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November 5, 2004

Article 12 is gone

Repeal is a ‘huge step forward for the city’

Cincinnati--The charter article that barred the city of Cincinnati from passing sexual orientation anti-bias laws was repealed by voters on November 2, eleven years after it passed.

City officials are hailing the repeal as a “huge step forward for the city.”

“This is going to erase the stigma of intolerance around the city,” said former Cincinnati mayor Roxanne Qualls. “[The Issue 3] campaign appealed to the best instincts in people.”

“I’m proud of our city tonight,” said current mayor Charlie Luken. “As proud as I have been in a long time.”

Luken noted that the opposition, Citizens for Community Values of suburban Sharonville and its offspring, Equal Rights No Special Rights PAC, spent about $1 million to try to defeat the measure.

“This morning I was worried,” said Luken, “I thought it might go down.”

Charter Article 12 was first enacted in 1993 after an initiative campaign by CCV and ERNSR. Then also known as Issue 3, it was a reaction to a city ordinance protecting gays and lesbians from housing and job discrimination. It survived legal challenges and was in effect long enough to cost Cincinnati over $46 million in convention business lost to boycotts, according to the city’s convention bureau.

Article 12 was the only measure of its kind in the country.

Its repeal was also the only LGBT issue decided favorably in this election, nationwide.

Council member David Pepper said the repeal vote “removed a blight on our city.”

Pepper attributes the passage to the hard work of Citizens to Restore Fairness which gathered the signatures putting the initiative on the ballot and campaigned to pass it.

He also pointed to different attitudes about LGBT people in the city.

“The way people talk about sexual orientation today is real different than that of 10-15 years ago,” said Pepper. “Discrimination feels more wrong now.”

Pepper said once the article was explained to people, they were against it as a matter of common sense.

Pepper said he expects CCV to try to re-enact the measure, though he doesn’t expect they will succeed.

CCV and ERNSR president Phil Burress had commented to press that if Article 12 is removed, he intends to bring it back.

Burress refused to speak to the Gay People’s Chronicle on election night, and his vice president David Miller was not available by press time.

“We took [Burress’s] crown jewel,” said CRF campaign manager Justin Turner. “And by ‘we’ I mean the people of Cincinnati.”

Turner said CRF had 3,700 volunteers and spent around $800,000 to pass Issue 3.

The issue passed 65,082 to 55,934 or 54 percent to 46 percent. That spread was gained shortly after the absentee votes were counted, and maintained throughout the night.

The large crowd gathered at a downtown tavern cheered loudly every time the total flashed on the television screen.

At 1:20 am, CRF co-chair Gary Wright announced the victory to the crowd. “Tomorrow, we live in a different place.”

Burress paid people $120 each to hand out literature to voters at each polling place. CRF volunteers were also there, and reported converting a few of Burress’ hires.

Pam Wright, a CRF poll volunteer, said her opponents were telling voters that if Issue 3 passed, their workplace would be required to hire gay employees if they didn’t already have some.

CRF supporter Chad Edwards said a woman passed him going in to the poll with the opposition literature already in hand.

“I approached her and asked her to vote yes on Issue 3,” said Edwards. “I told her I am a gay man and told her what Article 12 does.”

“When she came out, she came over and hugged me,” said Edwards, “She thanked me for explaining the issue to her and for putting a face on it.”

Upon hearing Edwards’ story, Leslie Evelo, standing next to him, said, “Today, that was the gay agenda.”

For some at the election-night party, the victory was both sweet and Pyrrhic as they also watched the results of Issue 1, the state constitutional amendment against recognition of any relationship outside civil marriage between a man and a woman. That measure passed by a large margin, as it was projected to by 8 pm while people were still waiting in lines to vote.

“Issue 3 is not going to affect my life,” said Sandy Allen. “Issue 1 does.”

Allen said she thought having the two issues on the ballot at the same time helped pass Issue 3.

“People could feel okay just voting for Issue 1,” said Allen.

Gary Wright added, “It’s weird to celebrate getting back to the normal level of homophobia.”

Mayor Luken said he expects city council to act on a new human rights ordinance now that Article 12 is gone.

“Maybe next year, or as a matter for discussion in the 2005 election,” said Luken.

Council member Pepper disagreed with the mayor’s timetable.

“If we want to do it, I don’t see why we need to wait around a year,” said Pepper.

“Politically, though,” said Pepper, “removing Article 12 was worth more than a human rights ordinance. This signals a real change in how the community thinks, and that is a larger victory.”

 

 


Issue 1 passes

All 11 state marriage ban amendments are enacted by lopsided margins

Columbus--An amendment banning same-sex marriage, civil unions, and legal recognition to any relationship outside civil marriage was added to Ohio’s constitution by the voters.

The measure was one of 11 on state ballots, all passed by voters on an election day that exploited same-sex marriage and people’s fears of it to boost the campaign of George W. Bush in battleground states.

The other states that passed the measures November 2 are Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah.

Ohio’s is the most restrictive and the most likely to impact opposite-sex unmarried couples, as well. It is was almost universally condemned as “vague” and said to ensure that the state’s courts will be flooded with cases requiring its interpretation.

People were still in line waiting to vote at 8 pm when news outlets called the measure passed.

It finished with a total vote of 2,915,160 or 62 percent in favor, and 1,789,341 or 38 percent opposed.

The measure, on the ballot as Issue 1, was promoted by the anti-gay Citizens for Community Values of Cincinnati and its progeny, the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage.

Their effort was helped by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who is accused of using his office to thwart challenges to the petitions circulated by OCPM that put the issue on the ballot.

Blackwell was also the spokesperson in all the advertising for the amendment, and admitted to working to pass the measure on behalf of the Bush campaign.

CCV and OCPM president Phil Burress refused to talk to the Gay People’s Chronicle on election night. His vice president David Miller was not available by press time.

Alan Melamed, who headed the Ohioans Protecting the Constitution campaign to defeat Issue 1, said his group will now be looking at court challenges. possible issues include the measure’s vagueness and that it excludes classes of people from constitutional protections in many areas of life.

“There are two things that need to be done now,” said Melamed, “First is the court challenges, and next is we need to continue to win the hearts and minds of all Ohioans on issues of equality.”

Melamed said OPC had some important successes despite the result of the vote, including the large bipartisan coalition against the amendment, and that every Ohio newspaper that editorialized on the issue was strongly opposed to it.

“The difficulty of this campaign was lack of time and lack of resources,” said Melamed. “But people are now more aware of CCV’s tactics, and we were able to press them and expose some of their real agenda to tear the U.S. Constitution apart, get rid of divorce, and make this a Christian nation.”

“These people would fit well into Germany during the 1930s,” said Melamed “With light shining on them, people saw it and started rejecting them big time.”

Melamed said he was moved by the number of people who took their own initiative to organize efforts to oppose the measure, and the number of GLBT people who came out on a new level to tell their stories to sway voters from the amendment.

“Many took a public position like never before,” said Melamed.

Melamed also talked of difficulty getting the GLBT community mobilized against the effort early on, saying that it wasn’t until the last couple weeks of the campaign that people seemed to see the urgency.

Melamed is a 30-year veteran of campaigns and headed Lee Fisher’s 1998 gubernatorial run. But, he said, “This was the most important and the most rewarding and the most meaningful campaign effort I have ever been a part of.”

“This wan’t just about same-sex marriage,” said Melamed, “This was about the core values of this country.”

“This is not a time to be discouraged,” said Melamed, “It is a time to mobilize. We learned how much we can do in a few short weeks and it is extraordinary.”

Of Burress and his supporters, Melamed said, “They had their day. They will not have their world.”

Human Rights Campaign president Cheryl Jacques said in a post election conference call that the question of same-sex marriage was “called too early” in the states across the country.

“It’s like a quiz given to the students before they had the lesson,” said Jacques, adding that people have not had the time to learn about the lives of gay and lesbian couples, and have reacted accordingly. “They just don’t understand the issues.”

Jacques said that polls now show that 61 percent of people support rights for same-sex couples, even though they don’t support marriage.

“Yet in a state like Ohio, they actually voted for an amendment that will ban what they support,” said Jacques. “They need more education, and it takes time to do that.”

Jacques called election day “a tough day for everybody” but urged that “in the middle of the dark moment, people nurse wounds and put things in perspective.”

“In the battle for equality it is not a matter of if we will win, but when we will,” said Jacques. “This was just not our day.”

 


Some say gay marriage
issue gave Bush the edge

Boston--There was at least one huge difference between the presidential voting results this week and those of November 2000: This time around, many pundits are pointing at gay marriage as a reason why the Republican has done so well. And their unspoken message is that Democrats may need to reassess where they stand on the issue.

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, conceded the election to President Bush on November 3. But long before then, political commentators were discussing the impact gay marriage had on the election.

Ironically, Bush and Kerry held nearly identical views on same-sex marriage, especially during the campaign’s final week, when Bush said he supported civil unions. By then, both candidates opposed same-sex marriage and supported civil unions.

The only difference in their positions was that Bush supported an amendment to the federal constitution to ban gay marriages, while Kerry supported amendments to state constitutions.

But the Bush campaign succeeded in leveraging public sentiment against gay marriage, particularly among the nation’s more conservative voters. According to exit polls conducted by a coalition of major media outlets, “moral issues” was identified as the “most important issue” to the largest percentage of voters.

Twenty-two percent of voters said moral issues were the most important issue, compared to 20 percent for the “economy/jobs,” 19 percent for “terrorism,” 15 percent for “Iraq,” 8 percent for “health care,” 5 percent “taxes,” and 4 percent “education.”

Of those who identified “moral values” as their top issue, 79 percent voted for Bush, while only 18 percent voted for Kerry. Even as news organizations were fretting late on election night over whether to put Michigan, Florida and Wisconsin in the Republican or Democratic columns, political pundits, both liberal and conservative, were pondering the role of “moral issues” in the race.

Political commentator David Gergen, who worked for both Presidents Reagan and Clinton, suggested that sentiment against gay marriage was “underneath” the numbers. Talk show host Larry King said he thought gay marriage was illustrative of a “large cultural division” among voters.

“God, guns, and gays,” said CNN Crossfire co-host Paul Begala to sum up voter sentiment. Begala and the program’s other liberal representative, James Carville, both seemed to concede that the Democratic party’s open support for equal rights for gay people cost it a significant number of votes. But gay activists weren’t buying that assessment.

“If you combine Iraq and the war on terrorism together, that’s the most important issue,” said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay Republican group. “But clearly cultural issues were used effectively” by the Bush campaign, said Guerriero.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said the focus on “moral issues” and gay marriage in the analysis of the election is “troubling.”

“It’s going to be a problem,” said Frank. “People are going to say that some of this gay stuff is part of the problem” for Democratic presidential candidates.

Frank said he believes gay marriage became a focus for many voters because of the tremendous media blitz that followed early this year when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite a state law that seemed to prohibit it. After Newsom took his action, a number of other towns and cities around the country followed suit.

“I think we should have defended what we had in Massachusetts,” said Frank, referring to the decision of the Massachusetts supreme court that found the state constitution required that gay couples be able to obtain marriage licenses the same as heterosexual couples. “We should have defended Massachusetts and showed people that their fears are ridiculous. Newsom playing to gay voters in San Francisco was not helpful. It’s important for us to be more strategic in where and we pick our fights and take into account how the opposition will use it.”

Democratic gay activist Jeff Soref said he thinks it’s important gays not allow themselves to be scapegoated for Kerry’s loss.

“This was not a national referendum on gay marriage,” said Soref, noting that collectively, most voters identified the economy, terrorism, and other issues besides “moral values” as their most important concern.

“Moral values doesn’t mean us,” said Hilary Rosen, a longtime Democratic gay activist who heads up the Human Rights Campaign’s marriage project. “The same exit poll showed almost 62 percent favor some legal recognition of gay relationships.”

Asked about their support for legal recognition of same-sex relationships, 36 percent of voters wanted “no legal recognition” of gay relationships, 35 percent supported civil unions, and 26 percent supported same-sex marriages.

That, said Guerriero, was the “one ripple of good news”--that nearly two-thirds of Americans supported either civil unions or marriage for gay couples.

“Four years ago,” he said, “we would have been ecstatic at those numbers.”

As they did in 2000, the exit polls in 2004 found that about four percent of voters were willing to identify as gay to surveyors as they exited the voting booth or through phone calls made randomly in 13 states just before November 2. The polling was done by independent polling firms commissioned by several major media organizations –CNN, CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC, and the Washington Post. The surveys reach 13,047 voters.

One difference between the 2004 and 2000 exit polling is that 78 percent of those gay voters said they supported the Democrat this year, compared to 70 percent in 2000. Bush retained most of his support among gay voters--dropping only slightly from 25 percent of gay voters in 2000 to 23 percent this year. Support for independent candidate Ralph Nader dropped more dramatically among gays--from four percent in 2000 to zero in 2004.

Frank said he was “encouraged that people finally caught on to Nader’s indifference to GLBT issues.”

“I’m disappointed,” said Frank, “that so many stuck with Bush.” Given that more voters in general supported Bush this time around, noted Frank, the two percent drop in Bush’s support among gay voters might be interpreted as “some improvement.”

But Log Cabin’s Guerriero said he believes Bush did lose considerable gay support because of his use of gay marriage to rally conservative voters to the polls.

“If the president had not waged a fight for the constitutional amendment [on gay marriage],” said Guerriero, “his number would have been 35 to 40 percent” of gay voters.

 

 


Four gain Statehouse after
DOMA-related primaries

Columbus--In a mix of a little good and a lot of bad, the November 2 polling also saw the elections of two Democratic candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives who had defeated primary opponents that voted for Ohio’s “defense of marriage” act. But the only openly gay candidate in the state was defeated.

Democrat Mike Mitchell, representing the 26th Ohio House district in Columbus, defeated State Rep. Larry Price in the primaries in March. His heavily Democratic district reacted badly to Price’s crossing party lines to support DOMA.

In Canton’s 52nd district, William J. Healy II took 71 percent of the vote on November 2, after defeating Mary Cirelli last March for the Democratic nomination. Cirelli had been supported by LGBT organizations until siding with Republicans and voting for DOMA.

Two candidates attempted to unseat incumbents who voted against DOMA last winter. In District 93, in the southeast part of the state, Democrat Jennifer Garrison defeated incumbent Republican Nancy Hollister in a startling reversal of traditional party roles.

Hollister voted against DOMA, and Garrison said in campaign material that she would have supported the legislation.

Garrison edged out the incumbent by four percentage points, winning 52-48.

However, Columbus’ District 25 saw their anti-DOMA incumbent keep his seat by a slightly larger margin, winning with 54 percent of the vote.

Rep. Dan Stewart’s Republican rival, Andy Bowers, was accused of putting on a pro-gay face in the more liberal areas of the district, but pushing Stewart’s opposition to DOMA in the conservative part of the territory.

Hedrick loses his run for judge

Also in Columbus, assistant Columbus prosecutor Bill Hedrick, the only openly gay candidate in the state this election cycle, was defeated in his bid for Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Hedrick received 39 percent of the vote.

“I am pleased that I ran as who I am and that I ran an honest campaign,” he said. He was endorsed by both the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio and the Stonewall Community Action Network, but the Columbus Log Cabin Republicans endorsed his opponent, Julie M. Lynch.

Endorsed candidates do well

In the Ohio Supreme Court, all of the candidates who won over opponents had been endorsed by LGBT organizations. Columbus’ Log Cabin Republicans endorsed incumbent Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, Judith Ann Lanzinger and Terrence O’Donnell, and all three won. The Log Cabin Republicans of Toledo also endorsed Lanzinger.

However, losing chief justice candidate C. Ellen Connally and candidates Nancy Fuerst and William O’Neill were all endorsed by the Cleveland and Central Ohio chapters of the Stonewall Democrats, and Connally and Fuerst were endorsed by the Stonewall Community Action Network, Stonewall Columbus’ political action committee.

The defeat of the three Democratic candidates leaves Alice Robie Resnick as the lone Democrat on the court once the new terms begin. But unopposed incumbent Justice Paul Pfeifer is often at odds with Republican leadership, who believe him to be too progressive. Moyer, the only other incumbent running, has sided with the majority in past pro-gay rulings.

The election was a mixed bag for endorsements by LGBT organizations in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, since in all three cities, both Log Cabin Republicans and Stonewall Democrats weighed in. Stonewall Columbus CAN, which is non-partisan, also endorsed candidates.

None of the Log Cabin chapters endorsed George W. Bush. The national organization’s board voted Sept. 7 to withhold their nod due to Bush’s press for the Federal Marriage Amendment, seen as a betrayal of the 1 million LGBT votes he garnered in the 2000 election.

In Cleveland, the Log Cabin Republican-endorsed candidates and issues won in seven of 13 races, while the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats’ larger slate of endorsements saw ten defeats and 22 wins. Both groups endorsed the Cleveland Metroparks tax levy, which won, while they were split on the Cleveland schools tax levy, which was defeated.

Columbus’ Stonewall Democrats endorsed candidates and issues won in 11 of 26 races, including the successful Columbus school board levy, while Log Cabin Columbus-endorsed candidates and issues were successful in three-quarters of the 16 races.

Stonewall CAN endorsees won in 21 of 35 confirmed races. Results were not immediately available for eight issues the group endorsed.

In Toledo, all of the Stonewall Democrats-endorsed candidates for Lucas County offices were victorious, as were two out of three candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives and the 9th District race for the U.S. House of Representatives. But the group’s endorsed presidential and United States Senate candidates were not, as the group chose Eric Fingerhut, who lost to George Voinovich.

Two out of nine of the Log Cabin Republicans of Northwest Ohio’s state and Lucas County candidates were the victors in their races, as were all four endorsed candidates for Wood County commissioner, clerk of courts, sheriff and engineer.

 


As ban amendments pass, 32 candidates also win office

Columbus--As Ohio voters passed Issue 1, writing into the state constitution a ban on same-sex marriage and any rights or benefits for unmarried couples, voters in ten other states were passing similar measures.

Eight of the other state constitutional amendments also ban, to some extent, civil unions and domestic partnerships. Ohio’s is the most far-reaching in this extent.

Oregon came closest to defeating their measure. It won by only 9 percent, after national LBGT groups, especially the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, focused much money and energy on the effort there.

Michigan’s measure won by 18 percent.

Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah also passed constitutional amendments.

A lawsuit against the amendment is pending in Georgia, where judges said they could not act on the suit unless the measure passed. Another is likely in Oregon. A suit has already been filed in Louisiana, which passed theirs in a special election in September, as Missouri did earlier this year.

In the Louisiana suit, a judge ruled that the amendment was illegal because it dealt with more than one issue, the same argument being used in Georgia. Voters who opposed same-sex marriage but did not care about civil unions could not separate the two issue and vote on them individually.

Ohio’s amendment will probably face scores of challenges based on its broad, vague language, barring government from recognizing anything approximating the intent or function of marriage.

There are also ban amendments already in place in Nevada, which passed two years ago; Nebraska, passed in 2000; and Alaska and Hawaii, both of which passed in 1998.

Openly gay incumbents return

Thirty-two openly gay candidates were elected or re-elected on November 2, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which supports open gays running for office.

Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts demolished Republican challenger Chuck Morse, a cable and radio talk-show host who fell apart in debates with the incumbent. Frank garnered 71 percent of the vote.

Wisconsin’s Rep. Tammy Baldwin also handily defeated her Republican opponent, Dave Magnum. She had 64 percent of the vote.

Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona was re-elected with 60% of the vote. He had faced two opponents, Eva Beacal and Robert Anderson.

In New Hampshire, however, two gay state representatives were defeated in their bids to move to the state senate. Both McKim Mitchell and Corey Corbin were defeated, Mitchell by four percent and Corbin by an almost two-to-one margin.

Colorado batted .500, with State Sen. Jennifer Veiga keeping the seat to which she was appointed last year without opposition. LGBT activist Donna Red Wing, however, was unsuccessful in her attempt to unseat State Rep. John Price Witwer.

California State Sen. Christine Kehoe and Assembly members Mark Leno and John Laird all won their races handily.

Two TG candidates fall short

It also appears that the first transgendered officeholder in the United States will not come in this election cycle.

In Arizona, Amanda Simpson lost her bid for the state house of representatives, coming in third in a race where the top two vote-getters take office. The two Republican incumbents came in first and second.

In San Francisco, Robert Haaland appeared to come in second, trailing Ross Mirkarimi for county supervisor. A new voting system creating instant run-offs was instituted for this election, causing widespread confusion at the polls.

Outed House members re-elected

Four Republican House members with anti-gay voting records have been revealed to be gay in the past two years, most notably by Mike Rogers’ Blogactive.com. The three that sought re-election won it on November 2.

Rep. David Dreier of California, who still refuses to answer questions about his sexual orientation, won his race against  openly lesbian challenger Cynthia Matthews.

Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, who was outed by the Broward-Palm Beach New Times last year, also kept his seat.

Louisiana’s Rep. James McCrery was outed in 1992 by the Advocate, but has kept it quiet for so long that Blogactive re-outed him last week. He was also successful in his reelection bid.

A fourth House member with an anti-gay voting record, Virginia’s Rep. Ed Schrock, withdrew his re-election bid after Rogers put audio of his gay personal ad online.

 


Elections panel finds no wrongdoing
in Issue 1 and 3 cases

Columbus--Yard signs that said Cincinnati’s Issue 3 was about marriage didn’t break any election law, says the Ohio Elections Commission. Neither did Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell’s recorded phone message supporting Issue 1.

The commission, charged with enforcing the election laws, heard both cases five days apart last week. It found no reason to take action in either one.

The Issue 3 complaint was brought on October 25 by Deborah Calardo-Arapa of Cincinnati against Equal Rights No Special Rights PAC and its chair Sam Malone, who is also a member of Cincinnati city council.

ERNSR opposed the repeal Cincinnati’s Charter Article 12, which its leaders worked to pass 11 years ago. The measure prohibited the city from enacting any law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination.

Though the article had nothing to do with marriage, ERNSR’s yard signs said, “Save Civil Rights and Marriage, Vote No on Issue 3.”

Calardo-Arapa’s complaint said ERSNR broke Ohio law because “the statement that ‘No on Issue 3’ saves marriage is false, and was designed to only confuse voters and defeat the ballot proposition.” She asked the panel to find that ERNSRin violation and “commence prosecution.”

Because this was a false-claim complaint, a committee of the seven-member commission heard evidence on an expedited schedule. If probable cause was found to move forward, the claim would be heard by the whole committee.

Answering the charge, ERNSR attorney David Langdon argued that Calardo-Arapa did not demonstrate that the statement was false on its face or that ERNSR knew it was false.

Langdon, of Cincinnati, represents all of ERNSR founder Phil Burress’ anti-gay enterprises.

The commission held the probable-cause hearing October 28 before members William Booth of Deshler, Ohio, and William Ogg of Wheelersburg, both Democrats; and Benjamin Marsh of Maumee and Martin Parks of Mentor, both Republicans.

Election attorney Donald McTigue, representing Calardo-Arapa, told the panel that marriage and Article 12 were not connected.

Langdon said that this was a matter of opinion, adding that if not for Article 12, the city could pass an ordinance giving benefits to same-sex couples, thereby harming marriage.

The commissioners unanimously agreed with Langdon and dismissed the complaint.

Blackwell’s robo-calls okayed

The phone message complaint was brought October 28 by J. Drew McFarland against Blackwell, the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, Citizens for Community Values and Citizens for Community Values Action.

The three organizations, all run by Phil Burress, are parts of the campaign to pass Issue 1, a state constitutional amendment prohibiting recognition of any relationship outside civil marriage between one man and one woman.

McFarland said that a recorded telephone message with Blackwell urging votes for Issue 1 failed to identify either the sponsor or who paid for it.

He also complained that the content of the message was false because it told voters that failure to pass the measure would change existing Ohio marriage law.

McFarland quotes the so-called “defense of marriage act” passed last winter to show that Ohio law against same-sex marriage would not change if the amendment passed or not. That law reads: “any marriage between persons of the same sex is against the strong public policy of this state.”

“I believe that [Blackwell’s] conduct in advocating a ballot issue is reprehensible in light of his duties as the chief election officer of the State of Ohio,” added McFarland. He asked the commission to levy fines against Blackwell and Issue 1 backers, and refer the matter for criminal prosecution.

Columbus attorney Rick Brunner, representing McFarland, told the panel that since Blackwell is an election official he should be held to a higher standard, both in the accuracy of his statements and in saying who paid for the message.

Langdon again represented Blackwell and Burress’ groups at the November 1 hearing before members Booth, Catherine Cunningham, a Columbus Republican, and Warren Tyler, a Columbus independent.

He argued that Blackwell’s statements were opinion and therefore, not subject to Ohio’s false statement law. He also said that Blackwell was exercising his First Amendment rights in making the statements.

Again, the committee unanimously found no probable cause to go forward, citing a little-known 1996 advisory opinion suggesting that only printed campaign messages are subject to the legal requirement to disclose who paid for them.

The commission has found probable cause in fewer than half the false-statement cases brought before it in 2004.

A third case alleging finance irregularities by the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, CCV and CCV Action was filed October 26. Since it does not concern false campaign statements, it is not on an expedited schedule and will be heard by the commission December 2, a month after the election.

 


 

Watch any show, any episode,
any time

Entire seasons of BBC shows
are now easily had on DVD

It sits there, lurking in the homes of millions of Americans. Virtually every house has at least one.

When noticed, it is almost a part of the family. When nobody is looking, however, it sits silently, waiting to strike.

It is (cue the menacing music) the television, and it’s not waiting for network scheduling any more!

Well, it was just Halloween, so the horror motif is appropriate. It does not hide the fact, however, that the advent of DVDs creates the perfect opportunity for TV programs to be available on demand instead of simply when networks or individual stations decided to show them.

It started before DVDs, of course. Many television shows were available on VHS, but with a maximum of six hours on each tape it was fairly space-consuming, even for British television shows, which typically have shorter seasons.

The Black Adder boxed set, for instance, was about the size of a microwave oven.

DVDs, though, are slim and elegant. And the storage capacity! A three-hour movie plus hours of extras, all on one disc. Suddenly, everything is available on DVD--the Krofft kids’ shows, Battlestar Galactica, I Love Lucy, even some gay-themed shows, like Will and Grace and Soap, the first TV show with a recurring, major gay character.

The ones who really know how to use DVDs, however, are the British. In the space of one season’s worth of Absolutely Fabulous on VHS, one can fit the entire run of the series on DVD, even the fifth season, which is now available.

Of course, some may argue that AbFab isn’t gay so much as gayish. However, with out fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier and icon Elton John hamming it up in episodes, even the lack of Edina’s gay son Serge doesn’t detract from the homo content of the season. Throw in a Spice Girl and Minnie Driver, most recently seen in Will and Grace as Karen’s rival, and the show officially becomes queer.

Need more gay? How about the world’s most homo leprechaun, who has muscle-bound hunks accompany his guests to their seats, who is comfortable having celebrities call sex lines and who gave Marilyn Manson an electric masturbation device?

Yes, it’s Graham Norton, the saucy Irishman who segued a standup career into a popular talk show that has given audiences on both sides of the Atlantic the opportunity to make jackasses of themselves in front of international viewers.

For the beginning of the run of his Comedy Central show The Graham Norton Experience, the BBC released The Best of So Graham Norton, two hours of material featuring Cher, Dolly Parton, Elton John, hunk of the month Orlando Bloom, Chris Rock and others.

Finally, a third present from “Aunt Beeb,” one the defies explanation almost as much as it defies belief.

How does one categorize a talk show featuring a heterosexual actor who stumbled across a character that made his career, one modeled after the typical Australian housewives around whom he grew up?

A typical Australian housewife who, over the years, went from being a frumpy old woman to a dame, who grew glitzier by the year, until she emerged as an international phenomenon?

Of course, it’s Dame Edna Everage, the brainchild and alter-ego of Barry Humphries, who has been rendered unrecognizable out of drag by the success of his creation.

The BBC thus far has released three collections of The Dame Edna Experience. So far, Series One and Two and a collection of Christmas specials are on shelves, the two latter having been released the most recently.

Featuring celebrities including two James Bonds, sexy stars from the past and Liza Minnelli, the truly divine and sublime nature of the show begs the question:

If, as the saying goes, to become a dame you must kneel before a queen, what happens when you kneel before a dame?

There are, of course, other ways to get all this wonderful material. One could wait until BBC America starts replaying Graham Norton’s show or use up dozens of VHS tapes trying to capture all the best moments.

One could troll the listings looking for missing AbFab episodes, or pray for Trio to go Dame Edna-crazy again. Or, one could simply go to the bookstore or mall and grab these hot collections. It’s easier, faster, and probably in the long run cheaper.

It’s also probably a good idea to feed the television before it decides to attack you in your sleep.

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