Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hillary Hovers and Hedges


Hillary Clinton will surely have a states-rights problem come the campaign for Prez. The clearest evidence of that is in — of all subjects — same-sex marriage.

This should certainly be a Dem gimme. Many GOP pols, including Presidental hopefuls, have chosen to admit defeat here. While the deft and delusional keep at it, half of Republican bigs accept it's  a done deal. On the other side, many Dems pushed for marriage equality and get to claim the high ground with the recent, very recent, sweeping victories. Plus, the SCOTUS seems poised to mandate nationwide marriage equality this summer.

So it's all too obvious that she should join the victory lap, even though she only stepped into the race in the last few yards. Instead, she stupidly clings to her adopted Southern heritage of states rights. That's a bad sign in several ways. Not only is that no longer relevant to this particular issue. It also puts her at odds with most Dem and independent voters, most notably those her daughter's age and younger. Moreover, it reflects poorly on what we might expect in policy should she become President.

You can check for yourself. Start with last June's interview by Terry Gross on NPR. While Gross fairly demanded that Clinton admit she'd been wrong on marriage equality, only changing for expedience, Clinton would have none of it. Much has been made of her continuing defensive posture

Yet lost in the personal here, Clinton's statements on states rights are astounding. Consider from that interview:
.... So for me, marriage had always been a matter left to the states. And in many of the conversations that I and my colleagues and supporters had I fully endorsed the efforts by activists to work state by state. And in fact that is what is working.... And then leaving that (Secretary of State) position I was able to very quickly announce that I was fully in support of gay marriage. And that it is now continuing to succeed state by state. I am very hopeful that we will make progress and see even more change and acceptance...

There you have it, politics fans. As late as the middle of last year, she wanted it all ways. Moreover, she based it on states rights. We know historically how incredibly poorly that works for civil rights.

There is, of course, the personal irony here of her upbringing. From Illinois and then to undergrad in MA and law in CT, she didn't get to the states-rights turf until she was nearly 30. While she and future husband Bill Clinton dates at Yale Law, she didn't agree to marry him until she moved with him to Arkansas when she was 28. 

States rights have been and continue to be big in AR. When her hubby was Gov. then President Clinton, he played the let-the-states-decide card many times. She has been in tune.

So there you have it. Come the SCOTUS decision, she'll be able to do the cliché of it's settled law. Yet I suspect she'll continue by adding unnecessarily that she would have preferred if the states individually could continue to legislate marriage to suit each.

We deserve a President with more courage and vision and, well, morality. The correct answer is, "I support this and we are doing this because it is right." If she feels the need to waffle on such important and fundamental issues, she should stifle it. 



Monday, February 09, 2015

Aw, do you need some attention, Roy Moore?


Looking for the dummies and crazies, we invariably find them in the same states — Idaho, Utah, and of course the likes of Mississippi and Alabama. The once and now again Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Stewart Moore is at it and as loony as ever.

Apparently unchasted at having been removed from office in 2003, he's doing pretty much the same. Back then, he had commissioned a Ten Commandments display at a court house and then refused to let it be removed when federal courts ruled it was unconstitutional. Now he's done the same with same-sex marriage.

He ordered judges not to issue licenses to gay couples, in defiance of federal court rulings.

[If you really can't believe his arrogance and stupidity, start with his Wikipedia article. It has about 50 footnotes and external links to let you check truth and knowledge.]]

This time though, in his late Sunday night ruling, Moore showed a glimmer of restraint. He ford not threaten direct punishment to any judges who do issue licenses. Instead, he orders them to obey Alabama one-man/one-woman law, despite the federal overrides, and writes that seeing they do so falls on the governor of the state.

To ensure the orderly administration of justice
within the State of Alabama, to alleviate a situation
adversely affecting the administration of justice within
the State, and to harmonize the administration of justice
between the Alabama judicial branch and the federal
courts in Alabama:
 
Effective immediately, no Probate Judge of the State
of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama
Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license
that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of
the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.
 
Should any Probate Judge of this state fail to
follow the Constitution and statutes of Alabama as
stated, it would be the responsibility of the Chief
Executive Officer of the State of Alabama, Governor
Robert Bentley, in whom the Constitution vests "the
supreme executive power of this state," Art. V, § 113,
Ala. Const. 1901, to ensure the execution of the law.
"The Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully
executed."

As has been his wont, he plays political cards. He's showing he will take a lowest-common-denominator position as he perceives it. He also shows he no respect for law or the legal process.

This has served him both poorly and well. He was removed from office for his previous shenanigans. Undeterred, he tried running for higher office. He failed in several attempts to become governor and once tried with no public interest in running for POTUS.

However, the people did re-elect him as head of the state's high court. That surely is proof we should judges for their experience, expertise and integrity, and not elect them.

We have the intertwined issues of anti-gay sentiment, anti-federalism and of course the rawer states rights ones. As in so many other states that passed one-man/one-woman laws or amendments, Alabama seems to enjoy the sentiment that outsiders can't tell them what to do.

While it's true that outsiders, even federal courts and Congress can't tell tell them what to think, what to do can be another matter.

Monday AM: MSNBC has been doing legwork here. It reports most probate judges will follow federal ruling, not Moore's caprice. Plus the anti-gay Liberty Counsel folk are stirring the pot, representing judges who follow Moore and claiming those judges don't have to follow federal rulings.

Friday, January 16, 2015

At long last, the Supremes will speak


Okay, kiddies, the SCOTUS seems to be tired of hiding. It shall hear arguments in multiple cases simultaneously to settle the right to same-sex marriage, in April. A months later, likely the end of June, their decision will emerge.

There are many, many new stories on this. The NYT has a good and not too long recap here.

The gist is that as we have noted here before and many others have commented on, one rogue US District court (the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit) bucked their many peers. The other courts found bans on marriage equality unconstitutional. The Sixth's judge pulled ye olde states' rights routine, ruling it was up to state legislatures and voters to decide.

All the observers I've read immediately state that one can never predict the SCOTUS rulings. So, I'll ignore that. I say here and now that the four SCOTUS justices who lean anti-gay rights will listen carefully to arguments, interspersing their disdain for marriage equality during questioning. Afterward by a five-to-four or six-to-three vote, they'll declare marriage as a fundamental right and that denying it to a class of citizen is unconstitutional.

The SCOTUS has proven too many times in recent decades that when public sentiment finally is undeniable, they'll go with it, despite their preference to avoid controversy.

There will be weeping, gnashing of teeth and prophesies of doom for the nation in and out of court. The dissenting opinions will be vile and illogical. The dwindling parties of anti-gay groups will swear vengeance through the magical thinking that they will totally flip public opinion. Ho hum


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gone with the obituary


Cross-post note: This appears at my non-political blog, Harrumph! As it is marriage related, it seems apt here too.

A college chum made his family vanish in his self-written obit. A wife and four daughters vanished in his detailed recap of life and kin.
I feel a double connection. I introduced, really connected, him and the woman he’d marry….first Then over 20 years later, he’d ask me to be a witness in the bizarre and hypocritical Roman Catholic annulment tribunal.
It’s not my thought to demean any religion’s dogma or processes. Yet from a post written at the time of the declaration-of-nullity proceeding, I clearly was stunned at the acrobatics involved. Likewise, reading the obit he wrote, I marvel at the duplicity.
His second wife, also Roman Catholic, insisted on an annulment, so they could marry in their church. Her will be done. Meanwhile, while he pressured em to fill in the complex tribunal questionnaire from the Savannah diocese, I was and remain uneasy.
As requested in the cover material, I did check the papers and answers with a local priest. He heads one of the region’s largest parishes and certainly understands his church’s rules, if not MA history.  He nimbly clarified the how and why of the process. To this UU, he was an animated FAQ on nullity. While I still see it very much as a game and a fund raiser, annulment is not otherwise part of my life and that is not my church.
The puzzlement comes when the theater extended to my friend’s death statements. The RC Church is careful to claim a nullified marriage did in fact exist when it occurred and that any children resulting did not become illegitimate as a result of the declaration. With his heart conditions and knowing his end was at hand, he could not drop the ruse.
The longest paragraph in his obit lists his relatives, sort of. His second wife’s folk abound. She is s”the great love of his life.” Her parents, children, grandchildren, siblings and appendices all appear. On his side, his late father appears in the previous résumé-style paragraph. At the very bottom of the survivors he mentions his late brother.
Invisible are his aged mother, his very alive sister, his first wife and his four daughters. I can surmise that he was estranged from his family, perhaps as a result of his leaving, divorcing and getting that annulment from wife #1. I can imaging wife #2 insisting he drop contact with his birth and previous family.
I’ll likely track down and call his first wife. That will mean confessing my role in the nullity process. That would probably be good for my psyche.
My erstwhile chum seems to prove the idea in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon that “There are no second acts in American Lives.” He avoided the complications and development of personal play, going directly to the resolution, comfortable if delusional.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Alarm! Designated Solemnizing in Peril!


Lackaday, my blogger name is massmarrier and I've been at the designated solemnization biz since July 2004. Today though, the harsh news is that the long-standing MA means of plain folk performing marriages is on hold.

Allegedly having friends and relatives do the honors at the ceremony might start again next month. Given a ponderous bureaucracy and a new governor, who's to say for sure?

You can catch my various early posts from the thrilling yester-decade from the archives, like here and here and here. Also the image is of the old-style wax seal from my first solemnization. Not only is the new version just a peel-off seal embossed with a squeeze, but the application process is pretty much online (except for providing a character-reference letter).

The Globe piece on the hiatus for the process cites failure by success. The designations have become more popular. Even so, they are talking 14 a day. Maybe the governor and secretary of the commonwealth should go to a fast-food joint or the RMV to see how to process.

I have performed five marriages as a designated solemnizer and one as a Universal Life Monastery minister. I prefer the theater and elegance of petitioning the governor. In my heart of hearts, I'm sure the governor per se does not approve anything, that someone on the staff eyeballs the application to get a sense you're not trying to pull an immigration or other scam, and then a functionary in the secretary of the commonwealth's office records and mails out the form. Still, it's the idea.

By the bye, CA copied us a few years ago and improved the process. You can go to a local registrar for approval, do not have to wait the nominal three weeks (I never waited more than 10 days), and can perform multiple marriages per calendar year. We are supposedly limited to one per year, although they make an exception for me once.

In short, if we can't handle 14 of these a day, we need to tweak our process and maybe our law. We can return the favor to CA who copied our law and copy their (new, improved) version.

Truly, performing the marriage friends and in my case, a son, is more meaningful than a hired gun JP.




Friday, November 28, 2014

Warming in Scandinavia


Finland doesn't seem to be in any hurry. It did get around to legislating marriage equality at last, today.

Over 10,000 years ago, it was the last place to get ready for the Stone Age as the last ice sheets receded. Then nomads began settling. It has since nudged its way to over five million residents (about the same as Houston or Madrid). With its empty spaces and sparse population, it has a high percentage of internet and cellphone use, but no leading modernity. Even in its atavism, it is not very political and so low key in that way it doesn't even have a national motto.

Let it be written though that on 28 November 2014, its unicameral parliament approved same-sex marriage 105 to 92. They had registered partnerships of homosexual couples for 12 years and were the only Scandinavian country without marriage equality.

So, the deal is done but not the details. Finland is never rushed. The Grand Committee of parliament gets the decision for a pro forma approval and then the whole parliament reapproves it also pro forma. Then as in other backwaters like Massachusetts many forms, regulations and enabling lawn need tweaking. Couples there may have to wait though next year or as long as March 2017 for everything to be in place after all the approval. Finland is not to be rushed.

Another oddity is that the head of the official church is on board. It's good for the country and in line with the church's values said Archbishop Kari Mäkinen of the Evangelical Lutheran church, About three quarters of Finns belong.

However, Finland became a focal point for anti-gay/anti-equality types there and even our own MassResistance bozos. In Finland, audible complaining came from the likes of Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen. It remains to be seen whether she'll be obstructionist n helping implement parliament's marriage decision. However she promises to be a sore loser, saying, "I believe that in the future a large group of Finns will continue to consider marriage to be a bond between a man and a woman, and that they will not consider relationships between people of the same gender to be marriages."

Regardless, she can sit in a corner and spew. Like New England, Scandinavia is now a marriage-equality bloc. Happy holidays.




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Marc Solomon on the long battles for SSM

Marc Solomon mug, from his websiteMarc Solomon is justifiably flogging his newly published Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of how Same-Sex Couples took on the Politicians and Pundits — and Won. He is national campaign director for Freedom to Marry and has been a key player in several rights groups for 13 years.

Eager-Reader Note: You can order his book through his website. Click on the title above to go there.

In fundamentally another stop on his book tour, Solomon came on to answer past, present and future questions about marriage equality in the U.S., as well as describing what's in WMTISOHSSCTOTPAPAW. We're not huge on promoting books. That's for the likes of The Daily Show. However, I think this is one is really timely, very important, and with a strong local angle.

Solomon admits we aren't quite to full marriage equality yet, but expects it soon. He figures that with or without Chief Justice John Roberts' vote, the Supreme Court will expand it to the nation, likely this term, by the end of June 2015.

Getting there has not been easy nor linear. Click the player below to hear some of the road blocks and struggles. He recounts the anguish of California's Prop 8, which stripped legislated equality away, only to have it restored in another initiative. There, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "punted" as Solomon put it, after vetoing SSM twice and claiming the courts should decide. In the end though, Schwarzenegger aided the cause by not fighting the result.

Solomon also recalled the struggle to keep marriage equality alive in MA, the first state to legalize it, with the Goodridge decision of our Supreme Judicial Court. Efforts to overturn that pivoted on a ballot initiative that would require only 25% of the combined bicameral legislature to put to a risky vote. Listen in as Solomon describes what worked in MA and later elsewhere. Convincing lawmakers to support equality required gay couples, many with children, to visit their Reps and Senators to simultaneously present themselves and plead the case. That made the difference here and elsewhere.

While that campaign went on, Solomon said the pro-marriage-equality forces often felt the whole world opposed them — leadership in the Vatican, the commonwealth's Republican party, local pols like Sen. John Kerry, and national ones like Karl Rove. He talks about how their strategy won the day, even with legislators from rural and more conservative urban areas.

Now, Solomon says, the anti- forces have pretty much lost their strength. The Catholic Church has shifted its position, the Mormon Church has backed away, and the professional anti-gay groups have much less support as the nation favors SSM by 60% or more.

For one point, Solomon is much kinder to President Barack Obama than I on the issue. Many political insiders hold that Obama was always pro-SSM but cynically held off saying so before his first election. I am incredulous that he and his wife, both lawyers with him also a former law professor, certainly knew the distinction between religious ritual and civil marriage.Solomon, who was privy to White House thinking, phrases the process leading to Obama's support for equality differently. Solomon sees a very narrow range where politicians feel comfortable making definitive statement on controversial issues. "It's simply the way the political process works," he said.







Cross-post note: This appears at Left Ahead.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Marriage Fight on a Platter to the Supremes


No more hiding from marriage-equality for the US Supreme Court, as the 6th Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 to uphold same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. This stands alone after the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th Courts rejected the bans and upheld lower-court rulings.

Despite the jive rhetoric of right wingers, has seldom been "activist" or "legislators from the bench." That's what wingers have called it when the Supremes or state high courts do their jobs but don't find as conservatives want.

Instead, the Supremes have largely waited until pushed hard and often enough. Every so rarely, they do something wacky, illogical and spitting in precedence, such as Citizen's United. Normally our highest court only goes into huge battles when there is a direct conflict between Courts of Appeal.

Ta da.

Observers figured this was eventually going to happen, even after a long, thick string of victories for equality. The 6th Circuit is very conservative and was the likely catalyst. Simply put, come out, come out. You guys have to decide. Suddenly equal protection is up against states' rights.

Today's ruling was about more than just marriage of homosexual couples. Among the cases the three-judge panel considered were whether same-sex couples could adopt, whether they had such rights as being on each other's death certificates (with all those ramifications), and whether states had to offer comity — recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states where they are legal (i.e. most of the nation).

There is no legal option for the Supremes. They likely won't rush into this one, but will have to decide it.

Friday Update: LGBTQNation reports that the lesbian couple who sued Michigan for the right to jointly adopt their three kids are preparing an appeal to the SCOTUS. This likely will hasten the schedule for taking up the big question at the top.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

MA Election Choices. Fret Not on 11/4.


Yes indeed we'll have two-page, double-sided ballots next week. Be aware most of that is the four ballot questions...and that this is a simpler set of choices than the recent Dem primary.

I happily play scout and point the trail. I read the literature, go to the stump speeches, watch the debates, and drill down into the campaign sites so others don't have to. People do ask and I do say.

Do all of us elections officials and your fellow voters a big favor. Show up knowing which ovals you'll smear. You can do the essential research in two minutes through the secretary of the commonwealth's site. Go here to view or print your precinct's ballot.

Count 'em 4 Questions


This includes the four ballot questions, with all of their explanatory text. Please come with your choices. We have to account for every page of every ballot all day long. If you don't vote on the front and back of the second page, the scanner will reject it and an official will have to trot over to manually override that.

I have strong thoughts on these four. If you don't or are undecided on any, feel free to use my brain. The short of it No on 1 and Yes on 2, 3, and 4. My reasoning is in my Left Ahead podcast, which you can access here.

Mostly Obvious Choices


Sometimes I mix it up, but this cycle, the picks are Dems, as in:


  • US Sen. Re-elect Ed Markey over a weak GOP Brian Herr (no real vision or any other virtues)
  • Gov./Lt. Gov. Martha Coakley/Steve Kerrigan over Charlie Baker/Karyn Polito. Reject the baseless, even puerile, fantasy that putting a Republican in the titular head office somehow balances anything. The nominally heavily Dem legislature is not very liberal putting a GOP Gov. in is silly. Baker has toxic history from his roles running HHS and the Big Dig finance, and in his inhumane approach to fixing Harvard Pilgrim. Don't trust him.
  • AG. No contest between the brilliant and experiened Maura Healeyk and the ho-hum John Miller.
  • Secretary of State. Bill Galvin is stagnant and is a Luddite whose technology foot-dragging makes it hard to access "his" data (it should be ours). Alas, neither D'Archangelo nor Factor has made a convincing argument to unseat him. Too bad. Last time, Jim Henderson did, but as an indy, he didn't have the recognition. Begrudgingly, Galvin yet again.
  • Treasurer. Deb Goldberg is the one, over GOP Mike Heffernan and Indy Ian Jackson. She has the experience and smarts.
  • Auditor. Re-elect Suzanne Bump over GOP Patricia Saint Aubin and Indy MK Merelice. In a fit on inexplicable asininity, The Globe endorsed Saint Aubin. who is an anti-gay, anti-marriage-equality bigot. Moreoer, she got a basic accounting degree 34 years ago and briefly practiced as an auditor; too little, too long ago to qualify her for anything. She is abrasive. Bump has found terrific waste in the system and saved us tons of money. Let her keep at it.
  • Congress. Incumbents are OK and in the one meaningful race for an open slot, the Sixth US House District, go with Seth Moulton over Richard Tisei. I generally like Bay Windows picks, but they are wrong picking the latter. Sure, he's openly gay and wants to push ENDA, but he's a Republican first and not in a good way. He promises to be John Boehner's puppy. Tisei has been a MA state senator and there's nothing he knows that Moulton can't outdo in a few days of study and conversation. Moulton has better politics and planks.


More of my reasoning on most of these choices are in another Left Ahead show here.

So, if for some reason you don't totally agree with all my choices, still vote next Tuesday. For all of our sake, come prepared with your picks.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Huck Has Hissy...Yawn


Après moi,...

In the case of Mike Huckabee, the threat is le déluge. But far more realistically, it would be just sans moi.

It was big yucks from Huck last Tuesday on winger radio, American Family Radio's Today's Issues. He was on with a couple of other loonies, including Rick Santorum. Huckabee's false prophesy starts around 22:18.

The short of it is that he said that if Republicans accept same-sex marriage, the GOP will lose all elections going forward. Setting aside that the opposite has been the case and getting more so, bigotry and discrimination don't cut it.

Moreover, the Huck says obey him, GOP, or see a wholesale desertion.
I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans, who have abdicated on this issue, If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing and Bible-believing people just go ahead and abdicate on this issue. And while you are at it, go ahead and say abortion doesn't matter either because at that point you lose me.
I'll become an independent and I'll start finding people that have guts to stand," he said. "I am tired of this.
He's going to take his Bible and go away, but not go home. He seems to figure he'll call out, "Over here, y'all true Christians," and millions will do it.

Alas, his record of leading and harvesting voters suggests, very strongly, otherwise.

Vanity and ego, behold yourself in Mike Huckabee.


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