Prop 8 Supporters Ask Supreme Court To Block Broadcast Of Federal Trial

(SAN FRANCISCO)  In yet an other effort to block the broadcast of the federal lawsuit to overturn Proposition 8, supporters of the referendum have appealed to the US Supreme Court.Supreme Court Seal

According to the brief as quoted by the Los Angeles Times, attorney Charles Cooper wrote, “The record is already replete with evidence showing that any publicizing of support for Prop. 8 has inevitably led to harassment, economic reprisal, threats, and even physical violence. In this atmosphere, witnesses are understandably quite distressed at the prospect of their testimony being broadcast worldwide on YouTube.”

Cooper also wrote the trial, “has the potential to become a media circus.”

The appeal was filed before US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and it asks for video broadcast to be blocked.

A similar motion was filed before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco January 8th.  It was quickly denied by a three judge panel.

The US Supreme court has given plaintiffs in the case till noon Eastern Time Sunday, January 10th to file a response.

Chad Griffin, President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, said they will respond to the motion.

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Prop 8 Postponement Denied, Trial To Be Broadcast Live To Courthouses Across The Country

(SAN FRANCISCO) The motion by supporters of Proposition 8 to postpone the broadcast of the federal lawsuit to overturn the public referendum has been denied by the 9th Circuit Court US Dist Courtof Appeals.

A brief decision issued Friday evening by Justices Bary Silverman, Richard Paez, and Carlos Bea turned down the motion, “Petitioners have not demonstrated that this case warrants the intervention of this court by means of the extraordinary remedy of mandamus.”

In a separate announcement by the US District Court Of Northern California, the Proposition 8 trial will be broadcast live via closed circuit video feed to five other locations.

The live feed will be linked to a room at the US Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon, the Federal Courthouse in Seattle, Washington, the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, the Federal Courthouse in Pasadena, California and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California.

According to the statement, more locations could be announced.

This is the first federal trial to allow cameras in the courtroom.  It’s part of a pilot program that was first proposed in 1990.

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Motion Filed By Supporters Of Prop 8 To Postpone Broadcasting Federal Trial

US Dist Court(SAN FRANCISCO) A motion has been filed with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to postpone televising the Proposition 8 Federal Trial before US District Judge Vaughn Walker.

In two motions filed by supporters of Prop 8, attorneys asked Judge Walker to delay his order to upload the entire proceedings to YouTube.  Prop 8 supporters say they want the delay until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reviews Walker’s decision.

The emergency petition was filed with the 9th Circuit Court and US District Court.   The 9th Circuit gave the plaintiffs in the case till 3pm Friday to file their response.

Yusef Robb, a spokesman with the American Foundation for Equal Rights, said they filed their response just before the 3pm deadline.

“We think the American People should be able to see this court in action as it weighs this important case,” Robb said in a brief phone conversation.

Theodore Olson, one of the lead attorneys in the Federal lawsuit to overturn Proposition 8, said following a recent hearing he believes this case is a perfect opportunity for the public to watch as constitutional issues are being decided.

Supporters of Prop 8 have opposed this trial being the pilot for the US Federal courts to televise trials in their entirety.  They argued during a January 6th hearing that televising this trial would imperil their clients and expose their witnesses to public intimidation.

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Proposition 8 Case In San Francisco Poised To Be First Televised Federal Trial

(SAN FRANCISCO) During a pretrial hearing in the federal lawsuit to overturn Proposition 8, Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker told attorneys he supported recording the full trial and uploading it to YouTube for the public to see.Prop 8 Pretrial

Judge Walker said he would talk with 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski before making a final decision.

Judge Walker did approve a live feed going to an overflow courtroom in the US District courthouse in San Francisco, as well as a room at the 9th Circuit Court Building at 7th and Mission in San Francisco.

The live feed would also be sent to the Federal Courthouse in Pasadena, California, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

A request has also been made for the feed to be sent to a Federal Courthouse in Chicago.

During the hearing attorney Michael Kirk, council for supporters of Proposition 8, objected to the trial being televised.

He said such a broadcast would imperil his clients and would subject his witnesses to intimidation.

Judge Walker said those concerns are usually the case in criminal trials, not civil trials.

Walker also asked Kirk about the list of witnesses, wondering if they are likely used to speaking in public, “aren’t these folks mostly academics and different than witnesses in a criminal trial?”

Ted Butros an attorney for the plaintiffs, responded to the objection by pointing out that his opponent’s witnesses have already posted several YouTube videos of themselves stating why they do not support same sex marriage.

Following the hearing Michael Kirk and Jesse Panuccio, attorneys for supporters of Proposition 8 were asked several times if they would like to talk about the importance of this case and their objections.  Both said they had no comment.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, Theodore Olson and Ted Butros did answer several questions about the case.

“This is a great step for the American People and everyone affected by Proposition 8 have the opportunity to see the justice system work,” Ted Olson said.

Olson has a long record of championing conservative causes and cases.  His most notable action was before the US Supreme Court during the election of 2000.  His successful arguments helped put George W Bush in office.

In this case he is working with David Boise, his opponent in the Bush V. Gore case.

The Proposition 8 trial is scheduled to begin January 11th at 9 AM Pacific time.   The trial is expected to stretch for a few weeks.

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SF Gay Men’s Chorus Announces Tour Through Conservative California Central Valley

(SAN FRANCISCO)  The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has announced plans to take its music to some of California’s more conservative cities.San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus

“We were actually thinking about going on a tour to Europe,” said Chorus conductor Dr. Kathleen McGuire, “and someone said we need to eat our vegetables before we have our dessert, we really need to work on what needs to be done here in the United States before we go galavanting off to Europe.”

January destinations include cities that do not include much of a gay community.  Michael Tate is a second tenor singer in the SF Gay Men’s Chorus and the president of the board.  He said their tour through cities including Chico, Redding, Tracy, Fresno and Bakersfield is part of the chorus’ ambassadorial mission.

“With so much going on with politics and same-sex marriage I think that we just wanted to be another voice for equality and pride,”Tate said during pre-show rehearsals, “not taking a political stand but just letting people know there are people here making a difference throughout California.”

Tate said the tradition of the Gay Men’s Chorus allows different communities to see a strong image of the LGBT community.

“There are people in the chorus who have been parents, grandparents, bankers, lawyers, so we cover the gambit,” Tate said, “I think just us appearing at different venues and being the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and having that in our name is very significant.  We come in our tuxedos, our sweatshirts, we’re proud, our heads aren’t hung down, and I think it makes a big impact just that we’re there and happy to be there.”

During the holiday season, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus played to sold out crowds.  Many of the shows regularly include a diverse audience.  In the city, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus has become an institution.

The new tour will mark the 32nd year of the chorus’ existence.  It is the first gay identified chorus in the world, and remains one of the biggest with almost 250 singers.

The chorus’s history has seen it through some of the LGBT community’s darkest moments.

Within weeks of their first rehearsal in 1978, the chorus was called on for one of their most powerful performances ever.  They sang for a shaken group of mourners in front of San Francisco City Hall following the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Through the 80’s, the chorus toured the United States.  In their wake several other Gay Men’s Chorus’ were established.

While not on tour the chorus also helped San Francisco survive through the AIDS epidemic with countless performances at memorials and fund raisers.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a holiday program called, “Home For The Holidays.”  According to Dr. McGruire the program is integral to the LGBT communities celebrations of the season.

“Being able to perform these concerts for the holiday season really means a lot for our members and for the community,” Dr. McGuire said, “because it’s a time when a lot of people are reminded that they’re not welcomed with their families.”

The 2010 tour through California’s Central Valley will pull the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus out of what’s sometimes called the Bay Area Bubble.  Their tour will take them through cities that have a tiny, or very closed gay community.  And just like every other performance, the leaders of the chorus say they plan to put on a great show for anyone who loves good music.

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Commentator Jeff Johnson Calls Out Black Religious Leaders In Houston For Their Role In Mayor’s Race

During the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show on Wednesday, regular contributor Jeff Johnson dedicated his rapid fire commentary to the Houston mayoral election and homophobia within the African American community.

He specifically called out a group of African American Pastors for their role in trying to derail the election of Annise Parker, Houston’s first openly homosexual mayor elect.

Johnson pointed out the Houston election was pretty typical with each candidate spending much of the race attacking each other on their records.  Parker’s sexual orientation didn’t become an issue until the final stages of the race.

“The gloves came off when a group of Black Pastors spoke out against Parker for what they called her ‘Gay Agenda’,” Johnson said in his commentary.

During his six minute address, Johnson further questioned the alliances that were built between Black Clergy and conservative white activists.

“What’s interesting to me is that many of the most vocal critics of Parker from the African American community were willing to unite with political conservatives that in many cases they wouldn’t even want to sit down at dinner with,” Johnson said,”they created the alliance based solely on this woman’s (Parker’s) sexual orientation.”

Johnson congratulated Houston voters, liberal and conservative, for casting their ballots based solely on the issues in the race.  He also called Parker’s campaign “Obama like” for trying to address the concerns of all Houston citizens.

As he wrapped up the commentary he broadened the dialogue to address the homophobia he sees in the larger African American Community.

“There was little need to attack a gay agenda that she (Parker) never said she was trying to address.  What this speaks to for me is the fact that we as a Black Community still have not been willing to have an honest conversation about the fact that we’re homophobic.”

You can hear Johnson’s full commentary here.

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Speedo Santas Storm San Francisco

Speedo Santas 4About twenty runners sporting only Speedos, running shoes, and Santa Hats sent people scrambling for their cameras in the Castro.

The “Speedo Santa” fun run was an event organized by Tyler Cole and Team SF.

“There’s a lot of fun runs like this around the country and I thought well if you’re going to have a Speedo run any where in the country we should do it here in San Francisco,” Cole said.

Runners collected pledges which benefited the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

“I’m still asking myself why I’m doing this,” runner James Loduca said, “I work for the San Francisco AIDS foundation so it seemed like the thing to do.”

The Lookout bar on Market Street also donated some liquor sales for the day to Team SF.

Cole said they will use that money to help send athletes to the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Germany.

“It’s just about getting athletes to participate in the Gay Games,” Cole said, “It’s been one of my passions my whole life to get people involved in Gay and Lesbian sports.”

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Annise Parker Wins Houston Mayoral Runoff

The voters of Houston have elected their first openly lesbian mayor, making Annise Parker the chief executive of the fourth largest city in the United States.Annise Portrait 2

During her acceptance speech to a packed room of supporters he acknowledged the historic significance of her win.

“This election has changed the world for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered community.”

As polls closed at 7pm local Houston time, Parker maintained a slim lead over her runoff opponent Gene Locke.

With all precincts reporting, Parker won the close race taking 53% to Locke’s 46%.

The two Democratic candidates in this non-partisan race differed only slightly on the issues, so their campaigns tried to draw contrasts through their experience.

Parker touted her current role as City Controller as her qualifications for running an efficient city hall.

Locke highlighted his former role as City Attorney and ran as a champion of public safety.

Gene Locke Concedes Houston Mayor's Race

Gene Locke Concedes Houston Mayor's Race

But as the election wound into it’s final days, Parker became the target of conservative attacks on her sexuality.

Anti-gay activists like Steve Hotze blanketed Houston with fliers calling on voters to reject Parker because she was a lesbian.

Hotze’s endorsement of Locke, a long time civil rights crusader, forced Locke into an uncomfortable political situation.

Locke took another hit when it was revealed just days before the election that two key members of his campaign donated $20,000 each to Hotze’s anti-Parker efforts.

During his concession speech Gene Locke congratulated Annise Parker on her win.

“I want to thank Annise Parker, she ran a wonderful race, I am proud that she is now the winner, I congratulate her,” Locke said.

Parker acknowledged Locke’s hard work in the race during her victory speech.

“Public service is a noble calling and I know how much he loves this city, and I know how hard he worked to win this race,” she said about Locke.

Parker With Life Partner Kathy Hubbard

Parker With Life Partner Kathy Hubbard

Parker has been open about her sexuality, and it continued through her victory speech.  As she thanked her supporters she turned to her partner and two children.

“I want to introduce the people who are closest to me who have been going through this campaign with me, but also who will be with me as I take the reigns of the city of Houston, first, the person who has shared my life for the last 19 years Kathy Hubbard.”

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International Human Rights Day Brings Several Developments With Ugandan “Kill The Gays” Bill

[youtube][/youtube]Uganda Protest, London

(LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO) Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Ugandan Embassy in London to call for a repeal of the country’s anti-homosexuality legislation.

The lively protest included about 50 people.

Event organizer Peter Tatchell, a gay rights activist, was joined by other activists from Uganda , Zimbabwe and South Africa .

“At this particular moment our thoughts, our hearts and our solidarity are with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender Ugandans who are under attack via the anti-homosexuality bill,” Tachell said during the rally.

The protest in front of the Ugandan Embassy coincided with International Human Rights Day.

It also came several hours after two provisions of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill were reportedly dropped.

According to Bloomberg News, a maximum punishment of the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” as well as a life sentence for those convicted of “homosexuality” are no longer being considered by members of parliament.

There is no word if other provisions of the controversial bill have been dropped, including punishment for people who fail to report homosexuals to the government or penalties for individuals or organizations convicted of “promoting homosexuality”.

During the demonstration in London , Tatchell said anti-homosexuality laws currently on the books in Uganda are already severe, and are a hold over of British Colonialism.

“For Uganda to uphold and maintain laws that were imposed by colonialism goes against the whole principal of a sovereign independent nation.  And we know that one of the reasons by the British imposed these laws was part of a regime to control and suppress the Ugandan people and to destroy Ugandan culture.”

A couple dozen people held a similar demonstration in San Francisco , and included words of support from Mayor Gavin Newsome.

California Pastor Rick Warren also released a statement on the proposed Ugandan anti-homosexuality law.  Over the last few weeks he has drawn considerable criticism for influence with Ugandan ministries and politics.  Several reports have linked Warren and members of his ministry “ Saddleback Church ” to legislators in Uganda who drafted and supported the anti-homosexuality bill.

In a video statement to Ugandan churches, Pastor Warren denounced the proposed legislation.

“The potential law before your parliament is unjust, it’s extreme and it’s un-Christian toward homosexuals,” Warren said in the statement.

He also took issue with reports that have linked him to the Ugandan bill and its supporters.

“As a pastor, I found that the most effective way to build consensus for social change is usually through direct, quiet diplomacy and behind the scenes dialogue, rather than through the media.  But because I didn’t rush to make a public statement, some erroneously concluded that I supported this terrible bill.”

During an appearance on NBC’s meet the press November 29th, Warren did not speak out against the proposed bill.  Instead the said it was not his role as a US minister to take sides on issues in other countries.

Guy Torrey contributed this story from London.

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BERRY ON APPEALS COURT ORDER: “I Have A Partner Who Would Love To Have The Health Insurance Program Too.”


(SAN FRANCISCO) As the keynote speaker at a luncheon during the 2009 International Gay and Lesbian Leadership Conference, Office of Personnel Management Head John Berry responded to an audience question about prickly issues raised by an order from Federal Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski.OPM Dir. John Berry

Judge Kozinski is the Chief of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  He has written an order demanding the Obama Administration cease actions to block his instructions to grant full federal insurance benefits to the wife of Karen Golinski.

Golinski is an attorney and employee of the 9th Circuit.  She legally married her wife under California State law before Proposition 8.

“The lawyers are fighting out what I can do and they’re going to tell me what I can do.  If the Justice Department and everybody tells me I can pay it I’m happy to pay it, if I can’t I can’t,” John Berry told the audience of more than 100 openly gay local, state and federal elected and appointed officials at the conference in San Francisco.

Judge Kozinski’s order has put Berry in a tough position.  As the highest ranking, openly gay appointee to the Obama Administration, he is in the position of denying or granting benefits to another openly gay member of the federal government.

Berry expanded in his response by explaining the Judge’s order as very narrow.  He addressed Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D) Wisconsin who was in the audience at the conference, as well as Berry ’s chief legal Council Elaine Kaplan.

“I have a partner who would love to have the health insurance program, Tammy has a partner, Elaine has a partner and two kids.   The judge’s order wouldn’t affect any of the three of us.  So trust me, we have a personal interest in this,” Berry told the audience, “we want to see this legislation passed, it will benefit all Federal employees.”

Congresswoman Baldwin is a co-sponsor of the current version of the Employment Non Discrimination Act.   During the luncheon Rep Baldwin said she is confident the bill she introduced along with Rep. Barney Frank, will successfully pass in the House of Representatives by March of 2010.

If ENDA successfully makes it through both houses of Congress, Berry said President Barak Obama will sign it into law.  He pointed out it’s a guarantee that was not available during the Bush administration.

The current version of ENDA would include Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered people as a protected group against discrimination in the workplace.  Earlier versions of ENDA have concerns within the LGBT community because they did not include Trangendered people, or protections for Trangengered people were stripped from the bill in hopes of it’s passage.

There continues to be frustration within the LGBT community surrounding ENDA because of delays in the bill’s passage.

A coalition of more than 20 groups including the ACLU, GLAAD, Equality Federation, PFLAG, and others has issued a joint call for prompt passage of ENDA.

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