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:

video

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:

video

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

video

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.