Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lgbtq and undocumented - I learn something new today

To tell the truth, I never gave the subject of immigration much thought. I've thought of immigrants - particularly undocumented immigrants - as yet another set of pawns for those well-to-do folks in pressed suits and photogenic faces seeking public office.

But I never devoted any time or energy to the subject, not to mention to the plight of lgbtq undocumented immigrants.

That is until today. There was an awesome panel discussion this afternoon during LGBT Netroots Connect featuring four lgbtq undocumented immigrants.

Four very intelligent, highly talented individuals whose only drawback was the fact that this country's piss poor immigration policy made it difficult for them to excel and take full advantage of what this country has to offer.

Some of their stories sadden me almost to the point of tears - such the story of the young lady who contemplated killing herself at the time she was supposed to graduate from high school because she was unable to go to college because of her undocumented status.

Or that of the young man who wanted his father to see him graduate but was unable to get that dream fulfilled because his father was jailed for driving without a license - being undocumented, he couldn't receive one.

As an lgbt of color, I could relate to these individual in a way. It's not easy being a member of two minorities, to have your identity and worth doubly questioned, and to be caught in the middle when the entities engage in a tug of war over position and relevancy.

That panel discussion definitely gave me perspective and emphasizes the perception I've always had regarding the lgbtq struggle for equality.

It is a mult-faceted, multi-ethnic, multi-national struggle. While lgbtqs fight for equality in New York or California, we should never forget those who, while not the recipient of as much attention, struggle with as much dignity and vigor as those who do get face time.

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TMZ embarrasses NOM and David Tyree

On its blog, NOM is trumpeting the interview it conducted with Superbowl hero and former New York Giant David Tyree regarding his disagreement with marriage equality

NOM makes it a point to brag that the interview had been picked up by other media outlets including Politico and TMZ.

The only thing is that TMZ burns Tyree hard, by just letting him talk and demonstrating that the brother is simply clueless:

Ex-NY Giants receiver David Tyree -- who made the LEGENDARY helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII -- is coming out against gay marriage HARD ... claiming it's the first step on the road to "ANARCHY."
 . . . During the interview, Tyree is asked about the push to legalize gay marriage in the United States -- and says if it happens, "This will be the beginning of our country sliding toward ... it's a strong word, but anarchy."

To reinforce his point, Tyree says, "You can't teach something that you don't have ... so two men will never be able to show a woman how to be a woman."

And the kicker, Tyree -- who's black -- says, "How can marriage be marriage for thousands of years and now all the sudden because a minority, an influential minority, has a push or agenda ... and totally reshapes something that was not founded in our country."

FYI -- Tyree's statement comes almost 44 years to the day after interracial marriage was legalized in the United States ... thanks, in part, to the agenda of an influential minority.

I love TMZ.

Dear David, an old saying goes like "it's better to be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Take the hint.

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Stopping NOM's racial games before they start

According to Jeremy Hooper, former NY Giant football player David Tyree (he caught the infamous football to helmet pass during the Superbowl game where the Giants defeated the New England Patriots) is NOM's new "we gotta protect marriage from those gay people" spokesman.

If you want to see the interview, go to Jeremy's site. I refuse to put at mess on this site.

I just wanted to say that I find it sad that NOM, which to my knowledge has no African-Americans employed in the organization, continues to play this "let's pit blacks and gays against each other" game.

They exploited the black church in Maryland, they first utilized Ruben Diaz and then the black churches in New York.

And now Tyree.

You know what's going to happen next, don't you?

NOM will most likely claim that Tyree has been the victim of racial emails and comments - all of which will be ugly, nasty, and coming in just as New York is voting on marriage equality.

How convenient.

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My first impression of Netroots Nation - a love letter

Today reminds me of the song "Here We Are," simply because it's apropo to not only where the lgbt community is but where I am as an activist.

I presently sit in my first (but not my last) Netroots Nation lgbt conference and I am overwhelmed by the ideas and talent of my fellow conference mates. I have been in session for only a few hours and I don't know what I've enjoyed more - finally meeting bloggers whom I have admired from afar for a long time (Pam Spaulding, Jeremy Hooper, Joe Jervis, Zack Ford, Mike Rogers, Rod McCollum), or being exposed to all of this enthusiasm emanating from these amazing people

One thing that shines out for me is the fact that I am a long way from being that college student who ran from the library in tears in 1991 after being bombarded with information that as a gay man, I was a threat to children, morality and values.

At 40, I move a bit slower, am a little less patient, but have a lot more maturity. And I as I soak up all of the wonderful joy and power of fellow lgbt activists and bloggers, I wonder what personal stories led them to this point.

Perhaps they are as painful as mine. Or maybe not. Whatever the case is, I am glad and blessed to be here amongst them

I came to Netroots Nation with definite goals in mind - I wanted to interact with my fellow bloggers, get some new ideas of what direction I need to take with my blog, and expose myself to the different issues many of us deal with as lgbts and allies.

Believe it or not, I actually achieved a portion of these goals in an exhilarating morning session where we talked about the problems facing our community and how we can overcome these problems.

I even got a chance to stand up and publicly talk about religious right distortions  and was actually listened to.  I heard small gasps when I introduced myself.

It gave me a feeling of vindication that the four and half years I devoted to my blog - the sacrifices and choices I made in working on my blog - were all worthwhile.

Best of all, while I was shaking like a leaf while talking, I managed to control my water (bad joke, sorry).

I know I am rambling but it's a good ramble. It's a ramble which comes from the state of euphoria when one discovers one's worth for the first time and is given a good indication that one's actions have changed the world for the better, even if a little bit.

If this is what the morning brings, I can't wait until the afternoon.

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New York wrapping up votes for marriage equality and other Wednesday midday news briefs

Am having a blast at the lgbt portion of Netroots Nation. My first post will be coming soon. Meanwhile, enjoy these news briefs.

NY marriage bill on the move; NY Pride marchers brainstorming new rhyming demands - Good for them!

NY Senator Ball Details Further Exemptions He'd Like to See in Marriage Equality Bill - Someone is stretching the issue but it's this close to victory for lgbts in New York. Meanwhile, NOM is freaking out.

Disabled Gay Couple Kicked Out Of Kentucky Pool - And just to answer your question, this couple wasn't doing a thing to warrant such disrespect.

Education Department Sends Schools Guidance on Gay-Straight Alliance Groups
- Good for the Dept. of Education!

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NOM trying to sidestep Minnesota disclosure laws

We can now add Minnesota to the list of states where the National Organization for Marriage is trying to fight disclosure laws in order to keep its funders secret.

According to the Minnesota Independent:

The groups behind a ballot measure that would put a ban on same-sex marriage in the Minnesota Constitution urged the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board on Tuesday to retain a rule that would allow corporations to make unlimited contributions in support of the ballot measure. The Minnesota Family Council (MFC) testified that it shouldn’t have to disclose any of its donors in the campaign to pass the amendment, while Minnesota for Marriage, of which MFC and the National Organization for Marriage are a part, brought in attorneys from the Citizens United Supreme Court case to argue that political spending by corporations on the amendment push should be shielded from disclosure laws.

. . . Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, argued that there should be no disclosure at all because donors to his campaign might be physically attacked by people who oppose the anti–gay rights amendment.

“To require groups, non profits like the Minnesota Family Council, to disclose their donors and make their donors names public would have a significant chilling effect on free speech. Even in Minnesota already it’s gotten heated in some respects,” he said. “The concern is harassment, property damage, a chilling effect. If I know I have to disclose my name, I’m not going to get involved with the Minnesota Family Council.”

. . .But the majority of the testifiers supported the board in changing its opinion on corporate disclosure.

Mike Dean of Common Cause Minnesota said, “Minnesota has a long history of supporting disclosure.”

. . .Matt Butler of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group testified that his group supports full disclosure of corporate ballot measure expenditures.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said, “Public disclosure is essential in a democracy,” and testified about some of the legislative initiatives that support disclosure for corporations.

The article went on to say that the board will take up the issue on June 30. This idea that NOM's donors should be made secret is bogus. And it's a part of a disturbing pattern:

  • NOM goes to a state to fight against marriage equality.
  • Their efforts are successful because of their mysterious finances.
  • They leave the community in shambles with neighbors angry at neighbors over their positions.
  • Lastly, questions are raised regarding NOM's questionable tactics regarding mostly finances.

According to the, NOM has fought to keep its donors secret in several places, including:


NOM remains under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for failing to register with the state as a ballot question committee and refusing to disclose the donors to its campaign to overturn Maine’s marriage equality law in 2009.

NOM provided more than $1.8 million of the $3 million spent by opponents of marriage equality to pass Question 1 – but it illegally failed to disclose where the money came from. Public disclosure laws create transparency by informing voters who is behind a campaign effort. Maine’s law does this by requiring that any funds raised to support or oppose a ballot question be made public.

NOM flouted this law, first by soliciting funds from donors to overturn marriage equality in Maine, and then by refusing to disclose the contributions. As a result, NOM deliberately hid from the public almost two-thirds of the total money the Yes on 1 campaign spent to run its deceptive campaign to overturn marriage equality.

Based on an initial complaint filed by Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, the Maine Ethics Commission launched a formal investigation into NOM’s fundraising tactics in late 2009. NOM has refused to cooperate with the state inquiry each step of the way, stonewalling requests to turn over documents to the Ethics Commission. The Commission’s executive director defended the inquiry in February 2010: “NOM donated almost $2 million in support of the referendum. The Commission needs to understand how NOM solicited the funds in order to determine whether campaign finance reporting was required.” In June 2010, the Ethics Commission unanimously denied NOM’s latest request to dismiss the state investigation into the organization’s finances.

Rhodes Island:
In September 2010, NOM filed suit in Rhode Island seeking to spend thousands of dollars on TV and radio ads for and against gubernatorial and General Assembly candidates – all free from the state’s reporting requirements. NOM is framing the issue as a matter of free speech. In its court filing, NOM says it intends to “engage in multiple forms of speech in Rhode Island” in advance of the November 2 elections, “including radio ads, television ads, direct mail and publicly accessible Internet postings.”

. . . Shortly after NOM filed the suit, a federal judge gave the organization one week to refile – calling the lawsuit “disorganized, vague and poorly constructed.” According to the Boston Globe, the judge said the relevant allegations were “buried” in the lawsuit.

In January 2009, NOM and ProtectMarriage sued the California Secretary of State in federal court to avoid disclosing Prop. 8 donors. California law requires campaign committees to report information for any contributors of $100 or more, which is then made publicly available. Donor disclosure is uniformly required across the country for federal, state and local campaigns and is widely accepted as a vital means to ensure that elections are conducted transparently and fairly.

Rather than follow the decades-old California Public Records Act, NOM suggested that it was entitled to a blanket exemption. NOM falsely claimed that its contributors had been subject to threats, reprisals and harassment. Serious scrutiny of these claims has revealed only isolated incidents, questionable reports and, more often than not, legitimate acts of public criticism typical of any hard-fought campaign.

In Iowa, NOM’s pattern of evading campaign laws prompted a strong written warning from the state ethics agency.

NOM spent a staggering $86,000 in 2009 in a single legislative special election, part of its effort to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would reverse the state Supreme Court’s unanimous decision recognizing marriage equality. NOM asked its supporters to contribute to the Iowa campaign in a nationwide email by saying that “…best of all, NOM has the ability to protect donor identities.”

The email and subsequent complaints prompted a letter from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Finance Board stating that state law requires disclosure of political contributions solicited for the Iowa campaign. The board’s director and counsel wrote to NOM that he wished to “avoid potential problems in light of questions the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board has received concerning a solicitation statement made by your organization” and warned that the “independent expenditure process in Iowa is not a vehicle to shield political contributors.”

Washington State:
In Washington State, NOM and its allies waged a coordinated legal battle to hide the names of those who signed the petition to qualify Referendum 71, and those who donated to the campaign to eliminate Washington’s domestic partnership benefits. In doing so, NOM lawyers attempted to dismantle the nation’s public disclosure system as it currently exists until the U.S. Supreme Court rejected their claims.

On the same day that NOM’s lawyers sued to overturn Maine’s campaign finance laws, a mysterious group called “Family PAC,” represented by the same lawyers, sought to circumvent Washington’s campaign contribution limits and keep secret the names of donors to the campaign. The lawyers cited false claims of harassment directed at supporters of Prop. 8 in California as justification for hiding their donors.

The judge rejected the NOM lawyers’ claims, stating that, “The State has a real and vital interest in showing the money trail… I do not believe it is in the public interest for the court to intervene and change the rules of the game at the last minute.”

Why does NOM put up such a nasty fight in keeping this information from being disclosed? If NOM professes to be an organization devoted to truth and morality, then there simply can be no secrecy because secrecy gives an impression of wrongdoing.

I'm just saying . . .

Related post:

Is the Catholic Church overstepping its bounds in marriage equality fight?

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