Friday, September 30, 2005

To Infinity and Beyond!

We cannot wait for the follow-up on John Fisher's drive for worldwide same-sex marriages. With only one news story so far, the Canadian with roots in New Zealand is headed off to Switzerland to make it happen.

While the rest of us wring out hands and sigh at all the work to be done, Fisher is no Don Quixote. He knows what is right and has made it his business to manifest his vision.

He was a prime mover way uptown as executive director of EGALE, which was instrumental in getting SSM legalized in Canada. He knows how to make things happen and apparently has no lack of patience and persistence.

A profile of Fisher, included, "I was more impressed with his lawyerly smoothness: John Fisher could, I'm sure, talk his way out of Purgatory."

Fisher came from New Zealand, where homosexuality was illegal. His mom lives in Seattle. He fought the good fight in Canada. He says of his aims, "My mission I guess, has always been the kind of world where Lesbian and Gay people can celebrate who we are with equal freedom, dignity, and respect."

He is going to Geneva to broaden the struggle. He intends to create the first global gay-rights organization, which he calls ARC International. He picked Geneva for its proximity to other human-rights organizations.

He admits, "We have to brace ourselves for a long and hard struggle."

In the Backpacks of Innocents

The amorality of anti-same-sex marriage campaigners dug a new bottom. According to a piece in today's Boston Herald, Massachusetts Catholic-school students are ordered to take home petitions for the 2008 initiative to rescind SSM.

The ethics issues aside, some parents do not appreciate the church and school pimping their kids for politics. Plus, now they have the whole issue on the table at home. The article quotes one mom of twin 12-year-olds in Boston's Holy Cross school. "It's not for their eyes. My boys are too young to have to deal with that.''

While this is far from the Children's Crusade, the concept is similar. Also, this one is forced on the parents as well as the kids.

In a complete whoring of the commonwealth's Roman Catholic churches to this effort, the four bishops are working directly with Catholic Citizenship in the parishes and schools. The executive director of the group thinks this is all good educational fun. "Teachers incorporate this into their civics lessons," said Larry Cirignano. "
Kids are actively involved in trying to get signatures.''

Living in one of many neighborhoods were the local parochial school kids hit us up to buy candy bars, wrapping paper and raffle tickets, we find this even worse. So does MassEquality's political director, Marc Solomon, who said, "Schools may make them salesmen. But they should not make them political solicitors.''

The bishops have allowed zealotry to trump propriety.

Imported Workers Against SSM

The Boston Globe finally noticed what other papers and many bloggers have been reporting — that the rescind same-sex marriage in 2008 forces are using pay-per-signature petition minions. That is good that it woke up, as it is the largest newspaper in the region.

It is unlikely that anyone who supports the initiative will be bothered. It may not have any impact on the neutral who will sign any petition as long as they hear, "Put it before the voters."

As provincial as always, the local paper stresses that the hired guns are from out-of-state, golly, all the way from California. The point should not be where Massachusetts Family Institute/Vote on Marriage folk get their bused-in gatherers.

In this case, despite the loud and repeated claims of PEOPLE'S VOTE and GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN, they need dayworker pros to get enough signatures, one way or another or another. The ploy too often seems to be to have the employees of Arno Political Consultants, Sacramento, produce a clipboard with multiple petitions. They never say that one of them would strip rights from a class of citizens or specifically that it would rescind same-sex marriage. Mass Equality alone has received over 40 similar complaints.

It is amusing that funds collected for the allegedly people's initiative goes to outsiders to coerce voters here. As is the norm with ballot initiatives nationwide, this one serves the narrow political or economic purpose of a special interest, not the larger pubic at all.

For those incensed by the locale of the gatherers, click over to Arno. It claims to have qualified over 500 initiatives in 20 states with more than 120 million signatures. What they lack in honor, they make up in volume.

Arnie Inks, Enters Into Ignominy

Sure enough, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the same-sex marriage bill (AB 849). With his X on the line, he ensured that his previous civil-rights bluster remains just that. When pen came to paper, he played for re-election instead of doing the right thing.

You can read a PDF version of the rejection letter here.

He was in a veto fury yesterday, underscoring the sordid political nature of his actions. He also rejected an increase in minimum wage, laws allowing cheap Canadian prescriptions for locals, and those that would punish overtly sexist employers who pay women less than they pay men. In short, he stopped all pretense of being for the public, for respecting the public through legislative action, and for being for public rights. He is betting that being a conservative Republican is his future.

The LA Times has a nice recap of Arnie's Big Day of Slashing. The Sacramento Bee describes the minimum-wage politics.

He managed to anger anti-same-sex-marriage folk though. His tissue-thin claim that homosexual couples were covered with the few benefits and rights under the domestic-partnership law apparently must remain in place. He said he would oppose rolling back those meager protections.

Back to 849, Arnie could have played it several ways. Given his facade of civil-rights support, he could easily have accepted that the public and most certainly the popularly elected legislature voted for same-sex marriage. Instead, he dragged out the smelly corpse of Proposition 22, the DoMA-style ballot initiative from five years ago. He also continued to hide behind the blinds of the legislature not reversing an initiative and wanting the courts to show the leadership that he refuses to show.

Yet, his kiss-off letter includes:
I believe that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationships.
He knows how lame and LITE the protections of the domestic-partnership law are. Yet he is shameless in pretense.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bless Gay Unions, Not in Our Church!

The mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic bigshots seem intent on driving Connecticut gay couples to UU and UCC churches, at least for their civil union blessings. Who knows, these couples may find they prefer friendly congregations and clerics.

The Hartford Courant investigated who would and would not bless the unions, which become legal on Saturday. Not seems to be the operative word here. Among the not-in-my-church folk are Roman Catholic, Orthodox Jewish and evangelical Christian churches. In addition, the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith sent a letter to all his clergy that they are forbidden to perform civil unions.

The new law permits discrimination by a church, denomination or entire religion. Not even justices of the peace who object to same-sex civil unions must perform the ceremony or bless the couple.

Couples seeking blessings for their civil unions will have to shop. In addition to Unitarian and United Church of Christ ministers, they can look to American Baptists (definitely not Southern Baptist).

Irony Injection: Bishop Smith and his officials are the subject of a lawsuit by six parishes and their priests. It seems that his voting for openly gay V. Eugene Robinson in 2003 as New Hampshire bishop irked them so much that they demand another Bishop oversee them. Andy can't seem to win on the gay front.

Yes, Master O'Malley (Shuffle. Shuffle.)

Well, Sean O'Malley and the Kowtow Bishops are having a great tour. The latest act was last weekend in Westborough. According to a Globe article today, two priests got the hook after not shucking and jiving on the anti-same-sex marriage petition.

The original, detailed coverage was in the MetroWest Daily News.

The Worcester diocese Bishop Robert McManus led Saturday evening and Sunday morning masses and ordered St. Luke priests the Reverends George Lange and Stephen Labaire to make themselves scarce, at least temporarily. The offense was a note the bad boys published in the church bulletin expressing disagreement with Archbishop O'Malley's mandated support for the 2008 ballot initiative to rescind same-sex marriage.

The offending item reads:
The priests of this parish do not feel that they can support this amendment. They do not see any value to it and they see it as an attack upon certain people in our parish, namely those who are gay.
Two parishioners commented that the priests' "hands were slapped very publicly. Bishop McManus told us that Father George 'made a mistake' and 'should not have done that.'" Another more succinctly added, "Everybody was stunned."

One commented on McManus' usurpation, "I feel like he was trying to leverage our faith to further his political agenda. I think individual parishes and communities have their own cultural norms."

This sure looks like more aftershocks from the new Pope's desire for a smaller, more obedient church. If the hierarchy manages to drive enough thinking parishioners away, it might just get that.

Hennigan, 24-Years' Worth

Where will our hero mayor of the future come from after Tommy Menino finishes his fourth term? Despite both the Herald and Globe reviewing last night's mayoral debate as one in which Maura Hennigan stung da mare with zingers, she didn't show enough stuff to make her the boss.

Facts are that Tommy has been good for the city, even though his improvements have been incremental instead of quantum leaps, and Maura does not have and cannot produce the brilliant strokes and vision to unseat him. You can certainly understand why the newspapers try to keep coverage exciting, but an honest review would have asked the wonderfully clichéd, "Where's the beef?"

This city stages the immigrants and poor for the rest of the commonwealth. It carries the burden of other entry cities, such as New York and Los Angeles. It also has the cruel restraint of being the capitol and having to beg the commonwealth legislature for money and even the power to change the way it operates.

He did not make enough of it in the debate. Tommy has been up to the gold dome getting Boston the resources to deal with strains inherent in a city that carries a heavy load for the Westons, Wellesleys and Dovers of the state. He is trying hard to see that Boston gets a fairer share of the massive revenues it pays to support the rest of Massachusetts. That requires a liberalism that respects and cares for the underclasses.

We need more of that from Menino and from the next mayor. Ideally his successor will bring both the power of personality and an inspired vision to the job. Unfortunately, we don't see that person waiting or hear that person campaigning. Certainly, Maura is too tired and too lightweight to be the heroine.

After re-watching the debate and re-scouring her campaign site, we remain unimpressed. There are a lot of repetitive words but no breakthrough.

Maura has been a city councilor for 24 years. She has far too few examples of leadership or vision during those decades. During the debate, as in the campaign to date, she has brought up that Tommy has been in office nearly 12 years and the city has never had a woman as mayor. Ho hum.

She has been in office so long that:
  • She is unquestionably part of any systemic problem
  • She has had decades to dream, reason and fine-tune her vision and specific policies to implement it
  • She is unable to show how she would do better
Pick any or all of her platform to see the problems. Education is her most fleshed out and what she hit Tommy with the most in the debate. Pull up her position statement and her reform proposals.

It is easy to shred her criticisms of the Menino/school committee/superintendent education record. Menino can, and did the the debate, pick success stories that more than offset her version.

What we are left with is her reform program. It leads with the lamest and least defensible plank of all –– re-introducing the elected school committee. That failed plainly and repeatedly for decades. It was a system that led to the stagnation and then decline of the schools. It is a highly politicized regime that served neither kids nor parents nor teachers. The only meaningful reforms to the schools came with the appointed committee.

Unfortunately, Hennigan falls back repeatedly on a very conservative fantasy. In the debate and her literature, she iterates that if we only go to the neighborhoods on each issue and do what the locals want, all will be well. That sort of town-meeting avoidance of leadership can work for the provincial needs, but not for larger systems, like schools.

The rest of Maura's self-described reforms are vague and high minded from the first glance. For example, she wants partnerships between schools, community based organizational and institutions of higher learning, and creating strong and successful incentives to attract and retain teachers...including professional development, sufficient resources, and a strong mentoring program.

Well, la de da. Wave a wand, mumble incantations and swell things will happen.

You would think after 24 years and quite a few as a school nutritionist that she would bring more to the race. Too little, too vague, too bad.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pixie v. Flintstone Mayoral Debate

Too bad for Maura. She needed a knockout against journeyman Tom and didn't get it on WGBH tonight. Councilor Hennigan should never have given up her 24-year day job. Mayor Menino won on points.

My oldest son was by to cook dinner tonight. I taped the debate between the Boston mayor and his sole challenger to see later. Down to the tepid applause at the end, it was round to round harmless jabs from the flyweight contender. A twinkling smile and condescending half-answers to questions didn't cut it. The audience told the story with so-so reception for the would-be.

Much, far too much, has been made of having the single debate be in a townhall format, with audience questions. Honestly though, for this town, having locals pose the questions was at least as effective as journalistic hacks doing it. The pair faced specifics about policing, street sweeping, inequitable schools, and housing. There were no nuanced questions where panelists try to show how much they know about arcane legislation. The folk wanted to know what these guys would do to make their lives better.

Unfortunately, Maura came off like other Boston city councilors. She was insincere, she smiled inananely, and she tried to turn every question to a personal attack on the current administration. Instead, she should have made specific policy recommendations. What she did was pick very narrow points as though those were real plans. For example, she returned repeatedly to having neighborhood meetings before picking the school-superintendent search committee. Not only is Menino already doing that -- duh -- it does not address the broader issue of what she would demand from the new education tsar.

She blew chance after chance like that.

Tommy came off stolid but solid, as usual. He looked and acted like Fred Flintstone, as always. He kind of answered the questions, in the Thomas Michael way. We have gotten used to that.

Maura needed to show that she had great ideas. She didn't show a single one.

Pity. This race is over.

Court Confirms Kids to Non-Biological Mom

In another victory for kids, a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed giving twin 8-year-old boys to the non-biological mom of a lesbian couple. Lambda Legal has the details.

A lower court had already ruled that Patricia Jones would provide a better home than Ellen Boring, who bore the kids. The affirmation included:
We believe that the record supports a finding by clear and convincing evidence that the bests interests of the children are served by granting primary physical custody to Jones, for a number of reasons discussed in the trial court's opinion...
The women had been together for 14 years, raised the children together, and when they separated in 2001, shared custody. Boring subsequently lost custody when she did not follow visitation rules, tried to alienate the twins from Jones, changed their names, and tried to move the kids out of state. She contended that she deserved sole custody because she was the biological mother. She also argued that she could not lose custody of the twins unless Jones could meet the much higher standard of proving her an unfit parent.

This type of drama plays out in many states. It is unsettled law, but the best interest of the children seems to hold sway increasingly. This has happened in cases of adoption, step-parents and foster caregivers. This seems a logical extension.

City Councilor Game Afoot

  • From today on, the game is really on because it's such an abysmal, deplorable turnout, you really can't gauge strengths or weaknesses.

  • Former City Councilor Michael McCormack

    Truth that.

    Suddenly it's 8 candidates for 4 at-large Boston city council seats in November's election. Our two heroes fared well. Whether Sam Yoon can become the smartest councilor in decades and the first Asian-American one ever remains to be seen.

    Both Boston Globe and Herald have basic reports. The Globe includes tallies and finish order.

    Key points include:
    • Both best candidates, Felix Arroyo and Sam Yoon, are in the run-off.
    • Felix is one of three incumbents up top and is almost certain to get a spot in the election.
    • Two other incumbents, Michael Flaherty and Michael Murphy.
    • The 15.1% turnout was low but not terribly so.
    • Only one DoMA-type candidate, Ed Flynn, made the run-off and he squeaked into the final slot.
    • The fundamentalists and no-shows at fora got shut out.
    Note: Did the Baby Boomers' parents get into a naming rut with Michael or not? If someone yells for "Mike!" in the council chamber, does everyone turn around?

    Much was made in both papers that first-time candidate John Connolly came in fourth. Yet, he comes from an established political family, is very well funded, has a strong hired and volunteer organization, and ta-da, is yet another Irish-American.

    In fact, only Felix and Sam have any color other than pink. In theory, race should not be an issue in at-large council races. In reality, Boston is still very splotchy with separated racial and ethnic groupings. So of course, the culture of the candidate helps determine both the attractiveness to voter and the effectiveness in serving diverse constituents.

    There's now just over a month before the election. Sam could always win in his next go, but we would very much like to see him get to work for us next year.

    Mildly Messy Messieurs

    Miss Manners came to the rescue of a wedding-products company beseiged with questions about how to address the envelopes and letters to same-sex couples. Her Q&A on it appeared in the San Jose Mercury News Sunday.

    The gist of the answer is to use the traditional French honorific plurals, Mesdames or Messieurs. As the column elaborates:
    GENTLE READER: "Mrs. and Mrs.'' not only encounters the problem you mention, but it is jarring to those who know the traditional rule that "Mrs.'' is never used with a lady's first name. Furthermore, those who violate that rule do so to indicate divorce or widowhood, neither of which is appropriate here.

    Miss Manners has a simple solution:

    Use the plural form of ``Mrs.'' or, in the case of two gentlemen, the plural form of "Mr.'' These are, respectively, "Mesdames'' and ``Mssrs'' ("The Mesdames Sally and Betty Jones,'' "The Messrs. Trevor and William Cartwright'').

    All right, Miss Manners admits that these are odd plurals. But they are at least traditional and dignified.
    And massmarrier adds that these will not be odd plurals for very long.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Know They Neighbor by ZIP

    The petition-watching folk at Know Thy Neighbor point out a useful feature built into their front page. If you want to make sure that your name or that of your liberal area buddies do not fraudulently appear on the petitions to rescind same-sex marriage in 2008, you can get notification.

    In the upper right corner is a Get notified if someone in your town signs it! box. Fill in an email address and click go. On the next screen, you fill in a first name only, your town and ZIP code.

    Then if you are opposed and your name appears, you can notify the Secretary of State. Likewise, if the housebound old guy down the block or the lesbian couple next door suddenly are on the list, you can verify with them.

    There has been considerable fraud in such petitions in this and other states. Know They Neighbor seems all for good citizenship.

    Parish Partition

    Perhaps it is the formal hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church here and at its higher levels. Perhaps it is the rank hypocrisy of bishops saying the state absolutely has no right to mess with church business while they have a duty to mess with the state's business.

    Regardless, the Quincy Patriot-Ledger ran a subtle, but powerful Catholics divided over O'Malley's call for gay wedding ban by John Zaremba. If nothing else, Archbishop O'Malley has managed to drive yet another wedge among various communicants, which at least nominally number over two million. His pleasant grin does not compensate.

    At issue is the hierarchy's self-righteous immersion in politics in efforts to overturn same-sex marriages here. In the process, the bishops have hopped into bed with such anti-gay groups as voteonmarriage and Catholic Citizenship. They also run up against their legal limits by strongly suggesting that priests appoint at least one parishioner per church to head the petition drive for the MCC lobbying arm.

    Certainly from abolition days, various churches have urged their members to vote one way, to go to letter-writing tables in the parish hall, or even to join the ministers in protest marches. Two crisp distinctions seem to be bothering insiders and outsiders alike in his campaign. Worst is that because of the hierarchical nature of this church, it is basically ordering its clerics to specific political action. Subtler but more disturbing is that in contrast to some past political pulpit pleas, this campaign is to rip rights from a minority instead of expanding them.

    Back to the news, some parishioner applauded the command with remarks such as, "The church is just getting us to move our butts."

    Others with gay family and friends are disturbed ("My cousin is gay and from what I've seen, he was born that way. I don't want to say anything that would hurt his feelings or go against him because that's my flesh and blood." )

    Still others agree that O'Malley's and his gang have cross the political line. One said "it is not the church's place to limit secular matters such as civil unions. Likewise, he said, he does not want lawmakers delving into sacred rituals. '‘The sacrament is the church's area and the civil area is the state's.'"

    One lector (announcement reader) refused to read O'Malley's letter aloud. "It's not what I thought Jesus would do. It doesn't help the church welcome people or reach out to people."

    Can she get an amen?

    Uncivil Civil Servants on Civil Unions

    Legislators in Connecticut included an out for justices of the peace bothered by the horror, oh, the horror, of uniting two homosexuals in a civil union. JPs do not have to perform this part of their job if they cannot stomach it. The law exempts them from liability.

    Ironically of course, the civil union is just a contact in reality, regardless of the meaning to the couple involved. Nevertheless, some JPs are already refusing. Some are happy to join couples. Others have angst.

    The Hartford Courant found one who had to ask her priest what to do. Carmela Apuzzo came away from the meeting comfortable with civil unions.

    "This has nothing to do with religion," she said. "It's a contract. I will definitely encourage other people to think of it like that."

    Likewise, the Stamford Advocate quotes JP Doris Greenberg, a flexible self-defined old lady. "I'm not used to that. But my opinion doesn't matter. If that' the law. I have to do it."

    In contrast, JP John Campbell said, "I wish they would ban the whole thing. We should go back to the way we used to live." The paper did not say whether he added a folksy by cracky. Similarly JP Patrick McBennett does not want to perform civil unions. As he put it, "It would be awkward. I'm not in line with that thinking. To me, marriage is between a man and a woman."

    The president of Love Makes a Family, Anna Stanback, said, "I think it's very disappointing that a justice of the peace, who is acting as an agent of the state can discriminate. "

    There are not any statistics yet on how many of the 6,000 to 8,000 JPs in the state will do their duty. Gay couples may have to open up the phone book and shop.

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    Stretch Your Legs, Boston. Vote.

    Maybe 10% to 15% of Boston voters will be out for Tuesday's primary. You can have a disproportionate impact by picking your at-large city council candidates.

    You will do well by choosing:
    Felix has the record of liberal accomplishment and Sam has the right platform and the brains.

    These two are the best of the bunch (opens a list in PDF). You can choose two others or stop with these two. They are the crucial ones to go to the next round. Eight of the 15 go to the November election, where you can pick the final four.

    Polls are open for 13 hours, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    If you are registered and need to verify your polling place, check here.

    By the bye, nearly all candidates claim to support same-sex marriage. A few compassion-challenged sorts like Roy Owens, Ed Flynn and Joe Ureneck are in the DoMA camp, but most of the others are at least tepid supporters.

    Even more tangential to the election, our favorites may have the most musical talent in the race. A review in the Boston Globe of the Spotlight the Candidates talent show in Hyde Park Sunday. The article included:
    Amid the good-natured warbling, a couple of show-stoppers stood out. Crashing applause followed Yoon's performance of the Miles Davis song ''All Blues." And the standing ovation for at-large Councilor Felix Arroyo's rich baritone began long before he finished the last stanza of ''My Way."

    Cap'n Disses Us, Again

    Big up to Frederick Clarkson for flagging the Mitt Romney piece in the Washington Post. It seems others have noticed how he runs down Massachusetts when he is out seeking POTUS support in early-primary states.

    For our Captain Brylcreem, a little dab of grease will keep his hair tall and a slathering of ridicule of the home folk will make him one of the boys (wherever he is). It does not play well at home and is surely hurting him in the hustings.

    The Cap'n has very few jokes. He definitely needs to buy several more as his seedy caravan travels the country.

    He likes to compare himself to a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention. He also says he is a red dot in the bluest state. He goes on about Boston as an organized crime center and tries to distance himself from Big Dig overruns while laughing at them.

    Intentionally or not, he likely has queered any gubenatorial re-election here. On Beacon Hill and in Southie alike, getting dissed behind your back is not forgettable nor forgivable. Unless he falls flat in his efforts for the GOP POTUS or VP spot, he thinks he's out of here.

    In South Carolina too, where he has made several speeches running down the Bay State, his ill manners won't fare well. The sandlappers understand and value respect and loyalty.

    Mitt now has the full range of carpetbagger traits. From Michigan to Utah to Massachusetts, he shows up, says, "I'm one of you and am here to help," makes his profits, and splits.

    The Cap'n doesn't seem to realize how apt his cattleman joke is. The real contrast is between thoughts and deeds. He claims to have felt like the carnivore amongst the vegans. Yet he scoffed those tofu burgers for years –– with vigor and great dishonesty.

    So long as it suited his aims, he was pro-choice and tolerant of same-sex marriage. Suddenly, aw shucks, he was a conservative Republican all along. Really, believe him; he's serious this time. Um hmm.

    At-Large Councilor Favorite

    Sitting by Jamaica Pond on what my grandmother would call a bum bench, I was working a cryptic puzzle while waiting for my wife to finish her first road race. To my grandmother, if you were not working, producing something, you were a bum. You could fall into that category just by sitting on a bench in front of the town courthouse to chat with a friend.

    A colorful flyer placed on my puzzle saved me from my indolence Saturday though. With his concentration obvious, Sam Yoon's picture dominated the flyer. Likewise, Sam himself was as alert and bright looking in person standing before me. He was seeking votes in JP in his run for at-large Boston city councilor.

    For a wide variety of reasons, we shall vote for him Tuesday, tomorrow. Fifteen are running for the four slots. The eight highest vote getters go on to the November 8th election.

    He also is on the right side of the same-sex marriage issue. He told me that he was an evangelical Christian who found strong Biblical and doctrinal support for same-sex marriage.

    His site also has a blog-like object, which is really a Q&A forum for potential constituents. About two weeks ago, he answered that question with:
    My position on same sex marriage is quite simple. I support the right of all couples to marry who they love, and form a family. To me, it is an issue of fairness, of justice, and of equal opportunity. I think government should be actively supporting families of all kinds to prosper, rather than telling people who they can and cannot marry.
    You can read some of the many whys to vote for Yoon in the Boston Globe's Observer, Sam Allis' interview with him. A PDF of that is available on Yoon's site. Its first paragraph includes, "...Self-respecting lefties of all stripes should be swooning. Ditto for thinking Republicans."

    Unlike other city councilors I have known, Sam Yoon looks you in the eye and speaks credibly. He pays attention and reacts on his feet. His heart and head are honest, honorable and compassionate.

    He reminds me very much of my former state representative when I lived in Greenwich Village. The first time I met that guy, I was on my way to work on a rainy morning, hustling to the 12th Street entrance of the IRT subway. He stopped me, introduced himself as my rep and asked if there was anything I would like to change about the district.

    I don't recall what they were, but I had suggestions. He listened, commented on some, and took notes. He went on to become Mayor Ed Koch. I interviewed him later for articles and found the same sincerity and intensity.

    I hope Sam Yoon holds onto and builds on those same characteristics.

    Sunday, September 25, 2005

    Look for and Sign MassACT! Petition

    At yesterday's Beantown Jazz Festival in the South End, MassACT! volunteers were active and getting healthcare supporter's signatures. Click the link if you are out of this cycle.

    They only have another 10 days to get 100,000 signatures to put this key measure on the ballot.

    The guy who got us said that they had 800 volunteers and were going to do their damnedest to get the target, plus enough cushion for bad sigs.

    Your job is to notice a MassACT! volunteer and sign. Even better, go to the site to get your own petitions for this crucial initiative.

    At-Large Daddy's Kids

    My favorite for at-large Boston City Council is unquestionably Sam Yoon. Among all the others running, the two that bring baggage without ever serving in the office are children of former mayors.

    While both Ed Flynn and Patricia White paint themselves as liberals, they contrast considerably otherwise. One is a DoMA sort who says he is his own man. The other claims to be solidly pro-SSM, while campaigning unabashedly on her father's name.

    Note: SSM is a theoretical issue for city councilors. The benefits issues are not up for discussion at the moment and they cannot vote on SSM anyway. We still find the position a good touchstone.

    Coincidentally on the marriage issue, the current South End News got responses from most candidates on questions including that one. To Do you support the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples? it got Yes from Michael Flaherty, John Connolly, Matt O'Malley, Kevin McCrea, Greg O'Connell, Joe Ready, and Stephen Murphy. It got a slightly more emphatic Definitely from Felix Arroyo, Absolutely from Yoon, and an I do from White.

    Althea Garrison, Larua Garza, Martin Hogan and Roy Owens did not respond. Joseph Ureneck replied, "I support traditional marriage. I actually wrote a brief in opposition to the decision that came down from the [Supreme Judicial Court]."

    Ray Flynn's boy is liberal on many issues, but is between the field and his anti-gay father. Ed Flynn answered, "From my experience, it's not a political philosophy, it's my life philosophy. I treat everybody with respect and dignity, anyone I come in contact with, although I do support traditional marriage between a man and a woman."

    White does a lefter-than-thou routine. That is probably smart, but it did not get her elected the last time. Nor did it get an endorsement from NOW. Apparently, the women's group questioned her commitment to and sincerity on their issues, including abortion rights.

    According to the Boston Irish Reporter's September issue she thinks "her 2003 bid fell just short that a 'liberal explosion' had stung her candidacy, and she seems determined not to be left out of any such dynamic this time around." That reads very much like her father Kevin, who tailored himself to the electorate to stay in office.

    While associating Patricia with him may be unfair, many of us who were here during his terms remember that he was no friend of the underclasses. He pandered to realty interests. Many of us are still surprised that with the indictments around him and the rumors of corruption that he managed to leave without being in real trouble himself.

    It remains a question for each voter whether daughter is like father.

    Similarly, Ed Flynn says he is populist like Ray, favoring universal healthcare and living wages for the blue-collar residents. According to a piece in the Boston Globe last month:

    His policy pronouncements at this stage are longer on rhetorical flourishes than meaty details.

    Still, there was a receptive market for the brand of old-fashioned populist politics that Ray Flynn peddled so successfully in the 1980s. Whether Ed Flynn can roll out an updated model that will sell two decades later is the open question.

    In the Dig, Flynn cites his good intentions and the areas he wants to improve. He doesn't give much detail there either. In fairness, if he gets into the runoff, he will surely speak at depth with Ray and advisors, and then have some real platform planks for the general election.

    Bottom Line: We don't trust Patricia or Ed enough to vote for either.

    Mitered Masters Messages

    Well, the Massachusetts bishops – or at least their clerks –– seem to understand their obedience vows. All three have issued their letters to priests in their sees. All three have nearly identical content with only minor formatting differences.

    Perhaps that's a miracle or coincidence.

    Archbishop Sean O'Malley, on the other hand, was positively creative in contrast. He gets to start with a hope that July and August brought rest and renewal.

    Note: Clicking on a letter link at the above link brings up a PDF page.

    It should not be surprising that they were in lockstep. This is a powerful exercise of political clout. The letters are apparently written with lawyers. They advise that priests can allow signature gathering on October 2nd, in an effort to rescind same-sex marriage here.

    Interestingly and questionably, however, they advise priests that they can also designate a parishioner to lead the signature gathering. That seems to push up against the legal limits.

    They also cite Catholic Citizenship and Then they say that the Church's lobbying arm will forward the parish contacts to Catholic Citizenship, which will train and coordinate this nominal grassroots effort.

    It is fascinating that the letters seem to take the position of skirting the law and seeing how much you can get away with as a church. Letter-writing and petition tables are certainly not unique to Roman Catholic churches. This time though, they know they are on the edge.

    With Massachusetts' large Catholic population and nubmer of churches, it should make quite an impact to use clerical and peer pressure at Sunday Mass. How well that plays with straight as well as gay parishioners remains to be seen.

    Badgering your parishioners may be riskier than teasing the state that give you tax exemption. For example in a similar political vein, endorsing candidats, most church goers oppose the practice and policy. In a major 2002 study, the Pew Reserach Center and Few Forum on Religion and Public Life found agreement across a spectrum of Christians in its Americans Struggle with Religion's Role at Home and Abroad survey. For white Catholics specifically, it found that 21% felt a church should endorse a candidate and 73% felt it should not.

    In Newsweekly found one gay advocate immediately with a negative response. Sean Cahill, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task force's Policy institute found a flier calling for signatures in his Beverly church's bulletin. "I am very sad," he said. "It fees like a particular violation. I always felt safe and loved there."

    Some CT Clerks Open Oct. 1

    Some town clerks in Connecticut have announced that they will open exceptionally on Saturday, October 1st, to permit same-sex couples who have waited for civil unions to get licenses. Couples should call their clerks to see if they are among them.

    One, Cindy Simon of Newtown, gave a very informative interview to the local Bee newspaper on the subject. Her office will open on October 1st from 9 a.m. to noon. She also provides guidelines for the whole process.

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    SSM Snapshot

    Down at the Village Voice, Kristen Lombardi must have had a slow morning. She (bless her) laid out the current state-by-state status of same-sex-marriage and related legislation and voter efforts.

    Her snapshot includes:
    • Most recent anti-gay-marriage amendment approved by both the legislature and voters: Kansas, in April
    • The 17 other states where bans exist: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah
    • Amendments approved and scheduled for a popular vote: Texas (in November); Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee (all in 2006)
    • Amendments now pending in legislatures: Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Wisconsin
    • Amendments requiring a second legislative vote: Virginia (in 2006), Indiana (in 2007)
    • Amendments that have failed in legislatures this year: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Washington
    • Statutes permitting gay marriages passed by a legislature: California
    • Statutes permitting gay marriages pending in a legislature: New York
    • Statutes permitting gay marriages that failed in legislatures: Maine, Rhode Island
    • Statutes banning gay marriages pending in legislatures: New Jersey, New York
    • Statutes banning gay marriages that failed in legislatures: Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Wyoming
    • Lawsuits asking for the right to marry: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Washington, Maryland
    • Lawsuits against some form of anti-gay amendment: Nebraska, Georgia, Ohio, Oregon
    • States considering opening marriage laws: New Hampshire, through its Marriage Commission
    • States where anti-gay activists are trying to force a referendum: California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    2008 Initiative a Loser – This Week

    The State House News' latest poll has the 2008 DoMA ballot initiative here losing if folks voted now. Results from 400 registered votes were 51.9% to 42.6% opposed to the ban.

    That is not an insurmountable lead, but the trend in various polls has been for slowly building support for same-sex marriage. It certainly appears that the hysteria that repeal folks tried to generate over terrible things and even chaos resulting from such unions has backfired. The longer voters see zero change from expanding marriage, the less likely they are to want to take away this right.

    As is the wont of pollsters, Gerry Chervinsky of SHN was cautions, noting that the poll had a plus-or-minus for error of 5%. He also predicted a bitter fight over the proposed amendment.

    Plus, he hesitated to predict the eventual outcome. "(T)hese ballot questions are hard to poll. It's the world of the hidden vote, where people want to tell you the politically correct thing. But when they get into the voting booth and pull the shades, they go - 'hmmm, maybe I won't vote the way they think I should.'"

    Who is Ray Flynn?

    Ray Flynn, people'’s mayor, son of a longshoreman, young and bigoted when he fought busing of blacks into Southie, but saw the light and became a racial peacemaker.

    Is that the guy?

    Or is it the Boston mayor who vetoed condom vending-machine requirements for restaurants and bars when AIDS was already a threat, the staunch support of Bernard Cardinal Law (both before and after the abuse scandals), tainted by alleged financial improprieties in office and partying instead of working while ambassador to the Vatican, the opponent of abortion and of gay rights, and don'’t even mention same-sex marriage to him.

    Is that the guy?

    He was almost on a Celtic team that went on to a championship. He was almost a candidate for POTUS. He was almost a U.S. Rep. from the Eighth District. He was almost a statesman at the Vatican. He was almost a civil libertarian.

    Is that the guy?

    Or is he a leader and original petition signer of the ballot initiative to rescind same-sex marriage rights? Is the one on the dais as well as the petition (and the phone) with extremist anti-gay groups such as Mass Family Institute? Is he the chairman of Catholic Citizenship urging all Roman Catholics to vote as a bloc for regressive, ultra-conservative legislation?

    Is that the guy?

    Unfortunately, yes, yes, yes and yes.

    I knew Ray Flynn slightly, bumping into him on the street, figuratively and literally, but more about that later. I was active in housing issues in the 1980s when he was mayor. By coincidence, a high-school chum from New Jersey was one of Flynn'’s advisors, concerned with housing among other public good issues. I ran across both when attending or testifying at public hearings.

    Ray had developed a reputation for his liberal human-rights stances and efforts to bring racial harmony to a strained city. Little did we know the sharp and sudden limits to his compassion and commitment to equality.

    Gay rights, including same-sex marriage, are perhaps the most pronounced. It turns out that because the Church hierarchy is not anti-black, anti-Asian or otherwise overtly racist, Raybo was fair there.

    On homosexuality, Ray has remained constant. Now that he is not an elected official, nor an appointed one, he can and does act out on that.

    Now in his sixties, Ray has teamed up with Larry Cirignano, executive director of their Catholic Citizenship. Cirignano has a nasty history of extreme right-wing jobs and platforms. The New Jersey lawyer was spokesman for the Christian Coalition and for former national drug tsar William Bennett. As part of his campaign to get Catholic Church leaders active in politics and policy making, he has supported appointmentent of Priscilla Owen to the U.S. Supreme Court, bishops' lobbying and speaking against pro-choice laws, and of course, overturning the rights of same-sex couples to marry here. He advises various groups how far they can push church and state against each other without running afoul of tax agencies. He also supports denying communion to a politician who votes for abortion rights, among other issues.

    We don't know precisely how the Ray and Larry Show formalized. It seems a natural fit, so long as you forget that Flynn was a Democrat (who endorsed George W. Bush). This outgrowth of Cirignano'’s Catholic Vote started last fall, when it got coverage from the Catholic News Service (CNS) and Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi. (The latter requires a subscription or pay-per-article for archives.)

    Flynn would not speak with Vennochi. She described his new spot as "“walking a fine line between church and state and the presidential campaigns."

    CNS quotes Flynn as, "We try to get the idea of voting Democrat or Republican out of people's minds. What the Catholic population needs to do is examine the issues and use their own moral values to decide which candidate best represents those issues. I'd rather be a good American and a good Catholic than a good Democrat."

    And he is, if good means doing what you'’re told.

    So, there's a good chance Ray's legacy will be kind of liberal in the middle, and divisive and conservative on both ends. In the big picture, the middle was a short period and the anomaly.

    Oh, in what may be an insight or a meaningless event, Ray did bump into me on the sidewalk. When he was mayor, my five-year-old son and I were walking home from the Haymarket. Ray and a chum were jogging on coming the other way. I held my son's hand so that he was behind me and Ray had room to pass, assuming that he did not block the whole sidewalk by staying abreast of his buddy.

    Instead, he came right at me as though I should leap into the street with my kid. He slammed his shoulder into mine, hard and clearly intentionally. If he were still a ball player, he would have been called for an intentional foul. Fortunately, I am at least as big and strong as he, and he ended up sideways –– making room anyway.

    The interesting angle is that not only did he come at me on purpose, but he neither stopped nor apologized. One would figure that as a mayor he would have enough political savvy not to threaten a likely voter. One would also figure that his family would have taught him better manners.

    If you ascribe meaning to this tiny event, you might think that when Ray is headed somewhere, he'll do what he feels like to get there.

    Dr. Ash Dashes Mad Dad

    The Lexington school superintendent, Dr. Paul Ash, showed both a strong mind and clear vision. He has no intention of letting the mad dad customize the school system for his political issues. Check out the details and insights in an excellent piece at MassResistanceWatch.

    Ash's teachers and officials know and obey the law. Fundies are not likely to get what they want there.

    Bud nails it when he writes:
    Lexington is lucky to have such a smart man as its superintendent. For those people who disagree with public school curriculum, there's always private schools.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Maine Debate Impressions 3

    God help me. I went to journalism school and I used to write like the earnest Ernest Scheyder III of the University of Maine –– straining for objectivity, adding acceptable levels of color without coloring the coverage. His article on the Question 1 debate in The Maine Campus newspaper is about as straight news as you can get for speech reportage.

    If you want the down-and-dirty, self-serving and dishonest version, head over to Mike Heath's account in his blog. To read is to laugh.

    He wrote an even funnier version on the CCL site, in which he claims he stunned the audience when he told them that his opponent used to work for the local newspaper companies. If you listen to the debate, you will be aware that he is the only one who seemed to think anything of that.

    The UM rag maps the debate top to bottom. While Scheyder notes that it was obvious that the students favored keeping gay rights, you cannot see his own position here. The audience make it a bit easier. He finds pro-rights folk at talkbacks afterwards, but no repeal-the-gay-right-bill gatherings are there for contrast.

    Surely, they could have found a free phone booth for one. Oh, right, everyone has a cell phone phone booths.

    If you want a huff-by-puff version of the debate, go to the student paper. On the other hand, Heath is unintentionally much more amusing and entertaining. He has a glorious hissy fit and strains the tropes to death.

    Heath is all emotion and ego. He calls debate opponent Ted O'Meara, representing Maine Won't Discriminate, for personal attacks. That's sweet, as O'Meara did call Heath's off-topic ramblings "ridiculous" several times (far too few times from what we could hear).

    The ad hominem assaults from Heath continued in the debate, on the CCL site, and in the Heath blog. Mikey cannot seem to get over thinking that O'Meara's professional position as a flack and advisor to the major Maine newspapers four years ago disqualifies him from speaking on this or any meaty topic. The accusations are repeated that this makes him a member of the media elite (and throw in that there is some out-of-Maine ownership for his previous employers). Pathetic.

    Fact remains that Heath did come to the debate unarmed. He can spin it to his followers and pretend all he wants. After all, they pay him to represent their viewpoint and win for them. Put a big L in his column.

    The university will make the debate feed available, reports MWD. When it does, we shall post a link. You can hear for youself.

    If you are anti-gay rights and it would be too painful to hear, wait for Heath. He wants a transcript for CCL's site, apparently so that he can add some spin to selected passages.

    CA: Somewhat Equality

    California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office sang and danced to an appeals court yesterday. It tried the governor's tactic of claiming that same-sex marriage was not necessary, homosexual couples sorta, kinda had equal rights with domestic partnerships.

    Senior Assistant AG Louis Mauro had the degrading task of pretending that separate and not equal was plenty fine for the golden state. The arguments included the low-brow call for "common sense." "The common understanding of marriage is deeply rooted in our society, and it is legitimate for California to maintain this meaning while affording equivalent rights and benefits to same-sex couples."

    Mauro disputed the lower court decision similar to Massachusetts' Superior Court's that nothing prohibited same-sex marriages under law. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, he "disputed (Judge Richard) Kramer's conclusion that gays and lesbians had a fundamental right to marry their chosen partners, saying fundamental rights were limited to those that were 'deeply rooted in history, culture and tradition.'"

    Lawyers for the same sex couples who won the initial ruling and for San Francisco pointed out that "(t)heir argument would legitimize the doctrine of separate but equal in the state of California."

    Freedom of Blog

    The PATRIOT Act has not gone quite so far yet, but in some of the world, blogging, email and other Net activities can mean jail or worse. The French Reporters sans frontières (Reporters without borders) aims to keep blogging fun and safe.

    The new Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents is online in PDF for free or for €10 on the RSF site. The English download is here. Languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Persian.

    There's plain good sense and procedures about how to blog. Of particular interest are chapters on:
    • How to blog anonymously
    • Technical ways to get around censorship
    • Ensuring your email is truly private

    Dissenting Catholics

    This morning downtown Beantown, a group of Roman Catholics who support same-sex marriage formally announced their petition for others in their religion to sign. It is online.

    They claim to be in the thousands. Voting records in Catholic areas suggest they may be representative.

    From their press release:
    This Statement gives Roman Catholics an opportunity to publicly express their support for marriage equality and their respectful disagreement with the Roman Catholic hierarchy on this issue.

    Many faithful Roman Catholics are deeply saddened by the Churches' decision to encourage the collection of signatures in support of a discriminatory constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. Members of Roman Catholics for the Freedom to Marry are upset that signature collection on this measure is taking place in houses of worship.
    Their petition includes:
    As Roman Catholics, we differentiate between sacramental marriage and civil marriage, and therefore we perceive that same-sex civil marriage poses no threat to our Church. While we respect the authority and integrity of the Church in matters of faith, our prayers and reflection have brought us to a new openness on this issue. We urge the Church to treat with respect in both word and deed same-sex couples who have entered into civil marriages.

    It also lists the reasons for supporting same-sex marriage here:
    • The American principle of the separation of Church and State was enshrined in the Constitution to ensure that no particular religious perspective would be imposed on our pluralistic society.
    • Remembering that Roman Catholics were once denied civil rights, treated with suspicion, ridiculed because of our sacred rituals, and questioned as to our allegiance to 'foreign authorities,' challenges us to remain vigilant whenever bigotry and injustice enters into public discourse.
    • Catholic teaching on social justice has been central to the building of a just society, creating awareness of diversity in the human family, calling us to lives of respect for one another, and not merely tolerance.
    • Same-sex civil marriage does not in any way coerce any religious faith or tradition to change its beliefs or doctrine.

    Sit Up Straight!

    Roman Catholics need not run to church each time they feel confused about what to think and how to vote. Whether you are a politician or voter, you can go to Catholic Citizenship to get a PDF version of the Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics.

    It includes five non-negotiable issues when considering a candiate:
    1. Abortion
    2. Euthanasia
    3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research
    4. Human Cloning
    5. Homosexual "Marriage" (sic)
    Snarky Note: See "FRESH" FISH in Lexington for examples of defamation by quotation, or check out any anti-SSM site.

    The all-important last item quotes a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern form of the Roman Inquisition and Benedict XVI's job for 25 years before he became Pope. The Guide lets you know:
    True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other union as “marriage” undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.

    “When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral” .

    UUs Threatened for SSM Sign

    In suburban Chicago, the DuPage UU church got a threatening note after hanging a banner that reads, "Civil Marriage is a Civil Right." Some yahoo left a note in a youth teepee on the lawn saying that "if our sign did not come down by 9:30 p.m. on Sunday that the sign and the church would both come down", according to the minister, Emma Lou Belcher.

    Someone phoned in a tip to the sheriff's office, whose deputy found the threat. Police dogs didn't find any bombs on Sunday. However, the church was evacuated and held its service in a field across the street.

    "We pondered it for a few minutes and during the service I said, I don't want to take down the sign, and the congregation burst into applause," Belcher said.

    The police say they have a suspect, the now infamous person of interest. At the moment, they are not treating it as a hate crime and there is speculation that it may be a former parishioner who opposes same-sex marriage.

    Arnie: Be a Hero

    In California, gay-rights advocates got bubkes from Arnie's minions yesterday. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would not meet with them, his staff members would not discuss the same-sex marriage law that he intends to veto, and the deadlines remain the same – the legislature has to hand it over tomorrow and Arnie has until October 9th to act on it.

    In an amusing last-ditch effort, Equality California also intends to run this 30-second ad. (This opens a QuickTime clip.) It says Arnie has a chance to leave his mark and flashes images of JFK, Bobby Kennedy and George Wallace as his choices. "Governor, the choice is yours. Be a hero," it concludes.

    His spokeswoman says, "The decision is made."

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Mad Dad Clucks Again

    Word from Concord tonight is that the mad dad delayed personal responsibility yet again. Local press hasn't had enough interest in covering it, but the fundy Agape Press did.

    Ever the control freak, Parker let his lawyers delay the trial. They claim until the school lifts its no-trespass policy on him, he won't deal and won't go to trial.

    Of course, school officials use these policies in the extremely rare cases in which parents commit crimes in school and the cases have not resolved. The circular argument is amusing, but does not lessen Parker's culpability.

    We hope that the school principal and superintendent show some guts and refuse to play nice with the nasties.

    Maine Debate Impressions 2

    The Bangor News seems to have won the Question 1 debate coverage race. It has its detailed version of the CCL/MWD sparring.

    Nice additions to the coverage came with the advantage of being in the hall. They interviewed students and a CCL official:
    Afterward, however, Joey Bishop, a first year student and supporter of the law, hadn't changed his mind.
    "I came here to try to understand the perspective of the guy who wanted to vote yes," said Bishop, 18, of Presque Isle. "I listened intently the whole time but couldn't flush out his argument."

    Opponents of the law, while difficult to find in the college crowd, expressed the need for more outreach on campus. "I think that we haven't had the outreach we need. I don't think the kids have the whole message," said the league's Elaine Graham, who said she sold only "a few" pins advocating traditional marriage at the event.
    They estimated the crowd at 450. Also, they reported that previous polls of Orono students were between 66% and 75% in favor of gay rights.

    PSA: Mad Dad, The Trial

    The mad dad of Lexington, David Parker, starts his jury trial in Concord District Court today. We're betting that this will take three days, one for selection, one or less for trial and a fraction of one for deliberations.

    The Article 8 folk like to play for high theater, but this is pretty simple. It is amusing that he and his lawyer expect to be able to sway adults on his misdemeanor charge.

    In terms of civil disobedience, this is small beer. He refused to leave his kindergartener's school for hours after he didn't get what he wanted –– unprecedented say-so over school discussions he didn't like. Police urged him to go, and then arrested him when he refused repeatedly.

    It is simple. It is civil disobedience and he needs to pay the (tiny) price. It is dumb and wasteful for him to drag the simple protest-cost case through the courts. That court couldn't force the schools to change their rules and go beyond public law to suit him, even if it chose to do so.

    You read it here. Guilty. Bang. Pay up and shut up.

    We briefly considered biking up there today. The sky is as sunny as Parker is dour. However, the case has gotten pretty boring. It's like a pimple that pops up again.

    Wanted: Meatier Media

    Head over to Ryvr Scrawl for some thoughty media musing from him and a pointer to the catalyst by Dan Rather.

    If the slack jowled anchor is right, the conglomerates controlling print and broadcast media will continue to squelch investigative journalism. That brings up the obvious question about whether independent journalists and even bloggers will have the resources to uncover and reveal the necessary news.

    Lord knows, the will is there.

    Half-Empty in Hartford 2

    A day of scrambling seems to have followed Connecticut's attorney general saying the state would recognize others' civil unions, but not Massachusetts' same-sex marriage. Reports in the Hartford Courant and on 365Gay got opinions from those directly affected and politicians.

    The former suggests that the state will see how civil unions work for a few years before reconsidering full same-sex marriage. Sen. Andrew McDonald, a principal in the civil union law, said that the legislature would begin to examine the law and the AG's interpretation in its next session.

    Meanwhile, "some activists said (AG) Blumenthal's opinion highlights inequities under current law." For example, a homosexual couple married in Massachusetts that moved to Connecticut or where one spouse works in each state can lose. If the company provide health benefits and the state provides favorable tax treatment only for spouses or civil unionists in Connecticut, they can deny these.

    The emotional shock and sense of betrayal is more common, as with Brian P. Rice and Jason Kelliher quoted in 365Gay. They married in Massachusetts and th moved to Connecticut for work.
    "It's just amazing to me," said Rice. "We've been hopeful that Connecticut would treat our marriage with the same respect that it has treated the marriage of my co-worker, who was recently married in Massachusetts. We feel like we're being forced into a civil union when we've already made the ultimate expression of our commitment through our marriage."

    Maine Debate Impressions

    Massachusetts was the monster under the bed last night for the anti-gay-rights debater. In a clear preview of what Mainers can expect before the November election, the two primary advocates on both sides of Question 1 stated, iterated and reiterated.

    Sponsored by the University of Maine Student Government, the Webcast debate's key players were:
    We haven't checked the papers yet, but listening to 90 minutes left us with:
    1. (Irrelevant) questions about whether Heath is sincere or just a huckster.
    2. Greater confidence that the anti folks' arguments are so lame and misleading that Question 1 is going down.
    3. Strong confirmation that the CCL will continue to pretend that a vote for anti-discrimination for gays will ensure same-sex marriage in the state.
    O'Meara was the biggest surprise. We had not heard him. He was a savvy MWD choice, both because he is a PR and strategy professional, as well as regular Christian dad and former head of the state GOP.

    Heath constantly avoided answering the written questions from the students, chosen by the moderator. Instead, he returned to illogical and unsupported themes.

    We could not have been as patient and on-message as O'Meara. For example, Heath went repeatedly to the argue that Massachusetts' highest court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage because the commonwealth had sexual-orientation protection on the books. O'Meara was specific in how the SJC limited its decision to the constitution and not rights rules and regulations.

    O'Meara also refused to play the game of debating same-sex marriage. MWD has been careful to avoid any confusion between anti-discrimination and marriage.

    After Heath said that not only would gay marriage necessarily follow from gay rights, he added that it would "kick the props from under the institution of marriage...and it will collapse." O'Meara did not point out that 17% of marriages here since the implementation have been same sex and that traditional man-woman unions are doing quite well, thank you very much.

    It did not seem to bother Heath at all to lie directly or to jump from specific to general to another specific claiming a cause and effect. Some lies were simple and he may have repeated them so often that he sort of believes them. For example, he repeated the lie that Lexington's mad dad was persecuted, arrested and forced to sleep in a jail because school officials would not discuss his polite requests about his kindergartener's diversity book. The truth is that he refused to leave a meeting with officials after he didn't get what he wanted and would not leave for several hours after police and others begged him too. Then he spent the night in jail by his own choice, rather than offer a $50 bail for trespassing.

    Some of Heath's deceptions were more insidious. He repeated the CCL line that there is no anti-gay discrimination in Maine, therefore no sexual-orientation wording need to be in the law. O'Meara detailed specific examples from public hearings of exactly such cases. After a few iterations of this, Heath changed his words to say that there was "no widespread" discrimination. In other words, a little hatred, firing, and persecution is okay.

    When he wasn't using Massachusetts as the bogeyman, he picked international oddments. For example, from Scandinavia and Canada, he mentioned laws that forbid free anti-gay hate speech. He said if Maine kept its gay-rights wording, that would happen there.

    Heath started with a whimper and warmed. He claimed victimhood; O'Meara had worked for some of the states largest newspapers, and all the liberal-elitist media hated him and his cause. Of course he didn't seem to consider his views may be risible and odious, that legislators from both houses with the support of the governor passed this anti-discrimination law because the time has come, and that times in Maine have changed so that a solid majority of the state favors such fairness.

    It was fully a half hour into the 90-minute debate that Heath pulled out the code phrases, such as gay agenda and lifestyle choice. He ended up doing the full sexual immorality charge repeatedly. To O'Meara's credit, he did not laugh out loud when Heath twice said that if gays stayed closeted, there would be no discrimination in the five areas of law – housing, employment, public accommodation, credit or education. Heath actually had the nerve to say that in the old days, gay Mainers would hide their orientation and things were fine.

    Again and again, Heath returned to the scare that if gay rights remains on the books, this makes sexual-orientation a right. Thus, he could "guarantee" within days people would file suits and prepare bills legalizing same-sex marriage. O'Meara pointed out, also repeatedly, that Maine was a DoMA state, that the new law wording specifically said it could in no way be interpreted as altering marriage.

    At his most extreme –– although only his words but not his tone or volume screamed irrationally –– Heath claimed that there were polygamists and polyamorists waiting in the wings. Again, despite Maine laws forbidding such unusual practices, Heath was willing to raise the fear of rampaging satyrs and nymphos.

    At the end, this would have been an easy debate to score. O'Meara used reason, logic and fact. He won flat out.

    However, Question 1 supporters are much more likely to vote viscerally. Whether Heath believes this tripe or not, he knows how to push the fear and hate buttons.

    On the other hand, his concluding remarks included, "If I believed that this was about dsicrimination, I'd vote NO." Indeed.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    Ex-Married in Alabama

    Apparently a lesbian couple was legally married in Alabama two years ago. They were officially unmarried by a judge after he found out. WSFA TV in Montgomery carries a version.

    Elmore County Probate Judge Jimmy Stubbs rescinded the license and voided the marriage of Prattville's Joseph Cutcher and Patricia Hammon. Joseph apparently is a woman who listed herself as groom on the license and had changed her name from Juanita.

    Stubbs said they falsified the license. So, the marriage was null and void from the beginning. The couple could face criminal action if that is the case.

    Reporters have not been able to contact them yet. No word whether they got spousal benefit or whether someone plans a TV movie.

    Half-Empty in Hartford

    Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced today that his state will:
    • Recognize current and future civil unions and domestic partnerships in other states
    • Not recognize Massachusetts same-sex marriages
    His official statement includes:
    Civil unions performed in other states are entitled to full faith and credit in Connecticut, and cannot be repeated here. Out-of-state same-sex marriages have no legal force and effect here
    This was his response to a request from the Department of Public Health. It handles marriage licenses.

    On the other hand, married same-sex Massachusetts couples moving there can form a civil union.

    Vermont has civil unions. California, Maine and New Jersey have varying degrees of domestic partnerships.

    Crimson Fustigates Mitt

    A beautifully reasoned editorial appears in today's Harvard Crimson. It uses Governor Mitt Romney's sneaky words to point out his illogic and hypocrisy of supporting the 2008 anti-same-sex-marriage initiative.

    The theme is that while our Captain Brylcreem screams "Will of the people!," they spoke loudly when their elected legislature tromped on the 2006 anti-same-sex-marriage initiative. The Cap'n just wasn't listening.

    Tracking the legislature (or is it the other way around?), the public polls have risen in a year from 44% supporting same-sex marriage to 56%. Yet as the editors write, "Evidently, however, the evidence and the resounding decision of the Legislature—the very manifestation of the will of the people – —are still not satisfactory to the opponents of same-sex marriage."

    So, here we have a normalized process of same-sex marriage. The majority of the public and the legislature favors it. Also,
    The referendum bid threatens to needlessly destabilize this harmonious social atmosphere. Never before has a referendum been proposed in Massachusetts that seeks to dissolve the rights of a minority group that had been previously guaranteed. In fact, the Massachusetts state constitution explicitly prohibits referenda concerning religious organizations for precisely this reason: the correct belief that the rights of minorities should not be fodder for public consumption and political hackery, but for well-reasoned debate in a controlled setting.
    The Crimson concludes that not only should the people speak, but they have. Thus, "...
    the only responsible decision left for Romney and his allies is to drop the issue and let the Commonwealth continue to exist as it has."

    Give it up, Mitt.

    Health Initiative: Give Don't Take

    Tired of all those reactive ballot initiatives that want to take something away? Well then, starting this Friday, you can circulate and sign one that helps.

    MassACT! will have 12 days from September 23rd to gather enough signatures to put real health-care reform on the ballot November 2006. It is aiming for 100,000.

    The Massachusetts Affordable Care campaign is from a broad coalition of medical, family, union civic, and business groups. They are working for a health-care act that, as they put it:
    • Reduces premiums - ending the insurance surcharge now tacked onto premiums to pay for uninsured
    • patients who get care in emergency rooms and other sites.
    • Increases quality affordable coverage - providing sliding-scale assistance to moderate-incomefamilies struggling to afford health care costs.
    • Helps small businesses provide coverage - expanding the Insurance Partnership program and establishing a reinsurance program to reduce premiums.
    • Makes our health system fair - funding expanded coverage through an affordable assessment on firms that refuse to provide coverage to their workers.
    • Covers our children and most vulnerable residents - expanding the affordable MassHealth program.
    • Lowers health costs and improves health - increasing the cigarette tax by 60 cents to reduce smoking and to fund affordable coverage.
    They make it simple, with:
    1. An overview of the issues and solution.
    2. A download for the petition, with complete instructions.
    3. A PDF summary of the act, section by section.
    4. The 5-page act (also PDF).
    With neighbors and friends facing the dual crises of health care eligibility and affordability, this is a damned good answer to, "What can I do?"

    SSM Posts

    Report any broken links to massmarrier.

    Bay State Baiting
    8/2/4 Nation Comes Close
    8/4/4 Right Ahead or Left Out
    8/30/4 Damp Twice
    9/11/4 The Guys: Intro
    9/11/4 The Vows
    11/5/4 Tulsa Tussle
    11/5/4 OK 2
    11/5/4 Larry, Darryl and Darryl
    11/16/4 Death by Attrition?
    11/18/4 Deluge to Trickle
    11/23/4 Bless Them, Pardon Me
    11/29/4 Passivist Judges
    11/30/4 Changing the Rules
    12/10/4 Repent in Leisure
    12/25/4 Poor Mouthing Benefits
    12/27/4 Got Scot?
    1/11/5 Clever These Americans
    1/12/5 Law Bender by Gender
    1/18/5 Here a Vote, There a Vote
    2/3/5 Chicken Little Moments
    2/8/5 Stone-Wal-Mart
    3/6/5 Oh Yeah, Olympia
    3/12/5 Mitt Catching It
    3/13/5 Voters on S-S Marriage
    3/31/5 Nutmeg Limbo
    4/12/5 Another Roy Cohn
    4/13/5 Not in the Same Can
    4/27/5 Bashing/Marriage Coincidence
    5/2/5 Making Merry in Massachusetts
    5/6/5 Wolfy Wolfy
    5/18/5 Maybe Married
    5/25/5 Family Coming Out
    6/1/5 Wikipedia Resource
    6/8/5 Michigander Ganders
    6/15/5 Marriage Law Ref Guide
    6/17/5 What About Those Married Gays?
    6/29/5 Same-Sex Marriage Documentary Recap
    7/1/5 UCC Geeks with Blogger
    7/2/5 Yuck Within UCC
    7/3/5 Show Some `nads Says Rev. Young
    7/4/5 UCC Overwhelmingly Approves Marriage
    7/4/5 Currie on UCC Inclusion
    7/5/5 Don't Rest Easy in Atlanta
    7/5/5 Skunk in the Garden
    7/5/5 UUs Been There
    7/6/5 More Big Tent Church
    7/7/5 UCC Head in Own Words
    7/11/5 Holy Cross Flame War to Be
    7/12/5 Slow Export of Mass Marriage
    7/21/5 Steamroller of Tolerance
    7/23/5 Marriage Share
    8/2/5 Samuel's Words in Action
    8/8/5 Neither There Nor There
    8/16/5 Martyr Lutheran
    9/10/5 SSM - Long Views
    9/14/5 Single Soft-Shoe Step by Roberts
    9/14/5 Full Faith and Credit: Big Guy?" l
    9/15/5 Oh, You (Dan) Savage!
    9/15/5 A Voice for Patience
    9/15/5 WAPO: Ask A Gay Couple
    9/17/5 WAPO Hopeful for Mass
    9/20/5 Crimson Fustigates Mitt
    9/20/5 Ex-Married in Alabama
    9/22/5 CA Somewhat Equality
    9/22/5 Dissenting Catholics
    9/22/5 Sit Up Straight!
    9/22/5 UUs Threatened for SSM Sign
    9/22/5 Arnie, Be a Hero
    9/23/5 2008 Initiative a Loser – This Week
    9/24/5 SSM Snapshot
    9/30/5 To Infinity and Beyond!
    10/11/5 Hairy Palms of Deceit
    10/23/5 Toying with the Constitution
    11/1/5 In the Bare Majority
    11/11/5 Clarity from Chelsea
    11/14/5 Fractured Bishops
    11/15/5 Massachusetts and Its Anemic Neighbors
    11/16/5 The Sincerity of Arnold
    11/21/5 Putting the Gee in McGee
    11/23/5 Petition Pending Today
    11/24/5 Clerks' Week from Hell
    11/25/5 Adhesive Marriages
    11/26/5 Kicking the Flock
    11/26/5 Culling Rotten Fruit
    11/28/5 Nasty and Nippy Up North
    12/1/5 Method in Harper's Madness?
    12/1/5 Punishing Petition Plethora
    12/1/5 Picking Petition Nits
    12/3/5 Smart Kansas Talk
    12/5/5 The Unamerican Way
    12/7/5 Poison Petitions Pending
    12/13/5 Monitoring Massachusetts Marriage
    12/16/5 Dark Side Petition Hordes
    12/17/5 One Harper Harping
    12/20/5 Presidential Pushing
    12/21/5 Initiatives Up and At 'em
    12/21/5 Golden Dome Goodness
    12/23/5 South Shore Angst Over
    12/24/5 SSM "Diaper" Bag
    12/27/5 Non-Scientific JP Sigs
    12/28/5 Out West Ennui
    12/30/5 Barney Blasts Bad Blood
    12/30/5 Closet Jesuits?
    1/3/6 Evergreen State Status
    1/4/6 Specious SSM Show
    1/5/6 Atlanta SSM/Gay-Rights Summit
    1/6/6 Counting Petition Sins
    1/7/6 Bona Fide Bonifaz
    1/9/6 Saint John Potty Mouth
    1/9/6 Wee and Not So Wee Churches
    1/11/6 Getting Your Fill in Philly
    1/12/6 Browbeating Brownback
    1/13/6 Asbestos Trousers Warning
    1/15/6 Schoolyard Taunts in Olympia
    1/19/6 Quibbling with Romney
    1/19/6 Connecticut Conjugal Conundrum
    1/20/6 Uh Oh, Canada
    1/21/6 Merry in Maryland
    1/21/6 Dope Slapping Pulpit Bigots
    1/22/6 Magic Beans Planted
    1/24/6 Tory, Tory, Torry
    1/24/6 Psst in Providence
    1/25/6 Bay and Ocean State Marriages
    1/26/6 You Need RI for Grief
    1/27/6 Count 'em and Weep
    1/27/6 DoMA Clings to Clinton
    2/2/6 Harper Brinkmanship
    2/6/6 NH: Live Restricted
    2/7/6 Putting the Er in Vermont
    2/7/6 New or No Hampshire?
    2/12/6 The Yawn of SSM
    2/13/6 SSM Sandlappers
    2/14/6 Going for Broke and Back
    2/14/6 Waffling Willy Weld
    2/15/6 SJC Indecisive on Out-of-State SSM
    2/21/6 Asking for SSM, Again
    2/25/6 Marks of the Inane
    2/25/6 Beyond Buried Boomers
    2/27/6 A Little Rowdy in Rhody
    3/15/6 Let the Voters Bloodlet
    3/16/6 The Few, the Hateful, the Anti-SSM
    3/20/6 800 Lefty Green Bostonians
    3/21/6 Breathe Free in New Hampshire
    3/21/6 Hartford SSM Hotfoot
    3/22/6 Shock Insulation in New Hampshire
    3/27/6 Proof? Anti-SSMs Don't Need Proof!
    3/27/6 Inching To SSM Equality
    3/30/6 SJC Says Go Ahead and Disciminate
    3/31/6 Passive Judges Blow One in Massachusetts
    3/31/6 Romney/Reilly, Oh Really?
    4/3/6 Let's Trash 1913 Laws!
    4/3/6 Turning the Crank (Letter)
    4/6/6 1913 Laws Case: Positive Side-Effect
    4/7/6 Father Time To Rule on SSM
    4/7/6 Horse Kicking with Harper
    4/7/6 Once More to Battle in Providence
    4/8/6 Next Reilly Says She's Pro-SSM
    4/10/6 Tuesday: SSM Sit,, Stand & Say
    4/12/6 State House: High Pitched SSM Whine
    4/13/6 Soporific SSM Session
    4/15/6 Massachusetts (or Canada?) SSM
    4/17/6 False Prophets
    4/24/6 Vote on SSM -- Quoi...ici?
    4/26/6 Does Sal Hold SSM Cards?
    4/27/6 Hanging Flesh on SSM Skeleton
    4/28/6 Law Pub Chides SSM Losers