Tuesday, April 5, 2005

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Condemns Kansas Vote

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Condemns Kansas Vote

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Condemns Kansas Vote 
Approving Anti-Marriage Constitutional Amendment
State is 18th to Adopt Anti-Marriage Amendment

Task Force Calls Upon "People of Faith and Good Will to Speak Out and Fight these Immoral Attacks"

April 5, 2005 — Washington, DC. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force condemned today's 70% to 30% vote (with 72% of the precincts reporting) by Kansans in favor of a constitutional amendment banning the recognition of same sex marriages and other, more limited forms of partner recognition. The Task Force said it was dismayed by the continued, widespread silence and inaction of so many faith and political leaders and people of good will in response to the wave of anti-gay organizing that continues to sweep the country.
"Our nation is continuing to witness something that has not happened since our constitution was first ratified in 1791 — essentially a national referendum inviting the public to vote to deprive a small minority of Americans of rights that the majority takes for granted and sees as fundamental," said Matt Foreman, the Task Force's Executive Director. "Not only are these amendment votes unjust and immoral, so is the silence and inaction of so many people who see themselves as enlightened, unprejudiced, and supporters of equal rights for all people. As the cascade of lies pours forth from the America's Anti-Gay Industry, we need, we expect, and morality demands that people of faith and good will all across the nation to speak out in the same way and with the same vehemence as they would if it was another minority under attack. If they do not, they will look back 20 or 30 years from now with deserved shame."
The Task Force praised Kansans for Fairness, the leading group opposing the amendment – and its Campaign Manager Braidy O'Neal and Chair Bruce Nye – for going forward with a very direct message that the amendment was wrong and for organizing a broad array of clergy to say clearly that 'persons of Biblical faith can vote only to oppose such an amendment.' These messages clearly touched the conscience of many voters, with the election results better than many predicted. An early poll had shown the measure would pass with at least 80% of the vote.
Proponents of the amendment, including One Voice of Kansas, outspent opponents by a margin of three-to-one. As of March 23, proponents had raised at least $160,000, most of it from out-of-state, including $100,000 from the Knights of Columbus' national office and $23,000 from Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, CO. This figure does not include resources spent by a wide array of evangelical churches in the state.
Kansans for Fairness raised and spent approximately $50,000, including a donation of $13,000 from the Task Force. (The Task Force also organized get-out-the-vote telephone banks in New York, Washington, DC, Kentucky, and Connecticut.)
"We couldn't have done nearly as well as we did without the Task Force's help," said Braidy O'Neal, the Campaign Manager.
Kansans for Fairness also organized more than 130 Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Jewish, United Church of Christ and other denominations' clergy members from all over the state to sign on to a statement opposing the amendment. And on Sunday (March 3), an overflow crowd estimated (by the Kansas City Star) at 400 to 500 sang and prayed to express their opposition to the amendment at a church in Prairie Village.
The marriage amendment failed in the City of Lawrence (home of the University of Kansas) by a large margin, losing in 35 of the City's 49 precincts and tying in 3. The margin by which it carried in Shawnee County (where the state's largest City, Topeka, is located) was smaller than statewide (Shawnee County/Topeka: 67% - 33%).
The results were not unexpected, given last year's results in other states and the fact that Kansas is one of the "reddest" states. In 2004, 13 states – including 11 on November 2 – approved anti-marriage constitutional amendments by margins ranging from 57% - 43% (in Oregon) to 86% - 14% (in Mississippi). Amendments in the two states that border Kansas – Missouri and Oklahoma – carried with more than 70% of the vote (in Oklahoma, the margin was 76% to 24%; in Missouri it was 71% to 29%).
With today's vote, Kansas becomes the 18th state to amend its constitution to preclude the recognition of same-sex marriage. Ten of the 18 amendments, including that of Kansas, seek to preclude the recognition of other forms of relationships, such as domestic partnerships and civil unions. Four states adopted amendments prior to 2004 – Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Nevada. It is possible that another 12 to 14 states will have similar measures on the ballot between now and 2008.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Voices must rise as community

Voices must rise as community

This is the second article to appear in the KCStar, there should be a review forthcoming from Paul Horsley.
Posted on Sat, Apr. 02, 2005
Voices must rise as community
By BILL TAMMEUS
The Kansas City Star
When the Rev. Mel White opens the Heartland Men's Chorus presentation of “All God's Children” tonight at the Folly Theater, he plans to say these painful words:
“For the vast majority of religious organizations, the idea of accepting homosexuals fans fires of anger and conflict.”
White, a gay man who once ghost-wrote books for the Rev. Billy Graham and the Rev. Pat Robertson, will narrate faith stories from members of the chorus, almost all of whom are gay.
The faith communities to which these men belong include Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Mennonite, Jewish, Buddhist, Disciples of Christ, Pentecostal, Mormon, Assembly of God, Unity, Community of Christ, Unitarian-Universalist, United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church and Wicca — to say nothing of the atheists and agnostics among them.
In some way, most of them have struggled with how to be gay in congregations that often think of homosexuality as a sin.
I am not gay. So I cannot speak for anyone who is. But I am someone with a commitment to one of the faith communities — the Presbyterian Church (USA) — that officially refuses to ordain otherwise qualified gays and lesbians to ministry or to the office of elder or deacon. I disagree with my church on this.
If I could speak to members of the chorus, which also will perform Sunday afternoon, I would say to them what I said to a national gathering of three Presbyterian gay advocacy groups last year when I was the keynote speaker: Stay in your religious community and fight from inside.
From my perspective as a Presbyterian elder, I also would tell them this:
“Even when the church gets things wrong — as it surely does sometimes — those of us who disagree are called to do so publicly and aggressively but lovingly, even if sometimes the church itself doesn't behave that way.
“It's important to acknowledge how hard the call can be for gays and lesbians to stay active in the church. And we should not be judgmental and intolerant of people who have made another choice, even if that choice breaks our hearts.
“It helps to think about what it means to be a faith community. The Greek word most often used in the New Testament for church is ‘ecclesia.' It means ‘called out.' That is, the church is not a voluntary organization. Rather it's made up of people whom God has called out of the world and to whom God has given gifts that the church needs. You have some of those gifts, without which your own faith communities will be impoverished.
“That's part of why I believe you should stay within your religious bodies to work for change so they will repent of their exclusivity, discrimination and misuse of the Bible as a weapon of sexual oppression.”
Religion generally — and the Christian church in particular — has been a major reason that the broader society has oppressed gays and lesbians and that such oppression continues. So the church must become a leader to change that.
The faith journey of gays and lesbians must seem incredibly lonely at times. And I will be the last person to condemn them if they decide they can't be part of what they consider an abusive relationship any more.
But they are not alone within congregations. There are allies, friends, brothers and sisters who want to walk with them and who are, in fact, beside them on this journey.
Beyond that, their faith communities need them. I won't say those congregations need them more than they need the congregations. I think that the grace churches can help to mediate to everyone is a treasure without price. So I would say they need the church, too, even if it fails to live consistently as a channel of God's love and grace.
We together make up communities of faith, but if those communities are divided — and they are — all of us suffer.
So I would ask the men who will sing in this weekend's choral presentation to stay the course, to renew their faith commitments to be light and life, to help their religious organizations find their way.
That may not happen in my lifetime or theirs, but it will happen, and their faithfulness will be part of the reason we'll get there.
To reach Bill Tammeus, call (816)-234-4437, or send e-mail to

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Bush Returning to Washington Over Schiavo

Bush Returning to Washington Over Schiavo

2 hours, 1 minute ago
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush (news - web sites) is changing his schedule to return to the White House on Sunday to be in place to sign emergency legislation that would shift the case of a brain-damaged Florida woman to federal courts, the White House said Saturday.
"Everyone recognizes that time is important here," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "This is about defending life."

After Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed on Friday, members of Congress worked out a deal to pass legislation to allow federal courts to decide the 41-year-old woman's fate and — in the hopes of supporters of the woman's parents — restore the tube that was keeping her alive.

The House and Senate hoped to act on the legislation Sunday, so Bush decided he needed to be in Washington so he could immediately sign the bill, McClellan said.

"The president intends to sign legislation as quickly as possible once it is passed," McClellan said.

During previous travels, Bush has had legislation flown to him overnight by military plane for his signature. But in this case, McClellan said that the fact that a woman's life is at stake made it necessary for him to travel to the bill.

"Terri Schiavo's feeding tube has been removed and we stand with ... all those who are working to defend her life," he said.

Bush was spending the weekend at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, arriving there Friday night after a day traveling in Florida to pitch his plans to overhaul Social Security (news - web sites).

On Monday, he was to leave from Texas for a two-day trip in the West to continue pitching his Social Security proposals. Now, McClellan said, he would likely keep his Social Security appearances but depart for them from Washington instead.

On Wednesday, Bush is due to host Mexican President Vicente Fox (news - web sites) and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at his ranch, and there was no indication that would change.

He was then to spend the rest of the Easter week before returning to Washington March 28.

McClellan said that Bush had not talked with any members of Congress Saturday about the case, but was kept apprised by his staff. He dismissed any suggestion that there were any political considerations at work, either in the quick and aggressive congressional action or the president's hurried return to the White House.

The Senate convened briefly Saturday evening to give formal permission for the House to meet Sunday, when it otherwise would be adjourned for the Easter recess.

The plan is for the House to act on the two-page bill Sunday or just after midnight Monday morning. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said the Senate then would act on the House legislation, assuming it passes the House as envisioned.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Judge says Calif. Can't Ban Gay Marriage

Judge says Calif. Can't Ban Gay Marriage

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO - A judge ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional — a legal milestone that, if upheld on appeal, would open the way for the most populous state to follow Massachusetts in allowing same-sex couples to wed.
Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco County's trial-level Superior Court likened the ban to laws requiring racial segregation in schools, and said there appears to be "no rational purpose" for denying marriage to gay couples.
The ruling came in response to lawsuits filed by the city of San Francisco and a dozen gay couples a year ago after the California Supreme Court halted a four-week same-sex marriage spree started by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The opinion had been eagerly awaited because of San Francisco's historical role as a gay rights battleground.
Gay marriage supporters hailed the ruling as a historic development akin to the 1948 state Supreme Court decision that made California the first state to legalize interracial marriage.
"Today's ruling is an important step toward a more fair and just California that rejects discrimination and affirms family values for all California families," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said.
At issue were a 1977 law that defined marriage as "a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman," and a voter-approved measure in 2000 that amended the law to say more explicitly: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
The state maintained that tradition dictates that marriage should be limited to opposite-sex couples. Attorney General Bill Lockyer also cited the state's domestic-partners law as evidence that California does not discriminate against gays.
But Kramer rejected that argument, citing Brown v. Board of Education — the landmark U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) decision that struck down segregated schools.
"The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts — separate but equal," the judge wrote.
It could be months or years before the state actually sanctions same-sex marriage, if ever.
Robert Tyler, an attorney with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, said the group would appeal. And Lockyer has said in the past that he expected the matter eventually would have to be settled by the California Supreme Court.
Last winter, nearly 4,000 gay couples got married after Newsom instructed the city to issue them licenses. The California Supreme Court later declared those marriages void, saying the mayor overstepped his authority. But the court did not address the underlying issue of whether the law against gay marriage violates the California Constitution.
Two bills now before the California Legislature would put a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the November ballot. If California voters approve such an amendment, as those in 13 other states did last year, that would put the issue out of the control of lawmakers and the courts.
The decision is the latest development in a national debate that has been raging since 2003, when the highest court in Massachusetts decided that denying gay couples the right to wed was unconstitutional.
In the wake of the Massachusetts ruling, gay rights advocates filed lawsuits seeking to strike down traditional marriage laws in several other states. Opponents responded by proposing state and federal constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
Around the country, Kramer is the fourth trial court judge in recent months to decide that the right to marry and its benefits must be extended to same-sex couples.
Two Washington state judges, ruling last summer in separate cases, held that prohibiting same-sex marriage violates that state's constitution, and on Feb. 4, a New York City judge ruled in favor of five gay couples who had been denied marriage licenses by the city.
Just as many judges have gone the other way in recent months, however, refusing to accept the argument that keeping gays from marrying violates their civil rights.
California has the highest percentage of same-sex partners in the nation, and its Legislature has gone further than any other in providing gay couples the benefits of marriage without being forced to do so by court order.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

April 15 tax day protests re: discrimination against same-sex couples

April 15 tax day protests re: discrimination against same-sex couples

From:RobinTyler@aol.com
To:DontAmendKC@hotmail.com
Subject: April 15 tax day protests re: discrimination against same-sex couples
Hello from California!

As you know, we here in California celebrated a stunning victory yesterday, when the Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of same-sex couples getting married, saying it was Unconstitutional to not allow it.

Rev. Troy Perry and his husband (Canadian marriage) challenged Prop. 22, our version of a State DOMA, which in effect, said that the State did not have to recognize same-sex marriages out of California Jurisdiction.
Diane Olson and I were the first couple to challenge the marriage laws in California by filing the lawsuit on Feb. 24, 2004, "Tyler vs. County of Los Angeles." Gloria Allred and her law firm represented us, pro-bono-and will continue to do so.

We were thrilled to be consolidated into the lawsuit with the SF couples, many of whom are are friends and sister activists!

Meanwhile, we are continuing to organize. You organized a tax day protest last April 15,2004, regarding the taxation discrimination against same-sex couples.

This year, April 15 falls on a Friday night. Would you consider organizing another protest? We need to keep showing the press, our friends, our families, and the far right, that we are not going away until we win this issue.

Once again, dontamend will help with posters, flyers, leaflets, talking points, or whatever help your group needs! Last year, 35 cities protested. Let's try for many more this year.

With Pride,

Robin Tyler,
Executive Director
www.dontamend.com (great articles on yesterdays CA decision!!)
The Equality Campaign

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Tell Them, 'Because our Fathers Lied'

Tell Them, 'Because our Fathers Lied'

I thought this was astounding. I am going to try and write some original entries soon, I just haven't had time with school and everything thats involved with that, so in the meantime check this article out.....
Published on Thursday, January 27, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Tell Them, 'Because our Fathers Lied'
by Gilbert Jordan
"The master class has always declared the wars;
the subject class has always fought the battles...."
- Eugene Debs
Almost two years after our invasion of Iraq - an occasion that was to be 'a piece of cake,' one that would be celebrated by Iraqis strewing flowers before our troops - it is well past the point when we should recognize that the Iraq War has become the Vietnam of the 21st Century. As in Vietnam, The Mexican War, the Spanish American War, the pretext for going to war was manufactured by misrepresenting facts and whipping up public fury, usually a simple task when that well known toxin - patriotism - is in the air.
Many years ago Rudyard Kipling wrote in his Epitaphs of the War:

'If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.'
At the same time, one of England's most promising poets of WWI, Wilfred Owen, wrote a famous anti-war poem. After presenting a series of ghastly images relating to the death of a soldier by mustard gas, Owen tells us that if we could witness such scenes, then

'My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory. The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro Patria Mori.'
For those of us without an Oxford education, the translation of the Latin is, "It is sweet and fitting that you should die for your country."
President Bush and his minions are not unique in riding to war on the back of lies. Presidents Polk, McKinley, and Johnson, among others, were equally guilty. In each case, these presidents embarked on wars that were based not on self-defense but naked aggression and a desire to expropriate what belonged rightfully to others. To mask such pillaging, it is always accompanied by an appeal to nationalism and soaring flights of rhetoric. With Iraq, President Bush kept inventing new rationales for the invasion, all of them evoking some noble purpose. And in his second inaugural speech just delivered, more of the same was dished up supposedly in the service of liberty and justice for all of the world's citizens. Of this tactic, columnist Molly Ivins would say, "It's like putting lipstick on a pig."
While the President can endlessly resort to Pollyanna summaries of the "catastrophic success" of our engagement in Iraq, the truth puts the lie to all of these fictions.
On our side, there have been 1,417 Americans killed in this debacle, with thousands more grievously wounded, many of those facing severely diminished lives from this time on. The cost of the war, according to the ticking meter on the internet, is $152 billion dollars, with another $80 billion requested for the immediate future. Since there is no end to the war in sight, there will be no end of the hemorrhaging treasure to support it. And all of this coincides with staggering budget and trade deficits, a disappearing middle class as jobs are exported to other countries, growing poverty, and a flow of world investment to the Euro as more and more creditors lose confidence in the American dollar. Add to that the insidious erosion of liberties under the Patriot Act. But most distressing is our apparent willingness at the highest levels of government to condone torture as a means of gaining intelligence. With such a departure from international norms, it is not difficult to see that in fighting our "barbaric" enemies, we become more like them with every passing week.
On the other side - yes, there is another side, although from coverage in American media, you would scarcely realize it - it is estimated that 100,000 Iraqis have been killed and far more than that made homeless, jobless, and futureless. Two years after 'Mission Accomplished' the country has descended into unspeakable chaos. In Baghdad, electricity is available only part of the day, clean water is scarce, sewage floods the streets. Fallujah has been reduced to rubble, turning about 100,000 civilians into refugees. The coming election will be meaningless, since violence has forced candidates to remain anonymous, and the act of voting itself is the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette. An assured electoral victory by the Shiite majority is an invitation to civil war, which will make the current misery in that hapless country seem pale by comparison. All the happy talk by the Bush administration does not change these facts. The Washington wrecking crew has created its own tsunami and all of us (Americans and Iraqis) are paying the price of their imperial ambitions.
In Dwight Eisenhower's final speech to the nation in 1953, he warned us of the power of the military-industrial complex:

'Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children....This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross.'
We, with our deluded belief that God is on our side and that our new manifest destiny is to control the world and all its assets, must reassess our priorities. Is this ill-fated adventure in Iraq (with hints of Iran to follow) worth the agony it is causing? Do we really want to bankrupt the nation and sacrifice our youth by pouring our resources into wars of folly? Do we really want to leave the rest of the world shaking their heads as they see this country diminishing itself by paying lip service to its Constitution and Bill of Rights but, at the same time, violating the very essence of those documents? It is time for us to awake from a long sleep, take a serious look at the world and this country's place in it, and recognize that we have been manipulated by an unscrupulous band of miscreants who have been following their own agenda. And that agenda has nothing to do with democracy and liberty, at least for all of us living below the tiny sliver of privileged and tax-free aristocrats occupying the top of society's pyramid.
A good place to start our examination is to recognize that Kipling and Owen pulled back the curtain from myths and lies that promote wars. In a real democracy, we should demand transparent government and accountability. Until we do, we are in danger of sacrificing our 225 year old experiment in self-rule. There is a very thin line between democracy and despotism and at the moment we are standing on the razor's edge.
Gilbert Jordan is a retired English Professor from Monroe Community college, Rochester, NY and has been active in the anti-war movement. He resides in in Wyoming, NY. Gilbert can be reached at gfjordan@frontiernet.net.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Bush administration comments on WMDs

Bush administration comments on WMDs

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/apwashington_story.asp?category=1151
&slug=US%20Iraq%20Weapons%20Glance
Wednesday, January 12, 2005 · Last updated 5:51 p.m. PT
Bush administration comments on WMDs
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Statements by the Bush administration before and after the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 on Saddam Hussein's weapons programs:

BEFORE THE WAR

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." - Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002.
"The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Sept. 8, 2002.
"After 11 years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more." - President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002.

"Saddam Hussein is a man who told the world he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's got them." - Bush, Nov. 3, 2002.
"The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world." - Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5, 2003.
---
AFTER THE WAR

"Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. ... We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder." - Bush, July 12, 2004.
"We got it wrong. We have seen nothing to suggest that he had actual stockpiles." - Powell, Oct. 1, 2004.
"We were all unhappy that the intelligence was not as good as we had thought that it was. But the essential judgment was absolutely right. Saddam Hussein was a threat." - Rice, Oct. 3, 2004.
"It turns out that we have not found weapons of mass destruction. Why the intelligence proved wrong I'm not in a position to say, but the world is a lot better off with Saddam Hussein in jail." - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Oct. 4, 2004.
"He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction and he could have passed that knowledge on to our terrorist enemies." - Bush, Oct. 7, 2004.
"Based on what we know today, the president would have taken the same action because this is about protecting the American people." - White House press secretary Scott McClellan, on Wednesday.