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Republican Glenn Miller gets called a “RINO” for supporting gay rights. His response is epic

May 14, 2014 By Josh Steichmann
EQCA endorses Glen Miller for SD 28

EQCA endorses Glen Miller for SD 28

In a first for Equality California, we endorsed a Republican, Glenn Miller, for Senate District 28. He has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, and has pledged to be a representative for all Californians. Needless to say, this made some people unhappy, including former Riverside County Republican Party Chairman Bob Richmond, who sent out a letter:

The democrats have 2 of their candidates running for the Senate. One of the democrat candidates is endorsed by the Democrat State Party. But, Equality California has endorsed Republican Glenn Miller to be their choice to vote for and to win. Why? Would Glenn Miller work with and sellout to these pinko commie, socialist, progressive, liberal, democrats just to get elected? The democrats don’t endorse any candidate over 2 other democrats, because you’re a nice guy or because you are a good Republican. They endorse you, because you agree with their democratic ideals more than the other 2 democrat candidates. Equality California has endorsed over 60 democrat candidates and Glenn Miller as the only Republican, actually the only Rhino. This is a very partisan left wing organization.

As the past Chairman of the Riverside County Republican Party, I would say that it would be a disaster to elect Glenn Miller and send him to the Senate. He cannot be trusted to do the right things for Republicans. I don’t want him to be the one senator that will sell out to the Democrats on raising taxes, organizing and voting for a plastic bag ban, like he did in Indio, or working across the aisle to help pass the Democratic platform. We all know that selling your vote to the democrats is silly. The democrats never vote with Republicans for smaller government, less taxes, less regulation or 2nd amendment rights, which are the real important things that will save California and bring us back to the great State that we once were, when Republicans controlled the government. I hope all Republicans, who vote for Glenn, enjoy his victory party with a bunch of like-minded Socialists.

Glenn Miller’s response is epic:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Many of you have received an email late last night from Bob Richmond, a declared supporter of Bonnie Garcia, in which I was accused of being a “rhino” and “socialist” due to my recent endorsement by Equality California. It is a great honor to be the very first Republican in the State of California that has received this endorsement from this groundbreaking organization that has led the way on LGBT issues in our State and fights for equality for everyone.

Mr. Richmond fails realize that the Republican Party has a history of alienating the LGBT Community. This makes many LGBT Americans reluctant to support such a one sided political party.

When I first entered the State Senate race, I promised the residents of the 28th District that when I’m elected I will represent ALL the residents of the District, and not just members of the Republican Party. This district is made up of a diverse group of good, hardworking people that come from different social and economic backgrounds and everyone deserves equal and fair representation from their State Senator, not just more campaign promises.

Over the past 6 years as an elected official for the City of Indio, I have had the pleasure of working with other elected officials in the Coachella Valley who are members of the LGBT community. They know that I am fair minded and that I truly care about making our community a better place to live, work and raise our families. I have also used this same approach when working with my Democratic and Independent colleagues on regional projects in Riverside County, and at the State level on the League of California Cities Revenue and Taxation Board.

However, there is one thing I am certain of, the Republican Party will not be successful in this District or in the State of California if it continues to support people like Bob Richmond and his closed-minded beliefs. Our focus must be on the importance of fairness, equality for all and inclusion of all residents in the State of California, and that is what I stand for!

Sincerely,

Glenn A. Miller,

Councilmember City of Indio and

Candidate for the 28th State Senate District

Big changes at EQCA

April 22, 2014 By Josh Steichmann

John_and_Rick_compDear EQCA members,

Thank you. For the last year and a half, I’ve had an amazing opportunity to lead one of the premier organizations fighting for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together: We had major legislative victories, like passing the first law in the nation to protect transgender students, and major victories in the courts — I’ll never forget the joy in the faces around me when news of the Proposition 8 decision came down and our supporters flooded the streets.

We’ve strengthened EQCA organizationally, helped to increase the LGBT community’s political power in California and initiated new programming that did more to directly enroll uninsured LGBT people under the Affordable Care Act rollout than any other LGBT organization nationwide. EQCA is in a better place now, and I’m proud of that too.

Which is why it’s with a mix of emotions that I’m letting you know today that I’ve decided to step down as executive director of EQCA effective July of this year.

While it was a difficult decision to leave EQCA at this time to handle personal affairs, I’m thrilled that our boards of directors have acted swiftly and decisively to select a new executive director.

Effective September 1, EQCA board member, LGBT and environmental advocate and senior partner with the law firm of Latham & Watkins, Rick Zbur, will succeed me as executive director of Equality California.

I’m confident that Rick is the right choice to lead EQCA into the next chapter. Rick is a dynamic leader who will continue our work and advance EQCA’s mission of securing full and lasting equality for LGBT Californians.

Rick is a father of three, and he grew up in a farming community in the Rio Grande Valley south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his mother, Erlinda Chavez Zbur and her family have lived for generations. Rick has been a lifelong LGBT trailblazer: He was Latham & Watkins’ first openly gay attorney and first openly gay partner. He also took a leave of absence from his firm in January 1996 to run for Congress in California’s 38th Congressional District, where he became the first openly gay, non-incumbent to win a contested primary for U.S. Congress.

Rick is also active politically and in the non-profit world. He has served and will continue to serve as president and chair of the board of the California League of Conservation Voters, the political action arm of California’s environment community. He has also served on the board of Lambda Legal and was a founding director and vice president at the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.

Rick’s top priority will be continuing the trajectory of stability and effective work that we’ve achieved during the last 18 months. He will focus on the organization’s core mission of achieving full and lasting equality for LGBT people through smart and effective legislation, education and outreach, and by building and expanding our community’s political power. A key to EQCA’s success under Rick’s leadership will be to continue to strengthen our partnerships and alliances within and as a part of California’s emerging electorate.

I have loved my time with EQCA, and will continue on through July. I am only able to leave EQCA with satisfaction at this time due to the confidence I have in Rick, the board and staff to all continue on with the important work and to take EQCA to the next level.

Please join me in giving Rick Zbur a warm welcome as the next executive director of Equality California.

New life for ENDA in Congress

October 28, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Cindy McCain signed postcard in support of ENDA

Passing a national Employment Non-Discrimination Act to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees has been a goal of LGBT advocacy for a generation, introduced in every Congressional session since 1994, with similar legislation dating back to 1974.

ENDA may be getting new life, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid readying ENDA for a Senate floor vote, and a growing effort to bring Republican support to the bill.

Even Cindy McCain is signing on, though her husband has yet to vote in favor.

But if the Senate can pass ENDA, the real question will be the GOP-led House. After an “autopsy” came out last year analyzing the dismal failure of the Republican party to attract young voters, one of the prescriptions was moving toward more support for LGBT equality, and an employment bill could be more palatable than something like marriage.

A staggering 80 percent of voters already believe that ENDA is law, and 56 percent of self-described Republicans favor passing ENDA, according to a new poll (PDF) from the Human Rights Campaign. However, Republicans in the House are even more conservative than Republican voters as a whole, so it’s hard to predict whether ENDA will gain sufficient traction to pass.

Angel Haze covers “Same Love”

October 24, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Angel_haze Angel Haze covers Macklemore’s “Same Love” and raps about queer sexuality beyond boundaries. https://soundcloud.com/angelhazeym/same-love-angel-haze

STAY DENIED! MARRIAGE COMING MONDAY TO GARDEN STATE

October 18, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Freedom to marry garden stateCongratulations to loving same-sex New Jersey couples — the New Jersey Supreme Court today held that same-sex couples can marry starting Monday at 12:01 a.m., denying a stay while the court case winds its way through the appeals process.

In their decision, the Court wrote: “What is the public’s interest in a case like this? Like Judge Jacobson, we can find no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process unfolds.”

The long, winding road to the freedom to marry in New Jersey began in earnest in 2002, when Lambda Legal filed Lewis v. Harris, which ended in 2006, with the NJ Supremes ruling that loving same-sex couples couldn’t be denied the rights and privileges of marriage without explicitly mandating the freedom to marry. The New Jersey legislature enacted civil unions, but Garden State Equality, New Jersey United for Marriage and Lambda Legal have been working since then to get full marriage.

The current case, Garden State Equality v. Dow, was filed in 2011, and on September 27, the New Jersey Superior Court found that in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act case, civil unions no longer provided the same protections and benefits that marriage did, ruling that all loving couples in New Jersey must be allowed to marry, setting the effective date as October 21.

Gov. Brown Signs Law Making Accurate ID Easier for Transgender Californians

October 8, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

ab 1121It just got a little bit easier (and cheaper) for transgender Californians to live authentic lives.

Governor Jerry Brown just signed AB 1121, written by Assemblymember Toni Atkins, which streamlines the process for documentation changes, specifically name and gender changes on ID like driver’s licenses and vital documents like birth certificates. The law was cosponsored by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center.

Up until now, changes to birth certificates required a court hearing, and now California is in line with many other states that only require an administrative action, in this case from the Office of Vital Records. Since the court filing fee is $435, and the courts are already overburdened with actual cases, this is a win-win for transgender Californians and good governance.

The law also changes the requirement of public notice, which for many transgender people requires outing themselves to their entire community, which may not be safe and at the least is an unnecessary hassle.

“One step in enabling transgender people to live authentic lives consistent with their gender identity is to ensure that their names and their official documents are consistent with who they are,” said Atkins. “I am very pleased that the Governor signed my bill to move us forward toward equality and dignity for transgender Californians.”

“Today California made it easier for people who are transgender to live authentic lives by removing unnecessary barriers to name changes and identity documents,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “This is a common sense solution to ensure that transgender Californians are treated fairly and with respect. We thank Gov. Brown and Assemblymember Atkins for their leadership.”

100 Days Later

October 4, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

100 days from SCOTUS marriage100 days ago, the Supreme Court struck down the central portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, and dismissed the last gasp appeal of the Prop. 8 supporters, returning the freedom to marry to California. Across the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people cheered along with allies who supported the vision of an America where everyone could marry the person that they love.

Since then, we’ve seen a parade of victories at the federal level, from the Department of Homeland Security allowing same-sex spouses full immigration privileges to the IRS issuing new rules to make sure loving same-sex couples are recognized, to the first same-sex weddings on U.S. military bases. We’ve seen big marriage victories in New Mexico and New Jersey, and we’ve seen the roll-out of the biggest advance in LGBT healthcare in our lifetimes with the Affordable Care Act.

Here in California, we’ve seen the federal courts uphold SB 1172, which ended the psychological abuse of LGBT youth by licensed therapists, we’ve seen transgender students win both with the passage and signing of the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), which ensures that transgender students can participate as their authentic selves in school, and at the Arcadia Unified School District, which settled a lawsuit and implemented policies to ensure transgender equality.  Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom to Marry Affirmed in NJ Court Decision

September 27, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

new jersey freedom to marryNew Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson granted a summary decision today in favor of plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal, seeking the freedom to marry in New Jersey.

The decision rests on two points: First, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided in the 2006 Lewis v. Harris case that New Jersey’s constitution requires same-sex couples be granted the same rights as opposite-sex couples, something that had until now been resolved with civil unions.

But given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which overturned the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples who are married are now entitled to the same federal rights and benefits as any other married couple, which does not apply to civil unions.

Given that, Jacobson held that in order for same-sex couples to have the same protections and rights, the current ban on same-sex marriage could not be constitutional. She ordered that marriage licenses for same-sex couples are to be granted starting Oct. 21.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who will likely seek the Presidential nomination in 2016, had held that it was constitutional to exclude same-sex couples from marriage, and will likely appeal.

Pope Suggests Church Shift on Gay Rights

September 19, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Pope_Francis_rainbow

In a move that signals softening of the Vatican rhetoric on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Pope Francis has spoken out about the “obsessive” focus of the Catholic church on abortion and LGBT issues.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he said to Jesuit priest Fr. Antonio Spadaro, who conducted the interview for La Civilta Cattolica. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

This holistic approach has annoyed some hardline conservative Catholics, including Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., who said he was “disappointed” because Pope Francis hadn’t spoken out about abortion or marriage for same-sex couples.

The Pope’s new statements come a few months after, when asked about gay priests, Pope Francis said, “Who am I to judge?”

DignityUSA, an organization that represents LGBT Catholics, took his earlier comments as a step forward toward the respect for all members of the Catholic community.

We here at EQCA hope that the Pope’s shift toward tolerance and away from restrictive doctrine finds a way to Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s heart; Cordileone is an arch conservative and major proponent of both Prop. 8 and DOMA.

AG Holder ends Exclusion of Same-sex Couples from Veteran Benefits

September 4, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Saluting LGBT veterans

In a letter (PDF, Washington Blade) issued today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder informed Speaker of the House John Boehner that the Department of Justice would no longer be enforcing sections 101(3) and 101(31) of Title 38, which covers veterans’ benefits.

In plain English, that means that same-sex spouses of veterans are entitled to the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses.

Holder cites the Windsor case, where the Supreme Court ruled that treating married same-sex couples differently for tax purposes violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause, arguing that under the court’s decision, treating same-sex spouses differently in veteran’s benefits would violate the same due process protection.

He goes on to mention that the only reason why the Department of Justice was enforcing them was because the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — the same folks who defended DOMA — were still defending them. Since BLAG recently dropped that case, Holder saw no reason to keep enforcing the discriminatory portions of the law even without having a clear court ruling on those portions specifically. Continuing to enforce those previsions would only have “tangible adverse effects” on same-sex spouses of veterans.

It’s a win, and one more stop on the road to full equality.