Tag Archives: LGBT

Let’s talk about it!

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

The do’s and don’ts on marriage for gay and lesbian couples

When Americans vote on Nov 4, 2008, Californians will also be asked if they agree to Proposition 8 or not. Also known as the Protect Marriage Act, Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in May 2008 that authorized the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. To vote YES to Proposition 8 is to ban same sex marriage and maintain the Family Code that explicitly defines the union of a man and a woman as the only valid or recognizable form of marriage in the State of California. To vote NO is to uphold the controversial Supreme Court decision and agree to legalize same-sex marriage.

Over the coming weeks leading to the election, we can expect Californians to encounter a lot of propaganda by gay rights organizations as well as by proponents of Proposition 8 to try to sway their votes. What are both sides saying?

I Do support marriage of same-sex couples

Recently, a television commercial and a series of print ads were launched to open hearts and minds about the issues involved when same-sex couples marry. Called Let California Ring, the public education campaign addresses the public’s concerns and conflicts about marriage and same-sex couples. It builds a better understanding of the everyday challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians face, and encourages dialogue through individual and public conversations about ways to end exclusion.

Over 50 diverse organizations have come together in the Let California Ring Campaign. They hope that the campaign will be able to engage people to talk about the freedom to marry and to build public support for gay marriage.

“I dreamed of seeing my son get married,” said Sylvia Castro-Adams. “Now that California law finally allows them to marry, Paul and Max seized the opportunity. I’m so happy they’re married; it gives me great comfort to know my son will be taken care of by someone who loves him, no matter what. I want to honor and celebrate Max and Paul’s love and commitment just as we do for all the loving couples in our family. So, we’re planning a big reception, with all the family together.”

In a recent collective editorial brainstorming session in LA organized by New American Media (NAM), a PR practitioner from San Francisco named Robert spoke of other stories of love and commitment. “The first couple who married in June 16, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, has been together for 55 years. Del died Aug 27. Her last great act was finally marrying the person she has loved for over 50 years. This is why people care so passionately about this issue. How would you feel if you can’t marry the person you love? How would you feel if the government told you, you can’t marry the person you love,” Robert said.

Sandy Close, NAM executive director, said that the gay community wants society to talk about their plight, and to understand and support them. The main message of Let California Ring is that “as California’s gay and lesbian couples marry, their families grow stronger. And what’s good for families is good for our communities. Strong commitments make for strong families and strong communities.”

I Don’t support marriage of same-sex couples

Those who are opposed to gay and lesbian marriages believe that the union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and legalizing gay marriages could undermine the family.

Bishop Oscar Solis of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles stands by what Pope Benedict has stated—that the Roman Catholic Church denounces homosexual behavior but calls for empathy and compassion for gays and lesbians. The Church teaches that the inclination toward homosexuality is not necessarily a sin; it can be considered a tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. However, as Pope Benedict said, “a person engaging in homosexual behavior acts immorally,” because he feels that sex is only good if framed in the stance of being for procreation between a married man and woman. Currently, the Roman Catholic Church has strict limitations on allowing homosexuals to become members of the clergy, and it also continues to fight the legal recognition of homosexual couples

Many other Christian denominations reject same-sex marriage because several verses in the Bible denounce it, like in Romans 1:26-27: That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”

Asked to comment on the question of many gays about “how would you feel if the government tells you that you can’t marry the person you love?,” Pastor Mark Briones of Word International Ministries- Los Angeles stated that, “It’s not a question of what people wish or desire. It’s an issue of what God says is right or wrong. Since I believe the Bible is God’s Word and it says homosexual relationships are wrong, then I cannot support gay marriage.”   (www.asianjournal.com)

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A Day of Gaiety

by Joseph Peralta/AJPress

SAN FRANCISCO – One of the biggest annual events in the San Francisco calendar took place last weekend when the 2008 San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Celebration grabbed the spotlight in the downtown area.

I was able to catch the Gay Pride parade and walk on the festival grounds on the second day of the two-day festivities, which has become one of the most well-attended celebrations in the city during the summer.

The parade, which featured more than 160 contingents, guests and floats, certainly reflected this year’s theme of “United by Pride, Bound for Equality” as many of the contingents chose to celebrate the opportunity recently presented to same-sex couples: gay marriage.

Whether it was a lesbian couple with a “Just Married” sign on their motorbike riding with Dykes on Bikes, who opened the Gay Pride parade, or a gay couple exchanging vows on a float in front of their friends and relatives, or couples carrying placards saying “Married” or “Newly-Married,” parade participants brought home to watchers the message that they are ecstatic with the way recent events have gone, and that they are happy to be treated as equals when it comes to the issues of marriage, spousal rights and family.

The Gay Pride parade also featured the usual suspects: city officials and politicians (led by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom who is credited with getting gay marriage on track again), community groups and grassroots organizations, major corporations like Wells Fargo, Virgin America, Air New Zealand and Smirnoff, celebrity guests (Cyndi Lauper, Charo, Stuart Milk and Leslie Jordan), parade grand marshals, and contingents representing the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender communities.

Of course, what would the Gay Pride parade be without the usual scantily-clad dancers and risqué costumes worn by some parade participants. Or the colors of the gay flag reflected in the floats and outfits of the different contingents. (No, no, you won’t see those pictures here, but you can do an internet search if you want to know what I’m talking about.)

Along the sides of the parade route, I saw people genuinely enjoying the parade which featured the weird, the touching, the funny, the serious, and whathaveyou.

I also a few things. The wellprepared came in early with a battle plan: find the best spots that can offer a shade once the sun starts blazing down. The multi-taskers had their own agenda: watch a little bit or all of the parade, and head into the malls afterwards to do some shopping. And the enterprising? They hawked gay paraphernalia (beads, rainblow flags, whistles, hats), food and/or drinks, and other merchandise to the willing.

Next year, I will have to remember to come in early so I can have a better view. Otherwise, I will have to be content with trying to find open spots where people are smaller than I am so I can shoot over their heads, as was the case this year.

It was not all love though at the parade. Where one normally takes the cable car at Powell Street, the religious right and so-called “haters” had their placards up. They were largely ignored by the majority of attendees who seemed to enjoy the parade.

At the festival grounds, I came across people of all shapes and sizes, and all orientations. I was happy to see fellow Pinoys enjoying the entertainment spread throughout the grounds (one main stage, and six smaller stages), particularly in the Asian & Pacific Islander stage which featured Tita Aida, R&B/pop/jazz singer Melissa Reyes, and a few Filipino female impersonators.

Actually, the San Francisco Gay Pride Celebration, which reportedly attracts an estimated 200,000 visitors from outside the Bay Area, is not only for the LGBT group. I saw a lot of straight people at the festivities which just shows what a long way tolerance for each other has come in this day and age.

One thing is for sure – if you have reservations about seeing people who are scantily clad, then the SF Gay Pride Celebration is not your cup of tea. This goes for parents who don’t want to have their children exposed to the gay culture – at least, not until they are of age.

But if you have a Sunday to spare and want to have some fun, then attending Gay Pride can be worth it… just bring your baon, your sunblock, your chairs and an open mind.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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California Allows Same-Sex Marriage

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO – The California Supreme Court ruled out on Thursday, May 15, that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, rejecting State marriage laws as discriminatory. California has followed the State of Massachusetts as the second state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.

The SC Justices, voting 4-3, in a decision penned by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, ruled that “excluding access to the designation of marriage to same-sex couples will not deprive any opposite-sex couples or their children of any of the rights and benefits conferred by marriage statutes. That will simply make the benefits of the marriage designation available to same-sex couples and their children.”

“The exclusion of the same-sex couples in the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children,” the Justices wrote. “No one is hurt by allowing same-sex couples to marry; instead same-sex couples and their children will be getting the same benefits that everybody else enjoys in the state. No more, no less.”

Fairness and Equality

“Today, our Supreme Court has acted in accordance with the great California traditions of fairness and equality, of live and let live. The California Supreme Court had the integrity and the courage to do its job and say that all Californians are entitled to equal protection of the law,” said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Center in Hollywood. “All but one was appointed by Republican governors. And today, that moderate court did exactly what it is supposed to do.”

“It’s been four hard years, but with persistence, strategic thinking, and fearless determination, we’ve succeeded,” said Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, and co-counsel on this case. He thanked the support that he received from more than 500 groups from the state of California “who submitted briefs to the court, asking them to uphold the freedom to marry, including the NAACP, MALDEF and APALC.”

“Today’s a historic day. I think future generations will look back to today’s decision as a landmark decision for fairness and equality,” Davidson added.

Long overdue

The long-awaited court decision stemmed from the city of San Francisco’s highly publicized same-sex weddings, which in 2004 helped spur a conservative backlash in a presidential election year and a national dialogue over gay rights. After a month of jubilant same-sex weddings in San Francisco, the California Supreme Court intervened and ordered city officials to stop issuing licenses to gay couples, and later invalidated the documents and declined to address the constitutionality of a state ban on same-sex marriage until lower courts acted first.

Last September, a broad coalition of over 60 local, state, and national Asian American organizations filed a groundbreaking amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Marriage Cases, a case before the California SC challenging the state’s marriage statute. The Asian American organizations sought to support basic fairness for same-sex couples and their families, drawing from parallel discriminatory efforts targeting the Asian American community, including past struggle of Asian Americans with marriage discrimination in California.

“We are thrilled by today’s landmark victory. Now our fight will be to preserve this win in November, where there will likely be an initiative to overturn this breakthrough,” said Karin Wang, API Equality-LA steering committee member and vice president of programs at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC).

“I am truly excited that a Filipino can marry other gay people,” opined Noel Alumit, 40, a FilAm community organizer with the Make Arts/Stop AIDS at University of California, Los Angeles.

“This is an incredible right that the Philippines could not have. That is why my family is here. My family brought us here so that we could follow our dreams,” Alumit added.

Proud Californian

“Today, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Californian,” said Mayor Villaraigosa at a press conference held at the Gay & Lesbian Center in Hollywood, a couple of hours after the ruling came down. “I couldn’t be prouder of the California Supreme Court – whose shift 60 years ago, in a landmark decision – ruled that you couldn’t discriminate on marriage based on race. We are now leading the way once again, and here in California same-sex couples can marry; that it’s a fundamental right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Not yet over

The ruling is not likely to end the debate over gay marriage in California. Even before the ruling was handed down, conservative groups have been circulating petitions to put an initiative in the November 2008 elections that would seek to amend California’s Constitution to block same-sex marriage. Before Thursday’s ruling, gay rights lawyers predicted that a victory in the California Supreme Court would help them defeat the proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, which the lawyers predicted could qualify for the November ballot. The California Supreme Court has six Republican appointees and one Democrat.

“What is important about this decision is that not only is it historic – what is important is it goes into effect in 30 days, and basically that means that gay people who have been longtime partners who wanted to be married, who haven’t been able to get married, will be able to go out and do it,” said Tori Osborne, senior adviser to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and former executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Center.

“It looks as if the conservatives are going to call for a marriage ballot initiative in the November (2008) ballot,” Osborne said, “but it would be much harder to the people of California – who are fair-minded and good – to take away this right once they see people actually line up and get married.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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