Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The GOP Health Care Plan

I couldn't have summed it up better.

Vegas Is Losing Its "Theme". Should We Mourn Its Loss?

Today's Sun article really got me thinking about just that. The "theme casinos" now look to be a thing of a past, or at least on The Strip. Downtown's still as kitschy as ever, and some see it as a good thing.

So are the "theme casinos" just distant trashy memories of the past that should be left there? Or are we losing some genuine parts of Vegas with every Strip casino that's renovated and "de-themed"?

I guess I'm somewhere in the middle here. On one hand, I LOVE the design of Wynn & Encore. Hands down, they're my favorite Strip casinos. The gardens inside relax me, and the gaming "rooms" give the casino a nice, intimate feel.

I'm also excited about CityCenter. A number of the buildings were just awarded LEED Gold for their eco-friendly design, and the architecture really proves that Vegas has "grown up" and become a truly sophisticated destination.

But on the other hand, I'll also admit that I have a special place in my heart for Fremont Street and the old "grande dame" casinos downtown. Yes, they're mostly kitschy and trashy... But they're also Vegas history and it would be a shame to ever lose them.

Maybe I'm being too Goldilocks here, but I do think there's a "just right" balance between the old and the new for Vegas that I hope we can achieve and sustain. I personally don't miss the cheap buffets and lousy hotel accomodations at all, but there's some redeeming value in downtown that I'd never want to lose. I also sometimes feel that MGM Mirage and Harrah's have gone too far at times in redefining The Strip and making way too many Strip casinos just generic, but at the same time I hope more residents and "old timer" visitors also open their minds to the new "Haute Vegas" of The Strip at the casinos that have done it right (like Wynn/Encore, Caesar's, and Mandalay Bay).

So do you agree with me? Or am I missing something here? Go ahead, let me have it. ;-)

Health Care: Public Option Fails in SFC, But Hope Remains Alive (Looks at Harry Reid)

Yesterday was an interesting day on the health care front. In the conservative dominated Senate Finance Committee, both amendments to "The Baucus Caucus Bill" that would have added a decent public option failed. Sen. Jay Rockefeller's amendment to tie it to Medicare lost 8-15 while Sen. Chuck Schumer's amendment to model it more like a private insurer lost 10-13.

Of course, our dear Sen. Johnny Casino voted against both proposals. Why, you ask? Oh, it would be popular and successful! You know we can't let the masses have health care!

Republican Sen. John Ensign delivered one of the more curious arguments against a government-run, public health care option during a long and lofty Senate committee debate Tuesday.

People might like it and use it.

Then it would become popular, and too big to fail.

And the government would have to support it.

“Does anyone really believe this Congress will let this government program go away if it has a constituency?” Ensign asked his colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee. “To have a large program like this, once it’s started, you’re never going to get rid of it.”

The public option would be a government-run health care alternative to the private insurance market. It’s intended to provide an option for those currently without health insurance, and, through competition, rein in rising insurance costs.

Yes, that's really our Junior Senator "hard at work" denying us health care because he fears it would be the final nail in the coffin for his already dismal electoral chances in 2012. Isn't Nevada so lucky to have him?

But anyway, now that the Republicans and ConservaDems kept the public option out of their preferred HMO/Pharma Bailout bill, all eyes shift to our other Senator, the one with a fully functional brain and a real work ethic. Yes, Harry Reid will be part of the small group of Senate Democratic leaders that decides what stays and what goes when the Senate Finance Committee bill is merged with the Senate HELP Committee bill.

Now this is where it gets really interesting.

Chuck Schumer believes our own Harry Reid backs him. If this is true, then we have good news. This is why we must keep working for real health care reform with real choices for consumers.

However, we can't rest on these laurels. Keep bugging Reid and asking him to do what a strong majority of Nevadans want, which is to give us the choice of a Medicare-like public option. If Reid delivers for us, we'll deliver for him next year. Simple as that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Maine's STILL So Close!

OK, I have some good news and some bad news for you. Let me start with the bad news. A new poll out today still show a close race in Maine.

And the good news? Democracy Corps shows No on 1 taking a 50-41 lead!

Now let me ask something else. One of the questions on the ballot this November will read
as follows: "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows
individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" - If the election were
held today, would you vote YES or NO on this question?

Yes strongly.........................................................................37
Yes not strongly....................................................................4
No not strongly.....................................................................7
No strongly..........................................................................43
(Don't know/refused)............................................................9

Total yes.............................................................................41
Total no..............................................................................50

So far, it seems No on 1's ads seem to be working in hitting back against the dishonest and misleading Yes on 1 ads being imported from California. However we know not to take anything for granted, as the Prop H8 campaign in California taught us.

As we move into October, the battle will get rougher and the campaign will get tougher. While we can cheer good polling news and jeer bad polling news, the only poll that really counts is the one that the State of Maine conducts on Election Day.

That's why No on 1 badly needs our support. When so many of us were rightfully concerned about the tanking No on 8 campaign in California, we waited too late in donating. We can't repeat the same mistake in Maine.

While Yes on H8 California is reprising its role in Maine, No on 1 isn't making the same No on 8 mistakes. They haven't waited to respond to the lying ads, and they have a real field plan in place to reach out to voters and ultimately get out the vote. They just need our support to keep those ads on the air and fund the field program.

So please spare whatever change you can to help our Maine friends and family preserve marriage equality. The polls may be close, but I know our help can really defeat Question 1 and protect Maine LGBT families' civil rights.

NV-03: Dina Titus Will Face... Joe Heck??!!

Wow. This race keeps getting weirder and weirder. Apparently now, there may be another serious Republican challenger to Dina Titus.

Former Republican state Sen. Joe Heck is “seriously considering” dropping out of the governor’s race to challenge Democratic Rep. Dina Titus for Southern Nevada’s congressional seat in Washington.

According to conservative activist Chuch Muth’s news service, Heck attended a meeting in Las Vegas on Monday called by fellow Republican John Guedry, who announced last week he was dropping out of the race, and was encouraged to run.

Heck is expected to decide whether he’s in by the end of the week, the report said.

He's still a pretty big name in Henderson, so Dina may again face a tough race if Heck decides to jump in where John Guedry left off. Still, if he could lose what was once a Republican-leaning suburban Henderson State Senate seat, maybe he's not the formidable challenger that Democrats should fear too much.

Nonetheless, I'm sure Team Titus must be breathing a bit more easily these days as they look at the utter confusion on the Republican side here in the 3rd District. Just sayin'... ;-)

UPDATE: Steve Sebelius has more on this story, including an R-J story from Saturday that quoted Heck's campaign team as saying he will stay in the Governor's race "fo' sho'". Heh. So which is, Dr. Heck? Will he stay or will he go? Ah, another day of Republican insanity in The High Mojave!

Any Chance for Maglev?

Again, the Maglev supporters promise they are still in the running and they won't be giving up any time soon. Despite "Luv Guv Gibbons" shooting them in the foot with claims of federal money on the way that turned out not to be true, they're hoping there's still a chance. So is there?

Probably very slim, if any left. Unless some miracle happens and Disney or some other California entity that would greatly benefit from Maglev whips up tons of California support (including powerful politicians like Nancy Pelosi or Dianne Feinstein), there's little left to do.

Sig Rogich made an offer that Harry Reid couldn't refuse. The rest of the sane Nevada pols saw the writing on the wall. Oh yes, and Jim Gibbons is still batsh*t crazy.

It's just too sad to see an otherwise worthwhile project get stuck in the middle of a game of "political tug of war".

Monday, September 28, 2009

NCOD Festival This Saturday

(Also at Stonewall)

Here's another reminder for the National Coming Out Day festival this Saturday at Commercial Center. The Stonewall Democratic Club will have a booth there this weekend, so please stop by and say hi. :-)

Why I Still Hope for No More H8

Those first few days were the worst. I was scared. I was depressed. I felt less than human.

Prop H8 had passed in California. And even though I didn't have any immediate marriage plans, I nonetheless felt like all my future hopes and dreams were ripped away from me. I didn't know what to do... Until I got active in working to undo the damage.

Yet even though I'm seeing progress in my new home state, I still have raw feelings about what happened in California last fall. I still have wounds that are only starting to heal.

The yard signs that were stolen from my front yard. The homophobic insults coming from my own family. The belligerent Yes on H8 paid canvassers trying to bully my dad into taking away my civil rights. The "urine yellow" Yes on H8 signs being sprinkled all over my neighborhood by the anti-equality churches. These are my memories from the campaign.

The married couples wondering if their marriages were still "legally valid". The couples that waited too long and missed the chance to get a "limited edition marriage". The kids who were bullied in school before and after the election. These are still memories I have from the first days after Prop H8 passed.

Beating myself up constantly about why I didn't do more to stop this oncoming tragedy. This is the guilt I still have over my failure to do enough to stop Prop H8 from passing.

This is why the special elections in Maine and Washington are so important. I don't want my friends in either state to feel what I felt after Prop H8's passage. I don't want their civil rights stripped away from them. I don't want to see any more Prop H8s succeed in hurting any more LGBT families.

Just like California last year, the opposition is using blatant lies to deceive people into voting for discrimination. And in fact, the very same scumbags that ran Yes on H8 in California are doing the same with Yes on 1 in Maine!

And just like California last year, real families will be seriously hurt if the anti-equality forces succeed. In Maine, LGBT families will be stripped of their marriage rights if Question 1 succeeds. In Washington, LGBT families and seniors will lose important domestic partner rights if Referendum 71 is rejected.

Family values are important. All of our families should be valued. President Obama understands this, and hopefully voters in Maine and Washington will as well. We shouldn't make them face the same fate that so many California families had to endure last fall.

This is what's motivating me now. I don't want my friends in Maine to suffer. I don't want my friends in Washington to suffer. I don't want a "deja vu experience" of seeing the same California sad story unfold all over again.

This is why I'm doing all I can to help. Will you please join me? If each of us pitches in a few spare dollars, we can stop the radical right from assaulting our families and our community any further. We can stop being victims and start turning back the tide of hatred.

Time will soon run out. We have just over a month left until the election. Please join me in giving whatever you can to help No on 1 Maine and Approve R-71 Washington have the resources necessary to win this year. Whatever your "Prop H8 story" is, remember it and do what you can to prevent it from repeating.

NV-03: Dina Titus Will Face... Anyone?

Just as quickly as former bank executive John Guedry entered the NV-03 race against Dina Titus, he's now abruptly leaving. Here's the Republican's statement via Steve Sebelius:

“I entered this race to help make our state and nation a better place for my family and future generations of Nevadans. Recent events have compelled me as a father and husband to end my campaign for public office and focus my attention on important issues closer to home.

“I am incredibly honored and grateful for the tremendous support I’ve received during this campaign and I want to thank everyone who has been so involved and helpful.

“I am more confident than ever that the approach being taken by politicians in Washington D.C. is ill-advised and incorrect … it will just need to be another Nevadan to lead the fight to bring commonsense leadership to Congress and argue these important principles for Nevadans.”

Whatever. While there's no way for sure to know why he decided to drop out, it may be because his City National Bank record was all of a sudden being exposed. Come on, he led their grab of $400 million of our tax dollars while he advocated doing nothing about the 78,000 Nevadans losing their homes to foreclosure?

Why am I now not feeling surprised that he dropped out so suddenly?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't Be Tardy for the Party!

It's Friday night. Let Kim start your weekend right. Now don't be tardy for the party!

Btw, here's the other new No on 1 ad

And again, please take a few minutes to chip in a few dollars to keep this ad on the air. Thanks.

Join ProgressNow Nevada in Saying No to Johnny Casino's Latest Cheap Gimmick

Here's the latest update from ProgressNow Nevada on Johnny Casino's latest stupid gimmick. If you're as mad as I am, sign up for the protest and/or sign this petition. People here in Nevada are suffering because of lack of adequate health care, and he responds with crazy teabagger gibberish? Why is this guy still our Senator?

ProgressNow Nevada
Dear Friends:

Sen. John Ensign has sunken to new lows in his futile bid to restore his sullied reputation.

Today, Ensign glommed on to the right-wing agenda of inaction, perhaps hoping it takes attention off his own ethical and moral troubles. Today he told the Senate Finance Committee he wanted any "czars" handling health care issues to go through Senate confirmation.

Talk about important. Nevadans are hurting. We need health care reform. 
The uninsured and underinsured don't give a damn about powerless czars.

Ensign just doesn't want to miss the Glenn Beck bandwagon. And as long as his right-wing do-nothings are frothing about czars and Socialism, about ACORN and fascism, we get stuck with nothingism.

Get serious.

It's time to find the best way to reform the sytem. And since Ensign simply wants to keep things status quo for his buddies from Big Insurance, he's obviously regained his voice.

Too bad he's speaking the language of inaction.

Tell John Ensign you want real health care reform. And speak up against this right-wing campaign of distraction.
You can hit the pavement in protest next week, or sign our petition online.

Take action to take back the debate. It's time to get serious.

If you want real change, now's the time to speak up. 


Erin Neff

New No on 1 Maine Ad UP!

H/T to Louise at The Blend for finding it!

Thankfully, No on 1 didn't pull any punches in calling out the ugly and baseless lies that have simply been recycled from Massachusetts and California by the same far right Republican consultants that ran Yes on H8 in California. Still, they need our help to keep these ads on the air so that the truth isn't drowned out by Yes on H8/Yes on 1's lies.

Please donate whatever you can to help keep this and other No on 1 ads on the air in Maine. You can also help by signing up to volunteer. The poll numbers are very close, so every dollar and/or hour donated helps!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ballot Language Submitted to Repeal California's Prop H8 in 2010

It looks like ballot language has finally been submitted to repeal Prop H8 in 2010 in California. If you'd like to help our next door neighbors, check out Restore Equality 2010.

Homebuilders Deceive New Buyers, Then Blame Unions

How funny... If it weren't so sad.

A group of 18 homebuyers and the Laborers International Union of North America charged Thursday in Las Vegas that Pulte Homes Corp. and other builders harmed buyers during the housing boom by inducing them into purchasing homes at inflated values and with unaffordable mortgages.

During a news conference organized by the union they asked the Nevada Attorney General's office to take action on complaints alleging deceptive sales and lending practices.

A union press release said Constance Consentino, one of the homebuyers filing complaints, purchased a Pulte home in Las Vegas in 2007 with a 20-percent down payment and a good credit score. The union alleged Pulte inflated the home price, used incentives to steer her to Pulte’s lending affiliate and failed to disclose important mortgage terms, particularly that their interest rate could increase after seven years.

And the homebuilders' response? Blame the unions. Typical.

This is just ridiculous! Homebuilders deceive new buyers... And when they're exposed, they blame the unions! It just shows who really cares about the consumers. (Hint: It's NOT the big builders.)

One Week Away from Progress

Today's the deadline. When today ends, pre-registration ends. And from there, it's the final week until SB 283 becomes law.

Nevada is moving forward, and here's what to expect in only one week.

A while back, I wrote about what the new domestic partner law means for LGBT families (and unmarried straight couples) in Nevada. And yes, there are plenty of positive changes on the way. Adoption will be made easier. Family medical decisions will be made easier. State tax benefits and community property laws will now apply to domestic partners.

Simply put, our lives and our legal paperwork will be made much easier thanks to the new domestic partnership law. So why am I not totally jubilant about this? I actually am happy to see progress, but I know this still isn't full equality.

For one, there's only an "opt-in" policy for employers to provide health insurance benefits to domestic partners. They're allowed, but not required. So while those fortunate enough to work for private companies like Wells Fargo or government agencies like the City of Las Vegas that already provide benefits need not worry, for everyone else there's no guarantee that their employer will start providing benefits when SB 283 officially becomes law.

And of course, we have the feds and DOMA to deal with. Of course, the good news on the horizon is that the Respect for Marriage Act has been introduced in the House. However Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who coauthored the bill, has said that his bill does not address civil unions and domestic partnerships. So even if Nadler and friends are successful in repealing DOMA, Nevada's Domestic Partnerships still won't be eligible for any federal marriage benefits.

So what do we do? For now, we celebrate our progress. We make sure our allies are reelected next year so we can expand on this progress.

And in the mean time, we can also help the Approve R-71 campaign in Washington. Our neighbors way up to the north instituted similar comprehensive domestic partnerships, but they're now under attack from the radical right. The poll numbers for likely voters are close, so we need to help our friends up north turn out as many progressive allies as possible next month (when early voting starts) to preserve the domestic partnership law.

Hopefully one day in our lifetime, we'll see full civil marriage equality in Nevada and nationwide. We need to keep fighting for full equality on all levels for everyone in our community. But in the mean time, we can celebrate our progress so far and keep a watchful eye to make sure the far right doesn't set us backward as we keep making progress.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood to Luv Guv Gibbons: You're Crazy!

Well, he said it himself in a more polite way.

"It has come to my attention that you were recently quoted in the media as saying that Nevada expected to receive funds this week," Secretary Ray LaHood wrote. "If such a statement was made, it is not accurate."

LaHood said he "cannot commit to a date certain" when the Federal Rail Administration would take action.

Gibbons announced last week that the feds were releasing $45 million for the magnetic levitation train between Las Vegas and Southern California, funds that had been set aside for the project in a 2008 federal spending bill. The money had been delayed as the maglev project lagged in coming up with the $11 million in required matching funds.

Maglev and the proposed DesertXpress train are in a fierce competition for the Vegas-to-Southern California route.

Wow. So Gibbons really wasn't telling the truth about maglev. Why am I not surprised?

So was he lying or is he just batsh*t crazy? Who knows! Maybe he wasn't even paying attention. Has anyone seen any suspicious text messaging on one of his state issued cell phones lately? ;-)

H8 and CaliforniWashingMaine

It's happening...

All over again!

This pack of lies has now made its way from Massachusetts to California to Maine. Again, it's the same ol' friggin' story. And just like California, the religious right is heavily invested in stripping many thousands of Maine families of their fundamental civil rights.

Real families will be hurt if Question 1 passes in Maine...

Just like real families in California are now suffering because of Prop H8.

Fortunately, groups like Courage Campaign and the Restore Equality 2010 are working to undo the damage of H8 in California. But in the mean time, we can't let the same mistake be made again. That's why it's critical that we do whatever we can to ensure that Maine LGBT families don't suffer the same painful loss that California's families had to endure. Please give whatever you can to No on 1 so they can fight the lies.

And by the way, don't believe the radical right when they say they're only concerned about "traditional marriage". The State of Washington is not even voting on marriage this November, but they are already using many of the same ugly attacks tossed out in Maine and California to strip Washington families of domestic partner rights. Yes, you heard me right, comprehensive domestic partnerships in Washington state are under attack!

Just today, a new poll on Referendum 71 (R-71) has been released by the Approve 71 campaign. While R-71 is ahead 51-44, it's a small margin that leaves no room for error or complacency. If R-71 is rejected, then many thousands of Washington families will lose even the most basic legal protections that even California and Nevada now have with comprehensive domestic partnerships.

Now let me say this again. R-71 is not even about marriage equality, yet the radical right is out to strip many thousands of Washington families of even the most basic civil rights and legal protections. This should be a wake-up call to all of us love warriors for equality that the forces of bigotry won't be satisfied until we're all locked away in the closet again.

This is why it's critical that we get involved!

2009 is an off-year election. Most people typically don't vote in these special election. That's why we progressives must work extra hard to turn out enough votes to defeat Question 1 in Maine and approve R-71 in Washington. Failure to do so could very well set back further pro-equality legislation on the federal level. Failure to do so could very well hurt the California campaign for marriage equality in 2010. Failure to do so could jeopardize even our domestic partnerships in Nevada.

Believe me, our opponents won't give up easily. Even if you think you don't care about Washington and Maine, reconsider. Remember the pain we all felt when Prop H8 passed in California. Imagine feeling it all over again... And then do something to stop this from happening all over again! Please do whatever you can to help defeat Question 1 in Maine and/or approve R-71 in Washington. Let's defeat the same radical right forces behind Prop H8 once and for all so we can move forward in fighting for full equality.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Maybe-Baby Workshop on the 26th

(Also at Stonewall)

Here's an important upcoming event at The Center that may interest you, especially if you're thinking about having kids.

You're invited to join We Are Family for their annual
Maybe-Baby Workshop
Saturday, September 26 • 2:30PM at The Center

If you would like an Evite to the event, please e-mail

NV-Sen: Harry Reid Saves Medicaid from Disaster... And Republicans Keep Complaining

Cheese louise! No matter what Harry Reid does, the radical right complains. I'm sure if he were to even walk on water, they'd complain about why he doesn't swim.

So anyway, Harry Reid just ensured full federal funding for the Medicaid expansion that Nevada will need to undergo once health care reform is implemented. Once again, Johnny Casino pursued yet another laughable sideshow and "Luv Guv Gibbons" kept acting like a silly clown while Harry Reid actually got something done for Nevada. More people will have health care coverage and the state won't go broke in joining with the feds to make that happen.

And what are the righties saying? Just peek at The Sun's comments. Of course, they hate him for doing it and for caring about the people in this state. And of course, they're completely mum about Ensign's childish demands for attention as he keeps trying to distract us from his sordid affair.

Hopefully, this is just the start of Reid's efforts to improve the health care bill. I'm sure if he includes a strong public option that most Nevadans support, he'll have no problem making the case for reelection next year.

When Visiting San Diego, Just Say No to Pro-H8 Manchester

(Also at Stonewall)

Next door in California, this man has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to take away marriage equality and set back LGBT civil rights there and nationwide. But now, he wants us in Nevada and elsewhere to forget all about it. Please don't. Please join the boycott and stand with our LGBT and union brothers and sisters in San Diego.

Courage Campaign
Dear Nevada Progressive --
It's time for unity in the face of those who seek to divide us.

Doug Manchester, owner of the second-largest Hyatt hotel in the country -- and the man who donated $125,000 in crucial early seed money to the Prop 8 campaign -- has launched a cynical public relations campaign to divide the marriage equality and labor movements.

That's why the Courage Campaign and Equality California are teaming up to reject Manchester's attempt to divide Californians. Will you join us?

Here's the story:

Doug Manchester owns the Grand Hyatt hotel in San Diego. When he gave $125,000 in early seed money to the "Yes on 8" campaign -- a critical infusion of urgent cash that paid for the signature-gathering to put Prop 8 on the ballot -- Californians Against Hate teamed up with Cleve Jones and the hotel workers' union UNITE HERE to lead a boycott of Manchester's hotels, subsequently joined by the Courage Campaign, Equality California and several other organizations concerned about equality and workers' rights.

Launched in the summer of 2008, this highly successful boycott is believed to have cost Manchester's Grand Hyatt more than $7 million in lost business. Despite the success of this growing boycott, Doug Manchester has refused to apologize, refused to meet with the organizations leading the boycott, and refused to improve conditions for hotel workers.

Instead, Manchester has tried to buy off LGBT organizations by offering $100,000 in "hotel credits" and $25,000 to any 501(c)3 organization that supports "civil unions" -- a tax write-off for Manchester that dodges full support for marriage equality and could never be used to fund a repeal of Prop 8, the passage of which Manchester made possible.

No one has accepted.

Today, the Courage Campaign and Equality California are launching the new "Say No To Manchester" web site along with UNITE HERE and Californians Against Hate and asking our members to sign a pledge to join the Manchester boycott. Please click here to add your name today:

By signing this pledge, you will increase pressure on Doug Manchester to make a public apology for his $125,000 donation to Prop 8 and negotiate an honest, fair resolution with boycott organizers.

Thank you for joining the Courage Campaign, Equality California, UNITE HERE, and Californians Against Hate. Standing together in solidarity, this growing movement for equality and fairness will win.

Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign

National Equality March Supports Day of Action for Maine

Here's an important message from the organizers of the National Equality March coming up next month. Please join them, and join us, in calling for equality in Maine this weekend. And if you can make it to Maine in person next month, please sign up as soon as you can.

Dear friends,

As we get ready to march for full federal equality next month, we also have to protect our rights in the few places we have them.

Marriage equality is under attack in Maine. The National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, and other groups that bankrolled Prop 8 in California have out fundraised the local effort by 2-1. But no matter where you live, there's something you can do about it.

Don't let them stand their ground alone! Here are a couple things you can do right now.

1. Join the Virtual Phone Bank on September 27

Can you donate 2.5 hours to call voters in Maine on Sunday, September 27? All you need is a phone and a computer with internet. No long distance fees!

2. Take a Volunteer Vacation in October

Can you spend a week in Maine volunteering for the campaign to preserve marriage equality? They can even help you find housing! Sign up here.

Thanks for helping protect equality in Maine, and we'll see you in the streets next month!


Equality Across America and the National Equality March Team

Congratulations to Johnny Casino!

Oh, looky here! He wins another award, this time for being one of the most corrupt members of Congress! Not only did he "pay to play" with his best friend's wife, but he also may have violated campaign finance laws in funneling money through his parents to his mistress and her husband.

Stay klassy, Nevada Republicans!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Join MoveOn at Tomorrow's Health Care Rally @ United Health HQ!

FYI, MoveOn will be doing a pro-health care reform/pro-public option rally tomorrow at United Health's office near Summerlin. If you can get off early for lunch break and work in the area, try making it over there. Show your support for real health care reform by joining local grassroots activists in taking on Big HMO.

Come to a "Big Insurance: Sick of It" Rally in Las Vegas tomorrow!

Big Insurance is fighting to stop real health care reform. Tomorrow, we're gathering at rallies nationwide to send a strong message that we're sick of Big Insurance—and we demand a public health insurance option, now!  

Where: United Health Care Offices (in Las Vegas)
2724 N. Tenaya Way
Las Vegas, NV 89128

When: Tuesday September 22nd at 11:00 AM

What: We'll hear stories from individuals who are suffering under our broken health care system, and deliver a letter to Big Insurance, demanding that they stop denying us care.

Urban Living & Why It's OK to "Luv-It"

Hey, I might as well weigh in on the controversy that everyone is talking about. Come on, you know what I'm talking about. Ever since "The Office" star Mindy Kaling trash-talked the downtown neighborhood where the famed Luv-It Frozen Custard is located, everyone in Vegas is talking about the merits of urban Las Vegas living.

Is it safe to go to Luv-It at night? Are we at risk of getting mugged at the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. & Oakey? Are all of us suburbanites in Green Valley and Summerlin just too snooty to realize the good quality of life in Downtown Las Vegas? Is the inner city a scary place to avoid or the future of American life?

Now if you excuse me for a moment, I want to put aside the Mindy Kaling/Luv-It controversy and point out something else that provoked me to some more deep thinking. Over at my old stomping grounds in OC Progressive, rockstar local blogger Joe Shaw recently talked about walking around Huntington Beach, the OC city where he lives. Basically, it's difficult to walk around his walled-off suburabn neighborhood. But in downtown, the streets all have inviting sidewalks, stores of all sorts are nearby, and residents there can easily walk around.

OK, so Downtown Surf City isn't exactly Downtown Vegas. Regardless, Downtown isn't as scary as some would imagine it to be. I just stayed at a friend's house near 9th & Oakey las weekend. I never feared for my life or my possessions.

Is it possible that so many of us have become so accustomed to the perfectly manicured Anthem roads and far off Silverado Ranch strip malls that we've forgotten what real city living is like? Sure, maybe I myself am somewhat of a hypocrite about this. After all, I live in the master-planned nirvana that is Green Valley.

But hey, I'm trying. My neighborhood actually is quite walkable. And if I can't walk to where I need to go, RTC bus service out here isn't too bad. All in all, I actually think Green Valley made some good first steps that can ultimately lead us to a brighter suburban/urban future.

There's been plenty of debate lately on the merits of New Urbanism. Many new urbanists see a possible future in places like Inspirada. However, others just see developments like these as lame excuses for the real urban living one can find Downtown.

Sometimes, I do feel guilty about my life in Henderson. Aren't I the one who's always crowing about sustainable living? Well, at least I'm doing my part to make it work in the 'burbs. And perhaps with smarter planning in the 'burbs and more sustainable living on our part, we can make it work... Even in Henderson and other outer reaches of The Valley.

But in the mean time, perhaps those of us in the 'burbs should think twice before bashing the inner city as "sketchy". Take a walk around the neighborhood just east of Las Vegas Blvd. near Luv-It. Do the First Friday Art Walk next month. Notice how walkable the area is, how close the shops are, how the arts scene is flourishing here, and how engaged and connected the community is. What's so "sketchy" about that?

Yes, Downtown does have crime problems and other problems that don't need repeating in other areas. And sure, we shouldn't all be forced to move Downtown. However, we'd be foolish to completely overlook what's gone right downtown. We'd be foolish to dismiss the lessons we can learn from these city neighborhoods that can help us live more sustainably, even out in the 'burbs.

And in further economy news...

The House just voted to extend unemployment benefits in Nevada and 25 other states with 8.5% or higher unemployment rates for 13 more weeks.

Some 5 million people, about one-third of those on the unemployment list, have been without a job for six months or more, a record since data started being recorded in 1948, according to the research and advocacy group National Employment Law Project.

“It smashes any other figure we have ever seen. It is an unthinkable number,” said Andrew Stettner, NELP’s deputy director. He said there are currently about six jobless people for every job opening, so it’s unlikely people are purposefully living off unemployment insurance while waiting for something better to come along.

The current state unemployment check is about $300 a month, supplemented by $25 included in the stimulus act.

That doesn’t go very far when a loaf of bread can cost $2.79 and a gallon of milk $2.72, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said at a hearing last week on the unemployment insurance issue.

Yep, this is why we need it. Hopefully, things will eventually turn around. Still, things won't turn around until people have money in their bank accounts. I'm glad we'll see another extension.

Is There Life After The Great Recession?

Apparently, there may be for the casinos. Despite weak earnings (profit), uncertainty over when Nevada's economy will turn around, and a lack of optimism for strong tourism numbers in 2010, casino stocks are soaring again.


“There’s nothing going on fundamentally, in the near term, to get enthusiastic about unless you think the economy has turned and we’ll see more domestic and international travel (to Las Vegas), and I’m somewhat skeptical on all those,” said Dennis Forst, a stock analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets.

So what’s to love?

Some of the rebound is tied to the fact that MGM Mirage and Las Vegas Sands — among the most leveraged of the casino companies — have escaped bankruptcy in the near term. Like many American companies, they have injected new equity and borrowed more, giving them more time to ride out the economic storm. The capital markets have opened somewhat since the market crash, giving companies the ability to raise needed cash.

“These companies’ balance sheets are in much better shape,” Forst said.

So basically, the casinos are being "rewarded" for not going bankrupt. Wow. I wish investors would give us money for pulling something like that off! (LOL.)

Oh yes, and things may be looking up for Wynn and LV Sands in China.

Much of the rise in Wynn and Sands stocks, which have increased the most in recent months, is driven by news from Macau, the Chinese enclave halfway around the world from Las Vegas where these companies generate most of their earnings. Earnings have improved there, in part because of improved high roller business, even though the Chinese government has restricted travel to Macau from its chief feeder market, mainland China. Both companies’ shares also have traded up on news that they will raise money in Hong Kong-based initial public offerings of their Macau assets.

So are we seeing a turnaround with the casinos? I hope so, but let's not get our hopes too high just yet. Again, even the most optimistic gaming analysts aren't expecting a return to boom-years levels of tourist spending on The Strip this year or even next year. And even if MGM Mirage's CityCenter can pull off a successful opening, they will still have to cut room rates and condo prices to lure those tourists into the "condotel". Oh yes, and CityCenter's opening may force the competition to keep their room rates low, further depressing hotel revenue for the casinos.

Still, there may be reason to hope. The economy is slowly but surely turning around. Tourists are now coming back, even if they're not spending as much as they used to. The pain isn't over yet, but hopefully the light at the ned of the tunnel isn't a speeding train and the casinos will learn how to adapt to the "new reality" of tourists actually demanding more bang for their buck.

Call for Equality Next Sunday!

What are you doing on Sunday? Want to take action to defend marriage equality in Maine? OK, so what are you waiting for? Sign up to call for equality!

National Day of Action: Save Gay Marriage in Maine!

2.5 hours to save Gay Marriage in Maine. You don't even have to leave your house. No more excuses - if you believe in the dignity of equality for all, YOU CAN DO THIS!

Host: Equality Network

Type: Causes - Rally

Network: Global

Date: Sunday, September 27, 2009

Time: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Location: Virtual Phonebank


Marriage equality is under attack in Maine, and no matter where you live, there's something you can do about it.

Far right extremists have imported their national anti-equality agenda to the Pine Tree state with the goal of stripping away marriage rights. The same group that bankrolled Prop 8 in California has set up shop in Maine and has out fundraised the local effort by 2-1.

Despite that, polls show fairness is winning by a slim margin, thanks to the local grassroots No On 1 effort to protect Maine equality.

We can't leave them alone to stand their ground. We need to rally to support the local effort! No matter where you live, there is a way to help win this fight.

**All you need is a phone and a computer with an internet connection. No long distance fees, no dialing- the web-based software does it all.**

With 500 people ACROSS AMERICA, donating 2.5 hours of time, we can accomplish 1250 volunteer hours!

This is a VIRTUAL PHONE BANK on Sunday, September 27th to SAVE MAINE FROM RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS, and pave the way for a repeal of Proposition 8 in California!

Sign up and you will get all the information you need to be a part of the Sept 27th Maine Day of Action. IF YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE, YOU MUST PROCEED TO THIS LINK AND FILL OUT THE FORM.

© 2009 Protect Maine Equality, 550 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME 04101 Paid for and Authorized by Protect Maine Equality.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Banks Have Beaten Us to a Pulp... We Need to Fight Back!

My dad recently went through this horrid bit of hell.

And in his case, it wasn't ever his fault. The cell phone company made a massive mistake in double charging him for the month's bill last month, so the bank started charging overdraft fees because he was supposedly overdrawn... Even though he really wasn't.

But even though the cell phone provider ultimately fixed its billing error, the bank never refunded the overdraft fees. And in fact, they charged him even more later in the month when he was never really overdrawn... AGAIN!

The bankers are thieves. They really are. We can't trust them, yet the politicians misuse our tax dollars to keep bailing them out so they can keep stealing from us. Instead of getting any more bailouts from us, these bank executives should face criminal charges for what they've done to us.

After we follow Ralph Nader's advice and sue the banks, we should urge the feds to investigate them. Now that would be the ultimate revenge!

Friday, September 18, 2009

NV-Sen: Progressives for Reid

I signed up. You should, too. Why?

Well, let's face it. Harry Reid isn't perfect. Yep, he votes the wrong way a few times. Sometimes, he doesn't fight strongly enough for what progressives stand for. Before I moved to Nevada, I didn't like him at all.

I guess you can say I'm a reformed "Reid hater". I know that while he occasionally goes off the farm, he's nonetheless a mostly consistent ally of progressive causes. He's fighting for a better health care bill with a good public option and fairer Medicaid reimbursement funds fort Nevada. He's been fighting for important LGBT civil rights bills like The Matthew Shepard Act (hate crimes) and Military Readiness and Enhancement Act (repealing the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" open military service ban). He's working for a good climate and energy bill that will solve the climate crisis and bring more "green collar jobs" to Nevada. Come on, Harry Reid more often than not has our back!

So consider this my penance. While I'll still call out Reid when I think he's wrong, I won't hesitate to praise him when he's right. And if he follows through on his promises to deliver on important matters like health care and climate change, we should have his back to make sure we still have one rational, hard-working Senator to look out for Nevada.

So yes, Erin Neff and ProgressNow Nevada, I'll join you for now and support Harry Reid. If he doesn't deliver, I'll reconsider and put him on notice. But if he does, I'll make sure he gets reelected next year by the strongest margin possible. :-)

Today's News

OK, I haven't forgotten Nevada! Here's some of what I'm following today:

- The HUGE OFA/Nevada Democrats rally for health care reform in Vegas yesterday (The Sun)

- Nevada jobless rate soars to 13.2% (The Sun and RGJ)

- Organized crime at UNR? Strange happenings in Reno... (RGJ)

- Arizona anti-choice laws being challenged in court (Arizona Republic)

- California may crack down on energy wasting big screen TVs (LA Times)

We'll talk more later. ;-)

Maine's So Close!

Yes, Maine really is close.

Yes on 1: 48%
No on 1: 46%
Not Sure: 6%

Despite the recent attacks on LGBT Mainers, No on 1 is still within a striking distance of victory. However, it will obviously take a lot of work to overcome this deficit and finish out on top. The Yes on 1 anti-equality campaign is already starting the "scare campaign", and we need to be ready to fight back and win.

This is where Travel for Change steps in.

“Maine is an amazing place and it's beautiful to see Mainers welcoming their fellow American's into their homes,” said Travel for Change director Jay Cash. “It's exciting because people are signing up to go to Maine and others are signing up to sponsor them financially and with airline miles. We used airline miles to pay for more than 300 tickets in the general election and we hope to gather at least 100 for Maine.”

Supporters of Question 1 have out-fund-raised Protect Maine Equality's "No on 1" Campaign by using big donors like Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage. In contrast, Protect Maine Equality is following the lead of the Obama campaign, using the power of small donations and counting on large numbers of volunteers. Partnering with Travel for Change, an organization that supported Obama in the presidential election, Protect Maine Equality is asking supporters across the country to take a "Volunteer Vacation" to Maine and help get out the vote.

"Marriage equality is a national issue,” Cash said. “Just ask our opponents. A California consultant is running their campaign and the star of their first commercial is a Massachusetts lawyer.” [...]

If the Question 1 is turned down it will be the first time in this country that marriage equality has won at the ballot box.

“It's simple this election will either be a huge victory or a huge defeat for equality," said Alisa Whitfield, Managing Director of Travel for Change.

Again, the polls are as tight as can be. The opposition is already throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Maine LGBT families. The campaign is already underway. We need to get fired up and ready to go and defend equality!

Fortunately, Travel for Change is ready for us. Even if you can't afford to come to Maine, they will help with airfare and connect you to low and no-cost volunteer housing. Even if you can't come but can afford to help, you can donate your frequent flyer miles and/or money to Travel for Change to help pay for needy volunteers to go to Maine.

We really don't have time to waste. Our moment is now. Will we stand up for our LGBT brothers and sisters in Maine? Will we make sure they won't suffer the same fate of California and Prop H8?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Need a Vacation? Want to Protect Marriage Equality in Maine?

(Also at Stonewall)

If this doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will.

Yes, I know this is Maine. But remember, this can happen anywhere. It happened here in Nevada. It happened in California. It happened in Oregon. It happened in Arizona. It's happened in states all over the place, but now we have a chance to turn the tide in Maine.

If Mainers succeed in protecting marriage equality in their state, it will help turn the tide nationwide. It can set a precedent of voters affirming equal rights. It can give us hope in Nevada to one day replace Question 2 and SB 283 with real, complete civil marriage equality.

But hey, I won't annoy you with any more of my platitudes. I'll let Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for No on 1/Protect Maine Equality, explain why it's important for us to help.

The national movement for marriage equality is at a tipping point-- if we defeat this referendum in Maine, we'll look back on November 2009 as a watershed moment in our history. Be part of this history in the making. Join us for a Volunteer Vacation in Maine.

Volunteer Vacation is simple. During the month leading up to the election, the NO on 1 campaign is hosting a team of highly motivated volunteers to serve as full-time, volunteer campaign staff. Once you arrive in Maine, you will receive a full orientation, be assigned to a team, and be trained on various aspects of the campaign. You will get an intensive, hands-on campaign experience while working with a great team of people from around the country.

Sign up here to learn more about the program and to learn about housing options and travel assistance.

Be part of history. Join us for a Volunteer Vacation in Maine.

Even if you can't do a volunteer vacation yourself, please donate what you can to help someone else make the trip. Just do whatever you can to help your LGBT brothers and sisters under attack in Maine. And in the coming days, I'll let you know about other volunteer opportunities as soon as I find out about them.

Just remember the Maine... Election, that is.

NV-01: Thank Shelley Berkley for Standing up for Equality

Sometimes, I don't praise Shelley Berkley enough for doing the right thing. I apologize. I'm usually occupied with tracking the both the great accomplishments and sorry mistakes of Dina Titus. And the rest of the time I'm mostly laughing at Dean Heller's ridiculously stupid comments, so it's easy to forget about NV-01.

But today, I won't. Why? Well, Shelley Berkley did something quite commendable in signing up as an original cosponsor of HR 3567, The Respect for Marriage Act of 2009. If passed, this would repeal DOMA and allow gay & lesbian married couples to access all the 1,138+ federal marital rights and responsibilities.

So today, I'd like to take a break from my usual railing against the typical Beltway cowardice that infects so many in Congress and thank Rep. Shelley Berkley for showing her commitment to LGBT civil rights. She has proven herself to be a true friend of our community and a strong advocate for full equality. Thanks, Ms. Berkley, for doing the right thing.

If you'd like to join me in thanking Shelley Berkley, drop a note of appreciation in her inbox. And if you can afford it, consider donating to her campaign so she can keep fighting for our rights in 2010 and beyond.

Ah, doesn't it feel nice to report some good news for a change? ;-)

Uh Oh, Labor Troubles at Caesars?

From The Reno Gazette-Journal:

Dealers negotiating a union contract with the Caesars Palace hotel-casino for almost two years are planning to protest outside the Las Vegas Strip resort.

Transport Workers Union officials say the Thursday demonstration outside the flagship Harrah’s Entertainment property will highlight lack of progress on a deal with management.

Shane Kaufmann, a Caesars Palace dealer helping to negotiate the contract, says the roughly 600 dealers want conditions similar to what they had before Harrah’s bought Caesars in 2005.

Kaufmann says that includes control of tips and union representation during certain personnel decisions.

Yikes. Why can't Harrah's just give these workers what they already had in 2005? Is that really too much to ask?

The Real "Death Panel" HMOs Killed The Real "Norma Rae"

It's sad enough that feminist and labor activist Crystal Lee Sutton has just passed away. But now, it's even sadder to learn why she's gone.

Crystal Lee Jordan, the union activist from North Carolina that inspired Sally Field’s Oscar winning performance in Norma Rae, died on Friday because her health insurance company delayed her cancer treatment. Sutton was diagnosed with meningioma but waited two months to begin taking needed medication because her health insurance refused to cover it. While they debated about whether or not the medicine was included in her policy, the cancer spread through her nervous system making the medicine ultimately ineffective. Sutton herself openly criticized the U.S. health care system as an abuse of the power and potentially murderous for the working class. Her criticism got her insurance company to ultimately approve the medicine she needed, too late.

Ultimately, Sutton herself described best what this amounts to:

"How in the world can it take so long to find out [whether they would cover the medicine or not] when it could be a matter of life or death," she said. "It is almost like, in a way, committing murder."

So you want to know where those fabled "death panels" are, Sarah Palin? They're already working in the insurance companies! They just murdered the real life Norma Rae, and they're out to kill all of us who don't sufficiently expand their "profit margin".

This just confirms why we need real change in this health care system. If there were enough folks in Washington with any kind of courage, we'd be talking about a Medicare for All single-payer plan. It's so sad that the Republicans and the ConservaDems, both bought and paid for by the HMOs and Big Pharma, don't even want us to be able to choose a Medicare-like public option for ourselves!

Oh yes, because supposedly the current for-profit system is working so well... Just ask Crystal Lee Sutton's family who it's working out for them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Best Part of The VMAs

OK, so everyone is still talking about Kanye. Whatever. This is what everyone should be talking about.

Now Lady Gaga, she's a real fine lady. ;-)

Good News: Harry Reid's Open to Changing "BaucusCare"

I think we progressives now have our opening.

Reid is concerned about the cash-poor state's inability to boost Medicaid spending as would be required under the bill.

“While this draft bill is a good starting point, it needs improvement before it will work for Nevada," Reid said in a statement. "During this time of economic crisis, our state cannot afford to shoulder the second highest increase in Medicaid funding."

Reid said he received assurance from the chairman, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, that the formula would be changed before the bill goes to committee next week.

"I spoke to the Chair of the Finance Committee and he assured me that this bill will be improved for Nevada," Reid said.

"Let me be very clear, I will not bring a health insurance reform bill to the Senate floor that is not good for Nevada.”

Honestly, I'm just glad that Reid wants to get rid of this unfunded mandate and replace it with real aid to ensure that Nevada's Medicaid program can cover more people. However, there's another reason I'm celebrating right now.

The Baucus Bill is becoming increasingly hated by just about everyone other than the HMOs. As it is, it's pretty much dead on arrival. And with Harry Reid now placing a nail on that coffin, we have a chance to get a better bill on the Senate floor, a better bill with better financing, better subsidies and assistance for the working poor, and a better public option that we can all opt into.

Open Left and CREDO Mobile are doing an online petition to Harry Reid demanding that he brings a bill to the Senate floor with a strong public option. Let's round up plenty of Nevada signatories so that he knows where his constituents stand. As long as Reid's improving the bill, let's make sure he leaves room for a good public option. ;-)

NV-Gov: Sandoval's In... Officially

OK, we all knew this would happen. Still, I was hearing some rumors that Brian Sandoval might challenge Harry Reid for Senate. Well, at least he can breathe a little more easily.

But Rory Reid? Not so much.

"There were days when I woke up and said I'm going to stay where I am and there were days when I'd wake up and say it's your duty to try and make a difference," he said.

He said he was first approached early this summer by Republican political consultants Pete Ernaut and Greg Ferraro about launching an unprecedented-- in Nevada-- challenge against the sitting governor.

"I never called them and said, 'I think I want to be a candidate for governor,'" Sandoval said. "Frankly, when they came to me the first time, seriously, I didn't think it was a serious consideration."

Oh, and he says Johnny Casino did NOT recruit him to run. (Steve Sebelius has more on that.)

He also said he spoke twice to U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., about running for governor.

But he strongly denied anyone recruited him for the race, saying the decision was his own. He said he reached it after many long conversations with his wife.

But hey, at least we need not worry too much. Nevada Republicans still don't seem to know how to win. They're already screwing up their chances against Harry Reid, and former North las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon wants to beat up Sandoval to ease Rory Reid's burden in the general.

Montandon has launched an offensive against Sandoval, seeking to tar him as fickle for leaving several offices mid-term for the next opportunity.

"Brian Sandoval quit mid-term in the Nevada Assembly," Montandon wrote in a recent fund-raising letter. "Brian Sandoval quit in the middle of his term as attorney general, virtually handing the office to a liberal Democrat in the next election. And now, Brian Sandoval says he will quit his job as a federal judge and give (President) Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint another liberal judge to the federal bench.

"Since when is quitting a qualification for governor?"

I'll be honest right now. Sandoval looks like the Kenny Guinn kind of moderate-libertarian Republican that Nevadans don't mind electing. If he's the GOP nominee, Democrats will suddenly have more of an uphill battle to climb in the Governor's race.

However it won't be impossible to beat Sandoval, especially if Republicans like Montandon and Former State Senator Joe Heck bloody him enough in the primary. Or better yet, Heck could steal enough "moderate" GOP votes away from Sandoval to tip the primary win to Montandon or "Luv Guv Gibbons". And especially if the rabidly far-right GOP base turns out en masse, Sandoval may not have the GOP nomination automatically bestowed upon him.

So already, the 2010 election is bringing the high drama back to The High Mojave. Barbara Buckley won't run for Governor, but Brian Sandoval will. Republicans have their guns out for Harry Reid, but they can't seem to stop shooting each other in the mean time. Wow, if only I had known before how exciting Nevada politics can be!

On Cutting Through the Lies

Have you seen the new blatantly false Yes on 1 ad?

Oh OK, that wasn't really it. But seriously, Jackie Beat would have SO MUCH FUN spoofing the real one! Yes, it's really that lame.

But unfortunately, more and more of these blatantly false ads are going on the air thanks to major donations from the religious right. It's become increasingly obvious that the same folks who ran Yes on H8 in California are using the exact same dirty tricks to strip marriage equality away from the people of Maine. And as this becomes clear, we need to realize not to make the same mistakes that led to Prop H8's passage.

We can't just ignore the attacks from the religious right. We can't let them goad us into ridiculous arguments over things have have nothing to do with marriage equality. We can't let them distract and bamboozle the Maine electorate into total confusion just like they did in California.

Simply put, the pro-equality campaign needs to get on the offensive and stay on the offensive. We need to point out what would happen if Yes on 1 succeeds. We need to tell the real stories of real families that will be hurt of Question 1 passes.

State Rep. Emily Cain (D-Orono) did a great job of explaining this in today's Bangor Daily News.

This referendum is about children and families, but I disagree with Rev. [Bob] Emrich's assessment of what is at stake. For Emrich [more about this guy here], gender and sexual orientation determine who will be a good parent. In fact, every reputable children's advocacy organization agrees that love and support are what children need most. As Dr. Daniel Summers of the American Academy of Pediatrics testified at the April hearing in Augusta: It is the quality of parenting that predicts children's psychological and social adjustment, not the parents' sexual orientation or gender. He added that children raised by same-sex couples do not differ in any important respect from those raised by heterosexual parents.

All Maine people love their children. But in his crusade to deny marriage equality to thousands of Mainers, Rev. Emrich completely ignores the rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage automatically bestows on couples and on their children. Do we really want to deny these benefits to any Maine child because his or her parents are a same-sex couple? [...]

There are thousands of loving same-sex couples in Maine who have made commitments to one another, many for decades. Marriage equality honors these commitments and acknowledges them under the law. Without marriage equality, Maine law does not recognize these couples as a legal pair. They cannot file taxes jointly, access health insurance as a family or inherit property when one partner dies without the hardship of crushing taxes.

Contrary to Rev. Emrich's apocalyptic view, marriage equality will make Maine families stronger, extend vital rights and protections to the children of the couples who marry and uphold core Maine values of fairness, equality and personal freedom. Let's not forget Massachusetts. New government statistics show Massachusetts with the lowest divorce rate in the country, down to 2 divorces per 1,000 residents, a drop from 2.2 before 2004 when same-sex couples began marrying. This is down to pre-World War II levels. Obviously, the dire predictions about the downfall of society have not come to pass and thousands of families there are stronger as a result.

Now this is what I'm talking about! And already, the No on 1 campaign is wasting no time getting on the air to tell the truth about marriage equality!

This is what's motivating me to do whatever I can to help protect marriage equality in Maine. I also hope this is inspiring you to join me on my online walk for equality in Maine by donating whatever you can to No on 1. The campaign wants to air additional ads to counter the radical right lies, but they need to have the money in hand by tomorrow to make it happen. We have no time to waste in ensuring No on 1 has the resources necessary to cut through Yes on 1's BS and tell the truth to Maine voters!

Btw, hot off the presses, here's No on 1's new response ad!

So please, please join me in this online walk for equality in Maine by donating whatever you can to make sure No on 1 can stay on the air with ads like these and make the voter contacts needed to turn out the vote in November! Thanks.