Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren and the Inauguration

By Sara M. Taylor, Attorney at Law

The key issue in this matter, is that Rick Warren played a primary role in passing this proposition by working with the pro-Prop 8 folks to intentionally mislead the voters into thinking that if they voted against this proposition, religious liberties would be affected. The California Supreme Court has named persons with homosexual orientation as a protected class who deserve equal protection under the Constitution of California. Much like interracial marriages in the 1950’s and 1960’s, this is a civil rights issue. It is not an issue of morality. Churches are allowed to act as they wish with respect to this matter (women are a protected class but no action can be taken against churches who still discriminate against women).

By inviting Rick Warren, Obama has failed to take a stance on the lies propagated by Rick Warren to convince the California electorate. Obama needs to clearly distinguish the constitutional rights of people and the equal protection due them, from the religious and moral rhetoric the conservative churches have used to confuse the issue and scare people into voting to deny rights.

In the 60’s people justified denying equal rights to blacks and whites to marry on outdated scriptural passages that favored slavery. The same is true now. The evangelical Christians are using misleading quotations and tortured interpretations of the Bible to deny people civil rights. That is unjust. As Whoopi says, if you do not agree with gay marriage, don’t marry a gay. It is that simple. We are a protected class who are entitled to full protections of our government, and the full rights and responsibilities of that government. This does not infringe on religious liberties.

No presidential elect should choose a divisive minister to invoke the blessings of God on this nation. Had another minister worked to deny civil rights to people who are disabled, women, persons of color, and/or different races, he or she would not be considered for this sacred trust. The fact that Obama does not equate his selection of Warren with discrimination is indicative of the fact that he does not get it with respect to the LGBT community.

We need to speak out and let Obama know that he does not understand, or that the message he is sending is that he does not understand the full protections that should be afforded the LGBT community. The irony of Mr. Obama standing to take the oath of office to “defend and protect the Constitution of the United States” after an invocation by a minister who has vocally supported the actions of the majority to deny the LGBT minority their full equality in this society is appalling. Obama needs to be told that in no uncertain terms by our community – that this is about civil rights. The symbolism of Mr. Warren irrevocably confuses that issue.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Procession and Prayer Service for Emergency Shelter

Marin Organizing Committee:
Procession and Prayer Service for an Emergency Shelter

Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 5:00-6:15PM, there will be a Procession and Prayer Service, from St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room to St. Raphael Catholic Church in downtown San Rafael.
The purpose of this action is to join MOC leaders and clergy in fighting for emergency shelter for Marin County's residents.
Meet at 5:00PM at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, 820 B. Street, San Rafael.
For more information, call 415-563-0262.

Download copf of the flyer here:

Friday, December 5, 2008

What my gay wedding revealed

Speech for Prop 8 Protest Rally, November 15, 2008, San Rafael City Hall
by Megan F. Coffey

Hello and Buenos Días Marin County! My name is Megan Coffey, and this hottie beside me is my legally wedded wife, Jen Owen. We got married on October 12th, well before the election, so we’re hoping our marriage will continue to be recognized by California. Before the wedding, we asked our guests to contribute to the No on 8 campaign instead of giving us gifts, and they responded by raising over $3,000 to fight this hateful initiative!

Then came Election Day, November 4th. Jen and I were both hoping that Obama would win and Prop 8 would lose, but Jen was stuck at work until late, and I was too scared to turn on the TV until she got home. So I sat at home biting my nails, and every half hour or so she called me with updates: “Obama won Pennsylvania!” “Obama won Ohio!” “Obama won Florida!” Finally Jen got home and we turned on the TV, just as Obama was being declared the 44th President of the United States. We were thrilled and excited and overjoyed that he had won, and yet it all felt totally impossible and unreal…sort of like the way we felt on our wedding day!

But then we saw that Prop 8 was winning by about six percentage points, and we started to get scared. Eventually that lead shrunk to three or four points, but we still got more and more worried. All the networks said it was “too close to call” when Jen finally went to bed around 2 am, but I stayed up all night watching the results, hoping against hope that maybe all the gay voters and all the young voters had slept in late that day, so their votes had yet to be counted…. At last, at 6 am, with Prop 8 still undecided, I gave up and staggered into bed.

Jen woke me up the next morning with two words: “We lost.” I felt nothing. I was completely numb. I crawled back under the covers and lay there for over ten hours, too depressed to move. When I finally got up at 9 o’clock that night, I cried like I was never going to stop.

But I did stop crying, and when I did, I got ANGRY. Do you know what I was so angry about? Since Prop 8 passed anyway, that means Jen and I missed out on $3,000 worth of wedding presents!!

Seriously, though, what got me angry was thinking about the most recent marriage-related US Supreme Court case. Many of you may know about the 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, which overturned the ban on interracial marriage; but you may be less familiar with the 1987 case Turner v. Safley, which involved the civil rights of prisoners. In that decision, the US Supreme Court stated that marriage is a “fundamental human right” that cannot be denied even to serial killers on death row. So apparently, the majority of California voters—and most Americans—consider us law-abiding, hard-working, taxpaying, non-homicidal-maniac gay people to be NOT HUMAN ENOUGH to deserve the “fundamental human right” that the Constitution guarantees to CONVICTED MASS MURDERERS ON DEATH ROW (as long as those mass murderers are straight, of course).

Anyway, then I started looking at the demographic breakdown of who voted Yes on Prop 8, and I got even angrier. I thought, all these married straight people, and old people, and religious people, and people of color, and Republicans, have never even met me; yet they hate me enough to take away my civil rights. Well then, I’m going to hate them too! And for a whole week, my rage and my hatred grew and grew, until I thought I was going to explode.

But then just a couple of days ago, I started thinking about our wedding day, and all of a sudden, my anger went away. In one instant I realized that the people who voted Yes on 8 are not our enemies, and Jen’s and my wedding is the proof.

For starters, married straight people are not our enemies. I have an enormous, mostly straight family, and Jen has an enormous number of mostly straight friends. In fact, almost all of the guests at our wedding were straight married people; or straight people who used to be married; or straight people who were married, divorced, married, divorced, and married again. They came from all over the country to celebrate our wedding, and the only thing they thought was a bit weird was the all-vegan buffet at the reception. (After the reception ended at 6 pm, my whole family took Jen and me out to dinner at an Outback Steakhouse, presumably for revenge.) And my best friend from high school back East, a straight, married man with two children, told me that Jen’s and my wedding day was one of the happiest days of his life. So no, married straight people are not our enemies.

Old people, too, are not our enemies. My ninety-two-year-old father came all the way out here from New Jersey with his pacemaker and his portable wheelchair, just to witness our vows and toast to our happiness. And my dad is the oldest person I know, so clearly, old people are not our enemies.

Similarly, religious people are not our enemies. Our ceremony, for example, was conducted by a heterosexual Lutheran minister with the blessing of his bishop, while Jen’s fundamentalist Christian father and aunt sat in the front row, grinning from ear to ear. My very Catholic sister, who has never missed a Sunday mass, flew all the way from Florida to lend me a beautiful necklace so I would have something “borrowed” to wear. Her son, my Catholic divinity school grad student nephew, came all the way from Boston to goad me into smearing cake on Jen’s face (don’t worry, she got me back worse). Meanwhile, my Jewish cousin from Montreal skipped her own family reunion to tell us “Mazel Tov” in person and then get back on the plane. My mom came out here from Pittsburgh, PA, where she is an active member of her Quaker religious community, which has been conducting same-sex wedding ceremonies for years (as have many other communities of faith). Jen’s little sister from Monterey, who is so Christian she has “I love Jesus” tattooed on her ankle, helped me get ready in the bridal dressing room, then took a million pictures of our cake topper (Rosie the Riveter and Wonder Woman) and posted them online. My Rabbi friend from Florida couldn’t attend the wedding, but he sent his love and blessings. And we even had a Mormon guest at the wedding, who hugged and congratulated Jen while his wife did my hair in the dressing room. So obviously, religious people are not our enemies.

And what about the “enemy” everyone’s been talking about, people of color (especially blacks and Latinos)? Well, for one thing, there are plenty of LGBT people of color, most of whom presumably did not vote to take away their own rights. And let’s see, the guests at our wedding included my African-American stepmother; my two black sisters, both of whom teared up during their toasts; my biracial nephew, who was in on the cake-smearing dare; my youngest sister’s new black boyfriend, who was meeting us for the first time, but bonded with Jen like they were long-lost brothers; my half-Venezuelan, half-Swiss sister-in-law, my Filipina cousin-in-law, and their kids (I told you I had a huge family!); Jen’s Cambodian friend from work; and her half-Mexican, half-American Indian friend, who drove up from San Jose the night before to help with last-minute arrangements. Meanwhile, one woman who couldn’t make the wedding, my mom’s best friend from Pennsylvania, is African-American, over seventy-five years old, in a straight marriage, and extremely religious—the fearsome foursome all rolled into one!—and yet she promised to call everyone she knows in California to tell them to vote No on 8. (Oh and by the way, Martin Luther King’s late widow, Coretta Scott King, fought hard for gay rights, just as the California NAACP, Julian Bond of the National NAACP, and Dolores Huerta of the UFW continue to do.) So it seems that people of color are not our enemies.

As for the group that voted for Prop 8 in the highest percentage—82% of Republicans voted Yes—remember that no matter how weird it seems, there are some Republicans who are gay! And let me just tell you that my one Republican relative (as far as I know), my uncle from the South Bay, not only attended our wedding and toasted to our happiness, but gave us $500 for the No on 8 campaign. Meanwhile, our Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came out publicly against Prop 8, let himself be featured in a No on 8 commercial, and declared last week that he hoped the initiative would be overturned by the courts. Even Sarah Palin…. Um, well, okay, maybe Sarah Palin is our enemy…. But for the most part at least, Republicans are not our enemies either.

So if married straight people, old people, religious people, people of color, and Republicans are not our enemies, then who is? I will tell you. Our enemies are fear and ignorance, hatred and prejudice, misinformation and lies, insecurity and discrimination…and just plain societal inertia and resistance to change. These enemies are deeply entrenched in our culture, and they won’t be dislodged without a fight. But as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said (only in a much more inspiring voice than mine), “The arc of history bends toward justice.”

And I’d like to leave you with one more quotation, from the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, who once wrote “Мир спасет красота,” meaning “Beauty will save the world.” So let us show our anger, to wake up our true enemies. Let us use our rage to make our enemies pay attention, and perhaps begin to question their own validity. But what will defeat them—and one day, we will defeat them—will be the pure and undeniable beauty of our love.

Thank you so much! ¡Muchas gracias! Love is great, Stop the hate!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

California's Prop 8 and Where We Go From Here Survey

As a volunteer-driven national grassroots organizations, Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) seeks feedback from our members and the grassroots community at large on the efficacy of California's campaign strategies regarding Proposition 8 (the largest anti-gay initiative in our nation's history) to gather and share our collective wisdom on how to move ahead in securing marriage equality and protections for all families. In addition to working with local groups across California to host a series of community forums, we have created an on-line survey to help our organization and our movement better plan for the future in California and across our nation.

Your input matters to us and we would like to hear from you.

Please complete our on-line survey at:

Please share this with others who may be interested.

In Solidarity and With Thanks,

Marriage Equality USA

Please participate, share and re-post!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


CONTACT: Paula Pilecki, Executive Director, 415-457-1115 ext. 209

Community meetings statewide focus on how to win back marriage equality

MARIN COUNTY—San Anselmo-based Spectrum LGBT Center is hosting a post-election community briefing focused on the Proposition 8 campaign. The community is invited to attend this interactive session, which is part of a statewide forum series organized by Marriage
Equality USA.

The event will focus on giving community members an opportunity to debrief about the election results, what worked and didn't work about the campaign, and what can be done (and is being done) to win marriage equality back in California.

"The passage of Proposition 8 in California was a wake-up call for many people" said Paula Pilecki, Executive Director of Spectrum, the North Bay community center which promotes acceptance, understanding, and full inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. "This forum provides an opportunity for all of us to re-focus our efforts on winning back a fundamental right that was taken away by a simple majority vote."

Since May 15th, when the California State Supreme Court overturned the same-sex marriage ban in California, nearly fourteen thousand same-sex couples have legally tied the knot. Proposition 8, which passed with only a five-point spread on November 4th, put an immediate halt to the marriages and stunned those who thought it could not succeed.

In the aftermath of Prop 8's passage, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in a wave of grassroots uprising. In Marin County, over 500 people attended a rally against Proposition 8 on November 15th, which was part of a nationwide chain of rallies that drew an estimated 1.5 million people (see for more information on those rallies).

The California State Supreme Court agreed to decide several issues arising out of the passage of Proposition 8, including whether or not the initiative is invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution, and whether or not it should affect the marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to November 4th. These deliberations will take several months.


WHAT: Marin County Marriage Equality Forum on Proposition 8
WHERE: The Acqua Hotel, 555 Redwood Highway, Mill Valley
WHEN: Thursday, December 4, 6:30 ­ 8:30 PM
WHO: Guests include Deb Kinney, Board member of Equality California and Luana Horstkotte, Alameda County poll monitor.
COST: Free; donations welcome at the door
MORE INFO:; 415-457-1115 ext. 209

SPONSORS: ACLU of Northern California, Marin Chapter; Community Church of Mill Valley; Marin AIDS Project; Marin Peace and Justice Coalition; Marriage Equality USA, Marin Chapter; Spectrum LGBT Center.

ABOUT SPECTRUM: Founded in 1982, Spectrum LGBT Center of the North Bay provides community leadership in promoting acceptance, understanding, and full inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November every year all over the world to honor Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 kicked off the Remembering Our Dead web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999.

Please join us in remembering those we have lost and spreading awareness about the horrors that members of the Transgender community experience every year. We hope that by breaking the silence surrounding what has been happening to people simply because they don't fit specific gender norms, people will start to realize that this sort of hatred is happening and that something needs to be done about it.

State Supreme Court rejoins Prop. 8 battle

SF Gate
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marin joins Proposition 8 lawsuit

Staff Report
Posted: 11/18/2008 03:38:17 PM PST

The Marin Board of Supervisors is joining San Francisco and other plaintiffs suing to bring Proposition 8 to the state Supreme Court for review.

California voters approved a constitutional change Nov. 4 that limits marriage to a man and a woman, triggering protests across the state. The vote was 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

Marin is not allocating any money for the effort, said county Administrator Matthew Hymel.

Supervisor Susan Adams said voters' rejection of same-sex marriages was a travesty, and she urged the board's "serious consideration into joining the legal fight for civil rights."

The board emerged from a closed session later in the day to announce it was doing just that.

"The county has agreed to be named as a plaintiff in contesting the constitutionality of Proposition 8," said board chairman Charles McGlashan.

-Nels Johnson

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Join The Impact Action Alert: Project Postcard

President-elect Barack Obama has made some important promises to the LGBT community. We have to make sure he follows through. What better way to do it than to send him a friendly little reminder? Here's how...

It would be great if it had the name of your city or state on it, but feel free to get creative.

Dear President-elect Obama,

Please repeal D.O.M.A.! All Americans should have the right to marry. Thank you in advance for advocating for the civil rights of your LGBT citizens.


President-elect Barack Obama
Presidential Transition Office
Kluczynski Federal Building
230 S. Dearborn St., 38th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604

1. Help spread the word. Forward this email to your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors
2.Send a postcard to Obama every day until 11/28. Take a photo of you mailing your postcard and post it here.
3. Stay active in the Join the Impact network. Add your opinions and ideas, and help plan upcoming events.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Marin County Marriage Equality Community Forum

As people have taken to the streets in response to the passage of Proposition 8, we must seize this opportunity to bring our community together. Let’s heal together and constructively examine the Proposition 8 campaign and determine where we go from here at a grassroots level in order to advance our marriage equality movement within California and nationwide.

Let’s convert the frustration exhibited with the passage of Prop 8 into a positive force to build support for marriage equality in California and to press our national leaders and President-Elect Obama to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

Thursday, December 4th
6:30pm -8:30pm
Acqua Hotel
555 Redwood Highway, Mill Valley
Free Event - Donations at the door welcome

Sponsored By:

Spectrum LGBT Center
Marin AIDS Project
Marriage Equality USA
Marin Peace & Justice Coalition
ACLU - Northern California

Facebook users: RSVP at our event page on Facebook

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marin rally joins outcry over Proposition 8 - Marin IJ

Marin IJ
Paul Liberatore
Article Launched: 11/15/2008 10:30:42 PM PST

They were gay and straight, married and single, young and old and in between. They brought their kids, their dogs, their lovers and friends, their signs, speeches, guitars and songs.

On Saturday, some 500 demonstrators came to express their anger and disappointment as well as their faith and hope for change at a peaceful rally at San Rafael City Hall, representing Marin in a national day of protest against California's ban on same-sex marriage.

The same thing was happening in small towns and major cities across the country, including San Francisco , New York, Los Angeles and Chicago , as gay rights supporters vented frustrations, celebrated gay relationships and renewed calls to keep on fighting for justice.

In San Rafael, the protesters - outraged over the passage of Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman - gathered on an unseasonably sunny and warm morning to listen to speakers condemn injustice and call for a revived campaign of equality for gay people, including the right to marry.

"We're not married and we're not gay, we just believe all people should have the right to live as they choose," said Susan Bierzychudek of Fairfax, carrying a placard that said "Discrimination is not a family value."

She came to the rally with her partner, Jim Fox, who held aloft a sign that quoted John Lennon's "Imagine": "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

And he wasn't. On the City Hall steps, on the sidewalk and lawns around the public plaza and standing shoulder-to-shoulder across the street, demonstrators carried signs with such slogans as: "I don't want your acceptance, I want my rights." "How does our love and commitment hurt yours?" "Marriage is a human right, not a heterosexual privilege."

Cars drove slowly and steadily by on Fifth Avenue, most of them honking approval.

Speaking to the crowd, The Rev. Liza Klein, pastor of San Rafael First United Methodist Church, called the gay marriage issue "the civil rights movement of today."

Dave Morey, the popular rock disc jockey who came out on the air after his partner died, was the best known of the speakers. He noted that even though Proposition 8. squeaked by, the gap is narrowing on gay marriage.

"It was close," he said. "With gays and straights together, we can show our strength in numbers. We are going to get there because we are good people. All we want is to be included."

Massachusetts and Connecticut began same sex weddings this past week. They are the only two states that still allow gay marriage. With the passage of Proposition 8, California is one of the 30 states that have voted on gay marriage to enact a ban.

Gary Topper, a retired wine marketer, married Tom Harrington, his partner of 17 years, in a party at their San Anselmo home on the Fourth of July.

Like other gay couples that married while it was still legal, he isn't sure what the outcome will be in the courts.

"Whatever it is, my relationship with Tom is as strong as ever," he said.

Nevertheless, he condemned the Mormon and Catholic churches for leading the well-financed campaign to pass Proposition 8.

"They chose to discriminate even though they voted for Obama," he said. Now that an African American has been elected president, he added, "We have become the excluded group."

In that ironic vein, Mark Hill, attending the rally with his family, said Proposition 8 "totally killed my Obama buzz."

He and his wife, Premila, brought their 8-year-old son, Greg, to the demonstration to instill in him that "In America, we protect rights," he said. "We don't take them away."

The Marin rally came off without incident, and there were no reports of violence Saturday in other cities.

"It's natural for us to feel anger," said rally speaker Jeanne Rizzo, who, with her spouse, Pali Cooper, is one of the plaintiffs in the marriage case that was decided favorably by the California State Supreme Court. "We need to feel that."

But, she said, that anger should be channeled into "the most incredible civil rights movement in the history of the country."

Saturday's rally was organized by Spectrum, Marin's gay advocacy organization.

"We're bringing together a community that has been terribly hurt," said Spectrum's Paula Pilecki, noting that the Proposition 8 fight comes on the 30th anniversary of the murder of legendary gay activist Harvey Milk.

"This is a call to action like we've never seen."

Paul Liberatore can be reached at

Visit Flickr to see photos from the event.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fight H8 with Your Rally Photos at

This weekend's international rally for gay rights promises to be the most visible moment for the international LGBT community in recent history. Thanks to each of you who are volunteering to end hate and speaking out against California's Prop. 8 and the amendments in Florida, Arkansas and Arizona. is looking to share photos from each of these rallies on our Website. Beginning Friday, we'll be covering the Join the Impact movement at through photos and blog entries of people fighting for equality the world over. We would love to share images and thoughts from rallies in your hometown with our readers. If you have photos, quotes or thoughts from the rally you attend this weekend, please, email us at

We will post your image and information about the rally in your hometown on our Website.

Thanks for your commitment to ending hate and check out this weekend for updates on the Join the Impact rallies.

Advocate Staff

View photos here:

Send photos to:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prop 8 Protest: Update on Speakers & Musicians

Join us this Saturday, November 15th for the
National Protest Against Proposition 8

WHERE: San Rafael: City Hall
1400 5th Avenue, San Rafael
TIME: 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Confirmed Speakers (updated 11/13/08):

Dave Morey, Host of KFOG's Morning Show
Judy Arnold, Marin County Board of Supervisors
Damon Connolly, San Rafael City Councilmember
Jeanne Rizzo and Pali Cooper, one of the plaintiff couples in the marriage case decided favorably by the CA State Supreme Court
Rev. Carol Hovis, Marin Interfaith Council
Rev. Dr. Liza Klein, San Rafael First United Methodist Church
Charles McGlashan, Marin County Board of Supervisors
Rev. Sara Vurek
Recently Married Couples
*affiliations mentioned for identification purposes only

Local musicians scheduled to appear (updated 11/13/08):

The Pam and Jeri Show (Pam Delgado and Jeri Jones of Blame Sally)
Jesse Brewster
Clara George
Rebecca Riots
Owen Roberts
Joe Stevens
Wild Mustard

More information:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prop 8 Protest: A Call to the LGBTQ Community, Friends, & Family

Join us this Saturday, November 15th for the National Protest Against Proposition 8

NEW LOCATION: San Rafael: City Hall, 1400 5th Avenue at D Street, San Rafael
TIME: 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Calling our community together! There has been a tremendous outpouring of support since the election, when Proposition 8 passed by a narrow margin in California. Come together for a peaceful rally in downtown San Rafael. Bring your signs, your friends, and your energy.


To volunteer, call 415-457-1115 ext.209

For more information, including downloads of signs, widgets, and publicity links, go to


Dave Morey, Host of KFOG's Morning Show
Judy Arnold, Marin County Board of Supervisors
Damon Connelly, San Rafael City Councilmember
Jeanne Rizzo and Pali Cooper, one of the plaintiff couples in the marriage case decided favorably by the CA State Supreme Court
Rev. Dr. Liza Klein, San Rafael First United Methodist Church
Rev. Sara Vurek, Fairfax Community Church
Recently Married Couples

Local musicians scheduled to appear (partial list):

Clara George

Owen Roberts

Rebecca Riots

Jesse Brewster

Joe Stevens

Wild Mustard

Marin Local Music

Spectrum LGBT Center thanks Shelley Champine and Marin Local Music for assisting with producing the Marin Rally Against Prop 8. Marin Local Music (MLM) is a social network for people who support live, local music in Marin County, California. Other online social networks such as Facebook or MySpace seek to create virtual, global communities with technology. MLM starts with a very real community and simply uses technology to organize, inform and promote its members and activities. Check out Marin Local Music online at

Renegade Studios

Sound equipment provided by Renegade Music, San Rafael

Please add this information to your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other online communities.

Thanks, see you Saturday!

View Larger Map

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nationally-known Folk Trio Releases Musical Response to Prop 8

Rebecca Riots offers free download as gift to grieving marriage equality supporters.

In response to the passage of Proposition 8, which eliminates the right of California's same sex couples to marry, nationally-known folk group Rebecca Riots has released a new single. Members of the band hope it will inspire supporters of marriage equality to recommit themselves to the struggle for equal rights. The Bay Area-based trio invites them to visit and download "A Thousand Hands (Wedding Song 08)".

Prior to the election, Rebecca Riots was planning their new album, "Avenue", to be released in 2009; they planned to include "A Thousand Hands (Wedding Song 08)" on this album in honor California's historic legal same sex weddings. However, in the face of escalating scare tactics by proposition 8's proponents and inspired by record-breaking marriage equality volunteerism, the activist-minded band wanted to offer something more.

Simply slating the song for their CD, performing at LGBT benefits and emailing their list asking fans to get involved -- which they did -- didn't feel like enough. "We have been so inspired by the commitment of couples marrying in the face of intense public opposition, and deeply touched by the way that people of all sexual orientations rallied to fight the bigotry of proposition 8 and others like it" said Eve Decker, "We wanted to give something back to acknowledge that and inspire us all to keep up the fight."

Thus the Marriage Equality Gift Project was born and on Sunday, November 2, The folk trio with the distinctive three-part harmonies recorded their wedding song in preparation to offer it as a free download from their site beginning Wednesday, November 5th.

"We must not give up the fight for justice. We hope that a growing alliance between the lgbt community and its allies will eventually isolate intolerance and ensure justice" says Lisa Zeiler. Andrea Prichett adds, "Regardless of propostion 8 we must continue to convene loved ones to be
witnesses to, and supporters of, our loves and our weddings."

"A Thousand Hands (Wedding Song 08)" has already been used in several weddings and Rebecca Riots members hope many more will choose to make the song part of their special day as a statement of their determination to continue the fight for equal rights.


More about Rebecca Riots:

Folk icons The Rebecca Riots (Lisa Zeiler, Andrea Prichett, and Eve Decker) have received rave reviews for their performances and albums including "Best Band with a Conscience" by the S.F. Bay Guardian and "Dreamy Girl Band" by Girlfriends Magazine. The group took their name from an uprising in South Wales in 1843. Rebecca Riots supports grassroots activism as an effective strategy for social change. They have released 6 recordings and toured
extensively since their debut in 1993.

For more information about Rebecca Riots and/or to download "A Thousand Hands (Wedding Song 08)", go to

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Church and state: The issue of Prop. 8

Recommended reading:

Church and state: The issue of Prop. 8

San Francisco Chronicle
James Brosnahan
Sunday, November 9, 2008

Proposition 8 has passed, denying to some the right enjoyed by other citizens in California, the right to marry. Now, the central question for the courts to decide is: Are gays in California equal, or can members of certain churches declare them constitutionally inferior? [read more...]

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Message from Sam and Julia Thoron to the No On 8 Campaign Members

Dear Friends,

We have suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of opponents who waged a campaign based on lies, deception and fear fueled by a deep and mistaken conviction that we, and our families, are inferior to theirs. It hurts deeply. It is cruel that our right to equal protection can be put to a vote.

We need to take time to heal. We also need to remind ourselves of a few very important concepts.

In our fight, we have kept to the high road. We have no need to examine our conscience. We have all given our utmost, freely and with unbelievable generosity and unity. We can and must hold our heads high.

In our loss, in our grief, we must not allow our anger and frustration to divide us. Let us not second guess or stoop to pointing fingers of blame among ourselves. Remember that what we have in common is what brought us together. However passionate we may be, we cannot allow small differences to divide us.

Finally, as we go on with our lives, we must not allow ourselves to become like our opponents. Even if we can neither forget nor forgive them for the way that they have treated us, we must always treat those around us with the same respect and dignity that we deserve and demand for ourselves and for our families. Let us continue to keep to the high road.

It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve Equality for All, the No On Prop 8 Campaign. Working with you all has been a gift beyond price.

In love and solidarity,

Sam and Julia Thoron

Friday, November 7, 2008

NO on Prop 8 Campaign Leaders Call on Community to Stand Together

Top leaders from the NO on Prop 8 campaign today issued the following statement urging leaders in the community to stand together following the passage of Prop 8.

"This has been an incredibly difficult week for Californians who are disappointed in the passage of Proposition 8, which takes away the right to marry for same-sex couples in our state. We feel a profound sense of disappointment in this defeat, but know that in order to move forward we must continue to stand together as one community in order to secure full equality in California.

"In working to defeat Prop 8, a profound coalition banded together to fight for equality. Faith leaders, labor, teachers, civil rights leaders and communities of color, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, public officials, local school boards and city councils, parents, corporate law firms and bar associations, businesses, and people from all walks of life joined together to stand up against discrimination. We must build on this coalition in order to achieve equal rights for all Californians.

"We achieve nothing if we isolate the people who did not stand with us in this fight. We only further divide our state if we attempt to blame people of faith, African American voters, rural communities and others for this loss. We know people of all faiths, races and backgrounds stand with us in our fight to end discrimination, and will continue to do so. Now more than ever it is critical that we work together and respect our differences that make us a diverse and unique society. Only with that understanding will we achieve justice and equality for all."

Geoff Kors, Executive Director, Equality California
Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Lorri Jean, Executive Director, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center
Delores Jacobs, Executive Director, San Diego Gay and Lesbian Center

Email from No on Prop 8 Campaign

Following is the final email from the Executive Committee members of the
No on Prop 8 campaign. There were dozens of organizations throughout California that served as partners for the campaign. Spectrum was one of those organizations, and I was proud to have served on the statewide campaign committee.

--Paula Pilecki, Executive Director, Spectrum LGBT Center

November 2008

We had hoped never to have to write this email.

Sadly, fueled by misinformation, distortions and lies, millions of voters went to the polls yesterday and said YES to bigotry, YES to discrimination, YES to second-class status for same-sex couples.

And while the election was close, and millions of votes still remain uncounted, is has become apparent that we lost.

There is no question this defeat is hard.

Thousands of people have poured their talents, their time, their resources and their hearts into this struggle for freedom and this fight to have their relationships treated equally. Much has been sacrificed in this struggle.

While we knew the odds for success were not with us, we believed Californians could be the first in the nation to defeat the injustice of discriminatory measures like Proposition 8.

And while victory is not ours this day, we know that because of the work done here; freedom, fairness and equality will be ours someday. Just look at far we have come in a few decades.

Up until 1974 same-sex intimacy was a crime in California. There wasn't single law recognizing the relationships of same-sex couples until 1984 - passed by the Berkeley School District. San Francisco did not pass domestic-partner protections until 1990, the state of California following in 2005. And in 2000, Proposition 22 passed with a 23% majority.

Today, we fought to retain our right to marry and millions of Californians stood with us. Over the course of this campaign everyday Californians and their friends, neighbors and families built a civil rights campaign unequalled in California history.

You raised more money than anyone believed possible for an LGBT civil rights campaign.

You reached out to family and friends in record numbers-helping hundreds of thousands of Californians understand what the LGBT civil rights struggle is really about.

You built the largest grassroots and volunteer network that has ever been built - a coalition that will continue to fight until all people are equal.

And you made the case to the people of California and to the rest of the world that discrimination - in any form - is unfair and wrong.

We are humbled by the courage, dignity and commitment displayed by all who fought this historic battle.

Victory was not ours today. But the struggle for equality is not over.

Because of the struggle fought here in California - fought so incredibly well by the people in this state who love freedom and justice - our fight for full civil rights will continue.

Activist and writer Anne Lamott writes, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

We stand together, knowing... our dawn will come.

Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, CEO
Center Advocacy Project

Lorri L. Jean, CEO
L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center

Kate Kendell, Executive Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights

Geoff Kors, Executive Director
Equality California

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Marin County Religious Leaders Offer Interfaith Response in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

Interfaith Service Set for Sunday, November 2nd, First Presbyterian Church, San Rafael

SAN RAFAEL -- On Sunday, November 2nd, at 7:00 PM, leaders of diverse faith traditions invite the community to gather at First Presbyterian Church, 1510 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael for an interfaith gathering in support of same-sex marriage. Featured music will include singer and local Pastor Curran Reichert of the Community Congregational Church of Tiburon, and world-renowned musician Richard "Scrumbly" Koldewyn.

“It doesn’t matter what one’s sexual orientation is; what matters is that they are supported in their healthy, loving relationships,” says Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr. “And what better place to be supported, than within their communities of faith?”

“Same-sex couples in California now have the right to marry, just as they should” says Paula Pilecki, Executive Director of Spectrum LGBT Center, which promotes equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. “Proposition 8 would eliminate that right. This event is a call to people of every faith, to say ‘No’ to injustice.”

Service leaders and speakers include:

  • Rev. Sam Alexander, First Presbyterian Church, San Rafael
  • Michael Barenbaum, Rabbi Emeritus, former Rabbi of Congregation Rodef Sholom
  • Sylvia Boorstein, teacher, Spirit Rock Meditation Center
  • Rev. Annie and Dr. Victoria Steinberg Behrman
  • Rev. Judith Fleenor, Staff Minister at Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living
  • David Hanson and Jeffrey Owen
  • Chris Highland, former Marin Interfaith Chaplain
  • Rev. Carol Hovis, Executive Director, Marin Interfaith Council
  • Father David Matz C.PP.S. Missionary of the Precious Blood
  • Sister Elizabeth Padilla, Brahma Kumaris Worldwide Spiritual Organization
  • Paula Pilecki, Executive Director, Spectrum LGBT Center
  • Rev. Sara Vurek, speaking from a Tibetan Buddhist Perspective

Please say NO to the elimination of same-sex marriage! Go to

CONTACT: Paula Pilecki, Spectrum Center (415) 457-1115 ext. 209
Rev. Doug Huneke, Westminster Presbyterian Church, (415) 383-5272

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The 12th International Latino Film Festival Presents A Special LGBT Program

SAN FRANCISCO — The International Latino Film Society is proud to include several films dedicated to the LGBT experience as part of the programming of the 2008 International Latino Film Festival.

The first selection of the LGBT program, “Transvestites Also Cry,” will be part of the special gala opening night at the Castro Theater. Another feature, “Spinnin’ (6 Billion Different People)” will be co-presented by Frameline, No on Prop 8, and the Spectrum LGBT Center. The program is completed with the latest in Mexican cinema, “Burn the Bridges.”

The acclaimed Festival, which celebrates the diversity of Latino culture through the timeless medium of film, runs from November 7 — 23, 2008. The program includes over 70 features, shorts, and documentaries from Argentina, Brazil, Belize, Bolivia, Cuba, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela and Spain. The Festival will present screenings in eight Bay Area cities: San Francisco, Redwood City, San Jose, San Rafael, Larkspur, Berkeley, San Mateo, and San Bruno. All films include English subtitles.

"This year we were able to bring together an amazing collection of films that truly reflects the diversity of Latino cinema throughout the world. We are especially excited to honor several outstanding artists this year including Lourdes Portillo, Gregory Nava, and Alex Rivera. These US-based filmmakers have all done extraordinary work that embodies the vital connection between Latino cinema in the US and in Latin America," said Sylvia Perel, Festival Director.

The LGBT programming for the 2008 festival will include:

“Transvestites Also Cry”
Dir. Sebastiano d'Ayala Valva, 2007, France, 54 min.
Raw emotions are revealed when the lives of two vibrant and outspoken Ecuadorian transsexuals are exposed over three years, as they work as prostitutes in Paris' gritty Clichy district. Both funny and moving, this award-winning documentary provides a glimpse at their struggle to assimilate despite economic hardships and the dual intolerance faced as illegal immigrants and sex workers.


Opening Night Gala
November 7, 2008, 9:15 PM
Castro Theater
429 Castro Street, San Francisco

CinePride Tribute: A Celebration of Marriage Equality!

“Spinnin' (6 Billion Different People)”
Dir. Eusebio Pastrana, 2007, Spain, 110 min.
A whirlwind adventure that celebrates life, love, and everything in between as we follow a young gay couple in mid 1990s Madrid as they and their friends deal with issues of having children, marriage, divorce, and more. A collage of different stories revolve around the characters' turbulent lives as we encounter lovers who find, fight and feel the meaning of love.


November 9, 2008, 6:15 PM
Brava Theater for Women in the Arts
2781 24th Street, San Francisco
Co-presented by No on Prop 8 and Frameline

November 22, 2008, 8:00 pm
Dominican University, Angelica Hall
50 Acacia Avenue, San Rafael
Co-presented by Spectrum LGBT Center and Frameline

The Latest in Mexican Cinema

“Burn the Bridges”
Dir. Francisco Franco, 2007, Mexico, 100 min.
In a crumbling colonial mansion in Zacatecas, Mexico, teenage siblings Helena and Sebastián live isolated with their dying mother, a family held together by a close but dangerously dependent relationship. A profound look at family relationships, homosexual awakening and the choice between being trapped in the past or "burning the bridges" and following one's dreams.


November 11, 2008, 7:45 pm
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
2868 Mission Street, San Francisco

The International Latino Film Festival’s ongoing commitment to artistic excellence and to exploring a wide array of themes and issues is made evident through its diverse selection of shorts, documentaries and feature films. This year’s films will inspire, illuminate, challenge, educate, motivate, excite, thrill, surprise, and entertain – they are everything Latino and everything universal.

Presented by the International Latino Film Society, The International Latino Film Festival was founded in 1997 by Sylvia Perel to benefit the San Francisco Bay Area
by promoting cinema of significant artistic merit created by, or about Latinos, and to celebrate cultural understanding through the art of film and filmmaking. The International Latino Film Festival began in Marin County with eight films over three days in one venue and has grown to more than 70 films over 17 days in eight cities across the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. For additional information about the Festival visit

This year’s sponsors are:

Macy's, Wells Fargo, Latino Leadership Council and the City of Redwood City, Castellano Family Foundation, Don Julio Tequila, Comcast, San Francisco Foundation, Marin Community Foundation, County of Marin Board of Supervisors, Alexander and June L.Maisin Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund, Fullerton Family Foundation, City and County of San Francisco Grants for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Tobacco Free Project, Bank of Marin, Southwest Airlines, Clear Channel, SF Municipal Transportation Agency, SF Metro Center, Univision 14, TeleFutura 66 y Recuerdo 100.3

In-kind sponsors:

Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Renoir Hotel, Hilton San Francisco, JW Marriott San Francisco, PINK Magazine, SFMTA, Thirsty Bear, Gloria Ferrer, Destino, Regalito, Alegrias, Aroma Buena Catering, Travelocity, Ramblas Tapas Bar

Consulates and Educational organizations:

Consulate General of Brazil, Consulate General of Mexico in SF and San Jose, Consulate General of El Salvador, Consulate General Bolivirian Republica of Venezuel, Consulate General of Spain, San Jose State University, City College of SF, Dominican University.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Religious Leaders Join Together to Support for all Families, including Gay Marriage at Interfaith Service

Santa Rosa, CA

On Sunday, November 2nd, the Sonoma County Pride Planning Committee brings together leaders and musicians from diverse religious traditions within Sonoma County to participate in the Interfaith Service titled "Live Equally, Love Equally." The service is designed to be an interfaith response in support of all families, including same-sex marriage. It will be held at 7:00 pm at the Center for Spiritual Living at 2075 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa, CA. Web:

Speakers Include:

Rev. Kimberly Willis, Christ Church United Methodist
Rabbi George Gittleman, Congregation Shomrei Torah
Rev. Elizabeth Middelberg, Metropolitan Community Church of the Redwood Empire
Rev. Blythe Sawyer, Petaluma United Church of Christ
Rev. Joyce Duffala, Center For Spiritual Living

A special Children's Sermon will be provided for kids in the audience by Rev. Jean Lebbert of Thanksgiving Lutheran Church.

Choirs, song groups, and other religious leaders in our community will also be actively participating through music, prayer, affirmations, and call & response readings during the Interfaith Service.

These other participants include (alphabetical order):

Rev. Chris Bell, Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Rev. Carol Carter, Forestville United Methodist Church
Rev. Susan Fleenor, Knox Presbyterian Church
Rev. Leanna Hamilton, New Hope Metropolitan Community Church
Rev. Amy Seymour Haney, Windsor Presbyterian Church
Rev. Matthew Lawrence, Church of the Incarnation
Rev. David Parks Ramage, First Congregational United Church of Christ.

This is the second Interfaith Service hosted by the Sonoma County Pride Planning Committee. The first one took place in June 2008 as part of the County's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersexed Pride celebration, and was attended by over 300 people.

7:00 pm

Sunday, November 2, 2008
Center for Spiritual Living
2075 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa, CA

Free to the public. Children warmly welcomed.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Remembering Del Martin

Dorothy L. (Del) Martin (May 5, 1921 - August 27, 2008) -

Died on Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at UCSF Hospice, San Francisco, California. Survived by spouse Phyllis Lyon, daughter Kendra Mon, son-in-law Eugene Lane, granddaughter Lorraine Mon, grandson Kevin Mon, sister-in-law Patricia Lyon and a vast, loving and grateful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender family.

An eloquent organizer for civil rights, civil liberties, and human dignity, Del Martin created and helped shape the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and feminist movements. She was a woman of extraordinary courage, persistence, intelligence, humor, and fundamental decency, who refused to be silenced by fear and never stopped fighting for equality. Her last public political act, on June 16, 2008, was to marry Phyllis Lyon, her partner of 55 years. They were the first couple to wed in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court recognized that marriage for same-sex couples is a fundamental right in a case brought by plaintiffs including Martin and Lyon.

Born in San Francisco on May 5, 1921, Dorothy L. Taliaferro, or Del as she would come to be known, was salutatorian of the first graduating class of George Washington High School and went on to study journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. At 19, after transferring to San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University), she married James Martin and two years later gave birth to their daughter Kendra. The marriage ended in divorce.

Del Martin met the love of her life, Phyllis Lyon, in Seattle in 1950 when they worked for the same publication company. They became lovers in 1952 and formalized their partnership on Valentine's Day in 1953 when they moved in together in San Francisco. In 1955, they bought the small home that has been theirs ever since.

In what would prove to be an act that would change history, Martin, Lyon, and six other lesbians co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) in San Francisco in 1955. DOB, which was named after an obscure book of lesbian love poetry, initially was organized to provide secret mutual support and social activities. It became the first public and political lesbian rights organization in the United States, laying a foundation for the women's and lesbian and gay liberation movements that flowered in the early 1970s and continue today.

Del Martin used her writing and speaking talents to challenge misconceptions about gender and sexuality. "We were fighting the church, the couch, and the courts," she often remembered years later, naming the array of social and cultural forces early activists confronted when homosexuals were treated as immoral, mentally ill, and illegal. As the first President of DOB, she penned stirring calls to arms. "Nothing was ever accomplished by hiding in a dark corner. Why not discard the hermitage for the heritage that awaits any red-blooded American woman who dares to claim it?" She was the second editor (after Phyllis Lyon) of DOB's groundbreaking monthly magazine, The Ladder, from 1960 to 1962 and ushered in a new decade of political engagement and media visibility for the nascent gay rights movement. The Ladder grew from a mimeographed newsletter in 1956 to an internationally recognized magazine with thousands of subscribers by 1970, and thousands more readers who copied its contents or circulated it among friends and coworkers. Martin's many contributions to The Ladder ranged from short stories to editorials to missives: one of the most famous is "If That's All There Is," a searing condemnation of sexism in the gay rights movement written in 1970. Due to Martin's influence, The Ladder provided one of the few media outlets confronting misogyny in the decade before the rebirth of women's liberation.

In 1964, Del Martin was part of a group that founded the Council on Religion and the Homosexual in order to lobby city lawmakers more effectively to reduce police harassment and modify the sex laws that criminalized homosexual behavior. In later years, Martin was also a founding member of the Lesbian Mother's Union, the San Francisco Women's Centers, and the Bay Area Women's Coalition, among other organizations.

As an early member of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Del Martin worked to counter homophobia within the women's movement - fear of the so-called "lavender menace." She and Lyon were the first lesbians to insist on joining with a "couples' membership rate" and Martin was the first out lesbian on NOW's Board of Directors. Their efforts helped to insure the
inclusion of lesbian rights on NOW's agenda in the early 1970's.

Lesbian/Woman, the book they co-authored in 1972, is one of Martin and Lyon's landmark accomplishments. The book described lesbian lives in a positive, knowledgeable way almost unknown at the time. In 1992, Publishers Weekly chose it as one of the 20 most influential women's books of the last 20 years.

For many years, Del Martin was a leader in the campaign to persuade the American Psychiatric Association to declare that homosexuality was not a mental illness. This goal was finally achieved in 1973.

Del Martin's publication of Battered Wives in 1976 was a major catalyst for the movement against domestic violence. Martin became a nationally known advocate for battered women, and was a co-founder of the Coalition for Justice for Battered Women (1975), La Casa de las Madres (a shelter for battered women) founded in 1976, and the California Coalition against
Domestic Violence (1977). She lectured at colleges and universities around the country. Martin received her doctorate from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in 1987.

Martin's keen political instincts and interests extended her influence into the mainstream Democratic Party. She and Lyon were co-founders, in 1972, of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, the first gay political club in the United States. Martin was appointed Chair of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women in 1976 and served on the committee until 1979. She worked as a member of many other councils and boards including the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. Throughout the years, many politicians recognized their stature as community leaders and sought advice and endorsement from Martin and Lyon.

It is difficult to separate Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon and write about only one of them. Their lives and their work have intertwined and their enduring dedication to social justice has been recognized many times. In 1979, local health care providers established a clinic to give lesbians in the San Francisco Bay area access to nonjudgmental, affordable health care and named it Lyon-Martin Health Services in their honor. In 1990, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California awarded the couple with its highest honor, the Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award. In 1995, Senator Dianne Feinstein named Martin, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi named Lyon, as delegates to the White House Conference on Aging, where they made headlines by using their moment at the podium to remind the 125,000 attendees that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people grow old, too, and must be included explicitly in aging policies. The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality gave Martin and Lyon their Outstanding Public Service Award in 1996. They are among the most beloved figures in the LGBT community and have served as Grand Marshals at Pride marches across the nation and been honored by every major LGBT organization in the country.

Del Martin identified her own legacy in 1984 when she said that her most important contribution was "being able to help make changes in the way lesbians and gay men view themselves and how the larger society views lesbians and gay men." She had the courage to be true to herself when the world offered only condemnation for lesbians. Martin showed all of us how to have what she called "self-acceptance and a good sense of my own self-worth." Del Martin never backed down from her insistence on full equality for all people and, even at 87 years old, she kept moving all of us closer to her ideal.

Gifts in lieu of flowers can be made to honor Del's life and commitment and to defeat the California marriage ban through NCLR's No On 8 PAC at

A public memorial and tribute celebrating the life of Del Martin will be planned in the next several weeks.

Provided by the National Center for Lesbian Rights

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Same-sex couples take their vows in Marin

By Nancy Isles Nation
Tuesday June 17, 2008
Click here for the on-line Marin Independent Journal article

ALLISON JOHNSON wore a white beaded gown and carried a bouquet of pink roses, while Victoria Gould was in a black tux with a pink vest and tie and a pink rose boutonniere. Their faces glowed Tuesday as they beamed at friends while becoming the first same-sex couple to be legally wed in Marin.

The two were surrounded by well-wishers at the fountain in the court garden at the Marin County Civic Center. There were giggles, hugs and bursts of applause.

Deputy County Clerk Olga Lobato instructed the couple to face each other and hold hands as she began the ceremony. "Today, we make history," Lobato said. "It is an honor for me to perform this marriage ceremony for my two friends Victoria and Allison." A few tears slipped down Gould's cheek as she and Johnson exchanged rings.

Their son, Jackson, 2, scrambled in the grass with a little girl in a flower-print dress. He was dressed in a mini-tux with pink accessories - just like Gould.

Gould, who works in the Marin County District Attorney's Office, was the first person to take out a marriage license with the county clerk's office, having run up the stairs as soon as she heard the state Supreme Court had overturned a ban on same-sex marriage six weeks ago.

Her boss, District Attorney Edward Berberian and many of his deputies, took time out to attend, while members of the Board of Supervisors watched from the terrace outside their chambers. Afterward, there was wedding cake and sparkling cider in a conference room in the district attorney's office.

Johnson was surrounded by co-workers in the county's social services department.

Theirs was the first of many weddings. By the end of the day, there had been 14 same-sex weddings and 35 licenses issued.

Marin County Clerk Michael Smith noted that many of the weddings he officiated involved couples who had been together for 30 years or longer.

Couples lined up outside the office were beaming, not minding the wait.

John Campbell and Michael Gonsalves, together for 33 years, were waiting for godsons to arrive for their 11 a.m. wedding. "I was surprised I could find someone who could stand me for so long," said Campbell, a private investigator. The newlyweds are planning a celebration near their Mount Tamalpais home this summer.

Sara Taylor and Sherrie Holmes of Novato got their license after 18 years together. The Rev. Jane Spahr of San Rafael is going to marry them on Friday in front of about 50 people, including their daughter, Katrina Holmes. "To be able to marry my wonderful friends feels so liberating," Spahr said. "We are no longer second class - we are equal."

Spahr was censured by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for officiating at the weddings of two lesbian couples, but the move was overturned in April when the church said she did not violate denominational law.

Naia Lopez and Francis Aitken, a heterosexual couple, smiled as they left the clerk's office with their marriage certificate in hand. The two 23-year-olds said they had forgotten that Tuesday was the first day homosexual couples in Marin could take out marriage licenses when they decided to start preparations for their marriage that morning.

They said they thought the occasion was great and were happy to be a part of it.

"We'll remember it," Aitken said.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

LGBT Organizations Urge Couples Marrying in California to "Make Change, Not Lawsuits"

NEW YORK - Four LGBT legal organizations and five other leading national LGBT groups have issued a statement entitled "Make Change, Not Lawsuits."

The statement explains that while couples who go to California to marry should ask friends, neighbors and institutions to honor their marriages, they generally shouldn't sue.

The statement says that ill-timed lawsuits are likely to set the fight for marriage back, and that there are other ways to fight which are more likely to win.

Access the advisory online at:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Same-sex pairs plan nuptials despite protests, ballot threat

By Jim Staats
Monday June 9, 2008
Click here for the on-line Marin Independent Journal article

AT LEAST 13 SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ceremonies are planned next week at the Marin Civic Center, and officials are preparing for many more that haven't been scheduled.
"We anticipate we'll be a little busy on the 17th," said Marin County Clerk Michael Smith. He said six ceremonies were scheduled Tuesday with seven more later in the week.

"We recognize this is really a significant date with a significant change," he said. "We just don't know what the foot traffic will be. What we want to do is accommodate individuals coming in to pull a license or perform a ceremony. We will work with them to get through that workload."

Smith said his office will have extra staff available Tuesday, the first day county clerks are authorized to begin issuing marriage licenses in response to the California Supreme Court's May 15 ruling reversing a statutory ban on same-sex marriages.

Technically, county clerks can begin issuing same-sex licenses at 5 p.m. Monday, which is when the California Department of Public Health's Office of Vital Records determined that the court ruling takes effect. San Francisco, which had asked the state to begin issuing licenses at the close of business Monday, will start at that time.

However, Smith said the Marin office would wait until Tuesday.

"The directive I have from the state is June 17, so we're going with the 17th," Smith said. "I guess San Francisco wants to be the first, and that's fine. We didn't have anyone request that date anyway." said office hours would be extended Tuesday as needed.

"If there is a line of people, we'll stay open as long as it takes to accommodate them," he said.

Smith said new state-certified marriage licenses referring to "Party A" and "Party B" rather than husband and wife should be back from the printers in time for next week.

Smith and other deputized employees will perform ceremonies.

"I'm supportive of individuals that come together in a caring, committed way," Smith said. "This is an important time for them."

New wedded unions could be fleeting, as an initiative that would outlaw gay marriage in California has qualified for the November ballot. The measure, known as the California Marriage Protection Act, would amend the state constitution to "provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

The start of same-sex marriages next week has sparked movement on both sides of the issue.

The Community Church of Mill Valley, a member of the United Church of Christ denomination, is one of several local parishes offering to perform same-sex weddings.

"We've always offered commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples," said the Rev. Pam Shortridge, noting she was not aware of any couples who had accepted the offer. "Now that (same-sex) marriage has been made legal in the state, it was just the logical next step."

The Rev. Doug Huneke, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, said two couples have scheduled same-sex wedding ceremonies at the parish for July and August.

"My hunch is people are ready to move forward despite the uncertainty of this," he said. "I just think it's magnificent. The more of this that can happen, the better in my book."

On Monday morning, Ronald Brock parked his billboard-laden "Marriage Mobile" outside the Marin Civic Center to kick off a 15-county tour of county clerk offices.

The Southern California resident hopes to educate the public on the evils of gay marriage, which he said violates God's moral principle.

"We have judicial tyranny in this nation, and we are called on to resist it," Brock said. "What they are doing is sin, and it is wrong. The laws of this nation are established on God's law."