Intense Community Interactions Over Gay Pride Month in Porterville, California

Going against the grain another time in national news, Porterville, California is under scrutiny for its recent city council decisions around the subject of lgbt rights and same-sex marriage.

For over a month there has been a heated debate within the community after the mayor signed a proclamation naming June “Gay Pride Month.” Mayor Virginia Gurrola was following the lead of both President Obama and governor of California Jerry Brown, who made declarations earlier. Of the members of the city council, the mayor was the only signatory, sparking a divide within the community. While it is within the duties of the mayor to issue proclamations with the council signing afterward, none of them joined in, setting the stage for the intensity that followed.

After the Supreme Court found Proposition 8 unconstitutional and allowed California to resume and recognize same-sex marriages, the lgbt community held a peaceful rally in a local park, and local government moved cautiously around the news. Some in the community were disappointed with the ruling, while others were nonplussed, seeing it as expected from the court.

On Tuesday, July 16, the city council met to debate the mayor’s declaration, to vote on repealing the notion, and to replace it with another. Beforehand in mid-June, council member Brian Ward drafted a resolution to call June “A Month of Community Charity and Goodwill to All.” The document was intended to have a more-widespread impact than just singling out a specific group.

When debating this decision, Ward asked the crowd, “Why does the LGBT community get special consideration? Why can’t it apply to everyone?” In just the beginning of the chaos of the night, someone in the crowd yelled back, “Because you hate us!” The council chamber was full of people, gaining a lot of attention from community members on which way the council would vote.

In 2008, the Porterville city council was the only one in the state of California to pass a resolution in favor of Proposition 8, and the feelings of the crowd reflected the past pain. Many felt that the decision to replace “Gay Pride Month” with something else rather than to include it alongside was homophobic and intended to cover up differences in the community rather than address them.

Back in the council chambers, police had to be brought in later that night when the vote to rescind the proclamation passed 3-2 and the crowd became visibly upset and agitated. Three activists disrupted the proceedings, holding up signs and shouting “You’re not fair!” All three were arrested and spent the night in jail.

It’s to be seen what will happen in the small but divided community of over 50,000 residents. Mayor Gurrola told the Huffington Post that she stood behind the proclamation, and that she became visibly agitated because she did not think that it was as controversial as the community made it be. She also said that after the vote was taken, a young person went to her, also hurt about what occurred in the meeting. “I told him, ‘be proud of who you are and don’t let those words hurt you, they’re just words.’ In general, I always try to tell young people around here, ‘you know what, we’re here for you. I’ve got your back.’” With sadness over the night, she added, “I’m afraid this time I didn’t have their backs.”

#ProudToLove: Rainbow-Hearted Reflections on YouTube’s First LGBT Pride Celebration

Loving Equality: Making Summer of Love More #ProudToLove

England’s marriage equality law becomes official in a matter of days.  Marriage Equality and DOMA decisions in the United States continue to send a positive beacon of hope to LGBTQ folks everywhere.

“Set those precedents,” the Litigating Angels seem to be telling us, blowing their glittery faery dust around the world.

Okay, sure…“faery dust” is a bit much—but c’mon: this is the queer “Interwebs” we’re talkin’ about!

With the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court (lifting the same-sex marriage ban) and California following suit, the launch of YouTube’s official LGBTQ-themed #ProudToLove channel rides the waves of change that continue to ripple worldwide.

Continuing its yearly site-wide support of gay rights, parent company Google Inc. created YouTube’s #ProudToLove channel http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbpi6ZahtOH6Ep59vnHOZ0KBngOp-XiUP) and video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDm0zsw9vjY) on June 27.

In like fashion, Google relaunched its customary Rainbow Colored search results just in time for the summer of pride.  This yearly Easter Egg that revealed itself when visitors typed  LGBTQ-focused keywords like “gay,” “lesbian,” “transgender,” “marriage equality,” LGBT” or “bisexual”  (Google’s rainbow search results have been a tradition since 2008—or eons, in Internet years).

Graced with the soundtrack of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” YouTube’s #ProudToLove video featured military “coming out” confessionals, Ellen DeGeneres, teenaged hero Jonah Mowry, Davey Wavey, Latrice Royale, Chaz Bono & Cher, Dan Savage, George Takei, Barack Obama at the White House LGBT Pride Month Reception, Willam Belli, and several uber-romantic LGBTQ-themed marriage proposals, all culminating in emphatic yeses.

Prominent and renowned LGBTQ advocacy organizations–if they weren’t already

partnered with the campaign–quickly posted #ProudToLove content in solidarity, chiming in with words, images, videos and sentiments of their own.

Other #ProudToLove ripple effects and highlights include:

Detractors have tried to troll this hashtag and idea, finding little success so far.  Such is the beauty of hashtags: creating instantaneous solidarity and community-building becomes easy-to-understand and propagate.

Pride Month’s really happening all summer long.  Isn’t that always the way?  Kudos to all for making Pride newsworthy every single day.

Being #ProudToLove is an international thing—how do you show your pride?  Who or what are you #ProudToLove? Share your thoughts, videos and tweets with us.  Make sure to include the hashtag, so your peeps can find you!

 

Straight Allies Spotlight: Why We Love Chris Kluwe

“Society’s trending towards more equality, and you see that in the locker room.”

– Chris Kluwe (to Larry King, on “Larry King Now” broadcast)

 

Oh, Chris: how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

First off, few people can bring themselves to hate him.

As the Oakland Raiders’ American NFL football punter, Chris Kluwe comes off as a fresh-faced, cheery, potty-mouthed and an unabashedly proud “gamer geek.” Kluwe’s spoken up—loudly—about everything from NFL labor disputes to honesty in the media. Now, he’s championing gay rights and marriage equality—and it’s not his first time rocking the mic for LGBTQ inclusivity.

The UCLA alum combines dashing good looks and dorky gamer references (he owns a fantasy gaming store for goodness’ sake), and let’s just say his wife Isabel isn’t the only one who finds him easy on the eyes.

Hm…male model? Athletic cover boy? What? Okay, losing track of the numbers here.

Still, there are so many reasons to adore him.

As articulate as he is awkward, Chris recently appeared on “Larry King Now”  to promote his  book, “Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football and Assorted Absurdities.”

On the show, he briefly mentioned his personal protest of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment and his ever-expanding record of LGBT advocacy, which started hitting its stride last year.

Sharing a viewpoint with Larry King that’s rarely been shared by celebs publicly, Chris went on to express a bittersweet regret about the Prop 8 decision, saying  we could have pressed even harder to get more mileage from the opportunity to make permanent changes.

“I liked the DOMA decision,” said Kluwe, “Because obviously it extended federal benefits to married couples. Not a big fan of the Prop 8 decision, because while it allowed gays to be married in California as soon as they vacate the stay, the problem is, the Supreme Court had a chance to extend those rights across the entire country…whereas they could’ve made a statement.”

“They have a precedent,” he continued. “They have Loving v. Virginia—that says

marriage is a human right. They could’ve extended that out to say, ‘Same sex marriage, that is a human right, and you can’t discriminate against that.’”

Trying to keep realistic, he tied things up by saying, “So now we’ve just got to go to all the other states that—right now—gay marriage is illegal in, and get that passed.”

Earlier this month, in what could have been a media disaster, Kluwe shared a stinging truth (citing ex-New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s murder charges) in the following exchange with Conan O’Brien on the “Conan” show:

“Now what about the NFL? Where’s the NFL in all of this?” Conan O’Brien asked.

“They pretty much just left me alone,” Kluwe answered, “As long as you’re not out shooting people…”

Here’s the deal: straight allies often put their foot in their mouths, no matter how good their intentions may be. Chris Kluwe’s using his “big-mouthed” persona to our advantage. You just can’t hate on somebody for that.

Chris Kluwe loves World of Warcraft, loves the game of football, loves to raise consciousness and awareness, and is all about a message of transparency, fairness and equality.

In his “Larry King Now” appearance and his Out of Bounds blog, Kluwe rants on with this through line: if we are not honest with ourselves and protecting our own, our civilization is doomed. He simply won’t back down from the idea, and his new book likely puts that sentiment on full blast.

Well-played Chris Kluwe—and play on.

What’s your take on Chris’ mouthy antics? Do you think he’s trying to co-opt Gay Rights to get attention? Does that matter, either way? Wait…you’re too busy looking at his “Out” magazine cover spread, aren’t you?

Don’t leave us hanging, y’all—what’s the T? Let us know what’s on your mind, and you can holler at your boy Chris Kluwe @ChrisWarcraft on Twitter.

Faith’s Concrete Proof

Anti-Gay Marriage Supporters

In the Name of God, Bible’s teachings, and religions that advocate DOMA’s definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, beliefs have been strong opponents of same-sex marriage.

Brian Brown, the president of the conservative National Organization for Marriage, acknowledged that opponents of gay marriage outspent three to one in the state ballot campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota (still illegal, but not banned), and Washington State.  Yet, despite these “shots-in-the-arms,” from the objectors, the voters of those states decisively cast their votes for gay marriage in those states.

Brian Brown

Brian Brown

Brown was not alone in his celebrated cause of “preserving marriage as God designed it.” Frank Schubert, a wealthy California consultant, orchestrated campaigns to combat same-sex marriage as did the Roman Catholic Church affiliates.

Religion Not Always An Obstacle to Marriage Equality Campaigns

While religion has been seen as an obstacle for LGBT persons and has been used as a justification for not giving them their full rights, according to Sharon Groves, Director of Religion and Faith at Human Rights Campaign, it was the reason that the marriage equality campaigns in those above states succeeded.

Sharon Groves, Religious Activist

Dr. Groves, a lay leader at a Unitarian Church, chaired the Committee on Ministry and worked on community voting rights, and neighborhood outreach, and racial justice issues, says that religious engagement was a key to the solution: a thoughtful, multidimensional engagement with people of faith made the difference in each of these four campaigns.  A writer of numerous articles on marriage equality, Dr. Groves has been with the HRC since 2005.

Historically, LGBT activists have been resistant to engaging faith communities.  After all, in many cases, LGBT persons have been made to feel unwelcome in their congregations, their communities, and sometimes, in their own homes where they have been ostracized.

Proposition 8 Regarded as Too Secular

Using Proposition 8 ‘s defeat in California as an example of what can go wrong when religious communities are not focused. The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel wrote after Proposition 8’s loss that “it is naive to believe that rights-based arguments can trump the value-based arguments of conservative religious leaders. It’s also naive to ignore the power and influence of the moral authority given to religious leaders within communities of faith.”

Now Religious Leaders Know Better

This time around, political strategist and religious leaders knew that religion would be a decisive factor in the four states’ elections. So, they organized.  Each state’s campaign had a faith director and faith organizers.

What Minnesota Did

Campaign efforts (phone banking, canvassing, persuasion efforts) were all in sync with faith communities.  For instance, nearly 3,000 faith leaders made 10 to 30 one-on-one calls to people of faith. These methods were particularly effective for undecided voters and were used in all four states.

A Black Coalition Proved Fruitful

In Maryland, the Rev. MacArthur Flournoy worked together with Reverend Delman Coates, an African American Baptist, who became a spokesperson for marriage equality.  Through alliance with LGBT clergy and straight persons, the black faith team made progress in undermining the assumption that gay marriage was only a concern for white people.

Pro-Equality Roman Catholic Organizing

In all four states, there was an increase in pro-equality Roman Catholic organizing.  Catholics for Marriage Equality, using a Maine model, emerged in all four states.  This loose federation gave permission to Catholics to follow their conscience even if it meant disagreeing with their  bishops.

Washington State, as well as the other three, ran powerful ads in major newspapers across the state highlighting Catholic support. Thousands of Catholics were mobilized and raised the money for these ads.

Religious Leaders were Promoted

To combine the messages of the campaigns with the stories of religious leaders, the Human Rights Campaign as well as other campaigns joined forces with Auburn Theological Seminary. Many top level religious leaders were media- trained to provide a pro-faith, pro-equality message.

Religious Messages Can Be Effective Tools

While the religious right and other religious entities fund, organize and launch anti-LGBT campaigns, by organizing people of faith, with a “boots on the ground” strategy, Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, and Washington state were able to defeat bans on same-sex marriage.