Advocate.com – NOM PITS BLACKS AND LATINOS AGAINST GAYS TO PREVENT MARRIAGE EQUALITY

NOM PITS BLACKS AND LATINOS AGAINST GAYS TO PREVENT MARRIAGE EQUALITY
BY: RICK ANDREOLI
3.27.2012
The Advocate’s Andrew Harmon reports that a newly released December 2009 internal document from the National Organization for Marriage lays out how the organization planned to drive a wedge between LGBT Americans and both the African-American and Latino communities, as well as energize clergy, all in an effort to stop gay marriage.

“The document, available here via the Human Rights Campaign, lays out a framework for casting the marriage equality movement as a serious threat to American religious freedom — a common motif in the Republican presidential primary race,” Harmon writes. “Of particular note, NOM details its ‘culture strategies’ project to generate support among the Latino and African-American communities.”

Excerpts from the document include:

•Gay marriage is the tip of the spear, the weapon that will be and is being used to marginalize and repress Christianity and the Church.

•The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity — a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.

•We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right.

The NOM document also outlined rallying Catholic clergy to their cause, as well as “three unnamed donors at the $1 million level, and 66 total donors who gave more than $5,000 for its ‘$20 Million Strategy for Victory.'”

Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said in a statement, “Nothing beats hearing from the horse’s mouth exactly how callous and extremist this group really is. Such brutal honesty is a game changer, and this time NOM can’t spin and twist its way out of creating an imagined rift between LGBT people and African Americans or Hispanics.”

Get the full story on the document and how it relates to current marriage equality efforts around the country on Advocate.com.

Queerty – Newlyweds! Gay Lovers for over 60 Years Die Within Two Weeks of One Another.

JUST MARRIED
Gay Partners Of Over 60 Years Die Within Two Weeks Of One Another
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It’s a classic New York City love story: a ballet dancer meets an actor/photographer, they fall in love, and move in together. But in this case, it was nearly sixty years later till they could get legally married, because they were gay men.
The dancer was Shaun O’Brien, who died on February 23 in Saratoga Springs, NY. The photog was Cris Alexander, O’Brien’s partner and husband who died March 7, just two weeks later.
Writes the New York Times:
When same-sex marriage became legal in New York last year, [Cris Alexander] married Shaun O’Brien, the celebrated character dancer with the New York City Ballet. They had been together for more than 60 years and died less than two weeks apart…
“If there is a cause of death, it’s a broken heart,” his friend Jane Klain said in confirming Mr. Alexander’s death. “It’s as simple as that.”
While their deaths are certainly tragic, reading their obituaries shows they lived very full lives. And it seems that they had an ample share of their golden years together, both having retired in the 90′s to a Victorian mansion in beautiful Saratoga Springs.

Full story here: http://www.queerty.com/gay-partners-of-over-60-years-die-within-two-weeks-of-one-another-20120326/#ixzz1qGRp0vLX

Clevland.com – Largest Illegal Mass Wedding Ever Held

Gay and lesbian couples celebrate at mass ‘wedding’ at Cleveland’s Galleria
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2012, 7:01 PM Updated: Sunday, March 25, 2012, 1:33 AM
By Michael Sangiacomo, The Plain Dealer

Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer
Abby Kendall, left, and Jessica Fawley, in a polka dot dress, celebrate with hundreds of other gay and lesbian couples who participated in a mass “wedding” at the Galleria.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Couples in traditional wedding attire – including some women in tuxedos – gathered in the Galleria Saturday.
More than 200 gay and lesbian couples from across the state participated in what they called the “largest illegal mass wedding ever held.”
While some were dressed in more casual attire they all had the same intention: to send a message to the state of Ohio to recognize same-sex marriage.
Sierra Chapman, 25 and Sandy Thomas, 48, both of Cleveland, recreated a private service held three years ago.
“We wanted to do this in a joint ceremony with people who are like us,” said Chapman. “My parents are okay with it, but they didn’t want to come to watch.”
Hundreds of friends and relatives of the brides and grooms joined the celebration as eight priests and ministers recited marriage vows to couples of all ages.
The afternoon ceremony followed more than an hour of speeches by activists on the steps of Cleveland City Hall, where a gay pride flag flew under the American flag.
One speaker, Judy Benson of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, said the move for marital rights is not just cosmetic or symbolic.

View full sizeJoshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer
An excited couple enters into the area at the Galleria where they will be married in a mass gay wedding Saturday in Cleveland.
“Old gay couples have problems because the state will not sanction their marriage like inheritances or social security benefits,” she said. “These are things that are freely given to male-female couples.”
Mark Szabo, 31, of Rocky River, later said such rights are denied same sex couples who have been together for decades, yet would be offered to someone like “Britney Spears who was married for 55 minutes.”
Dr. Rick Starn, 66, and Ron Grey, 56, of Lakewood, said they have been together for 35 years and were married officially in Massachusetts and married informally twice in Washington, D.C.
They exchanged vows again in Cleveland to prove a point.
“There are over a thousand benefits available to married couples by the federal government that are denied to same sex couples,” Starn said.
Promoters pointed out that even though Saturday’s ceremony is not legal, it could provide some of the paperwork needed for obtaining a marriage license, if gay marriage is ever recognized in Ohio. it will provide some of the paperwork needed for obtaining a marriage license should gay marriage ever be recognized in Ohio.
Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia. New Jersey lawmakers recently passed a gay marriage bill, but the governor vetoed it.
Ed Mullen, executive director of Equality Ohio, said Saturday’s mass marriage may be the biggest ever held.
In a news release, he said the rally and similar public events, such as the 2014 Gay Games in Northeast Ohio, could change attitudes about the gay community.
Additional information about the marriage rally can be found at Support Gay Marriage in Ohio Facebook page, or by calling (513) 367-0223.

NY Times – Evolving Donor Network in Gay Marriage Drive

Gay Marriage Effort Attracts a Novel Group of Donors
By ADAM NAGOURNEY and BROOKS BARNES
Published: March 23, 2012

LOS ANGELES — On a warm Friday afternoon three years ago, Rob Reiner, the director, arrived for lunch at the Beverly Hills estate of David Geffen, the entertainment mogul. Mr. Reiner and his political adviser, Chad H. Griffin, had spent six months drafting an ambitious legal campaign aimed at persuading the United States Supreme Court to establish a constitutional right of same-sex marriage.
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Chad Batka for The New York Times
David Geffen, at his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He gave $1.5 million to back same-sex marriage efforts.
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Times Topics: Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships | California’s Proposition 8 (Same-Sex Marriage)

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Mr. Reiner, joined by Mr. Griffin and Mr. Reiner’s wife, Michele, told Mr. Geffen they would need $3 million to challenge Proposition 8, a California voter initiative approved the previous November banning same-sex marriage. He informed Mr. Geffen that they had recruited two renowned lawyers, David Boies, a Democrat, and Theodore B. Olson, a Republican, to argue the case.

“Our feeling is not to go state by state,” Mr. Reiner said. “Our strategy is to make this wind up in the United States Supreme Court and have this a settled issue for all time.”

Mr. Geffen asked few questions as they sat in the dining room off his screening room, with a sweeping view down his sculptured estate. He agreed before the dessert arrived to raise the money. “I said I’d give them half the money and raise the other half,” Mr. Geffen recalled. Mr. Geffen wrote a check for $1.5 million and asked Steve Bing, a friend and producer, to make up the rest.

That lunch was a milestone in the dramatic evolution of a behind-the-scenes fund-raising network whose goal is to legalize same-sex marriage from coast to coast. This emerging group of donors is not quite like any other fund-raising network that has supported gay-related issues over the past 40 years. They come from Hollywood, yes, but also from Wall Street and Washington and the corporate world; there are Republicans as well as Democrats; and perhaps most strikingly, longtime gay organizers said, there has been an influx of contributions from straight donors unlike anything they have seen before.

Mr. Griffin, who this month was named president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay advocacy group, recalled being at a September 2010 fund-raiser for the Proposition 8 legal fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, organized by, among others, Wall Street financiers and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

“I knew literally no one in the room,” said Mr. Griffin, whose fund-raising activities on behalf of the Obama campaign helped earn him a seat at President Obama’s table at the state dinner at the White House last week. “It was a very bizarre moment for me. It was really a turning point.”

Money does not always translate into political success, of course. While the network has bankrolled the legal case that led two courts to throw out Proposition 8 and also helped power a same-sex marriage bill to law in New York State, tough battles may lie ahead with marriage initiatives on five state ballots this year: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Washington.

And opponents say that while they might be outmatched financially — the National Organization for Marriage said it had an annual budget of about $20 million, and estimates that the combined money being spent in support of same-sex marriage is many times that — they have a more saleable message. Brian S. Brown, the president of the organization, said voters had opposed same-sex marriage in the 30 times the question has been on a ballot since 2000.

“We know what we have to do to win,” he said. “We have shown we did not need to match them dollar for dollar. I would love to. But we’ve won without doing that.”

The seed money collected at the Geffen home — part of millions of dollars that have flown into campaigns to finance court battles, initiative efforts and the campaigns of sympathetic state lawmakers — was an early indicator of the changing donor network. Mr. Geffen is gay; Mr. Bing is straight. Mr. Bing is known as a big contributor to political causes, but associates said this was only the second time he had ever made a major contribution to a gay-related cause.

The Republican support for the effort largely began after Mr. Olson, a solicitor general under President George W. Bush, lent it his name. It accelerated with the fund-raising role of Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and of Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign, who announced he is gay 18 months ago and has since helped raise close to $3 million by fishing in waters where gay organizers had rarely gone before.

As surprising — and encouraging — to organizers of the movement are the Wall Street names added to their roster. Prominent among them is Paul Singer, a hedge fund manager who is straight and chairman of the conservative Manhattan Institute. He has donated more than $8 million to various same-sex marriage efforts, in states including California, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Oregon, much of it since 2007.

“It’s become something that gradually people like myself weren’t afraid to fund, weren’t afraid to speak out on,” Mr. Singer said in an interview. “I’m somebody who is philosophically very conservative, and on this issue I thought that this really was important on the basis of liberty and actual family stability.”

The New York fund-raiser was sponsored by Mr. Singer and Mr. Mehlman, among others, and drew a crowd that included Henry R. Kravis, a private equity investor; Daniel S. Loeb, a hedge fund manager; Lewis M. Eisenberg, a former finance chairman for the Republican National Committee; and Steve Schmidt, who managed the 2008 presidential campaign of Senator John McCain.

“I try to look for places where there is both a financial and political angle,” Mr. Mehlman said. “So the fact that we were able to get prominent Republicans and businesspeople, some of whom were involved before but others who are new, helped in the effort both financially and politically.”

This is on top of a network of wealthy gay men and women who have a history of giving money to philanthropic causes and in recent years have shifted much of their effort to same-sex marriage.

Tim Gill, a billionaire software developer from Colorado, who is gay, has assembled a network that has been likened to a gay version of Emily’s List, which supports female candidates. Mr. Gill’s foundations have distributed over $235 million to gay-related causes, with much going to promote same-sex marriage, his advisers said.

“My husband and I are legally married in some states but obviously not married in others, so that’s a pretty big focus,” Mr. Gill said.

David Bohnett, a co-founder of GeoCities and a gay philanthropist here, has donated more than $4 million over the past 10 years to candidates and organizations supporting same-sex marriage, his advisers said.

And this week, Freedom to Marry, a group that advocates same-sex marriage, announced on Thursday a $3 million fund-raising campaign aimed at winning the five ballot initiatives and pushing the New Jersey Legislature to override the veto by Gov. Chris Christie of a same-sex bill, said Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom to Marry.

The first $250,000 is coming from Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook, and his fiancé, Sean Eldridge. “Chris and I certainly prioritize in our contributing,” Mr. Eldridge said. “Marriage is a top priority.”

Mr. Brown said the same-sex-marriage cause had been greatly helped by people like Mr. Hughes. “A couple of billionaires go a long way,” he said. But Mr. Wolfson said the “vast majority” of donations came from small donors.

The broadening of the coalition also reflects a concerted effort by backers of same-sex marriage to put straight and Republican supporters out front. “Prominent straight people from entertainment were crucial,” said Dustin Lance Black, an Oscar-winning screenwriter who wrote “8,” a play re-enacting the courtroom challenge to Proposition 8. “We wanted people who were not the usual suspects.”

A reading of Mr. Black’s play here, which raised more than $2 million, was notable for the participation of screen idol-type American actors like George Clooney and Brad Pitt, who historically would have steered clear of this kind of production. Norman Lear, the television producer, wrote a $100,000 check even before Mr. Geffen had made his commitment. “It was the right moment and the right way to go,” he said.

Ian Lovett contributed reporting from Los Angeles, and Kitty Bennett from St. Petersburg, Fla.