Come celebrate your pride on June 2nd at the Mountain Play’s THE SOUND OF MUSIC. June 2nd is OUTdoors at the Mountain Play – celebrating the LGBT community. Showtime is 2pm. Preshow entertainment at 12:30 pm will be provided by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus Lollipop Guild.
SPECIAL $5 DISCOUNT CODE: MPPRIDE
Enter in the coupon code section to get the discount when you order tickets. See you there!
Bolder Giving, in partnership with the Kevin J. Mossier Foundation and Forward Motion Group, today announced the launch of Give OUT Day supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) community through a new national giving campaign. Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on May 9th and running for 24 hours straight, Give OUT Day will mobilize thousands of donors across the U.S. to contribute to 400 participating LGBTQ causes.
Give OUT Day is breaking new ground as the first nationwide Giving Day for the LGBTQ community.
Anyone in the U.S. states and territories can donate online through GiveOutDay.org, powered by Razoo. In addition to the Razoo crowdfunding platform, tools and resources, LGBTQ organizations are utilizing social media outreach, live events, phone banks and more to motivate their entire U.S. community to participate in this unified day of giving.
“Less than 5 percent of the LGBTQ community currently gives to LGBTQ causes, according to research from the Horizons Foundation and the Movement Advancement Project,” said Bolder Giving’s Executive Director Jason Franklin. “Give OUT Day promotes a new way of giving by harnessing the power of social media and Razoo’s crowdfunding platform to inspire thousands to contribute within a 24-hour giving challenge. Give OUT Day aims to raise awareness of the need to support LGBTQ nonprofits and elevate the level of LGBTQ philanthropy.”
Partners and private donors have already contributed over $60,000 in cash and prizes to spur healthy competition and increase giving levels. The top three LGBTQ organizations in five distinct categories with the greatest number of unique donors will receive additional cash prizes of up to $5,000. The cash prizes will be awarded across two national leaderboards, two in the Bay Area, and one in New York City.
Razoo’s leaderboards will keep a tally throughout the day on the GiveOutDay.org site. Additionally, $500 Rainbow Tickets will be awarded hourly to encourage organizations to keep up their pace of donations.
“We are proud to be part of this historic Give OUT Day for the LGBTQ community,” said Razoo CEO Lesley Mansford. “Our Giving Day model is becoming increasingly popular because it rallies entire communities to act as one over a short, 24-hour period. We’ve had organizations raise many millions of dollars by combining their efforts and by utilizing Razoo’s online fundraising platform to enhance engagement, friendly competition, rewards and fun. With such a tightly knit and passionate group as the LGBTQ community, we anticipate that Give OUT Day will be a great success.”
“We have already witnessed an outpouring of support from our generous partners, sponsors and private donors in organizing Give OUT Day,” said Give OUT Day Coordinator Noris Chavarría. “We wish all the participating LGBTQ nonprofits great success on May 9th. We look forward to interactive participation across the nation in support of the invaluable services these organizations provide for the LGBTQ community.”
For more information about participating LGBTQ organizations, rules, prizes and live events happening across the country on May 9th, 2013 visit www.giveoutday.org.
About Bolder Giving:
Bolder Giving is a NYC-based nonprofit dedicated to inspiring people to “Give More. Risk More. Inspire More.” In 2011, it launched an LGBTQ Equality Initiative to specifically lift up and inspire giving to the LGBTQ community and this Give OUT Day is its newest effort to do so. Bolder Giving’s theme of Give More (significantly increasing your giving from income or assets), Risk More (giving more collaboratively, effectively & strategically), and Inspire More (spotlighting stories of notable giving and sparking conversations about giving) serves socially conscious people across the economic spectrum. To learn more, visit www.boldergiving.org.
Razoo is crowdfunding for causes. Named for an Australian coin of little value on its own – until combined with many – Razoo powers small acts of charity that, together, change the world. From multimillion-dollar, community-led Giving Days to individuals collecting donations on behalf of the nonprofits they support, Razoo has helped raise over $152 million online – one small donation at a time.
Razoo has offices in San Francisco and Washington D.C. and is seed funded by the Legatum Group. See how we’re creating a new generation of everyday philanthropists at www.razoo.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Razoo, or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/razoogiving.
In the first gathering of Spectrum’s Advisory Council since its inception in 2012, a group of 24 people came together at Spectrum’s office on May 1st for an informal mixer of board, staff, and advisory council members.
“This is our first gathering since the creation of the Advisory Council last year”, said Spectrum Board President Gary Anspach. “We look forward to hearing your ideas on how we can be mutually supportive of each other as we advance Spectrum’s work of creating a community in which it takes no special act of courage to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”
Humorist and youth advocate Michael Pritchard, one of the 29 Advisory Council members, said he hopes to work more closely with Spectrum in creating a positive outlet for young LGBT people to let go of any pain they have experienced as a result of anti-gay bullying or family rejection.
“Humor is a terrific tool for releasing anger and pain, turning negative experiences into powerful positive messaging”, says Pritchard. “I want to help these kids tell their stories with humor. It will break down barriers, transform their pain, and help other kids along the way.”
By Mike Sacks
Posted: 03/27/2013 12:33 pm EDT
WASHINGTON — A majority of Supreme Court justices on Wednesday morning appeared skeptical of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as between a man and a woman. Whether the justices believe they have the power to make any decision in this case, however, remained murky.
It was the second day in a row that the high court heard arguments dealing with same-sex marriage. At issue Wednesday in United States v. Windsor was whether it was constitutional for the U.S. government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that had been recognized by the states.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who said Tuesday that the children of same-sex couples “want their parents to have full recognition and legal status,” seemed troubled by the fact that DOMA refuses to recognize even those same-sex unions that are already recognized by states.
“When the federal government has 1,100 laws, which means in our society the federal government is intertwined with citizens’ day-to-day lives,” Kennedy said, then Congress is doing more than simply ensuring a uniform definition of marriage.
Section 3 of DOMA, at issue in Wednesday morning’s case, says “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” for purposes of “any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States.”
Plaintiff Edie Windsor, 83, brought suit against the federal government after the Internal Revenue Service cited DOMA in denying her a refund for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid following the 2009 death of Thea Spyer, her partner for over 40 years. Windsor and Spyer had married in Canada in 2007, but resided in New York. Because Windsor would have been eligible for an estate tax exemption had Spyer been a man, she argues that DOMA’s Section 3 violates her equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment.
Judging from Wednesday’s first 50 minutes of oral arguments, however, the case may instead be decided on whether the justices have the power to hear the case at all.
The chief’s question reflects DOMA’s long, strange trip to this point. A bipartisan piece of legislation, it was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, who now believes it should be overturned.
In 2010, a Department of Justice official told reporters that defending DOMA was “difficult” for the Obama administration, while Attorney General Eric Holder told D.C. law students that the DOJ “has a responsibility to defend those statues that the Congress has passed if there is an argument that can be made to defend those statutes.”
But things changed in 2011, when Holder announced that the DOJ would no longer defend DOMA. Holder was not in the courtroom on Wednesday, but Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole and Acting Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery, who runs the DOJ’s Civil Division, were in attendance on behalf of the department.
After the DOJ backed off from defending the law, House Republicans stepped in. They hired Paul Clement, George W. Bush’s former solicitor general, to defend the law on behalf of the federal government.
Clement faced difficult questioning Wednesday from the Supreme Court’s liberal wing on why the House Republicans had any legally recognizable interest in representing a position the executive has abandoned.
“How is this case any different from enforcing general powers of the United States,” Justice Stephen Breyer asked.
Read the article on HuffPost.
Call (415) 472-1945 ext. 209 or register online here
Download a PDF Flyer for this event here
Featuring: Film screening: GEN SILENT
Box lunch from Fresh Starts Catering, Novato
Welcome by Novato Mayor Pat Eklund
Panel of speakers who live and work in Novato:
• Michael Frank, Novato City Manager
• Stu Maddux, Filmmaker and Producer, GEN SILENT
• Sgt. Jennifer Dunlap, Novato Police Department
• Nancy Flaxman, MSW, Panel Facilitator
The Legal Landscape: Legislation Novato Policymakers and
Residents Should Know About
• Daniel Redman, Esq., DLK Law Group, PC
• Sara Taylor, Esq., Law Offices of Sara M. Taylor
Co-Sponsored by Alzheimer’s Association/North Bay, Marin Division of Aging and Adult Services, Novato Human Needs Center
All of us, as we age, need community. We need to be connected to other people: to know they will be there for us, just as we want to be there for them. We need family.
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors living in Novato are in the closet, with little access to community and resources. They often lack connection to the traditional family support, caregiving, and benefits that most seniors rely on. What do family and caregiving look like for LGBT seniors? Where is the “village” for LGBT people as they age? How do we create an informed, accepting, safe, and supportive Novato for all?
We extend a special invitation to community leaders and service providers from government, business, faith communities, senior services, and health care. All are welcome to attend.
Admission is free; continuing education credit available to MFTs, LCSWs, and RNs with $10 registration fee. MFTs and LCSWs: Meets the qualifications for 3 hours of continuing education credit as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Provider #4598. For RNs: Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #CEP15508, for 3 contact hours.
By Tom Goldstein, Publisher
March 26, 2013
Much will be written about the Proposition 8 oral argument. The bottom line, in my opinion, is that the Court probably will not have the five votes necessary to get to any result at all, and almost certainly will not have five votes to decide the merits of whether Proposition 8 is constitutional.
Several Justices seriously doubt whether the petitioners defending Proposition 8 have “standing” to appeal the district court ruling invalidating the measure. These likely include not only more liberal members but also the Chief Justice. If standing is lacking, the Court would vacate the Ninth Circuit’s decision.
The Justices seem divided on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 on ideological lines, four to four – i.e., all the members other than Justice Kennedy. For the more liberal members of the Court, there was no clarity on how broadly they would rule.
But Justice Kennedy seemed very unlikely to provide either side with the fifth vote needed to prevail. He was deeply concerned with the wisdom of acting now when in his view the social science of the effects of same-sex marriage is uncertain because it is so new. He also noted the doubts about the petitioners’ standing. So his suggestion was that the case should be dismissed.
If those features of the oral argument hold up – and I think they will – then the Court’s ruling will take one of two forms. First, a majority (the Chief Justice plus the liberal members of the Court) could decide that the petitioners lack standing. That would vacate the Ninth Circuit’s decision but leave in place the district court decision invalidating Proposition 8. Another case with different petitioners (perhaps a government official who did not want to administer a same-sex marriage) could come to the Supreme Court within two to three years, if the Justices were willing to hear it.
Second, the Court may dismiss the case because of an inability to reach a majority. Justice Kennedy takes that view, and Justice Sotomayor indicated that she might join him. Others on the left may agree. That ruling would leave in place the Ninth Circuit’s decision.
(The puzzle will be what judgment the Court will enter if there are, for example, three votes to dismiss as improvidently granted, two to find no standing, three to reverse, and one to affirm.)
The upshot of either scenario is a modest step forward for gay rights advocates, but not a dramatic one. The Court would stay its hand for some time for society to develop its views further. But combined with a potentially significant ruling in the DOMA case being argued tomorrow, the Term will likely nonetheless end up as very significant to gay rights.
Read the article on SCOTUSblog here.
By Jacob Combs, Editor, EqualityOnTrial.com
I just walked out of oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court and waded through a huge crowd of supporters shouting, “Equal rights under the law!” It was a whirlwind hearing, and all three lawyers faced tough questions from the justices. Here’s my initial take on the justices’ questions and what they might mean.
The biggest takeaway is that there was a serious focus on issues of standing and jurisdiction during today’s oral arguments. Charles Cooper, representing the proponents of California’s Prop 8, got in a few words before Chief Justice John Roberts steered him toward addressing whether the proponents have standing to defend Prop 8. The chief justice did the same to Prop 8 opponents Ted Olson (who said, gamely, “I was trying to avoid that”) and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.
There was substantial concern among the justices regarding how to avoid a situation where an initiative such as Prop 8 could be nullified by an administration that does not agree with the law. Cooper seemed to open the door to a very new, broad right to standing: When asked by Justice Elena Kagan if a state could assign any citizen to defend its laws, Cooper responded, “It very well might.”
Olson repeatedly assured the court that a state could appoint an “officer” that would defend the law, specifically pointing to the fact that that individual would understand and be obliged to keep in mind the financial burden faced by the state. Justice Antonin Scalia was skeptical, asking whether that person would be appointed by the same administration that chose not to defend the law, but Olson reassured him that many administrations have done so in the past, even for laws that they did not agree with.
Olson, picking up on a line of thought that Chief Justice Roberts had presented to Cooper, argued that adopting the Prop 8 proponents’ argument on standing would essentially allow states to dictate Article III standing; that is, they could say that any individual could represent the interests of the state even without a personalized injury. This would basically negate the whole point of Article III standing, which establishes a certain set of norms and guidelines under which cases can be brought to the federal courts.
Several times Justice Sonia Sotomayor stepped in and said something to the effect of, “Here’s what all these questions are getting at, and here’s the fundamental issue you need to address.” On the standing question Sotomayor asked Olson point-blank who ensures that a law is defended if a state’s executive decides that it won’t do so. Olson stuck to his guns, saying that the proponents of a ballot measure cannot possibly fully understand a state’s interests in a specific law, and that there would instead need to be some kind of appointment process where an administration that had chosen not to defend a law would delegate that task to a specific governmental individual.
During his time for argument, Solicitor General Verrilli underscored the fact that the United States had not addressed the issue of standing in its briefs and said that the federal government had “no formal position” on the issue. Nonetheless, he said that the government leans towards the plaintiffs’ arguments and believes that the proponents of Prop 8 lack the particularized injury to qualify for Article III standing.
Merits: The Arguments for Prop 8
Cooper had two central points. In the first he put significant emphasis on the fact that there is an “earnest debate” over marriage equality happening across the country. Early on, Cooper asked rhetorically whether the Supreme Court should stop that debate, saying that it could only do so it if found that Prop 8 was entirely based on animus.
Cooper’s second point was his usual “responsible procreation” argument, of course. Same-sex couples, Cooper contends, are not “similarly situated” (a central component to equal protection consideration) to opposite-sex couples, because only opposite-sex couples can procreate naturally. Justice Kagan pointed out that Cooper had made an argument for not including same-sex couples in the institution of marriage (because marriages between same-sex couples do not explicitly further the state’s interest in responsible procreation) but asked whether he could justify a law that excludes them from the institution.
Kagan told Cooper that she couldn’t find in his legal briefs any specific harms that would result from allowing same-sex couples to marry. Cooper said that this notion of specific harms is not the central legal issue in the case, circling back to his earlier argument that restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples is justifiable because it furthers a state’s interest in responsible procreation.
Justice Scalia addressed gay adoption, saying that allowing marriage equality would require allowing same-sex couples to adopt. Because some states don’t allow that, he said, could Cooper address any harms arising from gay adoption? If so, he implied, Prop 8 could be rationally defended. Cooper demurred. Justice Stephen Breyer then jumped in and zeroed in on California, asking how allowing marriage for gay couples in a state with same-sex adoption would affect straight couples in any way that allowing sterile couples to marry would. Justice Kagan picked up on this, asking whether a restriction on marriage based on age — say, a prohibition on marriage for couples over 55 — would be OK. Cooper said that marriage would still channel such couples’ sexual activity in such a way that would encourage fidelity and responsible procreation. In response to this, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg pointed out that the Supreme Court has recognized a right to marry even for prison inmates with no possibility of procreating.
As always, Justice Kennedy is almost certainly going to be the swing vote; none of the other conservative justices appeared anywhere close to a ruling that would declare Prop 8 unconstitutional. Kennedy’s questions on the merits were pointed and probed both sides. At one point Kennedy pointed out that the sociological evidence about families headed by same-sex couples and whether there are any effects on children is new and not conclusive, but in the very same sentence he mentioned that the case involves a specific legal injury suffered by the almost 40,000 California children living with same-sex parents.
Merits: The Arguments Against Prop 8
Addressing the merits of the case and arguing against Prop 8′s constitutionality, Olson repeatedly told the court that marriage is a personal individual liberty and a fundamental right, and that procreation is not a part of that right. Prop 8, he said, excludes gay and lesbian Californians from that right.
Chief Justice Roberts jumped in early, throwing cold water on the idea that Prop 8 “excludes” gays from marriage, saying instead that marriage developed historically for reasons that gay unions do not forward (i.e., procreation).
Roberts and Olson got into a bit of a weedy debate about whether the Prop 8 case would be different if the law had been passed before the California Supreme Court extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, with Roberts saying that if the timing had been different, Olson wouldn’t be arguing that Prop 8 excluded gays and lesbians from marriage. Olson reiterated his point that marriage is a fundamental right and said that while the argument in that case would be subtly different, it would still rely on the central question of whether the fundamental right to marry can be withheld.
Justice Scalia asked Olson, “When did it become unconstitutional to exclude gays from marriage?” Olson gamely responded, “When did it become unconstitutional to exclude interracial couples from marriage?” Scalia testily pressed Olson for a specific date, which Olson refused to provide.
Justice Kennedy in particular seemed very skeptical of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ narrow argument striking down Prop 8 specifically in light of California’s unique history of marriage equality. He characterized that decision as one that said that a state could only go all the way to full marriage equality as opposed to only going part way and providing some rights.
Once again, Sotomayor stepped in and steered the arguments back to the central question. If marriage equality is a right, she asked Olson, would any state restrictions on marriage, such as prohibitions on incestuous and plural marriages, survive? Olson had a quick answer: Polygamy is based on conduct, while sexual orientation is based on identity. Sotomayor also asked whether there is any way that the Supreme Court could limit its ruling to California. Olson said that such a ruling would be one in which the proponents were found not to have standing.
Speaking on behalf of the federal government, Solicitor General Verrilli underscored the administration’s belief that Prop 8 should be considered under heightened scrutiny, a more searching form of judicial review. California’s laws, he argued, blow up the proponents’ claims that the state has an interest in reserving marriage for opposite-sex couples, because California affords full rights to same-sex couples.
When pressed by the justices on whether he was calling for a nationwide right to marriage equality (and when asked how a ruling could be limited just to the eight states that currently provide civil unions or domestic partnerships), Verrilli said that the administration wants to keep the door open for different cases to arise from different states.
Significantly, there was very little discussion of the proper level of scrutiny to apply to laws that classify on the basis of sexual orientation. This could mean that the justices think that the case will be decided on the basis of standing, or, more probably, that they believe that the scrutiny discussion will be fully argued tomorrow during the consideration of the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in the United States v. Windsor case.
Read this article on HufPost Gay Voices
From inside the Supreme Court chamber, reporter Kerry Eleveld assembled this list of what LGBT Americans need to know about what was said.
By Kerry Eleveld, Advocate.com
March 26, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — When both sides in the challenge to Proposition 8′s constitutionality presented their views today to the Supreme Court’s nine justices, the unfolding argument inside the courtroom came with some big moments.
Biggest takeaway: The justices had so many options on the table that it was nearly impossible to discern where they were headed with their inquiries. David Boies noted that the “questions jumped around some” and, when asked how the justices might decide the question of standing, Ted Olson offered, “I have no idea.” Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson later told me that questioning showed “the justices were really wrestling with the way they’ll approach this case.”
Best exchange: Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked the proponents’ lawyer, “Outside of marriage,” can you think of any other rational reason for denying gays and lesbians certain rights, such as denying them a job or a housing? Cooper conceded, “Your honor, I cannot.” If that is true, she responded, “why aren’t they a class?” Cooper could not defend the point and instead suggested, “Our submission is that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are not similarly situated.”
As expected: Justice Antonin Scalia did go on a rant of sorts, insisting that Olson explain, “When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage?” Olson offered, respectfully, “When did it become unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriage?” (The suggestion being that it became so when the Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia in 1967.) Scalia responded, “Don’t answer my question with a question!” Then, like a dog with a bone, he insisted on getting a date certain when it became unconstitutional. Finally, Olson conceded, “There’s no specific date.”
Most notable: Justice Anthony Kennedy, the “swing” vote, asserted rather passionately for an otherwise stoic judge that “there is an immediate legal injury” if same-sex couples continue to be excluded from entering legal marriages. “That’s the voice of the children,” he said, referring to an estimated 40,000 kids who California same-sex couples are raising. Cooper responded, “I certainly would not dispute the importance of that question.”
Not to be overlooked: Standing is a real question in this case, and the justices grilled both Olson and Charles Cooper, the lawyer for proponents. The court is obviously very seriously considering whether the proponents in the case really did have the authority to represent the state and the people of California when they appealed district court judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling. Following the arguments, Olson said that if the court rules the proponents did not have standing to challenge the ruling, that would be a “win” for marriage equality. There has been some debate about what would happen if that was the view of the court, but many experts believe, as Olson seems to, such a decision would leave Judge Walker’s ruling in place and same-sex marriages would return to California statewide.
Read the original article here.
By Will Portman, Guest Columnist, Yale Daily News Monday, March 25, 2013
I came to Yale as a freshman in the fall of 2010 with two big uncertainties hanging over my head: whether my dad would get elected to the Senate in November, and whether I’d ever work up the courage to come out of the closet.
I made some good friends that first semester, took a couple of interesting classes and got involved in a few rewarding activities. My dad won his election. On the surface, things looked like they were going well. But the truth was, I wasn’t happy.
I’d make stuff up when my suitemates and I would talk about our personal lives. I remember going to a dance in the Trumbull dining hall with a girl in my class and feeling guilty about pretending to be somebody I wasn’t. One night, I snuck up to the stacks in Sterling Library and did some research on coming out. The thought of telling people I was gay was pretty terrifying, but I was beginning to realize that coming out, however difficult it seemed, was a lot better than the alternative: staying in, all alone.
I worried about how my friends back home would react when I told them I was gay. Would they stop hanging out with me? Would they tell me they were supportive, but then slowly distance themselves? And what about my friends at Yale, the “Gay Ivy”? Would they criticize me for not having come out earlier? Would they be able to understand my anxiety about all of this? I felt like I didn’t quite fit in with Yale or Cincinnati, or with gay or straight culture.
In February of freshman year, I decided to write a letter to my parents. I’d tried to come out to them in person over winter break but hadn’t been able to. So I found a cubicle in Bass Library one day and went to work. Once I had something I was satisfied with, I overnighted it to my parents and awaited a response.
They called as soon as they got the letter. They were surprised to learn I was gay, and full of questions, but absolutely rock-solid supportive. That was the beginning of the end of feeling ashamed about who I was.
I still had a ways to go, though. By the end of freshman year, I’d only come out to my parents, my brother and sister, and two friends. One day that summer, my best friend from high school and I were hanging out.
“There’s something I need to tell you,” I finally said. “I’m gay.” He paused for a second, looked down at the ground, looked back up, and said, “Me too.”
I was surprised. At first it was funny, and we made jokes about our lack of gaydar. Then it was kind of sad to realize that we’d been going through the same thing all along but hadn’t felt safe enough to confide in each other. But then, it was pretty cool — we probably understood each other’s situation at that moment better than anybody else could.
In the weeks that followed, I got serious about coming out. I made a list of my family and friends and went through the names, checking them off one by one as I systematically filled people in on who I really was. A phone call here, a Skype call there, a couple of meals at Skyline Chili, my favorite Cincinnati restaurant. I was fortunate that virtually everyone, both from Yale and from home, was supportive and encouraging, calming my fears about how they’d react to my news. If anything, coming out seemed to strengthen my friendships and family relationships.
I started talking to my dad more about being gay. Through the process of my coming out, we’d had a tacit understanding that he was my dad first and my senator a distant second. Eventually, though, we began talking about the policy issues surrounding marriage for same-sex couples.
The following summer, the summer of 2012, my dad was under consideration to be Gov. Romney’s running mate. The rest of my family and I had given him the go-ahead to enter the vetting process. My dad told the Romney campaign that I was gay, that he and my mom were supportive and proud of their son, and that we’d be open about it on the campaign trail.
When he ultimately wasn’t chosen for the ticket, I was pretty relieved to have avoided the spotlight of a presidential campaign. Some people have criticized my dad for waiting for two years after I came out to him before he endorsed marriage for gay couples. Part of the reason for that is that it took time for him to think through the issue more deeply after the impetus of my coming out. But another factor was my reluctance to make my personal life public.
We had decided that my dad would talk about having a gay son if he were to change his position on marriage equality. It would be the only honest way to explain his change of heart. Besides, the fact that I was gay would probably become public anyway. I had encouraged my dad all along to change his position, but it gave me pause to think that the one thing that nobody had known about me for so many years would suddenly become the one thing that everybody knew about me.
It has been strange to have my personal life in the headlines. I could certainly do without having my sexual orientation announced on the evening news, or commentators weighing in to tell me things like living my life honestly and fully is “harmful to [me] and society as a whole.” But in many ways it’s been a privilege to come out so publicly. Now, my friends at Yale and the folks in my dad’s political orbit in Ohio are all on the same page. They know two things about me that I’m very proud of, not just one or the other: that I’m gay, and that I’m Rob and Jane Portman’s son.
I’m grateful to be able to continue to integrate my two worlds, the yin and yang of Yale and Ohio and the different values and experiences they represent in my life. When you find yourself between two worlds — for example, if you’re navigating the transition between a straight culture and a gay identity — it’s possible to feel isolated and alone, like you don’t fit in with either group that makes up a part of who you are.
But instead of feeling like you don’t belong anywhere, or like you have to reject one group in order to join another, you can build a bridge between your two worlds, and work to facilitate greater understanding between them.
I support marriage for same-sex couples because I believe that everybody should be treated the same way and have the same shot at happiness. Over the course of our country’s history the full rights of citizenship have gradually been extended to a broader and broader group of people, something that’s made our society stronger, not weaker. Gay rights may be the civil rights cause of the moment, but the movement fits into a larger historical narrative.
I’m proud of my dad, not necessarily because of where he is now on marriage equality (although I’m pretty psyched about that), but because he’s been thoughtful and open-minded in how he’s approached the issue, and because he’s shown that he’s willing to take a political risk in order to take a principled stand. He was a good man before he changed his position, and he’s a good man now, just as there are good people on either side of this issue today.
We’re all the products of our backgrounds and environments, and the issue of marriage for same-sex couples is a complicated nexus of love, identity, politics, ideology and religious beliefs. We should think twice before using terms like “bigoted” to describe the position of those opposed to same-sex marriage or “immoral” to describe the position of those in favor, and always strive to cultivate humility in ourselves as we listen to others’ perspectives and share our own.
I hope that my dad’s announcement and our family’s story will have a positive impact on anyone who is closeted and afraid, and questioning whether there’s something wrong with them. I’ve been there. If you’re there now, please know that things really do get better, and they will for you too.
Will Portman is a junior in Trumbull College.
Read original story here.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. Feb. 19, 2013 – On the heels of the controversy surrounding the Boys Scouts of America’s policy to exclude members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as scouts or adult leaders, today State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) and Equality California announced the introduction of new legislation that would remove a state tax exemption for any youth group, including the Boy Scouts, that discriminate against members and leaders on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, organizations that discriminate on these grounds may still receive sales and corporate tax exemptions, a provision that is intended to encourage acting in the public interest.
“Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians,” stated Senator Lara. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups by revoking their tax exemption privilege should they not comply with our non-discrimination laws.”
“California does not tolerate discrimination, and by removing this exemption, we will make it clear to the Boy Scouts and all other organizations that discrimination has a real cost,” said John O’Connor, Equality California executive director. “We believe this legislation will encourage groups to do the right thing, which is ending their discriminatory policies that unfairly exclude LGBT people.”
Some organizations in California, defined similarly to non-profit organizations under federal law, receive exemptions from state corporate taxes and taxes on items they sell. SB 323 would end this exemption for youth groups that continue to discriminate by treating their sales to the same extent as any other retailers. This bill would also require organizations with discriminatory policies to pay corporate taxes on donations and other forms of income.
Existing California law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations and government programs, and this law will end a special exemption for organizations that discriminate on these bases.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. For more than a decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully pass over 90 pieces of pro-equality legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment.
For more information on Senator Ricardo Lara, please visit: sd33.senate.ca.gov
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Author: Equality California
Published on Feb 19, 2013 – 1:51:47 PM
Text of bill amending Sections 6361 and 23701d
(3) (A) Little League, Bobby Sox, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire, Inc., Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, 4-H Clubs, Distributive Education Clubs of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, Collegiate Young Farmers, Boys’ Clubs, Girls’ Clubs, Special Olympics, Inc., American Youth Soccer Organization, California Youth Soccer Association, North, California Youth Soccer Association, South, and Pop Warner football.
(B) An organization listed above shall not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation
(d) (1) Notwithstanding any other law, an organization organized and operated exclusively as a public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual
orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation shall not be exempt from taxes imposed by this part.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, a “public charity youth organization” includes, but is not limited to, those organizations listed in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 6361.