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So Long, Farewell: Today We Close Pam’s House Blend – A Look Back. It’s been real.

By: Monday July 1, 2013 6:00 am

The Blend has been a virtual coffeehouse where vigorous (but polite) political expression was encouraged on myriad topics including LGBT issues, race relations, the religious right, and gender issues. This outlet for commentary and original reporting had a great run that has been gratifying to produce and hopefully enlightening for readers. As we close the doors today, thanks for the love, the barbs, the critics, the good (and energizing, but tiring) times.

Just imagine how I feel right now after the last week — SCOTUS left me in a helluva lurch, let me tell you. The landmark rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 and the Voting Rights Act show just how much more activism and work is left to do.

That this court could essentially say that race isn’t not much of an issue in the states covered by the VRA in this day and age is preposterous. Bouncing the responsibility to this Congress to address is laughable. I will say that, given what we’ve seen over the last couple of election cycles and the attempts to suppress the vote, it is time to expand that pre-clearance map, actually.

And on LGBT rights, while people rightfully celebrate the strikedown of a portion of DOMA covering federal benefits and the return of marriage rights for same-sex couples in California, the high court issued the most restrictive ruling possible for the win — it dodged the issue of the constitutional right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. That means those of us in states with marriage amendments will have to deal with denial of many critical rights and legal uncertainties until a boatload of challenges inevitably bounce it back to SCOTUS to resolve.

Today also happens to be my ninth wedding anniversary. Kate and I were married in Vancouver, B.C. Canada in 2004. So we sit here in a state without employment discrimination protections, in a marriage unrecognized by the state.

Gee, what a time to stop blogging, you say? There is so much more left to say and do. But it’s time; someone else, sadly, has to take the baton from me. As I said in my announcement post, sometimes real life — in my case, serious health matters — have rendered me left to focus on the more pressing task of holding down the full-time job that puts a roof over my head and health insurance to keep me going for as long as I can.

A new channel debuted on FDL, Justice For All, that takes on many of the same issues covered by PHB. My PHB co-bloggers  Laurel Ramseyer, Alvin McEwen and Autumn Sandeen helm that blog.

She’s not dead (yet), Jim

While the need to actually get sleep means I no longer have the time or energy to write long-form pieces or to go out to do original reporting, I will still be active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, G+). Blogging/citizen journalism, unfortunately, was not an avenue that I could carve out a space to make a living, though others from that initial class of new media bloggers did get absorbed into traditional media. Many, like myself, nevertheless, found our work ballooning into a full-time second job involving online and offline activism. For us it was unpaid or marginally supported (through ads) labor of love. In my case, it went on for nine years, and PHB made a dent in the political world of LGBT politics as new media challenged not only foes and the establishment, but our own advocacy organizations.

Some PHB history below the fold. I hope you enjoy the ride back in the time machine.

NOM Promotes Polyamorous Families

By: Friday June 28, 2013 8:57 am

Every child deserves a mother and a father and another father.  That’s the message National Organization for Marriage is sending with the family silhouette in the banner topping its latest email.  Is there something Brian Brown wants to tell us about his family?

Of course NOM isn’t really promoting polyamory. Not consciously, anyway.  This is just another sex-oriented mistake, which NOM seems prone to. Who can forget their use of the sexy personals ad acronym 2M4M as the catchy shorthand name for their “2 Million For Marriage” initiative?

Or the amply-nippled boobies used to create the silhouetted mommy and daddy figures on NOM’s Prop 8 lawn signs?

Everyone makes mistakes, of course, and that almost certainly is what the polyamorous banner is. But when an organization like NOM, which is all about imparting the opinion that gay = sex but straight = family, it’s amusing how frequently their own “family-oriented” minds seem to unconsciously wander into forbidden territory.

NOM’s PR Ace Sure Knows How To Discourage NOM’s Donors

By: Thursday June 27, 2013 3:18 pm

Frank Schubert

National Organization for Marriage’s PR guy, Frank Schubert, is trying to explain away NOM’s inability to attract grassroots donors by alleging that NOM’s would-be donors aren’t giving because they’re afraid that gays will harass them if they do.  From Campaigns & Elections:

Frank Schubert, president of Mission Public Affairs and political director for the National Organization for Marriage, says the high court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act should encourage gay marriage opponents to reengage and hopefully boost fundraising. But he admits that those trying to fight back same-sex marriage at the state level have been dealing with a lack of willing donors.

“Donors are afraid to give because they don’t want to be harassed,” says Schubert, who accuses gay marriage supporters of working to “intimidate people into silence.”

“That’s their primary strategy now,” he says. “They’ve given up really trying to convince people.”

NOM appears to be using this “gays harass our donors” allegation to avoid taking responsibility for being unattractive to donors.  The allegation has been thoroughly debunked by the federal courts.  When NOM sued California’s Secretary of State in an attempt to keep the identity of its Proposition 8 campaign donors secret, District Court Judge Morrison England, Jr. rejected NOM’s motion for preliminary injunction, saying:

Because the Court finds very little chance of success on the merits of Plaintiffs’ claims, because there is likewise minimal probability of the occurrence of irreparable harm to Plaintiffs or their contributors, and because the balance of interests, including the public’s interest, weighs against it, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction is DENIED.

Judge England later denied NOM’s attempt to circumvent California’s donor disclosure laws and discharged the case.

From a fundraising standpoint, repeating the debunked “gays harass our donors” allegation seems a peculiar strategy for Frank Schubert to employ if he is trying to inspire people to give money to NOM.  The message he’s sending, in so many words, “The gays will come after you if you donate to NOM!  Please donate to NOM.

No wonder NOM’s receipts are down.

Meanwhile, the pro-equality side has had great success in sharing with the heterosexual community the simple dream of falling in love, getting married and growing old together with one’s spouse.  From the Campaigns & Elections article:

Richard Carlbom, who led Minnesota’s pro-gay marriage campaign, laughs off Schubert’s intimidation claim, noting that gay marriage opponents are still reeling from their recent losses. Carlbom says the real fundraising disparity, which he thinks is likely to continue in future gay marriage ballot fights, is thanks to the country’s rapidly shifting stance on marriage.

“It’s unfortunate that the folks who continue to push these divisive policies in this country frankly don’t understand that it’s not the gay community who is responding in droves, it’s the straight community who is standing up and saying ‘I would never want to be told it’s illegal to marry the person I love, and therefore, I’m going to make sure that everybody has that freedom,’” Carlbom says.

In the last year alone, this approach has achieved marriage equality ballot measure wins in Washington, Minnesota, Maryland and Maine and legislative wins in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota.  Marriage equality is now the law of the land in 13 states and the District of Columbia.  In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled unconstitutional the section of DOMA that for federal purposes defined marriage as a heterosexual-only union.

Since this news can’t have escaped NOM’s sympathizers, it would be reasonable for them to question the integrity of an organization whose political director makes obviously erroneous statements that marriage equality supporters have “given up really trying to convince people.”

DOMA defense was doomed from Day 1 – Hey Boehner, I want my money back!

By: Thursday June 27, 2013 7:56 am

By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. They also dismissed the Prop 8 case, which means gays in California can resume getting married. All in all, an awesome day for the lgbt community  It almost – but not quite – makes up for the [...]

States With Civil Unions Are Depriving Gay Couples Of Federal Marriage Benefits

By: Thursday June 27, 2013 12:07 am

With section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) invalidated, civil unions, once a cup half full, are now a cup half empty. On Wednesday the U. S. Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the section of DOMA that defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman for federal legal purposes.  This means [...]

We’re at a very strange moment in civil rights history, thanks to SCOTUS

By: Wednesday June 26, 2013 7:32 pm

Thanks to SCOTUS over the last two days: 1) If you’re a same-sex couple and live in CA, you can marry. 2) If you live in NC (or any other state with a “marriage protection amendment”) and were legally married elsewhere (in my case, Canada), your marriage is not recognized in terms of filing joint state [...]

DOMA Struck Down; Prop 8 Case Rejected On Jurisdiction

By: Wednesday June 26, 2013 11:01 am

Ruling for DOMA: UNITED STATES v. WINDSOR, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF SPYER, ET AL. Ruling for Prop 8 case: HOLLINGSWORTH ET AL. v. PERRY ET AL. Statement from the White House: THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 26, 2013 Statement by the President on the Supreme Court Ruling [...]

Photographing Gay Pride Is The Radical-Right’s Prurient Pursuit

By: Tuesday June 25, 2013 3:42 pm

I had to laugh at today’s email from anti-LGBT Illinois Family Institute because it is so emblematic of the radical-right.  Folks on the radical-right express disgust at gays and, especially, transgender and genderqueer people, yet they can’t resist posting whole photo albums of same.  From IFI’s email, which is all about Chicago Pride: WARNING: Offensive pictures [...]

SCOTUS guts the Voting Rights Act — in a way that keeps its hands clean

By: Tuesday June 25, 2013 3:00 pm

Today SCOTUS handed down a decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, and essentially punted to Congress the matter of re-addressing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It struck down Section 4, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the majority opinion (PDF) in the 5-to-4 decision; siding with Roberts were Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence (Uncle) [...]

Immigration Is an LGBT Issue: A Binational Couple Awaits The DOMA Ruling

By: Tuesday June 25, 2013 12:13 am

“If you want to marry someone from another country, and you’re a US citizen, chances are your spouse could also gain citizenship through marriage. That is, if the marriage is between a man and a woman. This path to citizenship is not available to gay couples because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.” That [...]

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