Tag Archives: Gay rights

California Judges barred from Boy Scouts

According to an article in today’s (26 Jan) Los Angeles Daily Journal, the California Supreme Court has voted unanimously to bar judges and justices in the state from being a part of the Boy Scouts, because of that organization’s discriminatory practices and policies.

The article (behind a paywall,of course), notes that this was first suggested some 13 years ago, but the idea went down in flames.  It has been raised several times since then, but has always had opposition from the far right. And more opposition is expected to this latest ruling. No statement or rationale accompanies the ruling.  The chair of the Ethics committee,Justice Richard Fybel of the 4th District, who recommended the measure, said it was “the right thing to do.”

The right wing, of course, has slammed the decision as ‘tyrannical’.  they are the same ones that claim this will forbid judges from being members of churches.  Purest hyperbole, though, has not won this time, and it’s about time.

Going After Anti-Gay Tax Exempt Status

Measure would revoke California tax exempt status of Boy Scouts and other groups that discriminate against LGBT community

by Brian Leubitz

Sen. Ricardo Lara, Chair of the Legislative Latino Caucus in addition to being a member of the LGBT caucus, is working with a number of LGBT focused organizations to strip California tax exempt status from discriminatory groups:

The Youth Equality Act, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, would deny tax-exempt status to youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.

That means those groups would have to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, camp fees and other sources of income, as well as sales taxes on food, beverages and homemade items sold at fundraisers.(Lisa Leff/HuffPo)

The Boy Scouts cite the many good things they do, which are many, as a reason to keep their tax exempt status.  But apparently, those good things don’t apply to gay teens.

This bill, which is the first of its kind in the nation, has a long way to go, but with the partisan breakdown of the Legislature, the biggest question is what Gov. Brown will do with it. Of course, the Boy Scouts could just end their discrimination, and not have to worry about the bill at all. Their is talk of a resolution that would end the discrimination, but no official proposal has been released.

When LGBT Stands for “Let’s Get By Together”

The gathering of hundreds of elected officials from the lesbian and gay community in Long Beach this past weekend for the conference of the Victory Fund is a happy occasion. Southern California voters, especially here in L.A. County, have proved hospitable to LGBT candidates of both parties and helped achieve breakthroughs in representation for openly gay leaders.

But a few players in gay politics here recently took stances contrary to well-qualified LGBT Democratic candidates and hampered their ability to win. Assembly Speaker John Perez, state Senator-elect Ricardo Lara, and L.A. County Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman, who works for the Speaker, all joined this year in opposing both Westside Democrat Torie Osborn, seeking to represent the 50th Assembly District, and Luis Lopez, an Eastside Democrat running in my 51st Assembly District.

Both were exceptionally well-prepared and strong gay candidates, but both lost, Osborn in a costly June primary and Lopez in a hard-fought general election after becoming the only LGBT candidate from Southern California who would be new to the legislature to compete in the general election. Instead of making the path of these candidates easier, three gay men in positions to help made their road more difficult. How sad.

The strength of L.A.’s diverse electorate is now pulling the state toward one-party governance, putting a brighter public spotlight on Democratic  leaders’ conduct. The power of money also tempts elected and party bosses to ignore the bonds of LGBT solidarity that have historically fueled the success of openly gay candidates. The decision by gay officials to turn away from or turn against our own at election time should face a challenge, lest it become an acceptable pattern of behavior that blocks excellent leaders and weakens our movement.

I know the excuses: Party politics are messy, new district lines shook up the landscape for this election, and deals with competing interest groups get made, with survival and self-interest in mind. Still, there’s no reason L.A. County, with the largest population of LGBT people and families of any single jurisdiction in the country, shouldn’t be sending 4, instead of 2, openly LGBT advocates to Sacramento for swearing-in today.

What lost opportunities, and at what expense! In the Westside district, Speaker Perez amassed scores of delegates and spent a fortune to deny Osborn the Democratic party endorsement. Party machinery then squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to anoint its preferred candidate, only to have an independent Democrat, Santa Monica mayor Richard Bloom, emerge triumphant.

On the Eastside, in my district where I took part in protests 45 years ago that launched the local LGBT freedom movement, I was excited by the prospect of electing Luis Lopez. I have known Lopez for years and admired his mix of elected and appointed community service and leadership in the LGBT community, working to start the first Latino statewide gay political group and fighting Prop 8. But outspent by hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate and union money on behalf of a candidate who just moved into the district, Lopez lost out to a guy who will be the third in a row of recently arrived candidates, now making his debut in our community as … Assemblymember. When machine politics calls the shots, knowledge of one’s district is no requirement for the job.

I support the Victory Fund and am glad they held their conference here in California. And I hope that when Perez, Lara, or Bauman talk to people in the LGBT community, listeners apply the asterisk, indicating that some exceptions may apply when they say “we” and talk about the strength of “our community.”

I am proud of the gains by LGBT candidates in this election. I just wish there were a few more here at home.

Rev. Troy Perry is founder of the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Church in 1968 and a plaintiff in the marriage cases seeking full recognition for thousands of committed same-sex couples under California law, including his own union, with husband Phillip De Blieck.

The One for the Job: An LGBT Assembly Candidate Embodies Hopes of Progressives

When the smoke cleared in June from our state’s first “open” primary, one thing was plain. The LGBT and progressive movements in our state face new challenges to electing candidates who will be long-term leaders for our policy goals.

The new primary system, winnowing the field of candidates for a contested seat to just two, regardless of party, may actually increase, not decrease, the cost of campaigning in our state. This isn’t the only concern for progressives and LGBT activists, whose considerable resources often cannot match those of moderate to conservative business interests in state campaigns. Voters’ approval of Prop 28 modifying term limits to allow 12 years’ service in one chamber may slow the churn of new lawmakers through the legislature and limit the openings for progressive and LGBT candidates. This puts a premium on opportunities to send one of our own to Sacramento.

And it makes the campaign of Luis Lopez, an openly LGBT Latino running for the Assembly from Eastside Los Angeles, all the more significant. Running in the 51st District, spanning the neighborhoods of El Sereno, Eagle Rock, Lincoln Heights, and Silver Lake, Luis is the only new LGBT candidate from L.A. or the Southland to advance to the general election–of the six who initially ran. LGBT people and progressives throughout the region have a stake in helping to ensure he wins on November 6.

In particular, Westside Angelenos need to recognize the importance of LGBT power on the Eastside. The outcome of Prop 8 four years ago, which very narrowly passed in liberal L.A. County on its way to statewide approval, should be a lesson. The road to winning any lasting victories for human rights, especially on statewide ballot measures, goes through L.A.’s Latino electorate.

Luis’s district includes East L.A. and is a cornerstone of the city’s Latino voting base. In 2006 he actually co-founded the statewide organization devoted to mobilizing LGBT Latinos. In 2008, he helped open the No on 8 field office in L.A. for reaching out to Latino voters. Guided and tested by these battles, he is set to lead the drive for equal-rights legislation in Sacramento.

Proven leadership on LGBT rights is only the start of what sets Luis apart. When we talk about progressive candidates who know and truly represent their districts and are more focused on service and results than politics and personal advancement, Luis is exactly what we mean. A native of his district, Luis has worked for a decade in nonprofit healthcare, jumpstarting the Latino Coalition Against AIDS and pushing for inclusive health reform and single payer legislation. Luis’s roots and wide-ranging relationships throughout his district have translated into a huge base of individual donors, accounting for more than 90 percent of his fund-raising dollars. This makes him a progressive advocate impressively independent from the special interests who pull the strings on most candidates.

Campaign price tags are going up, with candidates facing pressure to frontload their money in primaries that are prequels to the general election. In this year’s primary, some races exceeded $2 million and even $3 million, with a few candidates who surpassed $800,000 in fund-raising not even placing in the top two. Again, this dynamic does not bode well for LGBT people or progressives, or candidates like Luis who are both. But yet again, it makes his advance and the promise of his campaign all the more important to both movements.

One side effect of the passage of Prop 28 is reduced vacancies. Breakthroughs for LGBT candidates for the legislature may be fewer and farther between in coming years. With 8 members, California’s caucus of openly LGBT lawmakers is among the largest in the country. But one LGBT lawmaker, Sen. Christine Kehoe, retires this year. And two more, John Perez and Tom Ammiano will be nudged out by term limits in 2014. The caucus could be nearly cut in half.

The class of 2012 is the first to enjoy the chance to stay in one chamber for 12 years. Luis, if victorious, would have the potential to serve for six terms. This equips him to hold leadership roles in the Assembly. Considering his background in presiding over municipal commissions, his adeptness at coalition-building, and his non-reliance on special interest sponsors, Luis is likely to emerge as a respected dealmaker. He also has shown his chops as a mentor and organizer. In him, Angelenos will have a steady, progressive champion in state policy leadership for many years to come. We just need to ensure he gets there.

In this post-Citizens United landscape, special interest dollars loom even larger in state political campaigns, with added temptation for sponsored candidates to move into districts where they don’t have deep roots, much less a readiness to take courageous stands that might miff their funders.

In such a landscape, Luis Lopez represents great promise. A proven grassroots leader and the only new LGBT candidate for the legislature from Southern California to make it to the general election, he needs the help of all LGBT and progressive supporters to ensure he wins on November 6. If we succeed, he will exert the force for change in Sacramento that we so manifestly need and that’s he’s so ready to be.

**

Rich Gordon, Assemblymember for the 21st District representing parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, chairs the LGBT Caucus of the California legislature. Wallace Albertson of West Hollywood is a former Democratic National Committee member and, as a lifelong LGBT ally, a founding member of the Gay Caucus of the California Democratic Council.

The One for the Job: An LGBT Assembly Candidate Embodies Hopes of Progressives

I was honored to receive the endorsement of Assemblymember Rich Gordon and long-time gay rights activist Wallace Albertson.  Their statement is as follows:

**

When the smoke cleared in June from our state’s first “open” primary, one thing was plain. The LGBT and progressive movements in our state face new challenges to electing candidates who will be long-term leaders for our policy goals.

The new primary system, winnowing the field of candidates for a contested seat to just two, regardless of party, may actually increase, not decrease, the cost of campaigning in our state. This isn’t the only concern for progressives and LGBT activists, whose considerable resources often cannot match those of moderate to conservative business interests in state campaigns. Voters’ approval of Prop 28 modifying term limits to allow 12 years’ service in one chamber may slow the churn of new lawmakers through the legislature and limit the openings for progressive and LGBT candidates. This puts a premium on opportunities to send one of our own to Sacramento.

And it makes the campaign of Luis Lopez, an openly LGBT Latino running for the Assembly from Eastside Los Angeles, all the more significant. Running in the 51st District, spanning the neighborhoods of El Sereno, Eagle Rock, Lincoln Heights, and Silver Lake, Luis is the only new LGBT candidate from L.A. or the Southland to advance to the general election–of the six who initially ran. LGBT people and progressives throughout the region have a stake in helping to ensure he wins on November 6.

In particular, Westside Angelenos need to recognize the importance of LGBT power on the Eastside. The outcome of Prop 8 four years ago, which very narrowly passed in liberal L.A. County on its way to statewide approval, should be a lesson. The road to winning any lasting victories for human rights, especially on statewide ballot measures, goes through L.A.’s Latino electorate.

Luis’s district includes East L.A. and is a cornerstone of the city’s Latino voting base. In 2006 he actually co-founded the statewide organization devoted to mobilizing LGBT Latinos. In 2008, he helped open the No on 8 field office in L.A. for reaching out to Latino voters. Guided and tested by these battles, he is set to lead the drive for equal-rights legislation in Sacramento.

Proven leadership on LGBT rights is only the start of what sets Luis apart. When we talk about progressive candidates who know and truly represent their districts and are more focused on service and results than politics and personal advancement, Luis is exactly what we mean. A native of his district, Luis has worked for a decade in nonprofit healthcare, jumpstarting the Latino Coalition Against AIDS and pushing for inclusive health reform and single payer legislation. Luis’s roots and wide-ranging relationships throughout his district have translated into a huge base of individual donors, accounting for more than 90 percent of his fund-raising dollars. This makes him a progressive advocate impressively independent from the special interests who pull the strings on most candidates.

Campaign price tags are going up, with candidates facing pressure to frontload their money in primaries that are prequels to the general election. In this year’s primary, some races exceeded $2 million and even $3 million, with a few candidates who surpassed $800,000 in fund-raising not even placing in the top two. Again, this dynamic does not bode well for LGBT people or progressives, or candidates like Luis who are both. But yet again, it makes his advance and the promise of his campaign all the more important to both movements.

One side effect of the passage of Prop 28 is reduced vacancies. Breakthroughs for LGBT candidates for the legislature may be fewer and farther between in coming years. With 8 members, California’s caucus of openly LGBT lawmakers is among the largest in the country. But one LGBT lawmaker, Sen. Christine Kehoe, retires this year. And two more, John Perez and Tom Ammiano will be nudged out by term limits in 2014. The caucus could be nearly cut in half.

The class of 2012 is the first to enjoy the chance to stay in one chamber for 12 years. Luis, if victorious, would have the potential to serve for six terms. This equips him to hold leadership roles in the Assembly. Considering his background in presiding over municipal commissions, his adeptness at coalition-building, and his non-reliance on special interest sponsors, Luis is likely to emerge as a respected dealmaker. He also has shown his chops as a mentor and organizer. In him, Angelenos will have a steady, progressive champion in state policy leadership for many years to come. We just need to ensure he gets there.

In this post-Citizens United landscape, special interest dollars loom even larger in state political campaigns, with added temptation for sponsored candidates to move into districts where they don’t have deep roots, much less a readiness to take courageous stands that might miff their funders.

In such a landscape, Luis Lopez represents great promise. A proven grassroots leader and the only new LGBT candidate for the legislature from Southern California to make it to the general election, he needs the help of all LGBT and progressive supporters to ensure he wins on November 6. If we succeed, he will exert the force for change in Sacramento that we so manifestly need and that’s he’s so ready to be.

**

Rich Gordon, Assemblymember for the 21st District representing parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, chairs the LGBT Caucus of the California legislature. Wallace Albertson of West Hollywood is a former Democratic National Committee member and, as a lifelong LGBT ally, a founding member of the Gay Caucus of the California Democratic Council.

SB 48, FAIR Education Act Referendum Not Going to Qualify

Anti-gay groups aren’t able to gather enough signatures

by Brian Leubitz

Quite the day in the gay rights movement today.  First the executive director of Equality California abruptly resigns, which was quite a shock considering he was hired only a few months ago.  But that’s just the beginning, as the referendum intended to block the fair education act, which would include the contributions of the LGBT and disabled community in our curriculum, seems to have gone down in flames.

With just one day left to circulate petitions, organizers of an effort to repeal a new law requiring that California students learn about the historical contributions of gay and lesbian individuals have told supporters that they “would need a miracle to qualify this referendum.”

The Pacific Justice Institute and an arm of Capitol Resource Institute have been leading an effort to overturn Senate Bill 48, which requires public school instruction to include the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, people with disabilities and members of different cultural groups. They face a Wednesday deadline for submitting to election officials the roughly 505,000 valid voter signatures needed to place a referendum of the law on the ballot.

Despite days of emails calling for a final push in the signature gathering campaign, referendum organizers told supporters in an early morning email that “it is doubtful we will get the number of signatures we need to qualify” the proposed referendum. (SacBee)

To be honest, I was always the skeptic that this would ever qualify, but I guess it did help raise money for some of those LGBT organizations.  Given that they were using an all-volunteer effort, it always seemed very unlikely to qualify.  

Nonetheless, this is great news for those interested in pursuing equality and fair portrayals of history.

EQCA needs help to elect pro-LGBT candidates statewide

Hi. I’m sure if you’re reading this site, your e-mail box must be stuffed by now with pleas to volunteer for the election. But I want to let you know about one more volunteer opportunity that I think is really important, just in case it’s a good fit for you.

I volunteer with Equality California, the group trying to repeal Proposition 8 and bring marriage equality back to California. I want to let you know that every weekend until the election Equality California will be holding phonebanks at each of its statewide offices doing get-out-the-vote calls for pro-LGBT candidates like Jerry Brown and Kamala Harris– and we have a huge need for volunteers right now.

The reason a marriage equality organization is working on elections is that the┬ánumber one question on ending Prop. 8 right now is what happens to the Federal court case. After Judge Walker declared Prop. 8 unconstitutional, Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown declared they would not defend Prop. 8 further and filed briefs in opposition to Prop. 8. This has had a huge impact on how the trial has gone at the appeal level. If Jerry Brown is elected governor and Kamala Harris is elected attorney general this November, they will continue this policy and fight Prop. 8 in court. But if Meg Whitman or Steve Cooley is elected, both have promised to reverse the state’s position and defend Prop 8.

So what we’ve been doing is meeting each Sunday (or Saturday at some offices) from about 1 to 5 to call known LGBT-friendly voters from the old No On 8 database and ask them to vote for the candidates who will uphold gay, lesbian and transgender rights. In each case we talk about Brown, Harris and one downticket race that varies from office to office. For example here at the SF and San Jose offices the downticket candidate we’ve been calling for has been Victoria Kolakowski, a judicial candidate in Alameda County who if elected would be the first trangender judge at the superior court level in the entire United States.

We’re making a lot of progress but we need more people if we’re going to reach all the people we need to reach, and by-mail voting starts as early as next week. You can find the phone bank for your area by clicking here and clicking the area where you live:

EQCA.org -> Take Action Locally

Ignore the signup form that pops up, for now anyway, and keep scrolling– there will be a schedule with times and addresses under the signup form.

Thanks, and I hope you can make it this weekend.

Religious Leaders Often Make My Head Spin: Cut Off Gay Rights Politicians, Orthodox Rabbis Rule

I have a feeling that some folks may get a bit upset with this post. I normally stay far from religious issues when posting anywhere; to each his own, normally. However, when a religious community expects our elected officials to do as they say or else,  I am not going to sensor myself; especially true when equal rights for GLBT folks are condemed. It may not be such a surprise that Orthodox Rabbis do not support gay rights. On the other hand, am I the only person on earth that reads and feels pure hatred and a lack of compassion in the latest Ruling, which Orthodox Rabbis indicate is binding on ALL OF MANKIND? For the record, I have the exact reaction to similar actions/comments/positions of other religions and their leaders. NOTE THE LAWS OF NOAH ARE ALSO INCLUDED SO NOT TO LEAVE MANY OTHER RELIGIONS OUT OF THE RULING.

DATELINE: BROOKLYN, N.Y., Jan. 6, In The Year Of Our Lord, 2010. YES, 2010!!!  

A panel of rabbis respected as authorities on Torah law issued a sweeping ruling to cut off support for politicians who promote normalizing the sin of homosexuality.

In a strongly worded decision, some of the most prominent Orthodox rabbis advised their communities to “no longer continue to support or elect leaders who have publicly showed their approval for giluyai arayos [immoral unions], activities that stand exactly opposite of all our work as Jews to increase the awareness and influence of Hashem the Almighty in this world… No money, no public displays of approval, and no votes should be given to politicians who have made documented, public statements or who have voted in favor of laws that seek to normalize the[se] forbidden relationships.”

The ruling follows last month’s vote in the New York State Senate, which the rabbis called “an open miracle,” where “Hashem thwarted the will of nearly every top elected leader of the state.” The Senate reaffirmed traditional marriage by an overwhelming margin, rejecting proposed changes to the definition of marriage that would legitimize homosexuality.

The rabbis criticized use of the secular government to redefine the language. “Marriage is a word that has a definition accepted by all the world from time immemorial: it means the legalized union between a man and a woman for the purpose of forming a family. Human lives have meaning to the extent that they reflect the values taught by the Torah. No government has the power to create meaning by bestowing new definitions to behaviors that are abhorrent to the Torah.”

SAY WHAT?

The panel, organized as Vaad L’Shmor Kehillasenu (“Board to Protect Our Communities”) includes, Rav Yisroel Belsky, a Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath; Rav Avrohom Yaakov Nelkenbaum, a Rosh Yeshiva of Mirrer Yeshiva; and Rav Chaim Krauss, Mara D’Asra of Kahal Bais Yisroel and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Ohel Chaim; all from Brooklyn, and Rav Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Mara D’Asra of Congregation Nachlas Yitzchak, from Queens.

SO WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?

The New Jersey State legislature is preparing to vote on changing the definition of marriage to include homosexuality. Governor Jon Corzine, who supports the bill, was unseated by Governor-elect Christopher Christie, who has stated his intention to veto the measure.

SEEMS TO ME SOME HEAVY LAWFUL ACTIONS WITH SUPPORT NATIONWIDE NEED TO BE PLANNED FOR NEW JERSEY.

The matter was brought to the Vaad by Dovid Z. Schwartz, who said, “We’re grateful that such prominent leaders of our communities showed the courage to draw a bright line on this important issue. Immoral unions squander the awesome drive of human desire and waste those life-giving affections that should be reserved to a man and woman working to build their own family. But all human reasons put aside, the Almighty Creator has decreed immoral unions are forbidden to Jews by the Torah, and to the gentiles by the Seven Laws of Noah.”

The Seven Laws of Noah is a universal legal, moral and spiritual code binding on all mankind and the bedrock of human civilization. Every human being is created in the image of G-d, and affirms the Divine nobility of his soul and the brotherhood of all mankind by abiding by the Seven Laws of Noah. In addition, every person can earn a share in the eternal world to come by upholding the Seven Laws of Noah in the name of the Torah given to Moses.

Source: Dovid Z. Schwartz

Courage Campaign press release: 2010 Prop. 8 repeal effort too soon

Via Joe My God, I find this press release issued today by the Courage Campaign:

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Courage Campaign today called for more research and time to change hearts and minds before returning to the ballot to restore marriage for gay and lesbian couples in California. At least one initiative to restore same-sex marriage is currently circulating that, if it qualifies, would appear on the November, 2010 ballot…

“For months, we have laid out the criteria for moving forward. Like the Obama Campaign, we understand that we need a combination of powerful and clear research that informs an expertly run campaign, an unstoppable movement that harnesses the new energy we have seen since the passage of Prop. 8 and the connections through personal stories and outreach in order to win at the ballot box,” said Rick Jacobs, the Courage Campaign founder and Chair. “We are taking the lessons learned from last year’s Prop. 8 campaign, the campaigns in Maine and other states to understand the fundamental work that must be done before moving forward in California. We also must come together as a community to create a broad coalition and governance structure, put in place a strong manager and secure the resources to win. Right now, the pieces are not all in place to do so confidently.”

I am understanding this to mean that the Courage Campaign is no longer on board with a 2010 campaign and will be shifting their resources to a 2012 effort (although the language is oddly vague– if any Courage Campaign people are reading this, any clarification would be appreciated greatly). At a minimum the clear message of this release is that Courage Campaign does not at this time support the specific 2010 ballot filing by Love Honor Cherish, which they reference in the first paragraph.

Courage Campaign is currently soliciting volunteers for their Prop. 8 repeal and “Equality Team” efforts here. EQCA is also soliciting volunteers to canvass for their 2012 repeal campaign here.

CA-10: Dan Choi Endorses Anthony Woods

The President is under fire from the LGBT community for slow-walking their issues and turning away from campaign promises.  It’s getting a little ugly, and the President risks a lot of goodwill for a community that worked hard to elect him, especially in the wake of several victories on marriage equality in the New England area and Iowa and the historic level of activism after the passage of Prop. 8.

Central to this debate is the issue of gays in the military and the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  Obama keeps insisting that he wants to change the policy, and his nominee for Secretary of the Army, Republican John McHugh, reportedly supports this change as well, saying that he has “no interest as either a Member of Congress or as … secretary of the Army to exclude by some categorization a group of people otherwise qualified to serve.”  A recent poll shows overwhelming support for allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military, even among conservatives.

But the President could end this policy today by putting a moratorium on implementing the policy of throwing out qualified Americans from serving in the Armed Forces.  Two of those Americans, Iraq war vets Dan Choi and CA-10 candidate Anthony Woods, are teaming up, as Choi announces his endorsement of Woods.

“For 10 years, I have known Anthony Woods as a leader and an officer of the highest caliber,” said Choi. “From defending our nation abroad, to fighting for our highest ideals here at home, Anthony Woods exemplifies the real world perspective that is needed to bring about real change in Washington, and I am proud to support his candidacy for Congress.”

An Arab Linguist, Lieutenant in the New York Army National Guard, and West Point Classmate of Anthony Woods, Choi rose to national prominence earlier this year when he openly declared that he was gay on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show.” The Army quickly launched discharge proceedings against Choi, who has vowed to fight his termination from the military under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy,” and re-deploy with his unit.

Like Choi, Woods also served in Iraq, commanding 81 soldiers and earning both the Bronze Star and Army Commendation medal during two tours of duty. Woods was also discharged after challenging the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, and would be the first openly gay African American ever elected to the United States Congress […]

Choi will join Woods at two events in Northern California this month—the first on June 26th in Davis, and the second on June 29th in San Francisco.

Obviously, Woods is more than a single issue candidate.  But the imagery of someone replacing Ellen Tauscher, who is currently carrying the bill in the House to repeal the DADT policy, who was kicked out of the military using that policy, is undeniable, and can increase pressure on the President and Congress to finally do the sensible thing and remove that layer of discrimination in our armed services.