Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Love, Less Hate

Read this post by Melissa Etheridge on The Huffington Post on the dust-up over PEBO's (that's President Elect Barack Obama) invitation to Rick Warren to invocate at the inauguration. She ended up having a conversation with America's new top preacher.

Money quote: "He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn't want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids."

My first reaction to the thought of Rick Warren praying at the inauguration was anger. It reminded me of how Clinton pandered to the gay community for votes, then let us down on almost every level. (My second reaction was why should anyone be praying at the inauguration of a civil servant, but that's another post.)

Then I started to think about Rick Warren the man. This is a guy who actually thinks it's Christians' duty to save the Earth, rather than exercise our dominion over it by poisoning it. This is a man who thinks we need to spend more time helping people with AIDS than worrying about what Britney Spears is wearing. And, unlike so many Christians, Rick Warren is a man who actually lives Christ's injuction to "give all you have to the poor and follow me." Well, nearly -- he gives 90% of his income to charity, when most Christians think tithing 10% is a really big deal.

This man walks the walk. So I'm for giving him a break.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ken is at it again..

Ken Starr, he of the Starr Report, which recapped the unfortunate dalliance between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, has a new cause: invalidating my marriage. Yes, Ken has stepped up to the plate as a member of the legal team that is responding to suits filed by opponents of Proposition 8 intended to overturn the new law. Have I mentioned I'm not a fan of Prop 8? Anyway, you can read more here.

The bigger news tonight on the marriage front, however, seems to be Jerry Brown's change of heart in terms of Prop 8. Brown had previously said he would defend the measure in the courts, but has reversed that position, saying: "Proposition 8 must be invalidated because the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification." However, since Brown's duty as AG is to uphold the laws of California, it's not surprising that this turnabout is getting more visibility than Ken Starr's appointment as lead counsel. I'm glad Brown is speaking out, but early reports seem to say his arguments will have a hard time holding up before the court.

The SCOTUS will get this one sometime in the next few years. My guess is that Prop 8 will be upheld at the state level, but overturned at the federal level.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Equal Access

A couple of nights ago I was dragged to a performance at the Davies Symphony Hall called “The Colors of Christmas.” (Front row seats were available at a discount, and that’s just too big a temptation for some to resist.) The show, in a nutshell, is an MOR R&B Xmas. Peabo Bryson, Jon Secada, Stephanie Mills and Melissa Manchester. Plus a full gospel choir and members of the SF Symphony. Not my thing. Especially when Peabo Bryson spent half his stage time off stage, right in front of me, sweating off his makeup.

As I listened, I noticed that all the songs were Christmas songs, only a few of them secular. Most of them were sacred carols – Joy to the World, Silent Night, etc. And I thought, doesn’t it seem odd that they wouldn’t throw in a Hanukkah song, just to be inclusive? But my next thought was, to quote our current President, so what? Not everything has to be inclusive. It’s impossible to please everyone, or take into account every individual’s preferences. In private life, at least. The SF Symphony is, I believe, primarily a private organization. Like country clubs, the Boy Scouts, and the Congressional Black Caucus, they ought to be allowed to include or exclude whomever they like.

But once you step up to the public trough, all that freedom to exclude goes out the door. When public tax money funds you, or when you are a public accommodation, you have to be available on an equal basis to every citizen.

Regardless of whether the state should be involved in the marriage business, they are. Churches, as private organizations, can discriminate all they like. But the state should not be able to withhold access to the benefits of civil marriage without solid, rational reasons.

I didn’t have to buy a ticket to “The Colors of Christmas.” There are lots of other musical events I could attend. But we each have only one state to turn to when it comes to obtaining a marriage license.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

From Andrew Sullivan:

"Civil marriage for all; religious marriage for all who want to supplement it with God's grace. Why is that so hard for some people of faith to grasp? Why are their marriages defined not by the virtues they sustain but the people they exclude?"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Fag Issue

Take a read of this piece from Salon.com. It's an "editor's choice" comment, culled from I know not where on their site. It makes it's point in a relatively crude, but effective, manner.

Money quote: "So I decided to ask myself why some of my fellow penis owners still seem to have a bit of a problem with the fags. What makes them different from normal men? Men like sports. Do fags like sports? The ones I know root for the same teams I do. And there’s this one fag who, if you give him more than one second at the top of the key, he’ll sink it every time."

I'm Thinking No

On the Golden, Days 6-14

OK. So you missed some stuff. The reason I didn't post for the past 10 days or so wasn't because I didn't have time. Sure I was busy when we were in the islands, but what about those four and a half days and five nights when I was crossing the Pacific?

For one thing, I was mostly disconnected from the news, and life in general. Lots of stuff happened on the ship -- met some fun people, played a lot of poker (two words: bad beat), read four books. I had some things to say, I suppose, but I didn't feel so much like commenting on what was going on as I was experiencing what was going on.

That said, I would like to share a couple of video clips I captured on board and on the islands, just to give you a flavor for the trip. I tried to upload them from the boat, but usually the connection was just too sketchy.

This bit was taken on Hawaii, our first day ashore. It's of the current steam/gas vent taking place in Kiluea Iki:

Yes, it was windy up on the crater's edge.

This one I took one day, heading west, just to give you a feel for the sensation of sitting on the veranda, enjoying the sound of water as the ship slices through the sea:

And this one is just to give you a TINY feel for the vastness of the Pacific.

Now imagine four days of that. Hypnotic. Not sure what four months would be like.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

On the Golden, Days 3-5

Sorry to gang all these days together, but we've been very busy. Poker, reading, eating -- and even a business conference call (at 5:30 am!) -- seem to fill the days. Poker on day three was awful -- I couldn't get a hand, and when I did, someone else got a better one. But I made it all up on day four.

Yesterday we rented a car on the Big Island and drove up to Volcano National Park, which was amazing. Since I had been there last (in the summer of 1975), there had been several large lava flows that have changed the landscape quite significantly. We drove through miles of young lava fields (see picture above), their black, cracked and fissured surface putting me in mind of a pan of cooked brownies. It looked like an edible landscape. There is currently a large active steam vent in the Kiluea caldera that was quite dramatic. I took a few seconds of video and tried to upload them to share with you, but for some reason the upload process isn't working today. Maybe I can add it when we're in another port.

Today we wandered around Honolulu for a bit, and then I went to the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Powerful, even after all these years.

Tomorrow we are at Kauai.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

On the Golden, Day Two

Today the seas have calmed even further, and the ship steams quietly south southwest towards Hilo, where we will arrive early Monday morning. With no shore excursions possible, Princess tries to fill the day with activities of all sorts: lei-making, ukulele lessons, photography and computer seminars, movies (“The Dark Knight”), trivia, bingo, line dancing and yes, even a shuffleboard contest – all the middle-of-the-road pastimes one associates with cruise ships. I have foregone them all, preferring to play poker in the casino (I’m up, but only a little) and sit on the balcony and read the first of my books (“Pied Piper” by Nevil Shute, best-known for his novel “On The Beach”) as the ocean slips past at the rate of 20 knots an hour.

And eat. I’ve done some eating, though not nearly as much as possible. The options are many, but not terribly varied: there is a traditional dining room, where one is seated with other cruisers. You eat at the same time every evening and sit with the same people. There are also two “anytime” dining rooms, where you can either share a table or dine in solitude. Additionally, there is a 24-hour buffet, a hamburger/hot dog grill, a pizzeria, a coffee bar and two “specialty” restaurants, one Italian, one a steak house. These last two require an extra fee of $20/person. There is also a “chef’s table” option, which is $75/person additional, but it includes eight courses, paired wines, a trip to the galley and a visit from the chef. It is, however, reputed to be quite excellent.

Which is more than one can say for most of the food on board ship. Like pretty much everything else on Princess, the food is militantly middle-of-the-road. There is nothing to offend, but also nothing to inspire. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s impossible to create world-class cuisine for 2500 people, and have it ready 24 hours a day. From time to time, a dish arrives that is quite good, but mostly it’s all very workmanlike. And given that I’m only paying about $100/day for my lodging, entertainment (such as it is) and food, I’d say they’re pretty good workmen. On our previous cruise (aboard the Emerald Princess), though the food was of slightly higher quality, the pizza was awful. On this ship, though, the pizza is actually pretty decent. My guess is the guy throwing the crusts is better at his job. Maybe the lower humidity in the Pacific (as opposed to the Caribbean) enters into the equation. Either way, it’s nice to be able to grab a slice in the afternoon, or to temper the bitter taste of an exceptionally bad beat (as when I flopped a straight, only to lose to a full house).

Tonight is formal night, though not for us. Black tie just isn’t Bob’s style. But we’ll put on our nicer duds, head down a few decks and see what the industrial kitchen is putting on the plates.

Tomorrow: who knows, we’ll see what mood strikes. Perhaps if I do well at the morning poker tournament (the first of the trip), I’ll bore you all with the details.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On the Golden, Day One

First, Happy Thanksgiving to all. In this time of economic stress and political turmoil, it’s important to remember that all of us (at least the readers of the Feast) have much for which to be thankful. In addition to my biggest blessings (chief among them my amazing daughter and adorable husband), I’m also lucky enough to be writing this on the balcony of my stateroom on the Golden Princess as she steams southwest to Hawaii.

Let’s talk about cruising a bit, shall we?

I’d never thought of myself as the sort of person who would enjoy life aboard a giant yacht filled with 24-hour buffets, clanging slot machines, boutiques filled with mostly useless tchotchkes and ruthlessly cheerful (albeit) second-rate entertainers. On the other hand, I love the ocean, love having round-the-clock access to pizza slices, love playing poker and love watching humanity go about its business. On this seagoing hotel, I have all that and more.

We set out last night from San Pedro Harbor, Port of LA, just as sunset. The police boat escorted to the breakwater, and we sat at the stern a while and watch the lights of LA recede into the distance as the great, overfed masses of America (and the world, for there are plenty of Canadians and Brits about, and I hear snippets of conversation in French, Spanish, German and Russian) waddled about us. Make no mistake, if you like your humanity in XXL, a cruise ship is the place for you. The Golden Princess weighs in at 109,000 tons, and 60% is housed in inside cabins on the fiesta deck.

Ever prone to motion sickness, I’ve boarded both my cruises with some trepidation. But with a little help from Meclizine, knock (teak) wood, I’ve had no problems thus far. Granted, it’s a bit odd when you are walking and the floor is in a different place when your set your foot down than it was when you picked it up. It’s disconcerting but not frighteningly so. A bit like biting into a See’s candy that you thought was buttercream but turns out to be filled with caramel: it’s not what you expected, but it’s not unpleasant, either. With the swells relatively small (4-6 feet), and the ship’s stabilizers at work, the ride is quite smooth. When seated, it feels rather like riding a horse in slow motion. At night, lying in bed, the sensation is one of being in a brobdignagian hammock, gently swaying back and forth.

At the moment, the weather is cool, and the sea stretches out in all directions, nothing but blue horizon and the occasional dolphin coming to investigate what beast has invaded its waters.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the food on board ship.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don't Let It Happen!

Free speech is under attack. A new UN resolution has passed. It was designed to appease Muslims who are apparently concerned that their faith is associated with terrorism. Gee, wonder how that happened?

Good Point

In today's issue of Salon, there is an excellent interview with author and essayist Richard Rodriguez, who most people know from his video essays on "The News Hour" on PBS.

Although the interview mainly concerns Proposition 8 and the fight for equality, this is perhaps my favorite quote from the piece: "To my knowledge, the churches have not accepted responsibility for the Bush catastrophe. Having claimed, in some cases, that Bush was divinely inspired and his election was the will of God, they have failed to explain why the last eight years have been so catastrophic for America."

Yeah, what about that? If these people believe God called on Bush to do a great work, where are the results?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Big Victory First?

In the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8, the focus on marriage equality seems to be primarily taking place at the state level. Massachusetts and Connecticut, of course, already have full marriage equality. Legislatures in New York and New Jersey are expected to see legislation to create marriage equality will be introduced next year, and both governors have stated they will sign that legislation if it passes, as it is likely to do. The Supreme Court of Iowa will hear arguments December 9 in the case that will determine whether marriage equality will become the law in that state. Cases have been filed here in California to overturn Proposition 8 on various grounds.

But what if the place to start is at the top? What if, instead of focusing on state battles -- whether legal or electoral -- we turn our attention as a community on achieving equality on the federal level? After all, even Sarah Palin agreed gay people deserve full civil equality.

Here's what I could see: Congress passes a law which creates a new Federal-level civil union. All people who are currently legally married would be grandfathered in and continue to receive all 1049 federal benefits that apply to married couples, including those pertaining to taxation, Social Security and immigration. Everyone else who wanted to take advantage of those benefits would, as of a specific date, have to obtain a civil union license. These could be made available through federal agencies -- or perhaps states and counties could be empowered to issue the licenses.

Now, in order to get Federal benefits of marriage, every couple -- straight and gay -- must first obtain a Federal civil union. To get the state-level benefits of marriage, they need to obtain a state marriage license. If they don't live in a state with marriage equality, gay couples would have to go without those benefits. Straight couples would have to get a state marriage license to go with their FCU. Most gay couples would have to suffer along with the federal benefits only. It's an imperfect system. But it would be a major step toward equality.

And with civil equality in place at a federal level, individual states would likely begin to fall in line and extend equality there, as well. Mississipi and Utah might ultimately need some Supreme Court convincing to come around, but ultimately equality is going to win. Marriage might end up being a word with primarily religious connotations, but that's fine. As long as we are all treated identically under civil law, God can do whatever He wants. (Like there was any stopping Him, right believers?)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It ain't Edward Tufte...

...but it makes its point.

What I've Been Saying, Only Better

Once again, Andrew Sullivan nails the issue with clarity and intelligence. Click the link to read the whole thing, but here is one of many money quotes:

"The reason the marriage debate is so intense is because neither side seems able to accept that the word "marriage" requires a certain looseness of meaning if it is to remain as a universal, civil institution. This is not that new. Catholics, for example, accept the word marriage to describe civil marriages that are second marriages, even though their own faith teaches them that those marriages don't actually exist as such. But most Catholics are able to set theological beliefs to one side and accept a theological untruth as a civil fact. After all, a core, undebatable Catholic doctrine is that marriage is for life. Divorce is not the end of that marriage in the eyes of God. And yet Catholics can tolerate fellow citizens who are not Catholic calling their non-marriages marriages - because Catholics have already accepted a civil-religious distinction. They can wear both hats in the public square."

I've said similar (though not with such erudition) in many blog and news comments. We can have both civil marriage equality and respect for religious views of marriage.

What Kind of Blog Am I?

According to typealyzer.com, The Rational Feast (and by extension, its author) is defined as:

"The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about."

That's closer to the truth than I might have expected.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Court Steps Back In

The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear suits brought by a variety of organizations on behalf of gay and lesbian couples affected by the passage of Proposition 8, and by religious and civil rights groups who worry that Proposition 8 will set an unfortunate precedent that could be used in the future to discriminate against churches and minority groups.

Briefs must be submitted by January 15 and oral arguments will be heard some time in March, with a decision expect within 90 days after that. It was in March of last year that arguments were heard before the Court in the in re: Marriage cases that led to the overturning of Proposition 22 and, ultimately, the approval of marriage equality in California and the placement on the ballot of Proposition 8.

The question is, is this a good thing for the community? The uproar from the right will be ear-splitting should the Court rule that Proposition 8 is actually a "revision" of the Constitution and not simply an amendment. "Activist judges" will likely not be enough of an expression of contempt, and I imagine Hannity and Limbaugh and Maggie Gallagher and the rest of the anti-equality cabal will have to develop a different, more censorious term. "Tools of Satan," perhaps? The churches will take to the streets just as we have. They will immediately begin efforts to recall the justices. They will work incessantly to remove from offices those legislators who refuse to pass a constitutional revision. (2/3 of the legislature would have to pass such a measure, and given that a majority of this same body twice passed legislation to create full marriage equality, that seems unlikely.)

There will be long-lingering animosity toward the gay community, and the issue may never fully resolve itself. But that's OK - it was never going to be fully resolved, even if we ended up winning the battle at the ballot box. For some people, same-sex marriage is always going to be intrinsically wrong, no matter how it comes to be legal.

What can the religious right do?
- It's virtually impossible for them to forward their agenda in the legislature as currently composed.
- It's unlikely they can vote out of office enough legislators to change that composition.
- They could appeal to the Ninth Court, and then to the SCOTUS, but it's unlikely they will win in either venue.
- If they lose at the US Supreme Court, they could attempt to re-introduce a Federal Marriage Amendment, but that's unlikely to gain the traction it needs (though it will certainly galvanize the opposition) to clear Congress. Even if it could, only 13 states have to reject the amendment.

Any of those reactions will take years to play out. And during that time, states with a combined population of 40 million (or more, if legislators in New York and New Jersey also approve marriage equality, and if the Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of equality) will have equal access to marriage.

The battle goes on!

A Win for Religious Freedom

This decision by the Indiana Supreme Court seems like the correct one to me, even though the ACLU (whom I generally support) fought against it.

The case revolved around whether it was OK to have "In God We Trust" as a free option for license plates. From what I can gather, car owners had two free options for license plate phrases -- either "In God We Trust" or "Lincoln's Boyhood Home."

This seems fair and equitable to me -- believers can choose a plate that matches their beliefs, and any one who doesn't want the reference to God have a secular option. Not sure where the problem was with that in the first place.

Comments, anyone?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

And now, for something completely different...

In an attempt to begin to once again broaden the scope of The Rational Feast and move away from 24/7 Proposition 8, I present to you this photo of a cool item on etsy.com.

I'm liking how the artist combined a man's tie with suit coat fabric to create a pillow that would be perfect for a den or dad's easy chair.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Forgive them, for they know not what they do

The day before yesterday I received an e-mail from Marc Shaiman, a composer and musical director, whose main claim to fame is as the composer of "Hairspray," for which he and his partner won the Tony. OK, Marc didn't send it to me, it was forwarded.

Shaiman was writing to inform the world of how the artistic director of the California Musical Theater company in Sacramento (I knew it as "Music Circus" and saw several performances there) had donated $1000 to the Yes on 8 campaign. Shaiman, rightfully incensed that a man who leads the creative process in a world where gay men make up a huge percentage of the creative talent both on and behind stage would so callously work against their interests, called for a boycott of CMT.

He got more than that. After a firestorm of e-mails and publicity, with many other theater professionals vowing to join the boycott, the artistic direction (Scott Eckern) resigned this morning. This is despite his issuing an apology yesterday and promising to donate an equivalent amount to the Human Rights Campaign.

As you can imagine, this has raised hackles on both sides of the issue. Those who support Eckern argue that he is entitled to express his personal opinion and that this has nothing to do with his job. Of course, those who were offended by Eckern's actions are also free to express their opinions by refusing to support his work.

My personal view would normally be that Eckern paid too high a price. He did apologize and match his donation, after all. Unfortunately, I think he deserves to lose his job -- not for his political opinion, but for sheer stupidity. Andrew Sullivan labeled him "Dumbest Man Alive" in a posting yesterday. I mean, really, you work every day with gay actors, writers, dancers, set designers, etc. and then you actively contribute to a law that would enshrine them in the Constitution as second-class citizens? It's not just stupid, it's thoughtless and cruel.

But wait, it gets worse. It turns out Eckern's sister is gay! That's right, he donated $1000 to help ensure that his sister and her partner could never enjoy the benefits of marriage. A man that displays that level of insensitive idiocy needs to find another job. Perhaps at a meat processing plant or a recycling yard or a toxic waste dump.

That said, let's move on to some more over-reactions to the Prop 8 vote. Apparently an activist group called "Bash Back" disrupted Sunday services at a church in Delta Township in Michigan. You can read the story here. You're not helping the cause, fellas. Hate can't be defeated with more hate. The only cure for hate and intolerance is love and understanding. Same thing is true for the morons who ripped a giant foam cross from the hands of an old woman who'd shown up at rally in Palm Springs protesting the passage of Prop 8. These idiots surrounded the woman, shouting at her and crushing the cross under their feet.

I wish I'd been there. We need to meet intolerance with understanding and hate with love and more love. We must counter stupidity with wisdom and fear-mongering with rationality.

We need to come together, not tear each other apart.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Bit of Idiocy to Rail On

Today's idiocy? Laws against the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana. Click here for an interesting overview of how our nation's pot laws got to the point they are and why repealing them would be a smart idea.

Money quote: "Anslinger immediately drew upon the themes of racism and violence to draw national attention to the problem he wanted to create. Here is a quote regarding marijuana...
"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.""

Monday, November 10, 2008

Powerful as this is...

...I can imagine religious types responding to his invocation of the Golden Rule by saying "but what I would want others to do unto to me is to help keep me from sin. That's what I'm trying to do -- save gay people from continuing to live in a gravely sinful state."

The Forerunner Speaks


Still Crushed

Tomorrow will be a week since the voters of California took the unprecedented step of removing rights from a group of people. The history of the state -- indeed, of the country -- has been one of extending rights, not limiting them. A week, and I still feel as crushed and deflated as I did when I saw the first returns and knew that what my gut had been telling me was right -- we are still too hated and misunderstood to be treated equally.

I read the blogs, I read the comments sections of news articles. I feel the anger, the hurt, the disappointment. I don't know what to do with it. How could all those millions of Californians have justified to themselves that it's OK to discriminate? To treat one group of people different from another?

And it's not just strangers. Our family has been friends with another family (mostly the parents) for more than 30 years. This lovely (or so I thought) couple have known me for more than three decades. They attend many of our family functions, including my mom's recent 90th birthday party. They have met my husband, greeted him warmly, laughed at the many funny things he says. Yet, I discovered (a few days before the election) that they had voted "yes" on 8 via their absentee ballot. These are not stupid, uninformed people. The husband owned a good-sized ad agency in San Francisco. But they helped to vote away my rights. I can't imagine what I might say to them should I ever see them on the street. (They live just a few miles from us.) It's certain I will never see them at another family event, because if anyone in my family had the audacity to invite them, they can't expect to enjoy my presence, as well.

So where do I go? We gay people are a tiny minority in this country. We have some political power, but apparently not enough. I have confidence that in 20 years, we will have full legal equality, but it seems clear that we will never be fully accepted. Or even truly tolerated. The "ick" factor will always be too much for most people.

I'm not ready to stop fighting for equality, but I'm not sure what strategy to employ. The only weapon I have at my disposal is logic and reason. And that hasn't worked. Our adversaries don't care about logic, apparently. Their fear is clearly too great to be overcome by logic. It's like a former friend of my husband's who -- when we were visiting Lake Tahoe together -- was afraid of a thunderstorm because he worried lightning would strike our 20+-story hotel and cause it to collapse. It was a base, irrational fear. But it was his fear, and nothing I said could make his heart beat any less quickly.

Far too many Californians are like that frightened little man -- and nothing I say can relieve their anxiety.

To all of you who have read this far, thanks for letting me vent on you.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The People Have Spoken?

Proposition 4, the parental notification measure on Tuesday's ballot, marked the third time the issue has been put to voters. The backers of the measure (which lost 52%-48%) now say they expect to try a fourth time. I don't have a problem with this; it's clearly their right to do so and it will be their money they spend in the attempt. As the father of a teenage daughter, I'm even sympathetic to their cause. (Though I voted "no" on 4 because I realize not every girl has parents who will react helpfully in a time-sensitive situation fraught with so many complications.) I also believe the optimum number of abortions ought to be zero.

However, I can already anticipate the outcry when marriage equality proponents begin the process of putting an initiative on the ballot to repeal Proposition 8: "What happened to the will of the people?!" "We already voted on that!" In the two elections since the first time parental notification initiatives were put forward, I haven't seen any commentary along those lines. And I read a lot. Why the difference?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Something Else for a Change

After all the campaigning and debate and disappointment of the past months, it's time to turn to something else for a moment. The blog has been focused almost exclusively on marriage equality for a long time. And if you look at the masthead above, you'll note that "golf" was intended to be one of the key subjects of The Rational Feast. So let's get back to it for a moment.

Yesterday I was this close to starting to call myself a "golfer." Long-time readers of the blog may remember I don't call myself a "golfer", but rather "someone who plays golf." I just haven't felt skilled enough to take on that moniker. Yet.

After taking two months away from the game due to injury, I recently picked up the clubs again. As an 18 handicap, I usually shoot in the mid-90s. I break 90 once in a while, have flirted twice with breaking 80, but can also shoot in the high-90s and even go over 100, especially on challenging courses. But in my first three rounds after the break I shot 91-89-89. The last 89 was on a pretty tough track, and 21 of those strokes came on just three holes.

Yesterday when I went out (on a gorgeous fall day) to my local course, I said to myself that if I could break 90 again I would start calling myself a golfer. The day started well, I nailed my drive straight down the middle. My approach landed a bit short and I ended up making bogey. But I followed that with two pars. The rest of the round I was up and down, but mostly consistent. I parred one of the toughest holes on the course (actually the toughest hole on the course, even though the scorecard doesn't list it as such), but then things started to fall apart a bit.

Between the 13th and 14th holes at this course there is a long uphill climb. Golfers in carts take the winding path up the hill, but walkers (like me) have a funicular (yes, a funicular) to take them to the 14th tee. Unfortunately, yesterday the lift was out of order so I had to make the long hike up. This took enough out of my legs that my next two tee shots were awful, causing me to go double-bogey, bogey. On top of this, I putted terribly, missing several four to five-foot putts that I ordinarily hole. Going into 18, I needed a birdie to break 90.

18 is a strange hole, a par 5 with almost a 90-degree dogleg right. I hit a beautiful 3-wood off the tee that faded perfectly, caught a cart path bounce and ended up in a great spot. I was in slightly thick grass, but I was only 180 yards from the green. I hit a solid hybrid to the front bunker -- then proceeded to shank the bunker shot. I was out of the sand, but left with a long breaking putt to make bird. I made a great stroke, but it didn't go in the hole. Then I missed the four-footer for par and ended with 91.

Oh well, time to start a new streak.


Every morning since Tuesday (I know, that's only three mornings, but I'm an impatient person) my first thought has been of the body blow the gay community took on election day. I'd like to move past the loss, accept it, and get on with the next step, whatever that is.

Herein lies the problem. What is the next step? Andrew Sullivan believes the best path is to forget the courts and do the hard work of convincing Americans that extending marriage equality is the right thing to do and to therefore achieve equality at the ballot box or in state legislatures. Bringing suits, he believes, will only result in backlash and bad feelings.

He has a point. I'd imagine a not-insignificant portion of Californians voted "yes" on 8 not because they didn't believe in marriage equality, but simply to teach the California Supreme Court a lesson about overturning the will of the people. If the suits that were filed the day after the election end up making their way to the US Supreme Court and the cause of equality prevails there (as it ought to, given the 14th Amendment) will we have won a legal battle but lost a larger, more important war? Americans may grudgingly accept same-sex marriage as a matter of law, but will equality always be stained by the fact that it was imposed upon the country by appointed judges and not elected officials or the American people themselves?

But what if African-Americans had waited until a majority of people felt they deserved equal access to education or the right to marry outside their race? How many more years would it have taken? Would they still be waiting for full equality? Although some extensions of civil rights (women's suffrage is the most important that comes to mind) have come through legislatures, many more had to be decreed and "forced" on the American people.

Of course, no court, no legislature -- not even a majority vote of the people -- can create acceptance. Loving v. Virginia gave interracial couples the right to marry, but I'm certain many still feel a twinge when they see a black man with a white woman. The law can be changed in a moment, but only time (and knowledge) will alter hearts and minds.

For me, the main problem with Sullivan's suggestion that we pursue electoral action is that people are very slow to change their minds. In the struggle to convince people that marriage equality is the right thing to do, we come too often to the impenetrable barrier of religious faith. Many millions of people believe there is an invisible superbeing that watches over us all and expects us to strictly follow rules established by books of mysterious provenance, filled with stories that would, if found on other pages, be considered "magic." No matter how rational or logical an argument you present to the more dogmatic among them, no matter how much evidence you provide, they can always fall back on "God says so" and that will -- for them -- settle any argument.

If Yes on 8 supporters had to back up their points with convincing evidence -- as they would in a court of law -- they'd have a very hard time prevailing. That's why Proposition 22 was declared unconstitutional -- because there is no rational reason to treat gay people differently under the law, even when it comes to civil marriage.

Unfortunately, voters don't have to be given rational reasons. They can say to themselves, "God wants it this way" and nothing can be done to sway them from that position. In California, if you can get a majority of people to agree with you, you can do almost anything -- at least until it runs up against the US Constitution. It happened with Proposition 2 in Colorado and could happen with Proposition 8 -- the SCOTUS could overturn it.

I'd rather have voters or the legislature extend equality, but to be honest, I'll take it any way I can get it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Retribution Coming?

Another one from the Volokh Conspiracy:

"To the 70% of black California voters (75% of black women voters) who supported Proposition 8, here's something to consider: it doesn't matter who's in the White House or who's in Congress, when you're applying for a job, what matters is who's reading your resume and what s/he does with it.

If your name is Lakesha, Darnell or anything similar, those of us who work in HR presume you're black. Because of the discrimination, exclusion and hate you chose to embrace and uphold, those of us who are gay and work in HR may now pause to consider whether we should contact you for an interview or simply place your resume at the bottom of the pile."

Can't say I'd do the same. But I understand the emotion behind it. Doesn't make it less wrong, though.

Concise, party of one?

It's an argument I have made on several occasions -- but never with more brevity than this:

"A frequently overheard slippery slope is:

Gay marriage = Less procreation = Human extinction.

But this slippery slope only works if we all become gay.

What process originating in gay marriage will make me divorce my wife and marry a man?

What process originating in gay marriage will make any appreciable number of straight people turn gay?"

From a commenter on the blog, Volokh Conspiracy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Oh, The Irony!

Although some say the voting on Proposition 8 is still too close to call, with two million late absentee ballots still to be counted, I don't see a path that leads to the defeat of discrimination. I think, for now, we must accept that most Californians believe that our relationships are less deserving than theirs.

While that is a very bitter pill to swallow, I believe that one day we will drink from the cup of true equality. One day people will see the light and realize that love is love and that no one's commitment to care for another person has more value (in a legal sense) than anyone else's.

If Proposition 8 does indeed pass, I lay the blame on two groups: the LDS church and African-Americans. The Mormons donated massive amounts of cash (up to 70% of the bankroll for the Yes on 8 campaign)and African-Americans were the only demographic that voted for discrimination. Unfortunately, I think that neither of these two groups are sufficiently cognizant of the deep irony of their opposition to marriage equality.

The LDS church still suffers from an image of being a church that supported polygamy, a highly alternative view of traditional "one man, one woman" marriage. They were driven from more than one state, their leaders slain, in part because they held a non-traditional view of marriage. Yet today they marshal their not-inconsiderable resources to crush another form of non-traditional marriage.

But at least I can understand where their opposition comes from. And the discrimination against them ended, for all intents and purposes, over a century ago. What I cannot understand is how African-Americans, who still suffer from discrimination, can extend bigoted thinking to any other group of people. Though the spectre of racism still hangs above the heads of African-Americans, their battle for civil rights effectively ended with the election of one of their brothers to the highest office in the land. Yet, after throwing off their chains, instead of melting them down, they wrapped them around us. That I will never understand.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Little Empathy, Please

After all the debate, all the arguing, all the back and forth on the issue of marriage equality, today I want you to think about just one thing. I want you to imagine how it would feel if other people were allowed to vote on the validity of your relationship. How would you feel if millions of people were stepping into voting booths right now to decide whether YOUR marriage would be “valid or recognized”?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another Reason to Love Andrew Sullivan

Once again, he hits it dead center.

Money quote: "In so many ways, real conservatives should be rejoicing. How did such a marginalized group come to seek such a traditional way forward? And yet so many "conservatives", rather than hailing this socially positive development, demonized those of us who stood up for it, cast us out of respectable conservative discourse, and tried to do all they can to destroy and uproot our families.

It's an emblem of what went so horribly wrong with conservatism. Fixing it will be a critical element of putting it right. Until the Republican party finds a way to talk to gay and lesbian people and our families, they will fail to become a modern political movement."

Equal -- on so many levels

Please click on this link. It's a simple, straightforward -- but very powerful -- affirmation of how ordinary our families are. How similar our lives are to heterosexual couples.

Money quote: "How much of your waking time is spent thinking about how you raise your children and the sort of people you want them to be? Do your children complain about going to religious services on the weekend, like mine do? Do they say, "Are you kidding me?," like it's a surprise, rather than your weekly routine? Do you have parents that you are also looking out for? Are you sometimes divided between the kids and your folks?"

Children Will Listen, 2

Here is more evidence that the concerns of people that children will learn about same-sex marriage if Proposition 8 fails to pass are unfounded. Why? Because Prop 8 supporters gave the issue FAR more visibility by putting the issue on November's ballot.

Money quote: "The irony is that gay marriage has become the No. 1 topic of discussion on school playgrounds and sports practice fields precisely because of Proposition 8. The political battle has done far and away more to raise awareness of same-sex marriage among schoolchildren than the state Supreme Court's ruling in May ever would have. This last month has been a giant teachable moment on gay marriage -- which is probably not what Proposition 8's backers intended."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Children Will Listen

From Andrew Sullivan's blog:

"A reader writes:

My 7 year old just learned about gay marriage. Not form his school or teacher, but by the Yes on Prop 8 ad on radio while carpooling to school. He asked me about it and I gave an age appropriate answer. I have no doubt that many other kids will learn about the gay marriage thanks to prop 8 ads. I hope the theocrats realize the irony ...

Irony isn't their strong point."

It's a point I've been making lately with friends -- you can't keep sexuality in the closet for ever. As Jeff Goldblum said in "Jurassic Park": "Life finds a way."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Look to the Law

Read this story in today's Desert Sun, discussing an opinion released by 50 respected professors of law from around the state regarding the true impact of Proposition 8.

Money quote:

"These scholars concluded that Proposition 8:
• discriminates against gays and lesbians
• would have no effect on a church’s tax exemption
• would not effect education or parental rights

“We recognize that people of integrity can differ in their views of the meaning of marriage,” a news release said the scholars wrote.

“But people who want to take the right to marry away from same-sex couples should not rely on misleading claims about the current state of the law or about what Proposition 8 would do.”"

The Call Has Gone Out

The right are calling upon their invisible superbeing to save California from the menace my husband and I represent. Though their invisible superbeing can't vote, THEY can. So can you. Overwhelm suspicion. Defeat superstition. Don't let some people's mythologies to interfere with the rational process of governing ourselves as a community. Vote No on 8 -- and remind all your friends and family to do the same.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Eight Mile Laundry

In certain 'hoods, there's a tradition of battling with put-down rhymes in the manner of Eminem's movie, "Eight Mile." In the above, my favorite new commercial, a new white rap god arises.

The Real Ticket

The "Straight Talk Express" finally made it to the lawn signs.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wasilla in Action

This may be the funniest thing you watch all week. Maybe all month. It is a one-man performed reading of the full transcript from a Wasilla City Council meeting from 1996, when Sarah Palin was either on the city council or mayor. (I'm not sure which, as 1996 is the year she was elected mayor.)

I don't know which is funnier/more tragic -- that the meeting was five minutes long, or that virtually all the five minutes was taken up with a discussion of refreshments. Either way, it's hysterical.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Maestro Speaks

Violinist Itzhak Perlman reminding us the Proposition 8 is about nothing more than equal treatment under the law.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The race just gets crazier and crazier. In addition to all the sign stealing (on both sides), now comes this. Apparently, the Yes on 8 campaign in San Diego sent as many as 30 letters to area businesses that had donated to No on 8, threatening that if they didn't make an equivalent donation to Yes on 8, they would publicize the companies' support of same-sex marriage rights. The Yes on 8 campaign admits sending the letters.

Not sure what they thought they were going to get, but I don't think publicity is what they were after.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's Already Happened

So let's decide HOW it's going to happen.

What has happened is that the concept of same-sex marriage has been heard by young children in the classroom. The proponents of prop 8 are trumpeting the field trip as evidence that marriage equality means children will be taught that "same-sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage." Not to burst anyone's bubble, but on a civil level, it is.

Kids need to know the truth. Kindergartners don't need to be taught a unit on the struggle for gay equality. In fact, sexuality and marriage don't need to enter the curriculum until junior high, at least. But what if one of the kids in a kindergarten class is being raised by two women? Or one kid casually mentions to another that his uncle got married to another guy -- and the classmate reacts strangely or even cruelly?

When the subject is raised -- for whatever reason -- when kids have questions, what should teachers do? Tell the kids to ask their parents? Possibly. But that could reinforce the perception of same-sex marriage as something to be ashamed of. (I know, lots of the Yes on 8 people secretly -- or not -- want homosexuality back in the closet, but since it's not going to be, they're going to have to get over it at some point.)

Or should teachers try to avoid the subject until they talk to parents? Or do you spend a few minutes of one class day talking in terms five-year olds can understand: "Though almost all boys one day find themselves really liking girls, some boys get a little older and find out they are attracted to other boys. Some girls discover they like other girls. That's how it is for Mitchell's two moms. It's sort of like being left-handed. We don't know why some people are, but it's wrong to treat anyone differently because of it." Something like that?

The point is, we shouldn't be arguing with the prop 8 proponents about whether discussions of same-sex marriage will happen in public schools. They will. They've been happening for years. Just like discussions of religion. So we need to talk about what we OUGHT to be teaching our children about the subject of civil rights and the "legal and financial aspects of marriage and parenting." That's why we have local schools -- so people can be involved in their children's education.

The field trip, for instance. (You know the one -- the other teachers arranged for a field trip to a fellow teacher's wedding for her young students. It's been a big dust-up in the blogs.) But where's the problem? Parents must always approve their child's attendance on ANY field trip. So if a same-sex wedding ceremony wasn't something you wanted your child to witness, you simply don't sign the permission form. As far as a wedding being an appropriate school activity for kids of that age, I bet it's happened before. I'm betting some kids were allowed to go see a teacher married in a civil ceremony. At some point, it's happened. Same-sex or traditional, a wedding can be a "teachable moment."

The Yes on 8 folks are cleaning our clocks on this issue. We're letting them control the debate. We need to shift the emphasis. Exactly how, I'm not sure yet. But we can't let the debate be about whether or not same-sex marriage will be discussed at all, but about when and how it ought to be in the curriculum so that parents' need for control over certain subjects can be balanced against children's need to understand the truth of how our society works.

Because the truth is, Proposition 8 has NOTHING to do with what kids are taught in schools. Kids are going to learn about same-sex relationships -- in school and everywhere else -- no matter how the vote goes on November 4.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's Official

I was married on Monday. In a small, private ceremony, my beloved and I stood with a few family members, looked into each other’s eyes and promised to love each other, to look out for each other’s best interests, and to care for and support each other for the rest of our days, no matter what obstacles life puts in our path.

We want this marriage to last a lifetime. But we are afraid if too many Californians listen to lies and fear-mongering and vote “yes” on Proposition 8, our marriage might last only 23 days.

What can I say to convince you to defeat this perhaps well-intentioned but profoundly misguided effort to eliminate the right of couples such as my partner and I to marry? I know that for many people, there is nothing I can say. But I will try anyway.

Do you worry your church will be forced to marry same-sex couples?

It won’t. The Supreme Court decision that began this era of marriage equality said exactly the opposite: “no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."

Are you concerned about what children may be taught in school about sexuality?

The only thing mandated by the state is that children be taught “the legal and financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.” For parenthood, you will have to discuss sex at some point. But the legal and financial aspects of civil marriage? No need at all to discuss sex or sexuality to teach those lessons.

Worried about changing the definition of the word “marriage”?

I’m sorry, but we need to use that word, too. Domestic partnerships are important, but you know as well as we there’s something profound about the relationship to which we give the name “marriage.” It’s special to us, too. If you can allow Britney Spears’ 55-hour Vegas vindaloo to be called a “marriage,” surely you can allow my rather mundane (however extraordinary it is to me) example of mutual affection and caring to be called one as well.

Are you worried about children? How they “deserve to be raised by both a mother and a father?”

What if, hypothetically, I conceded that was the case? How does denying marriage equality do anything to further that goal? Does anyone seriously believe if Proposition 8 passes that gay people are suddenly going to look for opposite sex partners and start having children?

Of course not. How, then, does my marriage (to a delightful, loving man who is as interested in my well-being and happiness as I am in his) somehow translate into harm for more traditional families?

Gay people aren't going away, even if one of our rights might be.

We didn’t stop being gay when we were teased or abused on the playground because of who we are. We didn’t stop being gay when our parents disowned us because of who we are. Or when we were fired from our jobs or evicted from our homes because of it. When we could be arrested and jailed because of it.

Or beaten, tied to a fence and left to die.

If we didn't give up being queer after enduring all we have -- do people imagine we will forsake our identities because too many Californians refuse to recognize that our civil, legal arrangements with each other – our paperwork – deserve to be equal to yours?

The Yes on 8 campaign has almost $10 million more than those fighting for my rights have. The LDS church alone has raised 40% of the other side’s war chest, already has a very large and effective army in place, and is recruiting more volunteers from out-of-state to fight against equality. The campaign is allying themselves with other well-organized churches. They fill the airwaves with lies and appeals to base and groundless fears. To be honest, I tremble at the thought of them.

But I stand my ground. Because I stand on truth. I stand on the Constitution. All are to receive equal treatment under the law.

Unfortunately, many voters disagree with me. Proposition 8 may pass, and our marriage (at least the paperwork) could ultimately be “valid or recognized” for a mere three weeks and two days.

We must – all fair-minded Californians must, no matter how we feel about same-sex marriage – not vote to eliminate anyone else’s fundamental rights. If we miss this opportunity to guarantee equality, we may not have another chance for a generation or more.

Those of us who are closer to the end of our lives than the beginning may not, as Dr. King said, get to the mountaintop ourselves. But we can all take a giant step toward the promised land of equality for all by voting “No” on Proposition 8.

We can also help forward the cause of marriage by making a donation to Equality for All, the organization leading the fight against Proposition 8. There are approximately one million gay people in California -- but only 30,000 people have made donations to the No on 8 effort. (Hard to believe Bob and I are responsible for 1/1000 of those donors!) And lots of those were straight people. If all the gay folks got together and gave even $10 each, we'd be in great shape for these last two weeks of the campaign. Click here to make a donation. $10, $100, $1000 -- whatever you can do. It's important.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Favorite New Blog

I've only read a handful of posts, but so far I'm in love with The Liberal Mormon That Could. It's written by a young LDS wife and mother trying to make sense of the intolerance her church is spreading. It's beautifully done. Give her a read.

Still Some Open LDS Minds

Click here for an interesting point of view from a 28-year old software engineer from Provo, Utah. He discusses the recent broadcast by LDS church leaders on Proposition 8, pointing out the many examples of mendacity and fear-mongering engaged in by high level leaders of the church.

Money quote: "The circular logic surrounding modern-day prophets is mind-numbing. When one looks at racist statements by past leaders like Brigham Young or fallacious teachings of Bruce R. McConkie, people are quick to point out that prophets are imperfect. But then people readily immediately accept every word from present leaders of the church. Apparently, prophets only become fallible once they've passed on, how convenient. If prophets really are fallible (as has been shown, numerous times) then members of the church would be wise to not blindly accept, but really think things through thoroughly. Unfortunately, people are quick to follow the advice of N. Eldon Tanner, "When the prophet speaks, the debate is over." People's ability to accept leaders' fallibility at the same moment as denying their fallibility is stunning."

Oh. My. God.

The above is the latest screed from the Republicans in their attempt to remind voters that Barack Obama is, well...black. If his skin color wasn't a dead giveaway, they reinforce the point with a bucket of fried chicken, a slice of watermelon and his face on a fake "food stamp."

And this happened in California, not Louisiana or Alabama. Do we really live in 2008?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Show us the money, Ellen!

Ellen de Generes has finally gotten involved in the battle over Proposition 8. She's made a 30-second spot that is accessible from her show website. Yet, despite the millions she has earned from her tv shows and concert dates, so far no donation to the campaign. Her mother, Betty, however, has given $700. I'm certain I have far less than Betty de Generes, and I've given more than that already and have plans to give more.

So Ellen -- love you, love almost everything about you, thinking about being you for Halloween...but WHERE'S THE MONEY?! We have the ads in place that will counter the lies the other side is spreading, but we need cash to get them on the air. Come on, write a check. If Brad Pitt can drop $100K, you can do a million, can't you? Please, please write the check. Today.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Connecticut Too!

A few moments ago, the Connecticut Supreme Court reached the same decision the California Supreme Court did, ruling that the state's civil union law wasn't equal enough and opening the door for marriage equality in the state.

I'm not sure what to make of this decision in terms of the California battle over Proposition 8. Will it convince undecided voters that marriage equality truly is the future? Or will it harden the hearts of those who fret over the specter of "activist" judges? Maybe a little of both.

Update: This link is a more complete story than the link above.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Well Done!

My team did a good job. It makes a good point -- no matter how you feel about same-sex marriage, do you really want to take away some people's fundamental rights?

It won't do anything for the true fundies, but I think it's the right "one thing" you can tell undecideds in 30 seconds.

Fox: See No Obama Supporters, Hear No Obama Supporters...

Count the hands. But hey, if denial works for them, who am I to argue?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Greatest of These is...


Share it.

Who's In Charge Here?

The mess we're in at the moment -- who caused it? I'm not an economist, or a political scientist, but I CAN tell you this: the GOP have been in charge of this country for the last eight years and they have made a COMPLETE mess of our economy and our standing with the rest of the world. Now, as they try to extend their failed reign, the only tools they seem to have left at their disposal are vicious negative attacks, appeals to fear and ignorance, and a willingness to manipulate, dissemble and point a blaming finger at anyone but themselves, instead of accepting responsibility for their role in our current free fall.

Democrats aren't saints. They've been known to stretch the truth a bit, too. But in this campaign, every analysis I have read shows that the biggest lies and the most unwarranted, unjustified attacks are being put to use by the GOP and religious right. But the Democrats are the best we have at the moment, and we must put them back in power.

Glenn Greenwald seems to hit this pretty well in his column in today's issue of Slate.

Money quote: "That the Right believes in the fundamental stupidity of the American voter while simultaneously pretending to revere and speak for them them is reflected in their belief that they can successfully blame the financial crisis and the country's woes generally on Democrats, who -- while hardly covering themselves with glory -- haven't had any meaningful power in this country for as long as one can remember. Ponder how stupid you must think Americans are to believe that you can blame the financial crisis on the 2004 statements of House Democrats about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when that was a time when the GOP controlled all branches of the Government and nothing could have been more inconsequential than what Barney Frank or Maxine Waters, languishing in the minority in Tom DeLay's tyrannical House, said or did about anything."

The graph above illustrates which party has held power in the executive and the Congress over the past eight years.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Teaching Marriage

An interesting piece on the claims by right-wing supporters of Proposition 8 that, if 8 passes, schools will be required to teach same-sex marriage alongside traditional marriage.

Money quote: "[S]tudents need marriage-ed. They need it because we're being taught to associate marriage not with permanent commitment but with social status, diamond rings, gifts, throwing a big party and, for women, wearing a dress that doesn't necessarily fit through the door. As a result, many teens of all sexual orientations (and many adults too) not only confuse sex with love, they confuse the long-term implications of marriage with the short-term gratification of wedding and honeymoon planning."

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Haiku for Last Night

Dark. No moon looks down.
Instead, here comes the first rain.
No more tomatoes.

Still Alive

Just very busy. Hence, no blog posts.

That's it. Just didn't want my nine readers to worry too much about me!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Disappointing News

According to a new SurveyUSA poll, approximately 49% of Californians oppose Proposition 8, while 44% support it. That is much less that the 17 point gap shown in recent Field and PPIC polls. My guess is that this SurveyUSA poll is probably closer to reality than those other two polls.

Which means...MORE WORK! If you're local, join me on Wednesday night, October 1 for an evening of phone banking to identify undecided California voters. 6:30 to 9:30 at the Spectrum Center, 1000 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo, #10. Be there!

A Mormon on Separation of Church and State

Rocket Man

This looks like a whole lot of fun. Scary fun, but fun.

Although I have to say it's not quite as impressive as if he'd taken off himself, rather than jumping out of a plane. Next time, maybe.

And Dewey did pretty well, too...

John McCain is so confident he'll perform well in tonight's debate that he is already claiming victory. The Internet ad you see above appeared on the Wall Street Journal's web page this morning. Apparently another ad had a McCain spokesman saying "John McCain won the debate -- hands down."

We cannot afford ANOTHER president who creates his own reality.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Look next to the tainted baby formula.

This is rich. Apparently the Yes on 8 folks contracted their sign printing out to a Chinese supplier, who has missed the deadline, so their big plan to put one million lawn signs up in unison on Monday morning has been thwarted.

And they thought God was on THEIR side!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A little bit of Aaron in the night (well, morning)

A great column from Maureen Dowd, though it's written mostly by Aaron Sorkin. It imagines an encounter between Barack Obama and "The West Wing"'s fictional president, Josiah Bartlett.

Money quote: "Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence."

But read the whole thing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why we can't be complacent

I wrote in my previous post (just below) about the good news from the Field Poll, but cautioned that we can't get complacent, as the Yes on 8 folks have more money and haven't really yet begun their fight. But Matt Coles of The Huffington Post said it more powerfully and effectively than I.

Money quote: "What the Field Poll and some other polls like it suggest is that we are getting most of those conflicted voters right now. But it doesn't tell us that we've completely convinced them - just that at the moment they are resolving the conflict our way. That may well reflect the fact that almost all of the news coverage so far has been positive, and the other side hasn't even begun to hit yet on television.

But they are going to start hitting soon. We made a great television ad buy early on. But they have now bought a week ahead of us. More ominously, they're now out-fundraising us significantly. They've taken in over $16 million compared to our $11 million (and they only pulled ahead after Labor Day). And the stuff is pouring in, mostly in $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 chunks, mostly driven by the Mormon church."

Give. Now. Please. If you are a family member reading this, we need your help. If you just happened on the blog, we need your help. We'll take whatever you can afford. Click here to donate. Don't let an opportunity pass to right a wrong.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good news -- but no complacency please!

The latest Field Poll is out today and support for Proposition 8 is slipping. The poll shows 55% of likely voters oppose the proposition, while only 38% support it.

But remember, polls on this issue are notoriously inaccurate. People just don't like to cop to bigotry. Plus, the Yes on 8 people -- who have outraised us 3 to 2 -- haven't really started their campaign. Monday at 7am, they hope a million people will walk out of their homes and post a "Yes on 8" sign on their lawns. Their tv ads haven't begun. But Brad Pitt just donated $100,000 to the cause, so we can buy a few more 30-second spots.

I'm hopeful, don't get me wrong, but I have no plans to slack off or let up in my work.

UPDATE: Click here to read a story about how polls on same-sex marriage are often inaccurate. Money quote:

"[s]upport for these measures has been under-estimated by an average of seven percentage points. In some cases, polls have under-estimated support for traditional marriage by as much as 21 percentage points."

Stay on target!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

McCain Misspoke

When John said "The fundamentals of the economy are sound," he must have meant to say the fundamentals of HIS economy are sound. He and Cindy still have the $100 million and seven houses (not including investment properties), after all.

Right on Target

Take a read of this post. It quotes and comments on yesterday's story about a Roseville couple who are so angry that their wedding license said "Party A" and "Party B" that they altered the form, which was then rejected by the county. So they aren't legally married and the wife can't get health insurance from her husband's company.

But this fellow isn't letting them get away with it. Money quote: "[Y]ou are choosing to stay legally unmarried. That's a choice you don't only want to make for yourself... you want to make it for thousands of same-sex couples as well. Gay people aren't keeping you unmarried. You are. But in almost every state in this country except yours, people like you most certainly are keeping gay people from getting married. They don't enjoy the right to make the choice you are making. You want to risk your health over some ridiculous argument about semantics on a legal document? Go nuts. But don't pretend your right to choose is being infringed upon. It isn't."

If you can have just one appliance...

...now it can be a toaster. Thanks to Toastabags, nifty little sacks that allow you to cook a range of things in your toaster. Eggs, cheese sandwich, pork chops -- drop 'em in the bag, put the bag in the toaster and you're set.

Out of stock at the moment, unfortunately.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Deliberative, Civil Debate -- imagine that!

This looks interesting. It's a story from a web site on Pittsburgh announcing a "deliberative poll" on marriage equality. Here's how they describe it:

"“Current polling and the media don’t allow for thoughtful political issues or debate,” explains Robert Cavalier, a Carnegie Mellon philosophy professor and SPPDD co-director. “It will be a remarkable achievement if we can get citizens across the state to come together and talk about sex, politics and religion in a civilized way.”

On the day of the program, people will come together and meet in smaller groups. “It’s been my experience that when people come together and talk to people they don’t usually talk to, they roll up their sleeves and work on it as opposed to initiating a debate or disagreement.”

Deliberative polling is a concept pioneered by Stanford's James Fishkin as a way for an electorate to make more informed, thoughtful decisions about public life.

Take heart, fight on

I love Anne Lamott. Not just because she is a fellow Marin resident. Certainly not because she wears her hair in blonde dreads that look like butterscotch Twizzlers. I love her mostly because she's funny. But the fact that she is insightful and committed and attempts to live like a true Christian, instead of the hateful, exclusive variety of faith that has been passing as Christianity in this country for too many years, makes her as dear to me as a peanut butter milkshake.

When Anne gets angry, she doesn't lose her sense of humor. If anything, deep heaviness brings out delightfully bearable lightness in her prose. Check out her piece in today's edition of Salon, in which she expresses her disgust at the mendacious, vile, un-American campaign being waged by John McCain and Sarah Palin. Money quote:

"One of the tiny metabolic suggestions I have to offer -- if, like me, you choose not to have her name on your lips, like an oozy cold sore (I say that with love) -- is to check out a Web site called the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. There you can find out what she and her husband would have named you if you had been their baby. My name, Anne, for instance, would be Krinkle Bearcat. John, her running mate, would be named Stick Freedom. George would be Crunk Petrol. And so on.

First of all, go find out what your own name would be. Then for one day refuse to use the name of these people who are so damaging to earth and to our very souls -- so, "I don't have to understand anything, it's all fuzzy math. Trust me. I'm the decider." From now on, when working for Obama, talk about Obama, talk about his policies, the issues, the economy, the war in Iraq, poverty, the last eight years, Joe Biden. You don't have to mention Crunk Petrol, or his sidekick, Shaver Razorback."

FYI, Sarah and Todd would have named me Puck Mule.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Great Loss

The brilliant young (well, younger than I) writer, David Foster Wallace apparently hanged himself yesterday. Wallace was the author of several books, including the much-lauded "Infinite Jest," and one of my favorite collections of essays, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again."

A terrible tragedy. Who knows what insight and humor he might have provided us in decades to come.

Friday, September 12, 2008

He MUST Be Defeated

Watch this. Share it with friends.

The lies being spread by the McCain campaign are nothing short of despicable. We CANNOT afford to have this man leading our country.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Well Done!

A well-written letter to the editor, by citizen Michael Kaufmann. It deserves wider distribution, so I will do my tiny part:

"The judiciary, executive, and legislative branches of our government have a long history of rulings and legislation that time tests. The good remain, the bad are overturned.

In 1787 the United States Constitution was ratified. It counted each slave as three-fifths of a person, and gave them no legal protections. In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation effectively ended slavery.

In 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified and prohibited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol. It was repealed in 1933.

In 1924 the Virginia Legislature enacted The Racial Integrity Act. It became a felony for white and non-white persons to marry. The law was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 1967.

In 1942 more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were forcibly moved to "War Relocation Camps." In 1988 Congress apologized for the internment.

In 1964 the Civil Rights Act made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal.

In 1990 The Americans with Disabilities Act became law. It prohibits discrimination based on disabilities.

In 2008 the California Supreme Court ruled that a law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is contrary to the California Constitution's anti-discrimination clause.

Be part of the fourth branch of government; the electorate. In November we have an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment that will deny equal civil rights to part of our citizenry. Vote no on Proposition 8, a measure that eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry."

Hear hear!


In linguistics, a "homograph" refers to words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings, such as "stalk" or "bear."

Since the opponents of marriage equality seem to be hung up on the word "marriage," how about if we just define "marriage" as a homograph? In fact, if it makes them happy, a heterohomograph -- that would be words that are spelled the same but mean opposite things?

My sense is that the ones who are truly hung up on the word "marriage" being theirs alone are just as hung up on fully equivalent civil unions, too.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Where in the world...

...is Andrew Sullivan?

The prolific blogger (the link to his blog can be found to your right), a progressive conservative is suddenly missing in action. Usually posting a dozen or more times a day, Sullivan put up one simple post yesterday and nothing today. When he takes a vacation, he usually leaves other bloggers in charge of his site. One would think he would at least leave an indication of what was going on, or have one of his staffers do so. (Andrew's blog is part of the web site for The Atlantic magazine.)

I hope nothing's wrong -- Andrew plays a vital role in today's political discussion. But it's a mystery.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sarah, Palin and Tall

Well possums, it's looking more and more like the Sarah Palin pick is an unmitigated disaster. As the hours pass, and more and more unflattering news (the lies on the "bridge to nowhere," Troopergate, the pregnant teenage daughter) comes to light, people are starting to focus on the real problem: not Palin's suitability to be a heartbeat from the presidency, but McCain's foolishness and impulsiveness in choosing a candidate who has not been adequately vetted.

Obama has run a nearly flawless campaign and his VP pick was solid and showed tremendous thoughtfulness and wisdom. McCain's first really big decision as an executive was ill-considered, based on gut instinct, and makes him look like an idiot. As Craig Ferguson says, "remind you of anyone?"

It will be interesting to see the polls next week.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What the Palin Pick Says About McCain

Click here for an interesting analysis of the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's co-candidate.

Money quote: "McCain’s pick shows he is not pretending. Politicians, even “mavericks” like McCain, play it safe when they think they are winning — or see an easy path to winning. They roll the dice only when they know that the risks of conventionality are greater than the risks of boldness."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Grab Bag

I haven't said much (actually, anything) about the just-completed Democratic National Convention. Didn't see it all, but I will say I thought Hillary was amazing, giving the best speech I have EVER seen her give. If she'd been that clear and powerful in the campaign she might be the nominee today. I was also impressed by Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton.

Barack didn't impress quite as much last night, but I imagine some of that was due to exceptionally high expectations, and perhaps a fear of coming off as "too black" if he really let the rhetoric loose. But I liked that he got into policy issues to a greater degree than I thought he might have.

Now, McCain's VP pick. Really, John? A 44-year old first term governor of a state that is 48th in population? (And it being Alaska, many of those don't live there year-round.) You're 112 and have serious health issues and you expect voters to put this woman a heartbeat away from the presidency? What's the story? Is she easy to push around? Probably easier than Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty or Tom Ridge would be. I don't know her, haven't seen her speak (to be honest, didn't even know who she was until this morning), but I can't imagine she brings anything to your campaign. You were already likely to carry Alaska. Now it's probably assured. So put those three electoral votes into your "solid" column.

Finally, don't expect many posts over the next few days -- tomorrow is Mom's 90th birthday celebration and we're off to celebrate with family and friends.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Great Debate

The Federal Society recently sponsored an online debate on marriage equality, featuring four law professors -- two four, two against. Smart people making good points. Good reading if you click here.

Money quote (from Dale Carpenter):

"Consider just some of the incremental steps to gay marriage over the past half century. Sodomy laws were eradicated; homosexuality was removed from the list of “mental disorders”; gay newspapers, communities, and organizations flourished; civil-rights laws were enacted; and openly gay politicians were elected. Positive knowledge advanced through the systematic study of homosexuality and through daily experience with actual gay people, dispelling many widely accepted, long-standing, and hysterical myths about homosexuals. Study and experience discredited hoary fears that homosexuals ruin everything they touch, that any effort to lift stigma and legal repression would practically end civilization.

This was all necessary for the emergence of gay families, which began to spring up. Gay couples lived together openly. Adoption was available to gays in 49 states. Homosexuality ceased to be an automatic disqualification for custody. Second-parent adoptions provided some legal protection to gay families. Gays began raising children in increasing numbers (now more than a million) and no state was stopping them. A quasi-marriage culture sprouted.

This bottom-up momentum led to formal recognition. It started primarily in the private sector, where companies began offering benefits to “domestic partners.” Then cities and counties followed. Then states recognized gay relationships, at first tentatively, offering only some benefits. Now states are approving civil unions, granting all the benefits of marriage. Two populous states have actual gay marriage. Abroad, the move to gay marriage in countries with legal and political heritages similar to our own has been more dramatic.

Some of this recognition has been pushed judicially, but it is increasingly a legislative phenomenon. There’s been a counter-movement, but almost one-fourth of Americans now live in a state that legally recognizes gay couples.

Are we at the point where gay marriage is in most functional respects already here, so that sanctioning “technical” gay marriage is the next obvious incremental step to correct the lingering incoherence in our treatment of gay families? Given the numerous and enabling shifts we’ve already seen, I think so. There’s room for disagreement, but we’re surely getting closer."

Close mind...

...insert dogma, part three:

"I have historically opposed legislation defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and President Monson's statement at first really disappointed me. This is one case, however, where I have decided to just follow the prophet. I may not fully understand the reasons behind the statement, but I just feel I need to follow the prophet on this for whatever reason."

A Mormon blogger.

Where the Dems Must Go

This is the sort of image that must be burned into the minds of American voters, reinforcing that McCain will mean four more years of the same failed policies.

(And don't they look like the happy couple at a California wedding?)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Battling Superstition

Click here for an interesting article about the challenges facing a Florida high school teacher during the presentation of his evolution unit in biology.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Free Shamu

Here's an idea I can get behind -- PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wants to buy a SeaWorld park and return Shamu to the wild.