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In the 60’s people justified denying equal rights to blacks and whites to marry on outdated scriptural passages that favored slavery.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