Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The insightful documentary, GEN SILENT, will be screened on Friday, December 2nd, 6:30 pm at Vintage House, 264 First Street East, Sonoma.

GEN SILENT is a powerful documentary that shines a light on the difficulties faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as they grow older.

The fact of the matter is, many LGBT people who fought the first battles for equality are now facing the fear of being bullied, physically abused, and discriminated against by a system of care that is ill-prepared to accept them. In the face of this, LGBT older adults are hiding, living alone, and isolated from their community.

GEN SILENT is both a sad and joyful tribute to survival, and an eye-opening film.

Suggested donation: $5 at the door, though all are welcome and no one will be turned away. Following the film, there will be a facilitated discussion with the audience.

Sponsored by Vintage House, Sonoma Homecare, and Spectrum LGBT Center

For more information, call Gary Shepard at 707-583-2330 (24 hour voice message that is checked regularly).

Are you 55 years of age or older? Read this.

ATTENTION MARIN RESIDENTS: If you are 55 years or older, OR an adult family member, neighbor, or friend who provides unpaid help to an older adult or someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this survey is for you. For the first time, the survey provides an opportunity for LGBT people to be counted. Let's make sure our voices are included in this survey!


If you can't take the survey online, send an email and we'll send you a paper version. Thanks!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Bump in the Road for Marriage Equality - by Ruth Dell

In 2008,  California voters enacted Prop 8,  which banned state recognition of same sex marriages through an amendment  to the state’s constitution.   The American Foundation for Equal Rights subsequently filed a lawsuit ,  Perry v. Schwarzenegger,   which asserted that Prop 8 was unconstitutional,  and that banning  marriage equality violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the  U.S. Constitution,  which requires the equal protection of the law.   Our then governor,  Arnold Schwarzenegger,  and our then attorney general,  now governor,  Jerry Brown,   opposed Prop 8, and refused to defend the case on behalf of the state.  The case proceeded with the anti-gay-marriage group that sponsored  Prop 8,  ProtectMarriage,  representing the state to defend Prop 8.

Judge Vaughn Walker,  who heard the case in federal  court,  ruled in 2010 that Prop 8 violated the U.S. Constitution,  and that same sex couples had a constitutional right to marry.   The case then went up on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.   The Ninth Circuit then asked the California Supreme Court the following question -  do proponents of ballot initiatives have the authority to represent the state when the state’s public officials decline to do so?   If the CA Supreme Court had ruled that ProtectMarriage did not have standing,  or the right to appeal the district court decision, Judge Walker’s decision would have stood,  as no party would have the right to appeal it. 
This is not what happened. 

Instead, on November 17,  2011,  the CA Supreme Court unanimously decided that proponents of ballot initiatives have the authority to represent  the state of California when the state’s public officials decline to do so.  The court ruled that ProtectMarriage has the right to defend the constitutionality of Prop 8  and to appeal a judgment invalidating it.   Proponents of marriage equality were disappointed in the ruling.  Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights called the CA  Supreme Court’s decision “terrible” and “dangerous”,  and that it gave “initiative proponents unprecedented and virtually unlimited  power…”

Since the Ninth Circuit asked the CA Supreme Court for its opinion on the standing question, it  is most likely that it will accept this ruling of the CA Supreme Court,  and thus the Ninth Circuit will proceed to decide the constitutionality of Prop 8 on its merits.   The Ninth Circuit is a progressive court, and advocates of marriage equality are hopeful that the court will rule in favor of the freedom to marry.   Both sides generally agree that whichever way the Ninth Circuit rules,  there is a strong likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually hear the case.
Ruth Dell volunteers for a number of non-profit organizations. She is Spectrum's Marriage Equality Correspondent.