Get more supporter action with click2call

August 12th, 2010

Automate your supporters’ “call your legislator” actions.

Do you work for or with an organization that sends out action alerts for supporters to call their legislators, a company or anyone else to ask for their support for LGBT equality?  When you do, how many supporters actually take action? I’m guessing the answer is "not enough."  Do you want to increase that number? Is your organization using Salsa / Democracy In Action? Yes? Read on…

When we send out action alerts with an ask for the supporter to make the call, our email blasts usually say something like:

Contact your both of your Senators by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (two calls). Tell the operator your state and ask to speak to your Senator. When you are connected to your Senator’s office, ask for the staff member who works on Health and Human Services appropriations. To locate your U.S. senators’ names, click here.  (From Queers for Economic Justice)


Contact your senator today to ask them to sign onto the Whitehouse letter in the Senate. To contact your senator, please call the Senate switchboard at 202.224.3121, tell them your state, and ask to speak to your senator.  (From LGBT Taskforce)

Approaches like this still depend on the supporter doing a bunch of manual steps to take the action. Look up your legislator. Look up a local branch of a company. Type the number into your phone. Call a switchboard, and ask who your legislator is, then ask to be connected. Possibly wait on hold for them connect you when dialing a direct number would be faster. These are all potential blockers to your supporter taking action.

Is there a better way? Yes.

Enter Jalapeno Click2Call for Salsa

I go to alot of technology and developer conferences for my day job and for activism work. When I find interesting tools that can help us win equality, I’ll pass them along. Click2Call is a tool that can help.

Jalapeno Click2Call for Salsa is a tool that will let you automate the process for your supporters. Now instead of those manual steps, they can take action just a few clicks on your website.

They don’t even have to dial a phone number.

If your organization is using Salsa/DemocracyInAction this tool is integrated directly into the platform.  As a campaign manager, you can create everything you need from your Salsa dashboard.  By adding their package from the Salsa Marketplace and a simple setup, you can get started quickly.

By using this tool, your email blasts go from this:

Contact your senator today to ask them to vote for DADT Repeal To contact your senator, please call the Senate switchboard at 202.224.3121, tell them your state, and ask to speak to your senator

to this instead:

Contact your senator today to ask them to vote for DADT Repeal. To get started, click:

c2c start

With the Salsa platform, the system can figure out your supporter’s legislator so when they click the dial buttons, it will call the right place.  Once they click this button, they will be taken to a screen where they are asked for relevant information.  Their information will also be saved into your Salsa supporter database.


Once they fill out the required information and click the start button here, they are shown the dial page.  The dial page shows who their legislator is.  The supporter can click the “Click to Call” button OR dial it themselves if they would rather do that.

imageWhen the supporter clicks the call button, the system will call them at their phone number entered on the previous page.  When the supporter answers the call, they will be greeted with a message, asked to hit any key (to make sure they are human) and then connected with the legislator.

The page also has a script for them to follow, as well as a form to record the “score” and notes on the legislator’s response. If the supporter has more than one legislator to call, the system will walk them through multiple calls when they click the “Submit and Continue to Next Call.”

You can theme your pages with CSS and the usual Salsa templates.  When supporters take an action it is recorded in the supporter database attached to their record.    The C2C application is available in the Salsa marketplace and will provide detailed reporting of usage.

I put a screencast together that shows the supporter experience using C2C.  It’s under 4 minutes.

If you would rather try out the demo action in the video yourself, click here:

c2c start

Note:  The demo is hosted on developer test accounts, it may have intermittent downtime.

How it works

The C2C service is a salsa integrated front end with Twilio on the backend.  Twilio is a telephony service that provides the actual phone calls.  So, when you use the service, you pay a per campaign fee to C2C plus minute based charges for the Twilio service.  C2C takes care of integrating the billing, so you don’t need to deal with two vendors.

C2C actions are integrated into the Salsa advocacy campaigns.  When you set up a new action, you can create it as a C2C action.

There is also a WordPress plugin you can use to embed these actions on your own site.

The current introductory pricing seems reasonable.  If you have a supporter list of 3k-25k, you pay $50 for the action plus 0.05 per minute.  Thankfully, you can limit the maximum call time that supporters can make.

  Unlimited Campaigns
Supporter List Size Per Campaign** Monthly* Annual*
< 3k $50 + 5¢/min $150 + 5¢/min $1,650 + 5¢/min
3k – 25k $75 + 5¢/min $225 + 5¢/min $2,475 + 5¢/min
25k + $100 + 5¢/min $300 + 5¢/min $3,300 + 5¢/min

For the most up-to-date information visit New Signature’s website.

If you are interested in contacting me, click here.

NCIS: “As straight as they come” ummm. no.

July 30th, 2010

I’m a huge fan of NCIS, which is a lot like CSI, but with the twist that the law enforcement organization is the Naval Criminal Investigation Service rather than civilian as in CSI.

You get all the gory autopsies, deep forensics, a light touch of military and “cutesy” interplay between the characters.

In this episode, the team is, as usual, investigating the death of a Naval officer.  The investigation uncovers the fact that the dead guy was impersonating another Naval officer who was impersonating him.  (They switched identities).  Siva David (pronounced [ˈziva daˈvid]), an Isreali Mossad agent on temporary assignment to NCIS, is talking to the (non-dead-guy who is a young menial supply clerk) to figure out why they were doing this.  Siva is true to her history in form, a gruff, tough girl, mangling American slang, cultural references, and colloquialisms

What caught my attention was a funny portrayal of the “Obviously gay guy in denial” situation.  The best part of it is Siva’s knowing looks and subdued giggles. 

Since I’ve been thinking so much about DADT lately, this tickled my funny bone.  It also made me wonder if this is in good humor or perhaps offensive.


What do you think?

DADT Repeal vs Desegregation Timeline

May 25th, 2010

With the new proposed amendment regarding DADT Repeal, many folks are unhappy because it is Not Enough, Not Soon Enough.  However, it’s worth comparing the path forward, since Obama put the country on a course toward repeal, to the timeline for desegregation in the military.  From the first initial forward step in September 1945, it took over 8 years.  From the executive order signed by Truman, it was 5 years until desegregation was actually finished.  I say “finished” meaning 95% of all African Americans serving in integrated units.

The lesson I got from this is that the military will manage itself.  Implementing changes to it’s system takes time, whether the constraints are physical ones or “soft” people issues.  Perhaps by letting the military study group determine the plan for adopting repeal first, they will be more eager to follow “their own” plan.  By contrast, with segregation, Truman acted first with a specific executive order, demanded implementation plans from the military and then fought with them over the details.  Obama and others will still have to sign off, but letting the military take ownership is smart management.

While I have listed selected milestones in the process below, there’s much more in the full timeline.

September 1945: Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson appoints a board of three general officers to investigate the Army’s policy with respect to African-Americans and to prepare a new policy that would provide for the efficient use of African-Americans in the Army. This board is called the Gillem Board, after its chairman, General Alvan C. Gillem, Jr.

January 1948: President Truman decides to end segregation in the armed forces and the civil service through administrative action (executive order) rather than through legislation

July 26, 1948: President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." The order also establishes the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services.

July 6, 1950: President Truman informs the Fahy Committee that, against the wishes of most of its members, it is being discontinued. "The necessary programs [to integrate the armed forces] having been adopted," Truman wrote the committee, "I feel that the Armed Services should now have an opportunity to work out in detail the procedures which will complete the steps so carefully initiated by the Committee."

October 1953: The Army announces that 95% of African-American soldiers are serving in integrated units..

Family Guy #fail on Transgender episode

May 10th, 2010

Check out the recent Family Guy episode "Quagmire’s Dad". You can watch the episode here:

In it, Quagmire’s dad, who’s a decorated war hero, get’s a sex change.

image image

I was expecting the usual funny episode:  a bunch of funny moments that push the limit, followed by an ending which teaches the right lesson.  The setup of Quagmire’s dad, of all people was great.   I watched this episode and was surprised.  I’m a fan of family guy.  I am usually pretty flexible in appreciating their humor even when some of the jokes (if taken by themselves) are homophobic, racist or otherwise discriminatory.  Often they are funny representations of how people react in the real world to these situations.  However, what was different about this episode is that it was missing the usual part where they come around on the issue and show those responses to be unenlightened.  Instead the episode ends on a negative note, with Brian frantically washing himself in the shower to "wipe off" his experience of having sex with the transgendered person (Quagmire’s dad is now Ida).  The closing scene is him getting his ass kicked by Quagmire. 

Brian is usually the character most likely to see through phobia and see people and accept them for who they are.  That he didn’t makes me wonder where the heads of the creators of Family Guy.  I had to rewind and re-watch the end to check that there was no finale that I missed or at least a "to be continued".

The Other Side of the Rainbow writes:

I am making a complaint and setting up a facebook page to boycott Family Guy. The series used to be ok but over the last year or so has been getting more and more intolerant of all marginalized people.

The creators of Family Guy should be called on the carpet to be address this.  The boycott is our natural response to these kinds of offenses.  However, I hope that we can add some demands that can turn this into a positive experience.  Perhaps have the petition demand that the creators do something that helps the community.  Pulling the episode is one option.  Making a follow up episode where Brian comes around is another.  At the least, they should publicly help educate people in transgender issues, assuming they are teachable. 

Xbox Live allows LGBT Identity expression

March 5th, 2010

Today, March 5th, Microsoft’s Xbox Live team announced a change in their terms of service.  This new change allows, among other things, LGBT members to express their "relationship recognition" in their Xbox Live profile information.  A set of approved words has been set for each language the service operates in.

From today’s release:

With that in mind, I’d like to announce an update to the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and Code of Conduct which will allow our members to more freely express their race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation in Gamertags and profiles. Under our previous policy, some of these expressions of self-identification were not allowed in Gamertags or profiles to prevent the use of these terms as insults or slurs. However we have since heard feedback from our customers that while the spirit of this approach was genuine, it inadvertently excluded a part of our Xbox LIVE community

From the new Terms of Use for the English service:

You may use the following terms to express your relationship orientation in your profile or Gamertag:

    • Lesbian
    • Gay
    • Bi
    • Transgender
    • Straight

Other terms regarding relationship orientation are not allowed. In addition you may not use these terms or any other terms regarding relationship orientation to insult, harass, or any other pejorative use against other users.

It’s great to see Microsoft moving forward on this and honoring their promise to address this.  Initially, there was discussion around the best way to solve this problem.  The key requirement was how to minimize the potential use of words like these, or the expression of them, to increase harassment.   Various options were explored over time, including changes to the service.  However, as is often the case, the simplest solution wins out.  KISS principle at work.

Michael Holder, STI Disclosure, and Avoiding The Gulag of Silence

January 28th, 2010

This is a follow-up post in a dialog with Todd Heywood.  Todd had originally covered the case of Michael Holder who was convicted of failing to disclose his HIV status to his girlfriend. My initial post, Dishonesty in health disclosure: Michael Holder got Justice,  supported a legal deterrent against such behavior,  with a focus on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), using the Michael Holder case as an example.  Todd Heywood responded in Do HIV-positive people have more responsibility in HIV prevention?

Todd wraps up his post with a broad description of my post and who I am says:

But I posit that there is more at work here than simple ignorance. Cohen is operating on a level I suspect even he is unaware of. There is a kind of blame the HIV-positives for their condition mentality involved. Thus, a public flaying, such as having to disclose HIV status, is warranted. It is a scarlet letter of the modern world, and Cohen, who is presumably negative since he has not hint at understanding HIV stigma, discrimination and the subsequent violence that attaches itself to such disclosures, wants us to continue to wear the scarlet letter.

According to Todd, because I agree with the majority opinion from the appeals court, I’m racially insensitive.  Because I find the defendant, a convicted burglar who met and infected the plaintiff while cheating on his wife, less credible than the plaintiff, I’m demonizing HIV positive people.   Because this is my first post on STI transmission, and that in an unrelated post about how the lack of democratic leadership in our movement starves non-big-ticket battles, I did not list HIV in a short list of examples, I’m HIV Phobic.

I don’t doubt that there are people that actually think and do what Todd is alleging. I suppose if all you know about me is from my blog, you might find what I have written on this topic to appear similar  enough to what those kind of folks would and assume that’s where I’m coming from.  It isn’t.  As Todd has expanded on his point, and related his person experience, so will I.

I’m not HIV positive, so I can’t truly claim to understand Todd’s perspective from a first hand point of view like he can. True, the dialog with Todd has caused me to learn more about the plight of HIV positive people.  However, HIV positive friends and lovers are not new to me.  As long as someone is open about it, honest, and is agreeable to precautions which minimize the risk of transmission, it’s not something I would necessarily discriminate by.   If there’s any discrimination I’m doing, its against deceptive and unethical behavior, especially when it puts me at risk.

However, as someone who’s been in a relationship situation where there was not appropriate disclosure of an STI (and that was not HIV), and some questionably deceptive and unethical behavior regarding it, I see the issue from a different perspective.  Just because I am not HIV positive, doesn’t mean I have to remain confined to a gulag of silence.

I’ll expand further on my opinions shortly. However, I’m not pushing all the responsibility to the other side, not am I focusing on HIV in particular.  To me, the holder case is just an example of the STI disclosure issue.  In truth, from our dialog and his other public statements, I don’t think we are really that far apart.  Is it unreasonable to expect a person who I am dating who has an STI to disclose that to me before we have sexual contact?

As evidence that we have some common ground:

in 2009, speaking at the Michigan Equality Rally at the capitol, Todd says

For those of us who are HIV positive, we help the gulag [of silence] . We are our own oppressors; we have to stand up and admit that we are HIV positive  each and every time we meet somebody.  We have to be honest if we expect honesty in return.  It’s that simple, and if we’re not, we’re killing ourselves and our brothers and our sisters.  It’s time to end the silence.

Perhaps he’s speaking in a broader context than just sexual relations.  However, if you advocate coming out as HIV positive to help the community and HIV people collectively, isn’t it kind of a contradiction that you wouldn’t also advocate telling those who you will have sex with?

I didn’t quote this solely to support my point about disclosure.  There’s a broader point in Todd’s words that I want to amplify.   There is a lot of ignorance and discomfort in the LGBT community about STIs like HSV, HPV, HEP, HIV and others.  People are being discriminated against because of this, when they needn’t be.  As long as people are honest with each other, there are reliable ways to mitigate the risks of transmission.  Just because one of these is present in a partner does not mean you can’t have a safe, loving and long term relationship.

We must combat the ignorance and discomfort society feels about LGBT people, we must come out.  We need society to experience us, to see us as human beings alongside them.  People often say that their opinions of LGBT changed significantly in a positive direction once a person they knew or family member came out.

I think Todd’s point is that by retreating into the closet, people with these kinds of health conditions are missing a critical opportunity to remedy this ignorance and discomfort.  Todd is one of the few who is taking the risk of outing himself as a leading example. I think that’s extremely brave.  I’ve only included an excerpt of his speech, but think watching the full version is worth your time.

The Holder Case

Just because I agree with the majority opinion from the appeals court, doesn’t mean I’m racially insensitive.

As proof of the fact that this is a clear case of racial bias, He states  that because Judge Karen Nelson Moore says so, that establishes that that this is a clear instance of racial bias and that I am just racially insensitive.  However, Moore wrote her position as part of the Appeal’s minority opinion on Holder’s appeal.   Turns out that the majority did not agree.  The fact that this was a split decision among intelligent people, means that exactly that: reasonable people can disagree without being called names.

When I read through the judgment on the appeal, I examined the court transcripts in question.  I will agree that some things were said that merit additional examination.  In my post, I expressed support for the appeal.  However those transcripts show leading questions that I feel could walk a reasonable person into saying unreasonable things.  There’s also testimony from the potential jurors (who are accused of racial bias) stating that they found the original questionnaire’s wording slanted and confusing.  Normal people who get tapped for jury duty very rarely, can easily be confused by legalistically worded questions.  A few of them specifically called out clever use and placement of pejorative words, along with some fast reading on their part, caused them to answer in a way that did not represent how they really felt, given the further clarification.

Just because I find the defendant, a convicted burglar who met and infected the plaintiff while cheating on his wife, less credible than the plaintiff, doesn’t mean I’m demonizing HIV positive people.

Todd writes:

In fact, the records and Holder’s own statements show that the victim was aware of this marriage and allowed Holder to move in with her anyway.

So much for the innocent victim of the cheating husband meme.

Hardly.   Much of this case, like many others, comes down to “he said, she said” and who’s the more believable witness.  It’s not that she’s a victim because he’s cheating on his wife.  The victim of that is his wife.   It’s the fact that he is cheating on his wife that makes him less credible to me.  It’s purely about him and his behavior that affects his credibility.   It’s just like the burglary conviction. According to Kosecki, who I believe, Holder not only failed to disclose, but lied and denied that he was HIV positive.

Just because this is my first post on contagious disease transmission, and that in an unrelated post about where I argued that the lack of democratic leadership in our movement focuses our resources on marquee issues like “Marriage” and starves others and did not list HIV in a short list of examples, doesn’t mean I’m HIV Phobic.

In an unrelated post where I was arguing (among other things) that perhaps because of less than democratic governance in our movement, we are so focused on the 100% solution of marriage in huge expensive battles, that we are starving other efforts like in smaller states for things like Employment Non-Discrimination or even basic forms of relationship recognition such as hospital visitation rights and smaller communities like Transgendered.  I suppose because I did not specifically list HIV, or forgot to include the words “including but not limited to”, I am HIV phobic.

Reciprocally, if you watch Todd’s speech, it’s focused entirely on HIV, even though many of the same issues arise with other contagious diseases.  Would I like to see him include those other diseases in his public speeches?  Yes.  Because he didn’t include the others, does that mean he’s HSV-Phobic?  No, of course not.

It’s not just about HIV

We talked and emailed a lot before we had the opportunity to have any sexual contact. I did notice there was something visible going on in a place on him that it would not be possible to have sexual contact without significant exposure to myself.  It looked a lot like acne and that was my initial assumption.  During the conversation phase, i did what I thought was right.  At a point where the conversation turned to sex, we shared our sexual histories.  When sharing my sexual history I  brought up the topic of STIs and made it clear that there was nothing going on that he needed to worry about.  I delicately prodded him to reciprocate.  He didn’t disclose anything.   At that point I went with my assumption that what i saw was acne on his face in the chin area.  I felt it would have been offensive to push it further. Eventually, we found ourselves in the right situation, and sexual contact happened.  After that, I felt uneasy looking at it more closely  and specifically asked exactly what that was.  His response was that it was a warts outbreak. I was kind of stunned and insisted on talking about it right then.  I was persuaded with assurances of commitment. I asked for a simple thing to protect me such as wearing a band-aid, but was and scolded for complaining about such a superficial thing.  Essentially I was bullied into continuing to expose myself.  I allowed this exposure to continue .   I’m embarrassed to admit that I allowed myself to end up in such a physically and emotionally risky position.

Those assurances didn’t amount to much.  For months after it ended, I was afraid that the HPV was going to show up.  In my mind, I was sure I was going to get it.   I would scrutinize any  ingrown hair follicle, shaving bump, or odd bump.  I went to the doctor a few times to have things examined.   HPV can take a while to show up, and there’s no simple test for males, like a HEP, HSV, or HIV test to tell if you get it.  The uncertainty was the worst part.  I certainly read up on and learned about HPV alot.  It turns out that there are many different types of warts, and usually ones that show up on the face aren’t the typically known “genital warts”.

[update] It’s been argued that since these types of warts are a different strain of HPV than “genital warts”, and they are not actually on the genitals, that it’s not actually an STI.   To me, that’s a pretty fine distinction.  If it was on an arm or leg, I could more easily agree.  But when it’s in a place that you need to touch to make out, it seems like an unimportant distinction.  Still, its the trust issue that bugs me the most.

It made me think a lot about what I would do if it turned out that i got it.   When i get the occasional cold sore on my lip, it’s not always very visible.  However, I’m strict about not letting someone kiss me when its present.  I’ve stopped people from kissing me and always first disclose.  I do think it’s my responsibility.

Even though in most cases your immune system eventually rids your body of the virus, someone else’s well being comes before my sexual urges.

With HIV, one can (and should) use a condom; it’s a very reliable way to inhibit transmission of HIV.  However with HSV, HEP and HPV, there just isn’t an equivalent think that the potential recipient can do to protect themselves.  They are dependent on the transparency and honesty of the person who has it.

I also felt that because of pressure not to offend or reinforce a stigma or phobia, there is hesitation to be too direct or pushy.  The gulag of silence also has a side effect of discouraging a level of directness which may be appropriate.

In the end, enough time passed without it showing up that I felt that I’d dodged the bullet.  This is now a few years ago.  Though I’d been lucky, many are not, and who knows, down the road, one of those people could be me, you or any of us.

I also own the fact that I made some questionable decisions at the time. I could have refused to continue once it was apparent what was going on. I could have resisted the persuasions.   If I had ultimately gotten it, I would share responsibility.  However, the experience has definitely affected my view of the issue here, and as a result I have a strong position in support of disclosure obligations, and legal deterrent with respect to failing to disclose.  That is why I chose to speak out on my blog.

Legal deterrents can be part of the solution

The person I was involved with should have known better and been more transparent at an earlier time, like prior to first exposure.  Probably above all else, this experience is what drives me to empathize with Maria Kosecki’s position and my support for the conviction.

Todd writes:

Is there a moral obligation to disclose one’s HIV status to one’s partner(s)? Absolutely. That same moral obligation stands with diseases such as herpes, (now linked to Alzheimer’s Disease), HPV (linked to anal, penile and cervical cancers), Hep B and C (linked to liver cancers) and more. Yet, in Michigan, none of those viruses carries a criminal sanction– only HIV carries such a criminal sanction.

Rhetoric and name-calling aside, I don’t think our positions are all that different.     We agree on the moral obligation to disclose.   Todd point’s out that the other STIs are not covered by Michigan’s law.  I agree that is a problem. He doesn’t take a position on whether criminal sanctions are truly necessary, which we may not be totally aligned on.  My opinion is that, some people are not sufficiently motivated to follow trough on the moral obligation Todd does state agreement with.

if you steal my MP3 player, you can be criminally prosecuted.  Aside from being out some money, and maybe feeling violated, I’m fine.  If one person slaps another, they can be charged criminally with assault and or battery.    Aside from perhaps temporary pain and embarrassment, there’s little if any long term effect on the victim’s quality of life.   It’s much less than having to manage HSV, HEP, HPV or HIV or others over the course of a lifetime..  Not only is the physical side harsh, the emotional effects of having this is a visible place or one that is “in the line of fire”, so to speak, in a sexual situation are non-trivial.  So if someone can be charged criminally for slapping, I don’t see why they can’t be charged for this.  That’s why I support a legal deterrent against this.   It isn’t the ideal, or entire solution to maintaining the health of our community, it’s just a part.

Another HUGE part of this solution is honesty.

If one person is entering into a romantic relationship with another, they have the right to know about any health risks.   i I’ll admit that a casual sex situation has lower expectations and things lean more towards “watch out for yourself”.   In either case, there are multiple perspectives and things to take into account when deciding what is appropriate behavior.   Merely saying “wear a condom” is not sufficient protection and implies that it’s all the recipient’s responsibility and that its effective against all STIs.  Similarly, saying “if you have something, you must disclose” without getting more specific about what’s supposed to be said and when .  Everyone has some responsibility and it’s not a simple answer.

The biggest problem I see is that the discussion on this topic out doesn’t happen.  Throwing recriminations about intent back and forth serves no one.  Avoiding the topic because it might offend someone is equally unhelpful.  The result of not being able to have conversations like this contributes to the spread of contagious diseases and damages the overall health of our community.

This gulag of silence hurts everybody, STI Positive or not.

“From now on treat each other with compassion, treat each other with honesty, and talk about [STIs]. demand it of your community, demand it of yourself”, Todd Heywood,  June 2009.

Boies: Good to have on our side

January 14th, 2010

With the start of the Prop 8 case in California, I’m finding that my optimism is elevated by the choice of our counsel.  David Boies and Ted Olson are leading the cause.  The pairing of the two is a pretty interesting occurrence.  These two were formerly opponents in the Bush v Gore case after the 2000 elections.

in the public discussion, with all the bitterness and acrimony during that case, you would think that the folks on either side would never be able to cooperate with each other in the future.  Instead, two leaders, from opposing sides, have united to pursue a goal.  Of all things, that goal is to overturn Prop 8 and restore the ability of gays and lesbians in California to marry.

The idea that such former adversaries can unite and cooperate provides an example of reconciliation that gives me hope that people can cooperate for the good of the country.  Ultimately, if we are ever to make progress in our democracy all sides need to help.

Aside from this somewhat mushy "lets all work together" stuff, Boies has been involved in some interesting cases.  The one that is closest to me is his role representing the US Government against Microsoft.  Among Microsoft employees, Boies is often regarded as a bitter enemy.  Bill Gates famously said that Boies was "out to destroy the company."  So in the Microsoft LGBT friendly community it’s an example of switching from a deep dislike, to rooting for him to succeed.

Also interesting in that case was the fact that the democratic administrations such as Clinton’s were viewed as more of a danger to the company than a republican one.  When Bush took office, there was a sense of optimism that the government would be more friendly.  

Boies was very successful in his work on that case.  He succeeded in getting a judgment against Microsoft and a the relief ordered was a breakup of the company.  That scenario was such an unthinkably catastrophic situation, that people were in disbelief.

Ultimately that relief was appealed and the company remains a single entity today.  However, a huge chunk of the company now operates with fairly oppressive compliance regulation.  Windows and certain related teams must perform much additional work to document interfaces, protocols and other things to the satisfaction of some pretty picky people.  The later trials in the EU have added to that workload.

As a result, Microsoft’s ability to keep pace with innovation is hampered.   Of course, for those who were hoping for a judgment against Microsoft, this is a good thing.  Now there is less chance that the behavior which was judged to be improper can happen.

Years prior, Boies was part of the team that represented IBM in it’s defense against a similar anti-trust suit brought by the DOJ.  In that case he was working from the opposite position as the Microsoft case.

Having someone who has experience in seeing an issue from both sides is a huge benefit.  As far as the Prop 8 case goes, the lesson is that Boies is serious business, and the other side should be appropriately worried.

2009 and Hate Crimes: Old Video of Matt

December 11th, 2009

The year 2009 is almost over, which is totally freaky because it still feels new to write “2009″ in a date field.  No matter what happens now, 2009 will be a milestone on the historical timeline for LGBT rights.   With the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act and signing into law by President Obama, 2009 will be notable.  Thanks to this law, LGBT people, like racial minorities and other protected classes now have additional tools in preventing hate crimes.

I was looking through some videos I found for a research project and found an interview with Matthew and then boyfriend from the mid nineties.  I remember when I first saw that video, thinking that I’d never seen anything but a picture of him.  Watching the video gives a much bigger picture of him, his voice, animations and, friendliness.

Have a look:

Update: h/t InterstateQ for pointing out the source of this interview.
There’s very little video of Matthew Shepard, this is the only one I’ve ever seen. It comes from a documentary called “Dear Jesse”, which is about Jesse Helms. This is such a case of chance; just by coincidence, when Tim Kirkman, the director, was interviewing students, Matthew happened to be one of them. At the time, he was just an average guy, and there was no way to know how significant he would become posthumously in our movement.
Check out the documentary: