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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

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Mobilizing for “Day of Decision” Donate & Deduct Marriage Equality USA in the News Grassroots Keep Growing Legal and Legislative Briefs Respect, Empower, and Include: Where We Will Go From Here! Merchandise Online Ch..Ch..Ch..Changes New Advisory Board Members

The “M” Word
V O L U M E I V I S S U E I M A R C H 2 0 0 9

Mobilizing for “Day of Decision”
The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the validity of Prop 8 on March 5, 2009 and will issue its ruling sometime within 90 days of the hearing (a ruling is possible any time now but no later than June 3, 2009.) Day of Decision Events In preparation for a united community response to the ruling, “Day of Decision” events are being organized in dozens of cities throughout the country. The evening of the “Day of Decision”, win or lose, we'll stand together and send a unified message that individual liberties like the right to marry are guaranteed to everyone and should not be stripped away at the ballot box by a bare 2% majority. To find a “Day of Decision” event near you go to www.decisionday.org or visit the new California statewide coalition website at www.equalitycentral.org. Meet in the Middle On the first Saturday after the California State Supreme Court rules on Prop 8, marriage equality supporters will come together for a statewide gathering in Fresno for what is being called "Meet in the Middle 4 Equality"-to either celebrate or organize to repeal Prop 8. For more information go to www.meetinthemiddle4equality.o rg Prop 8 undermines the California Constitution, not only does it explicitly discriminate against one group of Californians by denying them access to civil marriage, it also jeopardizes the separation of church and state by imposing the narrow religious beliefs of some on everyone else. Disclosure reports indicate that 40% of the funding for Proposition 8 came from the Mormon Church and its supporters. Should churches be able to change the state constitution to impose their particular religious tenants on all and if so, whose rights will be up for a vote next? If the California Supreme Court does not declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional, then we will have to restore equality and fairness to our Constitution by sharing with voters how Prop 8 has harmed our families and work to undo it to restore the values of equality and justice for all. We will need volunteers to go door to door , to participate in educational outreach, and to

Donate & Deduct
So you are passionate about Marriage Equality and you want to support organizations that will make your dollar holler—right? Your donation to Marriage Equality USA will support important educational and outreach work around the country and will make you feel like more of an owner of the cause. Here’s even more great news: You can deduct your charitable donation on your taxes. If you need financial incentive for giving money away, consider the fact that donations to Marriage Equality USA are tax deductible and may reduce the total amount you owe when tax time rolls around. Remember you can make an annual donation or a set it up to male a recurring monthly contribution. You can make a donation online at www.marriageequality.org , Be sure to keep the receipts you get for your donations.!

Marriage Equality USA in the news
On March 4th 2009, Marriage Equality USA, in coalition with several other organizations cosponsored candlelight vigils in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Miami, Florida; New York City, New York; Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 30 cities in California. Thousands of marriage equality supporters rallied and marched for the event, dubbed the “Eve of Justice,” to advocate the repeal of Proposition 8 (www.eveofjustice.com). On March 5th, the California State Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against the Repeal of Proposition 8. Marriage Equality USA wanted to make sure that all who were interested in witnessing the court proceedings were guaranteed a seat and so, Marriage Equality USA with the help of our coalition partners funded the rental of a JumboTron (huge television screen) to be placed in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza for a free viewing of the court proceedings. Despite a forecast for rain, the day was filled with sunshine and began with an interfaith blessing sponsored by 45 progressive clergy members. Thousands of pro-marriage equality and anti-marriage equality viewers filled the plaza to watch history. It was a fascinating sociological experiment with Yes on 8’ers and No on 8’ers co-mingling. There were even reports of breakthrough conversations where those who claimed to be against marriage equality began to reconsider their positions. Unfortunately, some of the opposition was virulently anti-gay and made lewd and inflammatory comments at LGBT people and our allies. One man carried a sign that said “Dan White was a hero. He killed a queer.” Luckily the majority of marriage equality advocates showed great composure and dignity in the face of their hatred. In fact, it was clear that the calmer we were and the more of a message we sent out about this being about love and the need for more love and respect in the world, the angrier they got.

Marriage Equality Grassroots Keep Growing
Marriage Equality USA, Inc. was founded and formed February 12, 1998, on National Freedom To Marry Day by a handful of activists that believed same-sex couples should have the right to marry. Three years later, on February 12, 2001, Marriage Equality USA members in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco rendered visible the discrimination that same-sex couples experienced by starting the “marriage license counter actions” and within a few short years sparked a marriage equality revolution, when in response to the fourth annual marriage license counter action, Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of San Francisco, changed the marriage license forms to say “applicant one” and “applicant two” and began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Sadly, the marriage licenses we received were invalidated by the California State Supreme Court, but the events led to a lawsuit arguing that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional. As you know, we won the lawsuit in 2008 and same-sex couples had their wedding day. In a shocking turn of events, our fundamental freedoms, our inalienable constitutional rights were stripped from us by a popular vote with a slim majority. The loss of our marriage rights in California through Proposition 8 has inspired a national outcry for justice. Organizing and rallying has doubled. Thousands of people across the nation protested Proposition 8 on November 15, 2008. On Freedom to Marry DayFebruary 12, 2009, twenty-five states in sixty cities nationwide held marriage license counter demonstrations challenging the discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples. While in Massachusetts and Connecticut, same-sex couples legally wed on Valentine’s Day. 2 down, 48 to go! We must continue this momentum, pushing equality to the tipping point, so that across the nation LGBTI Americans will have full equality!! Our opponents are working hard to prevent us from ever seeing that day, so we must continue to work hard, find allies, and as poet Allen Ginsberg said, put “our queer shoulder to the wheel.” Davina Kotulski, Ph.D., Advisory Board Member of Marriage Equality USA and author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage, will be traveling to Des Moines, Iowa at the end of the month to meet with Iowa Marriage Equality USA leaders, strategists, and politicians. Click here for information.

Dr. Davina Kotulski

Legal & Legislative Briefs
Legal Briefs: Massachusetts challenged the federal DOMA on March 3rd, six married same-sex couples and three widowers, filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s discriminatory treatment of married same-sex spouses. The suit holds that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and that married same-sex spouses and survivors are entitled to the same 1,138 federal rights that married different-sex spouses and survivors have access to. The plaintiffs are being represented by GLAD. The suit only seeks to eliminate the effect of DOMA in states where same-sex couples can legally marry, but would have no direct impact on other states. In December 2008, the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Varnum v. Brien, a marriage equality lawsuit, brought by Lamdba Legal, argues that “under the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Iowa Constitution it is unlawful to bar same-sex couples from marrying.” A decision is expected sometime before the end of the year. As was the case in California, if the courts find it unconstitutional to deny LGBT people their civil and human rights, opponents of LGBT equality are expected to pursue a constitutional amendment. The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the validity of Prop 8 on March 5, 2009 and will issue its ruling sometime within 90 days of the hearing (a ruling is possible any time now but no later than June 3, 2009.) Legislative Briefs : The Vermont senate will vote this week on a marriage equality bill. New Hampshire will vote this week on a marriage equality bill and a bill that would provide human rights protections to transpeople. Education Brief: According to the Intersex Society of North America, the word describes someone born with sex chromosomes, genitalia, or an internal reproductive system that are neither clearly male nor clearly female. Because intersex people do not fit clearly into a binary, but society expects them too, they are subject to marriage discrimination in similar ways to LGBT people. David Cameron, Intersex Outreach Director, has created a resource page to educate people about intersex people. For more info visit www.marriageequality.org.

Respect, Empower, Include: Where will we go from here!
After the Prop 8 campaign, we collected their collective wisdom through grassroots input through community forums hosted across California and over 3,100 on-line survey responses regarding the No on 8 campaign, documenting the harms associated with anti-gay initiative campaigns like Prop 8 and gathering input on where we go from here. We Will Never Go Back - Grassroots Input on California's No on Proposition 8 Campaign" identified many positive outcomes from the official No on 8 campaign, but also cited the following major concerns and future opportunities: * Clergy leaders, identified as the most effective messengers for marriage equality, were underutilized, * People of color are part of our LGBTI family and we must promote their leadership and inclusion to inform and direct outreach to communities of color, * The official No on 8 campaign ads lacked heart and inexcusably excluded same-sex couples and their families, * The official No on 8 field plan of phone banking only lacked visibility and ignored potential volunteers and abandoned our LGBTI community and supporters in the Central Valley, and * Empowering and including the creative and innovative efforts of our grassroots community will help advance our state and national marriage equality movements Prop 8 Hurt My Family - Ask Me How" provides heart-breaking personal stories of how Prop 8 hurt real people, frightened children of same-sex couples, promoted bullying in schools, caused straight allies to experience homophobia, tore apart families and destroyed neighborhoods. Respect, Empower, Include- adopts a new mission statement for the marriage equality movement that no one organization can, or should, do it alone, but together we can create an unstoppable, talented team of networked grassroots leaders working in coalition with one another to ensure that all are treated equally under the law. Volunteer technology experts from Equality Camp, Equality Network, Join the Impact, MEUSA and others are developing a clearinghouse and coalition website for grassroots organizations to sign on as coalition partners, share events through a regional community calendar, post ads for volunteers needed for specific projects and allow for supporters to explore and get involved with the organization/s that best fit their interests. Marriage Equality USA's three reports on California's No on 8 campaign are all available for download at: www.marriageequality.org.

MEUSA Merchandise Available Online
Ever wondered how you can get all that snazzy Marriage Equality logo merchandise? Well wonder no more! You can visit our online store at www.cafepress.com/meusa Here you’ll find t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, calendars, buttons, sweatshirts, and just about everything you can think of with the Marriage Equality logo!

Ch..Ch..Ch..Changes
We are honoring the transition of leadership here at Marriage Equality USA as Dave Janis-Kitzmiller passes the torch of President to Jo Hoenninger, J.D. Dave has led Marriage Equality USA for the past two years bringing a new energy and image to Marriage Equality USA and finally securing the organization’s 501 C 3 status. Dave will be joining the Advisory Board and taking time to enjoy his marriage (he and husband Jeff were married June 17th, the day after marriage for same-sex couples was legal in California) and smell the roses. Thank you Dave for your incredible leadership, positive attitude, and great sense of humor. We will miss you, but know that you won’t be able to help yourself from reaching out to bring in more star power to Marriage Equality USA. Congratulations on your marriage and your degree. Onward and upward! If you would like to thank Dave for his service, please send your comments to coordinator@marriageequality.org. Marriage Equality USA would like to welcome attorney Jo Hoenninger as Board President. Jo has a long history of LGBT civil rights leadership from her work with Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom and the Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) working to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy. Jo was also married in 2008 and intends to keep it that way. She co-authored Marriage Equality USA’s legal brief to repeal Prop 8. We are thrilled to welcome Jo Hoenninger as Board President of Marriage Equality USA. To learn more about the incredible grassroots leaders of Marriage Equality USA, please go to http:// www.marriageequality.org/ index.php?page=the-organization and click on the links showing who we are. You can also visit the chapter pages. With liberty, justice, and marriage equality for all!

New Advisory Board Members
Marriage Equality USA is proud to announce four new powerhouse additions to its leadership. Elected to the California State Assembly in 2002 and the Senate in 2008, Senator Mark Leno is one of the first openly gay men ever elected to the Assembly. In 2007, Leno continued his pioneering battle for equal rights for LGBT couples and their families by introducing AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. This historic civil rights legislation would allow same sex couples to marry in California . In 2005, Leno’s nearly identical AB 849 was the first marriage equality bill in United States history to be approved by both houses of a state legislature. Leno has been honored for his public service by many organizations including the Stonewall Democratic Club in Los Angeles with their Sheila Kuehl Trail Blazer Award, The Lazarus Project’s Lazarus Award for Marriage Equality, The California Young Democrat’s Mentor of the Year, Partners Ending Domestic Abuse’s Kamala Harris Leadership Award and Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim’s 2006 Herman Humanitarian Award. Outside of his capacity as an elected official, Leno has been a tireless supporter of nonprofit organizations in San Francisco , frequently appearing to show support at events and lending a hand wherever possible. He was a statewide spokesman for the No on Prop 22 Campaign (the Knight Initiative) and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in August 2000 and in Boston in August 2004. Christine Chavez, granddaughter of Cesar Chavez, labor rights activist, leader of the United Farm Workers and marriage equality advocate for almost a decade has joined Marriage Equality USA’s Advisory Board. Christine was performing same-sex blessings even before Gavin Newsom and is a true advocate for equality for all people. She remembers going to gay pride parades with her grandfather who was a fearless leader for equality for all people. Christine is living this proud Chavez family tradition. We feel very blessed to have Christine as a part of the Marriage Equality USA team and speaking of blessed. We are pleased to also add Dr. Sylvia Rhue Director of Religious Affairs and Constituency Development of the National Black Justice Coalition, to the Marriage Equality USA Advisory Board. The fight for freedom and equality has long been in Dr. Rhue’s blood. Her family took flight from the United States to Canada to escape slavery via Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad. Dr. Sylvia Rhue is a tireless advocate for equality. She was the former coordinator of the California Freedom to Marry Coalition 2002-2005, was a board member for Marriage Equality USA 2006, and is now working to confront religious bigotry and unite progressive communities of faith. Marriage Equality USA heralds the return of Dr. Sylvia Rhue. Margaret Cho, was born December 5, 1968 and raised in San Francisco. Margaret started performing stand-up at age 16 and soon after, she won a comedy contest where first prize was opening for Jerry Seinfeld. She moved to Los Angeles in the early '90s, Cho hit the college circuit, where she immediately became the most booked act in the market .In addition to her busy touring schedule, Margaret has proven herself an established writer and blogger; comedian, and actress. Her self written film Bam Bam and Celeste debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in 2005 and has since played at the AFI Fest, Frameline, Fusion, and the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. In 2007, Margaret hit the road with 80's legends Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry & Erasure along with indie faves The Dresden Dolls and The Cliks to host the True Colors Tour, benefiting the Human Rights Campaign. A big welcome to them all!

Save The Date– April 15th

Annual Tax Day Demonstrations – Together for how many years and still filing “single?”

Founded in 1998, Marriage Equality USA is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, at the 4096 Piedmont Avenue Suite 257 Phone: 510-496-2700 Fax: 510-380-5200 E-mail: info@marriageequality.org www.marriageequality.org ©2009 MEUSA All rights reserved. federal and state level, without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation . For more information or to get involved please visit www.marriageequality.org !