Monthly Archives: November 2008

Florida Judge: Adoption Ban Unconstitutional

Circuit Judge Cindy S. Lederman in Florida has ruled that Florida’s ban against gays adopting children is unconstitutional. The opposition is going to appeal, of course, but this is a huge victory for both the Gill family and our civil rights.

Following is the story from the Orlando Sentinel.

MIAMI – A Miami Dade Circuit judge ruled today that a gay man and his partner should be able to adopt the two foster children they have raised for four years.

Circuit Judge Cindy S. Lederman “these children are thriving. These words we don’t often hear within these walls. That’s uncontroverted,” said Circuit Judge Cindy S. Lederman.

“They’re a good family. They’re a family in every way except in the eyes of the law. These children have a right to permanency,” the judge said. “The only real permanency is adoption in the home where they are thriving.

“There is no rational basis to preclude homosexuals from adopting,” Lederman continued.

When he heard those words, Frank Martin Gill patted his eyes with a folded white tissue.

In 2004, the state encouraged Gill and his unidentified male partner to provide a foster home for two boys. Gill wants to become their adopted father.

“Today I’ve cried my first tears of joy in my life,” said Gill, 47, a flight attendant who lives in North Miami. “We are elated.” Gill added: “I wasn’t here to make history. I was here to do the best thing for a 4- and an 8-year-old.”

A lawyer from the Attorney General’s Office, who is representing the state Department of Children and Families, said the case would be appealed.

Some states, such as Mississippi and Utah, prevent gays from adopting by using laws that prohibit unmarried couples from adopting. But Florida expressly targeted gays with its 1977 law, enacted during former Miss America Anita Bryant’s anti-homosexual crusade.

Florida Statute 63.042 states: “No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.” They can be state-appointed foster parents. They can be named permanent guardians. But adoption is not allowed.

Gill’s attorney, Robert Rosenwald of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, said an appeals court and the possibly the Florida Supreme Court would be asked to address the ban on gay adoption.

My congratulations to the Gill family. What a special Thanksgiving for them.

Enraged Band of Homosexuals Loose In California

I’ve been watching the media and right wing coverage of last week’s protests against Prop 8, and surprising no one in particular, they’re getting the story wrong. Word is that the vast majority of the literally hundreds of protests since November 4th have been peaceful. But of course, a couple altercations has given the opposition enough fuel to paint us as horrible people.

Take, for example, the story of Phyllis Burgess. This elderly woman just happened to be near a candlelight vigil in Palm Springs with a large styrofoam cross on November 7th. The ravenous Homosexuals, overtaken by their perverted hormones and devil worship, swarmed her, ripping the styrofoam cross from her grasp without any provocation, and as she knelt on the ground, she raised her hand to the sky, not unlike the Virgin Mary herself, crying, “Why, Lord Jesus? That styrofoam cross was blessed by the Pope himself! WHY?!?”

Okay, I’m laying it on a little thick, but only a smidgen more than both media outlets like Fox News and local TV station KPSP and anti-gay pseudo-news sites like WorldNetDaily, which refers to her as “an elderly bespectacled woman”, and OneNewsNow, which claims that she was “roughed up”.

But I take issue with two parts of the story that’s being spread around. First, there’s the matter of provocation. Let’s face it, Phyllis was there to get a reaction, and she got one. And if you watch the video below, which includes the rarely seen lead up to the confrontation, you’ll see that some of the other reported bits of the story are suspect, and others (like her companion trying to pull signs out of people’s hands) haven’t been reported at all.

I’m not suggesting that violence toward the opposition is something we should be involved in. Neither are the VAST majority of gay activists, including the people at this rally in Palm Springs. But I do understand anger boiling over when a person’s just been told that she’s less worthy of basic civil rights, when his rights are taken away. (It’s now being reported that Phyllis Burgess won’t be pressing charges.)

The other problem is the way this woman is being portrayed as a poor old lady. Note to right-wing nut jobs: She’s three years younger than your most recent candidate for President. Isn’t it a little soon to start pulling the age card?

Wanda Sykes: Out Of The Closet And Into The Street

As reports continue to come in from around the world, yesterday’s protests have yielded another win of sorts. At the protest in Las Vegas, comedian Wanda Sykes came out not just as a lesbian, but as a legally married lesbian. That’s not to say that she’s been in deep cover, of course.

Everybody that knows me personally, they know I’m gay. And that’s the way people should be able to live our lives, really. If we had equal rights, we wouldn’t— We shouldn’t have to be standing out here demanding something that we automatically should have as citizens of this country.

Wanda had lots of good nuggets in her four minute speech yesterday. Rather than quoting the whole darn thing, how about I just post the video so you can see for yourself? (Mostly SFW, unless your boss doesn’t approve of the word pissed, in which case your boss needs to remove the stick.)

Looks like we’ve got a powerful voice on our hands, doesn’t it? Thanks for speaking up, Wanda! And congratulations on the nuptials!

Join The Impact: Dayton 2008

Since anti-gay issues and amendments were passed in four states on Election Day, the gay community has been busy. SEO Marketer Amy Balliett started a true grass roots movement called Join The Impact three days after the polls closed and by mid-week, the excitement had spread internationally. Peaceful protests were planned in over 300 cities in every state and 11 countries.

I went to the protest in Dayton, Ohio this morning. I’ll be honest; I really didn’t want to. I’m actually not much of an activist (never mind my bluster here), and I’m not exactly active the local gay community. But after spending the morning trying to convince myself to stay home, I decided that doing that would make me a hypocrite. So off I went.

The protest started at 1:30, though I didn’t arrive until a little past 2:00. The temperature hung around freezing all day. We had snow all morning, then sleet around 1:00, which gave way to rain, then snow again, then rain again. The local paper put the number of attendees at around a hundred, and we were small but mighty.

There was chanting (which we totally sucked at) and people passed around the megaphone to say a few words of encouragement. One recently married man from Los Angeles happened to be in town and rallied the crowd. Another young man held a sign proclaiming that he’s recently engaged, helping to drive home the purpose of our protest.

There’s a bus stop right in front of the courthouse, and it was interesting to see the reactions of people waiting for the next bus. But Dayton isn’t exactly a hotbed of political discourse, so some passers-by weren’t quite sure what to make of us.

When it became clear that the rain wasn’t going to subside and the traffic had gotten pretty sparse, the organizers called it (thank goodness) around 2:45. There was noise of moving to a local café, but I came on home.

I took a couple pictures, but when I loaded them up I realized that they were all of people’s backs. This is the best of the bunch.

Join The Impact: Dayton 2008
Join The Impact: Dayton 2008

Fight The Real Enemy

It’s been almost a week since we lost the right to foster or adopt children in Arkansas and the right to marry in Florida, Arizona, and California. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know about the Arkansas issue until a few days before the election, and I wasn’t at all surprised that we lost Florida and Arizona.

California, though. Man, that hurts. To have 52% of the voters in one of the most liberal states in the Union tell me that my relationships are less worthy of respect and legal status, even after every single major newspaper and most of the minor ones came out against it… It’s just not something I’d even envisioned.

All over the blogs, I’ve been watching people fight over why we lost. I’ve seen racism, I’ve seen threats of violence (though only in the first few reactionary hours, and quickly taken care of), anger at leadership, anger at celebrities, anger at fund raisers, anger at gays who want to get married, anger at gays who don’t want to get married, anger at religion. Just anger. If there’s one thing we gain from this, it’s evidence that at heart gays and lesbians lash out blindly just like the straights.

And in all the confusion, Focus on the Family and the Mormon Church (talk about strange bedfellows) stand aside and laugh at all the great ad copy they’re getting from us. The real enemy, the Echthroi, isn’t each other, it’s them.

You want to know why we lost? We lost because our opponents told outright, bald-faced lies in their offensive (and at least in Florida, probably illegal) campaigns. We lost because the local and national press were too busy covering the presidential election and didn’t have the time journalistic balls to point out that our opponents were unabashedly trying to frighten people into voting for the bans.

We lost because somehow the video ads that were almost humorous to us still had power over people who wanted a reason to keep us in our place. Even after the election, the debate continued with reasonably intelligent people regurgitating talking points that were soundly disproved weeks ago.

That’s what lost the campaign, and it hurts. It really, really hurts. Maybe the protests will do some good, but at this point I’m a bit pessimistic. There are already several lawsuits in California, and hopefully they’ll get somewhere with those. One thing we know; any minority group that has ever had their human rights recognized in this country has gotten it from the judiciary first.

I plan on hitting each of the four measures individually in the next couple weeks (hopefully days), the obscene involvement of the Christian and Mormon Churches in the campaigns, and some of the lies used to defeat equality, if only for awhile. Oh, and the election of President-Elect Obama. I’ll post about that too. I just had to get this off my chest today.