New Poll: Americans oppose Defense of Marriage Act

From The Human Rights Campaign: American voters oppose, by a large margin, the Defense of Marriage Act – the law that forbids the federal government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples – as well as efforts by the House Republican leadership to intervene in court cases defending the law, according to new polling released by the Human Rights Campaign in partnership with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

51 percent of voters oppose DOMA while 34 percent favor it. Independent voters, who were instrumental in the Republican House takeover, oppose the law by a 52 percent to 34 percent margin.

Additionally, when read statements for and against defending DOMA in court, 54 percent of voters oppose the House Republicans’ intervention, while only 32 percent support it.

Given a list of issues important in determining their vote for President, voters ranked the economy and jobs (54 percent), Medicare and Social Security (23 percent) and education (19 percent) as most important with only 5 percent of respondents saying marriage was most important to them.

Finally, when presented with the actual benefits from which married same-sex couples are excluded, voters overwhelmingly support extending those benefits.

In memory of Thommie Walsh

March 15, 2011. Would have been Thommie Walsh’s 61st birthday.

Thommie was a 2-time Tony Award winner, an original cast member of the ground-breaking A Chorus Line, and my dear wonderful friend.

Thommie came into my life in so many ways. As a young actor and dancer, I was forever changed by his performance in A Chorus Line. The boy who grew up near Buffalo but “couldn’t remember the name of the town” – he’d blocked it out. His work on Broadway was the stuff wide-eyed young actors or dancers like me only dreamed about. He danced in several Broadway shows – including A Chorus Line – and then graduated to director/choreographer. As Tommy Tune’s partner, he won two Tony Awards: for “A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine” and “My One And Only.”

Many, many other accomplishments and awards came Thommie’s way. Too numerous to mention.

But my favorite memory of Thommie was as my friend. In 2002, Donna McKechnie was asked to perform her developing one woman show “Inside The Music” in Los Angeles. Thommie was her director and choreographer. The theater was a small theater on a budget, so Donna asked if Thommie could stay with me. Every single day was a holiday with Thommie in the house. Having consulted on some of Donna’s earlier shows, I accompanied Thommie to rehearsals and did what I could to help. But just being around Thommie made life better and funnier and more wonderful. We became very fast friends.

He was constantly supportive of my work as a director and/or choreographer. A few years later, when I was choreographing a show off-Broadway he insisted he come to see the show. Then he made a point of meeting me for dinner at Joe Allens (famous Broadway restaurant) to talk about it. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he sat down, smiled, and simply said to me “you did good – I loved it.”

His sense of humor, his directness in any situation, everything about Thommie worked for me. I honestly loved this man. My wonderful friend.

In late 2006, however, he stopped returning phone calls. I worried something was wrong. I reached out to everyone I could. At one point – on a cold Christmas eve – I stood outside a holiday dinner in the cold on the phone with Cynthia Onrubia who had assisted him on some shows. The news was not good. I was distraught. I practically begged this woman who barely understood who I was to keep me informed as his health deteriorated.

News was slow to come over the next several months. And then, on a hot summer night, June 16, 2007, he passed away. This boy-wonder of Broadway was gone.

I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the news. I was riding in a car in Las Vegas when a friend called me and said “did you hear about Thommie?”

I held my breath as long as I could. I didn’t want to know. Several heart-beats went by. Please let it be anything that didn’t manifest in my imagination. I’m dramatic – surely I’m wrong.

I wasn’t. My friend on the other end of the call was sad and silent. She was sad to report the news.

Gone.

But never forgotten. I remember Thommie’s birthday every year. March 15th – the Ides of March. From Julius Caesar – “beware the Ides of March.” Beware indeed. He used his own birthday onstage in A Chorus Line as “Bobby” or “Robert Charles Joseph Henry Mills, III” as his introduction went. Isn’t that funny?

I was honored to play his role in A Chorus Line several times and always thought of Thommie when I did. Near the end of his character’s monologue, he had a line that said “I just wanted to see if anyone would notice me.”

Boy – did the world notice Thommie.

I miss Thommie every time I think of him, which is often. His laugh, his humor, his talent, his friendship… all of it without boundaries.

I’d love to regale you with some stories I lived with him, but they may not be suitable for this post. If you knew him, you know what I mean. If you don’t, then please know I hope someday you know someone like him so you will.

Except there will never be another Thommie Walsh. Ever. And my eyes tear up with joy and sadness every time I know that.

Thommie – how very lucky am I to have known you. I miss you still. I always will.

Thommie once advised me if you were going to steal, steal from the best. So, to steal a phrase from Thommie – “love you madly – always”

Bruno had a tooth pulled

Very tough tonight.  The Bruno had a tooth pulled today and he’s not doing great.  The pain meds are wearing off and he’s anxious and restless.
I tried giving him a pain pill the vet gave us, but he won’t take it.  No matter whether I wrap it in cheese, chicken or peanut butter he licks or chews around the pill and then ultimately spits out the pill.
He just keeps moving from one place to another every five or ten minutes. Very restless.  I know he’ll be better soon, but I want to help.
It’s hard to to be the ‘daddy’ when you can’t fix it.
Ugh.

Joan Rivers on her gay fans

The ever funny, ever relevant Joan Rivers recently spoke about her gay fans in an interview for Frontiers Magazine:

“I think gay men are brighter and smarter and more open, and they always—even in the beginning—got my comedy. I remember the first one to say, ‘she’s funny.’  The first ones in Greenwich Village to laugh at me were the gays.”

In addition to many, many other things, Joan has been a long-time supporter of God’s Love We Deliver, a leading provider of nutritious, individually-tailored meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. The organization began as a way to help those affected by HIV in the NYC area.

We love you too Joan. Thanks for all the laughs and support.

What happens when a bully just won’t stop…

This happened in Australia.

The larger boy, Casey, has apparently been bullied much of his life in high school. Watching the video, he clearly doesn’t want to fight.

I understand, however, that it is Casey that got suspended.

I’m betting the smaller boy who is the bully thinks twice before picking on someone again.

“HAIR” National Company joins Chicago actors for marriage equality fund-raiser

The National Tour of the 2009 TONY Award winning Best Musical HAIR will join forces with several local Chicago actors to stage a “Be-In” during their stop in Chicago.

The concert event will benefit the non-profit Broadway Impact, a marriage equality organization founded by original tribe member and TONY Award nominee Gavin Creel.

The National Tour tribe has helped keep the spirit and the legacy of HAIR alive with three hugely successful be-in performances in D.C, Seattle, and Los Angeles and is pleased to welcome some of the Chicagoland area’s finest local actors into their commune as part of their efforts. The night of music will feature cast members singing their favorite tunes to benefit and raise awareness to the fight for equality.

The event will be held from 6:00-8:00p.m. on Monday, March 14, 2011 at Sidetrack Chicago located at 3349 N. Halsted in Chicago. General Admission tickets are $25 and will be available at the door.

Celebrities, entertainment moguls and professional athletes as diverse as Ellen & Portia DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, David Geffen, Anne Hathaway, Jane Lynch & Lara Embry, Eric McCormack, Martin Sheen, Lily Tomlin & Jane Wagner, Zach Wahls, Rufus Wainwright, Evan Wolfson, and Bob & Suzanne Wright have come together to ask President Obama to support marriage equality.

Freedom To Marry’s new “Say ‘I Do,’ Mr. President” asks for the President’s support of marriage equality.

From their open letter:

Like so many Americans, you have spoken of your personal journey toward support for the freedom to marry. You have talked about the gay and lesbian people in your life, their commitment to each other and care for their kids, and their families that aren’t so different from any other family.

We ask you now for your leadership on ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, an exclusion that harms millions of Americans each day. Whether to end discrimination in marriage is a question America has faced before, and faces again today. With so many Americans talking it through in heartfelt conversations, it is a question that calls for clarity from the President.

You can offer hope to millions of young gay and lesbian Americans who are facing discrimination. You can tell them that their future is bright, that they, too, will be able to grow up and marry the person that they love, that the pursuit of happiness truly belongs to all of us. You can put government on the side of those seeking to care for their loved ones, instead of those standing in their way. You can affirm that for all of us, gay or non-gay, love is love and commitment counts – and that we Americans should treat others as we all want to be treated.

You can add your signature to the list attached to the letter by heading to Freedom To Marry’s website.

Bill to repeal DOMA to be introduced this week

U.S. Reps. Nadler, Conyers, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis and David Cicilline will hold a press conference today to announce a bill that seeks to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. According to a press release, the coalition will introduce the legislation into the House Wednesday.

“The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal DOMA, and comes in response to a call from President Obama for Congressional action on the issue,” the coalition writes in the press release.

“As the President has stated: ‘I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It’s discriminatory, it interferes with states’ rights, and it’s time we overturned it.’

Last week, on the heels of the President’s decision not to defend DOMA in court, House Republican Leadership announced that it will defend DOMA in court, making passage of the Respect for Marriage Act more critical than ever.”

(via Instinct Magazine)