Wednesday, August 31, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Constitution

Our own sorta superhero, Captain Brylcreem, a.k.a. Governor Mitt Romney, dirtied two pages of paper today. He sent a letter to Attorney General Tom Reilly urging him to certify a probably unconstitutional ballot question on same-sex marriage by the September 7th deadline.

According to an AP story late this afternoon, Romney wrote:
I write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to certify for submission to the people the ... petition. No matter how one feels about same-sex marriage, we should all agree that the commonwealth's citizens should not be excluded from a decision as fundamental to society as the legal definition of marriage.
It's not like he's running for POTUS or anything. Oh, wait, yes, he likely is.

The 2008 DoMA-style question needs Reilly's certification to begin the signature-gathering process. Check an earlier post for its tortured history.

In a huge slap at both the letter and the spirit of the commonwealth's constitution, he urges pig piling on anti-same-sex-marriage ballot question on another. This is specifically forbidden by law here, not that bothers the Cap'n.

Parroting the verbiage of the reality deniers and haters, he wrote:
At base, the proposed petition should be certified because it addresses a matter of paramount importance to the citizens of Massachusetts. Marriage is a fundamental social institution bearing a direct relation to the health and enduring strength of our society. To silence the voice of the people on a question of such great consequence would be a profound injustice.

The citizens of the commonwealth should not be denied meaningful participation in the legal definition of marriage.

Meanwhile, the 2006 question is in its final skirmishes. If it wins a vote (unlikely) on September 14th, it would go to voters. That one would replace homosexual marriages with civil unions, but not disturb the existing same-sex marriages. The new one would forbid same-sex marriages entirely.

His situational ethics are what Arline Isaacson, co-chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political caucus, nails. The AP quotes her as saying,"The legal arguments against certification are very strong and very compelling. Romney is playing a political game here, not a legal one."

This can do nothing but backfire on our Captain. Law? We don't need no stinking laws that we don't like. That can't play well with those thinking about their next President.

He doesn't know how to lose, but he knows how to be a loser.

What Are They Thinking (and Why)?

We shall muse a bit in future posts on motivations those anti-gay fundamentalists. Unfortunately, the sources our mental-health acquaintances sent us to are not very promising for chances to work with them, much less their minds.

An earlier post here touched on some of the issues.

With nice timing, our own liberal-religious maggy, the UU World, appeared yesterday. Its lead story, Who's Afraid of Freedom and Tolerance?, is just to this issue. It appears online here.

We soft-hearted pinkos cannot seem to get over the ideas and ideals of reasoning together, finding common ground, and as possible, working for a common good. The UU author, Doug Muder, sees little chance of the fundies being able or willing to do any of that.

He cites research into their actions and mindset. In particular, he expands on a seminal book on the subject Spirit and Flesh: Life Inside a Fundamentalist Baptist Church, by James M. Ault Jr. His review of that appeared a few months ago and is also online here.

The typical fundy relies on an intergenerational village-like culture. This minimizes choices and maximizes obligations, thus keeping ambiguity to a minimum. A thing is either this or that. You need not fret over it or reclassify it as the preponderance of evidence piles up on one side of the scale. Life is simple. Ahhhhh.

Both the heartland righties and the urban lefties have solid reasons to stereotype the other and themselves. Muder writes:
Fundamentalist communities like to see themselves as embattled citadels, islands of eternal values in the storm-tossed sea of Anything Goes. Liberals, on the other hand, like to portray the Robertsons and Falwells as busybodies: If conservatives are high and dry inside their citadels of righteousness, then why donÂ’t they just mind their own business rather than rail about our moral decline?
He cites numerous examples of ironic and hypocritical failings and excuses of fundies in their behavior, but hey, Jesus loves and forgives, right, Right?

More important, he notes that "(c)hoice is the serpent in this Garden of Obligation.
I have to look at all the people in my life and wonder what they’re going to do—and they have to wonder about me as well. If other people have choices, then maybe fulfilling my timeless obligations just makes me a sucker. Maybe everyone who does his or her duty is a sucker.

Now the gay couple next door provokes serious cognitive dissonance: Who is the Husband and who is the Wife? If they raise children, who is Mother and who is Father? And if none of that matters, then what does matter? Not just the definition of marriage is being questioned, but the obligation system itself. If I see Western civilization as a network of obligations with millions and millions of people filling timeless roles for no reason other than the expectation that everyone else will fill their own timeless roles, then I might suspect that the whole structure was about to come down.
An unfortunate aspect that some fundies have noticed is that the other side does not grab onto an issue and then suddenly abandon it for the next one. The Left in the main continues to protest, lobby, legislate and bite or nibble on such issues as same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

That's really insecurity-making stuff. You can see why they would avoid it. As Muder puts it, "...fundamentalists have every right to fear and resent religious liberals By adjusting to the breakdown of the obligation system, we speed its collapse."

Muder says to expect more lashing out by the fundies as their model loses influence. He urges pinkos not to match persecution claims with fundies. Rather to "understand the anger and helplessness of the Christian right, so that we can cut through the static that jams our signal" of explaining why freedom and choice work better than obligation.

Then, like a true liberal, he puts the burden back on the reader:
We need, in short, to reclaim one of Christianity'’s best ideas and hardest practices: We need to love our enemies and to bless with hope those who curse us with anger. Such love and such blessing would not be a signal of weakness or an overture to surrender, but rather a portent that we had found the true power of our religious heritage. Armed with that power, we can win these culture wars. Without it, we may not deserve to.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Love Won Out: Way, Way Out

A couple of days before the spirits beg for candy in Boston, the day-long conference Love Won Out® will try to scare parents, homosexual and others. Its recent performance in Seattle, Washington, repeats here.

For the, if you pardon, straight and negative, try The Stranger's piece by anti-ex-gay guru Wayne Besen. His eponymous site has lots of related info too. He has no patience with this type of hateful carrying on.

You can also get The Seattle Times' let's-make-nice version here. This looks like a rookie reporter trying to be balanced and afraid to call a schmuck a schmuck.

Besen is by far the better writer and the intellectual of the two. He notes that LWO conferences are desperate affairs. As he put it:
The parents are also quick to flash their credit cards to buy a plethora of books, videos, and audiotapes hoping to get "insight" on how their straight sons and daughters picked up a homosexual habit.

Ambling through the corridors, you will spot a handful of distraught young fundamentalists who believe God has forsaken them because they can't pray away the gay. Visibly depressed, they repeat the empty mantra that they are on a "journey" or in the process of "healing." There will also be a few teenagers with knowing smirks on their faces. They have accepted that they are gay and have moved on with their lives. However, their devastated parents threaten to stop providing college tuition or car payments unless the child attends the mystical seminar with the magical Christian cures.

The final group is the real target audience: the media. Love Won Out is, if nothing else, a slick public-relations campaign with the simple message that sexual orientation is not immutable. It is a tightly packaged production worthy of Broadway, where scripts are read and tears are shed. By the end of the weekend, with the help of reporters at daily papers and television stations, Seattle will be saturated with anti-gay talking points. It is a remarkably successful operation designed to make Americans believe homosexuality is a casual choice, like what to eat for breakfast.
LWO's related groups have an abominable record of alleged and almost always very short-term conversions. Yet the conference is peddling hope to the emotionally weak and doing it well in small groups. The media love this. There are sound bytes galore and clever pegs for the headline writers.

Besen is relentless in his evaluation:
The most tragic part of Love Won Out is that it uses disproved, outdated science to blame parents for turning their children gay. Nicolosi claims that a distant father is responsible for creating a gay son. There is absolutely no evidence to back up this theory. Sure, some fathers may create distance when their sons express more interest in ice skating than ice hockey. But it ignores the incontrovertible fact that countless gay children are close to both parents, while many heterosexuals have estranged paternal relationships.

At Love Won Out, one will also hear that homosexuality is learned, but no evidence of this is offered. However, if this were true, why do so many gay children come from fundamentalist homes where homosexuality is strongly discouraged? I doubt that Alan Keyes taught his daughter Maya how be a lesbian. Did the Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly enroll her son John in a gay university? I doubt that Dick Cheney schooled his daughter Mary in the fine art of lesbianism. How does Focus on the Family explain this phenomenon?

And how does Focus on the Family explain the fact that so many of its media-friendly ex-gay spokespeople have returned to gay life?
If you can spare the day and have the stomach for it, the LWO conference is grand theater...so long as you are not too emotionally involved. As Besen concludes:
The producers of Love Won Out do not offer up compassion, sound science, or rational explanations. The goal of the conference is to perpetuate stereotypes and malign a minority, and mainstream newspapers and television news programs that allow themselves to be used to disseminate anti-gay propaganda are complicit. Love Won Out is a dangerous anti-gay experiment that is shattering lives and breaking spirits.

Two Thousand and Wait

Putting quotes around marriage, as in "same-sex 'marriage'", changes no one's reality. It makes as much sense as the store sign "FRESH" FISH.

Yet, the hypocrisy continues to rule in the anti-same-sex-marriage circles. A surprisingly concise and clear piece by Scott Helman appears in today's Boston Globe.

The gist of it is that the nasty folks at the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) realize that the 2006 ballot question is lost. They are supporting, driving the 2008 version, which outlaws new same-sex marriages, defines marriage as one-man/one-woman, and leaves the existing wedded homosexual couples (over 6,000) as cultural artifacts.

The unchristian self-proclaimed Christian MFI president was blunt about her pragmatism. MFI does not condone same-sex marriages, but in these thousands of cases makes an exception. "Most people recognize this reality. We are the only state that has same-sex marriages and so...that limits the directions we can take," said Kris Mineau.

Hardliners, such as the 2006 question sponsor Rep. Emil Goguen, seem to see the real issue as jerking away the marriage rights, even for those 6,000. "It's been like this for thousands of years..." blah, blah, blah.

Meanwhile, Goguen's version seems sure to lose in the current process. It needs a majority vote of both General Court houses to get on the ballot for 2006. The votes are not there and the 2008 question has fragmented support among the haters and the confused. The combined houses meet in Constitutional Convention on September 14th to vote.

Attorney General Tom Reilly has until the middle of next week to certify the 2008 question to permit MFI's minions to gather signatures to start its process. This version has constitutional issues and may also be doomed.

In addition, MassEquality has raised the issue of permitting existing same-sex marriages while forbidding future ones. The Globe quotes the organization's campaign director, Marty Rouse, as saying, "We believe that it's unconstitutional to have different classes of gay couples – some gay couples that can marry, some gay couples that can't marry, and some gay couples that can be married but if they get divorced they can't be married again."

Oh, reality can be so messy and intrusive.

Mitt Overreaching

Dual political realities are increasingly evident, both for Mitt Romney and for foes of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Both the hopers and the haters seem to find their parades dwindling.

Today's Boston Globe finally showed some pointed coverage of both issues. The bulk of the country is not ready for a Mormon president, even our Captain Brylcreme. Likewise, DoMA-in-Massachusetts people have scattered their shot far too widely.

We predicted
that our Captain may get a free ride on heading the state that legalized gay marriage. However, as much as a person's religion should not matter in America, it does. The Globe coverage of fundies' views is in line with our gut and the informal, unscientific poll down South.

It is easy for Americans to twist the truth to say that this nation was founded by pilgrims seeking religious freedom. We forget that what they wanted in that vein was freedom only for themselves to worship their particular flavor of Protestantism. Others literally and figuratively be damned.

Mormons could use some better PR. Too many view them as a cult, with new, improved, boffo instructions from God, polygamy and magic underwear. For fundamentalists who cannot even get over slightly differing versions of the New Testament, it is all too much.

Many Jews are insulted by the claim that the Messiah had come already. Likewise, Christians deny that Mohammad was a prophet. Most Muslims find Baha'ism, with its next-generation prophet, heresy (punishable by death in places). Then there is the Angel Moroni delivering golden tablets of truth.

Each of those is a hard sell. In most cases, that is not relevant. However, pitching a POTUS in a plebiscite means at the least not appearing to be too much an outlier.

The day may come, Captain Brylcreem, when where you go to church is not a key campaign issue. Not yet.

The following post touches on the 2008 DoMA-style ballot question.

Monday, August 29, 2005

California Trifecta

Still catching up on news during the vacation...

Last Monday, the California Supreme Court pleased gay-rights advocates and infuriated their counterparts in the shadows. It became the first court in the nation to rule –– in three cases –– that homosexual couples who plan and raise a family together have the same responsibilities and rights as straight parents following a breakup.

It is a plain, common-sense ruling but must have single-handedly increased the national stammering rate among conservatives by a factor of five.

Writing for the majority, Justice Carlos Moreno concluded, "We perceive no reason why both parents of a child cannot be women."

All three cases are similar. The lead case, Elisa B. vs. Superior Court, S125912, illustrates the issues. Not surprisingly to most of us, they are not so different than you would expect in any other child-support dispute. As the San Francisco Chronicle's article recapped it:
(P)artners Elisa B. and Emily B. had children in 1997 and 1998, respectively, using the same sperm donor, and raised them together before separating in 1999. Elisa agreed to provide financial support whenever she could for her stay-at-home partner's twins -- one of them seriously ill -- but stopped making payments 18 months after the couple separated.

Reversing a lower-court ruling, the Supreme Court said Elisa was a legal parent of the children she had helped to plan and raise, and must pay $1,815 a month in child support. El Dorado County sued Elisa for support after Emily applied for welfare.

"We were doing everything we possibly could to form a family,'' Emily B. said at a news conference after the ruling. Noting that children of an opposite-sex couple would clearly have been entitled to support in the same situation, she said the court recognized the needs of "children who were invisible.''
Note: You can review the particulars of all three cases at the California Supreme Court site. The other two cases are Kristine H. vs. Lisa R. (S126945); and K.M. vs. E.G. (S125643).

What has blown away the anti-homosexual people is how clearly the court defined the issues and decisions on what is right for the children involved and how the nature of parental obligations do not depend on one-man/one-woman think.

The Los Angeles Times coverage had a few predictable quotes:
By contrast, Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, which opposes gay marriage, said the court's position "goes against nature."

"Despite junk science and frustrating rulings like this, children still need a mother and a father," Thomasson said. "A child does not have two mommies or two daddies; a child comes into this world because she has a mother who gave her egg and a father who gave his sperm."

The court's stand "ignores the self-evident truth that God designed a man and a woman to fit together and participate in the miracle of procreation," he said.
Likewise, the ever indignant Matt Staver of the (ironically located in the Sunshine State) Liberty Counsel let a press release escape from his law firm. It concludes:
Today'’s ruling defies logic and common sense. By saying that children can have two moms, the court has undermined the family. This ruling establishes a policy that essentially says moms and dads are mere surplus. Thousands of studies conclude that children need moms and dads, not two moms and two dads, but one of each. Gender does matter to children. Today'’s ruling underscores the importance of amending California'’s constitution to preserve marriage as one man and one woman. The people of California will not put up with such nonsense.
So much for children and families. The anti types would gladly sacrifice the welfare of the kids for their increasingly narrow point of theocracy.

Previous to these cases, California's highest court waffled related issues. For example, it had ruled in 1993 that for legal purposes, a child can have only one natural mother. Meanwhile, surrogate parenting, artificial insemination, domestic partnerships and various gay couplings brought new ingredients to the suit pot.

Referring to the 1993 decision, the court noted that it was meant to resolve claims between a surrogate parent and the woman who signed the contract to have her deliver a child. This did not anticipate nor preclude lesbian parents.

The court was unanimous on two similar cases requiring post-breakup child support. You plan the child, you claim to be the parent, you start raising `em, and you are responsible for your share of the bills. Period.

In the third case, it split 4 to 2. As the Chronicle summarized this one:
...Kim M., donated eggs to her partner that were fertilized by an anonymous donor and resulted in the birth of twin girls in December 1995. The couple raised the children together for more than five years before separating. The birth mother, E.G., then took the twins to Massachusetts, and Kim M. sued for parental rights.

A state appeals court ruled last year that E.G. was the girls' sole parent, noting that Kim M. had signed a prenatal agreement waiving parental rights. But the Supreme Court majority said the agreement -- which Kim M. claimed she signed under pressure -- was not binding because Kim M. was a biological parent and because the partners had always intended to raise the children together.

In dissent, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar said the ruling disregards the partners' intentions, violates E.G.'s right to choose to be a single parent and calls into question the validity of many pre-birth agreements. One member of a couple who donates eggs to her partner may now be regarded as a parent in the future regardless of her intentions, Werdegar said.

E.G.'s lawyer, Diana Richmond, said the ruling jeopardizes sperm donors as well as egg donors. "It foists responsibility on people who weren't really willing to commit to be parents,'' she said.
The decisions dovetail nicely with California's domestic partnerships. Of course, in all of the nations and the state where same-sex marriage is legal, this kind of ruling is unnecessary. Parents pay to play.

Ex-Gay Dog-and-Pony Show

The one-day series of lectures by anti-gay Focus on Family's Love Won Out® includes Babylon in the Bay Colony this year. It will slither into the Tremont Temple Church on October 29th.

It is a road show of high promises and low intellect, according to those who have experienced it. Its premise that folks can and must will themselves free of homosexual choices would be laughable were it not for the confused and desperate parents and others who try to buy into it.

The best coverage is probably from a year ago by Toronto Star reporter David Graham. You can read his whole piece here.

He is in his early 50s, but at 20, he dreaded his homosexuality. He turned to aversion (shock) therapy to rid him of his impulses. It didn't work.

He showed up when LWO came to Vancouver, British Columbia. So did 500 others. He notes:
This program pulls no punches. It does not even pretend to be politically correct. There are workshops denouncing the pro-gay Christian agenda, pro-gay messages being delivered in schools and the pro-gay interpretation of the Bible.

They come armed with surveys and statistics to make their point that homosexuality is a developmental condition that can be treated, even cured. They scoff at statistics that suggest 10 per cent of the population is gay, arguing the number is much lower. They dismiss statistics on gay teen suicides, again estimating the numbers have been exaggerated to further the gay agenda. In short, the Love Won Out players believe, "there are no homosexuals, just heterosexuals with a homosexual problem."

Over nine hours I will be repeatedly reminded I am in a category of sinners that includes drug addicts and post-abortive women and "that Jesus hung a little longer on the cross for people like me."
There's plenty of blame to go around. These include "the absent, ineffective father and the cold, unfeeling mother - or is it the other way around." He also hears that LWO "does not condone the types of aversion therapies I endured. So I need to know how they perform this water-into-wine miracle, altering a person's sexual orientation."
Apparently, Love Won Out advocates a gentler therapy.

"The approaches are different for different people," (self-identified ex-gay Mike) Haley says during an interview in the basement of the church.

"We have to understand the root of their drives. We want to know why they are inclined to act sexually on their unmet emotional needs."

With that information they can establish a course of action based on "proper male bonding." While some men are content to attend drop-in sessions, or a 22-week program like Living Waters, others like Haley choose to immerse themselves in year-long residential programs, where they get a variety of treatments, including mentoring, prayer and counselling.In the most obtuse possible way, Haley suggests that as a homosexual begins to appreciate the love associated with appropriate male bonding, the inappropriate homosexual urges and fantasies slowly fall away. He acknowledges it is a life-long struggle and admits recidivism is a big issue.

The high failure rate has launched a third tier of homosexuals - ex-ex-gays determined to expose ex-gay operations, which they say only help homosexuals look heterosexual and stop homosexual activity.

Still, every year countless parents wipe the clear nail polish off their son's fingers, pry the baseball bat from their daughter's hands and enrol them in reorientation programs.

A Nov. 21, 2000 story in the Advocate, a gay and lesbian newsmagazine, reported this quote from Scott Melendez, who leads an ex-ex-gay group in Washington D.C. "The ex-gay movement thrives on renewable resources, on new people coming in all the time to replace the ones who realize it's a farce and leave."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

News from the Blues

The Baystate blog has a series of nice recaps that overlaps us.

This includes news and views from the Lowell Sun. That area promises to be a fertile field for marriage initiative rhetoric now and certainly when the legislature kicks around the current anti-same-sex-marriage question.

We intend to check this blog regularly.

Strike One, Strike Two

While we were Downeast, both anti-same-sex-marriage ballot questions were foundering. Among our stacks of Boston Globe, we found two predictions of trouble right here in Charles River city.

Thursday carried the tale of the likely rejection of the 2008 DoMA-style question. Attorney General Tom Reilly must certify this question by September 7th. Numerous legal and legislative experts and opinion makers are pointing out to him that it violates the commonwealth's constitution. It is very similar to the 2006 question, forbidden because they are within three years of each other.

Because it would change the constitution, the 2006 version faces a higher bar to qualify for the ballot. It has to pass with a majority of legislators in two consecutive sessions (years) in an identical form. The DoMA one only needs a quarter of the legislators in two sessions.

For the DoMA one, Reilly has an easy out. Nearly 80 lawyers from Boston's top firms joined former attorneys general James Shannon and Scott Harshbarger in citing how it fails the constitution test. The letter includes, "We know that the stakes are high and emotions on both sides run deep. We feel confident, however, that in this instance the plain language of the Massachusetts Constitution makes the decision a straight-forward one."

For the 2006 one, it had the best shot, but will not pass the legislature in September, according to House Speaker Sal DiMasi. (He supports same-sex marriage. )

"Everyone anticipates that there won't be enough votes to pass this," he told the Globe. "That seems pretty clear."

There shall surely be plenty of huffing and puffing by the anti wolves. They are unlikely to blow down anything this time.

Thing One, Thing Two

Both anti-same-sex-marriage ballot questions remain in trouble, for different reasons. The friable fundamentalists still outraged about homosexuals wedding have managed to create untenable positions at both of their extreme forks. They are scattered and soon to be shattered.

To review, there are two initiatives in the works.
  • For 2006, a question is half way through the process to the ballot. It would replace gay marriage with civil unions, but leave the existing same-sex marriages alone.
  • For 2008, the question is a DoMA (one-man/one-woman) initiative. This is a loser from the get-go, for a variety of reasons.
Forged in the fires of self-righteousness, the 2008 versions lacks both logic and legality. The latter aspect is deliciously ironic in that numerous anti-same-sex-marriage folk pretend that the process was never legalized in Massachusetts. They feign that only legislatures can make laws, while of course, all three branches of government can legalize various deeds and procedures as the federal and states' constitutions permit. Ho hum.

The DoMA one is essentially so similar to the other one, it will fail the test. The commonwealth constitution forbids similar initiatives from the ballot within three years of each other.

In addition, it seems an act of both desperation and dull-wittedness by its proposers. The 2006 question seems doomed. It barely passed the joint legislative constitutional-convention voting last time. It must pass twice in identical versions in successive annual votes to get on the ballot. The votes are no longer there, particularly because in its first full year, same-sex marriage is transparent and all the only problems have been those introduced by right-wing politicians (such as Governor Mitt Romney refusing to print birth certificates to reflect the new legality).

A majority of voters are in the get-over-it mode. The fundamentalists and their buddies have overplayed their hands on this one. Politicians are loath to buck such high poll numbers.

As it was becoming increasingly apparent that the 2006 version was likely to lose either in the constitutional convention or the election, the anti folk suddenly got religion. What they really meant, they said, was no gay unions or marriages or any of that Godless behavior. So, with a sudden moral call, they produced the DoMA version.

We predict that the 2008 one will be thrown out of the process because it so clearly violates the commonwealth constitution. However, we also predict that were it to go ahead, it would have a resounding loss at the ballot. After four years of transparent marriages, the public would be thinking, "What's all the fuss about, boys and girls?"

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Not Quite Quiet

We're back from a week in Maine...waaaay Downeast, with no Net access.

Massachusetts has had a few development to appear in the next day or so here.

We had expected to find some related action in Maine, but did not. While the gay-rights ballot question is up this fall, you wouldn't know it in the far Eastern areas. The local papers had no mentions. There were no billboards or posters up by either side. No one confronted anyone at the supermarkets. The couple people I asked had the sensible attitude — discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal now, except for religious-organization bigots.

It is a bit early for the November vote. Also, neither side has much money to wage war on the issue. However, someone saying something would have been appreciated.

The kayaking and cycling were fine, but the politics were sorely lacking.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Wry Reilly Writhes

Alas, the indecisive!

Virgil wrote that fortunate favors the bold. Our attorney general, Tom Reilly, must have missed that lesson. Now he has to certify or not certify the newest anti-same-sex marriage ballot initiative. He will lose whatever he does.

Reilly has hummed, hemmed, hawed and hedged over this issue for years now. The Democratic nomination for governor was his to lose and he has nearly done it over this one issue.

His chief oppononent for the shiny domed office, Deval Patrick, staked out a gay-friendly position years ago. He has subsequently made his pro-gay-rights and pro-same-sex marriage views plain and consistent. He even marches in Pride parades while Reilly claims he had to go to a christening.

At the moment, in his official role, Reilly has to consider whether the lastest ballot initiative meets the requirements to proceed. If he does, that one would need 66,000 signaturs in 60 days (no problem) and have to get 51 votes of 200 from the legislature twice in 2006 and 2007 to get on the ballot in 2008 (likely, but still iffy and subject to many events), and then get a majority of voters (a problem here).

Today's Boston Globe has an article with the particulars of the process.

Reilly likes to hide behind his office and say he is only doing his (real important, really) job. Normally, he would approve such an initiative for the process quickly.

However, this time Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a very specific brief with his office. The brief claims this initiative fails in two ways:
  1. "It is GLAD's position that the debates of 1917-1918 demonstrate a careful decision to exclude from the constitutional initiative process the power of the people to effect in that way the reversal of a decision of the SJC declaring a law unconstitutional."
  2. Also, it claims that this runs afoul of the commonwealth constitution's Article XLVIII, which forbids ganging similar initiatives. Specifically, an initiative is not allowed if it is "...substantially the same as any measure which has been qualified for submission or submitted to the people within three years of the succeeding first Wednesday in December..."
So now, Reilly is stuck trying not to play politics with a highly politically charged issue at a time when he wants to run for governor.

Good luck, Tommy. Start by reading Virgil.

Maine Voters: Get Over It!

Survey says, "Keep gay rights, Maine."

While neither side in the pending battle over ballot question 1 has really begun, the first public poll on the issue shows three of five accept the current law. The issue will get a lot of play before the November vote on the attempt to re-introduce discrimination on sexual-orientation. However, the initial results are consistent with a state where voters want to get on with their lives.

A report on the poll appears in the Portland Press-Herald. Numerous topics appeared on the poll. It was of 400 likely voters.

On the ballot-question 1 subject, 61.3% said they would or would probably vote no on it. Only 28% intended to vote yes or were leaning toward yes. The remaining 10-plus percent were undecided.

To the benefit of those who want to repeal the law, this is an off-year election. If they can inspire their discriminators to get to the poll, they have a shot. On the negative side, they have to convince voters of an illogical link. While the question says to reintroduce the right to discriminate against homosexuals, they want voters to believe that voting for the question is really voting against same-sex marriage.

That remains a say-what? Maine forbids same-sex marriage and that isn't in any form on the ballot or up for legislative discussion.

Put on Your Oven Mitt, Mitt

Our very own Captain Brylcreem, disguised as arrogantly mannered Governor Mitt Romney, put the super spin on yesterday. Does he really believe this stuff?

Trying to tenderize the local and national audience for when he announces his POTUS bid, the Captain finally delivered his answer to the steady drumbeat the Democrats have pounded for years. They have overwhelming control over the General Court and can pass whatever laws they want. He is the aging pretty boy, but far more decorative than useful.

As reported
in today's Boston Globe, the Captain's rejoinder is that all the good ideas are his. He can claim all the victories because he is such a statesman. As he put is:
"(G)iven the fact that I have 85% of the opposition on the other side of the aisle, I'm successful by virtue of the power of the idea and the willingness of people to do what's right for the people of Massachusetts and to look beyond politics. And fortunately, there are people in the Democratic Party who look beyond politics."
It's possible that in Dover and other Republican fiefdoms they can buy that. It won't play in the real world, locally or nationally.

Despite frequent smiley faced trips around the lower 48, the Captain is doing abominably in the early polls. Blue Mass Group has a nice recap here, for starters. The Lowell Sun article he cites is off-line, but main point of Mitt-who? in the Midwest stands. There is another telling poll of New Hampshire and Massachusetts voters here.

Our very informal quizzing in South Carolina, where he must do well and has visited repeatedly, shows much the same. If extrapolations from a non-scientific poll project reliably:
  • Mitty will not take the blame for same-sex marriage here
  • He will appear as another snotty rich guy from a tainted liberal state
  • As is America's wont, voters will wonder what his unusual religious background means politically
  • He really doesn't have a chance to get enough visibility and support for POTUS, but just maybe for VP
Yet, the Captain remains egotistic and cocksure. That's not enough for a national race.

Ex-Gays Axe Gays in Boston

If you can't get your spate of spite in Birmingham, Alabama, in September, trot down to the Tremont Temple Church in Boston just before Halloween. The Love Won Out® traveling show will bring its simplistic, confused and confusing message to town on October 29th, AD 2005.

The Focus on the Family folk do this around the country four to six times a year. They chose our town in no small part because of its multitude of homosexual minions. However, it set the date two years ago, long before the commonwealth permitted same-sex marriage.

Its messages include:
  • Homosexuality is a choice.
  • Homosexuality can be prevented.
  • You can cure homosexuality in kids and adults.
To make their point, LWO uses several Exodus International and NARTH staffers. Those two shameless anti-gay groups promote the pseudo-science of reparative therapy, despite the disdain psychological community heaps upon it.

It also has used several self-proclaimed ex-gays. this tactic has backfired quite a few times for them, when these healed heathens would have what the group calls moral falls. That is, they get caught in flagrante delicto with their own kind.

This doesn't stop LWO from claiming that from the current group of speakers:
You'll learn how to minister to a loved one who's dealing with homosexuality, respond to misinformation in our culture, defend biblical beliefs and prevent your child from embracing this destructive way of life.
A few folk are already protesting the conference. That should not stop those desperate to believe.

A future post or two here will review and link to comments of those who have been to one of these shows.

Note: For the best coverage of the LWO protests see QueerToday, posts from August 10.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pointy New Orleans

In a case of pointy heads filling pointy hats, the RC Archdiocese in New Orleans, Louisiana, tossed a pinko church from its AIDS hospice because the church believes in same-sex marriage. Our laws protect such discrimination for religious and private organizations. But shame on them.

Last week, church officials suddenly terminated the lease of the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater New Orleans to space in the Project Lazaras complex. The lease had the standard wording of either party could terminate after 90 days. So the Archdiocese has subsequently picked nits to say that it didn't really evict the MCC.

Apparently someone made the RC hierarchy aware that the MCC has a large percentage of gay clergy (hmm, what other church might that apply to?). MCC clergy bless homosexual unions where it has no legal standing, and perform same-sex marriages and civil unions where those are legal. That's well known. So likely someone called on the local bishops to throw the queers out.

The next day, the usual suspects -- Unitarian, Jewish and UCC clerics -- said they would find space for the MCC. I think that is called love in action. It used to be part of Christianity.

A report on the ejection and offers appears in the newspaper with the best name in the nation, the Times-Picayune. One of its articles quotes Archdiocesan spokesman, Rev. William Maestri as confirming that the issue leading to the ejection was same-sex marriage.

The MCC moderator (president), Rev. Dr. Troy D. Perry sees this as "the continuation of a pattern of hostility against gays and lesbians by the Archdiocese. In 1973, in the aftermath of the Upstairs Fire in which 12 members of Metropolitan Community Churches died, the Archdiocese refused to open the doors of any Roman Catholic Church for us to hold memorial services."

He also said, "I am saddened that the Archdiocese is expelling the rent-paying, lease-holding congregation, not from a church building, but from an AIDS hospice. They are sending a clear message to people with HIV that the Roman Catholic Church welcomes you as a sick or dying person, but not as a living, loving person."

Kaffeeklatch Downeast

Befitting the low-budget brawl in Maine, the gay-rights side is organizing neighbor-to-neighbor meetings. The Maine Won't Discriminate front page provides links for signing up to:
It's a vote-no-on-1 campaign to defeat the repeal of gay-rights wording added to the state laws with solid support of both houses of the legislature and support of the governor.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Toronto Yokels' Yucks

Also breaking or broken news when we were away was the two straight guys who announced to the Toronto Sun that they would wed. Then next week (last Friday), they called it off.

Note: Linguists and verbal trendsters can click over to The London Fog blog's August 6th entry to see the report on the original that may have coined platonophobe.

There are hoots and boos involved. As one might expect, the announcement was a bar-fueled yuck between two buddies. Nothing in Canada's same-sex marriage rules require homosexuality, any more than the previous law required heterosexuality. For both, the benefits of taxes, joint property and so forth are substantial and to two tipsy Toronto tricksters, tempting.

According to the guys, Bill Dalrymple (56) and Bryan Pinn (65), they quickly tired of the attention they received. They heard from many people, some amused, some angry. Pinn said when they disengaged themselves, "We pissed off the entire lunatic fringe. We don't want to be anyone's poster boys. This really was an act of political satire. If this is going to cause mayhem, we don't want to be the tethered goats. It's out there now, discuss amongst yourselves."

Of course, this issue was muttered about by all sides in civil-union and same-sex marriage discussions for the past several years. Some DoMA folk seem terrified that gay couples might use marriage or civil-union laws to gain traditional legal and tax advantages that countless straight couples who married in name only have gotten for centuries.

Some gay-rights folk who favor same-sex marriages find the two lads' joke unfunny. With a puffiness more fitting the other side, they claim cheapening of the new legal rights.

Yet through it all remains the question about why adults cannot contract in a marriage or civil union regardless of whether they can or will breed? If aging or ill family members want to enter a contract and play by all the legal requirements, why can't they form a civil union and get the medical and other legal benefits? If a straight couple can marry for tax, housing waiting list and other legal benefits, why shouldn't a homosexual couple be allowed to do so?

It looks like we are years away from resolving all this, except perhaps in Vermont and Massachusetts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Martyr Lutheran

So, it's away for 12 days, only to find that the Lutherans acted up and acted out in the absence. At the end of their annual assembly last week, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) turned eyes skyward and hummed a happy tune. They passed conflicting and conflicted resolutions concerning same-sex marriages and unions in the process.

Note: This group is not the same as the reactionary and fundamentalist Missouri Synod Lutherans. The latter proclaim all homosexuals sinners and shun them (see Marriage: III). The ECLA allegedly welcomes homosexual members, encourages its pastors to minister to them, and may eventually ordain gay clergy...but not this week.

The ECLA assembly last week took place in Orlando, Florida, home of Disney's fantasy theme park. As befitting that location, the group seems to want it all ways. By 670 to 323, it passed a resolution welcoming "gay and lesbian persons into its life" and directing congregations and pastors 'to discern ways to provide faithful pastoral care to all to whom they minister." It followed that with a vote to continue to prohibit blessing of same-sex marriages and unions. However, it will not discipline congregations or pastors who do so. Then, it voted 503 to 490 to maintain a ban on gay clergy.

That third resolution led to a silent protest by 100 members of Goodsoil, who are devoted to eliminating discrimination in the ECLA. They walked to the front, wearing rainbow sashes.

According to a Goodsoil spokesman, Phil Soucy, "The church is not ready to make sweeping changes. That's one way of looking at it. We were sacrificed on the altar of denominational unity."

On the other hand, as is so often been the case with same-sex marriage, the anti folk are not pleased. WordAlone President Jaynan Clark Egland saw the road to hell here. "(T)his assembly has propped open the door firmly" to same-sex unions, she claimed.

Besides those sites, the best coverage was by Mark Pinsky and Matthew Hay Brown from the Orlando Sentinel. Background is here, assembly forecast here, and the recimination here.

Amusingly enough, the ECLA condemns all sex - gay or straight - outside of marriage. It claims nearly 5 million baptized and over 2.3 million active members. For all of them, fornication is still a no-no.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Angels and Tablets

What to my wondering eyes did appear but an LDS temple. Here in Florence, South Carolina, the garden city (how many of those are there in the country?), one of the smaller and more subtle churches is a Mormon one.

It's on the way to the new Y, hidden two blocks off Second Loop Road. In contrast, the various Baptist and seemingly randomly named from Christian buzzwords houses of tan and pastel wearing Protestants, stand in huge parking lots on the main roads. Fifty-foot white Doric columns, obscenely overreaching, competitive spires, and Lego-like stacks of off-red brick attest to their efforts to clear their throats in God's direction.

The tan LDS temple is the little old man on the park bench with his hands folded in his lap.

So, we asked about, thinking of our own helmet-haired governor, Captain Brylcreme, a.k.a. Mitt Romney. Sure enough, the same-sex marriage thing is not a problem. In another very unscientific survey, we found that the locals associate that with Yankees, liberal Yankees, and don't blame the Captain.

It becomes important, as South Carolina is one of the first presidential primary states. Romney would have to win or come in second here to slither his way into the main race.

While he may not have to worry about marriage issues, the LDS thing is another matter. Here, in Iowa and elsewhere, folks are commonly Catholic or Jewish, much less Mormon. Explaining his association with angels come to earth, golden tablets that supersede the KJV Bible, and magic underwear would be tough.

Private religion certainly should not be an issue. Ahem. Good luck in the Pee Dee, Captain.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cabbage People

We have been on the road and asked around about our standard issues. Here in South Carolina, folk seem fascinated by the one-day designation of solemnization. It might be that same-sex marriage is just too far-fetched, but more likely, they recognize the latter as a political blip, while the former is a true oddment.

Here in the land of cabbage palms, in a very informal, very unscientific poll, we discussed the topics for this blog with folk from their 20s into their 80s. The nearly universal response from straights about same-sex marriage is that they just didn't get it. The thought there was likely something wrong with it, but no one agreed with the fundamentalist sorts about God's damnation. They leaned more to the love-and-commitment-are-the-real-issues view.

While politicians rush to placate the discomforted with DoMA laws and laws or rules that would deny full faith and credit to Massachusetts for its gay married couples, much empirical evidence supports the transitive nature of that. As so many Canadian politicians have been saying recently, "In five years, people will be asking what the big deal was."

That may take 10 years downstream.

On the other hand, folk can't get enough of the designated solemnizer concept. It seems everyone can think of a couple he or she would have liked to wed. I certainly agree and am sorry that I don't see the likelihood of performing a wedding for other friends this year. It had gotten to be quite a ritual of rituals for me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What Is To Be Done?

With many college semesters in the company of my beloved Greek professor, I learned much more than a new alphabet. Her jocular father gave her the literarily punning name, Ruby Ott. She gave the small group of us regular infusions of wisdom tossed in casually while we struggled with translations.

Often the simplest was the most powerful. As we debated over constructions in the Iliad, she dropped one in during a passage discussing Hector and Achilles, “We hate most in other what we see in ourselves.” As usual, we wrangled on and found a meaningful English version. Later though, and much later and often, such nuggets haunted.

Even now, when some of us are disgusted by and angry with someone, we think of Professor Ott. We ask, “Is there an aspect of my behavior or personality that I see here that so upsets me?” It very humanizing and can lead to either sympathy or empathy.

Recently, as I see some of the bile spewed on local or distant rightwing, fundamentalist Websites, I stop to ask myself. Almost always, after analysis, the answer is, no, they are just somewhere out there. Yet, the process is still humanizing. It can lead to what the academic and the scholarly experts suggest for dealing with the plug nasties.

Despite Christ’s lessons to turn the other cheek and to love your brother as yourself, they are not likely to do so. As hard as it may seem to those of us who pride ourselves on both reason and reasonableness, on both social graces and outreach, we must first accept that we shall not, if you pardon the expression, convert them.

They want their way on every issue. They do not and will not care whether you have reasoning that is more solid, all the data in your favor, or even a more Christian view of a subject.

Lessons I have gathered from psychologist chums, texts and the Net include:
  • Acknowledge that they are passionate about every single battle they enter, that the only thing that will please them (momentarily) is acquiescence.
  • Do not engage in protracted logical arguments. They are driven by certitude and emotion. They won’t hear you.
  • Do not compromise. If, for example, they insist on reordering the school curriculum, explain as many times as necesary in as simple terms as you can that this is impossible, unreasonable and unacceptable.
  • Realize that they need simple answers. They are uncomfortable with ambiguity. They will remain confused by and afraid of complexity and change. You cannot convince them to accept logic and your facts.
For even the most strident of them, you can accept that they are distraught. It is actually quite liberating to do so. That doesn’t mean that you agree with them or give in to their irrational demands. However, if, as their reviled Bill Clinton might say, you feel their pain, you can deal with the issues at hand much more evenly and calmly. Let them do the screaming. Just make sure they don’t get what they want.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Neither There Nor There

With all of June's hoo-ha about the United Church of Christ's support of same-sex marriage, smaller sects and less powerful positions can go unnoticed. One such was the decision of the 47th convocation of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

This modulated, moderate group of about 200 U.S. and Canadian congregations, rejected what it perceived as extreme positions by anyone. It specifically cited both left- and right-wing folk. It rejected:
  • support for same-sex marriage
  • support for abortion
  • support for ordination of women
  • support for the idea that war can be justifiable
  • labeling other faiths and leaders with hateful names
Their leader, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, announced that the groups was withdrawing from the National Council of Churches USA. This has been brewing for five years, since NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar removed his signature from a DoMA-style A Christian Declaration of Marriage, which was supported by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Association of Evangelicals and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Former Democratic congressman Edgar then announced his support for same-sex unions. This was all too much, too fast for the orthodox group.

The recent convocation passed the following time-out resolution:WHEREAS, several extreme positions that are both divisive and dangerous have emerged from so-called"Left-wing" and "“Right-wing"” Christian groups;

AND WHEREAS, the tenets of these extreme positions include, but are not limited to, support for same-sex marriage, support for abortion, support for ordination of women to Holy Orders, support for the concept of war which is "“pre-emptive" or "“justifiable"”, and the labeling of other faiths and their leaders with hateful terminology;

AND WHEREAS, The Holy Orthodox Church believes and teaches the faith which was taught by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and upheld by His Apostles, and "“which was once for all delivered to the saints"” (Jude:3);

AND WHEREAS, The Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America stands firm in her resolve to uphold this Holy Orthodox Faith in all of its purity;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that this General Assembly of the 47th Convention of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America firmly rejects all extremist positions that are contrary to the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Faith;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Archdiocese will not be affiliated with those groups that support and promulgate these extreme positions, and that this Archdiocese will continue to witness to the Truth as received from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, His Holy Apostles, the Holy Fathers, and all of the saints and martyrs who have lived and died to uphold the Holy Orthodox Faith.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Who Are These People?

For decades, radical was synonymous with leftwing in America. Yet, can we have any doubt that as surely as a redneck is likely to wear an earring and have long hair, that the Christian Right represents today’s radicals?

With our befuddled I-don’t-do-nuance President and a two-house Republican majority, the Christian religious fundamentalists have not only taken pages from the pinko heroes of yesteryear. They have done Saul Alinsky several better.

Even the most poorly funded right-wing fringe fundamentalists have Web presences. They know how to infiltrate and influence local school boards. They are expert at screaming, “We’re victims!” as they bully.

It’s no secret that left-wingers have been outflanked. Today, we are just as reactionary as they in a real sense. They strike and we must scramble.

Much of that is Democrats’ and other liberals’ faults. For decades, we have largely bought into some inane conceit of people v. technology. While right-wingers jumped on the Net, and used computers for fundraising and propaganda, far too many left-wingers made nice. They were Aquarian fish to the sharks.

We are now increasingly fascinated by what the fundamentalists think, what motivates them, and above all, how can one deal with the irrational who have fixed ideas and ideals.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Discord in Concord

A good brief analysis of the David Parker hearing is at MassResistance Watch.

Also, his post-hearing press conference is available in video clips and on the Article 8 site. Perhaps the most telling quotes are from Parker and his lawyer about control issues. The mad dad notes that "...my son is very cognizant of the fact that his daddy can't enter school." A reporter asks the criminally charged dad how he explains this. "I told him his daddy's in charge. And he smiled."

Parker's lawyer used the same term. He intends to show the school system who's in charge.

The funadmentalist swaggering and assertion of all manner of rights they don't have is all too familiar. So far, the local school system has show guts in refusing to create special privileges for such folk. Now Parker and his lawyer are blustering about their pending federal law suits over this. This is one ratty little tail trying to wag the dog.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

DoMA 1 v. DoMA 2

That second, competing ballot initiative for a DoMA amendment to the commonwealth constitution did get filed today, right before the deadline. This is the Mass Family Institute version, as covered on the Boston Globe Website.

Various anti-gay factions, right-wing groups, and their buddies of convenience will have to dicker on which they want to support. The poor, tired legislators meanwhile are seeing declining voter appetite for rescinding rights, particularly when same-sex marriage is smooth and painless. Beyond the emotional distress to the minority anti folk, the only problems have been government-induced ones, such as Governor Mitt Romney refusing to update the birth certificates to align with the new reality.

Assuming the second DoMA passes the legislature twice (hmmm, maybe not), it would not get on the ballot until 2008. That's more time for voters to feel safe and tell the haters to chill.

Mad Dad With A Whimper

The local media have not bothered to cover the pre-trial hearing for Lexington mad dad David Parker. However, his buddies at Article 8 were there and their news flash is that he will get a jury trial on his trespass charge on September 21. Film at...oh, no film, sorry.

We confess that we had originally thought of wheeling up to Concord for the hearing. The concept of trying to grok the loonies wallpapering the sidewalk (as much as a small cluster can wallpaper) was appealing. We got over it.

As the judge intimated at his arraignment, it is a simple case. He set up his arrest for a sit-in at a public school. After hours of refusing to leave, he was arrested for trespassing in the school after hours. It's civil disobedience and he'll have to take his lumps.

We shall try to perk up in two months. His attorneys, who brag about defending child abusers, pornographers and drug dealers on their Website, promise that this is about important issues. Both Parker and his lawyers seem quite confused about rights and duties.

This matter of law is very simple and Parker continues to act cowardly in avoiding personal responsibility. Unless they can show some substance, we do not see much reason to carry on about this.

This is not exactly the fictional The Fountainhead or the real Gandhi trotting to the ocean to gather salt.

Samuel's Words in Action

The powerful sermon at the United Church of Christ's synod is online. Read the whole thing here (highly recommended). The earlier recap is here.

The Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel is thought-provoking and great reading even for the unchurched and non-Christians. He is a social action, walk-it-like-you-talk it guy.

He addresses Christians who don't act it. He snorts at sloppy passages from the King James (scripture by 6 committees; my term, not his) Bible and reminds people what his still-speaking God wants. For example, Sodom and Gommorah were not damned because male prostitutes (not just homosexuals as mistranslated) were there. Instead, "according to Ezekiel 16 in verse 49, the sins of Sodom are the sins of pride and inhospitable behavior toward the poor, the weak, the needy and the strangers."

For the pious, but inhumane, Rev. Samuel's words are no comfort. He did not intend them to be.

In addition, for those of us who like to have some scriptural knowledge and argument support, he peppers the sermon with references and exegesis. If you are political and your recreational reading does not include the Bible, this sermon is worth it for that alone.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Birdie or Bird in California

A dope slap for greedy businesses in California came today in a 6-0 decision ordering equal treatment for registered domestic partners as for spouses. The state Supreme Court looked at the ceiling and hummed when the plaintiffs cried sexual-orientation discrimination for a country club that did not give them discounts.

The court was not interested in ruling on gay discrimination. Instead, it said that businesses must not discriminate in marital status. If they offer discount for married couples and the state allows registered domestic partners the same rights under state law, that's that.

In San Diego, the loser was Bernardo Heights Country Club. Birgit Koebke bought an $18,000 membership in 1991. She registered with Kendall French as domestic partners in 2000. She sued when the club refused the benefits offered to members. These are not trivial. For example, spouses play golf for free when they want. Everyone else is a guest, who pays $50 to $70 greens fees per round and can only play six times a year.

Details are available at the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times.

Moock It Over to Somerville

I intercepted a missive from folky Alastair Moock this morning. Marriage will be on stage at Johnny D's tonight in Davis Square. Alleged starting time is 8 p.m., but he says readings are earlier.

Mr. Moock wrote:

> Monday 8/1 (tonight)
> Johnny D's
> 17 Holland St.
> Somerville, MA
> 617-776-2004
>
> My lovely wife, Jane Roper, will be hosting the Riot Act and I'll be the
> musical guest... "Riot act is a monthly opportunity for Grub Street
> students and others to get together and share their creativity and enjoy
> some tunes from our musical guest. Tonight's theme is marriage (good
> marriages, bad marriages, gay marriages, straight marriages, open
> marriages, failed marriages, marriages of minds, shotgun marriages, Las
> Vegas wedding chapel marriages, etc. etc.). Sign up begins at 7pm,
> readings at 7:30pm. Each reader gets 5 minutes." I'll go on around 9pm
> for a short set. More info at www.grubstreet.org.
>

Mad Dad Update

Catch MassResistance Watch's excellent preview of the pending court date for David Parker.

In case you forgot, Parker is the Lexington dad who wants it all ways.
  • He demands a right to have the school notify him of any sexuality in classroom discussions, even spontaneous mentions that kids interject.
  • He plans a sit-in at the school, forces his arrest and screams, "Victim!"
  • He refuses to preview his kids' bring-home reading as offered, and later yells that the material is being forced on them.
As Shrub might say, he's a piece of work.

Christian Behavior for Ex-CCL

The former head of the unrelentingly vicious Christian Civic League of Maine had a powerful piece in the Bangor Daily News. Maine Won't Discriminate has it on its site.

Jack Wyman was executive director of CCL for 11 years (1984 through 1994). Today, his basic message to the Michael Heath version of the organization is to get over it. Gays got their protection from discrimination; there are important issues.

Oddly enough, he doesn't seem to believe there is much discrimination on sexual orientation there now. That aside, he writes:
This new law is not needed to accomplish what it claims to. Neither will this new law usher in the destruction of traditional family life, or the wide-scale sexual exploitation of children. Given the fear and loathing shown on each side of this emotional divide, at least among those doing the fighting, it's to be expected that the polemics will far outpace the legal and cultural realities. The fact remains, a gay rights law in Maine won't change much, if anything. Neither would its repeal.

The civic league fights not only a losing cause, but a vacuous one. This is a proverbial tempest in a teapot, calculated more to raise money and energize volunteers than to significantly clarify public policy.

The whole piece is worth reading, particularly where he contrasts other Christian groups' efforts to help people rather than punish them. Also, he apparently is no fan of current CCL management. He concludes:
The league, which needs to restructure itself with brand new leadership, would be wise (and quite Christian) to follow this uplifting example (of broadened agenda). In the meanwhile, one may only hope that the ensuing debate will be a thoughtful and respectful discussion of this emotional and divisive topic. Not likely, but one may always hope.

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