Prop 8 briefs: Equality Summit open to media
by Seth Hemmelgarn
The planning committee for the Equality Summit to take place in Los Angeles January 24 has decided that the press will have access to the entire summit after all, according to Andrea Shorter, event co-chair. Bloggers also will be welcome, but must register as press.
The decision apparently reverses an earlier stand by organizers that media access be limited at the event. Gay news outlets and bloggers were critical of that stance.
Workshops will be open to reporters and all information will be on the record, but not for attribution. Reporters will need to talk to speakers individually to get permission to use their names. But the main sessions, including a panel featuring No on Prop 8 campaign leaders, will be on the record. Karen Ocamb, news editor of IN Los Angeles, will moderate the panel, and agreed to do so only after it was clear the entire summit would be open to the media.
The accessibility for the workshops is generally standard since they are expected to include people's personal stories.
"This is standard operating procedure when covering a workshop involving strategy or personal stories," Shorter wrote in an e-mail. "This will be explained to everybody – activists and reporters – upon registration."
Press must pre-register for credentials.
For more information on the event, which will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, visit www.eqca.org and click on "Events."
Unions, faith groups file amicus briefs
Union leaders and religious organizations from throughout California announced this week that they would file their own amicus briefs in support of lawsuits seeking to overturn Proposition 8, the amendment to the state constitution passed by voters in November that strips same-sex couples of the right to marry.
The California Council of Churches and other faith organizations will file its brief today (Thursday, January 15) with the California Supreme Court asking the justices to invalidate the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment.
Joining with the state church council are the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Bishops of California and Los Angeles, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California, and the Northern and Southern California Nevada Conferences of the United Church of Christ.
A similar coalition of progressive faith groups filed an amicus brief in support of the initial lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court's decision last May to rule that California's anti-gay marriage laws were unconstitutional.
A coalition of more than 50 California labor organizations, including United Healthcare Workers and the California Labor Federation, also announced it will file its own brief Friday, January 16 in support of having the court strike down Prop 8. The labor leaders argue that if Prop 8 is allowed to stand, then it could lead to a simple majority of voters denying workers the right to hold pickets and organizing drives in front of grocery stores.
"There are fundamental constitutional rights that cannot be abolished by ballot initiative," stated Sal Rosselli, the openly gay president of UHW, in a release. "Our organizations stand for fairness and equality for working people – not only in the workplace but in all aspects of society. Today we are standing up for all California families in asking the court to overturn Prop 8."
AFL-CIO Chief Officer Art Pulaski, the executive secretary treasurer for the labor federation, said union leadership has "grave concerns" about Prop 8 and the precedent it would set in California.
"This is a serious setback not just for gay people and for lesbians but all of us who believe in fairness and equality," Pulaski told reporters on a conference call Tuesday.
During the call, Rosselli added that, "There is a slippery slope and wealthy bigoted people could organize votes of the electorate to take away other civil rights, like the right to picket or organize."
The labor groups did not submit an amicus brief in the initial court proceeding, known as In re Marriage Cases .
San Jose panel to discuss Prop 8
At its meeting tonight (Thursday, January 15), the San Jose Human Rights Commission will entertain a motion asking the South Bay city to join in the lawsuit seeking to throw out Prop 8 that was filed by San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara County. David Parker, the only openly LGBT member of the commission, will introduce the proposal and is asking members of the public to attend the hearing to show support for the motion.
Last summer, Parker was able to pass a motion through the commission that called on the City Council and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed to oppose Prop 8. The resolution died in a council committee, and Reed, who personally opposes same-sex marriage, remained neutral on the ballot measure.
To date, the only government body in the Bay Area to reject joining the lawsuit has been Contra Costa County.
The San Jose commission's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. For more information, call (408) 535-8110 or e-mail mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matthew S. Bajko contributed to this report.