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Why My Driver’s License is More Powerful than a Marriage License

September 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Texas SealI love my driver’s license.  It gives me the ability to get in a car and go just about anywhere in the United States.  It’s gotten me on board aircrafts to virtually every state in this great country.  I’ve seen the big sky of Montana and the roaring waters of Niagara, in large part, thanks to my driver’s license.

My driver’s license has a state seal on it, bearing the markings of the State of Texas and it has a 10 year old picture of me on it (shh, don’t tell the DMV!).  I often admire my driver’s license for all the power it gives me all over the United States.

In spite of all my travels here and back again, I’ve never once had my driver’s license questioned.  No cop, airport security official, custom’s agent or bartender has ever told me that they wouldn’t honor my driver’s license.  It is all powerful and grants me the ability to drive in states where I might not even know the laws.

I remember one time I was somewhere in or near New England.  I’d been bouncing around the country a lot and my GPS led me astray.  I found a safe spot and did a u-turn, something completely legal in Texas.  The red and blue lights came flying up behind me and a rather kindly police officer took a look at my Texas driver’s license before explaining to me that it was illegal in that state (whichever it was) to do a u-turn.  He then sent me on my merry way with no penalty at all – other than a few minute delay.

That’s why a driver’s license is more powerful than a marriage license.  Every state in the United States, thanks to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, will accept that I can legally drive, drink or board an airplane.  Unfortunately, marriage licenses aren’t that powerful.  Thanks to the admittedly unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act, states have the ability to say to me, “Nope, that license isn’t valid here, you aren’t married.”  Of course, that only applies if you are gay.

A little ridiculous don’t you think?

Why My Driver’s License is More Powerful than a Marriage License

I love my driver’s license. It gives me the ability to get in a car and go just about anywhere in the United States. It’s gotten me on board aircrafts to virtually every state in this great country. I’ve seen the big sky of Montana and the roaring waters of Niagara, in large part, thanks to my driver’s license.

My driver’s license has a state seal on it, bearing the markings of the State of Texas and it has a 10 year old picture of me on it (shh, don’t tell the DMV!). I often admire my driver’s license for all the power it gives me all over the United States.

In spite of all my travels here and back again, I’ve never once had my driver’s license questioned. No cop, airport security official, custom’s agent or bartender has ever told me that they wouldn’t honor my driver’s license. It is all powerful and grants me the ability to drive in states where I might not even know the laws.

I remember one time I was somewhere in or near New England. I’d been bouncing around the country a lot and my GPS led me astray. I found a safe spot and did a u-turn, something completely legal in Texas. The red and blue lights came flying up behind me and a rather kindly police officer took a look at my Texas driver’s license before explaining to me that it was illegal in that state (whichever it was) to do a u-turn. He then sent me on my merry way with no penalty at all – other than a few minute delay.

That’s why a driver’s license is more powerful than a marriage license. Every state in the United States, thanks to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, will accept that I can legally drive, drink or board an airplane. Unfortunately, marriage licenses aren’t that powerful. Thanks to the admittedly unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act, states have the ability to say to me, “Nope, that license isn’t valid here, you aren’t married.”

A little ridiculous don’t you think?

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.

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.

Video:

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.”

Why DOMA was Actually a Pro-Gay Move.

February 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

I recently read the article “The Land of the Till Murder” written by an African American author in 1956 for Ebony magazine.  I was so moved by the words of the author, I thought I would share them:

So he fights integration on every level, puts up more and bigger white-colored signs, enacts more laws, writes new ones when these are found unconstitutional, forms more economic pressure groups, boards more bullets, taps more phones, listens to more speeches painting the “horrors” of integration.

And the tension rises, thickens, tightens, until the grip of it is agony and something must be done to relieve it and sometimes the relief is found in violence. — Ebony (April 1956): 91–96; By Clotye Murdock.

I felt as though articles I’ve read or even written more recently mimicked the words of Clotye Murdock.  Each time LGBT people are successful on one law, another is passed that reads “differently” in order to fit the requirements of the constitution, then that law is deemed unconstitutional by the Courts and another law is put into place.

In the mid-1990’s, it appeared that Hawaii would become the first state in the United States to recognize same-gender marriage.  The fundamentalists began screaming for the Federal government to do something before we fell into a horrible pattern of sin (similar to the argument against racial integration).  Pressure was on for an amendment to the United States Constitution.  Clinton then did something that enraged LGBT people; he signed the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) into law.  Although obviously an unconstitutional action, DOMA remains in full force and effect today (with the small exception of an Internal Court Order of the 9th Circuit deeming it “unconstitutional”).  In spite of this, DOMA may be considered the smartest pro-gay action of any president.

I can hear it now: how can you consider DOMA to be “pro-gay”?  What sort of activist would say such a thing?  Frankly, at the time DOMA was passed it was VERY likely that the United States would ratify an amendment to the Constitution banning gay marriage.  Such Amendments, although repealable, are much more difficult to pass and even more difficult to repeal.  In fact, to repeal the constitutional amendment, ratification of an Amendment repealing it would have been required.  Such ratification of a Constitutional Amendment to repeal a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage would require either a 2/3 votes of the legislature (2/3 House, 2/3 Senate) and acceptance by the state legislatures or a Constitutional Convention [which has never been used to amend the U.S. Constitution].  With DOMA, we can argue the case in Court and the Court’s have power to repeal it without the super-majority requirement.  This is not to say that the laws provided for in DOMA are in any way, pro-gay; however, the repeal of DOMA will certainly be an easier hurdle than a repeal of a Constitutional Amendment.

What I’ve Learned Thus Far – The Nationwide DOMA Protest (cont.)

January 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, LGBT Action Alerts

After my last  post describing my adventures in downtown San Antonio while attempting to gather signatures to the Open Letter to Obama, I took to the streets again.  It was about 10:30 p.m. when I, along with three others, pulled into the parking lot near a local gay bar.  The crowds were coming at full force and we could have used several more people to try to obtain everyone’s signatures.  It was windy and cold, but our reception was warm and tender… for the most part.

We split into two groups of two people, each with pads of signature pages, the letter and pens.  As people walked toward the clubs, we would stop them and ask for their support.  Many were anxious to get inside into a warmer climate, but those that took time to hear us out were grateful for our involvement and some offered their stories.  One kindly gentleman took a look at the letter and advised me that it hit very close to home for him as he had lost his job due to his sexual orientation.  He told me about his lawsuit and how difficult it was for him.  We discussed the Tennessee man who was recently fired for his sexual orientation as well.  I learned that, in spite of my very comfortable and supportive employment, I wasn’t immune from the reality of sexual orientation discrimination in my own employment.  After our conversation, he thanked me for what I was doing.  It was a very touching experience and I learned that in my zeal to make a difference, I must not forget compassion.

I then spoke with two ladies who were members of our military and serving under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (“DADT”).  We discussed the policy and the efforts to revoke it – and the likelihood that the Obama Administration will do away with the discriminatory policy [at 4:15].  I then inquired as to the murmurs I’ve heard from other military personnel that DADT protects LGBT soldiers from discrimination and aggressive acts by other members of the military.  They were stunned by the representation and completely disagreed with the argument.  They did state, in summary, that lower ranking military members may feel that way, but the truth of the matter was that the DADT was not a protection but a discriminatory policy.  I learned that we must continue to work to repeal DADT and hold the Administration accountable should it remain in effect.

Many LGBT people have made several comments that the African American community is not supportive of LGBT rights and issues.  While working the streets downtown, we approached three African American ladies in a group.  They had a small child with them.  They listened to us and reviewed the letter.  As one of them read the letter, she saw the portion which requested that DOMA be repealed and said, “That’s what I wanted to see.”  She grabbed the pen, pointed it out to her friends and they all anxiously signed the letter. Overall, the “group” that was seemingly the most responsive and most interested in the issue was the African American population.  Not one African American we approached refused to sign the petition.  One of the ladies was wearing a shirt that said, “All we need is love.”  That is what I learned from them.

I noticed that many of the younger people had no interest in signing the petition, even young LGBT people at the clubs.  Most were in too big of a hurry to meet up with their friends inside or stated things such as “I’m not political”.  The older generation (late 20’s and above) seemed much more receptive and had many stories to tell about things that have happened to them.  I learned that, until it happens to you, you probably won’t care too much about it.  I also learned that I miss the ignorant bliss of youth.

Many of the LGBT people I spoke with had never heard of DOMA and required a bit of a history lesson on the subject.  I learned from them that we have a lot of educating to do of our own community.

Some of the more trivial things I learned were: that when it is cold outside, you should wear gloves even if you don’t think you need them; when people have to “pee” you shouldn’t ask them to sign a petition, even though you have no access to a restroom and have had to go for over an hour; that you can never have too many pens; and that people wear too much cologne to the clubs.

Perhaps the most defining thing I learned was that I am s till frightened.  I thought I had overcome my fear of reactionary people and what they may do to me as a gay man, but instead of being the strong, self-assured person I thought I was, I was shaking inside everytime I approached a heterosexual couple and asked them to support LGBT equality.  In that I learned that I was “heterophobic” by the strictist definition.

How I Scare Lesbians – The Nationwide DOMA Protest

January 10, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, LGBT Action Alerts

The National DOMA Protest was conducted today.  I made it to the rally point and met up with the handful of people that showed up.  With letters in hand we took to the streets of San Antonio and began asking for signatures.

After approaching many presumably heterosexual people and a few people who declared their homosexuality, I noticed a lesbian couple (complete with hand holding) and approached them and asked whether or not they would sign the petition to support gay rights and repeal DOMA.  I was flabbergasted when they told me firmly, “no.”  I was so flabbergasted that I didn’t even say my typical, “thank you anyway, have a beautiful day” or any other nicety.  I just stood their – staring blankly.  Two of the people obtaining signatures with me were standing nearby.  I turned and saw their puzzled looks as well.

The night before, I took to the streets handing out fliers near the local “gay” district.  As I approached a group of presumably lesbian women in front of a local gay bar, I attempted to disarm them with a big smile, a pink piece of paper, the lesbian friend nearby and a huge “Hi!”  They scattered.  I turned to one and said, “Would you like to participate in the DOMA protest tomorrow to support gay rights?”  She rolled her eyes at me and said, “no… thank you,” in what was likely the most condescending tone anyone has ever spoken to me in.  The one remaining woman was likely humoring me with her “interest.”  Ultimately, it became clear she had no intention of attending.

But, not all was lost.  An adorable couple and their little girl (roughly 5 or 6 years old) stopped to sign the letter and talk with us.  While her parents were reviewing the letter, the little girl was asking all sorts of questions to her parents about what we were doing.  She was trying to read the letter her mother was holding and said, “Is that so gay people can get married?”  Her mother responded with a yes and the little girl says, “FINALLY!”  My heart glowed with joy.

In a conversation with another couple (also adorable) I began my speech about the first section of DOMA and how it violates Article IV Sec. I of the U.S. Constitution and that even its author, Bill Barr, supports its repeal.  After talking for several a couple of minutes, the young lady looks at me and says, “Can you dumb this down a bit?”  We shared a laugh and I advised its generally in support of “gay marriage” and hate crimes legislation.  Her husband (or boyfriend) said, “If I sign this does it mean I have to marry someone of the same sex.”  I quickly advised him, “No.  But if your interested I do know some people.”

Over all, the experience was positive – for me, it was an excercise in confidence.  Each time I approached someone I was essentially coming out of the closet all over again.  The most negative response received that I’m aware of was “God doesn’t like homosexuals.”  I wasn’t there at the time, but I’m sure I would have simply asked, “Does God like chocolate?”  Just to find out if they knew the answer.

Giving Up Hope for a Gay Tomorrow

December 31, 2008 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

Staying motivated is often the most difficult thing when it comes to LGBT activism and human rights generally.  The odds are against us, yet we cannot lose.  Losing is not an option in this battle because every time those that propagate hatred against us are victorious, they gain power.  We may loss battles, but we cannot lose the war.  Why?  Our lives are at stake.  This is not an issue of marriage, it is not an issue of Due Process or Separate But Equal clauses.  We have our lives to lose and I believe that my life, and the life of those around me, is worth fighting for.

Yesterday, my hope and motivation faltered.  Sometimes, even I lose focus and wander into the land of despair.  I start to have terrible thoughts like “we’re going to lose” or “where is everyone else.”  I start to feel alone, tired and scared.  Especially when the very leadership I call upon doesn’t respond.

Yesterday, you likely heard a loud thud noise.  My hopes and dreams of equality slammed to the ground while I browsed local HRC websites in South Texas looking for information on the National DOMA protest for January 10th. I checked every local LGBT organization I could think of – all of their websites – NOTHING.  I emailed San Antonio’s HRC over two weeks ago.  No response.  I contacted the “organizer” in one city (two weeks ago) offering to volunteer – no response.  I contacted her again thinking she’s likely busy and missed the email, no response.  I also checked Austin’s Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce website which has a calendar of LGBT events – January 10th, nothing listed.  I checked San Antonio’s Gay and Lesbian Community Center’s website – not listed.  I emailed San Antonio’s Gay and Lesbian Community Center, the email was returned undeliverable.  We are relying on these local organizations to lead us – but perhaps it is time that we learn to lead ourselves and to play by our rules.

I was devastated.  I looked inward for the answers to the questions that are already starting to roll out into the blogospheres “when, where, how is the DOMA Protest going to work when there is so little information available?”  Today, I spoke with a dear friend who I haven’t spoken with in a couple of weeks and she reminded me of the importance of human rights and human dignity.  She reminded me that being tired or frustrated is fine, but that if I give up, I lose.

So, as we ring in the new year, I challenge each of my readers to download the letter to Obama and the signature pages [link].  Start obtaining signatures today!  Don’t wait for January 10th. Send it to your friends, your neighbors, your family and have them sign it and start getting signatures as well.  Have them send it on to their family, friends and neighbors.  It is time we each step forward individually and swallow our fear and make a difference. It is time for us to stop waiting for someone to speak out for us and start speaking out for ourselves.

Stand up my LGBT brothers and sisters.  Stand up and be counted.  Run with me toward victory because victory is our only option.

Instructions for the letter to Obama:

1) Download the letter;
2) Sign the letter;
3) Get others to sign the letter;
4) Scan it and submit it to the upload page (to be provided by JTI circa January 10) JTI has since stated they want the hard copy of the letter, please mail the original signatures no later than Monday, January 12, 2009 to:

Join The Impact
PO Box 141491
Columbus, OH 43214

If you are a blogger, post this information to your blog.  If you have a website, a gay friendly business – anywhere on the web… circulate the information via link or write your own.  If you use Digg or Reddit – put this information there.  Print multiple copies and take them to your friends.  We don’t have to wait until January 10th to gather signatures or sign the letter or to have others sign the letter.  We can do this, we can win, we must be victorious!

Remember, a full address is not needed but a zip code is required.