The group trying to pass Issue 1 is accused of hiding the source of its money
Columbus--The group working to defeat the Issue 1 Ohio marriage ban amendment says that the campaign for the measure and the anti-gay group that spawned it are playing a shell game to conceal their donors.
Ohioans Protecting the Constitution points to campaign finance reports filed on October 21. These show only one contribution of $50 to Issue 1�s backers, the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage political action committee, and no money paid out.
OCPM and another anti-gay group trying to preserve Cincinnati�s Article 12 have spent large sums of money on their campaigns. But most of it doesn�t show in their campaign finance reports.
Equal Rights No Special Rights PAC, which is working to defeat the Issue 3 initiative to repeal Article 12, also filed a report showing $145,081 in contributions plus $52 in other income such as interest, and $136,484 in expenditures.
At the same time, over $500,000 of TV time has been bought to air ads against the repeal.
Both groups appear to be financing the majority of their campaign activity through two non-profit organizations which have less transparency and do not report their finances under Ohio election law.
The non-profits are the familiar Citizens for Community Values and its new sibling Citizens for Community Values Action. Both are run by anti-gay crusader Phil Burress from the same office in Cincinnati�s suburb of Sharonville.
The campaign finance reports, one made to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell for Issue 1 and the other to the Hamilton County Board of Elections for Issue 3, cover the period from April 2 to October 13.
�Their filing shows the same pattern of deception, false statements, hiding of the truth and hiding of their donors,� said Ohioans Protecting the Constitution campaign manager Alan Melamed, �as they are hiding the intent of the amendment.�
One of their supporters, Paul Fogarty, has filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission saying that the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage�s campaign finance report �is not a full and true statement which sets forth in detail the contributions received and expenditures made.� CCV and CCV Action are also named in the complaint.
Fogarty alleges that OCPM�s finance report violates Ohio election law.
In addition to the cost of paid petition circulators, Issue 1 proponents have spent money not reflected in OCPM�s report for printing and distributing yard signs, TV advertising, and automated telephone polling.
In media accounts, Burress claims the telephone poll reached every household in Ohio, including that of this reporter on October 20. The disclaimer at the end of the message said it was �authorized� by CCV Action, though it is not clear by any of the campaign�s reports who paid for it or how much it cost.
Carlo LoParo, spokesperson for Secretary of State Blackwell, said OCPM does not have to report any financial activity before September 29 when the issue was certified for the ballot.
That is contradicted, however, by Blackwell�s Ohio Campaign Finance Handbook which reads: �the reporting clock [for a ballot-issue PAC] begins based on the filing of the Designation of Treasurer form.� That happened before September 2, with CCV vice president David Miller named as treasurer.
Fogarty also alleges that the two non-profits, CCV and CCV Action, broke Ohio campaign law by not reporting their activity in aid of a ballot issue.
OCPM�s web site www.ohiomarriage.com, which has said it is paid for by OCPM since the beginning of July, has a button for donations. But clicking it leads to the contribution page of CCV�s web site. OCPM�s finance report does not reflect the cost of the site or list it as an in-kind contribution.
Neither Burress nor Miller returned repeated calls for comment.
OCPM also filed a separate statement with the Ohio Secretary of State showing that CCV Action paid $725,678 to circulate the petitions that put Issue 1 on the ballot.
OCPM got a total of $790 in in-kind contributions from CCV and $2,626 in-kind from CCV Action in addition to the $50 cash contribution. The $50 came from Phil Burress, the president of OCPM, Equal Rights No Special Rights, Citizens for Community Values and CCV Action.
ERNSR ads paid for by other groups
On its report, Equal Rights No Special Rights in Cincinnati received $20 from Burress, $50,000 from CCV and $95,061 from CCV Action.
ERNSR�s expenditures include a poll that cost $44,930 and consultant fees totaling $41,135; $8,827 for sign printing, $18,000 for radio advertising, and $6,000 for newspaper advertising.
Among ERNSR�s consultants are Rev. K.Z. Smith, an organizer of OCPM who was paid a total of $8,773 and Ohio Civil Rights Commissioner and former Cincinnati city council member Charlie Winburn, who was paid a total of $8,390.
But ERNSR�s finance report does not show the more than $500,000 in TV advertising purchased to defeat Issue 3 during the reporting period. According to the TV stations, those commercials were paid for by CCV Action.
The report also doesn�t show the cost of newspaper advertising paid for by Focus on the Family Cincinnati Committee of Colorado Springs, Colorado. CCV is, according to both groups� web sites, �officially associated with Focus on the Family as a Family Policy Council in Ohio.�
Hamilton County commissioner and former Cincinnati city council member Phil Heimlich, a Republican, appears in that ad disputing the claim that Article 12 has hurt the city�s economy. In the ad, Heimlich cites a report he commissioned saying that the measure had no impact on the economy.
Burress and Rev. Smith headed Heimlich�s unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 1997. In 2002, between that campaign and his county campaign, Heimlich was paid a $55,000 consulting fee by CCV, according to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service. It is rumored that the payment was to produce the report in the ad.
Yard signs draw a complaint
Issue 3 supporter and Cincinnati resident Deborah Calardo-Arapa filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission October 25 over ERNSR�s yard signs, which say that a vote against Issue 3 saves marriage.
The complaint states: �As Cincinnati Charter Article XII does not propound or in any way influence the regulations for marriage in Ohio, the statement that �No on Issue3� saves marriage is false, and was designed only to confuse voters and defeat the ballot proposition.�
A probable cause hearing in the case was set for October 28.
$556,244 raised to repeal Article 12
Citizens to Restore Fairness, the campaign to pass Issue 3, filed its 291-page report showing $556,244 raised from more than 1,700 contributors. The first 1,300 of those contributors gave less than $101 each. CRF spent a total of $505,297.
Ohioans Protecting the Constitution raised $116,975, including $10,000 from restaurateur Tom Grote of Columbus, $10,000 from Nancy Gaunt of Westerville, and $10,000 from TV personality and likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Springer.
The campaign spent $113,124, including $81,800 in consulting fees and $27,837 in attorney fees.
Boston--Rep. Barney Frank, the incumbent, openly gay Massachusetts representative, has little to worry about in his reelection bid during the November 2 balloting.
His re-election bid in one of several U.S. House, state and local contests of interest to LGBT voters in this year�s election, including one where both candidates are gay and two that could elect the first U.S. transgender officeholder.
Frank�s opponent, Republican pundit Chuck Morse, fell apart during debates with the candidate, despite having radio and cable talk shows and a book, Why I Am a Right-Wing Extremist.
�Morse is a good talker, but he knows absolutely nothing about anything,� Kay Reis told the Boston Globe. Reis is a member of the League of Women Voters, who organized one of the debates between the two candidates.
Frank is one of 14 lesbian or gay incumbents across the country endorsed by the Victory Fund, a national group dedicated to getting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people elected to office.
Their list of endorsed candidates, while the most comprehensive one available, is not a complete rundown of all LGBT office seekers. The fund will only endorse openly LGBT candidates who they believe have a good chance of winning.
Which explains why, in the first �gay vs. gay� battle for a federal elected position, they haven�t endorsed anyone.
In California�s 26th District, the battle for the House of Representatives pits arch-conservative, recently outed Rep. David Dreier against openly lesbian Cynthia Matthews.
Dreier�s sexual orientation was revealed last month by gay activist Mike Rogers on his web site, www.blogactive.com, in September. According to Rogers, Dreier is now facing his first real challenger in years. But Matthews, a Democrat, is severely under-funded compared to the Republican incumbent.
The Victory Fund endorsements are good news for Ohio�s only openly gay candidate this year, Bill Hedrick.
Hedrick is running for judge of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, and has also been endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio and the Stonewall Community Action Network.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, another openly gay member of Congress, is also facing a weak Republican challenger, businessman and political novice Dave Magnum.
The Victory Fund did not endorse Rep. Jim Kolbe, a moderate gay Republican from Arizona. Kolbe is expected to handily keep his seat in Congress.
In New Hampshire, two openly gay state representatives are trying to move into the state senate, McKim Mitchell and Corey Corbin, while in Colorado, Jennifer Veiga is running her first race for state senate, after being appointed to fill a vacant seat in 2003.
One candidate in Colorado is a name known to LGBT activists. Donna Red Wing, a Human Rights Campaign field director from 1996 to 1999 and the policy director of the Gill Foundation until 2003, is running for the Colorado House of Representatives. She is running against incumbent John Witwer.
Two of the most interesting races, however, are in San Francisco and Tucson, where transgendered candidates are running for office.
In Tucson, Arizona, Amanda Simpson is the first transgender candidate nominated by a major party for a state-level position. She is running for the Arizona House of Representatives, stressing her commitment to education and conservation.
She and another Democrat are running against two moderate Republicans who have campaigned on their moderation, dedication to health care and other issues. Simpson will have an uphill battle in a state dominated by moderate Republicans.
In San Francisco�s Haight-Ashbury district, however, city supervisor candidate Robert Haaland, a female-to-male transsexual, is the leading Democrat in the race. The district is extremely left-leaning, so Haaland stands a very good chance of becoming the country�s first transgender elected official.
Sylvania--Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell compared same-sex couples to barnyard animals at a church rally for Issue 1.
Blackwell, speaking October 19 at the large, non-denominational Cathedral of Praise outside of Toledo, told the crowd that the notion of same-sex couples �defies barnyard logic.� The remarks were broadcast on WTOL Channel 11 in Toledo.
Blackwell was joined in his condemnation of lesbians and gays by Rod Parsley, a Columbus pastor who heads the Center for Moral Clarity, a group that wants to merge public policy with conservative Christianity. The campaign stop was part of Parsley�s nationwide �Silent No More Tour.�
Blackwell said people of God should take a stand against same-sex couples.
�I don�t know how many of you have a farming background, but I can tell you right now that notion even defies barnyard logic,� said Blackwell, waving a Bible, �The barnyard knows better.�
The secretary, Ohio�s top elections official, has admitted promoting the passage of Issue 1 on behalf of the presidential campaign of George W. Bush. The measure would amend Ohio�s constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages, civil unions, and recognition of any relationship that is not civil marriage between one man and one woman,
Blackwell is also accused of using his authority to make sure that Issue 1 got onto the ballot by manipulating the timetable for challenges and issuing questionable rulings in favor of its backers.
�Despite [Blackwell�s] obligation to follow the law,� wrote Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer in a case on the measure last week, �the Secretary of State . . . certified the original initiative petition and the supplemental initiative petition even though they do not comply with [Ohio election law].�
�Whether the Secretary of State�s overt political interest in the passage of the proposed amendment influenced his decision is unknowable, the perception of influence is undeniable,� Pfeifer continued, in his dissent to the court�s decision to allow it to remain on the ballot (see story).
During the rally, which was described as �an old fashioned revival,� Blackwell urged the audience to vote their moral compass.
�This is not about civil rights, it�s about a sacred right,� said Blackwell. �America is at its best when God is at its center.�
�I�ve watched for the past 40 years as cultural forces have attempted to run God and religion out of the public square and this runs contrary to this nation�s Godly heritage,� Blackwell said.
Blackwell�s spokesperson Carlo LoParo said his boss was not saying that gays and lesbians should not have their human dignity respected.
�It�s a rural area,� said LoParo, �and people on farms know that if you want eggs to eat, you need a rooster and hens.�
LoParo said that Blackwell believes that the function of marriage is �to procreate the species, and to do that you need a man and a woman.�
LoParo said Blackwell is a champion of human rights, citing his previous job as United Nations Ambassador for Human Rights during the first Bush administration, and his work as a member of Cincinnati�s city council.
�It was not a comparison between gay and lesbian people and animals,� said LoParo, asserting that if the audience had been urban, the barnyard analogy would not have been used because they would not have been familiar with it. �That would be ridiculous on its face.�
Anti-gay hate crime didnt change last year,
Washington, D.C.--The Federal Bureau of Investigation released their Uniform Crime Report for 2003 on October 25, showing virtually no change in anti-gay hate crime between 2002 and 2003.
Despite a federal law that requires that local law enforcement agencies report hate crime to the FBI, only 16.5% of police departments that report to the FBI showed any hate crimes whatsoever.
�Although the FBI has mandated that hate crime statistics be sent to them, in areas of the country without hate crime designations, crimes won�t be reported as such,� said Gloria McCauley, executive director of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization in Columbus.
Nationally, both 2002 and 2003 saw nearly 7,500 hate crimes reported. In both years, precisely 16.6 percent of those were based on sexual orientation, as reported by police, which totaled 1,243 incidents.
However, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program�s report for last year, in Columbus and Cleveland alone, 229 hate crimes were reported to the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center and BRAVO.
�That really doesn�t surprise me at all,� McCauley said. �Historically, about one-third or less of people who report to agencies such as BRAVO report to police.�
It also ties in to the lack of a hate crime law in Ohio, McCauley noted. The state has an ethnic intimidation law that does not include sexual orientation, and only covers five misdemeanors, the most serious of which is telephone harassment. Thus, when any felony is reported to police, they are less likely to pursue the possibility of a hate crime since the courts will be unable to use it.
�When it comes to hate crimes, particularly in our communities, I find the UCR to be meaningless, because we�re just not there,� she said.
According to the report, 51.4 percent of hate crimes were motivated by race, and 17.9 percent by religion, putting sexual orientation in third place.
In other results from the Uniform Crime Report, overall violent crime decreased by three percent, while murders increased almost two percent. In almost 71 percent of the murders in which the weapon was identified in reports to the FBI, it was a firearm.
Ohio top court denies last-ditch effort to stop Issue 1
Justice Pfeifer raps court for letting Blackwell ignore law in �blatant political interest�
Columbus--Saying the matter had already been decided, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled against the last legal bid to keep Issue 1 off the November 2 ballot.
In a 6-1 opinion, the court refused to stop Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell from certifying the petitions that put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. The measure, if passed next Tuesday, would bar legal recognition of any couple relationship that is not a heterosexual marriage, and all state and city domestic partner benefits.
The suit was filed September 24 by mother and daughter Melanie and Sandra Essig of Columbus. They had protested a set of supplemental petitions filed September 17 by the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage after the first batch came up short of signatures.
The issue in the October 21 ruling was whether or not the petitions can be valid even though they don�t include a summary of the amendment certified by the attorney general, which is required by law.
However, the court did not address this, instead relying on a legal principle called res judicata--the matter has already been settled.
The summary issue has been addressed, though not completely, by lower courts dealing with the first batch of petitions.
The first of these, Rankin v. Petro, was decided in May by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Daniel Hogan. He ruled that in this case alone, a summary was not necessary since the petitions included the full text of the amendment.
Attorney General Jim Petro, however, believes a summary is required, and has appealed Hogan�s decision. That case is not on a fast pre-election schedule, so it will not be decided by the Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeals until spring.
Because the legal issue is the same in both cases and a favorable ruling in the Essig�s case would also automatically decide his appeal in his favor, Petro could have filed a brief supporting their position in this case.
He did not, and his office refused to comment on why he didn�t.
The other attempt to settle the issue was decided September 20 by the Tenth District in a case against the initial petitions, brought by Melanie Essig and Bruce Kriete of Northfield against Blackwell.
In that case, the court ruled against Essig and Kreite �under the particular facts of this case� without settling the question of law.
The high court last week accepted the lower court�s single-sentence dismissal, and said that because the later petitions were the same as the first ones, they were also settled under the same action.
In his solitary dissent, Justice Paul Pfeifer sharply criticized his colleagues and Blackwell.
�It is a seductively easy slide from the golden fortress of judicial restraint to the desolate valley of judical indifference,� wrote Pfeifer. �In this case, this court has been seduced into the valley by hypertechnical arguments that cause it to disregard the initiative petition�s clear statutory violations.�
�The language of [Ohio law] is crystal clear, yet the initiative petitioners did not comply with it,� wrote Pfeifer.
�Despite his obligation to follow the law, the Secretary of State also ignored� the law, continued Pfeifer. �He certified the original petition and the supplemental petition even though they plainly do not comply with [Ohio law.] Whether the secretary of state�s overt political interest in the passage of the proposed amendment influenced his decision is unknowable; the perception of influence is undeniable.�
Pfeifer also took notice of the timeline of when petitions were filed, when Blackwell acted on them, and when protests were filed, concluding that Blackwell�s delays caused the protesters� inability to file timely protests.
Once in court, Blackwell�s attorneys then argued that both cases should be thrown out because the protesters did not file soon enough.
Also critical of the incomplete Tenth District decision in the earlier case, Pfeifer wrote that the majority opinion �undermines the [Essigs�] diligent and extensive efforts to bring to light a blatant disregard for a statutory mandate.�
The res judicata rationale is borderline ridiculous,� wrote Pfeifer, �The highest court in this state should provide a better reason to justify overlooking clear statutory violations.�
�This court is essentially giving the Secretary of State a free pass to ignore clear statutes and use tactics of delay to achieve a result in which he has a blatant political interest.�
�It is regrettable that today this court vindicates the Secretary of State�s tactics and thereby denies the [Essigs] meaningful review of their claims. Three cheers for judicial indifference,� concluded Pfeifer.
Trial dates set in two deaths
Dayton--Trial dates have been set in two cases involving the deaths of gay men.
On October 13, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge G. Jack Davis ordered a final pre-trial hearing for November 5 and a trial to begin on November 15 for Matthew Caddy, who is charged with gross abuse of a corpse and possession of criminal tools.
Following a tip, police searched Caddy�s home on August 31 and discovered the body of Daniel Everson, who had been reported missing in Minnesota in July when he did not return to work following a scheduled vacation.
The Montgomery County coroner�s office has yet to release a cause of death, so it is not yet known whether Caddy is believed to have killed Everson, or if the death was accidental.
Seventy miles east in Waverly, Ohio, December 13 was set as the trial date for Martin E. Baxter and Matthew W. Ferman, two of the three men alleged to have robbed and beaten Daniel Fetty to death.
The third man, James V. Trent, is trying to reach a plea agreement with Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk in exchange for his testimony against the other two.
Fetty was a hearing-impaired gay man recently made homeless by an apartment fire. While living in his car, he worked at a local restaurant, saving money to get a new apartment.
When police found him on October 2, he was badly beaten and left naked in a trash container, and his week�s wages from the restaurant were gone. After being flown to Grant Hospital in Columbus, he died 12 hours later.
Junk told the Chillicothe Gazette that he expected the trial to be pushed back due to motions by attorneys representing Fetty�s alleged killers.
He also stopped seeking the death penalty when a grand jury failed to indict the duo on charges of aggravated robbery as well as aggravated murder.
Junk said that, since Fetty was gay, they are still examining hate as a possible motivation for the attack. Ohio does not have a gay-inclusive hate crime law.
In TV interview, Bush says he supports civil unions
Crawford, Texas--In a surprise late-hour move toward the political middle, President George W. Bush said this week that he supports the right of states to provide civil union recognition for same-sex couples and thinks the Republican Party platform is wrong to oppose them.
Bush�s comments came in an interview by ABC Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas on Sunday, October 24. The interview aired on the newsmagazine�s morning program Monday.
Previously, the president has not explicitly supported civil unions. The closest he came was an interview with ABC Primetime�s Diane Sawyer in December of last year. In that interview, Sawyer asked Bush whether he would support a federal amendment �against gay marriage and against gay civil unions.� Bush replied that he would support the Federal Marriage Amendment �if necessary� but added that �the position of this administration is that whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they�re allowed to make, so long as it�s embraced by the state . . .�
In an August interview on CNN�s Larry King Live, Bush said that providing for civil unions was �up to the states.�
�If states choose to do that, in other words, if they want to provide legal protections for gays, that�s great. That�s fine,� said Bush. �But I do not want to change the definition of marriage.�
But in his interview with Gibson this week, he said, �I don�t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that�s when a state chooses to do so.�
The comment seems to contradict Bush�s support for federal legislation which has sought to ban both same-sex marriage and civil unions, and aligns him more closely with comments by Vice President Dick Cheney, who has said he thinks states should be allowed to offer civil unions.
Referring to the Republican party platform, which says Republicans �believe that neither federal nor state judges and bureaucrats should force states to recognize other living arrangements as equivalent to marriage,� Gibson asked Bush whether the GOP platform �on that point, as far as you are concerned, is wrong.�
�Right,� said President Bush.
Log Cabin Republicans, the national gay Republican group, did not return a reporter�s calls for comment but did email a statement from its executive director Patrick Guerriero: �The president�s comments are a public recognition that Karl Rove and the radical right�s strategy of using gay and lesbian families as a wedge issue in this campaign is not working.�
Log Cabin did not respond to a request that Guerriero explain what prompted this interpretation of Bush�s comments, and the latest national polls do not indicate any movement in public opinion on the question. Polling by the Pew Research Center has shown that 49 percent of Americans favored civil unions last March and July and 48 percent favored them in August. The overwhelming approval of constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage in Missouri last August and Louisiana last month would seem to suggest just the opposite.
But longtime gay Democratic activist David Mixner reacted much the same as Republican gay activist Guerriero.
�Clearly their polling shows they have catered to the right wing too far and there is a backlash that is hurting,� said Mixner. He called Bush�s comment �a desperate attempt by a desperate man who has no principles or value for the truth.�
Human Rights Campaign executive director Cheryl Jacques issued a statement saying Bush�s remarks were an �attempt to reinvent himself� and �cannot be reconciled with his efforts to change the Constitution to ban civil unions.�
The Federal Marriage Amendment, which seeks to amend the U.S. constitution, would ban marriage �or the legal incidents thereof� for same-sex couples.
Gibson also asked First Lady Laura Bush about civil unions. Mrs. Bush said she is �not really sure� about whether she agrees with her husband concerning the federal constitutional amendment but said she thinks it is an issue people �want to talk about� and that a �debate� about the issue would be �important.�
The right wing immediately vilified the president, accusing him of selling out his beliefs.
�Civil unions are a government endorsement of homosexuality,� said Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, an affiliate of the anti-gay �family values� group Concerned Women for America. �But I don't think President Bush has thought about it in that way. He seems to be striving for neutrality while defending marriage itself.�
Knight said �counterfeits� of marriage, such as civil unions, �hurt the real thing.�
P-FLAGs broad base helps in ban campaign, director says
Cleveland--�This is the third state in a five-state trip that I�m doing,� said Ron Schlittler, interim executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
His Ohio jaunt included a two-day safe schools training on October 2 and 3, organized by the Firelands chapter of PFLAG and a host of other groups at Bowling Green State University�s satellite campus in Sandusky.
Schlittler has been a very busy man. In addition to the safe-schools training and PFLAG�s usual support work, the organization mobilized to fight anti-gay state marriage amendments in certain key states, including Ohio.
�We were able to get some funding . . . to help get me out in the field to visit states facing this,� Schlittler said during an interview at the Gay People�s Chronicle office. �It�s built on work we�ve done in the past in Oregon . . . when they did Ballot Measure 9 the second time around.�
Unleashing the non-partisan organization on the issue campaigns has one advantage over other national organizations like the Human Rights Campaign or the Democrat and Republican LGBT groups.
�A lot of time the major campaign efforts have to focus on the key population centers, so that meant in Oregon in that election that resources were primarily focused on the Portland area,� Schlittler explained. �Well, PFLAG has a presence, an authentic grassroots presence, around the state, so I was able to load up my rental car with lawn signs and calling lists and a list of places I needed to stop, and help our folks participate in phone banks, help lead rallies, help make sure the lawn signs got distributed, in places that the campaign was simply not able to reach out to.�
�So, in a way, I see this as not unlike that, but on a bigger scale,� he noted. �And what we see now is that a lot of the nationals are focusing on a couple of key races where they think they can make the most impact. We don�t have a lot of money to throw around like that, so what we can do is get engaged in a very real way with our grassroots folks and their interconnections with the campaigns that are going on and help enhance those, help energize those.�
�It really for me is sort of a selfish motive because it plays into a longer-range goal we have, which is overall enhancing our chapters� strength and capacities at the statewide level, state by state.�
However, the primary goal of his trip, which already took him through Kentucky and Michigan, is to fight state constitutional amendments like Ohio�s Issue 1. In Ohio, Schlittler made the point to editorial boards at five major daily newspapers that the amendment would do nothing but hurt Ohioans.
�We�re making a few key arguments when we meet with editorial boards or I get to speak at community forums, which I�ve been doing along the way,� he said. �One, a lot of the voters don�t really realize this reaches far beyond an impact just on gay people. They think, �Oh, it�s that anti-gay ballot measure, that one that bans gay marriage,� and they really haven�t unpacked it more fully and looked at the full language to see that we�re talking about anything that even remotely resembles anything that comes close to marriage, like domestic partnerships or civil unions, and this impacts a lot of straight people too.�
�I think particularly interesting but a lot of people don�t recognize it is that a lot of seniors enter into domestic partnership-type agreements because, say, one of them is a widow or widower and is receiving some sort of pension or survivor�s benefits,� he continued. �Well, those end if they remarry. And so, for basic, core economic reasons, there are reasons why seniors would opt not to remarry and this ballot measure would affect them too.�
�When people understand the more far-reaching scope of this, whatever they may feel about marriage for same-sex couples, they can see that this is a bad idea.�
His second argument against the amendments relies on people overcoming their visceral reactions to the issue.
�What we�re talking about is embedding a principle, a core principle of discrimination against some disfavored minority . . . into our constitution,� he noted. �That should alarm anybody, especially in these frightening times. Who�s next? Are we going to be chasing after people for their religious points of view?�
�At its core, from a state�s point of view, marriage is largely an economic institution,� he noted. �When a couple gets married or has domestic partnership recognition or a civil union, it provides them with a legal mechanism to create financial stability for their family on a lot of different levels.�
�When couples are not permitted to build these economic, financial support systems within their family, what happens?� he asked rhetorically. �It means that they�re forced to fall back on various social services, things of that nature.�
He pointed to studies in New Jersey and California that studied the economic effects of comprehensive domestic partnership programs, and found that they save the states millions of dollars.
�One of the members of the House of Representatives [Rep. Steve Chabot, RCincinnati] decided to ask the Congressional Budget Office to take a look at this,� Schlittler noted. �And they hypothesized that if in all 50 states and at the federal government level, marriage for same-sex couples was recognized, and using 2000 census numbers, which I would argue was extremely low, it found that 0.6 percent of the population identified as being in same-sex relationships, they crunched the numbers, and they concluded that the federal bottom line would stand to benefit by somewhat short of a billion dollars a year.�
He noted that the figure would likely increase dramatically were marriage legalized nationally, since in the Netherlands, 6 percent of new marriages are between same-sex couples.
�I would argue that, here again, talking in terms of family policy and just pure conservative values fiscal policy, we need to take another look at this,� he concluded.
P-FLAG, being a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization under the federal tax code, can work on behalf or against issues, but not candidates or political parties. Schlittler is happy with this arrangement, and sees no need to go for a 501(c)4 standing, which would allow greater flexibility in the political arena.
�We�re a really broad-based organization. We have Republicans, we have Democrats, we have independents, we have a wide economic range of members, we have people that, because gay kids grow up in all families, really do represent a broad range of the American public, and I don�t know that is serves us well to get into that kind of thing,� he noted. �We can, however, make it really clear with any candidate, any election, perhaps in a town hall meeting or in visits to their offices, where we stand on what we consider to be a really fundamental family values issue, and whatever their party, hold them accountable.�
Gender confusion rules the stage in London�s Restoration era
An actor�s worst nightmare is to never be able to work in the profession, precarious and unstable as it may be. A star�s worst nightmare is to fall from grace in the goodwill of his or her fans, fickle and unstable as they may be.
Stage Beauty follows the downfall of one such star in 1660s England, when the foppish Charles II was on the throne. This was the era of Shakespeare and Marlowe, a time when the theater was full of bold intrigue and rudimentary passions, both on and off-stage.
The most beautiful actress in this time was reportedly a damsel known as Kynaston. She was in fact a he, in a time when the puritanical leanings of Oliver Cromwell had forbidden women from the stage for over 18 years. Kynaston came of age in that time when men were trained rigorously to play women on stage, especially the complex and doomed heroines of Shakespeare�s tragedies--Ophelia, Juliet and Desdemona.
Stage Beauty charts not only the theatrical and social milieus of that time, but it also demonstrates why gender and queer politics back then and now are so similarly in turmoil. The former director of the National Theater in London, Richard Eyre, has created a compelling film for the most part, rich with visual detail and political nuance.
At the core of the film are two major characters and the issues they must face: First, Kynaston�s dilemma is about how his work impacts on his life and how his life and loves impact his work. Second, and equally important, is the plight of the female actresses of the Restoration era who had no stage upon which to perform, no place to make art the pursuit of their lives.
The film is based on Jeffrey Hatcher�s play Compleat Female Stage Beauty and is adapted by the playwright for the screen. Hatcher created a screenplay that is compelling, and with the aid of director Eyre, moves along at a galloping pace. They are amply aided in the pacing and visual thrills by Tariq Anwar�s fluid editing.
The cast is made up of strong actors who for the most part turn in compelling performances. It is somewhat strange that two American actors were cast in the two British leads--Billy Crudup as Kynaston, and Claire Danes as his dresser Maria and the actress who, when finally allowed on the stage, leaves Kynaston without a job. Crudup and Danes are both up to the job, although at times their accents are not.
Crudup�s look is interesting and mesmerizing both in his male and female guises. As a woman, his masculinity lends a gritty realism to the acting convention of Restoration England, and as a man, his femininity lends a pathos and vulnerability to Kynaston�s downfall.
Crudup is a young actor of immense promise, as he has displayed in Tim Burton�s Big Fish, in Cameron Crowe�s Almost Famous and in Alison Maclean�s Jesus� Son. His dramatic acting has always been laced with a tragicomic edge, and here he takes that to the fullest. He masterfully navigates the melodrama of Desdemona�s mannered role on stage and Kynaston�s hyper-real destruction off stage, while mining the humor for all it�s worth in scenes where male and female fans are curious about whether he has a �thingy,� given his accomplishments as a female impersonator of impeccable believability.
Crudup revels in Kynaston�s power of sexuality and sexual illusion on his fans and lovers alike. His love affair with the Duke of Buckingham (a marvelously wry and conflicted Ben Chaplin) is both honestly portrayed in the film and it is given a contemporary relevance.
The Duke adores Kynaston, but rather than fully embrace their homosexuality, he hides behind the sexual duality of the actress. In fact, when Kynaston falls from grace, the Duke has no use for this has-been actor, and claims that he only loved Kynaston as a woman. The Duke then does the honorable thing and gets himself a trophy wife; a Restoration beard, so to speak.
There is a heartbreaking scene towards the end of the film, where Kynaston must redeem his honor and profession and auditions to play a man on stage. This is his only option after Charles II allows women back into performance--and makes it illegal for men to impersonate women. Crudup is heart-shattering in this scene, and it is one of the most brilliant meltdowns in recent screen memory.
There is another scene where Crudup excels. After his downfall, Kynaston is reduced to performing bawdy comedy in theaters filled with drunken revelers, who have no intellectual or refined leanings towards the theater of Shakespeare. That act often ends in the audience clamoring to see Kynaston�s �thingy� as proof that this damsel is indeed a man. Kynaston uses alcohol to numb himself to this theatrical prostitution and Crudup manifests that shame and pain with moving dignity.
Claire Danes, an actress of amazing range and grace, plays Maria the dresser who runs off late into the night to illicitly perform in underground plays at bars and inns where women could play women. Maria also harbors a secret love for Kynaston. When she stumbles upon him and the Duke making love, she turns her unrequited love into a vengeful passion that blooms into victory when the king proclaims that women will be legally allowed to perform.
Danes beautifully navigates the many layers her character is bestowed with. When Maria realizes that she is not a good actor, but only in demand because she is the first to do what she is doing, Danes plays the conflict with a touching combination of rage and self-deprecation. And finally, when Danes learns the true art of acting from a defeated Kynaston, her rendition of Desdemona is stunning.
Openly gay actor Rupert Everett is brilliant as the foppish, slightly dodgy Charles II. Everett plays the humor and sexual naughtiness to the max, especially funny in a scene where he dresses in drag for a special palace performance with his belle, his mistress Nell Gwynn (a ditsy and delectable Zoe Tapper).
There are several brilliant cameos including Richard Griffiths as a foppish, bisexual rich patron, Tom Wilkinson as a theater manager and Hugh Bonneville as Samuel Pepys.
This is one of the best films of the year, despite its minor problems with Crudup�s and Danes� mild accent flubs and a few love scenes between them that are treated like sultry trysts in daytime soap operas. Oft compared to Shakespeare in Love, Stage Beauty is similar in most ways, and better in many.
Nevertheless, not only does the film create a stunning window into the past when gender and sexuality created as much confusion as they do today, but it also allows us to see how similar our contemporary attitudes towards women and gays are still mired in double-standards, hate, and cultural ambiguity. This stage beauty is a cinematic one as well.