Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Buying Guide

Want to know which companies have been nauty or nice when it comes to LGBT issues?  Visit The Human Rights Campaign website and download the buying guide for information.

Attacks on Kevin Jennings and GLSEN

Many of you who read this blog already know Kevin Jennings.  For those who don't, he is a former high school history teacher who, along with a small group of supporters, began to put LGBT issues on the educational map.  These pioneers started GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) in the Boston area about twenty years ago.  GLSEN sponsored countless conferences, school presentations, and workshops to show people that having out LGBT teachers in school is essential to the health and wellbeing of students, especially those who identify as LGBT.  GLSEN was so successful that it became a national organization that Kevin headed for a number of years.

Shortly after his appointment as Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan named Kevin Jennings the Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.  And here is where it gets pretty ugly.  Right wing groups and media have initiated a full scale attack on Kevin, trying to link him with child pornography and groups that foster pedophilia.  The reason? Some of the reading recommendations Kevin made for high schoolers who were LGBT were sexually explicit.  Now, let's start by acknowledging that no matter how explicit the depictions were, high schoolers looking at explicit pictures is not child porn.  Of course, these groups know that full well, but linking gay men to pedophilia is part of their bargain when talking about LGBT folks. Secondly, as someone who was very involved in GLSEN after it began (I was not one of those founding members), I am very familiar with the reading lists and workshop materials GLSEN created and recommended.  As a teacher, I could be pretty traditional when it came to language and material that I thought might not be age appropriate.  In my mind, GLSEN's work was not only appropriate but vital.

There's something else deeply disturbing about the attacks on Kevin.  It boggles my mind that these groups would exploit the pain and suffering of the far-too-many survivors of childhood sexual abuse in this country, whether they were victims of institutions like the Catholic Church or victims because too many adults closed their eyes to what was going on.  For these groups to try to connect the work GLSEN has done with child pornography and pedophilia is shameful.

A New York footnote

This short piece is from Air America, as seen on

A state senator was sentenced Friday to probation and domestic abuse counseling, the resolution of a yearlong legal drama that began when he took his girlfriend to a hospital with a gaping, bleeding wound under her eye and ended with her begging a judge to let them be together.
State Sen. Hiram Monserrate (photo), a freshman Democrat, could have been sent to jail for up to a year on the misdemeanor assault conviction for unintentionally injuring girlfriend Karla Giraldo by dragging her through his apartment lobby.
But his troubles are not over: A Senate committee is looking into whether he is fit to remain in the Legislature.
Monserrate, in a tearful statement to Justice William Erlbaum, said he took full responsibility for his actions and looked forward to resuming his life with Giraldo.
 The footnote: this Democratic senator from New York voted against same-sex marriage on Wednesday.  Equal marriage supporters were led to believe they had his vote.  Instead, he voted yes.  One does have to wonder if he needed a little "family values" protection given his the public nature of the violence in his own family life.

Cynthia Nixon on Ruth Hassel-Thompson's speech

 Cynthia Nixon of  Sex and the City fame is one of my favorite actresses.  Yesterday in the Huffington Post she wrote about Ruth Hassel-Thompson's  speech on the floor of the New York Senate.  What I continue to find moving about the speech is that so rarely do we see such a public wrestling with conscience.  If Rep. Hassel-Thompson had voted no, it would not have been out of political calculus.  Nor would it have been out of hate.  I think her speech is instructional for both sides of the debate.  

Here's what Cynthia Nixon wrote:

Wednesday's No vote on same sex marriage was supremely disappointing on a personal as well as a political level. Guess Christine and I can kiss that Waldorf Astoria wedding... Brooklyn Botanical Gardens wedding... Montauk Beach wedding -- you fill in the blank -- goodbye. But we have two things today we didn't have yesterday.

The first thing we have is clarity about who's with us and who's against us. And we'll remember those yays and nays for next November and for Novembers to come. And there will be consequences.

The second thing is a new ally. Her name is Ruth Hassell-Thompson. She is a Senator from the Bronx and Mt Vernon and she is fierce.

Our gang of four met with her last spring and she explained to us in depth, over a long and respectful meeting why she thought she was going to vote no on gay marriage. Senator Hassell-Thompson is deeply religious. She felt strongly that marriage always has been and always should be the union between a man and a woman.

But she is a careful, thoughtful person and you could see her weighing the issue again and again in her mind. And in her considering she stumbled across something in her personal experience that began to change her perspective.

She spoke about how her mother had been a deacon in their church at a time when previously only men had been deacons. And how controversial that had been. And how vehemently many people opposed her mother's appointment. And how none of those opposed could give any explanation for why her mother becoming a deacon was wrong, just that it was. Because it was new. Because it was shocking. Because it was an idea that took people a little time to get used to.

On Wednesday Ruth Hassell-Thompson voted yes.

She voted yes because gay people and straight people walked through her door in droves and wrote her letters and called her on the phone. And because she is a person of conscience. And because of one more thing that she didn't tell us in her office that day: because she has a brother who is gay.

I think of Ruth Hassell-Thompson and understand that citizen lobbying is important. So is getting involved with campaigns. So is contributing money. So is talking to your neighbors, and co-workers and family. More important than ever.

Because you never know when a simple conversation can help change someone's heart and mind. Because if we keep at it "they" will finally realize that we're just people like them. Because time is on our side.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More craziness over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Until this week, no one except US Rep. Alcee Hastings (photo) from Florida even thought of yet another ridiculous result of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  How can you have hearings on the matter if the people who are most affected by the law, LGBT folks,  can't talk at hearings?  As of now,  you'd have to put up your right hand and swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Then, if you did, you'd break the policy and would be dismissed from the service.

It's lunacy.  At least Rep. Hastings has filed a bill to grant immunity to those LGBT service people who testify.  Then, of course, they'll return to their jobs as out LGBT folks.  So the very act of examining DADT will probably create a huge crack in the wall of DADT.  And what if the still isn't repealed?  Then I guess we'll just have to call it SAST: Some Ask, Some Tell.

Thank you, Rep. Hastings for pointing out just how illogical this policy is.

Leadership, defined: a final speech from New York

A NYC Councilor responds to the defeat of same sex marriage in New York

Have we been too nice?

I've been thinking that the opposition has been in a street fight while we've been following the rules of Scrabble. We've lost in 31 states. Our ads are wholesome, gentle. They show gay families and children and ask, "How does this hurt you?" The ads of the opposition warn of polygamy, teaching gay sex to kindergarteners, forcing churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies. We've been speaking to the heart while they've been speaking to fear. And so far, fear has won. Fear and deception. Their ads rarely deal
with same-sex marriage, but on the fears of the slippery slope gay marriage will take us -- or the slope they try to convince others will take us. We need to play their game. I don't care anymore if voters like me. I want them to realize that voting in favor of referenda to abolish same-sex marriage is NOT in their best interest. Once LGBT folks are put in their place, who's next? There's always someone else.

New York was a disgrace, due in no small part because of the cowardice and lies of legislators who used the LGBT community when they needed money and support, flipped us the bird. And only ONE NY legislator who voted against us spoke during the session. The other 37 remained silent, then stuck it to us.  We trusted.  We assumed good will.

We have been too nice.

I'm imagining  -- okay, it's a little tongue in cheek but I'm venting here -- the who's ?next campaign.

Scene #1. It starts with some of the ugly demonstrations against gay marriage. Bring in the God Hates Fag signs -- I've seen them myself at protests. Show the ugly side of this debate.

Scene #2. Show people lining up to vote. Anxiety producing music. VOICE OVER: "Something new is happening in our country. We're actually voting on the civil rights of our fellow citizens.

Scene #3. VOICE OVER: "Can you imagine if we had done that at other points in our history?" Show women prostesting for the right to vote. Show the separate water fountains during segregation. Show a black man and a white woman taking off their engagement rings. Show the arrival of immigrants during the turn of the century.

FINAL VOICE OVER: "This isn't about gay marriage. It's about who's next."

Oh.  In case you think that this might be over the top -- and writing it, I certainly felt that way -- please remember the presidential ad of 2004. The one with the wolves coming out of the woods while ominous music played in the background.  The one that implied that if you voted for John Kerry your life would be in danger.  That you would be killed by a terrorist.  It worked.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bay Windows Endorses Mike Capuano for Senator

New England's largest LGBT newspaper, Bay Windows, has endorsed Mike Capuano as the Democratic nominee for senator of Massachusetts..  The primary election -- to be held next Tuesday -- is for the seat Ted Kennedy once held.  Most LGBT organizations have endorsed Atty General Martha Coakey.  She's also a terrific candidate.  In fact, all four democratic candidates are good choices.

I happen not to agree with the majority of the LGBT organizations who endorse Coakely.  I think she's terrific and will be very happy to vote for her in the finals.   But I'm supporting Mike Capuano because I really want passion.  I want someone who's as angry as I am about some issues. (Okay, angry for me isn't terribly the angry, but still...) I love that Mike has supported causes long before they were popular.  He voted against Iraq War.  Against the Patriot Act.  He has always been against the death penalty.  I love that he was one of a handful of people to come to a demonstration against the passing of Prop 8 in California to cheer us on.  I love that as a Congressman he can step in tomorrow and not miss a beat in the senate.

I would have preferred if LGBT organizations had felt free to endorse two candidates or give us "score cards" of each one.  It felt wrong to me that such an ally as Capuano was shut out of major LGBT endorsements until now.

But I suspect I'll  be happy primary night no matter who wins. I'll just be happier if Capuano does.

What's left to say?

Count me out

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan announced yesterday that gay people would not be allowed in heaven.

All I can say is this: a heaven without gay people sure sounds like hell to me.

The cluttered room of gay marriage

You know that feeling when you're cleaning out a room that is so fill with stuff that you think it's impossible?  That incredibly confusing moment when everything is on the floor, and the room actually seems much messier than it did when you first started? You have no idea what to do next.  But you also know that it's part of the process: the room has to look messier before it actually gets neater.

I'm trying to think of the gay marriage struggle in these terms.  Right now things seem a real mess.  We lost in Maine and New York.  New York was especially infuriating because politicians outright lied to us.  They took gay money in the campaigns, saying they were equal marriage supporters.  Then they voted against us.  If people had kept their promises, New York would have marriage equality.

Because of New York, I'm betting that New Jersey won't even come up for a vote.  It seems that everyone is willing to be courageous as long as someone else is courageous first.  

Then there's California.  Another major LGBT group has withdrawn its support of a 2010 referendum question to overturn Proposition 8, urging its repeal in 2012. when, the group claims, we'd have a better chance of winning.  Opinion varies as to whether or not this is wise.  What will happen is unclear right now.

I've also been reading that some LGBT leaders are thinking we should drop marriage for now and concentrate on civil unions, like the law the Washington State electorate passed.  The rationale is that while we're fighting about words, LGBT people across the country are denied rights they could have.  It's an interesting argument, but one, I think, that assumes that the leaders of the anti-equal marriage groups are only concerned about the word marriage.  I actually think thing could get nastier with fights over civil unions: they can't sing the "marriage is between a man and a woman" song, so they'll find something else.

Other gay leaders think we should ditch the state-by-state effort and focus on the federal government and Supreme Court.  I'm not so sure we put our faith in John Roberts' court right now.

But then there's Washington, DC, which passed an equal marriage law this week.  The council needs to pass it again.  While it looks like Congress will not intervene, I'm not banking on trust anymore.  Anything could happen.

LGBT leader David Mixner is advocating a new approach to the marriage issue. On his blog today he writes, " it is time to seriously consider a more civil rights movement approach to fighting for our rights instead of pumping money into either party in some sort of masochistic dance. We must consider a concerted and well planned campaign of non-violent civil disobedience. Business as usual can not continue in this country as long as we are separated from the rest of our neighbors, families and friends who have full equality and freedom."

So it's a real mess.  It's like that room.  We don't know exactly what to focus on, what to put away, what needs to be dealt with immediately, what needs to be thrown out. But we have started.  We've been working on this room for years.  Cleaning it is going to take a very long time. But like all messy rooms, it will become clearer, things will be put into place, and we can walk in, fall back on the arm chair, and feel proud we helped created a space where everything is as it should be.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I don't heart New York

This afternoon, the New York Senate voted down marriage equality by a vote of 38-24.  All 30 Republicans voted no along with six democrats, one of whom equated supporting same-sex marriage as "treason."  The New York State Assembly had already passed the measure by a wide margin.  Governor Paterson vowed to sign the bill.  So it was close.  This is the first time the Senate has even agreed to vote on the matter; the Assembly has voted for the measure three different times in three different years, each time by a wider and wider margin.

What was most frustrating about the vote is that despite the margin, we almost won.  We should have won.  A bunch of senators were willing to vote yes if the measure was going to pass.  A Democrat switched his vote to no at the last minute, and a domino effect followed.  Hmmm. How courageous.  Such profiles in courage.

The debate was emotional.  Thanks to Toweleroad for quotes from  the proceedings.  Among the more powerful:

Some people think it's a hard vote. Why is it not hard for me? Because I'm a woman. And a Jew. And I know about discrimination. I don't understand how anyone can vote no.

If this vote were taken in my district today, same-sex marriage would fail...As it relates to today, undecided senators - let's write this headline for my 10th grandchild whose sonogram was sent to me yesterday - let's send a message of hope. Let's set forth a drumbeat of equal rights for all and let's not continue to be scared into ignorance. 

You cannot legislate morality, but you can legislate justice.

There is enough to be annoyed about the vote, but a few things stand out.  Apparently, some Republicans were ready to get on board if it looked like marriage equality would win.  After the vote, the Log Cabin Republicans -- a group of gay Republicans -- released this statement:

Today we share in the frustration and disappointment that the Senate did not pass the marriage equality bill. We are deeply saddened that the Democratic Conference failed to secure the votes they promised, undermining the possibility of a credible bipartisan vote of conscience on the merits of marriage equality.

Winning marriage equality in New York requires the Democrats to keep their promises, and Log Cabin will continue to work to ensure that Republicans vote their conscience when that finally happens.

There is so much wrong with this statement that it's hard to know where to start.  The press release seems to be saying, Gay Dems -- you need to get every single vote for marriage equality and THEN we'll help you out by bringing on a few Republicans once it's safe. Guess what, Log Cabin Folks?  It's not called voting your conscience when you do it only when it's convenient.

So onward we go.  I try not to vent to much on this blog, but every once in a while, vent I must.

More on the marriage protection movement

Here's the official website of the "Marriage Protection Act of 2010" as well as a few photos from the site.  It's worth a visit:

Say no to divorce

This is only partly in jest.  There is a group of Californians trying to put the divorce question on the ballot in 2010.  Most of these folks support same-sex marriage and want to call attention to the absurdity of some of the opposition's arguments.  There has been news of far right, traditional voters who have signed the petition as well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Some positive news from the Episcopal Church

A friend of mine emailed me this letter yesterday.  It's from Bishop M. Thomas Shaw  (photo) of the Episcopal Church.  I have edited some of the letter but the gist remains: gay and lesbian couples can marry with the church's blessing in Eastern Massachusetts.  I've highlighted some of the Bishop's words in bold and italics.

November 29, 2009
Christian marriage is a sacramental rite that has evolved in the church, along with confirmation, ordination, penance, and the anointing of the sick, and while it is not necessary for all, it must be open to all as a means of grace and sustenance to our Christian hope.
I believe this because the truth of it is in our midst, revealed again and again by the many marriages—of women and men, and of persons of the same gender—that are characterized, just as our church expects, by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, and the holy love which enables spouses to see in one another the image of God.

In May of 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court opened civil marriage in our state to same-gender couples.  That ruling set up a contradiction between what civil law would allow and what our church’s canons and formulary state, which is that marriage is between a man and a woman.  And so, for more than five years now, while faithfully waiting for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church to act in response, we in the Diocese of Massachusetts have been living at some cost with an imperfect accommodation:  Our clergy have not been allowed to solemnize same-gender marriages, but they have been permitted to bless them after the fact. 

In July of this year, the 76th General Convention adopted resolution C056, “Liturgies for Blessings.”  It allows that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”
Your bishops understand this to mean for us here in the Diocese of Massachusetts that the clergy of this diocese may, at their discretion, solemnize marriages for all eligible couples, beginning Advent I.  Solemnization, in accordance with Massachusetts law, includes hearing the declaration of consent, pronouncing the marriage and signing the marriage certificate.  This provision for generous pastoral response is an allowance and not a requirement; any member of the clergy may decline to solemnize any marriage. 

We also know that by calling us to minister in the context of this particular place and time God is again blessing our diocese with a great challenge by which we might enter more fully into that ethic of love which Jesus speaks to us through the New Testament.  It is an immeasurable love given for all.  We are being asked to live it, all of us, children of God, each with equal claim upon the love, acceptance and pastoral care of this church, so that the newness and fullness of life promised through word and sacrament might be for all people and for the completion of God’s purpose for the world.

/s/ M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

Brief Updates

The Washington, DC City Council passed by a vote of 11-2 a measure that would ensure same-sex marriage in the city.  Another vote is needed in 30 days, so Congress could still step in and block the measure.  But we're getting there.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke on World AIDS Day, saying, "We have to stand against any efforts to marginalize and criminalize and penalize members of the LGBT community worldwide."  Many are seeing this statement as directed towards Uganda and its Anti-Homosexual Bill.  It's a start, I suppose, but why aren't we just naming it?

China has opened a gay bar, subsidized by the Chinese government, in the hopes of slowing down the transmission of AIDS.  Giving gay men an acceptable outlet for their sexuality while providing safe ex information is the goal.

Atlanta holds its runoff election today, with a number of gay candidates on the slate.

Brookline High in Massachusetts is holding a silent protest this afternoon to oppose Fred Phelps, whose church members are known to carry "God Hates Fags" signs to their demonstration.  They are at the high school to protest its LGBT Alliance.

Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Reasons why some of us call it hate....

I was watching the clip of Jon Steward's interview with Mike Huckabee about gay marriage. In the middle of the discussion, Huckabee looks to Jon Steward and says something like, "I don't hate gay people. Those of us who oppose same sex marriage are merely affirming what marriage is, not making laws to keep gays out." I'm paraphrasing, but you get the gist. Rick Warren, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin -- they all say the same thing.

I've gone along with the notion that many opponents aren't haters. I've always known there were haters out there, but I think at some level I've bought into the line that most of those who oppose gay marriage aren't haters. But something struck me a I watched Huckabee answer Jon Stewart: there is hate in more of these people than I wanted to admit.

Here are some people who claim to respect me.  Here is also why they don't.  And here is why what the represent or say is hateful.

    1. I hear Mike Huckabee describe this wonderful institution that he calls the bedrock of society.  And it's so wonderful, in fact, that if I'm let in, I will ruin it.  That's what I'm told. "I just don't want to be in the same room with you," Huckabee seems to be saying. "I want you out of my institution all together.  Go away.  You'll destroy it." But I don't hate you.  I am not a hater.

    2. Rick Warren, another pastor who "loves" gay people, was essential in creating churches in Uganda.   He worked particularly closely with one of the key movers and shakers of the Anti-Homosexual Bill being considered.  And while he claims to have cut off ties from him two years ago, Warren -- who never hesitates to deal with issues at home and abroad -- refuses to condemn the law that will sentence gay people to death.  "Gay people will die and I won't say a word," is what he is saying.  But I don't hate you.  I am not a hater.

    3. Many bloggers (including have reported on the religious group called "The Family," a group with connections to Uganda and the politicians backing the law to make homosexuality punishable by death.  This is not a fringe group. At least twenty members of Congress belong to this group and thus have ties to the Ugandan government.  Says Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air: "The family is also connected to proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda that could sentence, quote, repeat offenders to the death penalty."  But we don't hate you.  We are not haters.

    4. The night of the ballot question decision in Maine, you'd expect those opposing same sex marriage to be pleased with their results.  But ecstatic? As elated as if they had won the lottery?  The passion behind their behavior went far beyond "preserving marriage" -- their lives wouldn't change one iota the next day.  It was about defeating an enemy.  An enemy consisting of gay men and lesbians who wanted to join the institution they are part of.   If this were a football game, they would have chanted we won, they lost.  But we don't hate you.  We are not haters.

    5.  Oh yes.  Sarah Palin.  She boasted in the VP debate that one of her closest friends was gay.  I wonder if her friend knew this, reported by Michelangelo Signorile: some of her closest advisors are deeply involved with anti-gay and anti-black groups.  Says Signorile of one advisor, coincidentally named McCain,  "In his Web postings McCain has stated that Harvard president Lawrence Summers should be 'persecuted and run out of town' for supporting gay rights. He also believes that the civil rights movement directly resulted in 'black criminality' because people were encouraged to break the law by getting arrested at demonstrations!  But I don't hate you.  I am not a hater.

    6. The Catholic Church has spent millions, yes millions on fighting same sex marriage.  They have chosen to spend this money over feeding the poor.  Sheltering the homeless. Healing the sick.  They have chosen to take their money away from where it might be put to use in a loving, caring way. They have claimed that the end of civilization as we know it will result if gay marriage is allowed. They have said that our mere presence as parents of children would "do violence on them." That's how evil gay people are. But we don't hate you.  We are not haters.

    7. Mitt Romney fought vehemently against same sex marriage in Massachusetts, all the while saying that we should respect gay people.  Hmmmm.  Is that why he actually made fun of us while campaigning in the south?  Is that why he said, with mock shock to a die hard right wing crowd, "Gay couples are actually having couples born to them!" But I don't hate you.  I am not a hater.

    8. The Republican Party wants an amendment to the Constitution to ban same sex marriage, thus making it nearly impossible for future generations -- who are more and more on the side of equality -- to sanction same-sex marriage.  Their "passion" is so great that they elevate the prohibition of same sex marriage to other amendments in the constitution such as  ending the evils of slavery or giving African Americans and women the right to vote.  The Republicans have put their opposition to any recognition of same sex relationships into their new "purity test" for candidates running under the Republican name.  But we don't hate you.  We are not haters.

     9. The Republican Governor of Rhode Island vetoes a bill that would have given same-sex couples the right to bury each other.  The bill was initiated after a man couldn't find his deceased partner's body for weeks because he didn't have a say in how he was to be put to rest.   The governor saw nothing heartless in this; he stated that he saw it as one more step on the road to recognizing gay couples. But I don't hate you.  I am not a hater.

    10. Over one hundred religious leaders recently signed The Manhattan Project, a call to arms to stop (among other things) same-sex marriage.  The leaders, ironically citing Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, remind Christians of the need for civil disobedience when it comes to stopping such things as same sex marriage.  But lest they be accused of hating gay people, the document states, "we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity."  Not enough dignity to love, however. As a matter of fact, they are so hostile to gay relationships that the are encouraging disruption at the weddings of these "dignified" people in an attempt to stop them from marrying.    But we don't hate you.  We are not haters.

Let me be clear.  I do believe we can disagree without hate.  But I'm becoming increasingly weary of the those who try to have it both ways: to participate in hatred behind the veneer of Mr. Rogers.  And I'm going to demand something else before I believe any of those those folks who say they don't hate us: prove it.

The real parody of the gathering storm...

Well, after the storm video that I posted yesterday was released, some parodies were made.  I like this one the best.  Make sure you see the real "gathering storm" below before watching the parody.

More good news....same-sex marriage in Portugal

Click on this link to get the latest from the BBC

(Thanks to for the link!)

The Gathering Storm

This is a real ad that has been used by the National Organization for Marriage during the same-sex marriage referenda battles.  Notice the fear.  Notice them exploiting the word rainbow.  This should be a parady, but it's not: this is what they have used to win.  Come back tomorrow for the parody.

"... it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.”

-- Rick Warren, on his feelings about the possible law in Uganda that would put LGBT people to death and imprison anyone who doesn't report gay people to the authorities

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Four pieces of good news

1. Washington, DC: It's beginning to look like the Washington DC City Council will pass the bill allowing same-sex couples to wed by the end of the week, in essence ignoring the threats of the Catholic Church to stop social services for one third of the city's homeless.  It's looking good, but I'm still not convinced that the anti-equality folks don't have something up their sleeve.

2. Health Care Bill: Not many people know that when companies offer same-sex couples health benefits, that unlike heterosexual couples, that benefit is taxed.  For example, here in Massachusetts, my husband provides our insurance through his work, but my portion is taxed by the federal government, even though married straight couples from the same state aren't.  The present health care bill will actually put and end to this discriminatory federal policy, resulting in hundreds and even thousands of dollars in savings for some couples.

3. Marriage Equality in Australia:
The country down under is about to offer civil marriage to gay couples.  The national government had twice thwarted the law, but this time decided to allow the law to pass and to let same-sex couples get married.  As Timothy Beauchamp of Americablog wrote Sunday morning:

One more of our longtime allies embarrasses the United States in providing equality and civil rights to ALL of their citizens, while our government continues to prop up institutionalized discrimination to deny equality and justice for all here in America.

Everyone "hates us for our freedoms" over here in the United States, right? /snark

4. Next Year's Census: For the first time ever, the United States census will count same-sex couples as spouses.  (Before thus same-sex couples were called unmarried partners.  This is one of those pieces of good news that is also a little disheartening.  On the one hand, it's vitally important to be counted as part of the citizenry.  On the other, isn't it pretty sad to feel grateful just because the government decided to acknowledge you exist?

One more reason to love Jon Stewart

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The radical right is so homophobic that they're blaming global warming on the AIDS quilt.  

-- comedian Dennis Miller