Archive for the ‘gay rights’ Category

I received this warm and fuzzzy e-mail about gay marriage coming to DC. I’m happy about the outcome. My problem is that the “aw shucks” POV is unlikely to convince anyone who is not already inclined to agree with the position.

What I believe will be more compelling is for people to watch the broadcast and/or read the transcript of Bill Moyers Journal for February 26, 2010. The legal adversaries in 2000’s Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case — Theodore Olson and David Boies, “one conservative and one liberal — have teamed up to make the constitutional case for same-sex marriage.” And the point that is made repeatedly is that their support is based on the rule of law.

The two lawyers are mounting “a well-financed legal challenge to Proposition 8, California’s 2008 ballot initiative that put an end to same-sex marriage in that state. The case could make it as far as the Supreme Court and define the debate on same-sex marriage for years to come.”

“The case they’ve brought, Perry et al v. Schwarzenegger et al, has created a major stir, with some advocates of same-sex marriage worried that they are bringing the case too soon, that a loss at the Supreme Court could set back the movement for same-sex marriage by years. Olson argues that waiting for civil rights is not an option:

In the first place, someone was going to challenge Proposition 8 in California. Some lawyer, representing two people, was going to bring this challenge. We felt that if a challenge was going to be brought, it should be brought with a well-financed, capable effort, by people who knew what they were doing in the courts. Secondly, when people said, ‘Maybe you should be waiting. Maybe you should wait until there’s more popular support.’ Our answer to that was, ‘Well, when is that going to happen? How long do you want people to wait? How long do you want people to be deprived of their Constitutional rights in California?’

Earlier, to this basic point:
TED OLSON:… People told Martin Luther King, “Don’t do it. The people aren’t ready.” And Martin Luther King responded, “I can’t wait. I’m not going to make people wait.” And when people told Martin Luther King, “You may lose.” He said, “The battles for civil rights are won ultimately by people fighting for civil rights.”

And one more thing. When the Supreme Court had made the decision in Loving versus Virginia in 1967, striking down the laws of 17 states that prohibited interracial marriage, now it’s only what? 40 years later? 40 years later we think that’s inconceivable that Virginia or some other state could prohibit interracial marriage. It’s inconceivable. Public sometimes follows the opinions of the Supreme Court, reads the opinion and says, “My gosh, thank goodness for the Supreme Court. We realize how wrong that was.”

(I’ve written about Loving vs. Virginia, which I too find analogous to the gay marriage issue.)

Perhaps it is my liberal bias, but I found the statements of the conservative Olson the most compelling:

TED OLSON: We’re not advocating any recognition of a new right. The right to marry is in the Constitution. The Supreme Court’s recognized that over and over again. We’re talking about whether two individuals who will be — should be treated equally, under the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The same thing that the Supreme Court did in 1967, which recognized the Constitutional rights of people of different races to marry.

At that point, in 1967, 17 states prohibited persons from a different race of marrying one another. The Supreme Court, at that point, unanimously didn’t create a new right, the right was the right to marry; the Supreme Court said the discrimination on the basis of race in that instance was unconstitutional.

Or this exchange:

BILL MOYERS: So, you’re both comfortable invalidating seven million votes in California [who voted for Prop 8]?

TED OLSON: Well, this happens when the voters decide to violate someone’s constitutional rights. David mentioned that we have a Constitution and we have an independent judiciary for the very protection of minorities. Majorities don’t need protection from the courts.

I was particularly fond of this:

BILL MOYERS: But you’re going up not only against the voters of California, the majority, but you’re going up against the Congress of the United States. In the 1990s, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which actually defined marriage as quote, “a legal union between one man and one woman.” And even declared that states need not recognize the marriages, the same sex marriages of another state. The President signed this. President Bill Clinton signed this. And you want to overturn not only the voters of California, but the Congress and the President of the United States.

TED OLSON:…it often happens that the measures that are passed almost unanimously in Congress, because Congress gets carried away, are overturned by the Supreme Court. And you go back to Members of Congress and you say, “What happened there?” And they’ll say, “Well, we knew it was unconstitutional. We expected the courts to take care of that. We wanted to get reelected. The courts are the ones that come back and help us.”

One of the fascinating aspects of the trial, which began in January, is that one could not watch the proceedings, unless one were in the federal courthouse in San Francisco. “(T)wo filmmakers in Los Angeles came up with an ingenious alternative. Using the trial transcripts and other reporting, plus a cast of professional actors, they turned the case into a TV courtroom drama. Every day of the proceedings has been reenacted on their website, Marriagetrial.com.

So watch/read this piece. You may be convinced, despite your conservative leanings, theological objections, or other issues that, as a matter of long-standing American law and jurisprudence, marriage is a fundamental right, and therefore must include gay marriage as well.
ROG

In my twenties, I used to dress up for Halloween. While I might pull out my Frankenstein mask now and then – I REALLY can’t breathe in that thing – I’ve lost my All Hallows Eve mojo.

But this year, the child is going to need an escort for her trick-or-treating; her costume is a ballet dress that lights up – I might just surprise myself by dressing

All I want to know:

Are you dressing up for Halloween? As what?
Are you going to a party, or parties?
Are you going trick or treating? Do you have a child to provide you cover?
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Top 10 Spooky Buildings
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My friend Fred Hembeck’s comic icon, Soupy Sales, died this week. One of the many things Fred taught me about Soupy is that he was a Motown artist. Really. And some of the songs, as Fred noted, weren’t half bad.
A suitable tribute for Soupy.
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Scott from Scooter Chronicles answers my questions.
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I’ve seen this a couple places on the Internet already: the octogenarian war vet’s impassioned plea for gay rights.

ROG

I’m working on a theory, not yet totally formulated, that goes like this:

John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic President of the United States, nibbled around the edges in dealing with the civil rights of black people. His heart I believe was always in the right place, but he needed to be pushed by the civil rights community, notably Martin Luther King Jr, culminating in the March on Washington, August 28, 1963, to really get on board.

Barack H. Obama, the first black President of the United States, has nibbled around the edges in dealing with the civil rights of gay people. His heart I believe was always in the right place, but he needs to be pushed by the civil rights community, notably ????, fulfilling the promise of his Democratic nomination acceptance speech on August 28, 2008, to really get on board.

Both as a civil rights supporter and as a data person, I was pleased that the Obama Administration is “determining the best way to ensure that gay and lesbian couples are accurately counted” in the 2010 census. “The Administration had directed the Census Bureau to explore ways to tabulate responses to the census relationship question, to produce data showing responses from married couples of the same sex.” One does not need to “believe in” same-sex marriage to want a reporting of what is actually taking place.

There have been other positives such as the extension of benefits to gay federal employees.

These do not make up for my disappointment with Obama’s foot dragging on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and his Justice Department’s defense of the deplorable Defense of Marriage Act. But as he reiterated to some GLBT leaders Monday, the day after the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, he says he’s working on it.

As I pondered all of this, I came across a piece by Robert Reich called, What can I do to help Obama? The crux of the issue is in the subtitle: “The public has to force him to do the right thing.” Reiterating, we need to bug him AND Congress to, as the title of the best Spike Lee movie, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Do the Right Thing.
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As I’ve mentioned, I only recently discovered that an old friend of mine moved to Canada because same-sex unions were untenable in the U.S. and her now spouse already lived there. This bugs me tremendously. Still, since yesterday was Canada Day, props to the U.S.’s neighbors to the north.
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I came across an interesting survey: Spiritual Profile of Homosexual Adults Provides Surprising Insights. “People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts…The data indicate that millions of gay people are interested in faith but not in the local church and do not appear to be focused on the traditional tools and traditions that represent the comfort zone of most churched Christians…It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles – but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles.” As someone noted, some of their margins of error are ENORMOUS. And identifying sexuality on a phone survey, when some people are terrified of answering Census questions about when they go to work, raises an eyebrow. Still, it is is an interesting repudiation of a stereotype, which is always good.
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Here’s a peculiar story briefly referenced in my local paper: Could gay marriage reduce HIV/AIDS? A study by two Emory University economists suggests the answer is yes. They “calculated that a rise in tolerance from the 1970s to the 1990s reduced HIV cases by one per 100,000 people, and that laws against same-sex marriage boosted cases by 4 per 100,000.” Not sure I buy the entire premise of their study, but I accept this sentence: “Intolerance is deadly.”

ROG


Considering the paucity of my movie going behavior lately, nevertheless I knew that I would have to see the new Gus van Sant film, Milk, starring Sean Penn as the guy who goes from a closeted gay in New York City to the first openly gay politician in San Francisco within a decade. Part of the appeal of going for me was my love for the Bay Area. Moreover, and I did not know this until fairly recently, Harvey went to school at what is now UAlbany, the same institution where I attended library school, and got into a little trouble.

So, go I did with my wife this past Sunday to Albany’s Spectrum Theatre after having lunch at Justin’s. Date night afternoon! Initially, my rather deep knowledge of some of the events portrayed in the movie was a bit of a hindrance to my enjoyment. It was as though I’m watching Sean Penn in a biopic. Oh, look, there’s James Franco as his lover! But there’s a point for me – a specific moment having to do with an election – where Penn stopped being the actor and became Harvey Milk.

I’m finding it difficult to describe the film more fully. I recall that Roger Ebert got chastised in some quarters for revealing information that, I would agree, was public knowledge. The headline facts are established early via archival footage of Diane Feinstein, now a U.S. Senator. That information made me appreciate more the structure of the movie, with Milk dictating notes on a recording device amidst flashbacks.

This was a well-reviewed film (92% on the Tomatometer, 91% among top critics.) One review in particular irritated me: “The exceptional The Times of Harvey Milk won the Oscar for Best Documentary 24 years ago…. Yet, all this time later… Hollywood wants us to applaud its courage for finally–finally–telling this story?” Perhaps true, but the review of the film itself was actually rather positive, yet listed as “rotten”.

There was quite a bit of archival footage, and I did something at this film I don’t recall ever doing before; I hissed when someone appeared on the screen as though it were Snidely Whiplash. Anita Bryant was spewing her hate in the name of “Christian love”; I boycotted orange juice for years because of her.

But this is no historical relic. Indeed, the fight over California’s Prop 6 in the mid-1970s, which would have banned gay teachers, and 2008’s Prop 8, which would ban gay marriage, made the film seem more relevant than it might have. Jimmy Carter and even Ronald Reagan opposed Prop 6, BTW.

I should note a couple of the many fine performances. Emile Hirsch, who was directed by Sean Penn in the Penn-penned Into the Wild plays organizer Cleve Jones. Josh Brolin, who recently played Bush 43 in W, is Milk’s more conservative colleague Dan White.

It was a movie with a message, but I did not find it preachy. At the end of this film, some people, including me, applauded it. In some ways, I/they were applauding the remarkable evolution and life of Harvey Milk.
ROG

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