Friday, March 31, 2006

Romney/Reilly, Oh Really?

Woe is me! I suddenly felt the pangs of fairness and they didn't pass.

For the record, Bay Windows included the 1) mush-mouthed and 2) the smirking statements of Massachusetts 1) Attorney General Tom Reilly and 2) Governor Willard Mitt Romney yesterday. On the SJC decision to allow the commonwealth (should it so choose) to enforce the 1913 law to ban out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying here.

I asked Where is Tom Reilly? on this. In his own clueless and inept way, he was there. In their entirety, our leaders' statements were:
Statement from Attorney General Reilly

"I support same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. I oppose, and will fight against, any effort to reverse a law that is working well. I am proud of how Massachusetts has handled this. We have shown the country how it can work. I agree with the Court's decision Massachusetts should respect the laws of other states just as we expect them to respect ours. The decision does not affect the residents of Massachusetts; it impacts only those from out of state who have no intention of living here. I also hope we can continue to focus our public debate on other important issues that aren't settled like reducing costs of health care, improving our public schools and attacking the growing scourge of crime on our streets.

Statement from Governor Romney

"Today's ruling is an important victory for traditional marriage. It would have been wrong for the Supreme Judicial Court to impose its mistaken view of marriage on the rest of the country. The continuing threat of the judicial redefinition of marriage, here and in several other states, is why I believe that the best and most reliable way to preserve the institution of marriage is to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

Passive Judges Blow One in Massachusetts

This law is not the mentally slow child whose many artistic talents you enjoy. This is the mannerless, racist second cousin whom you avoid. This is the noxious, prickly weed that will crowd and kill desirable plants; pull it, poison it, do what you must to remove it from your garden.

When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court played Nervous Nelly on out-of-state couples wanting to marry here, it delayed and denied justice -- fundamentally not to offend those in other states. It was a sad day when only one justice (Roderick Ireland) was intellectually, legally and morally alert.

Comity -- acceding to other states' laws and court decisions -- is indeed the key issue here. Exactly as in the race laws of the past two centuries, including our own disgraceful 1913 pair, Massachusetts chose to play nice with bigoted courts elsewhere.

So, what has this gotten us in response? In large measure in direct reaction to the beginning of same-sex marriage here, did other states' courts and legislatures agree to give full faith and credit to our laws? Well, let's say absolutely not. Instead, over a dozen rushed laws or amendments onto their books to spit and stomp on our marriages.

Think. Think. Think. Was this form of one-sided comity useful to us or to the other states? Double ha! The states we are supposedly protecting from having to deal with messy gender equality have no intention of providing comity to us.

I read Left Center Left and enjoy many of Chris' posts. Personally, I find him a good companion. However, he is an incrementalist and at heart and mind a scholar. His politics are driven in large part by his sense of pragmatism filtered through a large base of general knowledge.

Chris' arguments include accommodation of the comfort level of Massachusetts residents "Having gay couples from out of state come in - and framing the issue as a national struggle rather than as a simple question of whether the Commonwealth is treating its citizens equally - increases that trapped feeling among voters." That one falls in the too-damned-bad class. On other big civil-rights issues, many were uncomfortable too. The burden should be on them to adapt, not on the whole society to continue discrimination until the mainstream is good and ready to wave the aspergillum over the decision. The latter would mean making law twice -- a little here, and then, let us know when you are ready for the whole thing. Rights often come in chunks.

Also, "out of state marriages forbidden will be by nature marriages largely symbolic (or legal test-case); they will not be valid in their home state. I think Massachusetts has taken a quiet pride that we have not become a media circus like San Francisco or New Paltz; symbolic marriages would assault that pride head-on." Here too, defining fairness by the perception of the most conservative does no one a service. Couples who want to test these laws at home have easy ways to do so without any changes in our old race laws. Come to Massachusetts for a month, rent an apartment, get utility bills, get a marriage license, get solemnized, and move back to your old state to be a martyr or hero. Claiming that making it easier will somehow alter the dynamic is naive at best.

Unfortunately, Chris and I see too many issues too similarly to have a real battle of the bloggers. On this one though, I sentence him to read and re-read Justice Ireland's dissent in the case. He was the judge of vision and courage, who, as one commenter on this blog wrote, "was the only one who got it right."

Justice Spina's majority opinion and some of the other concurring ones certainly lacked courage and were also questionable on letter and spirit of some of the legal issues. The 43-page decision in PDF here) is not bad reading and has lots of white space. There are surprising disagreements on fine points throughout. Concentrate on Ireland's dissent, beginning on page 23. It covers the key points of the majority opinion with his reactions and differing interpretations.

Ireland starts with his key points:
  1. "...an appellate court must use a neutral, principled approach to decide every case before it."
  2. "...the court articulated such a neutral, principled approach in Goodridge...holding that the liberty and equality provisions of the Constitution of Massachusetts prohibit the use of gender distinctions with respect to marriage."
  3. "...Goodridge removed gender as an impediment to marriage (just as Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 [1967], removed race as an impediment), and I believe that the rule of gender neutrality applies to the entire marriage statute."
  4. "...principles of comity do not require rejection of the marriage license applications of nonresident same-sex couples."
  5. "...the Commonwealth's resurrection and selective enforcement of a moribund statute, dormant for almost one hundred years, not only violates the "spirit" of Goodridge, as stated by the judge below, but also offends notions of equal protection. It is, at its core, fundamentally unfair."
As for claims that this pair of laws does not discriminate by gender, Ireland illuminates that cellar corner. He notes:
Under the present scheme, however, the marriage application unnecessarily asks applicants their gender, and then clerks impermissibly use this information to trigger mandatory action against nonresident marriage applicants. It is the latter use of the gender of the parties applying for a marriage license that circumvents the principle of gender neutrality established and carefully defined in Goodridge, supra, and misapplies our holding in that case.
Likewise, to the cowardly and ineffective comity issue, he treats it at length, concluding, "I do not believe that a discussion of comity is necessary in this case, where it is our marriage law that we are interpreting. Furthermore, even if comity applied to this case, our settled law prevents its application in the way now suggested."

Legally and morally, he is the SJC justice who has the clearest understanding of both the law and the related implications. Perhaps Ireland will become the new bugbear of the bigots.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

SSM Ruling: Where is Tom Reilly?

When Governor Willard M. Romney's imps and evil minions dug into the dankest holes of disgraced Massachusetts statutes, who could have stopped them? They found the now infamous Chapter 207, Sections 11 and 12.

Today, a nearly unanimous Supreme Judicial Court said in effect, yep, those laws are on the books, the state can apply them to keep out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying here.

As anticipated, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Reilly is AWOL. In contrast, the only civil-rights champion in the race, Deval Patrick issued a short, strong statement:
I'’m disappointed by today'’s SJC decision. Although it leaves the door ajar for marriage equality for couples from other states, it adds new layers of process and bureaucracy to the exercise of those rights. That costs us all in money and time spent on an issue we are all ready to move beyond.

We have Tom Reilly and Mitt Romney to thank for prolonging this debate. The SJC got it right in (Goodridge), by affirming the bedrock principle that people come before their government as equals. In the two years since, the sky has not fallen. Yet Reilly and Romney revived this 1913 law to torpedo those rights. It'’s a glaring example of their bad leadership.

Gay men and lesbians have married in Massachusetts, accepted the rights and the responsibilities of marriage, and moved on with their lives out in the open. The rest of us ought to try doing the same.
Reilly better keep himself scarce. Every time a hot issue has arisen where he could make a statement for equality, he's mealymouthed and let the evil forces carry on. In this case, he had two serious lapses.
  1. Most seriously, he has been aware of this miscegenation pairing for some time. As AG, he should have strongly demanded that the General Court wipe this racist artifact from the books.
  2. Then when the Mitt hit the fan, Reilly needed to find some remnant of courage and screamed, "Not on my watch!" He may be thin because his guts are missing.
We expected Romney to do the sleazy, expedient thing. He drools for the POTUS nameplate. He'd do anything short of shaving his head to pander to conservatives.

Well, over at Talking Politics, Adam figures "If I were a Reilly adviser, I'd urge him to say nothing whatsoever." Then again, even when Reilly says something, it's like nothing whatsoever -- except when is toxic, as his actions that led to this decision.

It's time to call and write your representatives and senators. If the highest elected officials won't show guts and honor, the General Court needs to show them how.

SJC Says Go Ahead and Discriminate!

Fingernail clicks to Hoss at Blue Mass Group for posting that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court supports the notorious 1913 anti-miscegenation law that Mitt Romney and Tom Reilly decalcified to prevent out-of-state gays from marrying here.

Shame on Mitt. Shame on Tom. Now shame on a hypocritical bench.

Today's ruling in PDF is here.

Very oddly, the decision applies to couples from some states and not others. The SJC reported that it was unsure whether New York and Rhode Island law forbids same-sex marriage. It was sure about Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont law though. The SJC sent the New York and Rhode Island back down to Superior Court for an expedited finding on whether those states' laws prohibit the couples from marrying here.

Of course one irony is forbidding marriage to civil-union states Connecticut and Vermont. More important, this follows the Bill Clinton DoMA decision on a federal level and continues to support SSM as an exception to the otherwise widely accepted full-faith-and-credit clause.

In effect, our governor, attorney general and top court say that they accept enshrined discrimination locally on the chance that it might cause a court battle in other states. Despite adamant righty denials that this law is unlike and unrelated to Black civil-rights struggles, the parallels with Jim Crow laws as well as anti-miscegenation are too obvious.

GLAD which represented the SS couples, put as positive as possible spin on this. For GLAD, Carissa Cunningham said, "We see it as a mixed decision. They’re leaving the door open" on a couple of states.

Today's decision does not mandate enforcing this odious law. It says the commonwealth can. So, it looks like a governor and attorney general with courage and a sense of honor could order it not enforced and ask the General Court to get this abomination off the books.

Kerry He-ha-ley on Them Filthy Foreigners

Kerry the-Afghan-hound-coiffed Healey caused much snorting and foot stomping in my house this morning. Covered by both Globe and Herald, she told reporters outside a Governor's Council meeting about her fantasy of sealing U.S. borders agin dem damned furriners.

"What we need to do is find a rational way to figure out who deserves to stay here in America and who should be deported for purposes of safety," she started. Then she proceeded to propose the most irrational way she could -- "What I'’d like to see happen is for the federal government to seal our borders, figure out who's here illegally - we think it'’s 11 million people but it could be many more - and then find a process by which we can sort through who could be an appropriate American citizen."

11-plus million in a bunch, in a bunch. Then let the devil sort 'em out.

The kindest correction so far has been from fellow candidate Deval Patrick. He said only, "Sealing the borders? Let's be more serious about problem solving and honest with voters about what we can do."

Instead, she would try to sweep the tide back to the sea. Envision billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of show-me-your-papers Homeland Security police, quadrupling the Coast Guard, scrambling jets 24/7, fences and walls for tens of thousands of miles. Good thinking, bobblehead!

The executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
was nicer than I, but not as kind as Patrick. "Sealing the borders, that phrase, frankly, it'’s political red meat. Spending billions of dollars on a border wall doesn'’t make sense but it is good to see the lieutenant governor thinking about what to do with the people who are already here,"” said Ali Noorani.

Adopting Another Big Lie

If providing adoption services is truly important to the mission of the Catholic Church, why don't it fund Catholic Charities adoption programs?

Brylcreem adOur own speciously arguing governor, the pomade king, Cap'n Brylcreem, will forever carry the weighted chain of the religious freedom lie that is permeating rightwing speech like the spreading stench of an unmucked stable. This recent talking point attempts to align the Bushies with the mythic glories of our colonial past. Our ancestor fled religious persecution in England and Europe, coming bolding to this harsh new land to found a nation based on liberty, notably religious freedom.

Before we begin singing, let's keep even the roots claim in a bit of perspective, specifically:
  • Many colonists fled theocratic oppression from a church-monarchy combine. Intrusion of religion in laws and other governance was a repressive then as what many extreme rightwingers and George the Lesser would like to institute here.
  • Religious freedom in colonial days nearly always meant liberty for the specific dogma and practices of the colony's founders. They would flog, drive out and even kill heretics. The same often went for the natives.
  • Our constitution said and promised nothing of religious freedoms. It was only after the Revolution, after the drafting of the constitution that they got around to amendments, including one mandating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
  • The first amendment most decidedly does not mean that churches can do whatever they want. Its original purpose is to prevent establishment of a national/state religion. Secondarily, it is to prohibit the preference of one religion over another.
When the Cap'n or religiously dogmatic columnists such as Kathryn Lopez or Kathleen Parker turn this on its head, get out the shovel.

All three would have their lip-moving readers believe that expecting Catholic Charities to obey the same rules as any other agency -- only for state-funded and regulated adoptions -- is anti-religion, anti-Catholic, and unAmerican. The Cap'n told this lie and compounded it with a conservative-voter brown-nose ploy in his slither toward the POTUS nomination. The other two are among the many conning conservatives who like the ring of arguments that they know to be false. They also know that their readers are as likely as not to buy into it, just so they don't have to think.

To the Catholic Charities issue. The RC hierarchy was not forced to do anything. They decided to forgo the government money and refused to pay for doing God's work on their own. Let's keep a few points in mind, specifically:
  • The adoption services have nothing, nothing to do with the RC worship, masses or otherwise.
  • If they choose to obey Jesus' admonishments in secular acts that feed the hungry, clothe the poor and so forth, they know that they have exited the sanctuary and must deal with the people -- and laws -- of the larger world.
  • The $1 million and change that Massachusetts has provided them to act as adoption contractor agency comes with such strings as obeying the state's civil-rights rules.
  • If the church and its current anti-gay Pope choose to, if you pardon the expression, divorce themselves from association with letting same-sex couples adopt kids, that indeed is their religious liberty.
  • Of course, they don't get the $1 million plus a year if they choose to do that, which the hierarchy here did.
  • However, that is between 2% and 3% of Charities' budget. Having grown up in non-profits, I know that that kind of swing is common, lean years and fat years. They can continue on their own dime, if the Archbishop and Bishops agree that it is part of their mission and worthwhile.
  • They can get the money from various donations or seek other grants or simply re-budget until the numbers work. Other charitable organizations do it all the time.
This is not and has never been about liberty, or as the Cap'n's cynical throw-away legislation is titled The Act Protecting Religious Freedom. This is an effort to show preference of one religion over others, as forbidding in the First Amendment. It is a callous lie to undermine civil rights. It is most decidedly an anti-gay statement in the run-up to the next Presidential election.

What is sickening is for the cynics on the right to use loaded lies about the poor Church being forced to stop its adoption services. Make no mistake. A regime change in the Vatican suddenly made anti-gay politics and posturing okay or mandatory, in Boston and elsewhere. That coincided with rightwing aims here.

We mustn't let the shallow manipulators use our documents of liberty for their nefarious ends.

It's possible that Sean Cardinal O'Malley is likewise sick at this boss' decision. Yet, if that's so, he's such an obedient soldier, he's not likely to do the right thing. In the larger set of his goals and struggles, this is small beer...except for the kids stuck in foster care or orphanages by the malice of the church hierarchy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Full Patrick Interview in Globe

LITE or not, the entire interview with Deval Patrick from the NECN show is in today's Globe.

This bodes well. The cable show is supposed to do personal profiles with all gubernatorial candidates. We can assume that each interview will appear as today's does.

The warning remains though. There's no politics to speak of here. This is background, personal and quite a bit of fluff. Expect the same for all.

Coulter, from Pampers to Depends

It must be the Toronto air. Science and business freelance writer Kurt Kleiner breathed in the breeze of a dry sociological follow-up study. He exhaled a gust of comedy that has conservative Americans pouting, stomping and fulminating.

His How to spot a baby conservative has become a Net meme. Search for the string and find a moderate number of online pubs and leftist blogs chuckling, but you'll be amazed at the flood of threatened, defensive rightwing blog postings.

Kleiner is a low-key pop writer parsing some pretty dry topics, including this one. His cutesy take on psychologist Jack Block's Nursery school personality and political orientation two decades later grabbed the collective conservative nose and gave it a vigorous twist.

The original, published in the Journal of Research in Personality is 16 pages of serious scholarship, including two pages of reference. It is fairly typical of his work. He has a doctorate in psychology and has done clinical research -- much of it with his late wife -- since 1950. He has a ponderous CV and several bookcases of published material. In short, if those humorless, emotional critics want to smear him as politically motivated and of poor scholarship, they are waaaaay off base.

The Blocks found strong correlations from some nursery-school characteristics, such as Anxious in unpredictable environment with later self-identified political conservatism. They do not write it, but the literature supports such traits as avoiding uncertainty as being typical of conservatives. The Blocks' work is not at all out of line.

The lead in the Star piece is, "Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative."

That's not inaccurate, but compare it with the opening of the abstract for the original -- "The present study reports on the personality attributes of nursery school children who two decades later were reliably stratified along a liberal/conservative dimension An unprecedented analytical opportunity existed to evaluate how the political views of these young adults related to assessments of them in nursery school, prior to their having become political beings."

Basically Jack and Jeanne Block tested, observed and followed about 100 kids from pre-school into their 20s. Jack notes that this is likely the only such longitudinal study like it. He'd like to see more. I'd bet, from his writing, he doesn't mind either Kleiner's trivialization or the reactionaries' demonization. He sees the chance to study and learn.

The pop-psychology spin in the newspaper article does not deal in the pages of data, deltas and differentiating factors. However, it does list some of the Blocks' conclusions. They were surprised to find steady consistency in personality from 4 to 24 years. Jack is too much of a scholar to write it, but I'd bet that he was pleasantly thrilled to discover such apparent predictability in a soft science. Knowing what he does now, he could probably call the political leanings of young adults from their diaper days behavior.

As Kleiner puts it, the young kids who felt picked on and looked to their teachers and care givers to save them from their peers "grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity." In contrast, "confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests."

In fairness to Kleiner, he eventually points out that there are ways and ways to interpret the traits. "For conservatives...if they really did tend to be insecure complainers as kids, they might simply have recognized that the world is a scary, unfair place. Their grown-up conclusion that the safest thing is to stick to tradition could well be the right one."

Among Block's findings of the over 20-year study were:
For conservatives -- As 23 year old adults, "Both sexes separately evaluated, are viewed as conservative, uncomfortable with uncertainty, conventional, traditionally sex-type, constricted in their behaviors, judging self against conformist norms, and moralistic. The young men also display an egocentric self-image, with an orientation toward the virtues of power, a willingness to offer advice, and a concern about their status within the pecking order."

For liberals -- As adults, "The young men and women are alike in being bright, distinctive, having a wide range of interests, being aesthetically responsive to the world around them. They appear welcoming of change, easily cast off the usual, and they tend toward non-conformity...the young men are relatively introspective, reflective about existential problems, and intellectually oriented; the young women, on the other hand, are more interpersonally oriented, perceptive of others and socially instrumental, aware also of sensuality."
Jack Block notes some limits to his work. Berkeley does not directly extrapolate to the whole country. Also, by the time he and his wife began studying them, the kids had already combined key elements of nature and nurture in personality development.

In his rambling attack in response to the Star article, National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg took a breather to comment:
To call these sorts of studies entirely useless is probably unfair. No doubt Block has more or less accurately charted the path of his subjects. And even he concedes that the study tells us little about the rest of the country. But it's also pretty clear that Block wants to find psychologically satisfying explanations for what makes people conservatives. It's not hard to imagine that if the whiny, sniveling brats turned out to be liberals, he would explain this as proof that liberals are born more emotionally sensitive and with a greater acuity for spotting injustice.
So what is it about Kleiner's report or the academic article that so irritates so many conservatives? If the commenters on the rightist blogs are representative, we can infer easily that they resent any implication that they were set in early childhood. Many also clearly take offense at having one of their favorite anti-liberal slurs -- whiners -- used against them.

Of course, it is very human to want to feel as though we have all our favorite virtues and that we are constantly improving and growing. It appears that one the one hand, many conservatives want to brag about their rigidity in adhering to tradition and correct thought and morals. On the other, they like to pretend that they are so reasonable that they remain flexible. That really doesn't work, but you can see the emotional pull of the desire for both.

To us who follow things political, we think the themes of the Block research offer a worthwhile view. Suppose, as we have more than once in this blog, that there is a wide chasm between left and right, based in large part by very different ways of perceiving.

Many studies in the past 70 years have come at such factors as discomfort with ambiguity and need to authoritative leaders as hallmarks of self-defined conservatives. The Blocks' work in this area lends a bit more support. Understanding how people think and how in turn that affects their voting should be beneficial all around.

Perhaps we need a Jack and Jeanne Block to expand their longitudinal studies up and down. Find out what effect parents' strongly-held political positions have on their offspring at 40, 50, 60 and beyond. Figure out why so many of us turn to the Dark Side after middle age. See what relationship avoidance of uncertainty has in careers and how that relates to political views.


For a taste of the conservative reactions try:

There are many more -- search Technorati, Yahoo or Google. Be sure to check the comments for the full effect.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Boston to Pay for Secret Meetings

Mushrooms, moles, mischief and misfeasance flourish in the dark. Liberty and democracy die without light.

Perhaps the $11,000 fine will make the point to the Boston City Council -- that is, except for the very dense President Michael Flaherty. An illegal meeting was in his office, but he dismissed the stern findings of Suffolk Superior Court Judge Nancy Staffier Holtz.

For 11 proven cases of holding key Council meetings in unannounced privacy, the fine came with a threat of criminal action through the Suffolk DA for any further spitting on the public. In response, Lord Flaherty said the case was "politically motivated" (the true battle cry of the cowardly guilty). He claimed that the Council "stands for good government and transparency." Finally, his Parthian shot was, ''In the interest of moving forward, I will recommend we adhere to the court's decision, and we will redouble our efforts with respect to the open meeting law."

He's so low on the accepting-personal-responsibility scale, perhaps he should join the Bush administration.

The judge did not provide wiggle room. Among her 20-page findings were:
  • 10 closed-door Council meeting discussing the Boston Redevelopment Authority's urban-renewal program (June 2003 through March 2005) and one this January to hide the biohazard exposure of Boston University lab workers.
  • "Flimsy excuses for violations."
  • "(F)oot dragging refusal to comply with its legal obligations."
  • Meetings "calculated to thwart the presumptive rights of the public."
  • A practice that "has been and no doubt remains ongoing."
  • Lawyers defending the suit never provided "a single reason" for the secretive sessions.
  • The Council "defends this 'it's none of your business' position by attempting to parse the language in the statute in such a way as to relieve it of its presumptive obligations to always act in the open."
The suit was by activist Shirley Kressel, then Council candidate Kevin McCrea and Kathleen Devine.

By the bye, as well as Massachusetts cities and towns, other New England governmental units have the same arrogance. Consider the Rhode Island open-meetings report and how Maine's governor fell off of his throne on the issue. As background, the Norfolk country DA's office has a PDF brochure that recaps the Massachusetts laws.

Flaherty thinks he's king, but some Councilors retain their egalantarianism. Felix Arroyo, for one spoke and voted against the secret sessions.''I really believe it's important we keep the public part of the decision-making process," he told the Globe. ''It is important the council not only comply with, but defend the open meeting law."

Grand Poo-Bah Flaherty may well try more such anti-democracy. My money's on the courts and the DA.

Gov Wannabes Beg or Cruise

Admittedly this is neither a trend nor a big-picture contrast. On the other hand, Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick made very different news splashes yesterday.

He may look like a mortician, but Reilly is a ho-hum, indecisive commonwealth attorney general, who really, really wants to move into the governor's office. The Boston Herald ridiculed his fund-raising on its tabby cover today though. It seems Tom either has bad halitosis, bores people too much, or perhaps hasn't shown that he has the Democratic slot in hand.

For whatever reason, he couldn't get enough toadies to pay $500 to put their plump butts in chairs for his birthday yawner in the big room at 60 State Street. (Perhaps he should have tried the back room at Doyle's. He probably could have filled that up -- both Deval and JP Youth Soccer have in the past.)

The Herald's online head is kinder than its rag one -- Slow ticket sales force freebie AG fund-raiser: $500 a head...or $0, whatever works for you. Below, the article is just as ruthless. It points out that nobody wants to give him cash at all.

"Reilly has shown sluggish fund-raising numbers in 2006," we see. "In the first two weeks of March, he reported receipts of $9,380 compared to Democratic rival Deval Patrick's $57,787 and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey'’s $191,625, according to state campaign finance records."

Reilly came in flush though. At the end of 2005, he had $3.6 million, Kerry Healey $765,749 and Patrick $514,763.

Reilly's flack reports that 500 paid contributors are lined up for the candle asphyxiation. Yet, the Herald writes that a comped attendant figures that Reilly wants "'to fill the room' to avoid embarrassment." "They are doing crowd-building, doing whatever they can to get people there."

Meanwhile, the Globe-affiliated New England Cable News did a Patrick interview befitting a woman's service magazine or the Parade insert's personal-profile. It was part of their LITE series on getting to know the candidates, personal not platform.

Considering the lame and rambling questions, he came across quite well. Honestly, of the announced and bellowing-outside-the-room candidates, he is the most interesting and the one you'd most like to spend an evening with.

The NECN and Globe talking heads could have been worse. They were inane, but hey, this is cable TV and what cable calls news.

What I learned includes:
  • Deval cooks like I do -- he sees what's in the market or fridge and goes from there. This often means what his family calls peasant food, slow cooked, blended-flavor dishes, like seven-hour lamb.
  • His sixth-grade teacher must have been a gem. She taught the kids from the Chicago projects smatterings of foreign languages and took them to the lyric opera. "She made us feel we could be citizens of the world," he said, "and that's a huge gift."
  • When he got his scholarship and returned home for Thanksgiving, his sister stopped the reunion with "Ooo, he talks like a white boy." Deval was devastated. Their grandmother rescued the family from tension with, "No, he speaks like an educated person."
  • He felt and feels terrific responsibility to live to the expectations of his late grandmother and his family.
His only real stumble was over the hobbyhorse that the Globe likes to ride. When asked about multi-million-dollar mortgages ($27,000 a month payments) and why he would not release his income tax returns, he quickly became defensive. He said he'll fill out the required state political financial forms, but that how much he and his wife make was no one else's business.

Amusingly enough, he is both right and very New England. Talking about how much you have or make has always been déclassé and forbidden in polite circles here.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gabrieli Readies Ego Strut

You can thank the undemocratic Democratic Party for this one. With the flood of extra ex-officio delegates the DP freed for the purchase, Chris Gabrieli is ready to thump his chest and thumb his nose.

He has announced:
  1. He'll let us plebes know by he end of the week whether he will shower us with his splendor by running for governor.
  2. He got the 500 delegate signatures on a petition to let him muck up the June DP convention.

Proof? Anti-SSMs Don't Need Proof!

Among the greatest flaws of leftwingers is the intractable belief that reason prevails. You can win your argument and change the position of the nastiest Dark Sider by proving your position intellectually.

Well, triple ha!

As Massachusetts enters into the anti-SSM amendment fight, expect:
  • Drive-by character assassination
  • Chicken Little bwak-bwak predictions of homosexual-catalyzed apocalypse
  • Unsupportable claims of damage to adopted kids
  • Total, irrational denial of the intrinsic nature of homosexuality
It appears that at least in the commonwealth, this will be a terrific waste of the voters' time, the taxpayers' money and everyone's emotion.

Politicians don't want to align with the anti-rights forces, particularly as the public sentiment for SSM and SS adoption grows stronger with every poll. The leaders of both sides of the General Court are against stripping a class of citizens of existing rights. There'd be no way to ever explain that one away without a long stretch in rehab first.

Given the almost certain outcome, the great fiscal, temporal and emotional costs, and increasingly painfully obvious irrationality of the anti campaign, there should be a great benefit on the other end of this sewage pipe of political process. One might expect that the anti-rights, anti-gay forces would slink away in shame and that the people and our legislators could devote themselves to worthwhile efforts to better Massachusetts.

We're not counting on those boons. As the amendment battle moves to the commonwealth Constitutional Convention, we expect even more specious and spurious statements from the Dobsons and their ilk.

Recommended Reading: Bay Windows has a superlative piece, Nat'l religious right focuses on Massachusetts on the just-finished training sessions that Focus on the Family had last week. The Colorado-based gay-bashing group has targeted the Massachusetts amendment fight by training campaigners to apply pressure on legislators and officials. It would love to rescind SSM here, and even if it fails, can claim in fund-raising to have fought strongly. Meanwhile, you may pause briefly to wonder in the irony of shipping in the type of outside agitators that the arch-conservatives pretend that the leftwingers always need to bring to a campaign.

You don't have to look far to find scientific proof that same-sex couples are equally good parents as straight ones. Likewise, the proponderance of evidence is that homosexuals are born as such.

Yet, even these two solid conclusions are constantly under emotionally based attack by the anti-forces. They even manage to have a couple of risible pseudo-scientists who claim that they can prove otherwise. The worst and most widely discredited is the Family Research Institute's Dr. Paul Cameron, a former psychologist left in the academic gutter after forsaking his work for political posturing.

He is one form of the anti-gay argument -- finding or producing outlying data and making them suit his conclusions. For example, he has taken small subsets of known promiscuous gay subcultures and extrapolated their behavior to all homosexuals, even long-term monogamous couples. His ah-ha! moments are really more of oh-yeah? ones.

The other form, the one we expect to hear more of here is the it's-only-common-sense one. For those who just cannot exercise logic or show compassion so long as homosexuals are involved, they fall back on pretending that their a priori feelings are equal to actual observation, science and reasoning.

There may be little to do for either type. On the other hand, those little armies of spite dwindle as they meet and come to know homosexuals, particularly gay parents. Nationwide, support for SSM and gay adoption is steadily increasing. In the commonwealth, SSM seems to have accelerated that. It's hard to make your neighbor or co-worker the other.

Other Reading:

  • See some of the absurd and twisted logic against SSM and gay adoption, with Cameron as a primary source in Crisis Magazine, bigotry by and for Catholics.
  • The Baptist Press' dismissal of decades of science supporting the healthy nature of SS adoption, with the American Psychological Association "is just one more organization that has been co-opted by homosexual activists."
  • In contrast, massive, long-term studies that prove "(t)he vast consensus of all the studies shows that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way." You can find numerous scientific reports that support the health of SS couples, many data going back 30 or more years.

Inching To SSM Equality

With the yapping pack dogs trying to keep the neighborhoods excited over same-sex marriage and gay adoption, it is easy to lose perspective. It is as easy to assume that Americans are just too conservative to be compassionate and rights oriented.

Hark, from the forest emerges the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press! Unlike politically motivated groups and pundits, the Pewites don't skew their questions nor do they report only what a particular viewpoint wants to show.

Their most recent major poll has the catchy title Less Opposition to Gay Marriage, Adoption and Military Service. It also covers trends in abortion views, particularly meaningful in light of the South Dakota double-dog-dare abortion law.

Looking at years of shifting opinion, seem to have climbed to the ridge about same-sex marriage and adoption by gay couples, according to national polls. For progressives and civil-rights activists, this is heartening-and-discouraging news. The short of it is that Americans have not yet come to terms with gays, but are headed there. In this case, familiarity breeds a benign indifference. That's a huge hike up the mountain from disrespect and hate.

Note:
The first chart appears in the report. We derived the others from the data.


If you are doggedly anti-gay, anti-SSM, anti-SS adoption or some combination, you can pretend that the numbers still favor you. In fact the latest figures still show a majority of Americans opposed to SSM -- 51% to 39% who favor SSM.

However, this is far cry from the August 2004, presidential campaign crap fest. Then the numbers were 60% opposed to 29% in favor. Note too that this was when that dreadful Massachusetts okayed SSM for its citizens.

The trend is solid and it reflects numerous other polls. Americans are getting used to the idea of SSM. Many know SS couples or perhaps work with one member of an SS couple.

When gays were largely hidden and silent, it was far easier to pretend one did not know any. They were the other, unworthy of consideration, much less rights. Now, such commonplace families as two lesbians or gay men -- perhaps married in Massachusetts or in a Vermont or Connecticut civil union -- may be raising their kids and appearing quite natural at it. It is harder to disrespect what you know.

The report is full of goodies with many ways to present them. Some differences are very predictable, like the SSM opposition by political party.

It can't be a terrific surprise that more Republicans strongly oppose SSM than Democrats do. Here though too, the trends across even the GOP voters is decreasing disapproval. Interestingly enough, self-identified independents showed the variation from 2003 to the uptick during the election and back down. They are much closer to Democrats. This suggests that the hard line haters will have increasing problems keeping non-Republicans interested in opposing gay rights, including SSM.

It will be fascinating to see whether this will map to decreased contributions to anti-gay, pseudo-religious organizations like Focus on the Family. TBD.

Also, the odd blip in the age showed up again in these polls. The oldest group -- over 65 -- was the most anti-SSM. Even here, the trend is away from strong opposition -- 36% in 2003 to a high of 58% in the election, to this month's 33%.

So on age, we see pretty much straight rise in anti-SSM sentiment as people get older. Now you have to wonder whether the Republican types can keep a stream of old folk interested in their negative issues.

Likewise, on adoption, the trends all go steadily one way, in favor of same-sex couples. As always, women seem much more concerned about the kids involved and don't let political feelings enter in as much. In 1999, 62% of men opposed SS adoption and 53% of women did. In 2006, the numbers were men, 52% opposed and women 44%. It doesn't take a whole lot to see that long-term, kids are going to win.

You can check out the full study to see the same sort of trends as in other civil-rights-related polls. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to favor gay rights of all types, including adoption. The older you are, the more you will oppose gay rights, including adoption.


The last two charts show the overall shift in approval rating for SS adoption. Seven years ago, there was a solid, very significant opposition to gay adoption --- 57% opposed, 38% approving and 5% undecided. This year, the figures are statistically tied -- 48% opposed, 46% approving and 6% undecided. The margin of error makes it a wash.

There is no reason to suppose that the public approval ratings will do anything but continue on their paths. The facts are that the SS couples that are marrying, entering civil unions, and adopting are not hurting the kids, are not threatening any aspect of society, and are plain folk. Actually, they may be better than plain folk. They have self-selected and, if anything, are role models for society at large.

Overall, we see a steady change favoring adoption. Americans are also much more comfortable with the idea of gay parents than gay spouses.

When you want to create an other, a pit of monsters, trying to convince your minions that the obvious good guys are something else has to be tough.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Shunning the Family Freaks

Let's return to the thrilling days of...the 20th Century. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, both urban and suburban homes were crypts holding the zombies from failed marriages, the dreaded broken home.

The post-WWII euphoria and marriage-by-lust led to a divorce rate we had never seen. In colonial times, many couples never bothered to marry or accepted common-law marriage (what would be living in sin in later eras). Then, post-industrialization and pretty much post-agrarian America witnessed a boom of marriage rates.

If you check the U.S. Census reports from 1900 and on, you'll see big peaks in marriage rates after WWI and a huge one after WWII. Following WWII, the rates were almost three times per 1,000 as they are now.

This is the fantasy that the anti-gay/anti-SSM folk continue to live. They pretend, first, that these rates go back millennia, not decades. Second, they don't mention that these high marriage figures are invariably followed by high divorce and abandonment rates, plus lower marriage rates.

Long before the first Massachusetts homosexual couples wed, this nation was in an all-time low of marriage rates. For over half the straight couples, marriage failed, as an institution and personally.

To get snarky, you might note that the Southern states, with the exception of South Carolina, have scarily high divorce rates. The highest concentration of evangelical Christians typically marries early and young, has high rates of infidelity, and divorces at least once. In contrast, the SSM isle of Massachusetts has the nation's lowest divorce rate, even lower than other largely Catholic states. Also, the three lowest divorce rates in the nation include New York and Connecticut.

Back to my crotchety vignette, among the middle-class society's hypocrisies was steering clear of divorced moms. That term broken home had the same unsavory, even cacophonic, taint as gay marriage does to many pinheads today.

Back then, family service departments and adoption agencies were loath to entrust orphans and unwanted kids to such dangerous environments. Several decades later, it was as though society as though were one dumb person slapped its figurative forehead. "Oh," it thought in overdue awareness, "over half of marriages end in divorce. Maybe that's a new norm."

Those who get discouraged by the silliness of DoMA states and rushes for anti-SSM constitutional amendments might reflect on that similar irrationality of 50 years ago. Watching the public acceptance of same-sex couples, same-sex couple adoption and same-sex marriage, slowly, slowly grow, suggests a similar pattern. However, instead of ostracizing those already punished by an errant spouse or failed union, the effort now is to harm and hamper those want what most of society wants, including a recognized, dedicated relationship and kids to raise.

We were going to point to a piece in today's Boston Globe. For the life of us, we cannot find online Same-sex couples face unique hurdles in adopting children. Part of the Balancing Act column series in the Boston Works section, this one cites the extra problems that comes from hostile adoption agencies or even from a couple's hesitance to be out when trying to adopt.

The advice is to be open with the agencies, according to Bev Baccelli, who runs the Marion-based Southeastern Adoption Services. "There's no place in the closet for them if they're going to be parents. If you want your child to grow up to love both of his mothers or fathers, you have to show him that this is a family that deserves respect."

Of course, for the large society, that comes with the biggest benefit. When folks see that a same-sex couple...with kids...is a regular family, attitudes shift and prejudices erode.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bushy Bucks

How bad are the borrow-and-spend Republicans? God awful!

According to the not-exactly-leftist Wall Street Journal, even two years ago, George the Lesser's administration was already the worst. Similarly, last year, Cybercast News compared presidents and the current one was the most profligate. Even the Reagonomics-oriented Club for Growth joined in calling the GOP's policy and actions "drunken sailor spending."

Even without the most recent $1.5 trillion (12 zeroes) Bush increases that bring our national debt to nearly $9 trillion, the Club for Growth's comparisons pin the tail on the elephant.

Average annual real increases in domestic discretionary


Fiscal yearsIncrease
Lyndon Johnson1965-69
4.3%
Richard Nixon1970-75
6.8%
Gerald Ford1976-77
8.0%
Jimmy Carter1978-81
2.0%
Ronald Reagan1982-89
-1.3%
George H.W. Bush1990-93
4.0%
Bill Clinton1994-2001
2.5%
George W. Bush2002-04
8.2%


It is much, much worse since. More on this in future posts.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Race in the Governor's Race?

As inattentive as most Massachusetts voters may be, if they know Deval Patrick's campaign at all, they are likely to have noticed that he is an African American.

A few folks, like Carpundit have rubbed up against the subject, but with the Democratic convention in about two months, it may be worth confronting. His brief meta-analysis is probably to the point -- Massachusetts isn't going to elect a black lefty to the corner office. Maybe a black centrist, but not a lefty.

Over at Left Center Left, Chris tees off on that. He's pointing to Patrick's politically mixed platform.

Many here don't know or remember, but despite the very pale (and very male) governors we have had, a Black politician does occasionally win the voter and statewide election. A prominent example from 30 and 40 years ago was Edward Brooke. We sent him to Beacon Street twice as attorney general and on to Washington as U.S. Senator, both times reelecting him.

However, to Carpundit's point, this was a Republican. He had been an Army captain and earned the reputation as crime fighter that both Tom Reilly and Kerry Healey vainly pretend to own. Hah!

There is another kind of color in the race. Gabrieli and Mihos are both rich windbags, both promising of helping elect themselves with their own millions -- the name on the governor's door being the ultimate vanity plate. That's cute and colorful, but certainly not a good reason to put someone in power.

Lackaday, Tom Reilly has little color, dermal or figurative. He doesn't have a platform to speak of, which is good, as he is a mediocre speaker even when he's on form.

When Patrick spoke at his Boston rally early this month, he was aware of the burden of leftism. We don't know whether he also considers it a potential liability in conjunction with his skin, or whether he truly is a slightly-left centrist.

As he put it in his rally speech:

And while we’re at it, let’s forget about labels.

Who cares whether they call a program “liberal” if it helps someone who needs help and it works. Who cares whether they call a tough fiscal judgment conservative if makes good fiscal sense.

Enough already with “the right” versus “the left.” Let’s focus on right versus wrong.

That sure looks as though he wants to keep himself out of the ring corners and where he can maneuver in the bout. That will likely work with some voters. Others will simply look at his progressive aims and turn off. Many of us will forgive his centrism considering the whole set of goals.

As for the race thing, the Bay State Banner managed to find understandably dubious Black Bostonians. They need only look at the elected officials to see how few are Black, including zero governors.

How real a factor race will be in this issue in this century remains to be seen. You can be sure that the other candidates will be too savvy to say or even hint that the commonwealth is not ready for a Black governor.

Having the best platform and the only roadmap to worthwhile goals won't convert racists. If they can't pull a lever or ink an oval for a Black man, they won't. However, it's likely that in Massachusetts, Patrick has two problems larger than race. First, the Democratic Party machine wants one of their own trained animals -- Reilly or maybe Gabrieli. Second, without that kind of support, he has to make himself and his platform known to the bulk of us lazy voters.

Now, back to race, there's a question that the Suffolk pollsters, who are so intent on creating Gabrieli and Mihos as factors in this contest, can ask...if they have the nerve.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Borrow-and-Spend Republicans

Time to wake up, voters! The Republicans have not only stolen all your money. They took your credit cards and checks and ran up massive debts in your name.

Now what are you going to do about it?

Borrow and Spend

Chant it until you get it. Borrow-and-spend Republicans. They are taxing the crap out of us and claiming that it is not a tax.

Let's say it up front. Some Democrats in Congress are as bad as Republicans on screwing America. In fact, you'd have a hard time guessing their parties from their voting records.

Yet, we have had a federal government totally controlled by Republicans. The wheels of blame and responsibility spin and spin, only to stop at GOP every single time.

The donkey guys need only read the numbers aloud. There's no place for the elephants to hide.

Last week, the GOP Senate voted almost straight party to add another $781 billion to our debt limit. They claimed that (don't laugh yet) without raising taxes the Bush government can poor more money into fighting the unnecessary Iraq war and continue the highly dubious Homeland Security and related alleged anti-terrorism actions.

Lets see, that means:
  • Four debt ceiling raised in Bush's five years -- so far.
  • A Bush debt of $3 trillion (that's 12 zeroes).
  • The GOP surplus-to-engulfing-debt has produced just short of $9 trillion of national obligations.
There are no fiscal fairies to save us. No one will come in the night to leave pots of gold and jewels that we can redeem.

Today's adults, their kids and grandkids and perhaps beyond will live with lower standards, less hope, less safety (personal and national) because of the shocking, dishonest and dishonorable profligacy of Bush and the Congress.

Call It Taxes

Everyone in and out of Congress needs to call it what it is. The GOP policy of raising debt is taxation, extreme taxation.

Republicans make it far worse by obscene tax cuts to the wealthy when fiscal responsibility was clearly the need. Spending trillions on an unnecessary and unwinnable war is beyond stupidity. It is moronic behavior leads to the deaths of tens of thousands and the economic servitude of millions of Americans.

Borrowing and spending is taxing. Bush is the tax president. The GOP is the tax party.

Let's call it what it is and stop them. It make take decades to undo their damage...if we start now.

W on the Why of Marriage

Tuesday, the putative leader of the most populous North American country had time for marriage. George What? Bush didn't get married. Instead at his press conference that let him lie at length about Iraq, one question did interject itself on our subject.
QUESTION: Mr. President, two years ago, Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, heard your State of the Union address, went back to California and began authorizing the marriage of gay men and lesbians. Thousands of people got married.

The California courts later ruled he had overstepped his bounds. But we were left with these pictures of thousands of families getting married. And they had these children. Thousands of children.

Now, that might have changed the debate, but it didn't.

But in light of that, my question is: Are you still confident that society's interest and the interests of those children in gay families are being met by government saying their parents can't marry?

BUSH: I believe society's interests are met by defining marriage as between a man and a woman. That's what I believe.
There you have it. He's a man of faith. He says what he believes. He has no intellectual basis. The data would not support him. Empirical observation would make any educated and insightful person derive more open-minded and compassionate conclusions. However, we have a belief buffeting our ears.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Shock Insulation in New Hampshire

That the New Hampshire House defeated an amendment banning on same-sex marriage was not a big surprise. However the 62% against was.

For an amendment to pass, three-fifths of the full 400-seat House would have to approve it.

One amendment sponsor, Sen. Jack Barnes (Republican, of course), said the vote was prophylactic. "The people is the third rail in politics and, obviously, the people that voted against it didn't want to hit the third rail."

The statewide series of hearings on the issue were definitely attended more heavily by those in favor of gay-rights. In addition, despite the recommendations of the anti-gay dominated study commission, the House Judiciary Committee reported the amendment to the floor unfavorably, by a two-to-one margin.

After an initial rush to add such amendments in states that already define marriage as between one man and one woman, the set of argument that held in New Hampshire may well be the next wave. Specifically:
  • Don't institutionalize discrimination in the constitution. Reversing it is a big deal as well as deplorable form.
  • If you have something covered in law, leave it alone. Don't pig pile.
In contrast, the Dark Side's arguments tended to be emotional and mingle personal morals, religion and civil law. For example, amendment sponsor Rep. Michael Barboni (Republican, eh what?) made his pitch to the House before the vote:
"If you believe as I believe that no governmental body should redefine what has been mankind's definition of the marital union for thousands of years . . .that four unelected individuals in the state of Massachusetts usurped legislative authority and took it upon themselves to unilaterally redefine marriage for the millions living in that state."
Oooo, that evil Massachusetts. Pity they can't disinfect the shared border daily.

Half of the New England states offer marriage or civil unions for homosexual couples. This vote softens the intransigence of the holdout. Maine has passed gay-rights protections and Rhode Island seems inching toward some form of gay unions. As lumps of Southern and Midwestern states have panicked with their skirts held off the floor recently, action on both coasts has edged toward more reason and civil rights and liberties.

Even Sen. Barnes is thinking long term. He clearly opposes civil unions as well as SSM, but he does not think civil unions are impossible in the future for his state.

Never one to learn from experience, another Republican representative, first-termer Gregory Sorg, has an inane last-ditch plan. He wants to change the state's bill of rights to give the legislature sole determination of who can marry.

More reasoned critics point out that this would be an affront to centuries of freedoms and the balance of powers in government branches. In addition in a more practical view, any such changes on the whim of the legislature could ripple through thousands of child custody, tax, inheritance and other laws and regulations.

Sorg had better be a good talker. So far, all sides, including his fellow elephants, oppose his vague and ill-constructed scheme.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Breathe Free in New Hampshire

In a sparkling bit of common sense and compassion, the New Hampshire legislature bucked a national urge to tromp on same-sex couples. This afternoon, it instead jumped up and down on a hyper-restrictive anti-same-sex-marriage amendment. The vote was 207 to 125.

There was a strong sentiment among the most reactionary legislators recently that the horrors of Massachusetts SSM would spill over the border any day. Following many public hearings, the Republican leaders of a marriage study group ignored the findings and pushed for this amendment.

Even though the state defined marriage as one-man/one-woman, the extremists want to prevent any future consideration of equal rights.

Hartford SSM Hotfoot

Today 43 years ago, Alcatraz prison closed. This year, it's possible that it could be a day of liberation for same-sex couples in Connecticut (block that trope!). Eight couples denied marriage licenses had their say in Superior Court today.

Note: The odd taxonomy of the court system includes both Superior and Supreme courts. Today's hearing was before the former and may be appealed to the latter by either side. The Supreme Court does not have to hear an appeal. So, the result of today's case hearing can be final...or not.

With typical American hunger for liberty, the 16 were not mollified by the state's civil union law. Two years in the making, Elizabeth Kerrigan et al vs. State of Connecticut, Department of Public Health et al is on stage.

For background, head to GLAD's marriage-equality page. It has such things as the case documents including the Dark Side's. There's a dummy's guide in the FAQ format. The recent GLAD response to other filings is available in PDF (126KB). It formed the basis of today's argument.

The state has hauled in a portmanteau filled with every hoary, moldy legal cliché its lawyers could find. Amusingly enough, the Family Institute of Connecticut is trying to get involved in the case, even though they don't have a horse in the race. They think the state is not protesting enough.

Among the arguments that GLAD is making for the plaintiffs before Judge Patty Jenkins Pittman are:
  • Civil unions are not equal to marriage, either in rights or in social recognition.
  • Excluding same-sex couples from marriage denies them equal treatment under law.
  • In passing civil unions, the legislature "faltered by enshrining marriage discrimination rather than taking the simple step of ending it."
  • Claiming that marriage in the state has traditionally been one man/one woman is a circular argument. Gays can't marry because gays can't marry.
  • The attorney general has "conceded that laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage are subject to judicial review."
  • The liberty interest to marry one person of your choice is held in common by all citizens.
  • The state "Supreme Court has also placed marriage as among the protected liberty interests in personal decisions that should be protected from undue government interference. Long before the idea of fundamental rights or strict scrutiny took hold in American law, a Supreme Court decision acknowledged that “the right to contract marriage is one of “the rights to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ protected by the Connecticut constitution..."
  • Marriage is a fundamental right, without regard to procreation, as support by state and U.S. laws and court decisions. The friends of the court (amici) arguments for this "do not reflect Connecticut law, but rather reflect their own ideological and moral preferences."
  • The slippery slope argument (SSM to polygamy) fails as it did when it was used in interracial cases. Legal claims "to end polygamy or to abolish age or consanguinity provisions have not advanced in the last fifty-seven years."
  • The state discriminates by sex in marriage. "The injury imposed in being deprived of a liberty or opportunity because one is a man or because one is a woman is not vitiated because of formal symmetry between men and women as groups, and nothing in Connecticut law so limits the right to be free from sex discrimination."
  • The state discriminated by sexual orientation in marriage. "With Alice in Wonderland reasoning...(t)he definitional statute -- ostensibly neutral as to sexual orientation -- has an intended and disparate impact on gay people, thereby imposing a burden on the State to show that the civil union law would have passed without the marriage limitation. Second, the Supreme Court has long recognized that the state constitution is capacious enough to embrace suspect or quasi-suspect classes..."
  • The state has failed to show that putting an extra check box or line on state forms meets the requirement of "the overbearing concern for efficiency and efficacy."
  • The requirement for uniformity with federal and other states' laws is baseless. "The State explains neither the benefits of uniformity nor the harm that would come from lack of uniformity." "Moreover, the uniformity justification cannot be rational because the State cannot explain why uniformity is important for one aspect of its marriage eligibility laws (i.e., limiting marriage to a man and woman), but not important in all other aspects of its marriage laws, such as permitting marriages of first cousins."
  • Claims that kids are best raised in a family with two heterosexual biological parents are unfounded, an opinion that is "a consensus among every authoritative child welfare association to have addressed the issue..."
There's no way from outside to predict which GLAD issues the Superior Court judge will affirm or reject. These complex cases always seem to bring their share of puzzlements after the fact. We confess that we were impressed with GLAD's filing. The state aguments seem pretty flimsy.

We can be sure that there are likely to be appeals.

Two Little Pigs, Two Little Mice

If we believed in reincarnation, we would have to wonder what evil we might have done in previous lives to have the current crop of also-runners in the Massachusetts governor's race.

We still have an Ivy Curtain separating the haves and have-nots in the commonwealth. The prep-school to IV or 7 Sisters sorts continue to run interference for each other and try to keep capital in the family. Traditionally, the governors emerge from this snooty set, with both the cash and connections.

Occasionally brains or force of personality has bubbled up an outsider. It certainly is that time again. Other than the Black man from the projects of Chicago, no one is worth electing.

We find it fascinating that the rich boy playing grocer, Christy Mihos, lacked the 'nads to attend the three-hour Southie S&M fest Sunday. Instead, control freak that he obviously is, he chose to roast himself in a series of puerile advertisements.

The Boston Herald describes them in embarrassingly adequate fashion. They are low-cost (a few thousand) and have the flavor of other low-brow, low-effectiveness advertising.

He would have gotten a lot more out of sticking around for the St. Patrick's Day breakfast. Then again, he would not have had control over the content. He also would have had to mingle with oi polloi. Icky.

The Herald reports that emcee Sen. Jack Hart told the reporter, "He missed an opportunity to have some free exposure. He could have had intermittently three hours of face time, and obviously a chance to speak.” The televised event had its biggest audience yet.

Coincidentally, the other rich kid Chrissy-kins, the Gabrieli one, shares the attitude of "I'm rich. Let me play. Right now!" He also shares Mihos' arrogance of no platform to speak of; so he doesn't bother. Then, he bypassed judgment in the caucuses, making him simultaneously unDemocratic and undemocratic.

The sorority girl playing cop, Kerry Healey, has some tacked together crime-buster set of generalities. She seems to overlook the economy, sucky schools, crumbling infrastructure and the other little details that only Patrick addresses.

She's as qualified to be governor from her current position as a stablehand is to compete in dressage. She can shovel but has never been in the saddle.

Finally, Tom Reilly wants to leap from do-nothing attorney general to do-nothing governor, just because.

Given repeated opportunities on high-profile issues, he has shown that his most developed trait is indecisiveness. He could have led in policy by advising on same-sex marriage before the court stepped in. Nope. In multiple highly questionable ballot initiatives on SSM, he could have aborted the obviously illegal ones, saving lots of time and money, while letting the legislature attend to real business. Nope. On the current RC Church whine that Catholic Chartities should set a precedence for commonwealth exemptions from discrimination laws and defining religious policies per group, he could have ridden like the cavalry, blowing the bugle of constitutional law. Nope.

We've had know-nothing, do-nothing governors, very recently in fact. No thanks.

So two rich brats and two incompetents want to be governor. Then there's the visionary with a real program and policy.

Think. Think. Think. What to do?

Now, Who Has an Agenda?

While the drive from San Francisco to Olympia is 747 miles, columnist Jon Carroll may be audible where the Washington legislators are about to debate same-sex marriage. His thundering petulance was similar to that felt in Maine last year and in Massachusetts now.

The short of it is, who are these schmucks to defame the moms and dads, the devoted, even married, couples? These are our friends and relatives, in Carroll's case, his daughter. Talk of a gay agenda is impossible to swallow, coming as it does from those with real agenda, to strip some of us of existing rights, to make others of us suffer, to keep some Americans from legal protections. Now, there's an agenda worth yelling about!

Washington is about to come at SSM from the other side, legislature. Down in Carroll's neighborhood, sissy Schwarzenegger wants the court to decide who can marry. On this coast, the anti-SSM folk often want legislatures to do the deed. Have no doubt that no matter where it comes from, the bigots who hide behind facades protecting marriage and organizations with Family in it will be unhappy and suddenly want another branch of government or a ballot initiative to give them yet another chance at their agenda.

Well, in Maine, the tipping point after several times overturning gay-rights legislation seems to have been what Carroll rants in his column:

My older daughter is a lesbian. She is also the single mother of an adopted child, working to make and sustain a family with jaw-dropping tenacity. I am a member of that family, but she is the head of it. The idea that any part of her social agenda involves the destruction of the family is insulting and stupid. She adopted a child, which means that a child who would not have had a home now has one. It means that a child who would not have rested safely in a mother's arms now does so. These are real family values, not the poison spouted by these thoughtless, gossip-mongering abominations.

Sure, I feel strongly because it's my daughter who's being smeared, but it ain't just my daughter. All over this nation there are gay and lesbian families working hard to make a life for themselves and their children. I know a few of them. They could have done it the easy way, stayed in the closet and decided not to endure the hassles of having children, but they didn't. They wanted a family. They wanted a lover and companion to share their lives with, and they wanted children to love. And for this they get insulted by cretins.

And so, in Augusta and Bangor and Jackman...people know homosexuals. They have no horns and they don't hide in park bushes grabbing passing innocents. Neighbors and coworkers again and again see them as loving parents, productive citizens, faithful partners.

The only way the American Family Association or the Christian Civil League of Maine or some archbishop can work so hard to harm and degrade their fellow citizens is if they demonize and make them the other.

Up the coast a bit from San Francisco, Washington's Supreme Court is finally getting nerve up to announce its long-overdue ruling on whether homosexuals have the right to marry there. It's going to come some Thursday, maybe this week. When the decision arrives, there is an excellent chance that the legislature will suddenly and quickly have to debate, decide and legislate.

One persistent legislator, Rep. Ed Murray, has been fighting for gay-rights and SSM for decades. He introduced the gay-rights bill 11 times until the legislature acted favorably on that. He's positive that the marriage resolution will be much faster.

His state has the rancid, unwashed wrinkle of a professional ballot-initiative guy pushing a couple of petitions. He claims that all he wants is to let the public decide, but he is famous for profiting on the confusion of the rightwingers.

As we are wont to write here, "Anytime civil rights are put up to a public vote it's not a good thing, anytime the majority makes a decision for a minority it's just not good," according to the executive director of Equal Rights Washington, Fran Dunaway. "I think the vast majority of people in Washington state don't want to see their neighbors and friends discriminated against just because of who they are."

Carroll screams the same message:
I mean, render unto me a break. If your family feels so threatened by my family that you think you have to organize a boycott of a car company, then your family has problems my family can do nothing to solve. If you think a woman kissing a woman is going to get your daughter hooked on drugs and drive your son into a life of crime -- get home. Have a pizza. Talk about stuff. Go to a ballgame. That's what gay and lesbian families do, and it seems to work out fine. Take a lesson. And, please, shut the hell up.

Monday, March 20, 2006

800 Lefty Green Bostonians

Among the old Boston bigot clichés are that Black folk can find themselves unwelcome in the North End and gays in South Boston. Like most such adages, these did not appear without basis.
Yet, yesterday at the St. Patrick's Day parade along the, if you pardon the expression, drags in Southie, nearly 800 signed pro-same-sex-marriage cards for MassEquality. Volunteers had been a little wary before the drive, considering how hostile the parade organizers have been to gay causes and marchers. They stayed on sidewalks, where they had First Amendment status.

Volunteer Chris Mason said he got a few vacant stares and polite rejections. Whether it was the occasion, their own politics or chemical additives, hundreds of spectators signed the cards. These will go to legislators urging them to reject any amendment all for rescinding same-sex marriage.

"Zero hostility," reported MassEquality Campaign Director Marc Solomon.''People's perception of South Boston and what the reaction would be to marriage equality is very different from the reality."

Will O'Malley Double Dog Dare?

When Sean O'Malley returns to Brighton from Rome, he surely won't do anything for gay Catholics and non-Catholics. What do you suppose he'll intend to do to them?

First, let's imagine a huge army in which only the commissioned officers routinely obey orders. That's pretty much the Roman Catholic Church in the First World, including very RC-heavy Massachusetts. As in Boston, Catholics in Spain and Italy hear priests and bishops preach of absolute morality and mortal sins, but favor and vote for liberal social causes and laws.

The Church has a very poor history of political results. It has threatened parishioners, legislators as well as citizens, on issues from abortion to gay-rights to adoption. Even with that Hell thing, it hasn't gotten the votes it wants. That doesn't seem to dissuade the hierarchy from retrying coercion.

Sean, the friar, is about to return from Italy with roseate vestments -- indicating that he is a prince of the Church as well as the traditional that he would be willing to shed his blood for Christ and the Pope. He has been an extraordinarily loyal officer so far, allegedly conquering his pinko leanings to obey his commanders.
We have to wonder what it all means for commonwealth politics when he sets it down in the cathedral again. This becomes important because of the pressure from the Vatican and minor influence from local Catholic rightwingers. Pope Benedict has a long and unpromising history heading the Inquisition for a quarter of a century. He appears absolutist and neither compassionate nor reflective.

So, O'Malley was a champion and stalwart for the working poor in D.C. Here, as in Fall River, he was brought in as a hired gun to clean up the dirty down. The disgraced Cardinal Law skipped town to hid in the Vatican, before any possibility of indictment for his active role in protecting abusive priests. This is not the first time O'Malley has gotten septic-tank-cleaning duties.

That underway, he has been brutally active in carrying out orders to:
  1. Promote anti-gay/anti-same-sex-marriage legislation and amendments, and
  2. Overrule Catholic Charities and make them stop their good works of adoption to avoid a secondary association of his Church with them damned homosexuals.
From what a couple of private emailers have send here, these are not in O'Malley's nature. Yet he is a good officer and does what he's told by higher-ranking men in cassocks.

Sunday's Boston Globe ran a current interview of the not-quite-Cardinal O'Malley. As befitting the fairly gutless broadsheet, the questions were gentle.

Movie Dialog Memory: Local Catholics are fond of playing the religion card; they may have earned it from slights real or imagined. Criticism of any of the flock can earn the anti-Catholic claim, even if sometimes a shmuck is just a schmuck. It recalls Woody Allen's paranoid character in Annie Hall. He heard an NBC executive ask, "Did you eat yet?" Outraged he asked how that villain could be so anti-Semitic as to confront him with, "Jew eat yet?"


Asked whether he personally agreed with the order to halt adoptions, Sean fudged it with:
Well, it's a very tragic moment for us to have to step away from adoptions, since that has been such a characteristic Catholic Charities type of activity, and one that has been in many ways the centerpiece of our Catholic Charities programs throughout the United States. But I understand the Holy See's concern that in our works of mercy, in our social programs, that we must be consistent in teaching the Catholic faith in one voice. And certainly the church's teaching on marriage is very central to our beliefs and how we see that the institution of marriage in today's world is very much threatened on many fronts, and yet it is the very cornerstone of society. And the best way for a child to be raised is to be conceived and nurtured and raised by committed, loving parents in a marriage. And so, for the church, in our social service activities and other works of mercy, we need to be consistent. And it was your newspaper that pointed out the anomaly to us, and we have tried to deal with that.

On the other hand, it's always difficult when people look at Catholic teaching on the periphery, and don't see that the core of our teaching is the love of God above all else, and the love of our neighbor as ourselves. And I was very pleased that the Holy Father's first encyclical is 'Deus caritas est,' that God is love. And I know that many people would cast our actions as mean-spirited or to denigrate people. But it is our desire to be faithful to that love that is the very core and reason for our church and our religion, that we must love God, obey his commandments, and try and create a civilization of love. And in our highly secularized, individualistic world, I know that that message doesn't come across too clearly. But we will try to do our best to communicate it in the most clear way that we can.
The Globe reporter definitely did not say, "Hell, it's a less than 3% of CC's budget. Why didn't you suck it up as so many non-profits would and keep doing it on your own dime?" Instead the smooching Q&A went:
Q: Why not make a kind of prudential judgment that the good done by placing a large number of children with traditional families outweighs the harm done by placing a small number with nontraditional families?

A: Well, particularly at a time when the marriage is threatened, it's very important that the church's teaching on the institution of marriage be reflected in our works of mercy and our social services.
So, here we are back in Beantown and Worcester, in Lowell and Fall River -- predominately RC towns that poll and vote opposite of what the bishops mandate. Interestingly enough, O'Malley ordered his bishops to order priests to have anti-SSM petitions at masses and in some parochial schools. That was wrong and muddled church and state in bad, bad ways. That can certainly backfire if the bishops, and Cardinal-t0-be, continue to come on heavy in disregarding commonwealth constitution and laws.

We shall soon have an elevated O'Malley in town, figuratively with new brass on his collar. If history is an indication, he'll continue saluting as long as Benedict is his C.O. That can mean some very unpleasant fights.

There's some serious unfinished business with same-sex marriage, adoption, and particularly the recent tack of the RC hierarchy to step out of the religious role into the political one, only to dodge back in the sanctuary when it is convenient. I don't think even our jovial friar can play that game well enough to avoid tripping. It would be a damned shame for him to go down because he's following orders.

What the C.O. orders for Boston and Massachusetts and how that plays out may well be an indicator of church/state politics nationwide and beyond.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Roughing Up a Rich Blogger

Not many bloggers earn a living at it. Yet, if one makes $80,000 a year blogging, does he deserve to be dope slapped repeatedly?

Today's New York Times maggy has a one-pager of blogger abuse. Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga gets the nipping worst of interviewer Deborah Solomon. She is known as biographer of artists and others with high-profile shames, as well as being a regular contributor to the Boomer pharmaceutical and realty catalog disguised as a slick journal. She apparently was raised by wolverines and uses the Barbara Walters technique of trying to create interest by blindsiding her subject with rude and dumb questions.

Zúniga though is apparently far to Left Coast to be rattled. He straightens out her liberal media gang claims. Then there is the exchange:
She: Is it odd to live so far from Washington and spend every nanosecond of your life writing about it?

He: No. I avoid Washington like the plague. And I generally avoid politicians. I find them quite dull.

She: Have you met John Kerry?

He: Only once. I was in a bathroom stall next to him at the Democratic National Convention. I didn't say hello. It was a private moment for him.

She: Do you read your fellow liberal bloggers, like those who write for Huffington Post?

He: To me, Huffington Post gives voice to the voice. They're celebrities who don't need a platform.

She: That's not fair. You can't discredit bloggers like Jane Smiley or Nora Ephron just because they have a reputation outside politics.

He: These people don't have trouble being heard if they want to be heard. Sometimes Huffington Post has noncelebrities — I am more interested in them, people who don't have the chance to get their message out.
She defends and adores the self-important. He snorts in their direction. Good on him.

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