State Equality claims that of the 852 civil unions obtained thus far in New Jersey, 1 in 8 are not recognized by employers or insurers. writes about increased labor support for LGBT issues both in New York and nationally.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

An interesting race on the Upper East Side

Things are getting interesting in the race to replace Pete Grannis in the 65th Assembly District (Upper East Side).

Democrat Micah Kellner has been his party's choice for a while now, even before Grannis had officially resigned to move on to his new role as Commissioner of the Dept. of Environmental Conservation. High-level NYC Dems like NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer endorsed him as far back as early February.

Kellner has run largely on a reform platform, advocating for many of the changes that Spitzer's campaign promoted. He is also openly bisexual, which means that if he's elected he'll be the fourth openly LGBT Assemblymember and the chamber's first-ever bisexual member. In an interview with Gay City News in early March, Kellner said that we would co-sponsor the (at the time Dick Gottfried's) marriage bill.

Kellner's Republican opponent, Greg Camp, also looks to have some good progressive/pro-LGBT credentials. For one, he put out a public statement on the day that unions announced their support for the marriage bill, saying:
"Today's announcement of union support for a gay marriage bill in Albany is welcome news for everyone who believes in equal rights for all Americans. Should I be elected to the New York State Assembly on June 5th, I will proudly co-sponsor this legislation."

Certainly not your run-of-the-mill NYS Legislature Republican.

The Pride Agenda will likely announce its endorsement either late this week or early next week. But it looks like either way the race plays out, marriage equality has one more supporter.

Morning Sweep

Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell introduced his marriage bill yesterday in the NYS Assembly with 53 co-sponsors. More here, here and here.

The New York Times features same-sex couples in New York who are recognized as legally married in a state that does not itself marry same-sex couples.

Jared Polis, an openly gay entrepreneur and philanthropist, has decided to run for the U.S. House of Reps seat representing Boulder, Colorado. Also in Colorado, candidates are once again lining up to take on anti-gay U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, including Angie Paccione who nearly defeated her in last year's election.

An update on the number of civil union applicants in New Jersey from the Star-Ledger.

Nearly $1,000,000 was raised last night at GLSEN's 2007 Respect Awards at the Cipriani on Wall Street. Honorees included John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley; the National Education Association and student organizer Elizabeth Duthinh. Also featured was the film below, produced by an inspiring group of high school students from New Hartford, NY.

Monday, May 21, 2007

O'Donnell introduces marriage bill

Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell introduced his marriage bill today with 53 sponsors. Last year the bill had 24 co-sponsors.

The following Assemblymembers are co-sponsors of the 2007 marriage equality bill:

Marc Alessi
Jeffrion Aubry
Michael Benedetto
Jonathan Bing
William Boyland, Jr.
Adam Bradley
James Brennan
Richard Brodsky
Kevin Cahill
Vivian Cook
Luis Diaz
Jeffrey Dinowitz
Patricia Eddington
Steve Englebright
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Ginny Fields
Deborah Glick
Richard Gottfried
Andrew Hevesi
Sam Hoyt
Ellen Jaffee
Hakeem Jeffries
Susan John
Brian Kavanagh
Ivan Lafayette
Rory Lancman
George Latimer
Charles Lavine
Barbara Lifton
Vito Lopez
Donna Lupardo
John McEneny
Joan Millman
Catherine Nolan
Feliz Ortiz
Amy Paulin
Jose Peralta
J. Gary Pretlow
Phil Ramos
Jose Rivera
Naomi Rivera
Linda Rosenthal
Teresa Sayward
Michelle Schimel
Robert Sweeney
Matthew Titone
Darryl Towns
Harvey Weisenberg
Mark Weprin
Keith L.T. Wright
Ellen Young
Kenneth Zebrowski, Jr.

O'Donnell, in his press release, thanked Gov. Spitzer for his leadership in introducing this legislation as a program bill late last month.

The bill number (which should show up in the LRS in the next day or so) is A.8590.

Morning Sweep

A bunch of us were up in Rochester for the Pride Agenda's annual Spring Dinner over the weekend. It was the largest gay gathering of its kind ever in Western New York (more than 600 in attendance). NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the keynote speaker for the evening and spoke about the important role that Rochester has played in advancing LGBT rights. State Senator Joe Robach came for a bit, as did Assemblymember David Koon and Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy. Gov. Spitzer also delivered a pre-recorded message of congratulations to the evening's Community Service Award recipient, former Pride Agenda C0-Chair Duffy Palmer (who is also currently in the Spitzer administration as Director of Education).

Reaction/comments from Rochester residents at the dinner here.

From The New York Times:

"Since the British military began allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of its fears — about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness — have come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a nonissue."

Read the whole article here.

Danny O'Donnell told the NY Sun that he'll introduce his marriage bill this week with 53 co-sponsors signed on.

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is facing a discrimination case brought by an oboist who claims that he was fired because he's gay.

An important article (from the Nashua Telegraph via the L.A. Times?) telling about the current problems of acceptance within the NYC LGBT community...and taking place in none other than the West Village.

Liz Benjamin's post last Friday shows exactly why the marriage bill will require new leadership in the State Senate in order to get anywhere.

More families tell why marriage is important to them in a NY Times article recapping last week's court hearing on civil unions vs. marriage for same-sex couples in Connecticut.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Morning Sweep

In an editorial supporting marriage equality, Downtown Express points out the significance of Shelly Silver's announcement that he'd conference the marriage bill during this legislative session.

A columnist from the Hartford Courant draws upon the beliefs of an old Puritan in her argument for making gay marriage legal in Connecticut.

NPR on the mainstreaming of gay culture.

Transgender New Yorkers are stepping up their efforts get movement on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). New York's bill--the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act--is currently making its way through the committee process in the Assembly, but has a record number of supporters this year (94 in the Assembly and 27 in the State Senate).

David Mixner features a column by Herb Hamsher, Board Member of the Point Foundation, which explains why supporting and empowering LGBT youth is so important to the well-being of our community and the future of our movement.

The race to fill the 65th Assembly District (Manhattan's Upper East Side) is heating up.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Unions to Assembly: pass marriage bill

One of the more influential voices in Albany is that of organized labor. Organizations such as 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East and New York State Teachers United (NYSUT) carry much clout when they put their weight behind or against a piece of legislation in either chamber of the New York State Legislature. One need only look to the rough battle between newly elected Governor Eliot Spitzer and 1199SEIU over hospital cutbacks the recent budget process to see how well organized and funded organized labor is in New York.

That's why today's announcement that unions, labor federations and labor leaders representing more than 850,000 New Yorkers--and including 1199SEIU and NYSUT--are backing the marriage bill is so significant.

Packets of information were sent to all members of the Assembly yesterday with a cover letter from NYSUT EVP Alan Lubin (who also spoke at the noontime rally during E&J Day). In the letter, Lubin wrote:
"As unions, we have a particular responsibility to protect equal rights and promote economic justice in connection with collective bargaining, economic benefits, and legislation that affects our members. I am urging you to continue to do to do the right thing as co-sponsor and vote yes on the Marriage Equality bill"

He goes on to say:
"As you make your decision, I want you to consider my full and unwavering support for this bill. I stand in solidarity with the supportive union leaders, local unions, and area labor federations on the attached list."

The unions/labor federations on the "attached list" are:

1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
New York State Teachers United
SEIU Local 32BJ
Retail, Wholesale, Department Stores Union/United Food and Commercial Workers (RWDSU/UFCW)
United Federation of Teachers
United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 9A New York Metro Community Action Program Council
Capital District Area Labor Federation
Rochester & Genesee Valley Labor Federation
Central New York Area Labor Federation

Prominent labor leaders in New York who have previously stated their support for marriage equality include 1199SEIU Past President Dennis Rivera, UFT President Randi Weingarten and UNITE HERE! President Bruce Raynor.

Read more about labor support of marriage here and here.
Read the marriage resolution that many of these unions have passed here.

Morning Sweep

The fourth-annual Wedding March will take place this Saturday, May 19. The March will begin with a rally at Foley Plaza in lower Manhattan and will cross over the Brooklyn Bridge and into Cadman plaza. You can find more information here.

The Times highlights the disproportionate number of homeless LGBT youth in the country and the problems that they face when seeking assistance.

New York City Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr. has proposed strengthening public lewdness laws in order to crack down on flashers. Various LGBT rights groups, while favoring the overall crackdown, point out that lewdness laws are often unequally applied and lead to a disproportionate amount of arrests of gay men.

If gay voters had to make a choice, it would probably be Giuliani over Romney.

Rhode Island is considering legislation that would provide equal access to the rights that come with marriage. Whether or not it will actually be called "marriage" is another issue altogether.

The number of New York marriages that will be considered fully valid due to a recent Mass. court decision is estimated to be 170. More on that here, here, here and here.

What could be better than this? Download Madonna's new single "Hey You" for FREE and MSN will donate 25 cents for each of the first one million downloads to the Alliance for Climate Protection. Done and done.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Morning Sweep

New York gay couples who went to Massachusetts to get married between May 17, 2004 and July 6, 2006 (the day of the NYS Court of Appeals decision on marriage) have fully valid marriages, according to a Massachusetts court. We'll have more on that later.

Jerry Falwell, who most certainly was not a friend of LGBT people, has died. He will not be missed.

Yolanda King--eldest daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and longtime ally of the LGBT community--will be missed.

Moms are coming out in defense of their gay children and calling for acceptance within faith communities.

A Fresno, CA high school elected a transgender prom queen. Johnny Vera stood 6'4" in heels as she accepted the honor.

There will be no gay pride parade allowed in Moscow this year. Again. But those obstinate Muscovite 'mos say they're gonna march anyway!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Morning Sweep

Civil unions v. marriage had its day in the Connecticut State Supreme Court yesterday, with much of the debate centered on whether or not sexual orientation meets the standards of strict scrutiny.

A coalition of anti-gay rights groups in Oregon is collecting signatures to get both the domestic partnership and LGBT non-discrimination laws (which were recently passed the state legislature) on the ballot for voter approval.

Newsweek's cover story this week deals comprehensively with gender identity and expression and features transgender people telling their stories.

AfterElton talks to several openly gay broadcasters, which results in the most in-depth conversation yet on the popular subject.

San Francisco wants to be more aggressive in marketing itself to gay travelers. Apparently the city is losing out to Las Vegas in popularity for LGBT tourists (just ask Celine, Cher, Bette, Elton and Jackie Beat...)

It looks like Rosie might have had an impact on the views of The View co-host Elisabeth Hasslebeck.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Morning Sweep

The New York Times raises the curtain on the first-ever state court case looking at whether or not civil unions are "separate but unequal" institutions.

Also from the Times: an editorial calling for the NYS legislature to pass the Family Health Care Decisions Act, which would allow for family members to act as decision makers in cases where patients cannot decide for themselves. The editorial notes that Republicans in the NYS Senate have held up the bill because it includes same-sex partners in the definition of family.

A gay couple of 35 years was selected to marshall Staten Island's Pride March on June 2.

Crain's New York makes the business case for marriage equality in New York.

Christine Quinn ranks an impressive #3 on the New York Post's 50 Most Powerful Women list. Only Hillary Clinton and Diane Sawyer ranked ahead of her.

NYC's PRIDEFest has been cancelled. This does not in any way, however, affect the Pride March.

Andy Towle points out the double standard that gay artists sometime face when displaying their work.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Marriage bill officially has bipartisan support

Teresa Sayward, a Republican Assemblymember from Upstate New York, indicated her support for marriage equality legislation to us last fall (2006) during our endorsement process.

According to LA-based (and active Log Cabiner) Boi From Troy, Sayward announced at the Log Cabin convention in Denver last weekend that she is going to put her name on the marriage bill as a co-sponsor this year. This will make Sayward the first Republican co-sponsor of New York's marriage bill (although a couple others support the bill, none have to this point become co-sponsors).

We hope Sayward's leadership on this issue will influence others in her conference.

Morning Sweep

A venomous editorial in the New York Blade this week calls out one particular gay blog for being "disrespectful."

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle features a point/counter-point about gay marriage. Maybe I'm biased, but I think it's pretty clear which argument is more rational and logical.

Whatever your views about Tony Blair, he was good to the gays.

Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick went to bat for gay marriage yesterday, asserting that a popular vote on the legality of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts would cause a "circus" and would prevent other substantive pieces of legislation from being considered.

A new study shows that men who engage frequently in unprotected oral sex are at a significantly greater risk of getting throat cancer. The reason: spreading the ubiquitous HPV (human papillomavirus)--the same virus that's been linked to cervical cancer in women.

Another justice on Connecticut's Supreme Court has removed himself from hearing the case on gay marriage in the Constitution State.

Dennis Kucinich isn't the only presidential candidate who supports gay marriage.

High drama over the battle for location for PRIDEFest 2007, including threats to cancel the entire event. We expect it'll probably end up playing out something like this.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Movement on marriage

The total of Assemblymembers in support of marriage now stands at 68, with the additions of Kenneth Zebrowski, Jr. (D-Rockland) and Phil Ramos (D-Suffolk) this week. Seventy-six are needed for a majority and we still do not know where 48 Assemblymembers stand on the issue.

Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell, the bill's prime sponsor, is hoping to shore up co-sponsors by next Tuesday, May 15. According to Paul Schindler, EIC of Gay City News: "Between now and next Tuesday, everybody who cares about this issue should contact undecided members of the Assembly to support the Spitzer-O'Donnell measure, which is sponsored in the Senate by Chelsea's out gay Democrat Tom Duane."

Below are the remaining 48. You can find contact info for any of them here or here.

Long Island:

Tom Alfano (R-Nassau)
Philip Boyle (R-Suffolk)
James Conte (R-Nassau/Suffolk)
Earline Hooper (D-Nassau)
Andrew Raia (R-Suffolk)
Joseph Saladino (R-Nassau)

New York City:

Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn)
Carmen Arroyo (D-Bronx)
Alec Brook-Krasney (D-Brooklyn)
Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn)
Barbara Clark (D-Queens)
William Colton (D-Brooklyn)
Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island)
Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn)
Ruben Diaz, Jr. (D-Bronx)
Carl Heastie (D-Bronx)
Rhoda Jacobs (D-Brooklyn)
Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn)
Alan Maisel (D-Brooklyn)
Margaret Markey (D-Queens)
Nick Perry (D-Brooklyn)
Jose Rivera (D-Bronx)
Peter Rivera (D-Bronx)
William Scarborough (D-Queens)
Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan)
Michele Titus (D-Queens)
Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn)

Hudson Valley:

Marcus Molinaro (R-Columbia/Dutchess)
Annie Rabbitt (R-Orange/Rockland)


Darrel Aubertine (D-Jefferson/St. Lawrence)
Michael Cole (R-Erie/Niagara)
Janey Duprey (R-Clinton/Franklin/Essex)
Joseph Errigo (R-Livingston/Monroe/Ontario)
David Gantt (D-Monroe)
Joe Giglio (R-Allegany/Cattaraugus/Chautauqua)
Timothy Gordon (D-Rensselaer/Albany/Columbia/Greene)
Stephen Hawley (R-Genesee/Monroe/Niagara/Orleans)
James Hayes (R-Erie/Niagara)
Roy McDonald (R-Rensselaer/Saratoga/Washington)
Tom O'Mara (R-Chemung/Schuyler/Tioga)
William Parment (D-Chautauqua)
Crystal Peoples (D-Erie)
Robert Reilly (D-Albany/Saratoga)
Robin Schimminger (D-Erie/Niagara)
Dede Scozzafava (R-St. Lawrence/Lewis/Jefferson/Oswego)
James Tedisco (R-Schenectady/Saratoga)
Paul Tonko (D-Montgomery/Schenectady)

Need more inspiration? Read the Gay City News editorial, titled "Get in the F***in' Game!"

Morning Sweep

An LGBT group in Albany had its Black & Latino Gay Pride banner vandalized yesterday.

Talk about mixed messages: this column written in The Jewish Week first calls for a more "welcoming" attitude towards LGBT members of the Orthodox Jewish community, then says that homosexual practices are not to be "endorsed" and are repairable. Oy.

Oregon celebrates the passage of two major pro-LGBT bills, both signed into law yesterday by Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

An Indiana pastor is using the Bible as a weapon to fight for LGBT rights. Of course, there's always going to be a hater: ''You've got to take the Bible for what it says. We are bound by scripture. These people pick and choose,'' said a clergy member who is obviously critical of the approach. Can't you almost smell the hypocrisy?

The fight for gay marriage is still raging in Massachusetts.

U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass), a champion of repealing "don't ask, don't tell" has resigned his seat in the House to become chancellor at UMass-Lowell.

Bilerico has answers from Democratic Reps. Brad Ellsworth and Joe Donnelly on why they voted against the Hate Crimes bill.

Focus on the Family has a response to Gov. Spitzer's memo in support of the marriage bill...and Good As You has a response to Focus on the Family.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Morning Sweep

New York City's PrideFest has been denied its wish to move from its traditional West Village location to Eighth Ave in Chelsea.

The openly gay leader of Canada's Parti Quebecois has resigned his post due to the party's poor performance in recent elections.

Looks like Catholics don't have the monopoly on homophobia in Italy.

Rochester's Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley received its first-ever federal grant ($25,000) to boost the group's health and human services outreach.

Oregon's governor will sign two major pieces of pro-LGBT legislation today: one making discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal and one providing for domestic partnerships.

State Senator and DOMA-sponsor Serphin Maltese (R-Queens) already has a challenger lined up for the 2008 elections. Maltese just barely won his last election, with very little attention paid by NYS Dems.

The Today Show was unusually gay-inclusive today, and Good As You has the footage to prove it.

If you support marriage equality and you live in a district represented by any of these lawmakers, I'd suggest letting them know how you feel about their statements. (you can find contact info for all of them here)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Morning Sweep

The New York Sun reports on Gov. Spitzer's memo is support of the marriage bill he introduced last month.

On the same day that Spitzer's marriage bill was announced, the NYS Dept. of Civil Services also announced that spouses of gay state and local government employees (married in places like Massachusetts or Canada, etc.) would now be eligible for benefits like all other spouses. Open enrollment for into the NYS Health Insurance Plan is going on throughout May. More on that here.

Ft. Lauderdale Airport has fired an employee for making an anti-gay remark over the airport intercom.

Gawker has some follow-up on the transgender sportswriter story.

The U.S. Navy has recalled an openly gay sailor who had been previously discharged for violating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Said the sailor's superior: "he’s better than the average sailor at his job."

Monday, May 7, 2007

Dicker's presumptions, our facts

We realize that Fred Dicker's piece in the New York Post this morning was a column, but it still doesn't excuse the fact that it panders to stereotypes and myths about the issue of marriage equality in New York State. So, with all due respect, we'd like to point out exactly where (and there are many instances) the arguments put forth by Dicker's column do not hold water.

Before we go point-by-point, it's important to remind Dicker that Gov. Spitzer did not bow to a special interest when introducing this bill, as is implied in this article. Activists did not criticize Spitzer for "failing to include the proposal in a final 'to do' list of remaining legislative issues." It was simply a question put to the Governor by reporters who noticed the absence of a sexy news topic. However, when "activists" were quoted in these stories, only praise of the Governor's work for the LGBT community was given. Not criticism.

Point #1 - starting with the "hard facts"

"Polls have repeatedly shown a majority of New Yorkers oppose gay marriage..."
According to a 2006 Global Strategy poll, 53% of New Yorkers support granting same-sex couples the right to marry, while 38% do not.

Even if you look to different statewide polls, those in support of marriage equality ALWAYS outnumber those who are opposed, even if the number in support does not reach a majority. It is hard to find a single poll (much less repeated polls) where opposition to marriage tops 50%. And when given a choice (as NYTimes polls often do) between marriage, civil unions or no recognition at all, the highest percentage of respondents are in favor of full marriage equality.

Even more importantly when addressing the arguments put forth in this article, polls show that the vast majority of New Yorkers would not vote against a candidate simply because of their position on marriage equality.

"His action forced the Assembly's majority Democrats, who have avioided taking sides on the polarizing issue for years, to confront what is expected to be a bitter internal debate to reach a consensus 'conference position.'"

Not true. The Pride Agenda's marriage scorecard has rated where Assemblymembers and State Senators have stood on the issue for months now--long before Spitzer was elected governor. While it is true that many legislators have not made their position known, many have, and have done so as early as last year.

Point #2 - doing some research

"Many insiders predict a significant number of the Assembly Democrats - and possibly even a majority - will oppose the measure, led by conservative-oriented upstate and suburban lawmakers and a large number of African-Americans and Hispanics..."
Polling shows that suburban New Yorkers are even more progressive on the issue of marriage equality than their New York City counterparts. Looking at that same Global Strategies 2006 poll: both Long Island counties and Westchester yeilded a higher percentage of marriage equality supporters than the overall NYC total: 59% in favor- 39% opposed for Long Island and Westchester, versus 53% in favor - 39% opposed for New York City. This debunks Dickers presumption that marriage equality is a Manhattan-only movement.

For a less theoretical example, one need only look at the Feb. 7, 2007 Special Election in the 7th Senate District. Craig Johnson won a Senate seat in a district previously held by a Republican while being outspokenly pro-marriage equality. His support for marriage equality was specifically raised as a wedge issue by his opponent, but the tactic backfired badly. Johnson even mentioned his commitment to passing marriage legislation in his victory speech!

Dicker also has his facts wrong when it comes to African American and Hispanic NYS Assemblymembers and State Senators. Again, if Dicker were to look at our
marriage scorecard in reference to the members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, he'd find that of the 32 Assemblymembers in the Caucus: 15 openly support same-sex marriage legislation, 16 have unknown positions and only 1 is openly opposed. Looking at the State Senate, of the 12 Senators in the Caucus: 9 are openly in support (including Minority Leader Malcolm Smith), 2 have not yet indicated and only one is opposed. And finally, Lt. Governor David Paterson, former Senate Minority Leader and now the highest ranking African American elected official in New York State, has been a longtime supporter of marriage equality.

Point #3 - using more than one source

The only named source in the article is Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady), whose members number 42 in the 150-member chamber. He calls the marriage issue an "Achilles' heel" for the Democrat Majority, but given his tiny numbers of Republicans in the Democrat-controlled body, it is not surprising that he is grasping at straws… and Achilles’ heels. As stated earlier, polling shows that the marriage issue does not determine the votes of the vast majority of New Yorkers; they simply do not prioritize the issue to that level. We understand that Mr. Tedisco might like to believe otherwise, but the numbers simply do not back him up.

Simply put, there's no reason--given the facts and the reality of the situation--that marriage equality for same-sex couples should be divisive. In truth, it's already here. At the end of last week, the New York State Dept. of Civil Services announced open enrollment into the NYS Health Insurance Program for the same-sex spouses of state and local government employees. This means that now more than 800 localities in New York State will recognize same-sex marriages to some extent.

I don't hear any battle cries for anyone to be removed from office.

Morning Sweep

Log Cabin Republicans announced over the weekend at their annual convention that Rudy Giuliani currently leads the pack of GOP hopefuls as their choice for President in the '08 elections.

John Amaechi, who spoke at the Log Cabin convention, admitted that he was surprised that Americans were overwhelmingly supportive of him when he came out.

The Daily Freeman from Kingston, NY provides one of the most comprehensive arguments for gay marriage put forth by a newspaper.

We'll blog more on this later, but a column in today's NYPost about support for marriage equality in NY brings up some interesting points--and one is totally inaccurate.

The New York Times looks at the new gay art movement (or moment).

More drama in the Anglican/Episcopalian internal rift over homosexuality, this time in Albany.

Same-sex couples in Iowa are challenging the constitutionality of the state's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Connecticut's Supreme Court will hear a case brought about by a handful of couples who claim that civil unions are not providing them with the same protections as marriage--all while a marriage bill is also currently moving through the state's legislature.

Friday, May 4, 2007

All of us or none

Below are pictures from throughout the day on LGBT Equality & Justice Day on Tuesday, May 1. For everyone who got on a bus, came to the capitol and lobbied their elected officials, this was a day of empowerment and community-building--and Albany took notice. Thanks to everyone who made this day the unprecedented success that it was; now let's keep the momentum going!
(all photos by Doug Meszler)

O'Donnell says marriage vote possible in June

From the New York Blade:
"As a record-breaking number of gay rights advocates were congregating Tuesday morning, May 1, in Albany to lobby lawmakers, Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell got a message. Speaker Shelly Silver gave word that O’Donnell would sponsor the governor’s gay marriage bill in the Assembly.'I intend to try to bring this to a vote before we leave Albany in June,' O’Donnell said in an interview Wednesday."

And the reason for such optimism:
Openly gay Assembly member O’Donnell’s optimism on Wednesday was in contrast to his guarded tone the previous day. He attributes the change to several factors. A dozen Assembly members have privately told him they would put their name on the bill, he said. Also, there has been a sea change in the issue resulting from the governor’s bill, which specifically exempts religious groups from having to marry gay couples.

Currently, the bill has 66 supporters in the Assembly (76 votes needed for a majority). The Pride Agenda's scorecard currently notes 62, with Assemblymembers Espiallat, Powell, Destito and Magnarelli added as a result of Tuesday's lobby visits. (State Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Martin Dilan were also added as supporters in that chamber).

Morning Sweep

The New York Times coverage of the House passing the Hate Crimes bill.

Iowa and New Hampshire, both traditionally pivotal states in any presidential election, are bringing gay issues to the forefront after recent victories in state legislatures. There's also a strategy to combat faith-based attacks.

U.S. Rep. Chris Shays (R) explains how he's changed his position over the years on gay issues. Shays joined Barney Frank last week to introduce the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the House of Representatives.

Gay City News covers LGBT lobby day in Albany. More here.

How is Rudy going to flip this one? We hope he finds his sense of leadership before this race concludes.

The European Court of Human Rights smartly ruled against the Polish government--led by anti-gay President Lech Kaczynski--for banning a gay pride parade.

Focus on the Family is mad at Governor Spitzer...he must be doing something right.

The Log Cabin Republicans are meeting in Colorado this weekend, and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter is expected to sign a LGBT non-discrimination act into law.

...and Las Vegas is about to get a little bit more gay.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Results of the Hate Crimes Vote - the New York Delegation

The federal Hate Crimes bill passed the house this afternoon by a vote of 237 for, 180 against and 16 not voting. An interesting debate took place before the vote.

Here's how New York's Representatives voted:

Ackerman (D): Yea
Arcuri (D): Yea
Bishop (D): Yea
Clarke (D): Yea
Crowley (D): Yea
Engel (D): Not Voting
Fossella (R): Nay
Gillibrand (D): Yea
Hall (D): Yea
Higgins (D): Yea
Hinchey (D): Yea
Israel (D): Yea
King (R): Nay
Kuhl (R): Yea
Lowey (D): Yea
Maloney (D): Yea
McCarthy (D): Yea
McHugh (R): Nay
McNulty (D): Yea
Meeks (D): Yea
Nadler (D): Yea
Rangel (D): Yea
Reynolds (R): Nay
Serrano (D): Yea
Slaughter (D): Yea
Towns (D): Yea
Velazquez (D): Yea
Walsh (R): Yea
Weiner (D): Yea

Bush likely to veto Hate Crimes bill

Just in from the AP:
The White House, in a statement, said state and local criminal laws already provide penalties for the crimes defined by the bill and "there has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement."

Full text of the article here.

Add another notch of shame to this already disastrous administration.

The House is right now debating the bill.

Morning Sweep (plus E&J news round-up)

Equality & Justice Day news:

Great photos in the Times-Union coverage of the rally. Alan Lubin from NYSUT is quoted and Senator George Winner is called out for not receiving constituents (seems to be an unfortunate trend). Also featured in a separate story is a "level of support" meter on the marriage issue for the Governor, the Assembly and the State Senate.

The New York Times highlights Joe Bruno's unsurprising response to the marriage issue and also mentions the large turnout at the rally.

Gannett reporter Dan Weissner covered the rally and his article was localized for the Ithaca, Poughkeepsie, Binghamton, Westchester and Rochester papers.

Broadcast coverage of the day was also significant, including great segments from Capital News 9, Channel 13 NBC and NY1.

Very significantly, Liz Benjamin put it out there that Speaker Silver will be conferencing the marriage bill in the Assembly in the coming few weeks. This was confirmed by Fred Dicker in the NY Post today.

And a very special shout-out to Jeremy over at Good As You, who brilliantly smacks down the daily lies put out by the anti-gay movement: thank you for helping get the word out on this incredibly important day of activism!

Today's sweep:

The Connecticut Supreme Court's chief justice will not hear the case challenging the ban on same-sex marriage because of her ties to an amicus brief filed by Lambda Legal.

New Paltz Mayor Jason West, who once boldly allowed for gay marriages to be performed in the small Hudson Valley town, lost his reelection bid to a man who is likely to be as progressive on civil rights issues.

Oregon's state House passed a domestic partnership bill yesterday, which essentially assures that it will be law as Governor Ted Kulongoski has pledged to sign the bill.

The federal Hate Crimes bill will be considered by the House today. If you haven't yet urged your U.S. Rep to support the bill, you can do it here.

Isaiah Washington is going to tape a public service announcement for GLSEN and GLAAD. Now, I'm all for redemption, but isn't this kind of like Mel Gibson doing a PSA for the Anti-Defamation League?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Equality & Justice Day 2007 - Open Thread

To all of the roughly 1100 participants of this year's E&J Day in Albany, use this space to leave your impressions, comments, experiences and thoughts about your day. A huge thanks to everyone who came and made the power of our community felt in our state capitol.

To leave a comment, simply click on the "comments" link below.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The (W)rath of Mary Lou

We've heard of some great legislative meetings today, many of them resulting in scorecard movement (which we'll talk about more in a later post). There's one however, that we found to be quite dispicable: Republican Mary Lou Rath, a Buffalo-area State Senator, flat out denied a constituent a meeting this morning.

Now, we know that elected officials are busy people, but what are they if not directly responsible to the people who they represent? This constituent, 23-year old Paul Neenos, dropped by Senator Rath's office simply to request a quick conversation, but was instantly rebuffed by a staffer who said: "we're not meeting with any of you people today."

Any of you people?

What's more is that Paul's family (almost certainly unbeknownst to the Senator, because there was no time for explanation) knows Ms. Rath personally pretty well. How embarrassing.

We hope that this note is circulated widely among Senator Rath's constituents, and that they remind her who exactly it is that hired her--and who can fire her.

The Rally

Speakers representing clergy and unions in favor of pro-LGBT legislation kicked off the event. Transgender activist Melissa Sklarz very memorably told the audience that we'd all been "deputized as transgender activists," which really got the crowd going. Alan Van Capelle and Senator Tom Duane were the keynote speakers. Lots of State Senators and Assemblymembers also showed up at the rally.

A bit of news was broken at the rally, too: Danny O'Donnell will officially be the prime sponsor of the marriage bill in the Assembly. Dick Gottfried had, in the words of Tom Duane "carried the torch" with the marriage bill up to this point. It wouldn't be right if we didn't thank him profusely for his TIRELESS work on building support for the bill.

Here are some crowd shots from the rally. They look great against the backdrop of the State Capitol Building and the State Education Building.

Speeches from the morning session

The morning session featured speeches by the State Assembly's gay electeds and Spitzer's Deputy Chief of Staff (and openly gay former Pride Agenda board member) Sean Patrick Maloney. Maloney's speech dealt primarily with Spitzer's marriage bill introduction and he reaffirmed the Governor's commitment to making the bill law--even if not during the current legislative session.

As for the openly LGBT Assemblymembers, Deborah Glick was introduced first--as the first openly gay person ever elected to the NYS Assembly. She then called up Daniel O'Donnell, the first openly gay man elected to the NYS Assembly. After speaking passionately about his anti-bullying bill, the Dignity for All Students Act and the marriage bill, O'Donnell called to the stage the newest gay member of the Assembly, Staten Island's Matt Titone.

The morning legislative visits have now started and will run until about noon.

Live from Equality & Justice Day 2007

Welcome to Equality & Justice Day 2007! It's now 10:30 and the morning program is about to begin. More than 1100 people are in the conference hall--the most LGBT people to come to the Capitol to lobby their state representatives since 1971. Below are some scenes from the convention center as the morning session is about to begin: