Saturday, May 31, 2008

SSM Troll to See Legal Battles

In what may well be a multiple pun, Bay Windows editors seem to have had a bit of fun with two very serious subjects. On this week's front page, a picture of the AIDS walk, an accompanying article about the ongoing epidemic, and tombstoned headlines Legal groups warn: don't rush into lawsuits with Far from the finish line.

That's fair enough and three areas where folk have quite a way to go.

The California same-sex marriage ruling came with several legal lampreys sucking on its sides. The Supreme Court there ordered marriage equality to begin in a month (bumped a weekend to June 17th, the last day it has to rule on a motion to extend that). Anti-marriage equality organizations have filed to extend implementation until after a November ballot initiative to put a DOMA definition in the state constitution. Next, ten GOP state attorneys general filed a friend of the court brief supporting that plea. Everyone now is atwitter wondering if hundreds or thousands of couples marry before November and then the amendment passes, what happens to their marriages which were legal at the time?

I must be daft, visionary or both. My first thoughts were whether the highest court in that state would deal with the constitutionality of such an amendment.

Predictably, the Bay Windows legal piece stresses patience and letting the GLBT usual suspects tell the nation what to do or not. This has happened in several states with gay-rights and marriage equality rulings or legislation.

Not everyone salutes and bows. There have been some lawsuits by the impatient. Some are favorite failure citations by the likes of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Legal Director Shannon Price Minter. For one, he points to a 2004 challenge to the federal DOMA by attorney Ellis Paul. The suit asked that Florida recognize two women legally married here as spouses. A federal court there denied that. Minter frequently says that the results "were cited against us in all of the state marriage cases where we lost."

Bay Windows also quotes Lambda Legal's Legal Director Jon Davidson as fearing more bad precedent. Of course, those renegades who want to stage raids and not wait years or decades are not bound by what the big rights groups demand. By losing, they may slightly hamper advances. It is very unlikely that they will cause serious damage.

However, there is a possibility that the other side may force related issues for better or worse (where have I heard that before?) with the California instance. Consider:
  1. In 2006, a ballot initiative changed family code to insert one-man/one-woman wording in marriage statutes.
  2. Twice since, the legislature has passed same-sex marriage laws, twice the governor has vetoed these, saying it was for the courts to decide, and twice there were not enough votes for a veto override.
  3. Lower courts ruled in favor of SSM and against violations of equal rights, leading to the case before the Supreme Court there.
  4. That court struck down the statutes defining marriage in DOMA fashion for marriage.
  5. A drive is underway and likely to be successful to put that ballot initiative for a DOMA-style amendment on the November ballot.
  6. An anti-marriage equality group has asked the court to delay SSM implementation until after the election
  7. June 17th is one day after the last day for the court to delay and thus is the day for SSM to begin.
  8. The state AG and the governor will not fight the implementation, leaving the anti forces on their own and with questionable status to bring a suit.
  9. Following the court ruling that voided the family code marriage section, the amendment initiative may require resubmission with new signatures to reflect that it does not change any existing laws.
With all of that, there is likelihood:
  • The Supreme Court will not delay implementation.
  • Many homosexual couples will start marrying on June 17th.
  • Voters in November include many younger ones who have no problem with SSM and voters in general are much more hesitant to remove existing civil rights by ballot than prevent liberties from starting.
  • The anti folk will fail at any appeals to the state Supreme Court.
  • They will move their drama to federal courts, or try to do so.
California is the bigger, much bigger, troll under the bridge. Massachusetts has about 6 million residents and California about 36 million (highest). Even though legal SSM here has not caused rampaging herds of homosexual couples spreading legal discord throughout the nation, the anti folk are convinced, yet again, that California will be that disaster they predicted.

The fun part at the moment is the increasingly obvious swing to the anti folk being on the defensive on this. People heard that tired little ditty Gay Marriage Brings Chaos! so often that they know all the words. Yet it has been so wrong so often that few sing along or even listen any more.

If they lose the November amendment vote, they are pretty much washed downstream. They'd have to look to the nearly impossible, a federal law taking marriage regulation and definition from the states.

Unfortunately, we remain a relatively socially conservative nation. Getting to full equality is a decade or more off. Victories in gigantic states will not convince the others to admit their blunders of saying they are for equality while passing anti-SSM laws and amendments. At least when it comes time to correct those, they'll be able to blame the retired politicians.

For more teasers on this area, go to:

Do nose around at the Leonard Link. There, law professor Arthur S. Leonard is the most insightful analyst around. From May 16th, he has run a great series on the subject.

So far, I haven't seen any judgment on my question about whether the state high court could or would overturn the results of a November ballot initiative that conflicts with their recent ruling. Californians love their brutal form of populism in the form of initiatives. I think its a solid bet that the court would not pick that fight, but wait for a law suit challenging the amendment.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Republic AGs Squawk Like Chickens

Ten. Count 'em, ten Republican state attorneys general join in a friend of the court filing in California. Hmm, I wonder just what could bring such unity of purpose.

Oh, right, queers are about to start marrying there, legally, on June 17th. Today, these AGs asked California's Supreme Court to delay allowing same-sex marriages there.

It's great, speaking well of the future of marriage equality in this country that I am jaded on this. Living as I do in Sodom on the Charles, I have heard and heard and heard again the squawks of chaos and disaster and paralyzed government and women marrying horses or at least multiple women.

The gossamer curtain these AGs try to befuddle and amaze the court with is sillier. They plea that "a postponement might save them from legal headaches over whether to recognize California marriages." These Henny Penny types hail from a range of apparently melodramatic states — Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.

Pardon me, squawkers. Didn't you notice that we here have married same-sex couples for years. In fact, a certain New Hampshire shares a border with that scary Massachusetts. The horrors the filing predicts with visions of herds and hoards of freshly married gay couples...well, it didn't happen and won't.

Moreover, with Massachusetts having legal SSM, you've had a lot of time to consider the issue. I bet you even have a court system and maybe even a legislature to consider cases that require action.

The lead AG on the filing,
Utah's Mark Shurtleff, raised the unimpressive alarm over the likely November ballot initiative in California. That "would overturn the state high court's ruling and declare that only opposite-sex marriage is valid or recognized in the state. Courts in other states, as well as California, would then have to decide whether same-sex marriages performed before Nov. 3 were valid."

Oh, my goodness, an external factor that might make other states react! What a shocker! I guess California should freeze all business lest AGs and legislatures in other states have to think about this. Think. Think. Think. Like Pooh, what if they are bears of very little brain?

Ten Republican AGs and their best gambit is pleading not to have to do their jobs.

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Geraldine Self-Inflicts More Wounds

Was Geraldine Ferraro always a pinheaded coward or did she just age badly? Her bitter, irrational, irresponsible tirade that appears in today's Globe is more of what we heard from her in February and March. She's a mess.

You may vaguely recall early in the year as part of Hillary Clinton's finance committee, she made a series of sexist and racist remarks, comments she has refused to see for what they are. After proclaiming repeatedly how lucky Barack Obama was to be be Black in seeking the presidency, she figuratively rolled around, crying "I'm the victim here!" when folk called her on it. She is still paying that game.

She resigned from the Clinton campaign, but can't grow up. She went on talk shows and wrote saying what she did in today's column. She says people agree with her that "If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being racist." (Not that that itself, replete with hyperbole, is racist claptrap, eh?)

She goes on to accuse Obama of what she instead has been doing. "They see Obama's playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white."

Back here on planet Earth, Obama has studiously avoided such racist calls. He thanks Black supporters, as he does Latino or white ones, where they were key in a primary or caucus series. That is a far, far cry from Ferraro's race baiting. She even took his comments after winning South Carolina that "our time has come" to mean not the clearly intended progressives, but some threat to white citizens.

Moreover, she writes that she has a group of privileged women ("corporate executives to academics to members of the media") ready to pony up for a Harvard University Shorenstein Center study. That would be to evaluate:
First, whether either the Clinton or Obama campaign engaged in sexism and racism; second, whether the media treated Clinton fairly or unfairly; and third whether certain members of the media crossed an ethical line when they changed the definition of journalist from reporter and commentator to strategist and promoter of a candidate. And if they did to suggest ethical guidelines which the industry might adopt.
Perhaps they can throw in an evaluation of her comments during and after her association with the campaign. That should take about two hours to read and listen to Ferraro. The conclusion would certainly have to be that she's a bigot who is too immature to take responsibility for her errors.

Ferraro remains an embarrassment. She's certainly no role model for women or for white voters. She sees and hears oppressed white people threatened by lucky, lucky Black ones. She writes today that what white voters are "waiting for is assurance that an Obama administration won't leave them behind."

Itty boo, Geraldine. You can't sputter your cocktail party truths without someone calling you on them. What a pity you are a wealthy white person and didn't have the great luck to be born a Black man.

View and guffaw. Click below to see Ferraro in just one of her extended arrogant moments. Search YouTube for many more.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Equality Day on Both Coasts

California is staggering ahead toward June 17th same-sex marriages and New York will recognize SSMs solemnized elsewhere (other states and nations where these are legal).

Party A

In California, the state notified the 58 county clerks by email to prepare to issue licenses same-sex couples as well as different-sex ones on June 17th. That is the final day the state Supreme Court has to stay its order to begin. They are extremely unlikely to do that. The plea is that there is likely to be a amendment on the ballot to forbid SSMs.

In dolorous news from Sacramento to those who would hinder homosexuals, the new license forms will use Party A and Party B instead of Groom and Bride. While such wording accurately reflects the civil-contract nature of marriage in America, it does distress the theocratic sorts and anti-gay types. Expect winger radio and TV talking heads to rend their garments in anguish, as they did over Massachusetts doing the same.

It's a change but not a revolution. For one, Riverside county assessor, clerk and recorder Larry W. Ward is looking at his larger picture. according to the New York Times. "In addition to changing forms, Mr. Ward said, 'we are looking at our civil ceremonies to make them more generic.'"

Additional scrambling
will likely involve extra hours and staff to take care of an expected rush.

Comity Connection

Over in New York, the state is suddenly serious about outside SSM recognition. Two weeks ago, relatively new Gov. David Paterson leapfrogged Massachusetts, which still lags in cleaning up laws and regulations. He has ordered the state agencies to do what is necessary to recognize and accommodate legal SSMs conducted out state and out of the country.

His legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed told them that such couples "should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union." The New York Times reports, "The revisions are most likely to involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses."

Three days after his order, Paterson addressed GLBT leaders in a videotape. He showed surprising directness by calling it "a strong step toward marriage equality." He seems to expect full SSM in New York, as well as not shying from politically loaded terms.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

California Gay Ban Shock

There. I can sensationalize too. Check that headline.

The truth is not far off. A statewide poll in California reports that for the first time ever, more than half the voters favor same-sex marriage. With a November plebiscite intended to halt the pending SSMs there, that's bad news for the haters.

As the San Jose Mercury News added:
An almost identical result was recorded in the random survey of whether voters favor an amendment to the state constitution that will likely appear on the November ballot, which seeks to define marriage as between a man and a woman: Fifty-one percent opposed that proposal, the survey reported, while 43 percent approved of the restrictive amendment.
Decidedly unlike the 61% pre-SSM anywhere vote of 2000 in Proposition 22, the anti-gay/anti-marriage equality forces pushing this amendment could well lose this vote.

The poll of 1,052 registered voters on the amendment started two days after the state Supreme Court ruling, when emotions were high and the anti forces should have had their best shot at backlash. The poll takers noted the importance of young voters, who are largely without the anti-homosexual prejudices of many of their parents.

Since the first such poll there in 1977, there has been a pretty steady shift toward approval. There will be many more polls before November and the related claims by all sides of the issue should be varied and confusing. For the moment, let's just leave it as the boat is sailing and most of the people on the dock are pretty old.

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The Og in Fantasy Land

Pay no attention to the Og behind the curtain...

It seems that despite the repeated and current denials of numbers, facts and the reality that many of us rely upon, Dracut's Jim Ogonowski sees what he wants to see and hears what he wants to hear.

I mentioned in a moderately sincere post earlier that he couldn't find a door knob on the bathroom exit. All he had to do to head for the ballot for U.S. Sen. John Kerry's seat in November was to cajole or hire a few lackeys to hang around the front of a Stop and Shop or three with clipboards, gathering 10,000 signatures. Make that 14,000 to withstand incompetence and any opponents' challenges.

He couldn't manage that. This raises the obvious question about whether he was so busy being a part-time hay grower for rich ladies' horses or he really didn't want the job.

His own website news section as usual has no real news. What supporters he has not driven away would expect to find a comment on his petition drive and any last-hour hopes. Instead, there is a yawn-inducing set of features about his TV ads.

The local papers are a bit more alert. For example, the Boston Globe reports today that pre-challenge tallies have him 82 votes under the 10,000 minimum. They figure reasonably that some of those won't count, so he'll be way under.

They do quote the Queen of Hearts " his press secretary, Alicia Preston, as saying "We are confident that we have the required amount of signatures."

Back on this side of the looking glass, the Boston Herald quotes fellow GOP challenger Jeff Beatty as saying there's fraud and other unqualified signatures, including those of corpses' and forgeries.

The poor Og may have to go back to his cave for awhile. Perhaps he should come out again when he really wants to play.

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How Smart an Ememy?

Tony Perkins, not the high-class family butcher, rather the anti-gay/anti-marriage equality Family Research Council president, was on the Colbert Report. Everyone's in a family way, so to speak.

By the bye, despite political differences, I admit freely this is also not the Tony Perkins who played Norman Bates, mother mummifier and cross-dressing murderer.

Instead, this Perkins was smooth. His demeanor still is of his former life as a Southerner. He is gracious and can say the outrageous with a smile. And he regularly does.

Click below to see and hear his mellifluous unflappability. Stephen, another Southerner, hammers him gently, as in asking if he keeps kosher if he believes in Old Testament law. Perkins remains smiling and calm.

Oh, No, the Klan!

While such vindictive folk as Perkins feign indignation when anyone likens their groups to the shameless haters, like the Ku Klux Klan, he did bring back a comparison to a Grand Dragon I interviewed. It is the slickness, the sociability and obvious intelligence that is similar and disturbing.

Even as these characters claim to practice the precepts of Christianity and support the ideals of our country and our families, they openly work through a variety of methods of limit the liberties of others. We are not exactly living in the garden end of Eden, but we have lots of such smarmy serpents. They tell us their truths, ones intended to lure us into actions that harm others and ourselves.

Consider Robert Scoggin, whom I interviewed a long time ago when I was an editor of my college paper. That's when various Klan factions were feuding, Scoggin was Grand Dragon of the Klan in South Carolina, and such slithering serpents were as plentiful as they have become since they coalesced around anti-gay rights.

After interviewing Scoggin, I had similar thoughts and feelings as I do about Perkins. Both come across as smart and reasonable. Yet both were as malicious and twisted as humans can be while still functioning.

I have never spent any time with Perkins and Colbert really didn't. Yet Perkins was clearly skilled at foiling the obvious criticisms and comparisons. He carries the shield of practiced dishonesty and sneakiness.

Scoggin too had the ready answers, charming grin and lucid grasp of the underlying issues — all together unnerving. His was the more remarkable. It was in his Spartanburg, South Carolina, office. He was under suspicion under multiple murders. Police were on the access roads and a state police helicopter was overhead throughout my visit. At one point, the country sheriff, whom I recognized, came by in uniform. They went to the far side of the huge office and chatted. They laughed, slapped each other's shoulders and generally had a great time.

Brands of Enemies

It was when Scoggin returned that I had my realization. We had been in the middle of a complex concept of race relations when the sheriff interrupted. Scoggin returned to the chair on his side of the desk and recommenced answering, exactly at the word he stopped at in the middle of a sentence. Through about eight minutes of other ideas, words and location, with the thumping copter noises, with all the verbal and visual stimuli, he had stored all and lost nothing.

I was deeply bothered to realize that one of the bad guys was so focused and so bright. I was also bothered that I would have preferred my enemies to be dumb and emotional. I flashed on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, where he wrote, "I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies."

Having met Scoggin, I was surprised to see a self-serving piece by Wall Street Journal writer Frank Aukofer, who recounted his meeting Scoggin. He wrote, "He was a pathetic creature, unwashed, with rotting teeth. He lived in poverty in a shack without indoor plumbing or electricity, with rusted old cars, junk and garbage strewn about the yard. Scoggin was filled with hatred and the conviction that, because of the lighter skin shade you could almost see through the grime, he was somehow superior to millions of other people." That's pretty much crap reportage, well at odds with my own experience and that of every other reporter I have seen. Compare it with the adoring and dishonest from the other angle interview with Scoggin's daughter.

Scoggin in his serpent mode downplayed and denied any concept or practice of harming or hindering non-whites. He was opposed to stereotypical Klan violence, alone among the various sects of the organization. However, his primary aims and beliefs in the inferiority of Black Americans and the responsibility to suppress them was the same.

However, to hear him talk about it, the Klan as he knew it was more like the Lions or Elks than a hate group. He cited the charity work his group did with poor people, Black and white. As his daughter did in that interview, others spoke of Scoggin himself helping Black widows by planting for them or providing KKK-produced vegetables. The serpent whispers.

Fast forward to GLBT rights, a woman's right to choose and marriage equality, the enemy slithers about. Some are mean and not too bright, like MassResistance. Some are pedantic and vindictive, like the Mass Family Institute crew. A few, like Perkins, fit Wilde's model of choosing enemies.

Now I wonder how much validity I should ascribe to that. We have had a dull-witted President for seven and one-half years. One would think Americans of at least average intelligence would have tossed him quickly. Instead, we listened to his simple-minded lies and responded emotionally by re-electing him.

Perhaps if he had had the wit to make his thinking known and offer people a choice, we would have do better for ourselves. Beware of serpents.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

A Peace or Appease?

For a relative peacenik, I have a long military lineage.

Each Memorial Day, I don't have to search for ancestors and other relatives who fought in our uniforms. My maternal grandfather, for one, snuck away, underage, to enlist in the American Expeditionary Force in England and then France. My father was a WWII artillery commander — D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, combat decorations and more. Thus it was with uncles, great-uncles, cousins and so forth. I have a lifetime pass for my family to visit Arlington National Cemetery, where my father's remains lie.

With this and more, I have an interest in the hardball, hard-line rhetoric recently from John McCain, and even from George gosh-did-I-forget-to-report-for-duty Bush. Moreover, I can believe that everyone in U.S. military uniform has an interest.

McCain seems immature, even in his 70s, and likely temperamentally unsuited for this campaign, much less the stresses and decisions of the Presidency. Only the latest of many flares of temper and illogic came when Barack Obama criticized McCain's lack of support for a bill to provide college funds for returning veterans — "I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did."

This forms an unfortunate bookend with Bush's recent remarks to the Israeli Knesset, which included:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Both bookends have clear markings. I shall not be questioned! I shall not even discuss what you think are vital topics!

Thus we are seven years into an unjustifiable war, with our cemeteries increasingly occupied by our military men and women. Not only should Bush be impeached for, among other crimes, ordering the Iraq invasion on cooked reports. He needs some history books and even newspapers. Every President, certainly since Truman and many before, negotiated with our enemies. Even our Revolutionary War leaders did. It is what national leaders who do not want to throw away the lives, wealth and influence of their people do.

His father certainly communicated with and negotiated with terrorists and dictators. Unfortunately, he and other recent Presidents also installed and supported the worst of the rest of the world.

Sometimes it works well, sometimes it fails, sometimes it is a holding pattern. However, it is the way nations have avoided war and sometimes to everyone's benefit for centuries.

I confess that I am embarrassed as a long-time Democrat to admit that in my lifetime, many Republican Presidents have negotiated with, or as George the Lesser Bush would have it, appeased the bad guys better than Democrats have. It was Republicans who opened China, who kicked a stumbling CCCP down the international stairway into Russia. Dems still could learn a lot about negotiating with enemies from Republicans.

Alas, George the Lesser and McCain are not from the traditional statesman and diplomat mold. They would rather thump their chests like silverback gorillas, bare their canines and charge.

It appears that this Bush is not bright enough nor educated historically to understand this huge flaw. McCain seems far too emotional, short-sighted and unable to handle complexity. Neither should be President.

A great way to honor those who fought for the nation would be to ensure that our Presidents understand how to balance our military resources with diplomacy. A President who knows who to use his cabinet, diplomats and advisers to gain American advantage without yielding to thugs or causing unnecessary death is what we had been used to and need to return to in 2009.

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California License to Deceive

The anti-gay, anti-marriage equality donkeys are braying again. This time they are in California and this time the sounds seem fainter than ever.

As predictable after the years of poppycock and baseless alarms in Massachusetts, the same sorts are pulling the same (failed) maneuvers out West. Of course, the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund is trying to get a stay beyond the California ruling's 30-day effective date. They likely have no standing in the case and would have to scramble to find a surrogate or convince the state to fight it. It's not likely.

Meanwhile, they are trying the same Henny Penny squawking as we heard here. Consider of Vice President Tom McClusky the Family Research Council, waving the cartoonish polygamy flag. He responded to the fact that the state would have to hustle to change "BRIDE" and "GROOM" on the marriage application form with wails of despair.
"If the definition is seen to be so fluid, where do you stop? I can imagine the discussion in a couple of years of how many people should be included. Why is it wrong for two men and a woman to get married? I don't want to see the top of THAT wedding cake."
Let's assume that this doesn't really relate to his fear of baked goods. Someone might make him aware that states fine-tune and update forms constantly, every year. This has a time constraint, but not outrageously so. Also, we'll be holding Olympic ice skating trials in Death Valley before California or even Massachusetts issues it's polygamous marriage licenses. Zero of the dire predictions these clowns made for civil unions and same-sex marriages has occurred. That's fewer than one.

Pimp My Form

Examine the horrors visited on the state in having to edit this particular form. See the signature part above and click on it for a larger view. Go here to see the whole form.

It's a bit of fun for the press to play with Groom becoming Party A or the like. Unfortunately for the anti folk, very few can even pretend that this is a big deal. In fact, to a nation that fills out tax, driver's license and other forms, this is in the so-what class.

The one page form does have:
  • Column headings reading GROOM'S PERSONAL DATA and BRIDE'S PERSONAL DATA
  • Boxes for Name of Groom, Name of Bride, Groom's Address, Bride's Address
  • Lines for phone number and the date starting with GROOM and BRIDE
What's the fix? First comes a brief discussion of the replacement phrase (or looking at an SSM or civil-union state's form). Then a two-minute search-and-replace operation in Word follows with a one minute proof-reading.

Give it a rest, fundies.


To the important fact, we must constantly repeat that it is the anti-marriage equality folk who are trying to redefine marriage everywhere. Marriage in this country, in every state in this country, is a civil contract. Those extremists want to conflate the civil side with various religious rituals and blessings. They want a theocratic veneer to cover, or as they say "protect," marriage.

The redefine-marriage lie is the catchphrase of these clowns. Never let them get away with it. Gently or stridently, by your nature and mood, speak up or write out when that arises. It is the government that authorizes couples to marry, issues licenses, records and files signed ones, and if necessary, grants a divorce.

People marry under the authority of the state, not anyone's religious book or church. Adding personal religious wording to civil statutes is redefining marriage. I don't approve of it. Couples should feel free to add the crowd-pleasing rituals, but those aren't what makes them legally married.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Clinton as Norma Desmond

Hillary (Hilarious) Clinton has gone on for far too long while not going far enough toward her party's nomination. Today's leads in Salon and Slate, as well as many papers, join Barack Obama in exasperation.

Slate asks Can Obama do anything to get Clinton out of the race? Over at Salon, In Iowa, Obama reaches toward victory suggests that the answer is to let her alone, concentrating on John McCain and November.

In an increasingly irrational and bizarre spectacle, Clinton seems to be channeling Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond. Setting aside both logic and grace, she seems determined to head to the pathetic from the noble.

Most unfortunately, Clinton has been reduced to claiming the iffy, that it's not her flaws or missteps causing problems here, rather sexism. Quite simply, that's unprovable and weak. People not wanting to vote for a such a well known and exposed woman is inseparable from her personal traits.

Yet the analysis in today's New York Times asserts just that from her. "Rather, in private conversations and in interviews, Mrs. Clinton has begun asserting that she believes sexism, rather than racism, has cast a shadow over the primary fight, a point some of her supporters have made for months. Advisers say that continuing her candidacy is partly a means to show her supporters — especially young women — that she is not a quitter and will not be pushed around."

Much like the current George Bush's dogged approach to Iraq, she continues beyond reason and hope. The end effect seems from here to be painting herself as a loser who doesn't know how to manage her campaign, not even its exit. That would not be the image she'd want for another run at the White House later.

However, the Times reports too that Clinton's aides interpret staying in the race differently. "(A)massing a strong popular vote, and going out on some high notes, would help Mrs. Clinton emerge from the long nomination battle on better footing, aides say. And making herself an appealing vice-presidential prospect — or setting herself up to run again in 2012, if Mr. Obama should lose, or perhaps 2016 — is not altogether out of the question."

She received support from the WomenCount PAC with full-page ads in USA Today, the Times and a few regional papers. A recreation of the ad is here.

The ad states that the group wants every single vote counted. "We know that when women vote, Democrats win. Now it is the responsibility of our party to hear our voices and count all of our votes," the ad reads. A wag can easily note that the majority of registered and actual voters are women. Then we should be able to praise or blame them for all of our Presidents and legislators. I doubt that is what WomenCount want to say.

The ad concludes, "We want Hillary to stay in this race until every vote is cast, every vote is counted, and we know that our voices are heard. " A bit of irony there is in the implied dependence on those nasty superdelegates. Those roughly 800, largely party insiders, represent votes that can each overrule the popular votes of thousands. These are Clinton's only sliver of hope at the nomination. The anti-popular-vote deal making is not what the ad calls for, but it is what Clinton looks to. Female or male, those voters are not represented fairly in this most undemocratic of procedures.

Clinton's end game strike me as delusional. The longer she displays herself as a loser in denial, the less political capital she appears to keep. She may even increase the disappointment of her supporters, making it harder for them to work to defeat the Republicans in November. Hurting the nation thus to make herself feel better is not exactly a noble achievement.

Norma Desmond responded to the comment, "You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big!" with "I am big! It's the pictures that got small."

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mountaineer Meet and Greet

Hillbilly or ridge runner, my mother would accept either with whimsy. She was raised in the mountains of West Virginia and maintained pride in the plain-spoken independence of her background.

In full disclosure though, she married a soldier sort. We lived in various states and a couple of places in Japan. Moreover, the town where she grew up and I spent my summers and holidays was in the Eastern Panhandle. There, the landscapes were not cluttered with smokestacks, rather apple and peach orchards.

I learned to swim in the Potomac and stupidly joined the other guys in plunging into the river from the towering South Branch bridge. There were certainly poor people in Hampshire County. Also, I had relatives who chose to live without indoor plumbing in their farm houses. They had a pride of place and lifestyle that I could not truly understand.

I was 19 before I saw an ugly part of the state. The coal mines are largely at the bottom. The Kanawha Valley around Charleston then had grey hills above grey river. The land that George Washington proclaimed at the most beautiful he had ever seen and where he wanted to retire had changed considerably for the worse. In my late teens, I discovered each town down there had its own stench; Carbide smelled of its namesake and Diamond, where they made matches, reeked of sulfur. A friend of mine's grandfather blamed Ford's poor quality for the paint peeling of the family cars.

While she didn't grow up around the hillbillies, my mother took a perverse pride in accepting the stereotype and even folks telling her that was seemed far too bright and cultured to be from West Virginia. She never once that I know of pointed out that the traits folk love to ascribe to Southern mountain dwellers fit just as well in New England or Oregon. My chum Uncle has many tales of the same minds and behaviors in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. We here can hit the safe targets down there and ignore our shameful history of slavery, segregation and racism up here. At least the percentage of the bigoted is smaller.

To the current election, we should ask why West Virginians went so solidly for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. Given TV interviews with locals there who said they could never vote for a Black for public office, that would seem to settle the matter. That doesn't explain it though.

Hillary by the Numbers

If you look at a primary returns map and roll over the counties, you see Obama's demographic challenge, probably insurmountable. The state went 67% for Clinton, 26% for Obama and 7% for Edwards. The farther you are from a city, the more economically distressed the county, the lower Obama's results. At one extreme, Logan went 84%/11%/5% and Mingo 88%/8%/4%. In contrast, Jefferson County was 49%/46%/5%. It is in the far eastern end of the Eastern Panhandle. It is within commuting distance of D.C. and has many yuppie non-native residents. Nearby Berkeley was not as good for Obama, but was 54%/40%/6%.

Rural and poor went for the urban, urbane and rich Clinton — go figure. There is certainly something to the bigot angle.

We in Yankeeland tend to also stereotype southern states as having large percentages of Black voters, as we saw in results from the Carolinas. That's not true in West Virginia, where slavery was rare and without huge cities like Chicago and New York offering the promise of new, more prosperous lives for immigrants.

Blacks as Non-Factors

As an extreme example, in my youth, there were 14 Black families in Romney, where my grandparents lived. I knew them all. That was largely because of my grandfather. Many white people among the county population of about 2,000 rarely saw any Black folk, much less had any contact with any. While it is vaguely amusing that the papa of the only Jewish family in town was the long-term mayor, Black residents were not a political factor at all.

To various degrees, the same is true throughout the state. About 3.5% of West Virginians are Black and under 0.5% Hispanic. There, politicians are talking to poor white folk.

So, assuming that Obama is the Dem nominee, does he have any shot in West Virginia and Kentucky? Over at Salon, Kentuckian Dee Davis jumps into this, offering slim hope, but hope.

She accepts that there is considerable overt racism in both states, but also writes that such swing states "could be up for grabs." She quotes Dem pollster Anna Greenberg as saying, "This competitiveness reflects the ongoing problems facing the Republican brand, as well as the deep economic anxiety rural voters feel. Concerns about the cost of living are intense, particularly gas prices in a part of the country where many drive long distances to work. Moreover, we see real ambivalence about all three presidential choices -- each candidate has a real opportunity to define the race on his or her terms."

What's been missing is face time. For quite awhile, Dems have ceded rural America to Republicans. She also asserts "that when Democratic candidates run competitively in rural America, they win national elections. And when they get creamed in rural America, they lose."

Davis concludes, "How Obama fares in rural America may, in the end, have to do with whether he shows up."

I would add that the Republicans have done their absolute best to abuse voters and other Americans in every possible way. They may well have done it so severely that even such deep prejudices as about race may be less important than tossing the bastards.

If Hillary steps back, the best thing she could do for the party and nation would be to show Obama how to put an organization on the street level to get voters to the polls. The rest is, as Davis writes, up to him to visit, glad hand, and chat it up.

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Woe to the Og

Alas, poor Og. I knew him too damned well.

Somehow, his campaign seems to think Jim Ogonowski has more power nicknamed Ogo. We know better. He is decidedly the Og.

He ran very well against Niki Tsongas last October when they contended to take over Marty Meehan's 5th CD seat. He lost by only 6%. To frame this, both were politically inexperienced and unknown quantities. Both ran in fair measure on sympathy vote, she as widow of beloved U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas and he as brother of a 9/11 Twin Towers pilot.

Having failed at one Congressional try, he does the only logical next step — attack a more powerful office. (Huh?) He announced he was going after the seat U.S. Sen. John Kerry has burnished since 1985. I'm sure to a Quixote type that makes perfect since.

What was most surprising about the Og's run for Congress before was how insubstantial his campaign was. He is a veteran officer, but he spent the vast majority of his time in the National Guard as a manager. With relatives, he grows hay for rich folks horses; he calls himself a farmer. He really didn't bring enough to the table to defeat the political tyro Tsongas.

Likewise for the Kerry campaign, he seems to rely almost entirely on attacking the Senator for not filing bills as lead sponsor. Kerry has a long, deep record of working on committees and chairing several. He sits on or chairs four committees and 12 subcommittees. Although wingers like to portray him as an extremist pinko, his voting record is moderately liberal. He is in line with his constituents and claims that he is very left wing filter his record to a few areas, such as reproductive rights and Iraq.

For the second time in two tries, the Og apparently relies on lies of omission.

I thought he was going to lose the same way, but he found a new one. A funny thing happened on the way to the Senate. As reported in the Boston Globe, the Og is the only candidate of either party who can't get the 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Pardon my schadenfreude, but the Og is a nasty piece of work. I'm not surprised district voters don't relish another of his inarticulate and unpleasant campaigns.

The Globe won't declare his failure...yet. It just reports that by the May 6 deadline to turn in the petitions to Secretary of State, the Og was 259 voters short. Moreover, given typical challenges, he'd need at least 1,000 extra for invalid signatures. So, unless inanimate markings on paper can somehow reproduce in an envelope, his campaign is ashes.

The other Republican seeking the slot, Jeff Beatty, had no problem getting voter sigs. He is considerably farther right of even the conservative Og and has as much chance of surviving against Kerry as an open bottle of booze has of making it through a frat party.

Another notable area political scratch, a certain Willard Mitt Romney, claims to adore the Og. Romney supposedly will host a $1,000 a seat fund raiser this evening at the no-longer-the-Ritz Taj Boston. So that should raise at least $2,000. If you raise money for a campaign but don't get on the ballot, does anyone know?

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama on the Altar of Spite

I can not vote for him on a Tuesday
I can not vote for him for a new day
I cannot vote for him for he’s no Hillary
I can not vote for him in a pillory
I can not vote for him as a Democrat
I can not vote for him. the rat
I can not vote for him for he’s dark
I can not vote for him on a lark
I can not vote for him, the commie
I can not vote for him, he’s no mommy
I can not vote for him for he’s a man
I can not vote for him with his Koran
I can not vote for him for he’s slick
I can not vote for him for he makes me sick
I can not vote for him any way
I can not vote for him on election day
I can not vote for him for anyone Black
I can not vote for him, that Barack

Apology: To the late Theodor (Dr.) Seuss Geisel for the down-and-dirty use of his theme.

So, just who would sacrifice a Democratic Presidency in November to make a point?

Americans have a long, emotional history of voting against their interests. Poor southern whites would keep corrupt politicians in office to spite their Black neighbors. It did not make the difference that the underclass of both races had much more to gain by installing populist or progressive governors, legislators and Presidents. Likewise, here in Massachusetts, we'll vote for any ineffective schlemiel who promises never to raise taxes.

This time around, we see and hear from many with reasons or excuses not to vote for Barack Obama. Many more have voted for him in primaries and caucuses than any other candidate of either party. He has attracted and inspired unprecedented number of young and first-time voters. Also, an amazing number of independent voters have chosen him in state races.

Yet, there is a surprising reluctance to concentrate on throwing out the failed bums. Obama is about to get the nomination and there should be euphoria in the surge to rid the nation of the GOP leadership and policies that have produced thousands of American deaths (far more than from 9/11), a world that is less safe, a stunned and staggered economy, and no end in sight for the myriad horrors visited on us.

Instead, many report they are not ready to smear the oval or click the switch for Obama. I figured to muse on it after Saturday dinner we had for nine. Over the noshes and meal, it became clear that the eight who spoke were for Obama. That included the recently retired heart surgeon, who lamented that Americans were likely not ready for real change and would elect John McCain.

As people were getting ready to leave, the middle-aged minister, a Black woman, who had been silent, announced that she hoped Hillary Clinton held on until the bitter end. She said gender was far more important to her than the politics or Obama's race.

So just who is it who might sit out, write in Clinton or even vote for McCain? I surmise:
  • Disappointed Hillary supporters. Particularly those embittered and convinced that she got a raw deal, not through her flaws, but for her gender.
  • Disappointed John Edwards supporters. Those who cannot believe that the relative populist in a tepidly leftist candidate pool didn't run away with the nomination.
  • Fringe lefties and libertarians. The group who would make a statement by not voting or doing the same by going for Ron Paul.
  • Self-defined fundamentalists. Who look for any excuse, including the baseless claims that Obama was and remains a Koran toting radical Islam/terrorism follower.
  • Kraft bag watchers. Like the infamous West Virginia voters interviewed by TV reporters, some people can't get beyond Black, or light brown in this case. We know some Americans just can't vote for non-white candidates.
  • Machine Democrats. Those who are willing to believe that the privileged Clinton, who grew up wealthy with management/owner dad, represents working-class interests.
That's what I've read and seen. Whom did I leave off the list? More important, by September or October, will they face that another Republican administration will continue the bloodshed and economic ruin?

Interestingly enough, among the many I know who share my deep disappointment that neither Obama nor Clinton nor Edwards supports marriage equality, none said they'd do anything but work for Obama and a Democratic victory.

Amusingly, I somehow got on a McCain mailing list for campaign contribution requests. I received the unappealing appeal dated April 28. It is full of disingenuous howlers like:
It is no secret that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have raised enormous, historic sums of money in their battle for the nomination. And national liberal Democratic groups like, the Democratic National Committee, and others are plotting to spend and do whatever it takes to bring my campaign down.

As we're already witnessed, when the Democrats' and their liberal special interest allies turn their sights on us with vicious attacks — we must be ready.
We can ignore the grammar and syntax errors. However, their admitting that, for the first time in many decades, the Dems are getting a lot more campaign money, and from individuals not from Republican-style business and other interest groups, that does say a lot. American want change, enough to pay for it, enough to reverse the traditional Republican advantage.

Then, who is it who slings the mud, who lies shamelessly, who is associated with Willie Horton ads and Swift Boat Veterans? Which is the party of dirty tricks and outright dishonor and dishonesty? Whose candidate is the one saying his campaign is fighting to win and speak the truth, while the Dems doing the same are "plotting to spend and do whatever it takes to bring my campaign down" ?

At least I got to take a pile of paper out of my office recycling bin, fold it so it fit in the return envelope with the first-class permit. It's a small statement, but one easy to make.

The November call has been settled for me for a long time. I endorsed Obama in early February after the marriage-equality candidates quit. I was disappointed, but not about to take my ball and hide in my basement.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Anti-Gay Dogs Worrying Socks

The anti-liberty, anti-American forces who would gleefully strip fellow citizens of rights won't quit. If they can hamper and harm, they're relentless.

That has been the underlying theme of GLBT rights and politics this spring. Consider the reaction to the California Supreme Court mandate enabling same-sex marriage. Also, on this other coast, the doubly misnamed Christian Civic League of Maine wants to remove the meager equal-rights working homosexuals won at the ballot.

On the left coast, the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund is trying to get a stay beyond the California ruling's 30-day effective date. They likely have no standing in the case and would have to scramble to find a surrogate or convince the state to fight it. It's not likely.

The anti-homosexual forces there fear the obvious, including:
  • In the eight years since voters by ballot initiative put man-and-woman only wording in the marriage code by 61%, attitudes have mellowed. Massachusetts and Vermont didn't fester and pop with gay marriage or unions. A lot more GLBT folk have made themselves known as neighbors, pew buddies and co-workers. Much of the nation, particularly on their coast and the northeast have become much more accepting of gay rights.
  • The governor said the courts should decide this, which the high court did. He also said he would oppose the November state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
  • Fewer and fewer people polled see any threat in expanding marriage, while more and more see DOMA-style laws for the vindictiveness they they really are.
  • At the federal level, both Presidential candidates and increasing numbers in Congress want to modify or even scrap DOMA.
  • By the time the amendment hits the ballot box, hundreds or thousands of same-sex couples should be wed. That means voters would unquestionably be asked to take away existing rights, which most voters are loath to do.
In short, their window could well have closed. In California, if the amendment gets on the ballot, there's at least an even chance it would simply lose. As in Massachusetts, the more couples marry and the greater the proof that only good results from which is truly the pro-marriage position, the harder it would be to make any change much less overturn a decision.

The downside is that the anti-gay, anti-same-sex marriage and anti-freedom for others forces constantly regroup after losses, even as their numbers and contributions dwindle.

Up in Maine, the anti-gay tide has ebbed. Despite the generally tolerate nature of Mainers, the anti forces had repealed mild regulatory ruling providing minimal anti-discrimination rights in housing and employment...four times. Governors and legislators were for these minimal gay rights.

The short of is that three years ago, the small mob drumming up the effort to do it again was still led by the CCL's Michael (not a minister but I sometimes play one on the internet) Heath. They proclaimed the usual lies about the fall of civilization, rape of innocents and so forth. This time though GLBT Mainers were up and out for honesty and fairness. They held themselves up as examples of homosexual, single and coupled. At the ballot box, not only did voter note that neither Vermont nor Massachusetts had any problems, but those gay men and lesbians were just like them, all humans too.

Last month, the wheezing old haters announced another go, seeming to overlook that their promise of a flood of trivial prosecutions from those terrible homosexuals never happened nor even started. They also forget that the state has passed and implemented a strong domestic partnership arrangement, protecting straight and gay families alike. The time for hate and jive alarmist rhetoric is gone.

This month, Heath, who claims the announcement is just coincidental with the California court ruling, said he wanted ballot decisions this November:
  • Overturning anti-discrimination protections
  • Reinforcing the existing state ban on same-sex marriage
  • Preventing homosexuals from adopting
The state expects to give them permission to gather the necessary 55,000 signatures to advance the petitions. However, as EqualityMaine notes, this time the anti folk have to list all the laws and regulations their effort would effect. So "...if Mr. Heath forces another anti-gay referendum on Maine, everyone will know what is at stake."

Even in such a low-population state, that's a small number of voters to get. Given the changed tenor of the time, it will be harder for them to collect them and they are almost certain to lose badly in a ballot.

However, as we have seen in Massachusetts, these folk truly want to punish homosexuals for wanting the same liberties and privileges they enjoy. It took several different efforts to beat back court challenges and ballot initiatives to the now well-established SSM norm.

That some in Maine would want to return to legal discrimination is outrageous, yet predictable. Likewise, California can expect such efforts there...for years and from multiple angles.

Immediately, there's an effort to stay the implementation of SSM through the state Supreme Court. When that fails, appeals to federal courts are certain to follow immediately. There's the November amendment effort, which could also end up in federal courts. Then, as Massachusetts and Maine show, merely being defeated also by voters won't squelch repeating these assaults.

There is a contemporary irony in that the Democratic Presidential candidates are calling states rights. Neither supports full marriage equality. They each likely figure that anything beyond their tepid civil-unions ploy would lose votes. Yet both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say that it is a states rights issue; leave setting marriage rules to the states. That's a traditional conservative position, which John McCain does not share. He's willing to grind up homosexual rights everywhere in the DOMA machine.

Perhaps the anti-SSM/anti-gay rights forces' position should be called Full Lawyers Employment Act. They decry people seeking and winning equal rights through courts and then after losing in legislatures and courts as in California, they turn like pampered children whining to the judges for special treatment.

They eventually stop, but it take a long time, a lot of distraction, a pile of money, tedious legal struggles, and anxiety for those who wonder how long their liberties might last.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

California What-If's

Arthur Leonard never disappoints. He has already brought his legal noodling to the California Supreme Court okay of same-sex marriage. I expect more from him and his remarks generally prove the most apt and insightful.

Immediately following the ruling, non-California-based Alliance Defense Fund said it would ask the court to delay implementation to permit advancing the November amendment to restrict marriage to a man and a woman. Leonard notes that:
"The court concluded that their interest in the litigation justifying participation was at an end when the court halted the San Francisco marriages in 2004. Presumably, the courts would now find that ADF lacks standing to seek a stay. Logically, it would be up to the losing defendant to seek a stay, and that would be the State of California. In this case, the state was officially represented by the Attorney General, but the Governor hired separate counsel to represent him in the arguments before the Supreme Court. The Governor has announced his acceptance of the court’s decision and his opposition to the constitutional amendment, so it seems unlikely he would seek a stay, and that leaves Attorney General Jerry Brown, who seems an unlikely supplicant for such relief. So I will cautiously predict no stay..."
Another big treasure in the ruling is that sexual orientation is to the court a suspect class. When this is not the case, plaintiffs trying to prove discrimination have a huge burden. They must prove the negative that there is no rational basis for discrimination. With a suspect class, however, the government must prove that it has a compelling public-interest reason to allow discrimination.

As an aside, he notes that he sees a related weakness in the Massachusetts Goodridge decision. While the Supreme Judicial Court here ruled that there was no reason to forbid same-sex marriages, it didn't clearly state that sexual orientation is a suspect class.

More to come on this.

Meanwhile, the anti-marriage folk at Protect Marriage are wired for the DOMA-style amendment. You can see their nasty work in their amendment brochure and their simplistic talking points.

Sunday Update: As usual, the Leonard Link delivers. The law professor/not a pundit looks at the likely options and angles of attack on the California ruling. He doesn't call the amendment vote, but gives good legal background on possible court appeals at state and federal levels.

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And Now, California?

In a little display of log rolling, I suggest looking at a great wrap-up of yesterday's marriage-equality decision by the California Supreme Court over at Live, Love and Learn. John has collected and displays the likely options.

What John did not and none of us can yet predict is what California voters might do in November with a DOMA-style anti-marriage equality amendment to the state constitution. Consider:
  • Eight years ago, they passed by ballot initiative a Family Code statute that changed the definition of marriage from a civil contract for a personal relationship to "...a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary."
  • Yesterday's state high court decision, with its other findings, invalidated that statute section.
  • Same-sex marriages, by that ruling, are to start in 30 days. The court ordered implementation.
Assuming that the amendment goes to ballot, as it appears, voters will face:
  • Changed tenor, nationwide as well as locally, with one SSM state, several civil-union ones, and more likely.
  • The evidence is strong that nothing bad and many things good come of marriage equality.
  • Gay couples are increasingly out, humanizing the issue. Increasing numbers of California as well as national politicians would like to modify or repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
  • On both coasts, anti-gay and anti-marriage equality groups are as loud as ever but definitely seem to have decreased in number and influence.
  • Over four months of legal marriages of homosexual couples by the vote.
The be still, my heart, queers want to marry folk point to the 61.4% victory of Proposition 22. That was eight years ago and it was only a Family Code wording phrase replacement. Not only has much changed in that time, but Americans even on the left coast tend to view constitutional amendments with a more critical eye.

This amendment proposal could well fail. That would likely be the last gasp of the no-no, not in my state people.

Then the messy alternative is perhaps thousands of marriages and an approved amendment. The anti forces have fast forwarded to annulment of any such marriages and the hand of theocracy firmly on the tiller steering to the Island of the Straights. It's not that clean.

First the highest court in the state has ruled that the specifics and concepts of limiting marriage to different-gender couples are invalid. They would be the same body to take up a request to invalidate the amendment as likewise unconstitutional.

As John points out, if this happens, the anti people will almost certainly appeal into federal courts. There, they are likely to find out that marriage regulations are still state matters.

In the chance at the U.S. Supreme Court is feeling frisky and willing to walk blindfolded into this mine field, we can't know what would happen. Meanwhile, we have to let it play out, while the California and national forces on both sides fight over the amendment. Also, I'll look for the insights from the best commentators and deal with those here.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

California High Court Mandates SSM

First the legislature (twice) and now the state supreme court in California say that same-sex marriage is necessary for the "fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship." Today, they ruled four to three for marriage equality.

I'd love to be the gnat in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ear about now. He vetoed his legislature (twice) on this. Each time, he said it was for the courts to decide.

The dead whale on this beach is a November vote on a state constitutional amendment that would ban SSM. The report reads:
If the measure qualifies for the ballot and voters approve it, it will supersede today's ruling. The initiative does not say whether it would apply retroactively to annul marriages performed before November, an omission that would wind up before the courts.
It is a DOMA-style amendment reading, "SECTION 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution. to read: Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Unlike similar appeals to high courts in New Jersey and Vermont, this court did not hide by sending it back to the legislature. All three found the marriage limits by gender discriminatory. It's quite a breakthrough that this court had the courage to provide the remedy.

The full decision is available as a PDF file here. This is 172 pages. I'll look for LeonardLink's analysis, likely before I'll digest it.

Meanwhile, the gist of today's ruling (pages 120-121) is that the prohibition on SSM is unconstitutional. As the majority opinion finds:
Accordingly, in light of the conclusions we reach concerning the constitutional questions brought to us for resolution, we determine that the language of section 300 limiting the designation of marriage to a union “between a man and a woman” is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples. In addition, because the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples imposed by section 308.5 can have no constitutionally permissible effect in light of the constitutional conclusions set forth in this opinion, that provision cannot stand.

Plaintiffs are entitled to the issuance of a writ of mandate directing the appropriate state officials to take all actions necessary to effectuate our ruling in this case so as to ensure that county clerks and other local officials throughout the state, in performing their duty to enforce the marriage statutes in their jurisdictions, apply those provisions in a manner consistent with the decision of this court. Further, as the prevailing parties, plaintiffs are entitled to their costs.
The long opinion, replete with over 50 pages of concurring and partially dissenting commentary, seems to reflect the detailed consideration of the ruling. The majority also did not shy from that Proposition 22 stating voter preference — at least eight years ago — limiting marriages to a man and a woman. They wrote:
In the present case, it is readily apparent that extending the designation of marriage to same-sex couples clearly is more consistent with the probable legislative intent than withholding that designation from both opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples in favor of some other, uniform designation. In view of the lengthy history of the use of the term “marriage” to describe the family relationship here at issue, and the importance that both the supporters of the 1977 amendment to the marriage statutes and the electors who voted in favor of Proposition 22 unquestionably attached to the designation of marriage, there can be no doubt that extending the designation of marriage to same-sex couples, rather than denying it to all couples, is the equal protection remedy that is most consistent with our state’s general legislative policy and preference.
It is very telling that these justices acknowledge how important it is what you call it, especially in a state with a fairly comprehensive separate-and-unequal domestic partnership legal structure. They conclude that this is so important, the state should not play games with same-sex couples.

So, assuming that the amendment does make it to the November ballot, the we'll find out whether Californians have softened under the increased public awareness of GLBT issues and the harmlessness of the partnerships. It has been eight years since they voted emotionally and vindictively. What now?

Evening Update: Goody, LeonardLink did hop on the analysis of the 120-plus pages of finding and 50-plus pages of concurring/dissenting opinion and playbill of legal sorts. Arthur S. Leonard rips into the sophism of no discrimination of homosexuals and marry different gender straights and that the state's contention that domestic partnerships mitigated the claims of unequal treatment. Today's ruling rejected that commonly held discrimination was somehow okay, or the majority held, "
the interest in retaining a tradition that excludes an historically disfavored minority group from a status that is extended to all others – even when the tradition is long-standing and widely shared – does not necessarily represent a compelling state interest for purposes of equal protection analysis."

Word from Arnie: In a refreshing spark of honor from a politician, Gov. Schwarzenegger responded to the court ruling by confirming his early remarks. It may be that he wisely wants to avoid being dragged into the likely nasty amendment campaign, but he stated simply, "
I respect the court's decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling."

Prez Hopefuls Mumble: Click over to Towelroad, who had done the Presidential candidate work so we don't have to. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as predictable, distanced themselves from civil rights and full equality. They support civil unions, but hail California's ruling as a reinforcement of the traditionally conservative position of states rights. John McCain, as predictable, is looking ahead to the one-man/one-woman amendment and took a potshot at the courts daring to do their job.

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Tri-Neighborhood Bloggers Gather

More than a clown car load of bloggers showed last night. I pronounce our first (insert period here) Rossie/JP/West Roxbury blogger social meet a modest success.

The rush report on the event is over at Universal Hub. Adam over there and I blame each other for this event. I think it was his idea and he claims I made it happen.Blogger neighborhoods

Cross-posted at Harrumpher.

As threatened, we met at Doyle's and from the comments, enjoyed it enough to have more such blobs of bloggers. I suggest that you try that for your neighborhoods or town.

It was without agenda, other than putting faces with blogs/bloggers and talk about our widely diverse blogs. I think we had 17 attendants.
We depended on the curiosity of strangers (and friends) as online invitations. While UH lists seven West Roxbury blogs, none from his list showed. We don't know whether wading all the way into JP would be too much of a culture shock, but we'll try to entice or shame them into coming next time. Maybe we can hold it closer to their safety zone, a Centre Street pub or the Pleasant in Roslindale.

However, we ended up with quite a few from Roslindale and JP. We got our share of what passes for celebrities in our little bloggy world. That certainly includes videoblogger Steve Garfield and media critic/professor Dan Kennedy. Plus we got Globe correspondent and ubiquitous free-lance Justin Rice.

Unquestionably though, the best parts were meeting bloggers whose stuff we read and talking with those whose interests and posts are nothing like ours. To those of us who do political or personal blogging, or in my case both, there were fascinating excursions.

Boston Handmade, for one, is for a crafts collective; Jessica Burko showed her geek chops and brought a laptop to access her site

Drew Gilpin Faust Fan Club has real and surreal posts related to the Harvard prez; I have it on good authority that she doesn't yet know it exists

Learning Strategies has reportage and musings on like its title reads; as proof we did not discriminate by ZIP, this is from Larry Davidson in Dot

Joseph Porcelli, the cops and coffee mugs guy, attended

My Dedham (Brian Keaney) represented the south-of-Boston contingent; actually he was that contingent and lives in the land of always bubbling politics

9Neighbors had Rick Burnes describing his concept of displaying the most active blogs

Involuntary Slacker Alyssa belied the blog's name and already posted on the literal symposium

The Boomer Chronicles (a favorite) had Rhea standing up for it

Andy's Blog blogger Andy (Miller) even appeared; he's been in his cave to pass the Mass bar exam, which he recently did and surely will become a regular poster again

Roslindale Monogatari with Michael Kerpan on film; he and I share an interest in the Tollgate Cemetery and had corresponded

Disclaimer: I am favorably disposed to the Faust blog, which is the idea and output of my uxorial unit, Cindy Thames.

And so it went. We met, we drank, we ate, and mostly we talked. I'll put a few pix below. Click thumbnails for a larger view of what real bloggers look like.

Andy and JustinOur famous videoblogger

Dan Kennedy and Michael KerpanRick, Cindy and Jessica

Jessica, Alyssa and Adam

As an aside, reporter Justin asked me about blogger gatherings and whether this would grow into a BlogLeft type of activist group. I'm sure not. This was pure social and pure pleasure.

BlogLeft is a flapping loose set of political bloggers, pinko variety. We had a big gathering two years ago when Tim Murray was still mayor of Worcester and about to run for lieutenant governor. He was a guest there. We had breakout sessions and got real serious.

Likewise, we co-sponsored the lieutenant governor debate in Lowell and recently had a long, highly political gathering, also in Lowell. This is a serious and action-oriented group...not so with the south by southwest Boston bloggers.

The next time you see us plug an open, in-town blogger gathering, know it not serious, just seriously social.

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