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Archive for the ‘Marriage Equality’

Update from Portland Maine No On 1 Headquarters – Minorities Denied by Majority Tyranny

November 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Headline, iQreport, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

noon1I just spoke with Jeremy DaRos of RageAgainstTheRight.com who is attending the No On One Maine party in Portland at the Holiday Inn.  Attendees are cautiously optimistic as numbers are slowly working their way in.  Because Maine precincts are small, Jeremy tells us we can expect faster results than most states with large metropolitan city centers.

Currently, preliminary results are showing an 80% or more lead for the No On One campaign over those that oppose the same-sex measure.  Jeremy reminds us using a sports analogy nearly lost on this sissy-blogger that it’s as if your favorite team scored a field goal in the first minute of the game and you expect them to win.

You can follow Jeremy DaRos on twitter, @DividedSky1976, as he will be updating live and bookmark this page as updates will be provided as I follow-up with Jeremy periodically throughout the night.

*** UPDATE ***

9:20PM ET – 52.49% in favor of keeping the same sex marriage law to 47.51% in favor of discriminating with 14% reporting.

9:33PM ET – South Portland 64% No to H8 v. 36% in favor of discriminating – thank you S. Portland!

10:05PM ET – Margin narrows with 22% of precints reporting: 50.62% NO – 49.38% yes.

10:30pm ET – 50.1% No, 49.9% Yes with 32% reporting.

10:35pm ET – 51.2% No, 48.8% Yes with 32% reporting.

10:42pm ET – 51.0% No, 49.0% Yes with 33% reporting.

10:44pm ET – 50.6% No, 49.4% Yes with 34% reporting.

10:46pm ET – Split 50/50 with a slight no lead of 37 votes with 37% reporting.

10:49pm ET – 50.2% No, 49.8% Yes with 38% reporting.

11:01pm ET – 50.1% No, 49.9% Yes with 44% reporting.

11:07pm ET – 50.4% Yes, 49.6% No with 49% reporting.

11:09pm ET – 50.3% Yes, 49.7% No with 51% reporting.

11:15pm ET – 51% Yes, 49% No with 56% reporting.

11:20pm ET – 51.5% Yes, 48.5% No with 59% reporting.

11:24pm ET – 51.6% Yes, 48.4% No with 59% reporting.

11:34pm ET – 51.1% Yes, 48.5% No with 65% reporting.

10:52pm ET – 51.8% Yes, 48.2% No with 69% reporting.

10:58pm ET – 51.8% Yes, 48.2% No with 71% reporting.

11:04pm ET – 51.9% Yes, 48.1% No with 74% reporting.

11:07pm ET – 52.1% Yes, 47.9% No with 75% reporting.

11:14pm ET – 52.1% Yes, 47.9% No with 75% reporting.

11:21pm ET – 52.4% Yes, 47.6% No with 79% reporting.

11:36pm ET – 52.4% Yes, 47.6% No with 82% reporting.

11:49pm ET – 52.6% Yes, 47.4% No with 84% reporting.

1:00am ET – 52.7% Yes, 47.3% No with 86% reporting.

New York Times has called the victory for the Yes On 1 Campaign overturning the rights of taxpaying U.S. citizens.

Louisiana Judge Refuses to Preside Over Interracial Marriage

October 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Marriage Equality

ourmarriageAccording to an article in the Huffington Post, a Justice of the Peace in Hammond, Louisiana has denied an interracial couple their right to marry.  The Justice claims he is not a racist, but is concerned for the future offspring of the children.

I’m continually struck by the number of people that claim not to be racist or bigots while practicing racist or bigoted things.  Apparently, they know that being a racist or a bigot is wrong, and they are on the side of right — right?


As a Justice of the Peace, he should be aware that interracial marriage is not illegal anymore – having been deemed unconstitutional 40 years ago.  This particular instance hits home after this weekends National Equality March wherein I briefly interviewed an straight, interracial couple, the Newmans (pictured) about why they are marching.

Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance and other biases  can and do exist in our society, but they must not exist under the law.  To allow an employee of the government who is paid by the taxes of the “free” people of the United States (or in this case, a state in the United States) to use his/her own personal beliefs to decide matters governed by civil law is abhorrent.  If he doesn’t agree with interracial marriage, he needs to find a new job – perhaps Grand Master of the Ku Klux Klan?

I Love Maine and the Real Mainers.

October 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

noon1Watch the current Yes on 1 ads in Maine and you’ll see some familiar faces. Yes, right there on your TV screen you’ll see Robb and Robin Wirthlin bemoaning the fact that their child’s teacher read the book King & King to the class. Why do they look familiar? It’s exactly the same footage used in the Yes on 8 campaign spots from California last year.

But this isn’t the first, or the second time the opposition has used essentially this same ad. Back in 1998, the first time marriage equality was put to a vote in the US, the opposition ran essentially the same commercial in Hawaii.

“In each, according to our opposition, a young child is hurt or damaged when exposed to a book that depicts a gay couple as happy and healthy.  This message – ‘your kids are in danger’ — is a lie designed to frighten and polarize voters, including but not limited to young parents of young children.  This misinformation is what our opposition relied on as far back as Anita Bryant’s 1977 ‘Save the Children’ campaign, and they’re using it again in Maine this year,” according to David Fleischer, media analyst and Lead Organizer of the LGBT Mentoring Project in New York.

In Maine, you’ll also see a school teacher promising that homosexuality will be taught in public school and a law professor promising “a flood of lawsuits.” Meanwhile there is a casting call for a ‘Yes on 1’ commercial looking for a “working waitress type” and a “teacher type,” according to a recent article in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. Sound familiar?

What may not sound familiar is the reaction these tactics are garnering in Maine. In his October 2nd Real Mainers step up for ‘No on 1’ ads,  Bill Nemitz calls out the opposition for its subterfuge.  He begins with pointing out that the handsome traditional family featured on the Stand for Marriage Maine website is actually clip art and calmly and systematically picks apart the spokespeople for the Yes on 1 campaign as not what they purport to be.

There’s the law professor who opines that “Maine’s same sex marriage law would produce a ‘flood of lawsuits’ and lead to mandatory teaching of homosexual marriage in Maine schools.” Turns out he’s not licensed to practice law in Maine and has never lived there.

There is the Maine school teacher who not only does not teach in the public schools, but is the “President of the Maine chapter of Concerned Women for America – a faith-based organization whose mission is ‘to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.’”

And then there are the Wirthlins, not from Maine and appearing in a ‘recycled’ commercial.

In contrast, Nemitz offers, “the anti-repeal ‘No on 1’ campaign overflows with real Mainers who are willing – no make that eager – to go public in their support of equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.” He then equally systematically provides the bona fides for the REAL Mainers who appear in the No on 1 commercials. And, since he knows several of them personally, those are bona fides that the reader can trust.

Ask the people of Massachusetts, with the lowest divorce rate in the nation, and they’ll tell you same sex marriage hasn’t harmed ‘traditional marriage’ or turned their kids gay. We have it. It’s been happening. The sky’s not falling,” according to Dr. Russell Mayer, the Director of the Center for Public Opinion Research at Merrimack College. Or ask the people of Iowa, where a recent poll conducted by the Des Moines Register finds that 92% of Iowans believe that “gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives.”

Soon, the people of Maine will weigh in on the question of marriage equality. I’m putting my faith in the real Mainers who have spoken out for their friends, family, and neighbors. Thank you Maine, for showing the rest of us how to expose the distortions and fear tactics of those opposed to equal rights for the LGBT community. I love Maine!

janewishonJane Wishon, is a straight, married, Christian, mother-of-three who has been married 33 years. She actively campaigned for No on 8, and is no a member of the Interim Admin Group of Restore Equality 2010, the movement to repeal what she calls a “blight” on her state of California. Jane has started a cause for straight allies that can be found on Facebook: straight Ally Women 4 Equality – AWE. Jane also volunteers for AIDS Project LA, and twitters @janewishon.

Senate Majority Leader Endorses National Equality March, Repeal of DADT and Passage of ENDA

October 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Hate Crimes, Headline, iQreport, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

harryreidNationalEqualityMarchSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has been busy lately fighting for social justice, health care reform and the rights and promotion of a peaceful society.  In a September 30, 2009 letter to Derek Washington, Director of Diversity Outreach for the National Equality March, Senator Reid states:

I will continue to work tirelessly to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, as well as to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. I will also continue to advocate for funding of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, research, and housing programs.

His letter goes on to state:

I believe that every American should be treated equally under the law regardless of religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, or other forms of identity. I see your struggle for equality as part of a larger movement for peace and social justice.

Harry Reid has really stepped up to the plate as a “fierce advocate” for social justice and is truly filling the shoes once worn by Ted Kennedy.  Please be sure to let Sen. Reid know how much we appreciate his work and offer your support as he battles for the rights of all Americans.

Our “Fierce Advocate,” Obama, Fights Against Gay Rights — Again

September 18, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

ObamaLast month, a U.S. District Judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer seeking to find the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) unconstitutional.  That dismissal was a logistics issue, not a dismissal because the allegations against DOMA were unfounded.  In the Smelt case, the Judge found that the suit “should have” been filed in federal court, not state court.

But now we have a similar suit filed in Massachusetts – this one in Federal court.  Our self-proclaimed “fierce advocate” has requested that the Justice dismiss this case too!

In court documents filed Friday, the Justice Department makes it clear the Obama administration thinks the law is discriminatory and should be repealed. But the department said it was defending the statute because the law is “constitutionally permissible.” [via Obama administration asks Boston court to dismiss challenge to federal Defense of Marriage law — latimes.com.]

So, although same-sex couples have no right to civil marriage in 44 of the 50 U.S. states, and in spite of the fact that there is no federal recognition of same-sex marriage (except for those meeting the loop-hole requirements for transgender persons), it seems same-sex couples also have no way of properly challenging an admittedly unconstitutional law in court.

What’s a gay to do?

Unite and fight.  Not in the Teabagger “bring out your guns and threaten civil war” sort of way, but we must state loudly and in a unified voice that we are not going to take it any more.

If you don’t know what to do, start by joining me and thousands of others at the National Equality March in Washington, D.C.  There will be many workshops and information sessions conducted on October 10th, followed by the march itself on October 11th at noon.  This is not just a march, this is a movement – this is our fight.

Out-of-State Applicants Account for Nearly Half of All Iowa Same Sex Marriages

August 31, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

IowaFlagYou may remember a short time ago, the U.S. Senate attached Hate Crimes legislation to a tourism promotion bill – prior to moving it over to the defense spending bill.  At that time, I wrote an article asking what sexual orientation/hate crimes and tourism have in common.  Well, now we have our answer.

Let’s face it, Iowa isn’t exactly the tourism capital of the United States.  In fact, it’s likely one of the last places mentioned when you ask someone where they would like to spend their summer vacation.  But now that same-sex marriage is recognized in Iowa, nearly half of all same-sex marriage licenses issued in the state between April and July 2009 have been to people who don’t live there.

Of the 676 same-sex couples [applying for marriage licenses], 312 couples weren’t from Iowa. They were from neighboring states. [via Iowa gay marriage drawing out-of-state couples – Kansas City Star.]

So, to the representatives of the states that want to boost tourism, instead of allowing gambling, building a brothel or launching a multi-million dollar marketing campaign this year, perhaps a little civil equality will do you well.

WI Attorney General Won’t Do What Obama Adminstration Must – Defend the Law

August 22, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

ObamaThe Wisconsin Attorney General, J. B. Van Hollen, has stated that he will not defend the legislatures domestic partnership law in filings seeking to overturn it.  The republican Attorney General feels the legislation, which provides hospital visitation and inheritance protections to same-sex couples, is a violation of the Wisconsin Constitution which holds that no relationship between same-sex couples can be recognized in Wisconsin which is “similar to” marriage.

I’ve often argued that language such as that in Wisconsin’s Constitution is overly broad and can result in the denial of benefits under estate law and medical decision.  For more on that, please read this post and this post.  But that isn’t the issue here.

The problem is that the Wisconsin Attorney General is violating his responsibility to defend the legislation enacted by the legislature against legal challenges and; thus, he should be fired.


Perhaps the real issue is that the Obama Administration, in spite of its claims that it must defend such legislation, doesn’t really have to do so.  If the Wisconsin attorney general can choose not to defend the state in lawsuits filed against it, shouldn’t the Obama Administration be able to make that same choice?

But instead the Obama Administration has chosen to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a piece of legislation Obama himself has called unconstitutional.  Why?  They claim it is because the Administration (by way of the U.S. Attorney General’s office) must defend enacted legislation from legal challenges.

See:  National Briefing – Midwest – Wisconsin – Attorney General Rebuffs Gay Rights Law – NYTimes.com.

The Words of Nelson Mandela Chosen for WeHo Gay Marriage Plaque

August 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

mandelaA bronze plaque memorializing what might have been and what should have been, same-sex marriage right, is being placed in California’s West Hollywood.  The City Council will unveil the plaque at its September 8th meeting and place it at Hollywood Park off North San Vicente Boulevard.

The plaque will bear an interesting quote from an even more interesting person, former South African president, Nelson Mandela:

I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

via West Hollywood to install plaque honoring gay marriages — latimes.com.

South Africa has recognized same-sex marriage since November, 2006 after the Constitutional Court held that banning the marriages “represented a harsh if oblique statement by the law that same-sex couples are outsiders, and that their need for affirmation and protection of their intimate relations as human beings is somehow less than that of heterosexual couples.”

The repeal of the ban on same-sex marriage came only about 10 years after the institution of South Africa’s post-apartheid Constitution, held as one of the most liberal in the world.

Massachusetts Sues United States for Marriage Equality.

July 09, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

massachusettsIt’s easy to see why so much attention is being given to the lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, is getting so much attention.  Massachusetts was the first of the now six states to provide marriage equality to its citizens.  It now seems Massachusetts will lead the way as the State challenges the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).

But before the wahoos in Texas and other jurisdictions get their Bibles all up in people’s faces, the challenge presented by Massachusetts doesn’t challenge Section 2 of DOMA which allows states not to recognize unions performed in other jurisdictions, but instead challenges Section 3 which defines marriage on the federal level as being between one man and one woman.

One of the many, many problems with DOMA is that it contradicts itself.  On one hand, it provides that states define marriage for themselves; however, it then defines marriage under federal law which isn’t always the same definition allocated by states to such contractual relationships – thus, although it attempts to make it appear that the states have the power, it strips power from the state.  Essentially, the federal lawsuit attempts to make the United States recognize that, if the states have the power to define marriage, the United States must recognize the state’s definition.

Think of it this way: If a man and woman were to get married anywhere in the United States, they receive a federal entitlement for Social Security benefits, tax benefits and so forth, even though the federal government is not the agency which issued, approved, filed or otherwise regulated the marriage.  However, if you are in a state where same-sex couple can marry, the federal government does not recognize that marriage.  Same-sex couples in those jurisdictions can therefore file state income tax records as “married,” but the United States taxes are filed as “single.”  This creates a confusing and ludicrous double standard.

As the federal lawsuits keep piling up in an effort to expose discrimination in legal matters, consider this: the economy is still in a recession.  The federal government, in its zeal to protect the erroneous Christian philosophy that marriage is a vow before G0d between one man and one woman, is wasting hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, to make it appear as though the discriminatory policies are legal – similar to the other horrifying human rights violations like detention without representation, domestic wire tapping and torture.

Related News Articles:

Massachusetts sues U.S. over gay marriage rights | U.S. | Reuters.

State Suit Challenges U.S. Defense of Marriage Act – NYTimes.com.

Mass. to challenge US marriage law – The Boston Globe.


Obama Administration’s Anti-Gay DOMA Memorandum In Review.

June 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Marriage Equality

ObamaReports are circulating about the Obama Administration’s recent comments in their “Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendant United State’s of America’s Motion to Dismiss” filed in the Smelt case [Case 8:09-CV-00286-DOC-MLG in the United States District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division].  Some blogs are already reporting that the administration equates gay marriage to “incest and child marriage.”  However, after a review of the Memorandum, the reference to “incest” or “marrying children” relating to gay marriage is thus:

Wilkins v. Zelichowski, 140 A.2d 65, 67-68 (N.J. 1958) (marriage of 16-year-old female held invalid in New Jersey, regardless of validity in Indiana where performed, in light of N.J. policy reflected in statute permitting adult female to secure annulment of her underage marriage); In re Mortenson’s Estate, 316 P.2d 1106 (Ariz. 1957) (marriage of first cousins held invalid in Arizona, though lawfully performed in New Mexico, given Arizona policy reflected in statute declaring such marriages “prohibited and void”).

The citing of case law was used to show a states interest in marriage, but it is considered an affront by many in the LGBT community.

A copy of the Removal to Federal Court (with the Original Complaint attached) is available in PDF here.  It is important to note that the arguments made in the USA’s memorandum directly respond to the allegations made in the Complaint.  The following is a summary [as simplified as possible] of the United State’s response to the allegations made by Smelt:

  1. The Court Lacks Jurisdiction:  With this argument, the Defendant claims that because the case was removed from State Court, the Federal Court lacks jurisdiction.  This is a challenge to legal process, rather than directly related to DOMA.  It is interesting to note that the Defendant USA is the party that filed for removal of the action from the California Superior Court into the Federal Courts.  If the Court determines that it lacks jurisdiction, no other points need be argued.  The case will be dismissed.
  2. The Plaintiff’s Lack Standing: Generally speaking, standing under the law asks, does the party have sufficient stake in the controversy to bring a claim?  If the answer is “no” then the party has no grounds for the lawsuit and it must be dismissed.  Again, this is more procedural than with regard to DOMA specifically.  The allegations made by the good ole US of A are that the Plaintiffs’ do not “‘have plans to seek recognition of their . . . California marriage in another state’ … have not established an ‘imminent injury’ and ‘do not suggest that they have applied for any federal benefits, much less been denied any at this point.'”  As with jurisdiction, if the Court determines that Plaintiff lacks standing, no other points need be argued.  The case will be dismissed.
  3. DOMA Is a Valid Exercise of Congress’s Power under the Full Faith and Credit Clause:  The USA cites two factors as to why DOMA is not a violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause being: (i) the Full Faith and Credit Clause “has never been construed to require one State to give absolute deference to another State’s laws in all circumstances; and (ii) because Congress is expressly empowered to prescribe “the Effect” of one state’s laws over another.
  4. DOMA Cannot Be Said to Violate an Asserted “Right to Travel”: The complaint filed by the Smiths does not specify what “Right to Travel” was denied under DOMA.  This could be a “standing” issue as well as they have not shown imminent harm from the policy.  It is obvious that DOMA does violate the Right to Travel; however, as the Federal government is responsible for issuing passports but will not recognize a name change as a result of a “same-sex marriage.”  Therefore, should a passport be issued in the “maiden name” of one spouse, their state issued ID will not match the passport.  This could potentially present problems with security checks, ticketing, hotel accommodations and customs when travelling abroad.  The name on the airline “ticket” must match the name on the identification being used.
  5. DOMA Is Consistent with Equal Protection and Due Process Principles:  Here, the USA argues our of both sides of its mouth, typical in such memorandum as an “in the alternative” sort of argument.  On one point, they argue that DOMA does not violate equal protection because, essentially, gay men can marry a woman.  They further argue that DOMA does not “prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying.”  Obviously, DOMA in and of itself does not prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying – however, they later admit that, “as a result of their same-sex marriage they will not become eligible for the set of benefits that Congress has reserved exclusively to those who are related by the bonds of heterosexual marriage,” effectively rendering the marriages moot in under DOMA.
  6. DOMA Does Not Violate the Right to Privacy: In this argument, the Court actually sites the pro-choice case, Roe v. Wade, which many of those opposed to marriage wish to be overthrown, which held, “only personal rights that can be deemed ‘fundamental’ or ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,’ are included in this guarantee of personal privacy.”  Thus, the United States argues that marriage is not a fundamental right (fundamental right is a right that is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, they are not two separate test questions).  Some examples of such fundamental rights upheld by courts include: (a) the common law right to self-defense; and (b) the protection of double jeopardy (which was originally found not to be a fundamental right, but later overturned).  There is a distinction between the concept of “Human Rights” and “Fundamental Rights.”  Of interest is the definition of fundamental right in the case, Duncan v. Louisiana, as: “[a right] necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty.”
  7. DOMA Cannot Be Said to Infringe Upon any Rights of Speech:  It is widely judicially accepted that “conduct” cannot be considered speech unless it is “inherently expressive.”  The United States argues in the Memorandum that marriage is not inherently expressive and therefore cannot constitute speech.  However, is marriage “inherently expressive?”  To answer that question we can ask the question the Courts will ask to determine if conduct is “speech”: (a) Does the conduct in question convey a particularized message that would be understood by those who viewed it without consideration of the actual speech that accompanies the conduct?  Although the Courts have held that obtaining a marriage license does not constitute speech, using the test question, it seems that the act of marrying would constitute speech.  It is my opinion that there is no legitimate argument that the observer of a marriage ceremony would not understand the message being conveyed, even in the most narrow sense.  However, the United States disagrees claiming that a marriage ceremony does not constitute inherent expression.
  8. DOMA Cannot Be Said to Infringe Upon any “Right” under the Ninth Amendment:  The Ninth Amendment states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  The United States argues in the memorandum that the Ninth Amendment does not provide for any right but is used for construction purposes.  It’s my opinion that they are correct in the interpretation of the Ninth Amendment because the concern at the time of ratification was that the “Bill of Rights” being listed would limit rights not otherwise enumerated.  Therefore, the Ninth Amendment’s intention was to prevent rights not listed from being diminished.  However, this means that rights to federal marriage benefits cannot be dismissed or diminished even though such rights are not enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

So that is the response of the Department of Justice to the Complaint, generally.  The question thus remains, “Is the memorandum, written by attorneys for the Department of Justice, on behalf of the United States of America, whose Chief Executive Officer is Barack Obama, the opinion of the President of the United States?”

The duty of the United States in these cases is to aggressively defend legislation unless such legislation is blatantly unconstitutional.  In the past, Obama has called DOMA ‘abhorrent’ and requested its repeal via legislative means.  However, a direct legislative assault on the federal court’s jurisdiction with regard to DOMA is underway via H.R. 1269 [A bill prohibiting the federal courts from hearings on the constitutionality of DOMA]  These mixed messages are exactly what is frustrating the lowly grass-roots activists while the major LGBT organizations sit back and take Obama’s advice, “Be patient.”

Well Mr. President, we have been patient.  We believed Bill Clinton and he pushed the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, we believed you and you requested the Supreme Court not hear challenges to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  We started believing in the United States again and the American dream only to have that faith stab us in the guts at the passage of Proposition 8, Amendment 2 and the countless other unconstitutional state bans on equality.  There is no time like the present to stand up with those who stood so strongly with you rather than take a “wait and see” attitude.

They have taken away our liberty to marry, they have challenged our pursuit of happiness, they have even taken many of our lives – but they cannot and shall not have our “HOPE.”