Saturday, November 29, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Also, gas across the street is $1.99. I'm sure it hasn't been that long since I last saw that, but it sure seems like an eternity, and I take some little encouragement from it.
Friday, November 21, 2008
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton"
---As of today, the NYT reports that HRC will, in fact, accept the position of Secretary of State. Yay!
---Since the naming of Eric Holder (a fine candidate) to AG, it has been confirmed that our beloved Janet is Obama's top pick for SHS. If she can't pass the vet, well, I don't know what to tell you. What are they gonna say- she's some kind of lesbian or something? Ha ha. I'll say this one's a done deal.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Also, despite refusing to stay the current application of Prop 8, the CA Supreme Court has agreed to hear all three suits proposing to overturn it. Good news indeed.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I have dealt with an inordinate amount of human loss, as many of you know, and while the concept of an afterlife is something I'd probably desperately like to believe in, it just doesn't jive with my concept of what is and what is to be. Generally, I can't cling to it for humans, and maybe part of that is because human life is so complex, the notion that our awareness continues indefinitely is not altogether pleasing.
Yet, imagine for just a moment the notion of Saavik, whose huge and free personality was trapped in a crippled and somewhat immobile little bird body, finally being freed in death and finally becoming able to spread those atrophied little wings and take to the sky. I mean, how can I resist that thought? Who cares if it stands against all of my assumptions about the nature of life and death.... it is a poetic and comforting notion despite the cognitive dissonance it creates.
I'm sure it's odd to think that someone might have an easier time believing in an afterlife for animals than for humans. But I don't believe in a lot of things, like reincarnation in the conventional sense, yet it is easier for me to imagine reincarnation for animals than for humans. For us, it sounds like an overly complicated process, given the differences among human beings. Yet for animals, it kind of makes sense. What if a bird dies, and its little bird soul enters a new hatchling? Neat and tidy.
Eh. I dunno. The point is, I obviously don't believe in all that. But when it comes to the purity and innocence of an animal, it is very hard for me to imagine that just blinking out and going nowhere. I mean, I do believe in a sort of post-mortem reuptake of energy and matter into the energy and matter that make up everything, some would consider that a limited form of reincarnation or an extremely limited form of afterlife. It doesn't seem too weird to me to think that an animal's consciousness, however limited, goes on; so why does it seem so weird that my own consciousness could also continue on?
Perhaps it is because of the difference in consciousness between animals and humans. It's not as if Saavik is analyzing her situation in the afterlife, should that in fact be where she now resides. She's probably just flying back to the jungle from whence her ancestors came, happy as a clam in mud. Now, if I were to die, and still be aware of things.... brr. Don't much care for it. I'm analytical enough now as it is. I guess I could grow to like the idea that I would enter into a euphoric state immediately upon my death, or an all-encompassing state that would have no emergent characteristics at all. But it still doesn't ring true for me.
Perhaps it is because I grew up with the notions of God and heaven and hell, and now believe that I would probably go to hell should such a thing exist and the criteria actually rest upon faith! Ha ha. Although even when I believed in the notion of heaven, and that I was headed in that direction, I rejected it. It was never reason enough for me to stay in service to my God of old once I obliterated my faith with questions, and it never could be now. I mean, I grew up with a lot of other notions too, and one was that the literal heaven and hell were probably mischaracterizations or exaggerations of afterlife states revealed by God that we humans couldn't describe or understand very well. That still makes more sense to me than the literal version.
Well, as usual, I've turned a little blurb into a dissertation. But I'm learning, and what I've learned here is that my desires, what I want life and death to mean, still shape my views on life and death more than I would care to admit. I just don't know if that is a bad thing or not... for example, I have always taken comfort in my mom's faith since her death. There is a part of me that wonders how it could not mean anything at all to believe so strongly in a loving Savior and that you'd be with him, in his arms, in the instant of your death. My mom believed that with all her heart, used to joyously sing songs about it in fact, and if there is any order to the universe it is hard to imagine that her faith amounted to nothing upon her death.
To that end, maybe the afterlife is exactly what you believe in life that it will be? That's a creepy thought too, but one that others have certainly advanced. I mean, our perception completely shapes our understanding and experience of life, so if our consciousness is perpetuated, couldn't it also shape our experience of afterlife? In that case, however, it'd be hard to advocate for an afterlife for animals as it is doubtful they spend much time cogitating on the possibility. For that matter, same thing for babies and children who leave us just as they come in to the world. Doesn't seem right to think that babies just blink out simply because they haven't been around enough to worry about their own mortality yet. Or that crazy religious zealots get to enter into bliss while perfectly decent people who tend to no faith merely disappear. Toss that idea. :)
Well... this has accomplished nothing other than making me feel uncomfortable about the influence my personal desires can have on my existential beliefs. :) I guess I still feel it's improbable that my best feathered friend is now flying free, happily munching on fresh tropical fruit and finding herself a handsome bird boyfriend in the jungle, but I like the idea too much to let go of it just yet. :)
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The day I sent my first law school applications in for review.
The day I got my components back in working order.
The day I saw hundreds of thousands around the US and the world take to the streets in the hope that people like me will eventually be able to be legally married to the ones we love.
The day I saw up close all the different kinds of people engaged in that fight, and knew two things for certain - there is nothing dividing us, not race, religion, or anything else, that can't be overcome; and yes, it really is just a matter of time, and the clock, history, and now the momentum are all on our side.
Today was the day I felt so proud of Katie for marching alone in Phoenix. I mean, she didn't go by herself, she was with friends. but nobody dragged her there. She got up early and went because she wanted to go and thought it was important, and she marched from the City Hall to the Capitol and back (if you know Phoenix, that's hella far). That's my girl. :)
Today was my good friend's 30th birthday. She's accomplished so much, I hope she's proud of herself, though I know those warm fuzzies are in short supply these days. Anyways, I'm proud of her.
Today was, sadly, also the day I lost my sweet, funny little birdie. She died sometime this evening and Katie just found her a bit ago. I'm still all weepy over it and probably will be for days. If any of you all out there are thinking to yourselves, "What the heck? A bird? Who cares?" let me tell you her story. Try not to get all weepy yourself! :)
Her name was Saavik, (after the Star Trek character. Thanks, mom) and she was a beautiful blue-fronted Amazon parrot. My mom got her when I was 6 or 7 years old, and boy, was she a talker... she had quite the vocabulary in those days. I think the previous owner said she was somewhere between 3 and 5, so, let's say she was a little bit younger than me today, probably close to 30. If you don't know, those sorts of birds can live to be 60 and older if they don't have any health problems.
Unfortunately, Saavik did have health problems. When I was 10, and I'll say she was about 7 or 8, she got lead poisoning from chewing on her cage. She had seizures and was foaming at the mouth, and my mom and I rushed her to the vet, where she was diagnosed as very near death. We were told that she could probably be saved, but the treatment would be extremely expensive. My mom was beside herself and somehow talked my grandparents into coughing up many thousands of dollars for the treatment and medication that she required. She stayed at the vet for two weeks, got a little better (out of the woods anyways) and we were finally allowed to take her home.
She was never the same again, however. The poisoning had crippled her for life, and stripped her of her vocabulary. When we got her back, she was so weak. She couldn't even stand and learned to drag herself forward with her beak. For a long time, she lived in a little kennel in my mom's bedroom, because she was too weak to climb or move her wings or do any of the stuff that permits birds to get around in a cage. For months, we had to give her physical therapy: we would lay her on her little bird back and massage her twisted little feet and work her little bird legs for her. We had to hand feed her, bathe her, do everything for her. In those days, we took her everywhere. Sweet little soul. She took it all in stride.
As time passed, she improved a lot. She could never flap her wings again, but she eventually could sort of shrug them and that was really cute. Her little feet were twisted and gnarled for life from the paralysis, but eventually she stood upright just fine and could walk around on the ugly little things, in time gaining enough balance to stand on a perch. The amazing thing about her was her toughness and brightness, she just kept going, and every single thing that made her weak, she compensated for in some other way. Since her feet didn't really work, she used her beak to climb, to balance, and to steady her movements, and after a while got a nice muscular neck going, so she could do everything pretty much as well as any normal (less special) bird. :)
She never got her vocabulary back, but in time she created a whole new lexicon of sounds and would whistle a whole song for you if you gave her the chance. Her favorite was the wolf whistle, which she was just showing off for Katie's mom the other day. She loved all kinds of music, and more than anything, she loved to dance. Her favorite thing in the whole world was if you'd come up to her cage and whistle or hum, and sway back and forth from side to side. She would just dance and dance, swaying right along with you, doing this crazy thing where she turned her head back at a most improbable angle over and over again, shrugging her little shoulders. Aw hell, I miss her so much already. I'm totally crying now.
Saavik lived with my grandma for a long time after my mom died, until my grandma died in fact, and the two of them just brought each other such joy. Now that is a memory that makes me smile. My grandma loved the crap out of that bird, pretty much everyone did who spent any time around her. Just ask Katie if she was any kind of bird lover before, or would've described a bird as having any kind of bird personality, much less an incredible one. LOL! Katie remarked on how much joy and fun we all had together, and how the bird is probably now reunited with my grandma and my cousin Virginia who just passed away, squawking while they try to play cards.
I have a million memories of the bird that make me want to bawl right now, but that will no doubt make me laugh my head off one day. I won't bore you with all of them, but I will share just one. One night, Katie and I are making dinner, and I start singing the guitar riff from "Wipe-out" to the bird (one of her favorites). The bird loves this stuff and starts to dance like a crazy bird. I get a big kick out of this and go sing to her and dance with her at the edge of the kitchen, where her cage stands. She loves this and starts singing along, and she and I are just singin' and dancin' up a blue streak. Then our fat cat Cecil gets jealous and decides she wants in on the action, jumps up on the table next to me and starts standing on her hind legs and pawing at the air and mewling along with us. The three of us are dancing and singing our asses off, Katie and I are dying laughing, and Katie just says, "I love you guys".
That's the kind of joy she brought into our home. I will probably write more about her later (believe it or not), but for now I'm honestly just exhausted and heartbroken. She was so sweet, so personable and funny, a tough little cookie, and just a bundle of happiness for the cost of a peanut. And that's why she will forever be missed.
In honor of Saavik, who was much loved and made us so happy, here's the close of a poem Percy Shelley wrote in honor of another happy bird:
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Yet, if we could scorn
Hate and pride and fear,
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know;
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
This is a pretty well-known picture of a crucial moment from our 2006 ceremony, which took place on the roof of our apartment building in LA due to some traffic-related technical difficulties. Just below Katie's wrist, among the cranes and buildings of West LA, is the Mormon Temple, where a lot of the hoopla's been going on out there. Isn't that a hoot? I want to email this to the Mormon Church and see what they think about it! LMAO!
Rep. Niki Tsongas, speaking at Boston City Hall during today's action.
I am extremely encouraged by the changing face of "gay-rights" activism. It used to be that no sane straight person would walk the streets with a bunch of 'mos in ActUp t-shirts. Then, for a long time, the PFLAG wing of straightdom (i.e. my mom/son/brother is gay + the supportive straight opinion leaders) would be well-reflected in our public events. Now, it truly does seem that we've built a broader coalition than ever.... straight kids with no personal interest in our cause other than feeling it's the right thing, alongside religious leaders and adherents who believe that faith compels tolerance, alongside people of all colors and backgrounds (contrary to the suggestions of all the recent hoopla, they're out there in the streets with us too!), even grandparents and teachers and union workers, all sorts came out today to show support.
You all know that I believe this battle must be fought and won in the courts, but if THIS ain't progress, call me crazy, I don't know what progress is.
BUT... I sent it first because of all that it represents, and also for the practical reason that every extra minute in front of the reviewers is definitely useful when applying to a top 5 school.
After a bit more work, I have three apps on deck, ready to go, and three more that I anticipate I will be done with by the end of this weekend.
Then, after long last, I'll be done! And then..... I'll have the joy of waiting around for months, to receive what will probably 3 or 4 rejection letters out of 7 schools, and then I'll get to agonize over where I should go out of the winners! :D
Point is, somethin's comin'! I feel happy, and proud, and crazy, exhausted, and weird.
Friday, November 14, 2008
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton"
"Attorney General Janet Napolitano"
It's almost like I'm playing "Fantasy Presidential Administration 2008"!
PS: LOL@ Wolf Blitzer and his wrong sound bite just now!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I guess it comes down to abolishing something so sacred to many....and just removing the word marriage all together. Of course I am sure some of you guys will still protest about that too...why now? when gays come around you want to change the system huh? Its a religious thing....not personal..
Posted by HassaN | November 12, 2008 11:40 AM
Very, very rarely do I see anyone point out the most obvious answer to all of this nonsense...remove the word "marriage" from all civil statute/regulation/law verbiage.
Mating pairs predate religion and religion predates nation-state governments. Marriage is a religious ceremony that got absorbed into government, not the other way around.
Take the word "marriage" out of all the laws and statutes and require those that want to gain the legal benefits get both the civil and the religious if they so choose. That pretty much ends the argument in a simple, pragmatic way.
However...there's a simple problem with that. If you're going to open what we now consider as "marriage" to mean more than a man and a woman because of "seperate but legal" or "equal protection" arguments, what do you then say to the woman who wants to marry two men, or the man who wants to marry two men (etc etc)? Why should a threesome "marriage" be any less valid than a twosome? I can think of many reasons why it would be BETTER to pool the resources of three incomes and efforts than it is for two. Why should multiple-partner marriages be valid as well?
Posted by Scott | November 12, 2008 8:29 AM
I really appreciate your response. I don't take anything you said personally, I responded because a lot of people are led to think that the current statuses are equal when in fact they're just not.
A very big thing for me, is that I highly respect people's right to worship as they choose, and I don't want to take anything away from anyone or desecrate something that is sacred to someone's religious beliefs... I just want to make sure that my family is protected *by the government* in a manner that is equal to the protections afforded other families. If they want to call it something else, I don't really care what it is called, they can call it a "big fat gay wedding" or a "totally non-religious government union" or whatever they like as long as everyone has the exact same protections!
There is no way that the government can force a religious organization to perform gay marriages if they are opposed to such a thing, so nobody's altars will have to be stained with the taint of gay-ness if the church so determines. :) At the end of the day, it is enshrined in our Constitution that government doesn't force religions to do things, and it also states that religions (even majority ones) don't inform the policies of government.
I can't speak for what some or all gays would protest, I can simply say what the legal arguments are and how a separate but equal civil status would likely play out in the courts. I personally don't think I would mind too much if I truly had all of the exact same rights, but it seems likely based on legal precedent that it couldn't stay that way for long. State by state progress is definitely encouraging, but it's kind of annoying to think that if my partner and I were married here, our protections would evaporate every time we went on vacation, unless we wanted to vacation in exotic Connecticut. :)
Anyways, I appreciate your honesty. :)
If civil marriage is separate from religious institutional marriage (which it currently is in most senses), then there should be no need for anyone to receive *government* benefits based on a religious ceremony (which in fact is also the case now - you obtain the legal benefits by virtue of your government marriage certificate, with or without the religious blessing). You couldn't just go into a church, get married by a religious official, and be considered legally married without following up and certifying your civil marriage with the government.
In light of this, it actually makes a great deal of sense to have two different words for the religious ceremony and the legal compact. However, my guess is that many married folk would be annoyed to have their existing marriage somehow "downgraded" to a civil union, probably even more than they are annoyed that gay civil unions might be "upgraded" to marriages. Language matters to us a great deal, doesn't it?
Quite personally, and from a civil-libertarian standpoint, I take no issue with the idea that committed polyamorous people (ha, I almost typed 'couples') should be able to designate the scope of their own families for legal purposes. However, you clearly couldn't call that a marriage! ;)
Just kidding, I was trying to make a point. Call it whatever you want. Maybe that can be a "totally non-religious government union" too. It doesn't matter what I think about other people's lives and relationships, at least not from the standpoint of what the government does or how it acts. Why should it matter what we *personally* feel distasteful about or are religiously opposed to, when what we're talking about here are agreements between individuals and the government?
Either of you, or anyone else, please feel free to comment on my blog if you want to discuss further, it's certainly not my intent to hijack the page!
PS - BIG thumbs down for ANYONE blaming AAs or some other random group for this electoral outcome. I promise you that this opinion, while it may exist among the ranks of gay people and others, is NOT a representative one, for whatever that matters. Our anger at this outcome would be much better directed at the specific efforts of organized religion, and it would be much better applied as outreach and informative efforts than as hate. How totally counter-productive it is to act hateful towards those who hate us, those kind of actions solve nothing and reap no positives!!!
I haven't quite digested the issues involved in Gay marriages. I suspect many African Americans went into the voting boots uninformed as well. In so far as the issue is about names, meaning gays are whining about the word marriage itself rather than equal benefits and treatments then I suspect there is no real discrimination... I don't understand why Gay's would be unhappy with the word Civil Unions or any other word such as Domestic Partnership for statutes that represent them, if they have equal treatments. Its quite ludicrous to demand names....its quite silly. And please don't equate this with racism, marriage is custom practiced by heterosexuals. I assure you this is not a way to discriminate you but you are gay....its reality...You should demand equal treatments and benefits not equal names....so silly.
Posted by Hassa | November 11, 2008 8:14 PM
There are three reasons why "civil unions" and "domestic partnerships" are not an acceptable alternative, although they constitute an admitted improvement over no familial protections whatsoever...
1) With few exceptions, most DPs do not provide all the same rights of marriage within the state or locality that institutes them. Most civil unions do provide an equal level of protection, on the state level only. Which leads to....
2) Even if all 50 states had full-fledged civil unions, only the marriage rights and benefits controlled by the states would be applied. NO Federal rights of any kind would apply, and there are more than 1,000 Federally-sanctioned benefits to the status of marriage. A very relevant one for many people is being able to marry (or civilly unite with) your partner who is from another country. Impossible for LGBT people without full Federal marriage. Which leads to...
3) If at some point, there exists a Federal-level civil union status that is equal to marriage in all but name, it will be subject to the "separate but equal" legal argument; this argument was successfully used in the Connecticut Supreme Court to convert civil unions into equal marriage.
The practices and "customs" of "heterosexual" marriage are far less homogenous than anyone should suppose without plenty of research. And in the end, it comes down to more than a name, it comes down to a class distinction. How would you feel if AAs couldn't get married, but could only get "blarried", with limited rights and benefits as opposed to everyone else? Sure, you'd be pleased to have some protections, but some part of you would hope that someday, the government at least, and society at best, would recognize your "blarriage" as a marriage.
Also, and I can't believe I almost forgot this, the legal status of DPs and civil unions is so complicated in most places that GLBT folk are advised to seek legal counsel before entering into one so that they'll be aware of what they're getting into. For example: I live in Boston, but I'm moving next summer to go to law school. My partner and I could get married here, and our marriage would be fully legal in the state, but not for Federal purposes. If I go to school in NY, most institutions (but not all, and who knows which ones) will recognize our marriage. If I move to DC, we can have a DP, but who knows if we have to dissolve our marriage to get a DP, or if it automatically converts. If we move to CA, well, just who knows at this point LOL. If we moved to most other places, our marriage would simply cease to exist, but still be in existence in the state of Massachusetts. It's so complicated, and there's just no need when it is a government contract we are demanding and nothing more. There's very little about it that is actually "silly". :)
Having said all that, thank you for asking the questions. :)
Today all the chatter includes nuggets like these....
"Is Sarah Palin the party's last, best hope?"
"Who will lead the party now? Who can be its intellectual leader?"
----"Maybe John Boehner?"
"I think Mitt Romney would have a great chance of getting the nomination in 2012."
Oh, God. They just kill me. Here's hoping it's all true and that this sad-clown cast of characters really constitutes the best and brightest of the Repulican Party.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
An 8-year-old Arizona boy charged with murdering his father and another man appeared in court on Monday. Police say the boy confessed to shooting the two men with a .22-caliber gun, but his defense attorneys told reporters that "there could have been improper interview techniques done." What's the "proper" way to interrogate a kid?
Read the full article here.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Marcia DeSanctis | HuffPost
Barack Obama is now the face of the United States - the photograph we will see when we go through customs at JFK airport, or when we go to any U.S. Embassy on earth. The impact of this image, particularly at first, will be subtle, but immeasurable and its iconographic significance is multi-layered. He might refer to himself self-deprecatingly as a "mutt," but he is in effect, Globalized Man. With parts coming from all around the earth, passing through Asia on the way back to America, our new President now seems inevitable - this is the way the world is in 2008. But perhaps of even larger importance is that the leader of the world's greatest democracy was a professor of constitutional law and above all, a teacher. The Constitution - as in, the foundation of any functioning democracy - is his area of expertise. As such, he embodies the best possible advertisement for democracy at a time when the world needs it most and our country could benefit from, as Bill Clinton put it, the "power of example" rather than the "example of power."
Read the rest of the article here.
Posted in response to the comments on Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog:
As a gay white activist for many different sorts of causes, all I have to say is this: if, in fact, African-Americans voted overwhelmingly to pass Prop 8, as seems to have been the case, then that choice has far, far less to do with the color of anyone's skin than with the potent influence of religion on African-American culture.
We could all sit around for an eternity debating the minutiae of the results, who turned out to vote, how they voted, etc. In the end, we as a community either have to reach out to people of faith (of *all* varieties), or hope that the courts will overturn what seems to be an unconstitutional implementation of religious principle as public policy. Maybe better, both.
It's important to note that people of faith understand the fear of persecution just as powerfully as those who are perhaps more genuinely oppressed in our times. However, they have been taught to believe that we want to take away something that God gave especially to them... That sense of privilege will be difficult to overcome.
If it turns out that the judicial system has not yet evolved enough to fully support the equal recognition of the gay community, then our "target" should be the faith community, and the application should be one of outreach and establishing common ground, not blind rage.
I don't mean to say that the effort will be won on the ground, because like all other equal protection issues, this one will have to be decided in the courts in order to find enforcement. Regardless, we *can* benefit from broader support on the ground, and however amusing it may be to laugh at Mormons' magic underwear, or however easy it may be to target statistics about the African-American vote, directing our collective anger at narrow groups of people can hardly broaden our coalition. We have to channel this passion in productive directions.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
-For those who say that the CA Sup Ct should have weighed in on the measure's legality before it was passed: just such a challenge was filed, and the Court declined to review it, as it has not been the practice of the Court to review initiative measures before they are approved by the electorate.
-There are lots and lots of people who feel very pessimistic about the legal challenge, and I'd like to make clear one very simple thing: based on the equal protection admonitions of the May 2008 decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the first place, Prop 8 was clearly unconstitutional at the time of its passage. This is one of many points argued in the petition, and I frankly believe it is the one that will appeal to the Court's sense of purpose.
-People have been focusing on the argument that Prop 8 constitutes a revision as opposed to an amendment. If the Court determines that it was, in fact, a revision, then it would have required a passage through 2/3 of the legislature, and would not stand. While this is a reasonable assertion, it is arguable whether the scope of Prop 8 can be interpreted to be broad enough to constitute a revision. The revision argument makes sense from an equal protection / due process / civil rights perspective, which admittedly was the original rationale of the Court's decision. However, I think it could be successfully argued that since the language of the amendment is so finite and affects only one section of the Constitution, it does not constitute a revision.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Look... It does me no good to walk down the street and get 20 people to agree that I am a perfectly nice lesbian and a decent American who has the right to marry my partner of many years. There are another 20 (at least) waiting around the corner to try to ex-gay me, to physically assault me, to call me a fat dyke, to tell me I'm confused, to explain why their deity has compelled them to vote away my rights again and again, to shriek that I am taking something special away from them, to shield their children from my gaze, to openly express distaste, and to impose their personal beliefs on my civil life. Somewhere, my gay brethren assert, there are another ten lurking about in the shadows, another ten who are ambivalent, or on the fence, or don't really care what anybody does, or sort of think that being gay is gross but don't really mind if we want to get married, or think that marriage is kind of stupid and that it's odd we would desire it, or "have some gay friends" and are sympathetic but kind of think that marriage is a hetero thing. These ten, my comrades assert, are the prizes. Whoever wins their support will have the ever-so-treasured majority of public opinion.
Um, fuckin' ridiculous. I reject that completely. It's supposed to be my job to convince people who don't really give a shit about anything, or whose distaste for me is merely mild or generic or solely secular in nature, that I'm a whole person and an equal American citizen? Hell with that. My optimistic brethren assert that simply by living long enough among these 10 people, and even among some of the nastier 20, that American gays will win hearts and minds, like the nice and funny gays on Will and Grace did. We're harmless, we're normal, we're jolly, we sweetly and docilely wait on the sidelines for our fair shake. We would never sue you. Come see us in our natural habitats, from WeHo, the Village, and the Castro, on into the suburbs and rural America. Gosh, we're just like you!
This may sound terrible... but I don't need any of those 50 people to be OK with my sexuality, my relationships, my personal "choices", or my "lifestyle". Granted, it can be surprising, encouraging, and make a great difference in my day, or my life, when I encounter the supportive ones; however, that support neither solely nor primarily endows me with the freedom to live my life as I see fit, no matter how it alleviates my burden and lifts my spirits. Only the rule of law can guarantee that, and when it comes to minority rights, that rule is not up to the majority; thank goodness, because the majority rarely espouses the rights of the minority, particularly in the case where as pervasive an influence as the Church has convinced them that we are taking something away from them that God gave especially to them. I do not blame all believers, and I have been personally buoyed by many who gave their time, money, and understanding to our cause. In fact, I don't much tend to blame the people themselves, even the nasty ones. They are only repeating what they have been taught, on the behalf of an Authority that they believe is absolute.
Which brings me to my point... there will be plenty of people who can never be convinced that we deserve equality, just as surely as there are blatant racists in our country today, even after all of the progress that has been made. The black man sitting at the lunch counter didn't need the white patrons to feel great about him sitting there, though it surely couldn't have hurt; he needed the power of the law, the edicts of the court behind him, to make certain they knew that no matter what they felt about it, he had the right to sit there just as they did. The black girl ascending the steps into the school filled with white students didn't need the other students or their parents to be okay with her presence, although if they had been, maybe she wouldn't have needed the armed detail; she needed only for them to understand that the law was on her side, and she was acting as it was her right to do. This was her right, which many would say was "God-given"; this was her right, in fact hers by birth as an American citizen, anyone's religious beliefs notwithstanding.
Just as relevant, if perhaps less palatable to many: John Lawrence and Tyron Gardner didn't need the Texas cops who barged into the apartment to be happy about catching them entwined; they simply needed the court to make it perfectly clear that what they were doing was no crime. Remember this, if you start to feel too optimistic about our current situation; these men were arrested ten years ago, and the case was decided a touch over five years ago. Up until that point, it was still illegal to engage in homosexual activity in several states. FIVE YEARS AGO. In fact, the 2000 measure to ban gay marriage in the California civil code, with the much-touted 61%-39% result, took place when the federal legal precedent was that gay folks had no particular rights to privacy or anything else that others enjoyed. Not terribly surprising, right? What I do find surprising is that now, eight years later, gays are no longer on trial in the legal sense, even if they remain so in the sociocultural sense, and yet, in eight years, even with our personal lives decriminalized, we've only managed to convince 9% of Californians that gay marriage is OK? Even with us "living amongst them" in domestic partnerships, first the "lite" variety, then the full-blown sort established in 2005? And even including the unknown, but possibly significant, percentage of Californians who had no problem adjusting the civil code but balked at amending the Constitution?
These people, the Californians, as a whole possibly some of the most tolerant and socially moderate people in the country, are the ones I'm supposed to trust with the basic expressions of my humanity? Can I vote to only trust half of them? The other half, or just a bit more in fact, will plainly not be reliable in that regard. But I'm supposed to break 'em down and convince them, of what, that I'm cool? Not gonna prey on their daughters? My gay male friends are OK to teach their children? And.... you want me to shout louder than the preachers in their pulpits? Because no matter how long we "live next door" or "work at the same place" or "send our kids to the same school", that sound of entitlement coming from their faiths is one I can not drown out, no matter how normal and adorable I become.
Know what? Thanks to the ACLU and friends, I won't have to, because the rule of law is on my side... and that means that someday, being accepted for who I am can go back to being a simple joy, as opposed to an obnoxious and burdensome agenda.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Update: It's a FireFox problem. I know, what's that? The sound works fine in IE.
This was my posse LOL... At this point the cops were moving us out of the Park and some kind of crazy conga line had broken out. The kids in the front were singing to the tune of "This Land Is Your Land", singing "Oh yes we can, oh yes we can... Barack Obama, Barack Obama"and the people in the back couldn't hear and were mostly just singing the regular song. LOL! This reminded me of a kind of strange inverse of when I was in high school choir and if you didn't know the words, you'd just sing "watermelon"!
Heh, this is us at the Christian Science Center Park, enthusiastically butchering the national anthem. Note the poor guy trying to conduct, and I also think you may catch a glimpse of the life-sized Obama cardboard cutout that was crowd-surfing!
Thanks to YouTube user michellezwi for posting these clips of what will no doubt be one of the most memorable events of my life.
Traditional Marriage Perverts the Tradition of Marriage
By Jeff Goode (Californian)
About a decade ago, as a young playwright, I was hired to write a script for the Renaissance Festival of Kansas City. It was a period piece about knights and jousts and intrigues of the court, building up to a lavish royal wedding between a prince and a princess, restoring peace to the troubled land.
This was one of my first professional writing assignments, so I was really excited about doing all the research and making sure that everything was historically accurate, especially the royal wedding which needed to follow all the traditions exactly.
Over a summer of research, I learned a lot of surprising facts about the history of marriage and weddings, but by far the most shocking discovery of all was that the tradition of marriage-as-we-know-it simply did not exist in those days. Almost everything we have come to associate with marriage and weddings - the white dress, the holy vows, the fancy cake and the birdseed - dates back a mere 50 or 100 years at the most. In many cases less.
And the handful of traditions that do go back farther than that are, frankly, horrifying. The tossing of the garter, for example, evolved from a 14th Century tradition of ripping the clothing off of the bride's body as she left the ceremony in order to "loosen her up" for the wedding night. Wedding guests fought over the choicest bits of undergarment, with the garter being the greatest prize.
Savvy brides got in the habit of carrying extra garters in their bodice to throw to the male guests in hopes of escaping the ceremony with some shred of modesty intact!
It turns out that marriage, in days of old, was a barbaric custom which was little more than a crude exchange of livestock at it's most civilized, and a little less than ritualized abduction at it's worst. That's why you'll find no reference to white weddings in the Bible, or the union of one man and one woman. Because up until fairly recently, there was nothing religious about it.
You will of course find plenty of biblical bigamy, practiced by even the most godly of heroes - Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon - because that's what marriage was in those days. Even in more enlightened New Testament times, the only wedding worth mentioning (the one at Cana) is notable only for the miraculous amount of wine consumed.
In the 21st Century, we've heard a lot about the sanctity of marriage, as if that were something that has been around forever, but in reality the phrase was invented in 2004. Google it for yourself and see if you can find a single reference to the "sanctity of marriage" before the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions in that state. The proverbial Sanctity of Marriage sprang into being because opponents of gay marriage needed a logical reason to overturn an established legal precedent. And the only thing that trumps the Constitution is God himself.
Unfortunately, God is still pretty new to the whole marriage game (or he might have made an honest woman out of the Virgin Mary, am I right? Try the veal!)
The truth is that marriage has always been more a secular tradition rather than a religious one. Up until the early Renaissance, in fact, couples were traditionally married on the church's front doorstep, because wedding ceremonies were considered too vulgar to be performed inside the building: After all, there was implied sex in the vows and shameless public displays of affection. No clergyman in his right mind would have allowed such an unholy abomination on the premises.
But as times changed, ideas and attitudes about marriage also changed. So when people became religious, matrimony became holy. When people became nudists, clothing became optional. And so on throughout history.
And the wonderful thing about the institution of marriage - the reason it has remained strong and relevant through thousands of years of ever-changing times - is its unique ability to change with those times.
Marriage is, and always has been, a constantly evolving tradition that never fails to incorporate the latest shifts in culture and climate, changing social habits, fashions and even fads. (Because, seriously, that chicken dance is not in the Bible.)
Thus, in the 1800s when the sole purpose of marriage was procreation and housekeeping, marriage between an older man and a hard-working tween girl was considered perfectly normal. Today we call it pedophilia.
For thousands of years marriage was essentially a business transaction
between the parents of the bride and groom. But in the last century or so, we've finally seen the triumph of this new-fangled notion that marriage should be about a loving relationship between two consenting adults.
Followers of the Mormon faith can tell you that the traditions of their forefathers included a devout belief that polygamy was appropriate and sanctified. But modern Mormons generally don't support that vision of happiness for their daughters.
And during the Civil Rights era, when opponents of interracial marriage tried to pass laws making such couples illegal, we came to realize that they, too, were wrong in trying to redefine marriage to prevent those new-found relationships.
Always marriage has triumphed by becoming a timely celebration of our society, rather than a backlash against it. It's strange, then, to see "tradition" used as a weapon against change, when change is the source of all its greatest traditions.
Just ask the white dress:
In 1840, Queen Victoria of England married Prince Albert wearing a beautiful white lace dress - in defiance of tradition - in order to promote the sale of English lace! The image was so powerful that practically overnight the white wedding gown became de rigueur for the well-heeled bride. And then it became de rigueur for every bride.
By the dawn of the 20th Century, the white dress had also inexplicably come to symbolize chastity. (Even though blue was traditionally the color of virginity - "something borrowed, something blue...")
And the new equation of white with virginity eventually achieved such a rigid orthodoxy that older readers may remember a time when wedding guests who happened to know that the bride was not perfectly pure would have felt a moral obligation to demand that she change into something off-white before walking down the aisle.
Fortunately, as cultural norms eased during the Sexual Revolution, a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy took hold where all brides were required to wear white regardless of their virtue and the less said about it the better.
In recent years, as a generation of divorcees have remarried and a generation of young people have entered wedlock with some degree of "experience", the pretense of a connection between literal virginity and the bridal gown has become entirely obsolete. A colorful journey for a custom which has always seemed iron clad, even as it was evolving over time.
And not all traditions have to do with changing sexual standards. The long-time custom of pelting the newlyweds with birdseed did not exist before the 1970s when animal-lovers realized that songbirds were bloating on dried rice that they found on the ground after the former custom.
Economic times have caused families to rethink the age-old convention of the bride's father paying for the entire ceremony - a last vestige of the days of dowries when a young man had to be bribed to take a free-loading daughter off her parents' hands - that well-established custom has gradually given way to a more humane approach to sharing the financial burden.
Even religious traditions of marriage have experienced constant metamorphosis over the years. As more interfaith couples have wed, we have seen the emergence of multi-disciplinary ceremonies where couples have chosen not to follow the out-dated tradition of rejecting one or both of their faiths as a prerequisite of holy matrimony.
One of the most beautiful weddings I ever attended was between a young Jewish fellow and his Catholic fiancé, whose mother was born in France. The ceremony was performed by both a rabbi and a priest with intertwining vows in English, Latin, Hebrew and French. A perfect expression of the union of their two families, yet one which would have been unthinkable just a generation before.
But, again, marriage has such a long history of changing with the ever-changing times, that the last thing we should expect from it is to stop growing and changing. We know today that marriage is not a rote ritual handed down by God to Adam & Eve and preserved verbatim for thousands of years. It is, rather, an expression of how each community, each culture, and each faith, chooses to celebrate the joining of loved ones who have decided to make a life together.
Christians do not expect Jesus to be central to a Buddhist wedding, nor do Jews refuse to acknowledge Lutheran unions because they didn't include a reading from the Torah. Marriage is what we each make of it. And that's the way it always should be.
Perhaps the greatest irony of the traditional marriage argument is that it seeks to preserve a singular tradition that has, in fact, never existed at any point in history.
Because, honestly, which traditional definition of marriage do we want our Constitution to protect?
... The one from Book of Genesis when family values meant multiple wives and concubines?
... Or the marriages of the Middle Ages when women were traded like cattle and weddings were too bawdy for church?
... Since this is America, should we preserve marriage as it existed in 1776 when arranged marriages were still commonplace?
... Or the traditions of 1850 when California became a state and marriage was customarily between one man and one woman-or-girl of age 11 and up?
... Or are we really seeking to protect a more modern vision of traditional marriage, say from the 1950s when it was illegal for whites to wed blacks or hispanics?
... Or the traditional marriage of the late 1960s when couples were routinely excommunicated for marrying outside their faith?
No, the truth of the matter is, that we're trying to preserve traditional marriage the way it "was and always has been" during a very narrow period in the late 70s / early 80s - just before most of us found out that gays even existed: Between one man and one woman of legal age and willing consent. Regardless of race or religion (within reason). ...Plus the chicken dance and the birdseed. Those are okay.
But there's something profoundly disturbing about amending the Constitution to define anything about the 1970s as "the way God intended it".
A few tastes of the vibe up here last night that mirror what I experienced (I will keep searching for footage of the actual crowds into which I got swept):
I asked a cop who was working the crowd in the park where we were what he thought about a bunch of kids spontaneously breaking into the national anthem, and he just grinned. I could tell that he was trying to stay unaffected, but he was pretty moved.
This is pretty much what it was like on the street all night, even in JP where I was. Every car was just honking like crazy and all kinds of people were running and biking around hooting and hollering, hugging each other, high-fiving, etc.
When I left JP and went into the Back Bay, I ran into some of these kids. Everyone marched around aimlessly, we congregated in a few places for a while but the cops kept sweeping us along. Bad policy if you ask me, because then we just impeded traffic as we crossed the streets. The people in the cars didn't care, they got up out of their windows and moon-roofs and chanted and whooped it up with the rest of us. What a night.
More to come. I'm sure in the next few days I'll find some footage from the Christian Science Park where I was with the group the longest and the national anthem was sung!
But.... I just spent a good little while poring over the petition that was filed today to prevent the enforcement of Prop 8 and, hopefully, to overturn it.
Let me tell you, it's good. It's really, really good. This single petition holds up a whole basketful of different reasons why Prop 8 should not stand. It's really... pretty dope! Not to mention, I have to believe that the Court would be frustrated by the efforts of a group of people, largely comprised of religious organizations and out-of-staters, to subvert its decision and to keep it from doing its job. The point is, even with things up in the air, there is a good deal of hope on the horizon. And it all makes me just gnash my teeth with eagerness to become a lawyer.... if only I could skip law school LOL.
Should anyone else wish to read the petition, it's available here.
Also: a really interesting non-technical legal analysis from Slate.com
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ― Spending for and against a ballot initiative that would outlaw same-sex marriage in California has surpassed $73 million, almost twice the total that was spent in the 24 states where similar measures were put to voters since 2004, campaign finance records show.
Opponents of Proposition 8 had a slight lead in contributions as of Monday, having raised $37.6 million. Supporters of the gay marriage ban had raised $35.8 million.
A little less than $33 million was spent on campaigns to pass or defeat gay marriage bans in the 24 states where they appeared on ballots in 2004, 2005 and 2006, according to the National Organization on Money in State Politics.
Full Article Here
Clever magicians practice the art of misdirection -- distracting the eyes of the audience to something attention-grabbing but irrelevant so that no one notices what the magician is really doing. Look over at that fuchsia scarf, up this sleeve, at anything besides the actual trick.
The campaign promoting Proposition 8, which proposes to amend the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriages, has masterfully misdirected its audience, California voters. Look at the first-graders in San Francisco, attending their lesbian teacher's wedding! Look at Catholic Charities, halting its adoption services in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal! Look at the church that lost its tax exemption over gay marriage! Look at anything except what Proposition 8 is actually about: a group of people who are trying to impose on the state their belief that homosexuality is immoral and that gays and lesbians are not entitled to be treated equally under the law.
Take the story of Catholic Charities. The service arm of the Roman Catholic Church closed its adoption program in Massachusetts not because of the state's gay marriage law but because of a gay anti-discrimination law passed many years earlier. In fact, the charity had voluntarily placed older foster children in gay and lesbian households -- among those most willing to take hard-to-place children -- until the church hierarchy was alerted and demanded that adoptions conform to the church's religious teaching, which was in conflict with state law. The Proposition 8 campaign, funded in large part by Mormons who were urged to do so by their church, does not mention that the Mormon church's adoption arm in Massachusetts is still operating, even though it does not place children in gay and lesbian households.
How can this be? It's a matter of public accountability, not infringement on religion. Catholic Charities acted as a state contractor, receiving state and federal money to find homes for special-needs children who were wards of the state, and it faced the loss of public funding if it did not comply with the anti-discrimination law. In contrast, LDS (for Latter-day Saints) Family Services runs a private adoption service without public funding. Its work, and its ability to follow its religious teachings, have not been altered.
That San Francisco field trip? The children who attended the wedding had their parents' signed permission, as law requires. A year ago, with the same permission, they could have traveled to their teacher's domestic-partnership ceremony. Proposition 8 does not change the rules about what children are exposed to in school. The state Education Code does not allow schools to teach comprehensive sex education -- which includes instruction about marriage -- to children whose parents object.
Another "Yes on 8" canard is that the continuation of same-sex marriage will force churches and other religious groups to perform such marriages or face losing their tax-exempt status. Proponents point to a case in New Jersey, where a Methodist-based nonprofit owned seaside land that included a boardwalk pavilion. It obtained an exemption from state property tax for the land on the grounds that it was open for public use and access. Events such as weddings -- of any religion -- could be held in the pavilion by reservation. But when a lesbian couple sought to book the pavilion for a commitment ceremony, the nonprofit balked, saying this went against its religious beliefs.
The court ruled against the nonprofit, not because gay rights trump religious rights but because public land has to be open to everyone or it's not public. The ruling does not affect churches' religious tax exemptions or their freedom to marry whom they please on their private property, just as Catholic priests do not have to perform marriages for divorced people and Orthodox synagogues can refuse to provide space for the weddings of interfaith couples. And Proposition 8 has no bearing on the issue; note that the New Jersey case wasn't about a wedding ceremony.
Much has been made about same-sex marriage changing the traditional definition of marriage. But marriage has evolved for thousands of years, from polygamous structures in which brides were so much chattel to today's idealized love matches. In seeking to add a sentence to California's Constitution that says, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized," Proposition 8 supporters seek to enforce adherence to their own religious or personal definition. The traditional makeup of families has changed too, in ways that many religious people find immoral. Single parents raise their children; couples divorce and blend families. Yet same-sex marriage is the only departure from tradition that has been targeted for constitutional eradication.
Religions and their believers are free to define marriage as they please; they are free to consider homosexuality a sin. But they are not free to impose their definitions of morality on the state. Proposition 8 proponents know this, which is why they have misdirected the debate with highly colored illusions about homosexuals trying to take away the rights of religious Californians. Since May, when the state Supreme Court overturned a proposed ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, more than 16,000 devoted gay and lesbian couples have celebrated the creation of stable, loving households, of equal legal stature with other households. Their happiness in no way diminishes the rights or happiness of others.
Californians must cast a clear eye on Proposition 8's real intentions. It seeks to change the state Constitution in a rare and terrible way, to impose a single moral belief on everyone and to deprive a targeted group of people of civil rights that are now guaranteed. This is something that no Californian, of any religious belief, should accept. Vote no to the bigotry of Proposition 8.
Original Article Here
So... Obama got 15 of 21 votes! Wooooo! LOL.
At this time I'm gonna make two predictions: Obama will win with over 350 electoral votes and 51% of the popular vote, and Prop 8 will NOT pass.
Those are my prognostications of hope, and of risk. I know Obama will win, and I know that the Prop 8 vote will be reasonably close. But I'm going out on a limb to predict that, yes, things are gonna go my way.