Wednesday, November 12, 2008


On Proposition 8: What Keith said


As odd as it is for me to say, Focus on the Family Action *is* doing a public service by letting people know of Tim Gill, about whom I'd never heard otherwise.

"Gay Activist Tim Gill and Friends Claim Victory in 106 Races."

And now, back to Mr. Olbermann:

What he said:

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics.

This is about the ... human heart. And if that sounds corny, so be it.

(Continued in the first comment).


If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not ... understand.

Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want -- a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them -- no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights -- even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage.

If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal... in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are... gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing -- centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children... All because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness -- this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness -- share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."


You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate. You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know...It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow **person...

Just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge.

"It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:

"So I be written in the Book of Love;

"I do not care about that Book above.

"Erase my name, or write it as you will,

"So I be written in the Book of Love."


Good night, and good luck
Nice to see the media and other assorted folks get worked up about Proposition 8, now that the election is over and it's safe to do so. (BTW, I'd say the same is true for some largish segment of the gay community, who only now are organizing rallies and protests.)

You might call that closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

It's not over, of course, but a resounding trouncing of Proposition Hate would have been much more satisfying than lengthy court battles and decisions by "activist" judges.
Well, partly, speaking just for myself, I have latent, or lingering, "state's rights" ideas that cause me to see Prop. 8 as "a California thing." Plus, it's hard for me to get my head around the idea that people would actually vote to take rights away from people. And tres, in the flurry of the election, Prop. 8 might have got lost, off my main radar anyway.

For what it's worth: I personally see the issue as one of liberty, no more and no less, I personally stand with you, and one of the main reasons I'm a member of a United Church of Christ church (as opposed to some other church) has to do with the gay marriage fight.

"Redneckz 4 teh Gays!"
I am with ER, at least as far as the whole "state's rights" thing goes - I remained silent not because I was in favor of Prop 8, but because it was a California issue and not living in Cali I felt very uncomfortable dealing with it. Now, I think anyone who peruses my blog, or knows me either here in blog-world or in the real world would know that, clearly, I oppose this kind of discrimination.

I think that, now that the horse is out and the barn door is being closed by a bunch of folks, it is time to speak out, and act out, and double down to make sure not only this is reversed, but the Federal Protection of Marriage Act is repealed, and that same-sex unions (I really, really hate the word "marriage" in this context; sorry, but I just do, only because it creates more confusion than anything else) contracted in one jurisdiction where they are legal are recognized around the country (that whole Constitutional thing).

So, I guess I straddle the position both you gentlemen take - right now is the time to act, and to be much more thorough, and national in our approach. I believe this issue will go away within a decade or so, but not without some tears, sweat, and (sadly) probably a bit of blood. Yet, what choice do we have? As long as some American citizens are discriminated against merely for being who they are, the promise of what it means to be an American just isn't there yet.
I actually had some problem with contributing money to the No on 8 campaign as well, because I do think that out of state interference in state issues is less than ideal. On the other hand, given that the majority of funding for the Yes on 8 campaign came from out of state (ie. Utah), it seems a little silly to hold myself to an ideal to which the other side wasn't holding itself.

And, since marriage isn't actually a state's rights issue for straight people, I guess I have a hard time understanding why it should be for gay people.
Good point, Alan.
BTW, speaking of donations, in case you're interested, check out:

which is a database of all donations to both the Yes on 8 and the No on 8 campaigns, just in case you want to see which dentist, or coffee shop, or ice cream parlor to boycott. :)
Whoa. That's hardball. Very American!
Re: the article on Tim Gill: just what is the "homosexual agenda"?
Good question.

Securing liberty maybe. The pursuit of happiness maybe. Equal rights under the marriage laws maybe. Who knows?

Pretty sinister, ain't it? And Focus on the Family Actions stands firmly against it.
"just what is the "homosexual agenda"?"

Here's a short little cartoon movie that will help explain the awful, terrifying gay agenda.

Glad I could help clear that up. ;)
Thank you, but I'm actually serious. I searched all over the Focus on the Family Action Website but couldn't find a definition. So I wrote and asked them. I'll keep you posted.
Watched the video about Tim Gill. Apparently he's doing realy sneaky stuff like hiding behind the phrase "equal rights for all," and making donations to out-of-state candidates.

What a scalawag!

"I'll keep you posted."

Thanks, I never got the memo. :)
Can anyone tell me what, in a contemporary sense, IS a state's rights issue beyond the state flag, bird, nut, fish, candy?

As a people whose interests are ever more defined by our corporate (meaning whole group) relationship to a global earth and world, how can we continue to define ourselves by state's rights and think we are addressing the foundations of the dynamic structures of the people of the US?

Why should, looking at the twenty-first century and out, why should oil off the Louisiana shore or under the Alaskan tundra benefit those citizens more than others?

Perhaps soon, we will have a financial stake in rates of cancer in northern New Jersey or the Montana mining fields because a national health care system.

I grew up in Texas, spent many years in Connecticut, a few in Pennsylvania, and now five and counting in New York. Of what percentage of Americans is this true and of what percentage will it be true? Did I lose my interests in Texan natural, political, cultural resources?

My real question is this. Just as commitment to union by two people seems absurdly boundaried by state borders, what is the justification, besides an anachronism that is now continually a hindrance, for "state's rights"?
Ultimately, it seems to me, "state's rights" will become the same defensive and reactionary response that "gay agenda" is.

As I write, the state of Missouri just approved legislation that mandates 15% of their energy be from alternative means.

How in the hell can one argue that the consequences of passing or rejecting such legislation can be contained within the boundaries of Missouri alone.
Re, "what is the justification, besides an anachronism that is now continually a hindrance, for "state's rights"?

Well, it's that pesky history of ours, and the Constitution. Can't change the first. Changing the latter, whether by the mechanics given or by judicial interpretation, is a bitch.

But one or the other has to happen as long as we base our governance on the notion that sovereignty rests with The People, ergo, the sovereignty of the 50 states, generally, tests with the people.

It's hard for a state's rights-oriented liberal like myself. One thing that Jefferson got terribly wrong was his belief that the states, not the federal government, beiong closest to the People, would serve as the greatest check against violations of civil and human rights. Alas, his faith in the People was too great.

(Whereabouts in Texas did you grow up?)
I wonder if we are not inheriting an unexamined framework of understanding the Constitution's balance between state and federal authority.

We managed to blow by state militias on our way to the most powerful national military ever known. This took some decades to do and several Supreme Court cases pitting Jefferson against Marshall. But such a precedence does get applied to commerce as much (until maybe these next few years).

Surely the discussion of commerce was based then on the demographic and geographic segregation of the former colonies. Why would good Virginians take any guff from someone from NY? Well, now VA houses how many hundreds of thousands of Yankees, Californians, Texans.

Surely the heartbeat of the interest in state's rights continues to be the unending Civil War.

It is no Obama that is going to tear that down. It is the environment, the economy, and the oncoming competition of the European Union, BRIC, and the rest.

I grew up on the most boring and least Texan part of Texas imaginable. Can you guess?
To be blasphemous about it, we are going to need a new name in 50 years. The United States has not made sense geo-politically for some time and will make less domestic sense as we march or crawl into this century.

If I were you, I'd copy write "The Republic of Sequoyah."
At the risk of sounding like I am depersonalizing Alan and confreres, I write these things here because one could argue that the issue of homosexual rights is part of a grab bag of issues falling more on the fault lines of modernism and trepidation over extremely fast and complex changing dynamics than on the fault lines of privacy.

The dynamics of globalism and how it is slowly redefining sovereignty is affecting whole spectrum issues of human rights, environmental rights, economic interests, etc.

Sovereign leaders -- as defined by eighteenth century international law -- have been tried in international courts for crimes committed in their own countries. This was the leading edge of what is going on now: when do the human interests of "the world" supersede sovereignty. And now not just for war crimes, but for environmental impact, health care (smoking rights are preserved at the United Nations, but for how long? As is extreme patriarchy and occasions of female harassment, but again, for how much longer?).

Homosexuality is already an international point of contention in the Anglican Communion.

"Cultural differences" is newly becoming a losing argument in the face of civilized reason regarding individual rights AND ALSO group rights, the rights of ourselves as "citizens of the world."

In this way, Kant's description of human beings as invested in rights beyond the boundaries of one's state, in effect as having rights as a "citizen of the world," is very much what we will be talking about over the next 50 years.

This will drive our right wing friends crazy, but reason always does.

Prop 80 is a skirmish in the Kentucky woods compared to the issues of emancipation that are coming.
Well, my first thought was the Panhandle, since you said you grew up "on" it. Or maybe south further "on" the Llano Estacado. But I love West Texas, having lived on the edge of it, in Wichita Falls, for a decade.

Buit, I reckon you also could have grown up "on" the Gulf Coast. But, it's as Texasy as the Panhandle in its way.

I read the following to Dr. ER, who is from Wichita Falls: "I grew up on the most boring and least Texan part of Texas imaginable. Can you guess?"

She said: "East Texas?"

LOL. I confess that I love all of Texas. So ... no idee. Whereabouts, generally?
Sorry, the "on" was unintentional and misleading. I meant "in," as in The Metroplex, not Dallas, not Fort Worth, "in" between.

Boring as all Hell. Not west, not east, not scrub, not piney woods. Not city, not country, not hill country.

Who calls thirty miles of suburbs, a "Metroplex"?

What kind of soul is there in that?

We were mostly children of aspiring middle classers whose own parents were blue collar folks from real places. Where my parents were from, now those places tell stories.
Re:Prop 8

Shall we trust ourselves to the mercy and grace of the 51%?

A State can not take a right away from a citizen that they already have. That is a violation of the "equal protection" clause of the U.S. Constitution. In that the California courts have already declared that the State's Constitution gave people of the same sex the right to marry, it can not now be taken away by changing the State Constitution. If it could be, then there would be no reason to have a Constitution, either State nor National.

The concept of Equal Protection is a bargin struck by the majority with the minority to protect the minority's rights if they would participate under Constitutional Law. That All parties to the agreement will have equal protection of rights and those rights can not be aborgated by a majority vote is the principle upon which we all live now.

If Prop 8 stands, then nothing stands. Upholding the legality of proposition 8 will unravel the social contract made under our U.S. Constitution.

That makes all this a most serious ball game indeed. It kind of reminds me of the gravity of the Dred Scott Case and the turning point which that brought about.

Irony of irony is that the LDS, as a minority, that sees this as a "religious" question, will have help finance the undoing of the concept that has kept them from being torn apart by the majority for over 150 years, and there are no more promise lands which can be migrated to, in order to escape the whims of the 51%.
Ugh. I get it Feodor. "Lake Worth." "North Richland Hills." "Irving." Etc. ... There are spots of story in betwixt Dallas and Fort Worth. Grapevine has one or two, I think. But I get what you mean.
drlobojo, I'd love to hear your opinion about the idea that's being floated that, based on the CA Supreme Court ruling on marriage, Prop 8 may actually make all marriage illegal in CA. Seems like a huge stretch, and legal arguments aside, I can't imagine anyone doing such a thing. Just wondering what your thoughts are.

"Irony of irony is that the LDS, as a minority, that sees this as a "religious" question, will have help finance the undoing of the concept that has kept them from being torn apart by the majority for over 150 years, and there are no more promise lands which can be migrated to, in order to escape the whims of the 51%."

Well, particularly ironic given that the issue here is marriage, and it's the LDS making it an issue.
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I think the legal reasoning opposed to the good Doctor's mention of equal protection would be that California retains "domestic partner registration."

This status protects all state level rights for same-sex couples, mostly financial, but does not apply to federal protections which are civil rights based and not, obviously, specific to homosexual unions as a class.

This would be disallow application of equal protection.

The only real answer, as a few here have said, is to storm the federal gates with equality and privacy.
"I think the legal reasoning opposed to the good Doctor's mention of equal protection would be that California retains "domestic partner registration." "

That would constitute "separate but equal" which is not "equal protection" and is thus unconstitutional under SCOTUS's "Brown" 1954.

Allen, no it probably doesn't make all marriage illegal. But I would submit in that the CSC's ruling was that the standing constitution in de jure provided for the right of same sex couples to marry, then Prop 8 would in fact be changing the existing constitution not just adding to it. If that is so, then does not the California constitution require a 2/3rds vote of the legislature for a "change" to the constitution to be on the ballot? Prop 8 was approved by petition was it not? If Prop 8 is a change and not just an addition, then the content is moot.

Although a technical fix it would at least let us avoid a U.S. Constitutional fight.
Well, they finally wrote back to me re: my question about the "homosexual agenda." They sent me to this link, where the writer tries really hard to make the agenda sound scary:
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