Prop 8 Candlelight Vigil

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m in Cambridge through this evening. This morning things feel a little better, a little more hopeful, around Proposition 8 (along with FL 2 and AZ 102).

  • R went to the candlelight vigil in protest of Proposition 8 and took photos.
  • A former CC intern sent me an instant message last night saying his thoughts were with me and others in California effected by 8 (or “h8” as it’s being labeled on Twitter).
  • Someone from the Fort Wayne LUG (a group I barely participated in while living in Fort Wayne) sent me an email expressing his disappointment.
  • And a friend in San Francisco sent me a very kind email saying “this won’t last”.

I know this is a first world problem and I’m happy that I get to go home to a great circle of friends — my family of choice.

date:2008-11-06 05:42:23
category:gay, my life, politics

The Day After

Last week I attended a meeting at Yale and had planned to spend the weekend with Matt and Alex in New York, flying back on Monday (the 3rd). When the opportunity to attend a relevant meeting at MIT today and tomorrow came up, I knew I had two options: vote early or fly back as planned on Monday, vote Tuesday morning and fly back to the east coast Tuesday night. I hate flying, but I’d endure two extra trans-continental flights to make sure my vote was cast. Voting for Obama was important to me because he seemed to offer a significant change from the past eight years, a change I and (apparently) many others are hungry for. But far more important to me was voting No on California Proposition 8.

On the ballot Proposition 8 was titled “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”. Proponents say that Proposition 8 pushes back against `“activist judges” <>`_ who are thwarting the democratic process by ruling in May that same-sex marriage is legal. This of course ignores the fact that the California State Legislature passed legislation with the same effect, only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Perhaps the problem is activist governors, as well, who also dare to exercise checks as well as balances.

I was able to vote early, and while doing so had a visceral reaction when I marked my ballot No on Proposition 8. It wasn’t until I was there in the voting booth that I really felt “This is about me — this is about whether the love I feel is ‘good enough’. This is about whether I am as welcome in California as I thought.” I was hopeful but anxious over the weekend, and I knew the vote would be close.

So I spent yesterday at the Science Commons’ office, trying to be productive and distract myself from election news, and spent the evening at a colleague’s home watching returns. Good wine, amazing food and good company made the celebratory mood surrounding the presidential returns even better. I left Indiana about 18 months ago and it was with a degree of pride and disbelief that I watched it remain “too close to call” throughout the evening. When I went to bed last night the California polls had been closed for an hour and the election had been called for Obama. An impromptu street party had broken out in the Castro and R was on his way out to participate in the revelry. No word on Proposition 8.

This morning the news was not good. With 99.5% of precincts reporting Proposition 8 looked like it might be successful. Throughout the day I attempted to pay attention to the meeting I was attending, but kept getting drawn back to the Secretary of State’s website to look at the numbers. And the numbers this morning were prescient: Proposition 8 has passed, 52.5% voting in favor, 47.5% voting against, a gulf of just over 500,000 votes.

I could take comfort in the fact that our President elect seems to be more interested in thinking issues through than shooting from the hip. I could take comfort that the vote in favor was 52.5% instead of the 60% who voted for a similar law a decade ago. I could take comfort that Connecticut recently legalized same-sex marriage, which seems to me to point the direction things are moving. But it’s difficult to find the silver lining here.

At the end of the day, this effects me, my relationship, and my friends. The ripples aren’t limited to any romantic relationship, either. Last month I logged on to Facebook to find that a professional acquaintance was marked as “attending Fasting In Support of Proposition 8”. This individual is someone I respect and enjoy collaborating with who does not live in the state of California (he, like many opponents of Proposition 8, lives in Utah). I consider him an educated man. He supported Obama for President and I guess I don’t want to believe that people “on our side” can also be “on their side”. In my faith tradition fasting is what one does when they really want to call down the power of God on their side, and seeing this applied to Proposition 8 was quite discomfiting. In the past I’ve enjoyed my interactions with this person and now I’m not really sure how to engage with him at any level.

So should this individual have opposed Proposition 8 just to preserve our working relationship? Absolutely not. I’m simply pointing out that the ripples are there.

From Cambridge it appears there’s a lot of anger, but I really think this masks a well of hurt and sadness. The “Yes on 8” folks ran a fear-mongering campaign that held up the specter of “the homosexual agenda” being taught in public schools while simultaneously saying gay marriage is unnecessary — that separate is equal. If civil unions or domestic partnerships are de facto “marriage”, what difference do you expect to see in the education system? And for queer people everywhere, this is just another instance where we’re told we’re flawed, imperfect, broken. No matter how many times you pick yourself up, it still hurts to be knocked down.

Right now R is on his way to join a candle light vigil at City Hall. I’m very frustrated to be so far away and unable to participate. As I think about it this just demonstrates why what I have in San Francisco is so important, so special. I have a family of choice that loves and supports me without condition or constraint. It’s important for me to remember this as I grieve yet another rejection, yet another hurt. I guess I can also work on having compassion; it must be terrifying and depressing to live with a world view that believes someone else’s relationship has the power the destroy society. But above all I need to remember that the “Yes on 8” people don’t get to decide who I love or how I express that.

date:2008-11-05 19:52:45
category:gay, my life, politics
tags:obama, prop 8, voting

“Live from Tex-ass”

Once again I’m late to the party, but I’ve been listening to Sufjan Stevens’ excellent `Come on feel the Illinoise <>`_, the second in his proposed series of 50 albums, one for each state. The album features an amazingly poignant ballad “John Wayne Gacy, Jr“ about the serial killer of the same name. Illlinoise is one of the most unique albums I’ve heard in quite a while.

Given the current political situation, I’d like to make a suggestion for a future Sufjan album: when you get to Texas, perhaps you can honor the G-W with another serial killer ballad. Just a thought.

date:2006-06-08 08:06:02
category:aside, politics

Dear Mr. President,

I understand that you are quite concerned about judicial activism. I appreciate your concern regarding historical precedent and original intent. Perhaps you could [STRIKEOUT:re-]read the Federalist Papers for additional perspective. In particular I recommend Number 10. I’m sure you’ll find Madison’s thoughts on the tyranny of the majority fascinating. One reading is that your majority [STRIKEOUT:and political capital] (sorry, I forgot that where once there was a surplus there is now a deficit) justify the Federal Marriage Amendment. I submit that an alternate reading is that judges are simply protecting a minority of the population from said tyranny. Since you arethe decider“, I eagerly await your decision.



date:2006-06-06 10:04:30

The Long View

If you want a thorough fisking of our esteemed President’s radio address yesterday (dedicated to the Federal Marriage Amendment, natch, because that’s the most pressing issue we face as a country), see Ted’s blog entry. It seems to me that this issue only comes up when Bush needs to appeal to the [STRIKEOUT:facists] [STRIKEOUT:zealots] [STRIKEOUT:bigots] [STRIKEOUT:wackos] Republican base. But that would imply he was simply pandering, which we know he wouldn’t do — he’s a uniter, not a divider; a straight shooter, remember?

So I’d like to share a story with you to give us some perspective on the issue. Last year our neighborhood association voted to modify our convenant for what I believe was the first time since the neighborhood’s inception, sometime around 1920. The primary motivator was to raise association dues; they were stuck at an appallingly low $5 per year, with a voluntary $30 security fee also levied to keep Bob in donuts and old cop cars. As you might guess, $35 per year per house does not get the neighborhood much. Some landscaping. Dirt day (where they dump big piles of dirt in several strategic places so people can replenish their landscaping; I can’t make this up). And Bob in the cop car with the donuts so we can continue to have “security patrolled” on our lovely “Welcome to Southwood Park” signs.

Along with the dues increase were a couple other changes. One banned renting to people other than family members, to combat the perceived threat of absentee-landlord-ism. And the last one, which everyone rightly seemed ashamed to mention, struck language from our convenant that prohibited people of “Ethiopian or Mongolian descent” from owning property in lovely Southwood Park. As you might imagine, no one wanted to discuss this amendment, we just wanted to get it through. Its a bit disturbing to realize you signed a statement in which you agreed to obey the neighborhood covenant only to find out it includes such blatant bigotry. If the Federal Marriage Amendment ever passes, this is what we’re saddling future generations with: an embarassing 21st Amendment repeat, to be completed under cover of political darkness so they can finally put the embarassing mistakes of forefathers behind them (see: 3/5 Compromise).

So why will future generations need to repeal the hopeful 28th Amendment? Because people will realize that marriage isn’t just about children, its about two people committing to one-another? Perhaps. Or maybe (hopefully) they won’t. Maybe instead the people will demand that same-sex couples be given rights, regardless of this silly amendment, and state legislators, in their desire to remain in office, will construct a seperate but equal institution. We’ll call it civil union for the sake of argument. And while they’re at it, some enlightened state legislatures will define civil unions broadly, as a civil agreement between two people regardless of sex (excepting siblings, first cousins, minors, dogs, cats and Mr. Ed). So when opposite-sex couples have the option of a)entering into a union as an expression of their love to one another, or b)entering into a union that smacks of religious fundamentalism and bigotry, perhaps they’ll choose the former.

Wouldn’t that be deliciously ironic? In their desire to not look like complete assholes, some amendment backers have said, in effect,

“Look, civil unions are one thing; of course those faggots should be able to cry like queens in the hospital when one of them deservingly dies! Just don’t touch marriage. It’s special.”

So what if civil unions are really the more subversive of the two options? What if people finally realize that marriage is a religious ceremony with no business in our government what-so-ever? Here’s hoping.

date:2006-06-05 15:51:41
category:my life, politics

Yeah, “Get Over Your Issues”

So Good As You pointed out an article on the American Family Associations website which highlights the work of (and I can’t make this up) Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation (JAACD). Apparently the JAACD is fed up with people trying to take Christ out of Christmas and persecute those poor, underpriveleged Christians. Now I happen to agree on one level; the word Christmas implies an association with Christ. But I’m not sure it’s the “non-believers” that bear the responsibility here, especially since they keep reminding us that those believers are in the alledged majority. Maybe someone from the AFA can explain to me how shopping for low-cost, low-class garments at J.C. Penny reminds us that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

So a quote from the representative of the JAACD:

“Why would a group of Jews who don’t celebrate Christmas care about the disappearance of Christmas?” Feder asked, anticipating the question from his listeners. “Because Christmas is disappearing,” he proceeded to explain.

Uh, I hate to tell you this, but that doesn’t explain why you care (and just saying it’s disappearing doesn’t make it so). But things get really good at the end of the article:

Meanwhile, he adds, hypersensitive non-believers need to get over their issues with Christmas and respectfully allow the expression of the beliefs of the majority of Americans.

Does anyone else see the irony here? “Yeah, people who are hypersensitive about the beliefs and practices of others, they need to get over it! I mean, people other than us, of course.” I’d like to propose a deal — I’ll “get over it” in accordance with that statement, if they’ll substitute “heterosexuals” for “non-believers” and “sweaty man sex” for “Christmas” and get the fuck over it themselves.

date:2005-12-03 16:03:03

From Incompetence to Negligence

I’ve been watching a lot of Frontline lately on PBS. I’ve Tivo’d it forever, but rarely watched. Two nights ago I watched The Storm, their analysis of Hurrican Katrina’s effect on New Orleans, and the government reponse to it (at all levels). Go watch it online, I’ll wait.

Back? Good. So what struck me the most was not Brown’s complete denial of responsibility for FEMA’s actions or his seemingly complete disconnect. And it wasn’t what Bush did after Katrina, either. It was what Bush did in 2001, 4 years before Katrina struck. If you’ll recall (since you just watched it), part of the show focused on the history of FEMA, and how it has been managed. Let me present you with an minimal, paraphased timeline:

  • 1992: Hurricane Andrew strikes Florida. It misses Miami, but devestates Homestead. Not until the area emergency management director goes on television and castigates the federal [non-]response does public outrage force the White House to send in FEMA.
  • 1993: President Clinton, recognizing the political cost to Bush 41 of FEMA’s delayed deployment makes a change in the way FEMA is headed. Instead of the political cronies that had headed FEMA during Reagan 2 and Bush 41 he appoints James Lee Witt to head FEMA. The key difference here is that Witt actually had experience in emergency management.
  • 2000: During presidential debates, G. W. Bush says (and I’m paraphrasing), “I actually have to compliment this administration; they’ve done a great job with appointing Witt to head FEMA
  • 2001: After being elected, Bush 43 declines to keep Witt as head of FEMA. While it may be understandable that Bush 43 wanted someone else in the job (it is his right as President, after all), what is not understandable is the man chosen to replace Witt: Joe Allbaugh. Allbaugh’s apparent primary qualification: he lead Bush 43’s national presidential campaign.

This is beyond the apparent disconnect post-Katrina. This is downright negligent. And Bush 43 has no one to pass the buck to — he himself acknowledged the job Witt did, and one must presume he’s capable of the simple analysis required to figure out why Witt had succeeded where others failed.

You can debate whether or not FEMA should have been moved under the Department of Homeland Security all you want. You can debate whether or not Brown did a bad job (he did). What remains true is that the Bush administration ignored success and appointed a crony (a crony with a bad haircut at that!). And if this really is the “CEO Presidency”, then Bush should be taken to task for this blatantly negligent act.

date:2005-11-30 13:29:00

Like That’s a Bad Thing

OK, so let’s ignore for a moment the fact that I just don’t understand Log Cabin Republicans (rel=nofollow, of course). More to the point, I understand them even less than straight Republicans. But have they forgotten they’re gay!? Via QueerDay, reports that the LCR has asked the University of Missouri St. Louis to investigate a drag show because the performers:

…mocked heterosexual people in the audience, wore revealing outfits, used inappropriate language and simulated sex acts.

Uh, so what exactly is the problem? That describes the more respectable drag shows I’ve attended. Sounds like a down right wholesome evening.

UPDATE Good as You has more additoinal coverage .

date:2005-11-29 08:30:58

It’s the Pluralism, Stupid

It’s no secret or suprise that I disagree with much of what the current presidential administration puts forward as policy. My family, on the other hand, is “Bush/Cheney” all the way. So I frequently get email missives forwarded to me as part of a large forwarding group, and they’re uniformly pro-Bush, pro-war. It’s not that my family has these opinions that bugs me — it’s the tone of the messages in that they don’t allow for discussion or debate. They don’t allow that people may have valid, differing opinions and still want what’s best for the country. In short, they don’t get that pluralism is a good and necessary thing in a modern society. I’m not saying that Democrats or liberals get it any more than they do — there’s plenty of blame to play the game.

So here’s this morning’s message from my Father, whom I love more each yeah, but with whom I don’t see eye to eye with on many, many things. My comments are inline:

Things that make you think a little: There were 39 combat related killings in Iraq in January. In the fair city of Detroit there were 35 murders in the month of January. That’s just one American city, about as deadly as the entire war-torn country of Iraq.

Interesting. Now does that figure of 39 include Iraqi civilian and military casualties? No? Huh, why not? I know the administration has made noises about not being able to accurately assess the damage, but I call bull shit. Iraq Body Count estimates the current number as falling between 26,982 and 30,380. Wow, that’s a lot Mr. President. How many deaths in Detroit again? So you may dismiss IBC was a “left-wing media outlet” and maybe you’re right. But with no official numbers to compare to, how can we have an informed discussion? In other words, if the IBC is a left-wing outfit, why doesn’t the administration publish it’s own figures as a counterpoint?

Additionally, I think this figure, if it were accurate, would simply call into question our crime prevention efforts in the city of Detroit. Just because the death toll in two places is the same doesn’t make it OK — it just means you have two places that need attention.

When some claim that President Bush shouldn’t have started this war, state the following: a. FDR led us into World War II. b. Germany never attacked us; Japan did. From 1941-1945, 450,000 lives were lost, an average of 112,500 per year. c. Truman finished that war and started one in Korea. North Korea never attacked us. From 1950-1953, 55,000 lives were lost, an average of 18,334 per year.

I think that any thinking person will acknowledge that comparing FDR’s entry to World War II and GWB’s invasion of Iraq is a farce. In the case of WW2, we had been attacked by a foreign power allied with Germany, who had also invaded several other sovereign nations. In the case of Iraq, both tests fail. Despite Vice President Cheney’s statements to the contrary, there has been no credible evidence — ever — that Saddam and bin Laden were allied.

d. John F. Kennedy started the Vietnam conflict in 1962. Vietnam never attacked us.. e. Johnson turned Vietnam into a quagmire. From 1965-1975, 58,000 lives were lost, an average of 5,800 per year.


If you expect those who are against the war to view JFK’s entry into Vietnam as an argument in favor of going into Iraq, then more discussion needs to take place than I previously realized. I haven’t heard anyone suggest that Vietnam was a just war as opposed to Iraq which is unjust. I have heard many people suggest that both were and are unjust.

f. Clinton went to war in Bosnia without UN or French consent. Bosnia never attacked us. He was offered Osama bin Laden’s head on a platter three times by Sudan and did nothing. Osama has attacked us on multiple occasions.

I don’t have any knowledge about the second half of this statement, but let me address the first. Clinton entered Bosnia without UN consent because there was evidence of ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing, something the US has signed a treaty against. That treaty, incidentally, requires all signatories to actively combat genocide, which has had the unintended effect of simply making “genocide” a dirty word in world politics — if you don’t call it that, you don’t have to attack it. If you wanted to make an accurate comparison (or at least more accurate), perhaps Bush should have taken a look at the ongoing tragedy in Darfur.

g. In the years since terrorists attacked us, President Bush has liberated two countries, crushed the Taliban, crippled al-Qaida, put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran, and North Korea without firing a shot, and captured a terrorist who slaughtered 300,000 of his own people. The Democrats are complaining about how long the war is taking.

So I’ll give you liberating Afghanistan and “crushing” the Taliban (although given some of the people currently in power in Afghanistan, I have to wonder just how crushed it is). And I’ll even give you inspectors in Libya and their subsequent dismantling of their nuclear program. What I won’t give you is Iran and North Korea. Sure, inspectors have been in and out over the past 5 years. But by refusing to even speak one on one with the North Koreans, the Bush administration has essentially raised it to an all or nothing, “my way or the highway” game. Frankly I think that’s more effective for bar fights than international diplomacy, but then I don’t have much experience with either. Oh wait, Bush didn’t have any experience with the latter. Never mind.

But .. It took less time to take Iraq than it took Janet Reno to take the Branch Davidian compound. That was a 51-day operation. We’ve been looking for evidence for chemical weapons in Iraq for less time than it took Hillary Clinton to find the Rose Law Firm billing records. It took less time for the 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard than it took Ted Kennedy to call the police after his Oldsmobile sank at Chappaquiddick. It took less time to take Iraq than it took to count the votes in Florida!!!!

So first I’d like to point out that the last sentence is somewhat misleading — Bush v. Gore settled the election and appointed Bush to the presidency in 2000 before the vote count was complete. I would also point out that after Reno was done with the Davidian compound there were no Davidians using IEDs against our ATF forces, but that would probably just be in bad taste. So I’ll just say this: daily attacks against our troops and Iraqi civilians alike hardly speaks to a “taken” country in my mind.

Oh, and just how long did it take Ted Kennedy to call the police? I’d like to know.

Our Commander-In-Chief is doing a GREAT JOB! The Military morale is high!

I can’t speak to the second sentence, but maybe you could convince me of the first if Bush landed on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner reading “I’M DOING A GREAT JOB!” Oh wait…

The biased media hopes we are too ignorant to realize the facts.

I’m not saying the media is unbiased, but how is it that the discussion always centers around how biased CNN, NPR, etc are, and never FOX “News”? I think people just need to realize that we always see truth in opinions that are in line with our own. And sometimes it’s easier to call something “biased” as opposed to really trying to parse what they’re saying and examine it objectively. Do I watch FOX News? No. But I do read the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal with some regularlity, and while I rarely agree with everything I read there, I think that being informed and considering other view points is an important job of the citizenry.

But Wait. There’s more!

JOHN GLENN (ON THE SENATE FLOOR) Mon, 26 Jan 2004 11:13

Some people still don’t understand why military personnel do what they do for a living. This exchange between Senators John Glenn and Senator Howard Metzenbaum is worth reading. Not only is it a pretty impressive impromptu speech, but it’s also a good example of one man’s explanation of why men and women in the armed services do what they do for a living.

This IS a typical, though sad, example of what some who have never served think of the military.

Senator Metzenbaum (speaking to Senator Glenn): “How can you run for Senate when you’ve never held a real job?”

Senator Glenn (D-Ohio): “I served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I served through two wars. I flew 149 missions. My plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire on 12 different occasions. I was in the space program. It wasn’t my checkbook, Howard, it was my life on the line. It was not a nine-to-five job, where I took my tie off to take the daily cash receipts to the bank.”

“I ask you to go with me … as I went the other day… to a veterans’ hospital and look those men … with their mangled bodies in the eye, and tell THEM they didn’t hold a job! You go with me to the Space Program at NASA and go, as I have gone, to the widows and orphans of Ed White, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee… and you look those kids in the eye and tell them that their DADS didn’t hold a job. You go with me on Memorial Day, and you stand in Arlington National Cemetery, where I have more friends buried than I’d like to remember, and you watch those waving flags. You stand there, and you think about this nation, and you tell ME that those people didn’t have a job? What about you?”

You’re right, Metznebaum was out of line to say that of Glenn. But again, just because people are serving honorably doesn’t mean it’s for a just cause. Oh, and about people who never served in the military… ahem, Mr. President.

For those who don’t remember… During W.W.II, Howard Metzenbaum was an attorney representing the Communist Party in the USA. Now he’s a Senator! If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran. It might not be a bad idea to keep this circulating.

I don’t know lots about Metzenbaum’s history, but I do know one thing: saying someone was an attorney representing the Communist Party is a McCarthy-esque smear tactic. Notice that they don’t actually say he was a Communist, only that he represented the party. Now he may have been a Communist (it’s really irrelevant), but everyone — everyone — deserves representation, even Communists. Those who set themselves up as defenders of strict interpretation of the Constitution would do well to remember that.

What really pisses me off is that people want to set this up as “us against them”. It’s not. This isn’t about what any one political party did that’s worse than what a sitting president did. This is about the current administration’s refusal to take responsibility for their actions. When Cheney blasts Democrats for voting for the war, and now railing against it, he’s right.

But that just means that more people are wrong, not that going to war was the right thing.

If people want to move the country forward, they’ll engage in serious discussion and debate, and not throw done ultimatums and “us v. them” missives. To paraphrase Carville, it’s the pluralism, stupid.

date:2005-11-18 09:24:32

Reasons for A “No” Vote

So as you’ve probably heard, Miers has withdrawn herself from consideration for Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat on the Supreme Court. Lots of people gave lots of reasons as to why she wasn’t a suitable candidate: lack of a constitutional law record, lack of judicial experience (hello, Rehnquist?!), and lack of any real information.

Scary-et MiersWhat concerns me most is the reason no one mentioned: her apparent utter lack of ability to apply eye liner appropriately. Seriously, I haven’t been in drag for over 5 years, and I could apply better eyes while driving and drinking a latte. Where are people’s priorities?

date:2005-10-27 17:12:08