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Thom Watson
Works at SF Bay Times
Attended Harvard University
Lives in Daly City, CA
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Thom Watson

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My husband and I were on the San Francisco Giants' kiss cam back in 2011, which we believe was the first for that team, if not for MLB as a whole. And the response from the crowd was very supportive. Marriage Equality USA honored the Giants yesterday, in fact, for their leadership in supporting LGBT equality; they were the first team to host a benefit for HIV/AIDS research, the first to make an "It Gets Better" video, and they signed onto an amicus brief in the marriage cases before the Supreme Court this year.
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+Thom Watson Have a seat, Giant fan! :) I kid. I saw your video after this one and I give you and your partner a thumbs up! Cheers from a Dodger fan.
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When the governor signs the bill, California will become the first state to impose a ban on the so-called "gay panic" defense that has allowed more lenient sentencing or even acquittal when the defendant has claimed that a crime was committed against an LGBT person because of the "panic" that the defendant felt about his or her victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Yes, this is a real thing. People actually have received reduced sentences, have had their pleas reduced (e.g., from murder to manslaughter), or have been acquitted even after murdering a gay or transgender person, using the defense that they panicked over the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity or because they felt that the LGBT person had made an unwanted pass at them. 

The American Bar Association last year passed a resolution calling for such bans on "gay panic" defenses, but so far only California has followed through.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Defendants could not escape murder charges by claiming they panicked when they discovered someone was gay or transgender under a bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown. The state Assembly approved AB2501 on a 50-10 vote Wednesday.
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Somehow I missed this story earlier this week. Thanks to John Becker for drawing my attention to it. In a nutshell, an IU study purports to show that straight people don't think that same-sex couples are as much "in love" as they believe similarly situated opposite-sex couples are; moreover, they believe that the more "in love" a couple is, the more rights they merit, including the right to marry.

"Researchers have found one more incomplete and unsatisfying explanation for why LGBT people don’t have equal rights: Non-LGBT people just don’t think same-sex couples are 'as in love' as heterosexual ones. A study out of Indiana University found that sexual orientation weighs heavily on how loving couples are perceived to be by other people, who tend to place opposite-sex partnerships on a pedestal. This perception, in turn, affects how many formal and informal rights LGBT couples 'deserve' as far as the general public is concerned, according to study author Long Doan.

"...The researchers found that respondents reacted quite differently to each type of couple: Participants essentially ranked the amount of love partners had for one another hierarchically by sexual orientation, with opposite-sex couples being perceived as 'most in love,' followed by same-sex female couples and then same-sex male couples.

"Interestingly — and perhaps most upsettingly — participants noted that couples who were believed to be most in love deserved more rights than others, from the right to hold hands in public to the right to marry. ..."

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/18/more_love_more_rights/
People who believe same-sex couples are "just as in love" as heterosexual ones are more generous about equality
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That's beautiful!
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Sadly, though not unexpectedly, the Supreme Court has granted a stay in the Virginia marriage equality case, so marriages will not begin tomorrow as had been hoped. The stay will be in effect until either the Supreme Court denies a writ of certiorari in the case (i.e., officially decides not to hear the case), or until it issues a ruling in the case if it grants certiorari. So it's likely that marriages will not begin in Virginia until next June at the earliest, assuming the Court takes this or another marriage equality case this fall.
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See equality's brand-new home! Marriage Equality USA unveils its newly redesigned, state-of-the-art website, featuring new and expanded features for our members, the media, and the public. 

http://marriageequality.org
Marriage Equality USA is the nation’s oldest organization dedicated to building equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community through civil marriage equality in every state and at the federal level.
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In a 2-1 decision, the 4th Circuit has affirmed the lower court ruling that found Virginia's marriage ban unconstitutional!

"Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual's life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance."

The decision isn't stayed, but doesn't take effect for 21 days. During that time period, the clerks could -- and likely will -- appeal to the Supreme Court and ask them for a stay. So marriages are still on hold in Virginia for now.
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This is the 29th consecutive decision since last June recognizing the freedom to marry, and marks the second Circuit Court of Appeals to take a stand (the 10th Circuit already has ruled twice, upholding lower court decisions overturning Utah's and Oklahoma's bans).
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Thom Watson

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On to happier and more exciting news... this coming Monday I start a brand-new chapter in my professional life, as I take on the managing editor role at Dance Studio Life Magazine, a print publication aimed at dance education and dance educators.

At first reading that may seem a bit out of left field, especially for those who only know me casually or through my advocacy or information technology work, but it's actually not as much of a stretch as it might sound. Before I entered IT, after all, I was a researcher, writer, and editor, and throughout my career even afterwards I tended to take positions at the intersection of communications and technology, leaning more towards the former as much as possible (the exceptions, when I was purely a technical manager, in fact, I found least fulfilling). And even then I kept writing and publishing, albeit online more often than in print.

When I left my last professional position in order to devote myself full-time for a while to volunteerism and advocacy, I came to realize that it was the communications work that most drove me, and that the technology for me had only ever been just been a platform and a means for doing that other work.

I also realized -- leading up to deciding to resign from that position, and in the ongoing self-evaluation that followed -- that life was too short to do things that didn't inspire me to be a better person or to make the world a better, or at least a more bearable, place. I promised myself that when I took another professional job, it would be only in one of the following fields, those that I particularly (but not exclusively) consider meaningful to those ends: advocacy (especially but not limited to civil liberties), science, arts, or education, and with bonus points for an opportunity that would allow me to work for or with kids, who are, to pardon the platitude, our future.

Honestly, I never imagined that would bring me to working on a dance education magazine, but after I was first asked if it were something I might consider, and I thought about it just a little while, it came to feel perfectly opportune and appropriate. It combines at a minimum arts and education, after all, and it gets the bonus points as well; one could even argue that there's an element of advocacy involved, in encouraging both kids and adults to pursue dance as either vocation or avocation, but I don't need to push the point too far. Moreover, dance is a shared passion for Jeff and me. We're both longtime San Francisco Ballet subscribers and aficionados, he takes ballet classes and tweets regularly about dance, and I was an avid folk dancer (mostly contra dancing and modern Western square dancing, the latter to the Challenge-2 level) for many years. 

I may not have the specific dance-related training or knowledge of the other staff at the magazine, but in exchange I hope to bring a fresh perspective along with my managerial experience. I'm looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to keep learning.
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All the best for your new appointment!  =)
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After 38 straight wins at the federal level, a federal judge today broke the streak, finding Louisiana's marriage ban to be constitutional. The opinion is not only outside the mainstream of both jurisprudence and public opinion, it's an ugly example of anti-gay bigotry in an of itself, and betrays a horrifying ignorance of the actual text of the Constitution, by a federal judge.

The judge refers to homosexuality as one of several "lifestyle choices"; intuits a slippery slope to legalized incestuous marriages and polygamy; and opines that gay people can be barred from marriage because it's important for the state to link kids to both biological parents in an intact family structure (even though the state of Lousiana doesn't 1) require couples who have children together to marry; 2) ban those parents from divorcing; or 3) ban non-biological parents from adopting).

The judge also bases his legal arguments largely on the dissenting opinions in other cases. The dissenting opinions are from the side that lost; to cite those arguments, and to ignore the majority opinions, which are the actual precedents that should be applied, suggests that his reasoning is not based in sound jurisprudence, but in personal animus.

The judge also betrays that he doesn't even know the language of the 14th amendment, or misunderstands the meaning of the word "expressly," writing that "Heightened scrutiny was warranted in Loving because the Fourteenth Amendment expressly condemns racial discrimination as a constitutional evil; in short, the Constitution specifically bans differentiation based on race." 

In fact, "race" is not expressly mentioned in the 14th Amendment. This is what the 14th Amendment actually says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". Note the words used: "all persons," "citizens of the United States," "any person," "equal protection." (One could argue that the 14th Amendment was "implicitly" about race, though clearly not "expressly," and in any case it has routinely been used by the Supreme Court to address all sorts of equal protection issues, not just those involving racial discrimination.)

To this judge, then, LGBT people and same-sex couples essentially are non-people and non-citizens.
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Was it just me, or did Travis Wall's gorgeous and moving opening number for So You Think You Can Dance feel like a tribute to marriage equality?

Group Performance: Top 4 Perform | SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE | FOX BROADCASTING
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Fantastic, celestially beautiful, well done!
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"Also opening is Love Is Strange. There is no nudity. There are no sexual situations. The drug or alcohol material mostly consists of adults having wine with dinner, or cocktails at a bar. There is no violence or gore. There are several scenes of men kissing, and two scenes of a gay couple sleeping together, fully clothed, in bed. It is rated R.

"...Not only is there nothing violent in Love Is Strange, there's not even anything explicit. It is about as mild and mainstream a portrayal of gay life as you can imagine. Ben, played by John Lithgow, is a 71-year-old retiree. George, played by Alfred Molina, is a music teacher at a Catholic school. In the film, they have been together for nearly 40 years (until, in a unfair and sudden reversal of fortune, they lose their apartment).

"It's a simple human story. And it is very hard to imagine that — if it starred, say, Robert Duvall and Jane Fonda as a similar long-time couple suddenly facing homelessness — it would be lumped in with movies crammed full of queasily stylish sexism and sickening torture porn.

"...This is a gentle, if often heartbreaking story about two loving men in a long-time committed relationship. What on earth is in it that so horrifies the MPAA?

"I'm sorry. I think I just answered my own question."

http://www.nj.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2014/08/why_the_mpaa_thinks_all_gay_people_should_be_rated_r.html
What is the MPAA trying to protect our children from? This week offers a disturbing answer
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ARMAGAYDDON: Witty Irish marriage equality video inspired by zombie films.

"The weddings were... unbelievable. I felt just completely underdressed." "And the cakes were... they were..." "Amazing."

LGBT Noise March for Marriage - 24th August 2014
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Ever so true. I've noticed the Zombgay fear myself. Chears.
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Virginia's Catholic bishops were quick to denounce today's ruling from the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, making sure to write that "those with same-sex attractions must be treated with respect and sensitivity" one sentence before going on to imply that gay people must, in fact, be treated with a lack of respect and a lack of sensitivity by being denied equal access to the laws and to the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. 

In fact, by categorizing gay people not as "gay" but merely as "those with same-sex attractions" (and its attendant implication that we must never ever act on those "objectively disordered" attractions) the bishops contradict their call for respect and sensitivity IN THE VERY SAME SENTENCE in which they say it is required.

I'm glad that rank-and-file Catholics as a rule are more respectful and sensitive than the bishops (lay Catholics actually support marriage equality at a higher rate than the general public), but I'm tired nonetheless of this ugly message from the church hierarchy and its assumptions that the secular law must require all of us to comport with one sect's dogma.

http://www.richmonddiocese.org/2014/7/headlines/va-bishops-statement-flawed-marriage-decision-federal-appeals-court
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Work
Occupation
Social media director, Marriage Equality USA, and columnist, SF Bay Times
Skills
Electronic and Online Communications, Social Media | Verbal and Written Communication | Education and Training | Internet, Intranet, and Web Services | Project and Program Management | Strategic and Operational Planning
Employment
  • SF Bay Times
    Columnist, 2013 - present
    For this bi-weekly San Francisco Bay Area LGBT newspaper, I write a column devoted to marriage equality and related issues. My columns appear in print once to twice monthly.
  • Marriage Equality USA
    Social media director, 2010 - present
    Marriage Equality USA is a volunteer-driven national grassroots organization whose mission is to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, at the federal and state level, without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation. In a full-time but unpaid capacity, I develop the organization’s social media strategies and oversee its social media presence; write and edit articles, blog and social media posts, and other published materials; and provide supplemental editorial, design, and technical support to the media, web, news, and policy staff. I also speak to local audiences and to local and national media about civil marriage equality.
  • Golden Gate University (GGU)
    Website product manager, 2007 - 2008
    Golden Gate University (GGU) specializes in taxation, business, law, and accounting education for professionals entering or advancing their careers. At GGU, I oversaw the University’s e-commerce web site, product planning, and day-to-day site operations; chartered and oversaw, with the CIO, the University’s web governance committee; chartered and oversaw an initiative to plan GGU’s next-generation web site, updating the University’s web site positioning, content strategy, and necessary features and functionality; created strategic and tactical plans for future direction of web application development; led product management, application development, and customer experience design; managed a team of developers and led cross-functional team coordination with other IT department managers, and marketing, operations, and academic departments.
  • University of California San Francisco (UCSF)
    Web communications manager, 2006 - 2007
    UCSF, the only UC campus in the statewide system dedicated exclusively to the health sciences, is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide. At UCSF I was responsible for managerial oversight for the official University web site, and for all Public Affairs web sites and services as well. Specifically, I managed expansion and development of new products, including Science Café, an award-winning podcast on the conduct, communication, and culture of science; planned web development strategy and managed various content-rich projects; oversaw evaluation and adoption of web applications; advised on proper information architecture; managed a team of developers and content providers, guiding the unit toward adoption of best practices with an eye toward increasing traffic, analyzing impact of content, gathering audience data, and raising the level of user satisfaction; and developed and promoted University-wide web policies and procedures.
  • U. S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute
    Management and program analyst, 2002 - 2006
    The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is the division of the U.S. Department of State that trains American diplomats for service abroad, both in face-to-face classroom settings and via multimedia and online computer-based instruction. In addition to my responsibilities as a management analyst at FSI, I also oversaw the development and operation of the Institute’s web sites, six digital multimedia language learning labs, and a digital audio recording studio. Specifically, I identified, developed, and led projects concerning development of web policy and procedures, and advised on regulations pursuant to Internet usage in the agency; analyzed and interpreted quantitative and qualitative data and produced analytical reports on training effectiveness, customer satisfaction, appropriate use of technology for training, etc.; planned and coordinated design and development of web-based educational projects and training programs; and managed the civil service and government contractor staff responsible for technical and procedural administration of the web sites, multimedia labs, and studio. At FSI, I received six awards for services on behalf of the Institute’s schools and the Executive Office for Management, and “for implementing innovative approaches for leveraging technology, allowing FSI to rapidly produce online surveys, assessments, and course evaluations.”
  • MDLinx.com
    Chief Technology Officer (CTO), 2000 - 2001
    As an original member of the executive management team for this healthcare information start-up company providing daily clinical news and research information to physicians and other healthcare professionals, I was heavily involved in the company’s strategic direction, with particular responsibility for the planning, development, and oversight of new technology products and services. During my tenure, I was responsible for designing, building, and delivering a network of web sites and specialty newsletters more than a year earlier than projected by outside consultants, through the development of an integrated in-house platform. This platform permitted monthly increases for specialty web site development by 400-500% and for new newsletters by as much as 4,000-8,000%. Even these figures were limited only by editorial staffing constraints; incremental technology costs to develop and launch sites had become almost negligible with the new platform. I also was responsible for dramatic increases in web traffic (1,800% over 18 months), email newsletter delivery (over 1,750%), number of monthly newsletters, and registered users, despite concurrent decreases in the IT departmental budget.
  • Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
    Director, Electronic Communications, 1999 - 2000
    For the nationwide U.S. public television system, I led the strategic development and growth of electronic communications services and directed ongoing operations to meet communications and information management needs; proposed, developed, communicated, and administered system policies; analyzed trends in order to identify, develop, and maintain training and support mechanisms; developed and administered budget; managed staff and their ongoing development; and served as chief spokesperson and ombudsman for PBS electronic communications services, representing PBS at conferences, identifying and developing communication vehicles and feedback mechanisms among stations and between stations and PBS, and facilitating resolution of issues.
  • Assoc. of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
    Director of Web Resources, 1996 - 1999
    For the trade association representing U.S. medical schools, I participated in the leadership and management of the Office of Information Resources and was an active member of a task force charged with the articulation, development, and evolution of an architectural framework and appropriate strategies for development, use, and support of electronic information resources and services. I oversaw the technical design and implementation, staff development, and management for the AAMC public Internet, a private staff-only Intranet, and multiple private constituent web sites. I was promoted from Electronic Information Specialist to Manager of Web Resources in May 1997 and from Manager to Director in September 1998.
  • Assoc. of America's Public Television Stations (APTS)
    Information and Computer Services Manager
  • Community Therapeutic Day School (CTDS)
  • Harvard Medical School Department of Psychopharmacology
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Currently
Daly City, CA
Previously
Covington, VA - Cambridge, MA - Somerville, MA - Boston, MA - Alexandria, VA - Washington, DC - Arlington, VA
Story
Tagline
Magazine managing editor. Gamer. Reader. Writer. Civil rights advocate/activist. Secularist/humanist/atheist. Gay. Amateur baker. Dance/musical theater fan. Married to Jeff Tabaco.
Introduction
Born in Covington, Virginia.

Educated at Harvard University.

Lived and worked in Boston and Cambridge; Northern Virginia and Washington, DC; and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Employers have included Harvard Medical School, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), MDLinx.com, U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute, University of California San Francisco, Golden Gate University, Marriage Equality USA, and Dance Studio Life magazine.
Bragging rights
My now-husband and I were profiled in a 2013 amicus curiae brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of finding California's anti-gay Proposition 8 unconstitutional. We also have been interviewed by local, state, and national media about LGBT equality and the freedom to marry; and I used to write a column about marriage equality for a San Francisco LGBT newspaper.
Education
  • Harvard University
  • Alleghany County High School
  • Falling Spring Elementary
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
Burlen Watson, Tom Watson, Tommy Watson
Our health insurance provider requires that we have our BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose measured. As home-based employees, Walgreens -- as a partner organization -- is our best option for having this done. There's an online appointment system, on Walgreens' own site. We made and confirmed our appointments days ago for 8:30 and 9:00 this morning, and fasted beforehand as required. I took time off from work. We got to the Walgreens at 8:20 to be told that they don't see anyone before 11:00 regardless of having an appointment or not, and that we'd have to come back; I can't afford to take more time off today, after they've already wasted the hour I had gotten permission to take off this morning, especially with no assurance that they'll even see me in a timely fashion if I just show up when they wouldn't honor an actual confirmed appointment. And we could overhear a very surly pharmacist complaining about us having shown up with appointments to the technician to whom we'd presented our paperwork when we arrived and whom he made send us away rather than even talking to us ourselves (we'd just seen this same pharmacist a few minutes earlier being extremely impatient with an elderly man who was there to get a prescription refilled, as well).
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