Saturday, April 30, 2005

Friday Dog Blogging -- April 29, 2005

Yes, I KNOW it's Saturday.....LOL. As I mentioned before, I've been traveling a great deal over the past two weeks, and I finally managed to get some time to post a very special Friday Dog Blogging -- special, because it features the NDT Mascot.

A few weeks ago, the NDT Mascot went on a camping trip with his aforementioned sweetie Avea whilst I was out in San Francisco cultivating what is quickly blossoming into a lifetime-level relationship. Avea's mom was kind enough to take several pictures, two of which I will share with you today.

As a bit of background, the NDT Mascot is a Blue Heeler (to use official AKC parlance, an Australian Cattle Dog), a breed that arose from crosses made in the 1840s of imported merle blue Collies, Dalmatians, and Scottish Kelpies (a type of Border Collie) with the dingoes native to Australia to create a dog with the intelligence and instinct to herd the wildest cattle, the hardiness and stamina to withstand the extreme conditions of the outback, and a strongly-protective nature towards its master and its master's horse. The name "Heeler" comes from the herding style of these dogs, which is to dive behind an obstreperous cow and nip at its heels, agilely dodging the inevitable kick, to move them forward.

NDT's family has had Heelers and Heeler crosses since their importation to the United States (after all, we ARE cattle ranchers), and have learned to love these wily dogs, whose personality and smarts can be likened to a precocious three-year-old child with a penchant for following the letter of the law while blatantly disregarding the spirit. The NDT Mascot exemplifies the heart and soul of his breed; obedient to a fault, herding cattle with the pure unadulterated joy that a bird must feel when it flies or a fish when it swims, and being protective of his "daddy" to the point of dreaming up novel schemes and attempts to derail gentlemen callers from getting friendly with North Dallas Thirty. (grin) Fortunately, he can't talk!

Anyway, here, in living color, is the NDT Mascot:

Posted by Hello

Here he is with Avea:

Posted by Hello

If you'd like to know more about adding a faithful Blue Heeler to your life, please feel free to email me at; I'll be happy to connect you appropriately.

From me and the Mascot....have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Amendment Wars III, Revenge of the Sith

First off, my apologies to all....I'm currently on a business trip to Tidewater Virginia (the Norfolk area) and have had precious little time to blog of late. I'll be back in Texas next week; hopefully I'll be able to swing a bit more time over the next few days to provide updates and keep track of stories.

As I'd blogged previously, Texas's state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage barely made it out of committee mere weeks ago, held up there by language inserted by the chief homophobe we all know and love, Representative Warren Chisum (R-Pampa), who was trying to get civil unions and other legal arrangements banned as well in one fell swoop. That language fell out on the way to the House floor, but made it back in again on Monday -- and, as a result, the proposed amendment barely cleared the House, getting only one vote more than the minimum (100) required to pass an amendment to the Texas Constitution.

So what's to think? On the one hand, this is something over which I'm not exactly doing cartwheels, and if anything, am flat-out pissed-off, especially since I'm not in the state and unable to do too much about it directly. Distance does not preclude a few pointed phone calls and emails, though. (grin)

On the other, though, I've been thinking ever since the whole movement for an amendment started that it would be next to impossible to defeat such measures at the Legislature's level, and that our energies were best focused on the grassroots effort of turning back the amendment(s) at the ballot box. Quite frankly, I didn't expect the vote to be this close at the House level -- and the fact that it was this close, coupled with the questionable legality of the words that Representative Chisum inserted, makes me extremely optimistic that the amendment will fall short of the two-thirds vote needed in the Senate to clear it and will thus collapse (the amendment has no counterpart or sponsor in the Senate), as it is simply too late in the session for it to be resubmitted. This appears to be similar to what happened with the infamous attempt to ban glbts from being foster parents which, as Gay Orbit and Central Front report, is pretty much DOA in the Senate and fast becoming an embarrassment to even its own sponsor, Representative Robert Talton (R-Pasadena).

Is this a sign of a concerted strategy on the part of House leadership, allowing controversial measures to be added and defeated by the Senate? Possibly. Anyone who knows Chisum and Talton knows that these two are driven by relentless, raw hatred of gays that verges on being pathological. We are the evil in the world to them, and they are on a crusade to eliminate evil. The question is to what extent that crusade on their part is being used for purposes of political gamesmanship.

On the first, more-cynical hand, an amendment not passed is a potential opening to solicit antigay votes and try to drum up fear among voters who may not be antigay, but who have qualms about the potential of gay marriage and/or civil unions. This becomes doubly important going into an election year, as 2006 will be for the House, if your plans are to play on that fear. If this was the strategy, though, it was a rather silly maneuver -- the most-vulnerable Democrats, by and large, voted Yes, and I am quite certain that House leadership knew that they would.

The second argument, and the one towards which I lean, is that these votes are a means of neutralizing Talton and Chisum in a manner that provides political cover. There are several Republicans that I know personally that have confided what an embarrassment these two are, and that the argument they always make is that "leadership won't allow a vote on the issue". Having gotten the floor vote on the issue, that has ruined Chisum and Talton's argument for why they keep bringing these issues up and has added a new counter, "Why should we bring up something that the Senate will reject or has already rejected?" With these two legislators held in check, the House will continue on its halting, tenative journey to become more gay-friendly, if for no other reason than with these two shut up, it will be far less antigay.

Given that, hence the title of this post, "Revenge of the Sith". As it stands now, Talton and Chisum are getting their revenge, or so they think; however, I firmly believe that the seeds have been sown that will ultimately result in their downfall. In the meantime, we must be certain to let Texas Senators know the potential danger of the amendment as written (another round of copies of Cleveland Plain Dealer articles, anyone?) and that this amendment as written is something best left to die or put out of its misery, especially this late in the legislative calendar. In addition, we must also work on building those bridges, especially to people who are sick of or turned off by Chisum and Talton's blatant hatred and virulence. As we all know, that's the key to the defeat of the Empire. (grin)

Jedi Knight North Dallas Thirty signing out.......

Friday, April 22, 2005

Patience, Grasshoppers

As one might imagine, the blogosphere has been abuzz over the past few days with news of the vote by the Texas House to ban glbts from being foster parents. As you might imagine, as an avowed gay conservative running a Texas-based blog, I've gotten more than my fair share of comments (and brickbats) concerning this issue, so I thought it time to do a quick breakdown of the situation and what I perceive to be necessary at this point.


There has been a quiet push over the past few years to revamp Child Protective Services, which is the Texas state agency that oversees adoption and foster care. This flared into a full-fledged fire after several highly-publicized abuse cases came to light in 2004.

Towards this end, two CPS reform bills were raised in the House and Senate -- Senate Bill 6, authored by Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville (northern 'burb of Dallas), and in the House by Representative Suzanna Huff, R-Lampasas (about 75 miles northwest of Austin). The Senate bill does NOT contain the strictures against glbts being foster parents; the House bill, as amended on the floor of the House by Representative Robert Talton, R-Pasadena (a suburb of Houston), does (it did not originally).

This isn't the first time that Talton has tried such tricks. Ever since he's been around, he's been filing bills that seek to limit foster care and adoption to married couples, all of which have previously died in committee. For those of us who watch and lobby the Texas Legislature, it's almost become a ritual.

The Current Situation

This time, however, I think Talton's maneuver may have backfired completely -- which, as the information I am getting from my sources in Austin indicates, may have been the entire point of House leadership allowing the amendment vote in the first place. Senator Jane Nelson, who I've previously blogged about, is seriously pissed -- and even Representative Suzanna Hupp, who traditionally has held some sympathies with Talton, is publicly horrified over the possibility of foster kids being yanked away from their parents. The Dallas Morning News ran an excellent article today profiling a gay foster care family, and came out publicly against the amendment in an editorial that is a model of intelligent argument and balance.

The Future

As a result, my prediction is that the final bill as produced by a conference committee of the House and Senate will delete the amendment completely because of the legal tangles it presents and the importance of getting CPS reform going. All of the "rewrites" of the amendment that Representative Hupp offered in the above quote create problems, i.e. state agencies being allowed to deny glbts being foster parents when they can't legally inquire whether they're glbt or not, and would likely trigger an immediate legal challenge -- the danger of which Senator Nelson will never tolerate.

There are still three things we need to do:

-- Thank Senator Nelson and Representative Hupp for putting the welfare of Texas children above antigay discrimination. Hupp, especially.....for her to buck Talton on this is a major step forward. I think she may have finally realized that Talton and his ilk are wingnuts who care nothing for anything other than their own prejudices.

-- Thank Republican legislators like Representative Ray Allen, R-Grand Prairie (a suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth) who voted against the Talton amendment (there's a list at Burnt Orange Report).

-- Continue to stay ever vigilant.

What do Mike Rogers and Texas Weather Have In Common?

They both change on a dime.

To whit, Mike's fawning response made yesterday to Blog Ally Lloydletta (Eva Young) when she called him out on his Log Cabin Republican bashing by pointing out that the Minnesota chapter of LCR had met with recently out Minnesota State Senator Paul Koering several times prior to his outing:


Mike asked me to post a clarification...Mike is condemning the failures of the NATIONAL LCR.

The chapters are hard at work with limited resources, while the party boys in DC do nothing...

That is what Mike's point is.
Kevin P. | Email | Homepage | 04.21.05 - 9:21 pm
Direct link to this comment

That's certainly an interesting reversal -- indeed, a complete contradiction -- from what Mike himself wrote about them just over a week prior:

Eva Young is the President of the Log Cabin Clun in Minnesota? After reading Paul Koering's story, she and her leadership team should resign.

Apparently the Log Cabinites are too concerned with the next cocktail party to focus on the work that they tell the world they do.

This story is representative of the abject failure of the Guerriero Administration and, once again, I will not be surprised if we're met with Board members who support Patrick (not 100% -- at least the ones who talk to me) frilly statements of love and praise for his leadership....and back in Minnesota it was Mike Rogers who reached out to Paul Koering...heard his story and offered him the love and support he need to come to terms with his life.

Is ANYONE SOMEONE ANYONE AT ALL IN THE LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS Compentent and if so, where are they and why are they hiding?
Mike Rogers | Email | Homepage | 04.13.05 - 10:08 pm
Direct link to this comment

That also shows the difference between Texas weather and Mike is an unstable and changing force, the other is an unstable and changing farce.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Why Must People Repeat the Charge of the Light Brigade?

Over on Americablog, John Aravosis is fuming (and not unjustifiably) over Microsoft's apparent refusal to endorse Washington's proposed antidiscrimination bill, which lost in the Washington Senate today by one vote. In this sense, I agree with him -- it is odd that Microsoft wouldn't, given that they DID support the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) previously.

However, rage has apparently unhinged John enough that he's making some rather interesting threats:

You're planning a 2.2 million square foot expansion of the Microsoft campus in Redmond over the next ten to twenty years. The expansion, we hear, would allow you to hire 10,000 to 20,000 new employees.

Well bully for you. You must be quite excited about that.

We also hear that you're going to need a lot of help - a LOT of help - from the state legislature and the Redmond city council to actually make that expansion work, for highway and road improvements and the like, and that not everybody is real happy about it.

Well, wouldn't it be funny if some really smart faggots decided to use their political expertise to kill any possibility of you getting the legislation and city council approval you need to make that expansion happen? And wouldn't it be even funnier if those same faggots went to your competitors and asked them to finance the entire campaign to kill your expansion?

It'd be pretty hard to hire those extra employees without your expansion, wouldn't it? I'm not saying anyone is going to do that to you. I'm just saying it would be really funny.

Problem is, that threat overlooks some rather crucial points:

1. Even if the Redmond City Council did not approve, Microsoft could continue to develop its campus, inasmuch as it owns the land.

2. The complaints about Microsoft's expansion have to do with agreements signed to limit development and require infrastructure expansion -- and Microsoft has already offered to pay $30 million dollars to expand the infrastructure.

3. Microsoft is undertaking the expansion to house 10,000 - 20,000 employees that it expects to add to its workforce. One could argue that they're "just saying that", but fact is, to put a twist on Field of Dreams.....if they weren't coming, Microsoft wouldn't build it.

Of course, none of these salient points, all of which render his threat at best empty and at worst completely laughable, particularly bothers Aravosis:

We have no intent of launching a boycott. Boycotts are hard to enforce, especially when dealing with a monopoly. And in any case, we're smarter than that. We're the country's top lobbyists, and grassroots activists, and lawyers, and politicos, and bloggers working in both Washingtons (state and DC).

When we fuck back, we don't launch boycotts. When we fuck back, we go for the jugular.

And I can visualize the news story already:

Democratic Gay Activists Announce Campaign to Block Microsoft Expansion
Microsoft Says Expansion Necessary to Accomodate 10,000 - 20,000 New Jobs

Democratic consultant and gay activist John Aravosis, host of the Democratic Party-affiliated Web program, today announced a plan to enlist fellow Democrats and gay activists to block the planned expansion of Microsoft's Redmond campus, a move that Microsoft says puts at risk their plans to add 10,000 - 20,000 employees to their current workforce at the location

Granted, John may know something I don't, like that they have pictures of Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire and Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell sitting around snorting cocaine, spitting on crucifixes, and talking about their polygamous husbands, but my immediate take is this....if he goes through with that threat, he'd better be prepared for life in Dupont Circle without Democratic Party or 527 group subsidy.

Anyone know a DC Realtor specializing in cardboard boxes?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Mike Rogers Lies Again...Surprise, Surprise

Mike Rogers's latest attempt to buy respectability by bashing Log Cabin Republicans hit another snag today, apparently. Poor Mike was miffed that LCR apparently doesn't want to talk to him, and accused them of not providing a list of their national board (grammar not corrected):

(Monday update: Even a simple call the Log Cabin for a list of board members becomes an evasive cat-and-mouse game with these people. -Note to LCR: you need to provide that information by law.)

Problem is, the LCR National Board of Directors list is posted on LCR's website. Given Mike's reputation for threatening and harassing phone calls, I'm sure LCR told him to get lost.

One question -- is this indicative of how much research Rogers actually does, or of the fact that he deliberately lies in an attempt to smear people?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Ultimate Danger of Witch Hunts

If you need a good example of why religious wingnuts running around with torches screaming "Pro-homosexual! Pro-homosexual!" is immoral, unjustified, stupid, and just plain wrong.... here you go.

In a nutshell, let me sum it up for you.

-- Inspirational seminar to help women of faith manage their finances includes Sister Sledge, the musical group who recorded the hit, "We Are Family".

-- Dr. James Dobson circulates and posts to Web newsletter opposing the We Are Family Foundation -- not affiliated with Sister Sledge, as even one of Dobson's assistants admits.

-- Ticket sales to seminar plummet; organizer, who started this initiative based on her mother's struggles financially after her father's premature death, is forced to cancel event.

-- Dobson's assistant, Paul Batura, reportedly says, "Oh, that's a shame. It sounds like a big misunderstanding."

Oh, Mr. Batura, this is a bit more than a "misunderstanding". Try "a natural outgrowth of witch hunts", namely that a lot of innocent people get hurt in the process.

Weekend Open Thread

Hello all....due to a family event this weekend and a compressed travel schedule, I may not be blogging much over the next five days. Thanks for stopping by....and feel free to leave a comment or two.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Satan Calling, He Needs a Parka

Brace yourselves, those of you that have more than a passing acquaintance with me and my're in for a shock.

First off, this is all related to the coming out of Minnesota GOP state senator Paul Koering today.

Point 1:

Over on BlogActive, Mike Rogers has made the point that the story of Koering is his and was "stolen" from him. If this is the case, whoever did so should be completely and thoroughly ashamed of themselves. While I have disagreed with Mike on virtually every issue, no one should be allowed to steal or plagiarize another person's work.

Furthermore, if Mike helped Koering make the difficult decision to come out, Mike is to be absolutely applauded. As everyone knows, I oppose involuntary outing, no ifs ands or buts, but this is not involuntary -- it is someone choosing to make a bold and courageous step forward that will undoubtedly advance gay rights, quite possibly at his personal expense. I have advocated since day one that the key to dealing with closeted individuals who have worked against gay rights is helping them to understand and come out themselves, and if this is what Mike has started doing, more power to him -- he will have my support.

Point 2:

I agree completely with both LCR and HRC when they oppose outing in any circumstance. We'll have to work on Koering. (grin)

Point 3:

To Senator Koering.....thank you, sir. The decision you made today is both wise and powerful, with the effects being far greater than you can imagine. I wish you the best of luck and support from North Dallas Thirty.

OK, that's all the surprises for tonight. (wink)

UPDATE: 12:58 AM, Thursday 14 April: Yes, I know I'm up too late. However, the more I read about this story, the more entertaining it gets.

First off, Blog Ally Lloydletta and her counterpart Carson of Minnesota Liberal are providing valuable local insight in their comments, including the fact that emails were circulating a month ago that Koering was at a local gay bar bragging about the Minneapolis Star-Tribune talking to him to get his coming-out story.

In addition, there is an interesting disjoint when comparing the RAW STORY account to the Star-Tribune article. In the RAW STORY article, Koering allegedly supports outing; however, in the Star-Tribune, his attitude changes when related to his OWN outing:

At about the time of the vote, gay and lesbian activists were e-mailing reporters and legislators pictures of Koering allegedly taken at a gay bar in Minneapolis. He doesn't seem pleased with efforts to "out" him against his will. He says of pressure from the activists: "They can do, and I'm sure they will continue to do, whatever they want, which I think is a sad state of affairs...

Given RAW STORY's checkered record when it comes to truthfulness, my thought is that the story there is slanted to provide positive PR for Mike Rogers, especially after the embarrassing incidents over GayPatriot. If not, one wonders why Koering supports outing others, but opposes others outing him.

Meanwhile, Rogers is frantically claiming over on GayOrbit that he was not going to report on Koerner REGARDLESS of how Koerner had voted on the marriage amendment. This nicely corroborates my argument that Rogers's and Aravosis's "outings" have little to nothing to do with one's actual voting record and are driven primarily by personal and partisan vendettas.

Finally, from my standpoint, this is a victory and a half for gay conservatives. In addition to the obvious good point of another out Republican, we now have the Rogers/Aravosis crowd stating on record that a gay Republican who supports state DOMAs, letting people vote on whether or not to amend state constitutions to discriminate against gays, and is rabidly pro-life is a) not antigay, b) not to be outed, even if they vote in favor of antigay state constitutional amendments, c) not "self-loathing", and d) is in fact an "American hero". In their desperation to gain some, nay ANY, endorsement for their work, they've made themselves and their criteria for outing completely irrelevant.

Now, to bed!

The Start of a Long and Winding Road

As R Cane reports over on Central Front, the game is afoot in terms of Texas's antigay state constitutional amendment (further details can be viewed here with registration -- if you are already registered with or other Belo media outlets, you can use your username and password here as well).

On the one hand, obviously this is a downer -- we were entertaining hopes that this sucker would die in committee. On the other, though, this may be a bit of legislative gamesmanship on the part of Swinford and Wong, who are fully aware that Warren Chisum, chief homophobe of the Texas Legislature and of the Texas Republican Party, is dumb enough to do like he said he would and try to re-add the language broadly banning legal arrangements of any type that originally blocked the bill in committee with the objection that it would invalidate or ban existing arrangements. That has barely a chance of passing on the House or Senate floor, much less getting the two-thirds required for the amendment to clear the Legislature and be put on the ballot. Furthermore, at this point in time, it's basically do-or-die for the amendment -- either it gets passed or it dies for this session.

This of course makes it more imperative that Texas glbts continue to write their state senators and representatives, reminding them of the dangers in constitutional amendments with overreaching language (a la Ohio) and how this debate is taking time away from the vastly more-important issue of school finance.

Meanwhile, R Cane and I will be out here digging trenches and antitank ditches. (grin)

Weekend Catchup

As invariably seems to happen, the few days I take a vacation from posting, I am linked by another blog and website of reasonable repute -- Independent Gay Forum -- concerning one of my posts, in this case my discussion of the uselessness of HRC and NGLTF, among others, in the recent passage of Kansas's antigay state constitutional amendment. Many thanks to Steve Miller and crew; you have been conferred with the official status of Blog Ally and suitably 'rolled.

Meanwhile, fellow Blog Ally Lloydletta alerted me to the ongoing Battle of the Michaels over at GayOrbit. One of the best arguments that I have ever seen written against outing is Michael Demmon's open letter to Mike Rogers and John Aravosis -- incisive, beautifully-reasoned, and well-written. You can't ask for better than that; the next time I visit San Francisco, I shall have to try to meet him. It will either be a good conversation or an explosive argument. (grin)

For now, it's good to be home....because of my upcoming travel schedule, though, blogging will be relatively sporadic over the next few weeks. Take care, all.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Friday Dog Blogging -- April 8, 2005

I'm running around in circles today trying to get ready for an unexpected trip to San Francisco -- no, I was NOT summoned before the Grand High Council of Queers to be stripped of my gay card and parking privileges -- but I didn't want to leave y'all without a Friday Dog Blog.

First off, Worthy Adversary Pam of Pam's House Blend, whose pain we shared with the passing of her canine companion Red, has added a handsome new companion, Tonka, to her already-crowded stable of gorgeous pooches. Pam says Tonka is fitting in well and has already claimed Red's spot on the couch -- so life is good. As an additional point, Tonka is also a Ridgeback rescue -- so on behalf of the doggy world, thank you, Pam, for opening your doors and house!

Next up comes new Blog Ally Robert Shurbet of Lime Shurbet with shots of his beautiful Border Collie Abbey, both en deshabille in bed and exercising her power to cloud the minds of humans with overwhelming cuteness.

With that, I must be off....expect very little in the way of blogging or posting over the next few days....but, from the NDT Mascot (whose doggy-sitter is taking him camping) and myself, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Just How Useless Can HRC and NGLTF Be?

Blog Ally GayPatriotWest of GayPatriot recently posted a bit of his thoughts concerning the passage of the amendment banning gay marriage in Kansas. In there, he linked to the condemnations both HRC and NGLTF made of the vote -- both of which I found to be delightfully-amusing examples of just how out of touch both organizations are with the world around them.

First, and best, was this lovely statement from NGLTF (emphasis mine):

The marriage amendment failed in the City of Lawrence (home of the University of Kansas) by a large margin, losing in 35 of the City's 49 precincts and tying in 3. The margin by which it carried in Shawnee County (where the state's largest City, Topeka, is located) was smaller than statewide (Shawnee County/Topeka: 67% - 33%).

Actually, NGLTF, Topeka isn't the largest city in Kansas -- Wichita is. Indeed, Topeka isn't even in the top THREE of Kansas cities -- it's ranked FOURTH.

My question: Is this indicative of how much time you actually spent researching Kansas, its people, and its issues before opening your mouths?

Next up was HRC, with this little number:

“The harm done to thousands of Kansas families is incalculable,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “As voters come to understand the real consequences of this amendment, we hope they understand how wrong this amendment is.”

My question: Where were you when HRC dropped millions of dollars on supporting John Kerry, who stood just across the river from Kansas in Missouri and said he supported and "would have voted for" THAT state's nearly-identical constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?


The Rollercoaster of Activism

Yesterday was one of those high and low days that seems to be the hallmark of being an involved and politically-aware gay man. On the upside, the lobbying effort (mine and others) to make the Texas Legislature realize that we're actually reading these bills and that Warren Chisum's idiocy in writing them will be called out seems to be working. That would have almost been worth a plane ticket to Austin to see Chisum have to backpedal and say he would try to "amend the bill later" -- which is the political kiss of death in the Legislature. I'm becoming more and more optimistic that the imperative of fixing school finance during the last eight weeks means that this bill may very quietly die in committee -- or, even better, make it out to the House floor and be torn apart for "imprecise wording", which is quickly becoming my favorite means of pinning down and blocking antigay legislation. Yes, several of the Republicans on the committee DID review a copy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer article concerning the inadvertent effect of Ohio's amendment on certain state laws -- why do you ask? (wink)

On the other hand, though, Kansas provided the low, with the passage of the state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, PLUS civil unions and domestic partnerships, by a rather large margin. While I think the passage of this was to some degree a foregone conclusion, I was hoping that the margin would be lower because of the language involved and because of the opposition of some prominent Republicans. However, I think, based on what I've heard from my network of spies in the Sunflower State ("Friends of Dorothy"? Natch, LOL.), what turned people off the most was the gay activists screaming, "If you pass this, we're taking it to court, because it's unconstitutional!" Furthermore, certain glbts performed actions that bordered on the idiotic, such as this gem of attempting to argue that (major Kansas employer) SBC would stop offering domestic partner benefits, but then melting down under cross-examination and admitting that a) they were speaking for themselves, not SBC, and b) referring to the fact that the state of Kansas wouldn't recognize their registered partnership in California, so they couldn't get partner benefits -- totally ignoring the fact that the state of Kansas, because of its DOMA, already did not recognize said registered partnership, and they were STILL getting partner benefits. Unfortunately, that registration requirement is SBC's, not the state, which means that SBC can accept any fool thing they want as proof of a domestic partnership -- and indeed many employers, mine included, don't even require public registration (ours is that you have been in a committed relationship for six months, that you live at the same address, and that you're not already married to someone else or trying to claim a blood relative as your domestic partner).

What we have to be careful about in activism is realizing that, when it comes to laws and amendments, it's all about words -- and certain words are better than others.

For instance, here's Ohio's antigay state constitutional amendment (emphases mine):

Article XV Section 11. Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.

In short, the language in this thing is absolutely hideous, which is why many prominent Republicans in Ohio opposed it. The judge in the domestic-violence case ruled absolutely correctly -- Ohio's domestic violence law creates a legal status for unmarried abuse victims that is identical to that of married abuse victims for the purpose of extending the "effect" of marriage to unmarried couples.

Is this fixable? Yes, but it will be annoying -- they will have to go through and amend the domestic violence law to either exclude unmarried people, which may violate equal protection (remember, it's criminal law, where that is much more heavily-applied), or blow up the statute completely and revert to just plain "assault", which I doubt would fly with voters. They've created a mess, and it needs to be called out as such.

In contrast, Kansas's, while hardly desirable, has much softer and more-defensible language from a constitutional standpoint (again, emphasis mine).

(a) The marriage contract is to be considered in law a civil contract. Marriage shall be constituted by one man and one woman only. All other marriages are to be declared to be contrary to the public policy of this state and are void. (b) No relationship, other than a marriage, shall be recognized by the state as entitling the parties to the rights or incidents of marriage."

The key difference is that word "entitling". Used in this context, you can add "automatically" to the front of it, and you can read it as simply amending equal protection to prohibit the argument that, because I have a domestic relationship, be it same-gender or otherwise, the law requires that I have the same rights as a married couple. However, the fact that it's not required does not necessarily preclude it from being given -- which, according to my reading, means that the amendment at the least does not affect legal arrangements between glbts or private companies, at the medium does not preclude the state or governmental units from offering partner benefits, and at the most would allow limited civil unions or partner registry. It also would allow the state, in my interpretation, to separately extend spouse-like protections to victims of domestic violence in a proactive fashion, avoiding the domestic violence snafu or similar situations in Ohio.

Lest I be misinterpreted, let me make it clear that I oppose state constitutional amendments and legislation that discriminate against gays, even if they provide for civil unions, because it writes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation into fundamental law. However, my point in this is that gay activists who wish to deal with constitutional amendments must stick to facts, not overdramatize the issues, not make threats, and understand the motivations people have for advancing every specific word in the amendment. Namecalling and threatening lawsuits don't work -- we've proven that already. Careful, constructive debate and airing of your concerns, backed up with facts, does work.