Archive for July, 2009

“America Forever” leader done in by a kiss

Today marked the 3rd protest over the Mormon Church’s treatment of two gay men who were caught kissing on the church-owned main street plaza. But unlike the past two protests which were filled with song, smiles and overall good-feelings this protest turned ugly quickly with shouts of anger and arguments. What was the difference? “America Forever” showed up.

The infamously-radical and push-button style group showed up ahead of most of the protesters to stage a counter protest. Bearing 6 foot signs with the usual anti-gay messages, they attempted to stop any of the protesters from entering the plaza. But America Forever had it’s hands full against an angry crowd who wanted to make it clear that they were sick of being put down and having their rights trampled under the guise of righteousness.

Things stayed at a mostly normal pace until one America Forever man started screaming at the crowd that they were trying to destroy the country, and that homosexuals are the “most un-patriotic” group in existence.

Then came the kiss. Somehow without any of the dozens of cameras there (including my own) seeing him, a man on rollerblades skated by and kissed Sandra Rodriguez (leader of America Forever) on the cheek. News cameras immediately rushed over and interviewed Sandra, who’s story of what happened changed 5 times in the first 2 minutes. First she claimed he kissed her on the cheek, then he had grabbed her shoulder, then he had jumped on her and eventually the story became that he slapped her (I have that whole conversation on film). Ms. Rodriguez then went on to speak to myself for another 5 minutes. I asked her if she saw the irony in that she herself is an immigrant to this country and had to work for years to be given all the rights our country offers, and now she spends her days working to deny others of those same rights. She unfortunately wouldn’t answer the question, but after several minutes claimed to be injured by the man who had kissed her and staggered off. Eventually she had an ambulance called so she could be loaded in as a martyr in front of the crowd and driven off with lights flashing.

Now I did not see (nor did anyone in the crowd apparently) the actual event take place so I cannot say definitively that the man did not grab her shoulder. But with how the situation was handled and how she acted afterwards, I would be enormously surprised if it was any more than a peck on the cheek and she decided to twist it to her advantage.

on another interesting note, the Mormon Church’s gestapo were no-where to be seen today. In both of the previous protests the seemed to come out of the bushes everywhere to make sure no one entered the plaza. But today, there were only 2 and they disappeared as soon as America Forever showed up. Could it be the the Church’s PR agents have realized what bad press they’ve already got and told security to not be seen anywhere in relation to such a vile group as America Forever? Hmmm, could be.

Photos of the event can be seen here. And videos are on there way.

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More Trouble In Utah

Below is an article I copied from the Salt Lake Tribune (see here), written by Rosemary Winters.   -Eric E.
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Gena Edvalson tried for years to be a mom. So when her partner of six years, Jana Dickson, became pregnant through artificial insemination and gave birth to a boy in March 2006, nothing brought her “instantly more joy.”

And nothing brought Edvalson more pain than a recent court ruling depriving her of a chance to even visit the child.

After all, she had eyed every ultrasound. She had read Little Quack to “the little guy” when he was inside Dickson’s womb. She had clicked on a flashlight throughout his first night home from the hospital to check on the sleeping babe.

Both Salt Lake City women, were “mama” and — with the help of lactation medication for Edvalson — both breast-fed the newborn.

But the two split up when the boy was 17 months old and last week, after a yearlong legal fight, Edvalson was cut off from any contact with the 3-year-old she loves as a son. A 3rd District judge, citing a 2008 Utah law, upheld Dickson’s “fundamental” right, as the biological parent, to refuse visitation.

“I never want him to think I gave him up voluntarily. I never abandoned him,” Edvalson wrote on her blog. “I loved him, and I love him still.”

The case highlights the predicament of same-sex parents in Utah, a state where gay and lesbian couples cannot marry, adopt children or even expect their own contracts for shared parenting and guardianship to stand in court.

Such documents did not protect Edvalson, who signed

co-parenting and co-guardianship agreements with Dickson near the time the baby was born.Although this case is “not binding precedent,” Edvalson’s Salt Lake City attorney, Lauren Barros, said she wouldn’t recommend a co-parenting agreement to other same-sex couples.

“It was my last hope,” Barros said. It didn’t work.

Frank Mylar, Dickson’s attorney, said the “important principle” in the case is that the law upholds the “right of a parent to make decisions for their child and to change their mind.”

That, Mylar said, is precisely what Dickson did: change her mind.

Dickson and Edvalson met at the YWCA, where Dickson worked with teens and Edvalson with battered women. The couple moved in together in 2000 and formally declared their love with a commitment ceremony in 2003.

“Jana had kind of joked that she was old-fashioned like that,” Edvalson said. “She didn’t want to have a kid without making that official.”

Edvalson began artificial insemination. Two years later, she still wasn’t pregnant. Dickson, who is nine years younger than Edvalson, decided to give it a go. She became pregnant after her second treatment.

“We must have taken like 10 pregnancy tests,” Edvalson, now 42, recalled. “I can’t even describe it. I was so excited.”

After the boy’s birth, the couple planned to move to California so that Edvalson could adopt him, Dickson said, but, “due to major issues in our relationship, that never happened.”

When the boy was 4 months old, the pair had a fight. Edvalson moved out for a week.

“She told me that he wasn’t my kid, he was her kid, and she told me I should move on,” Edvalson said. “We worked it out for another year — but that never went away.”

Dickson and Edvalson broke up in 2007, when their son already was calling both of them “mama” (“Mama G” for Edvalson was a little too tricky).

Dickson, 33, now is married to a man, but said, in an e-mail, she has “dated both men and women” in her life. An attorney who defends parents in abuse, neglect and custody cases, Dickson said she is a “stronger believer than ever” in the right of lesbians to marry and adopt — if the biological mom wants her partner to do so.

She declined to comment specifically on why she has made the “very hard decision to limit Gena’s role” in her son’s life, noting Edvalson’s “palpable hostility” toward her complicated the visits. But she agreed the relationship “never really recovered from that initial move-out.”

While the couple still were together, Edvalson complained that her lack of “legally recognized rights” to the child created “unfair power dynamics” in the relationship, according to an affidavit Dickson filed.

For 10 months after the breakup, Edvalson generally saw the boy two days a week, but she felt Dickson was “whittling away” her time when the visits dropped to one afternoon a week. Edvalson asked her attorney to send Dickson a letter, requesting mediation to uphold the co-parenting agreement.

“Then Jana hired Frank Mylar,” Edvalson said, “and it was kind of game on.”

Mylar, a former Utah attorney general candidate, belongs to a conservative alliance of “Christian attorneys,” the Alliance Defense Fund, and regularly fights against the extension of rights for gay and lesbian couples. He did just that in pushing changes to the 2008 law that severely limited Edvalson’s ability to press for visitation in court.

Dickson declined mediation and stopped letting Edvalson visit the child. Edvalson did not see him for a year until — after a hearing in April — the judge ordered visitation once a week in advance of his ruling.

That decision came last week. The boy now is off-limits to her.

There is no next step in getting to see her boy again, Edvalson said. “The next step is [Dickson] doing the right thing. I have no legal recourse.”

Her advice for other same-sex couples: Don’t have kids unless you have the legal protection of an adoption (something you cannot get in Utah).

For now, Edvalson, who is working on a master’s degree in social work, is keeping an online journal to record her experience in case her one-time son someday notices the hyphenated last name on his birth certificate and has questions.

She cannot say enough about how sweet and outgoing he is — even “old men” at the grocery store, she said, would comment, “Your kid’s a flirt.” She calls him “my sweet boy.”

“I know everyone thinks their kid’s the greatest,” Edvalson said. “It just doesn’t help that mine actually was the greatest.”

rwinters@sltrib.com

2nd Protest on Mormon Plaza

The 2nd of two protests took place this morning at the LDS-owned Main St Plaza in Salt Lake City. The protest started off as a kiss-in, with roughly 200 people gathering in front of the plaza and posing for PDA photos. But with the Mormon-Fuzz (thank you Bill Maher) turning away everyone who was attempting to enter the plaza, the crowd grew a little restless.

It wasn’t long before someone made the call to march on the plaza, and before you knew it, all 200 people entered the plaza for a peaceful march. With so many entering the Mormon Secret Service weren’t able to detain everyone, just threaten that the SLPD had been called and people would be arrested. After marching around the entire plaza in front of temple while holding hands, kissing and laughing, the group again took up it’s stance on Main St and South Temple.

The police soon arrived, and spoke privately with the Mo-stapo before speaking with the crowd. With so many around this time, including many cameras, there were no arrests or citations issued. And the whole protest ended on a peaceful note with song.

Below are some of the highlight videos (again, just my handheld camera sorry!). For pictures, visit my FB page here.

1st Protest over Gay Kiss at LDS Plaza

Tonight the first of 4 (scheduled) protests took place at the LDS-owned Main Street Plaza over the controversy of a gay kiss. Earlier this week a gay couple were asked to leave the LDS owned plaza due to a kiss, which LDS Church officials claimed was not allowed on their property. When the couple refused to leave until the currently-kissing straight couples were also asked to leave, the police were called and the couple were cited for trespassing.

The first protest over this abusive treatment was organized very quickly by local U of U student Alec Gherke, who himself is straight. His group of about 15 people donned pink armbands and triangles, hand-cuffed themselves and marched into the plaza singing LDS hymns and primary songs including “Love One Another” and “I am a Child of God.”

After about 2 circuits around the plaza, 7 LDS secret-service imitating security guards (complete with ear-wigs) told the group that they were to leave immedietely or “we will be forced to arrest you.” Many in the group, including one active LDS member made passionate pleas that the LDS Church’s current stance and hypocritical rules are not in standing with the teachings of their own prophets nor the teachings of God.

Below are some of the highlight clips. Please forgive the poor video and sound quality as all I had with me was my handheld camera. There will be continuous postings of videos as fast as I can upload them, so keep checking back!

This one is mid-protest as the marchers sing through the plaza.

This one is the big highlight, main confrontation with security.

LDS couple kissing on the plaza as security was escorting us off the property. Isn’t this the same “bad behavior” that the gay couple was cited for?
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Protesters

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