Monday, August 31, 2009

APPROVE R-71: Washington DP Rights Are at Stake

We have some late breaking bad news to report. Up in Washington state, it looks like Referendum-71 will likely qualify for the ballot. This means that the anti-family homophobes will probably force a vote this November on the recently passed bill to expand domestic partner (DP) rights for LGBT families.

Here's a quick crash course on what R-71 is all about:

The Domestic Partnership Law (SB 5688) was passed by the Legislature in 2009 to ensure that all Washington families are treated the same, with the same protections, the same rights and the same obligations as their neighbors. Under this law, registered domestic partners (same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where at least one partner is over age 62), and married couples, are treated equally under state law throughout Washington.

Key rights and obligations in the law include:

Death benefits for the partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Pension benefits for the partners of teachers and other public employees.
Victims' rights, including the right to receive notifications and benefits allowances.
The right to use sick leave to care for a seriously ill partner.
The right to workers' compensation benefits if a partner is killed in the course of employment.
The right to receive unemployment benefits if an employee must leave a job to care for a seriously ill partner.
The right to adopt a partner's child without paying for a home study.
The areas covered by the law include labor and employment law; pensions, survivor and other public employee benefits; family law; insurance rights; higher education; banks, financial institutions and loan agencies; creditors' rights and business licenses.

Opponents of the domestic partnership law are seeking to repeal it. Referendum 71 would ask voters whether the law should be approved or rejected. A vote to "APPROVE" keeps the law so that all families will have these protections in all parts of the state.

Again, please remind your friends and family in Washington that they need to vote "APPROVE" on Referendum 71 in order to protect LGBT families' DPs. And if you'd like to help Washington Families Standing Together, the grassroots campaign working to get R-71 approved and protect LGBT civil rights, please click here.

Remember that we only have two months until Election Day, so time is of the essence. Please do what you can to ensure R-71 is approved!

Friday, August 28, 2009

NV-Sen: FINALLY, Harry Reid Demands a Public Option!

Yes, Harry Reid finally did it!

Reid opened a private meeting of health care providers in Las Vegas on Tuesday by saying, according to one attendee who took notes: “We have a problem in America and it’s called the private insurance industry.”

Reid went on to express support for a public option, the proposed government-run insurance plan that he compared to Medicare, saying any meaningful reform legislation would have to include a public component.

Nevada’s main progressive group said the majority leader’s comments during Tuesday’s meeting of about 20 hospital CEOs, doctors and other health care providers was among the most significant statements they have heard on his thinking.

“We’re energized and we’re also confident that Sen. Reid is on the right side on this issue,” said Michael Ginsburg, a community organizer at the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, who attended the meeting. “That’s something we can take to our supporters and reassure them.”

Obviously, we're making progress. Still, we need to let him know that we'll support his move to do the difficult, but absolutely necessary, work to ensure that the bill that emerges for the Senate floor vote is a good bill.

But last month, Reid declined to say whether he would push for the public option during a press briefing in Washington where, as majority leader, he traditionally gives great deference to the committee chairmen as legislation is being formed, and often declines to influence their committee debates.

“It would be really premature for me to lay out for each of you what I think should be in this bill,” Reid said in July.

Reid also spoke Tuesday of the difficulty of getting the public plan component approved in the Senate, where he hopes to attract Republican support. With the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Reid has 59 senators in his caucus, not the supermajority of 60 often needed to pass significant legislation.

At both the Tuesday meeting and again during a Wednesday luncheon hosted by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Reid mentioned the possibility of using the procedure known as reconciliation to pass the health care bill in the Senate with just 51 votes. But he also noted the shortcomings of that approach, explaining to both groups that only part of the bill could be handled with reconciliation, leaving important elements behind.

We need a good bill with a strong public option. And yes, we need it ASAP. Hopefully now that he realizes that he needs progressive votes in order to win reelection next year, he'll continue voting more progressive and will no longer be afraid to act like a Democrat. Yes, that's really a good thing.

Go win one for the team, Harry, and we'll make sure you win next year! ;-)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'll Be Leaving Tomorrow... For Only a Week!

Don't worry, I won't be gone too long. I just plan to visit some family and friends in Orange County that I haven't seen in quite a while. And by next weekend, I'll be back in fabulous Las Vegas in time to jump into fall.

I may occasionally have time to update the blog here. Be on the lookout for them. But in the mean time, take a look at Mr. Gleaner's column in this week's CityLife. Oh, and enjoy this last bit of summer! ;-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sen. Harry Reid on Sen. Ted Kennedy's Passing

(Also at Stonewall)

Via The Sun, Nevada's Senior Senator and the US Senate Majority Leader:

“The Kennedy family and the Senate family have together lost our patriarch. My thoughts, and those of the entire United States Senate, are with Vicki, Senator Kennedy’s children, his many nieces and nephews, and his entire family.

“It was the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy. He was a friend, the model of public service and an American icon.

“As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so dutifully dedicated his life. Senator Kennedy’s legacy stands with the greatest, the most devoted, the most patriotic men and women to ever serve in these halls.

“Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country.

“Ted Kennedy’s America was one in which all could pursue justice, enjoy equality and know freedom. Ted Kennedy’s life was driven by his love of a family that loved him, and his belief in a country that believed in him. Ted Kennedy’s dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and his brothers sought to realize.

“The liberal lion’s mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.”

I hope this mean the dream will live on in Washington. Please make it so, Sen. Reid.

HRC Statement on the Passing of Sen. Kennedy

(Also at Stonewall)

In full:

The Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese released the following statement today on the passing of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA):

"The nation has lost its greatest champion and strongest voice for justice, fairness, and compassion. The loss to our community is immeasurable. There was no greater hero for advocates of LGBT equality than Senator Ted Kennedy. From the early days of the AIDS epidemic, to our current struggle for marriage equality he has been our protector, our leader, our friend. He has been the core of the unfinished quest for civil rights in this country and there is now a very painful void. Our hearts go out to the Kennedy family."

I still can't believe he's gone. He was always a strong advocate for so many of us who felt we had no voice in Washington. I just wish his legacy won't be forgotten and his life's work won't be for naught.

RIP Senator Ted Kennedy (1932-2009)

In his honor, I collected some of my favorite "YouTube moments" from the late Senator. I just hope his legacy lives on. And btw, you can help make sure it does by joining this Facebook group. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Crazy Fun Video Night Open Thread!

Are you hungry now? I know you will be once you're done watching these delicious videos! Enjoy. ;-)

Gibbons Gets His Way... And Maybe Democrats Can Learn a Lesson?

OK, it's no surprise. Luv Guv Gibbons will take control of the federal stimulus funds. He says he'll be "responsible", but we can never really trust someone who spends state funds on such useful "stimulus" projects as texting a girlfriend from a state-issued cell phone. That's why Democrats (and even some Republicans!) in Carson City are nervous.

The legislators obviously saw the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) as their only way to check and balance the Governor's power. And in these times when we have a complete psychopath as Governor, it's absolutely necessary. However, they may have crossed the legal line in trying to block the Governor from doing what is necessary "for the protection of life and property". Still, just because what Gibbons is doing (in this case) is legal doesn't make it right. This should be a wake-up call to Carson City Democrats to stop with the IFC-esque "quick fixes" and propose the bolder changes we need to really make state government function properly.

Instead of trying to bypass the Nevada Constitution, Democrats should consider amending it to allow for a full-time Legislature. This would prevent any future Governors from abusing their power and spending state funds as they wish when the Legislature is not in session. And perhaps with other reforms, such as curbing lobbyist influence and implementing full, "clean money" public campaign financing (as Arizona and Maine already do), we can really clean house in Carson City and finally make it work again.

Think about it. How would things be different today if Sig Rogich and his band of merry "bidness lobby" multimillionaire/billionaire buddies hadn't bought the 2006 election for Gibbons? And if the Legislature weren't always so susceptible to the powerful corporate lobby? Maybe we'd have a State of Nevada that works for working people?

Monday, August 24, 2009

78 Couples Pre-file for Nevada Domestic Partnerships

(Also at Stonewall)

Good news on the SB 283 front today!

On the first day of pre-filing, 78 same-sex or heterosexual couples registered as domestic partners with the secretary of state’s office.

The law doesn’t become effective until Oct. 1 but Secretary of State Ross Miller opened the filing early.

Pam duPre, communications officer for Miller, said two couples were at the Las Vegas office at 8 a.m. to register. Earlier in the afternoon before numbers were final, 66 couples had signed up in Las Vegas and six had registered in Carson City, she said.

Names of the couples will not be released until the law goes into effect, she said.

The 2009 Legislature approved the law over the veto of Gov. Jim Gibbons. It extends rights similar to those held by married couples, including community property and debt and the right to seek financial support after a breakup.

A couple pays $50 to register.

Thank goodness for Ross Miller! At least we have some good people in state government who know how to make it work.

Really, I Just Told You So.

Seriously, did you really think the Nevada Development Authority would get away with this?

Or especially this... Well, what really happened in Hollywood that day? What was the point of this?

Anyway, it didn't take long for none other than my old State Assembly Member to launch this ad campaign in response:

Oh yes, and they're also returning the favor by running ads here:

How sad that these two states are fighting over crap. We can't talk about how both California and Nevada are plagued by insanely regressive tax structures, bizarre and dysfunctional "ballot box budgeting", and a deeply disturbing lack of investment in the infrastructure necessary (like education, health care, and transportation) for a state to ultimately survive and thrive. I'm frankly surprised that Canada hasn't (yet) stepped in to try to steal businesses away from both states!

Still, it just goes to show that businesses ultimately look for more than just "NO TAXES!" for long-term success. They want an educated workforce. They want a good quality of life. They want civilization, and we all know that we ultimately have to pay something to get that civilization.

Monday Open Forum: Are the Luxury Strip Properties Self-Defeating?

(This is the first in what I hope can be a weekly gathering where we can talk business, pleasure, the arts, food, or whatever else we want to talk about here.)

Today's Sun piece on the four and five-star Strip casinos reducing their room rates really got me thinking. Is it all just too good to be true? Or just bad business?

I first remembered my trip here in March:

When I was still in the process of buying my condo in March, I needed a hotel to stay. I was first thinking of getting something closer to Henderson, but I couldn't help myself when I found a suite at Encore going for $120 per night via This was my dream come true, and I FINALLY had the power to fulfill it!

For five days and four nights, I had one of the best weeks of my life. I ate at places like Sinatra and Daniel Boulud. I saw Le Reve. I partied at Blush. And of course, I FINALLY had a chance to laugh at the folks paying the same or more for inferior rooms on The Strip. ;-)

The article is quite correct about those of us who shop around for low rates at high-end properties. But contrary to what some the commenters are saying here, most of us online bargain-hunters aren't the typical "discount travelers". I actually put much of my hotel savings back into the local economy as I was able to afford luxuries like 5-star restaurant meals, more souvenir gifts for the family in California, and more gambling money. IMHO these Vegas hotels are now offering rooms at something closer to fair market value than ever before.

I know that the hotels will eventually raise rates again as the economy recovers and the desire to expand profit margins returns, but now really is the best time to see the best of Vegas at shockingly good prices. If I weren't already a Henderson homeowner, I'd probably be grabbing one of those $109 per night suites at Mandalay Bay's THE Hotel!

I know not all travelers, especially people who travel here, do as I do. I'm one of those odd ducklings that prefer to spend my hard-earned money on real meals and shows than on a "one-armed bandit". Maybe I am part of the problem. But then again, I at least spend some cash on food and entertainment. What about those travelers that don't do the restaurants and shows that have truly made this town great?

But ultimately, we the consumers can only be blamed so much for this problem. Ultimately, the casinos need to accept some responsibility for getting us into the dilemma. We can argue over whether or not Vegas has gone "too high-end" (for the record, I don't think so), but we can at least all agree that we should at least be getting our money's worth.

Here's another of my comments:

The megaconglomerates [Harrah's and MGM Mirage] have taken The Strip and turned most of it into a somewhat generic experience. So many of the casinos don't seem to have any character these days. While I'm certainly not one of those folks who wish for the "Old Vegas" days of mafia rule, cheap & crappy food, and rigid racial segregation, I can see how "New Vegas" hasn't always lived up to its promise with lame players' club benefits, low payout table games, "skin tight" slots, "celebrity chef" restaurants that are all celebrity and no chef, and once-overpriced rooms at the mid-range places that even Motel 6 would be embarrassed to call its own. (Hint: Don't ever stay at Harrah's or Imperial Palace! At least save up a few extra bucks to go to The Rio.)

The key here is value. I can't speak for all of you here, but I can say for myself that I don't mind paying for something good so long as I know it's truly good quality. Don't make me fork $100+ for a dinner for that I could have had at the neighborhood diner for 1/3 of the price. Don't expect me to spend more than $20 at the slots if I know all of that will just be flushing it down the drain. And for goodness sake, don't expect me to pay $10+ for a cocktail with cheap liquor!

I hope the "independent" casino bosses like Steve Wynn and Phil Ruffin still have enough sense in them to rethink "New Vegas" in a way that will really bring the consumers back and get them spending again. People want value. If we're paying a premium for "five star cuisine", that meal should knock my socks off. If we're paying for a luxury hotel, I want room to roam, a comfortable bed, and a big enough tub for me to enjoy a nice bubble bath. If I'm paying, I want real bang for my buck!

Yes, I know Steve Wynn isn't really the great political mind he thinks he is. But hey, we must admit that he knows how to run casinos well. Wynn and Encore are the crown jewels of The North Strip. And hopefully with the new promos he's trying at his properties, such as "Taste of Wynn" prix fixe menus at the restaurants and reduced room rates, along with amenities we expect from a good hotel/casino, like comfortable rooms, quality dining, and great entertainment, he can help in rethinking The Strip.

So can Phil Ruffin. He just took over TI from MGM Mirage, and so far things are going well. Perhaps if MGM Mirage and Harrah's had avoided taking on too much debt as he did, they wouldn't be in such dire straits.

So maybe with better corporate governance and more value being provided to consumers, The Strip will still be able to revel in all its luxury. Or maybe not? Got any ideas on what to be done to make those luxury Strip casinos make money again?

When "Reform" Becomes Robbery

The current health care debate in Congress has nothing to do with death panels or public options or socialized medicine. The real debate, the only one that counts, is how much money our blood-sucking insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit health services are going to be able to siphon off from new health care legislation. The proposed plans rattling around Congress all ensure that the profits for these corporations will increase and the misery for ordinary Americans will be compounded. The corporate state, enabled by both Democrats and Republicans, is yet again cannibalizing the Treasury. It is yet again pushing Americans, especially the poor and the working class, into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society. And the traditional watchdogs—those in public office, the press and citizens groups—are as useless as the perfumed fops of another era who busied their days with court intrigue at Versailles. Canada never looked so good. [...]

“It will basically be a government law that says you have to buy their defective product,” says Dr. David Himmelstein, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a founder of Physicians for a National Health Plan. “Next the government will tell us a Pinto in every garage, a lead-coated toy to every child and melamine-laced puppy chow for every dog.”

“Health insurance is not a race to the top; it is a race to the bottom,” he told me from Cambridge, Mass. “The way you make money is by abusing people. And if a public-option plan is not ready and willing to abuse patients it is stuck with the expensive patients. The premiums will go up until it is noncompetitive. The conditions that have now been set for the plans include a hobbled public option. Under the best-case scenario there will be tens of millions [who] will remain uninsured at the outset, and the number will climb as more and more people are priced out of the insurance market.”

This is just part of Chris Hedges' new article on the health care debate at Truthdig. I highly recommend you read it. It shows just what will happen if we end up with "health care reform" with no strong public option. Basically, we'll just be forced to buy overpriced crap "care".

I'm still frustrated by the fact that single-payer was not allowed to be a part of the debate in DC from the start. Maybe if Democrats had started with an easy-to-understand "Medicare for All" plan, we wouldn't be in this mess today.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why No Teabagger Anger Over "Missing" Republicans?

Five elected officials. No town-hall meetings.

But only Reid gets his picture plastered on the side of a milk carton on a news release by Republican Party officials in Nevada demanding an in-person meeting. Only Berkley gets surrounded by a crowd trying to crash her appearance at a local event to demand a meeting. (Her office notes that after emerging from the crowd, Berkley went on to talk for two hours about health care and other topics, answering dozens of questions at a very civil forum.)

The question that arises: Why is no one asking Nevada’s two Republican elected officials for town-hall meetings? Why aren’t Ensign or Heller on milk cartons stamped “missing”?

How very true. Republicans whine and scream about "Democrats not doing town halls!" when both Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus have done face-to-face, person-to-person "Congress at the Corner" events this month to get past the orchestrated right-wing "protests" and speak directly with voters. Harry Reid will be doing a telephone town hall next weekend. Democrats aren't the ones in this state who aren't afraid to talk with the voters.

What about John Ensign answering questions at an open meeting? Or Dean Heller? Oh, that's right... "It's OK if you're a Republican."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

NV-03: They Don't Get It...

Or do they?

The national debate over health care reform came to the streets of Henderson on Saturday when Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) held a Congress on the Corner event in the Albertsons on Boulder Highway and Lake Mead Parkway.

About 300 people came to the event, many with homemade signs or American flags, to voice their support or opposition to proposed health care reform and other issues before Congress. [...]

Titus spoke one-on-one with about 35 people.

“I got good information that I can take back with me when we work on the final version of the bill,” Titus said. “I think some of (people’s) specific suggestions were good.”

This is the seventh meet-and-greet of its kind the congresswoman has held in the area since taking office, but most didn't attract large crowds like Saturday's event.

There's value in being able to sit down and talk to people face to face, Titus said.

“(There’s) the outside crowd and the shouting, but it’s a lot different when you sit down across the table from them,” she said. “You have a more substantive discussion.”

For weeks, the righties have been screaming for a town hall meeting. They supposedly wanted one so "everyone's voice can be heard". OK, so Dina not only called them on their bluff... She raised them on it by doing face-to-face, person-to-person discussions today in Henderson!

But are they satisfied? Of course not, since this doesn't attract as much media attention and this doesn't give them a chance to cause a scene and start a fracas. We've already talked about why the corporate powers that be behind the violent mobs are staging these shows at town hall meetings, so this is why they're so afraid of events like the "Congress at the Corner" in Henderson today that gives Members of Congress like Dina Titus a chance to get beyond the hype to listen to real people's real concerns on issues like health care and climate change.

The "protests" with all the noise and no real substance just show the real hypocrisy of today's GOP. It's too bad that folks like rational, sane conservatives have been tossed out because they're interested in rational discussions on finding solutions to our problems on issues like climate change and health care. Nope, the corporate powers that be would much rather fund these fire breathing birther/deather/teabagger "movements" to shut down any and all rational discussion. As I've said before, I'd like to see more rational dialogue, conversation, and even debate on these issues. It's just too bad that the Republican leadership and the corporate lobby backing them won't allow more Republicans to engage in just that.

I just hope that this was a wake-up call to not just Dina Titus, but to Harry Reid and President Obama as well. Today's GOP leadership is too busy stirring up these corporate-funded hateful mobs to allow any type of dialogue. If they can get the few sane Republicans left in office to agree on a strong Waxman-Markey & a strong HR 3200, then go ahead. Otherwise, don't let the Palin-Limbaugh-Beck extremists tear us down in the same way they did in 1994. The Democrats need to listen to the people who put them in office and get to work!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lou Dobbs, Supporter of Equality?

(Also at OC Progressive)

Yeah, I know. I'm also wondering what's going on. But apparently, even Mr. "I don't like brown people!" had to laugh at Maggie Gallagher's incoherent defense of such blatant discrimination happening at the federal level thanks to DOMA.

Oh yes, and legal eagle Tobias Wolff was fabulous in revealing the total stupidity of everything "The Queen of NOM" had to say to try to make up look like down and right look like wrong. DOMA is unconstitutional and discriminatory. Simple as that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

No on 1: Why Maine Matters This Year

This fall, Maine will face a special election. And no, this isn't just any special election. Once more, LGBT families are under attack. This time, the same H8ful forces that stripped millions of Californians of their Constitutional rights want to do the same evil thing in Maine.

This must stop. We must stop the radical right's assault on LGBT families, and we have a chance to do so in Maine this year.

My contribution: $

Today, Equality Maine, GLAD, and all the other grassroots groups working together on the No on 1 campaign released their first campaign ad. It's the ad I embedded at the top of this diary. And frankly, I think it does a good job of putting a human face on this issue.

Believe it or not, this is NOT about some abstract concept or much adieu about some nothing of complicated legalese. This is people's lives that are being affected. Real people will be hurt if their families are denied the legal recognition and basic human dignity afforded to everyone else.

Wedding plans have already been postponed because of Question 1. LGBT families are waiting on pins and needles to see if the long awaited marriage equality bill that has already been signed into law can be implemented. And yes, full civil marriage equality is needed to provide these families with the same rights, responsibilities, and legal protections that straight couples already enjoy.

Here are some real Mainers who can explain far better than I why Question 1 must be defeated this fall.

Yes, unlike the opposition, we don't need stock photos or paid actors to tell the truth about our lives and our families. However, our friends in Maine need help... And plenty of it! The opposition is already preparing to declare this a "victory for the sanctity of marriage discrimination". They have already hired some of California's slickest and dirtiest right-wing operatives to parachute into Maine and run a sleazy, dishonest campaign just like California's own Prop H8. Now why should we allow some bigwig California right-wing consultants to strip many thousands of Mainers of their basic civil rights?

I'll be honest right now. I'm not the richest queen in the world. But nonetheless, I intend to help out as much as I can to help No on 1 win so that Mainers can have the freedom to marry that was denied to me when I was California... And is still being denied to me in Nevada today. State by state, these discriminatory marriage bans are going down. If we can defeat this one in Maine, then we can help the people their protect their rights and learn how to help more people in more states secure their civil rights.

I just chipped in $10 today, and I'm looking over my October calendar now to see if I can fit a "volunteer vacation" into my schedule. If you donate today, every dollar you give (up to $10,000!) will be matched, so now's a good time to get the campaign started. And if you have family and friends in Maine, see if you can pay them a visit this fall and spend some time helping protect their freedom to marry who they love.

My contribution: $


Top Chef Comes to Vegas, Baby!

So did you watch last night's episode? Are you already starting to bet on who will win? In case you missed last night's season premiere, here's a taste of what happened.

And here's Mr. ELV/KNPR food critic John Curtas' take on what Season 6 of "Top Chef" can do to spice up the Vegas food scene AND possibly give us the tourism revival we so badly need.

So are you watching "Top Chef: Las Vegas"? I know I am! I always enjoy the show, but I'm so excited to see it in Las Vegas... And see the show call The M right here in Henderson its home base!

Johnny Casino: No "Legal Wrong"?

Oh, looky here. Johnny Casino wants to "rehabilitate his image". Oh, and he "did nothing legally wrong". He wants us all to forget about who he really is. Fat chance!

When will he apologize to LGBT families for denying them even the smallest bit of legal protection? When will he apologize to the countless women whose bodies he wants to control? When will he apologize for being such a damned hypocrite?

This is why Johnny shouldn't expect our forgiveness. I want him out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Crazy Fun Video Night Open Thread... AGAIN!

(Also at OC Progressive)

I know what you did last night. I know where you were... And I'm giving you more guilty pleasures from Everything Is Terrible! Enjoy! ;-)

Prop H8: Judge Lets San Francisco Join Federal Law Suit, But Not LGBT Orgs

(Originally at OC Progressive)

H/T to Pam's House Blend for picking up the news from Law Dork:

The news today has come from San Francisco that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker set a rather quick trial date and has denied the request of several LGBT community groups in California — represented by the ACLU, Lambda Legal and NCLR — to intervene in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger lawsuit challenging the constitutional validity of Proposition 8. The similar request of the Campaign for California Families, which had supported Proposition 8, to intervene also was denied.

Judge Walker did, however, grant the request of the City of San Francisco to intervene. According to Lambda Legal’s Jason Howe, the judge “said they showed a government interest that wasn’t represented by any of the current parties.”

What this means, basically, is that Ted Olson and David Boies, along with San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, will be the lawyers now controlling this challenge to Proposition 8, considered by many to be the most broad, grand-scale attack on marriage discrimination of all those brought in recent years. It is not yet clear how Vaughn ruled in terms of whether both plaintiff groups — the AFER plaintiffs and the City Intervenor-Plaintiff — will be responsible for all decisions or whether Walker named one lead plaintiff in the case.

The ramifications of an appellate or Supreme Court ruling would have impact far outside California’s borders, with a success for the plaintiffs calling into question other state amendments banning lesbian and gay couples from marrying, as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

To be fair, I'll include the joint Lambda Legal/ACLU/NCLR statement down below. However, I first want to make a quick comment.

It wasn't that long ago when these same organizations that are supposed to advocate for the LGBT community were trying to prevent this law suit from even happening. They publicly maligned the American Foundation for Equal Rights in the press. And now they want to hijack this case since it will be heard in federal court after all?

Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate what these groups have done in the past to advance our legal rights in the courts. I think they did their best in the Strauss v. Horton case in the California Supreme Court challenging Prop H8. But since they didn't even want the case in federal court to start with, why should they be allowed to intervene in this case? Let Chad Griffin, David Boies, and Ted Olson handle it. We'll see how successful they will ultimately be. Hopefully, they'll figure out how to be successful and Nevada's ugly and discriminatory Question 2 marriage ban can go down with California's Prop H8 and all the other state marriage bans.

LGBT Community Groups Disappointed By Court's Denial To Join Federal
Prop 8 Case

SAN FRANCISCO - Today Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District
Court in San Francisco denied the request of Our Family Coalition;
Lavender Seniors of the East Bay; and Parents, Families, and Friends
of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to join Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a
federal lawsuit challenging California's Proposition 8.

A statement by Lambda Legal, the ACLU and the National Center for
Lesbian Rights:

On behalf of our clients, we are disappointed that the court did not
permit organizations that represent California's diverse lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to participate in the
case as the Court weighs the harms inflicted by Proposition 8. The
significance of this case for our entire community is enormous. To
exclude the people whose very freedom is at stake is troubling.

Our commitment to restoring marriage for all Californians is
unwavering, and we will continue to do everything within our power to
secure full equality and justice for LGBT people.


No Taxes! No Growth?

Yep, Florida may finally face the first population decline in decades. Yes, THAT Florida... The Florida with no income tax. And the Nevada "Bidness Lobby" really thinks they can still magically lure companies from all over because "no one pays taxes here"?

It's the infrastructure, stupid. ;-)

SB 283: SoS Office Now Accepting DP Pre-Registration!

(Also at the Stonewall site)

Today we have good news on the SB 283 front. Secretary of State Ross Miller has finally put up a domestic partnership (DP) clearinghouse page on his web site! And better yet, forms are now available and pre-registration begins next Monday, August 24.

Of course, this now puts Nevada on the map as the very first Mountain West state to offer DPs and the only Mountain West state so far to offer comprehensive DPs with broad marriage-like protections, rights, and responsibilities. As we talked about before, this is not marriage and we still have work to do to win full civil marriage rights in order for LGBT families to have full and equal protection under the law. Still, this is at least a major step forward for Nevada.

Another step forward is the sane tone of today's R-J story on the new SB 283 developments... I wish I could say the same of many of the commenters there. ;-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crazy Video Night!

Courtesy of Everything Is Terrible, I present: Fun Tuesday Video Night! Now go LYAO and chillax tonight. ;-)

NV-03: Dina Titus Will Face a... Bank Executive??!!

Yes, believe your own eyes!

Bank executive John Guedry will be running against Titus, according to a National Republican Congressional Committee operative. Guedry spent more than two decades in the financial services industry, and the past seven years serving as a leading executive for Nevada-based City National Bank.

Yes, this really is the top GOP recruit to go against Dina. I bet she's so scared. She'll be going against a bank executive? I wonder how much TARP (bank bailout) money City National got. I'm sure her campaign team is already researching that. ;-)

No, seriously, this should be an opportunity for Dina to show what real progressive populism looks like. Keep working on solutions to the foreclosure crisis. Get a strong climate & energy bill passed that will provide many new clean energy jobs to Nevada. And of course, get real health care reform passed so we the constituents will have better health care choices.

If she can deliver on those promises she made last year, then she won't have to worry about us having her back next year against Mr. Rich Banker Dude.

Some Thoughts on the New Obama Administration DOMA Filings

Yes, in the midst of yesterday's big health care news I missed covering another very important issue for our community. I apologize for that. But anyway, President Obama's Justice Department is still defending DOMA... Just in a "kinder, gentler" manner.

Reply Brief

And here's President Obama's statement from yesterday as he tried to walk a tightrope between calling DOMA discriminatory and not calling it illegal.

Office of Media Affairs
For Immediate Release August 17, 2009
Statement by the President on the Smelt v. United States Brief

Today, the Department of Justice has filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged. This brief makes clear, however, that my Administration believes that the Act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress. I have long held that DOMA prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my Administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law.

OK, so at least President Obama now says he'd like to see a legislative repeal of DOMA. It's a start. However, I'm still perplexed as to why he feels his Administration is required to defend DOMA in court.

After all, when did this kind of discrimination become perfectly legal? Last I remembered, President Obama is a Constitutional law scholar. I guess he forgot that Article IV, Section 1, of the US Constitution says:

"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State."

And Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution says:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
(emphasis mine)

And no, I didn't edit out any "... Um, uh, except for those devil children hedonistic homosexual sinners!!!1111!!!!!111111" from those quotes. That's what our Constitution actually says. And in reading the GLAD court filings challenging DOMA, it becomes crystal clear that this unconstitutional discrimination is hurting families in a way that our Founding Fathers & Mothers would never condone.

Furthermore, GLAD makes another great point specifically on the question of whether Section 3 of DOMA (barring the federal government from recognizing otherwise legally married gay & lesbian couples) passes Constitutional muster.

GLAD believes that DOMA Section 3 violates the federal government's promise of equal protection of the laws contained in the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. It singles out just one class of marriages for disrespect and then denies those same-sex couples every single legal protection and responsibility otherwise available to married couples.

DOMA represents an extraordinary intrusion by the federal government into marriage law, an area of law that has always belonged to the states. We believe there is no adequate justification for the federal government's unprecedented non-recognition of valid state marriages.

And after looking at the 5th Amendment, it seems to me that The Bill of Rights backs up GLAD's argument.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
(emphasis mine)

Again, the Constitution clearly calls for equal protection under the law. It also declares that the government can not simply deny one group of citizens the same rights and responsibilities afforded to other citizens. And finally, I'm having a hard time seeing how the federal government can simply deny to recognize civil marriages, thereby denying 1,138 federal rights and responsibilities automatically provided to heterosexual married couples, that these states with full civil marriage equality have every legal right to recognize.

So am I glad to at least see President Obama ensure that his Justice Department not misuse these court briefings to maliciously attack and slander LGBT families. And yes, I am glad to see that he wants to follow through on his campaign promise to work with Congress to pass a full legislative repeal of DOMA. However, I still don't see why he feels obligated to defend what may be a legally indefensible statute. If past Presidents could allow their respective Justice Departments not to defend statutes they felt were unconstitutional, why can't President Obama do the same today?

Still, I'm glad we're making progress on ending this unfair and wrong federal policy that severely hurts LGBT families. If Obama succeeds in repealing DOMA by way of Congress, I will celebrate. But in the mean time, I hope the DoJ lawyers are proven wrong in court. ;-)

And in more important news...

OMG, Tom DeLay will be on "Dancing with the Stars"??!!

Tom DeLay's venture into the hard-knock world of reality television has begun. This morning, the former House majority leader began rehearsals for "Dancing With the Stars," tweeting jocularly that he hoped his dance partner wasn't Nancy Pelosi.

During an appearance on "Good Morning America," the onetime Congressional power broker said there was one simple reason he decided to participate in the ABC dance competition: "I love dancing. Ya gotta love dancing if you’re from Texas."

"This is going to be so fun and so crazy," DeLay added, telling "GMA's" Chris Cuomo: "Conservatives can have fun too!"

Nice to see that the heartless prick who shoved George W. Bush's disastrous agenda down America's throat knows how to have fun. But not to worry, Nevada, because we have our own local legends to root for: Donny Osmond and Chuck Liddell!

Oh, whatever. None of those bitchez could ever aspire to come close to the heights of Vogue Evolution!

Sorry, but I don't think you could pay me to watch "The Exterminator" DeLay even attempt to match Leiomy's fierce moves! ;-)

More Violence

Scary. Just scary.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Public Option Dead? Not So Fast, Sez Pelosi!

Three cheers for Speaker Nancy Pelosi!

“As the President stated in March, ‘The thinking on the public option has been that it gives consumers more choices and it helps keep the private sector honest, because there’s some competition out there.’

“We agree with the President that a public option will keep insurance companies honest and increase competition.

“There is strong support in the House for a public option. In the House, all three of our bills contain a public option as does the bill from the Senate HELP Committee.

“A public option is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage.

“The public option brings real reform to lower costs over the 10 year period of the bill.”

And fortunately, she also has the numbers to back her up. Anywhere from 64 to 100 House Democrats have pledged NOT to vote for an HMO/pharma bailout, so they would kill that bad bill if they and all the Republicans vote against it (as expected if the Baucus-Conrad-Grassley bailout plan were to make the House floor). So really, we actually have a good chance of getting a good health care bill passed so long as House Progressive Democrats hold and don't fold.

So again, please thank the progressives that are holding the line on a strong public option, send a thank-you note to Speaker Pelosi, and urge our Nevada Democrats in Congress to join the progressives in fighting for a pro-consumer health care bill.

If we stand strong and don't waver, we can win real health care reform.

Reason #594 Why Real Health Care Reform Is Needed

The "Co-op Compromise" won't work. The GAO confirms it.

The health care reform compromise that centrist Democrats and several Republicans have indicated they'd support has shown an inability to effectively lower premiums for consumers, a newly resurfaced government study shows. [...]

The U.S. General Accounting Office produced a report on cooperatives in March 2000 that was mostly sour on the idea. Using five different co-ops as examples, the study concluded that on the key function -- lowering the cost of insurance -- these non-profit insurance pools came up well short.

"The cooperatives' potential to reduce overall premiums is limited because (1) they lack sufficient leverage as a result of their limited market share; (2) the cooperatives have not been able to produce administrative cost savings for insurers; or (3) their state laws and regulations already restrict to differing degrees the amount insurers can vary the premiums charged different groups purchasing the same health plan."

Once again, I told you so. The proposed HMO/pharma bailout is just that: another ridiculous corporate bailout that does nothing to help any of us non-super-wealthy people.

We need real health care reform, not more corporate bailouts. Simple as that.

I Called Congress to Save Health Care And You Can, Too!

I just called Dina Titus' Las Vegas office on HR 3200, the House health care bill. The staffer told me that since Rep. Titus is currently out of the country, she could not say whether or not Dina would take the pledge for the public option. She said that Dina Titus supports a strong public option, but hasn't yet made up her mind on what conditions she will place on her vote for any final health care bill. Nonetheless, I also wrote her an email to make sure the office knows that we're looking for answers. I also sent a copy of this to Harry Reid.

Hello, Rep. Titus. I first want to thank you for clarifying your thoughts on health care reform earlier this month with local Democrats. While I still disagree with your take on the original "millionaires' tax" that wouldn't affect 98.5% of residents here in the 3rd District, I'm glad you will now consider a revised "millionaires' tax" and other smart efforts to fund health care reform.

I also want to ask you to do something meaningful to ensure we have a good bill. You have previously promised to support a strong public option in the health care bill that will give us the consumers a real choice for what kind of coverage we want. I hope you will continue this commitment by taking this pledge to ensure we have the right to choose a public plan.

Conservative politicians, the HMOs, and the drug companies shouldn't be able to take this choice away from us. It should be our choice on what plan we want. I hope you will keep fighting for us and for our right to choose the kind of health insurance we need.

As I said last night, this is non-negotiable. Progressives already compromised by backing down on single-payer and agreeing to this public-private hybrid. Kent Conrad and Chuck Grassley and the Blue Dogs and the GOP/HMO/Pharma spin machine can huff and puff and lie their pants on fire all they want, but they must not be allowed to shove their "faux-reform" down our throats!

Please keep bugging Shelley Berkley, Dina Titus, and Harry Reid until they keep their promise to support a pro-consumer health care bill with a real public option.

Reason #564 Why Real Health Care Reform Is Needed

Way too many Nevadans have no coverage, especially far too many minority Nevadans.

In Nevada, 58.7 percent of Hispanics were uninsured in 2007-08, compared with 41.3 percent of African-Americans and 26.8 percent of whites.
Nevada is ranked third in the nation for no prenatal care for Hispanics and second in the nation for no prenatal care for white, non-Hispanic patients.
Sources: Families USA, RGJ research [...]

Mike Rodolico, executive director of the Health Access Washoe County, where Gonzalez takes her son for checkups, said the clinic's employees see the need for reform every day.

About 60 percent of HAWC patients are Hispanic, and many are uninsured, Rodolico said. Most of the clinic's patient population is low-income, earning about $42,400 or less per family of four. Patient numbers are up, 6,000 visits a month compared with 4,000 a month last year.

"I'm very concerned for the Hispanic population, really for anyone who is uninsured," Rodolico said. "We know community health clinics will be an important part of any reform, and we're hopeful our patients can get some sort of insurance."

And this is why we need real reform, not some HMO/pharma bailout. This isn't some sick political power game, but rather about real people in need of real help. They need real care that's really affordable.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Musical Interlude: Annie Lennox, "Pattern of My Life"

Let's face it, we need this. I know I do after my crazy weekend. Let Annie commiserate with us.

President Clinton on Why We Can't Repeat the Same Mistakes of the 1990s

I mostly agree with him. While I don't think he was blameless in caving into the right-wing pressure, I understand that he did it in the midst of a right-wing insurgence with little progressive mobilization in support of Clinton. We need to make sure the same mistakes aren't repeated with President Obama. We need to support him in full force when he's doing the right thing... And hold him accountable when he's hesitant until we make him do the right thing.

ACTION ALERT: Tell Obama & Congress to Keep Their Health Care Promises!

If this is really what they're up to, then the Obama Administration will have hell to pay.

The Obama administration sent signals on Sunday that it has backed away from its once-firm vision of a government organization to provide for the nation’s 50 million uninsured and is now open to using nonprofit cooperatives instead.

Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, said on Sunday morning that an additional government insurer is “not the essential element” of the administration’s plan to overhaul the country’s health care system.

“I think there will be a competitor to private insurers,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s really the essential part, is you don’t turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing. We need some choices, we need some competition.”

Her less-than-forceful insistence on a government insurance organization was paralleled by Robert Gibbs, the president’s press secretary.

If they give up on the public option, then I give up in trying to make sure Obama gets a second term. It's really as simple as that. He already gave up on passing a strong climate and energy bill. He already gave up on putting real effort into repealing DOMA & DADT. He already gave up on passing the Employee Free Choice Act AND the Freedom of Choice Act. And supposedly, we needed to accept that these sacrifices had to be made this year so that we could see a health care bill passed with a strong public option and other pro-consumer reforms.

And now we won't even get that? The Administration now thinks we'll sit back and accept what now looks like a government bailout of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies? HELL, NO!

So are you as angry as I am? If so, then we must take action NOW to stop the "health care compromise" train wreck from getting any worse! First, send a message to President Obama that any health care "deal" with no public option, no prescription drug price negotiation, and no pro-consumer reforms is completely unacceptable and is will not be defended by us. Secondly, tell our Majority Leader Harry Reid not to accept this "compromise" as a done deal and work to make sure that the final Senate bill looks more like the HELP Committee (Kennedy-Dodd) bill with real pro-consumer reforms. And if you're lucky enough to be represented by Shelley Berkley or Dina Titus, ask them to support HR 3200 if and ONLY if it has a strong public option and other meaningful pro-consumer reforms. Otherwise, ask them to only support HR 676 and stop the HMO/drug companies bailout.

Get it? Got it? Good! We still have time to get real health care reform passed, so let's not let some weak-kneed politicians pull us down!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

NV-Gov: Gibbons Gets Another Primary Opponent?

Oh, how fun this should be!

In a surprise announcement, U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval submitted his resignation from the federal bench Friday, giving up a lifetime appointment for what many expect to be a run for governor.

Sandoval issued a brief statement through Chief Judge Roger Hunt, saying it’s “been a privilege and an honor to serve.”

He offered no reason for his resignation, which becomes effective Sept. 15, and did not return calls for comment.
Hunt said it would be inappropriate for Sandoval to comment on his departure or future political aspirations while he’s still serving as a judge.

But many expect Sandoval, who left a promising political career when he was appointed in 2005, to make a run for governor, to enter an already crowded field of Republicans seeking to oust Gov. Jim Gibbons in next year’s primary election.

And for a Republican Party suffering from repeated scandals and electoral defeats, Sandoval’s potential return to politics was exciting news.

“When he went to become a federal judge, I was quoted as saying he’s the total package,” said Republican strategist Ryan Erwin. “He has the ability to raise money. He’s articulate. He’s smart. He’s ethically sound. He is the complete package.”

Sandoval was midway through his first term as attorney general when he was nominated to the bench by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. He also served two terms in the Assembly and is former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.

This should add to the already exciting bumper car race that is the GOP Gubernatorial Primary. With Mike Montandon, Joe Heck, and Bobby Beers already nipping at The LuvGuv's heels, Sandoval can only further split the anti-Gibbons GOP vote. And hopefully, this can give our favorite disgraced Republican just a little more of a chance of surviving the primary so he can lose to Rory Reid or Barbara Buckley next year. (And for the record, I haven't yet endorsed either Reid, Jr., or Buckley for Governor.)

Am I being a little too hopeful? Perhaps, especially since Sandoval does have some real appeal. Maybe he'll even be the next Kenny Guinn? But nonetheless, so many candidates jumping in to challenge Gibbons in the GOP Primary will ultimately spilt that anti-Gibbons vote. It may ironically give him a fighting chance to survive a few more months... Until he loses to a Democrat. ;-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vegas the Sad Story? Say It Ain't So!

Yep, Joel Stein feels a little sorry for us... OK, he really doesn't. But still, the latest Time cover story on Las Vegas isn't too flattering. But hey, I can't help it. I still have hope we'll turn the corner.

I hardly ever agree with Sheldon Adelson on anything, but I hope (to a certain extent) he's right when he says:

"There's no way this world will change. There's no way people are going to stop doing things they want to do ... People aren't going to say, 'I'm going to see Old Faithful or the redwoods instead of taking a trip to Vegas. Or I'll go to Cape Cod with a book.' I don't think they're going to do that. I used to fish. I don't want to go back," he says. "That's the nature of people. It's like the old song, How you going to keep them down on the farm once they've been to gay Paris?"

Hey, a lot of people have lost money in the past when betting against Vegas. Let's hope this old adage holds true.

Home? In Vegas?

Honestly, I'm still getting used to it. It's such a strange concept, especially for all of us "newbies" who move in after experiencing Las Vegas mainly as the tourist trap that we lovingly call The Strip. The Strip is always lively, always lit up to the hilt, always full of crazy drunk people doing wildly irresponsible things. How is that home?

But then I come to my lovely corner of Green Valley in Henderson, and everything changes. It's a sea of red-tiled roofs. It's full of families raising kids, quietly paying the bills, doing everything possible to avoid foreclosure, basically doing their best to be responsible citizens. Oddly enough, it's a community and it feels like home.

Stacy Willis explores the concept of calling Las Vegas home in this week's Las Vegas Weekly, though she comes at it from a slightly different perspective. With all these people losing their homes, where do they go? The homeless population has surged, and public and private agencies are scrambling to figure out what to do about it. Where can they go home? Do we have a responsibility in our home community to do something?

I feel blessed to call my home just that. But sometimes, I also feel a little fear as I wonder how close I may be to losing it and how close some of the people I know are to losing their homes. Is there a chance this will make us realize that so many of us actually want to call this place home and treat this great valley as such?

"The Ensign Effect"

Apparently, that was a deciding factor in Dean Heller declining to challenge Harry Reid next year. He knew "The Ensign Effect" was dragging his poll numbers down and keeping the overall GOP image down. He obviously knows he's better off trying to knock off Johnny Casino himself in the 2012 primary than trying to go against Nevada's most powerful voice in Washington.

Well, that's OK. Let Heller sit it out. Johnny Casino can pull someone else down next year before he loses his own seat in 2012. Aren't the Nevada Republicans so lucky? ;-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Once Again, I Told You So.

We get what we pay for.

Closed satellite offices, employee furloughs and other budget-saving measures have nearly doubled the waiting time at the Reno office of the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to statistics provided Tuesday.

Delays have angered residents and caused traffic concerns, officials said, but many customers at the office Tuesday were resigned to the situation. [...]

"The customers that were being served by the express offices now all have to go to the Reno office," Jacobs said. "Common sense says that's what the spike is from."

Since furloughs began July 1, employees essentially have operated with one arm tied behind their backs, Reno office supervisor Gerry Anderson said.

"They work pretty fast. They really do," said Anderson, gesturing to the employees working in the packed office at noon Tuesday. "We just keep plugging along and try to get everyone out as soon as possible."

If we don't invest in a functioning government, we don't get a functioning government. Simple as that. Jimmy "LuvGuv" Gibbons can deny reality and boast about all the cuts he wants to make, but he can't deny that Nevada already has the cheapest and most emaciated state government in the union. And we wonder why those lines at the DMV are so long or why the state library can't even be open five days a week or why the state can't handle all the people filing for unemployment benefits? Again, we get what we pay for... And that's Nevada's problem right now.

Which Way, Cali?

OK, here's some more news from that wild state to the west of us. There's some division over when to repeal the Prop H8 marriage ban, but at least everyone seems ready to (FINALLY!) get to work. Hopefully if a 2010 campaign for marriage equality emerges, everyone will at least agree to cooperate on some level. And should it succeed, I hope Nevada will be next. ;-)

Downright Scary

Now this is just going too far.

Getting in a woman's face, tearing up her poster of Rosa Parks, then laughing as the police escort her away? This isn't debate. It's extremist hate.

This isn't even about health care any more with these radical righties. For them, it's all about racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia... To sum it up in one word, hate. And how sick are the GOP & sick care industry to actually use this thinly veiled hate to rile up these people and encourage them to start violence!

I actually don't mind debating the merits of universal health care with rational conservatives that want to talk about the economics of health care. Where are they? Has today's Republican leadership scared them all out of the party? Are the GOP, the HMOs, and the pharmaceutical companies so afraid of rational discussion of health care that they have to resort to this?

Violence should NOT be condoned, and xenophobia should not be celebrated. If the GOP wants to debate us on health care, then I encourage it. I'm not afraid or making good arguments, and I know many more progressives who feel the same. However, I am afraid of this "teabagger/birther/deather" cult, fully funded by the GOP and the sick care industry, becoming increasingly violent.

This madness must end.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More on SB 283: What We Have & What We're Still Being Denied

(Also at the Stonewall Blog)

As we've been talking about for some time, SB 283 will officially become law on October 1. This will bring about some major changes in the law, mostly helping us. However, there are some things that we need to remember. Secretary of State Ross Miller hasn't yet updated the Nevada SoS site to include a domestic partnership page (as California's SoS does)

First off, David Parks wasn't joking when he said that this is NOT marriage. While SB 283 provides for domestic partnerships (DPs) that are supposed to treat "domestic partnered" couples just like married spouses, let's remember that this theory doesn't always work out in practice. So while we celebrate the first major advance in civil rights in Nevada in decades, let's keep working toward the final goal of true civil marriage equality.

Probably the most significant reminder of the challenges LGBT families face in this state is the section of SB 283 considering workplace health care benefits. Simply put, employers are NOT required under Nevada law to provide health care benefits to domestic partners of employees as they do to other employees' married spouses. Fortunately it is at least optional, so you'll continue to receive DP benefits at work if your employer already provides them. And if your employer doesn't yet provide DP benefits, you can still try to convince them to do so. Just don't expect the State of Nevada to make them do so... At least until we can improve the DP law.

Nonetheless, SB 283 will change Nevada law for the better for our families. One major example of this will be in family law. Specifically, child custody laws will be improved to make it easier for gay & lesbian couples looking to have children to do so. And considering the current headaches LGBT families with children have, this is quite a welcome development.

And in many other matters, our families will receive more legal protections. Hospital visitation (should the partner become ill) will be easier. Community property laws will apply to domestic partners. State tax benefits currently afforded to married spouses will also be extended to domestic partners.

But again, we must stress that DPs under SB 283 are not marriage and will not be treated by the federal government as such. Even if you and your partner file for a DP this fall, you will still not be able to file a joint federal tax return. You won't be able to receive any spousal benefits from the military or the VA. You won't be able to sponsor your partner for US citizenship or permanent residency if he/she is a foreign national. Unfortunately, DOMA still applies here as it does across the nation. This is why it's crucial that not only Nevada law change to give our families full equality, but that federal law change as well.

I hope this helps answer some of the questions you may have about SB 283 and its imminent implementation. I'll keep the Stonewall site updated with any new information from the Secretary of State, as well as new legal opinions on what will and will not be covered by SB 283.