Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thanking Hizzoner

Along with a good time with good music at Copley Plaza last night, I go to chat up our Mayor Tom Menino. That was feel good for me because I got to thank him.

Despite predictable crazy talk from wingers and more academic objections from the likes of the ACLU bloggy types, Boston's Mayor had his heart and passion for equal rights spot on...which I told him. The letter to the head of Chick-fil-A was not, to pun, that well cooked. Menino did end up agreeing that he had the right to scold anti-gay bigots who fund nasty efforts, but he couldn't legally stop them from opening new business joints in our town, so long as they obeyed MA and Bostons anti-discrimination rules.

I saw da Mare's Escalade pull onto the plaza close to where we were. I leaned into the open door as he greeted me by name (wow, he remembers a lot of folk) and shook his hand. I thanked him for speaking up for gay rights and equal marriage with the company. He seemed pleased, but not surprised. He must know he's right.

That and aims to limit the most extreme military weaponry in civilian hands are just two of the smart things he does well and relentlessly.

Hizzoner was not about to let his sore leg keep him from the Boston Summer Arts show, from addressing the audience, and from having a good time with his wife Angela.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Ah, Mainers. So many have their hearts and heads in good and proper places. There's a great chance that marriage equality will be restored in the November election.

Yet, the Dark Side, epitomized by NOM, National Organization for Marriage, will likely flood the state with ads, paid out-of-state folk and more to defeat it. They've promised/threatened another $2million to again harm, hinder and hamper gay couples there.

Today's Boston Globe carries a heartening recap of the campaign. The thrust is that so far, Equality Maine's related Mainers United for Marriage has far outraised the anti-same-sex marriage forces...locally.

First, I'm glad to see that the pro-equality forces are taking back the reality. For decades, the anti-gay/anti-marriage/anti-adoption/anti-family forces with names like NOM's have pretended to be the opposite of what they are. This is no time to iterate their many lies; this blog among other media has plenty of that.

Second, I have to wonder whether NOM is willing to risk losing the money and bragging rights in the likely event that Mainers will restore marriage equality. Up there, voters have a cantankerous history of doing the most socially conservative thing, even more than once, before coming down on the human and humane side. They certainly did that with gay rights regulations.

The anti-equality crowd is like so many prom queens and princesses. They live in past, remembered glories. In this case, the overwhelming record from 2004 when states looked at civil unions, then SSM, in New England, and rushed to pass laws and amendments prohibiting equality.

Let's assume NOM openly goes after the Maine vote and loses. Sure the money will hurt at a time when fewer Americans want to spend on such nastiness and are blasé about same-sex marriage or support it. Such orgs are on the wrong end of the funnel.

More important though, pro-equality forces have public perception and experience backing them. The great gay panic of 2004 has proven to be lunacy. There's no harm and only good that comes from marriage equality. More and more homosexual couples are making themselves known, and all but the most emotionally driven types see their ordinariness as well as a devotion to marriage often lacking in different-sexed couples and spouses.

I want Maine to fulfill its heritage of basic goodness in November. I won't wish pro-equality forces having to fight extra millions in negative ads and hundreds of hired mouths on the streets. Yet, there would be a particular sweetness to the NOM forces trying hard and falling hard.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Real Duty of Those in Congress

Pundits, comics and we plain folk got the post-Aurora gun thing right immediately. We knew who was going to be talking gun control, yes or no, and what they'd say. For Congress, the cliché proved well based. Republicans who spoke up clearly were positively bought by the NRA and gun interests, and Democrats who did or who whimpered clearly were negatively threatened and intimidated.

None of that surprised any of us, especially not the don't-dare-politicize-this calls from gun-rights absolutists. Pay no attention to their politicizing the don't-politicize thing; these are not the liars you seek. Move along.

The slim chance for change and good sense here has been in the few calls for leadership. Even the let's at least discuss the big issues makes the absolutists scream louder and more frequently. Instead of playing their game, let's see what those in Congress are about and what they should be doing.

This is an old, but sturdy, horse that I ride. The primary job of those in the U.S. House and Senate is to lead.

If you ask the state political parties, many constituents, and nearly all in Congress, they'd likely say the first job is to bring home benefits for their local voters. Grants, federal construction and such are often used as measures of effectiveness.

When someone in either house then adds they are in D.C. to vote the way their constituents want, they are pathetic. That is the saddest, most cynical, most cowardly way to view the position.

Instead, those we send to public office should lead. I'd write must lead, but we're a long, long way from that being common enough for that.

Those in Congress should think more and learn more about issues big and small that affect us than we ordinary folk. They have access to the information and have support staff to educate them, and we would hope, the counter self-interested lies of lobbyists. Our Reps and Senators thus have a duty to be ahead of the issues, to offer solutions that help us short term and beyond.

I can do without cowards claiming they are only doing that their constituents would tell them to do. I want and we should all demand leaders who come down on the correct side, the wise side of each issue.

So with guns, ammo and related issues. Let's not get caught up in the NRA-framed jive. This isn't about some scaremongering fantasy of all guns being stolen from Americans. Let's remember that this is nearly one gun per citizen here in our hands, as well as that many thousands of us die annually from gun violence. It would go beyond political craziness to try to take away the guns, as well as physically impossible.

I'm not sure we can find enough Republicans of honesty and courage in Congress to be leaders here. The Dems don't look much better.

For our part as voters, we need to speak to our squeaking mice in D.C. We need to tell them we want leaders, not followers, on this...for a big change.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Menino Calls Guns Out

My distant chums have asked me, "Does your mayor always sound drunk?," but I got to say Boston's Thomas Michael Menino generally makes a lot of sense behind his screen of occasionally jumbled speech.

Click below to hear him on Chris Lovett's snap on his take on guns after the Aurora massacre.

I've been hearing NRA lunacy my adult life. It's gotten worse year by year. Even now, there's preemptive advertising and comments from Congress members saying that just reinstating the assault-weapon ban and limiting mega-bullet clips is unacceptable.

Wrong-o, sports fans. Those are acceptable, desirable and necessary steps.

Our chum Menino has it right, as do many commentators and columnists. A nationwide limit on the physical, mechanical components that exist only for mass murder is long, long overdue.

I've been seeing and hearing how Dems and as well as elepha-folk cower in fear of the NRA and their minions. Let's get over it. Kick those fools to the curb!

Don't try to take away hunting rifles and the stupid pistol that make people feel they can protect their homes. The President has no intention and has shown no inclination to do so. The fact that most guns in the home only end up useless or used accidentally or in rage to harm or kill family or friends is not our immediate concern. Let's simply admit that we should not allow military-grade weaponry in the hands of you or me.

After Colorado Rampage, Menino Calls for Gun controls from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.

SSM Penalties

Designer/graphic artist Allison Morris does some solid political images...based in similarly solid research. Consider this one on the dollar costs related to same-sex marriage. It's a big frigging deal.

As a minor, personal illustration, I'm solemnizing a same-sex marriage here in Boston in a few weeks. That's my second SSM and fifth overall. The couple are long-time friends, one of them literally a sandbox buddy. We feel great about the occasion. Yet, they live in Florida, shall return there, and their legal marriage will have zero effect on their societal status there, their Florida or federal taxes or rights, their benefits, or other aspects of their lives. That's wrong.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sundry Same Sex Marriage Supporters

Well, I am massmarrier and in a couple of weeks, I'll solemnize my fifth marriage here in Massachusetts — two same sex couples and three different sex ones. Sure enough, marriage isn't for everyone. I enjoy joining those for whom it is. I like to say my marriages last.

Another pleasure is the ever increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage. We here have had eight years of nothing but positive experience with homosexual couples as well as heterosexual ones marrying. We know the slight expansion of marriage rights is most certainly not a redefinition of the term. Unlike such crazies in oxymoronically named groups like National Organization for Marriage or the Massachusetts Family Institute, Those who support marriage and adoption rights for gay folk are in fact in favor of marriage and families. We don't want to hurt and hamper loving homosexual couples and we don't want kids in foster care.

Recently some of the pleasures of living here in this smart and open environment have cascaded. Last week, for example, I was chatting up MA Treasurer/Receiver General Steve Grossman at Boston Mayor Tom Menino's annual street party. His wife, Barbara, the Tufts Professor I had only met at Grossman's campaign kickoff a few years ago, was with him. She's also big on supporting marriage equality.

It came up because hubby and I were dickering on his next appearance on Left Ahead. She saw my Moo card and remarked on Marry in Massachusetts. Steve proudly noted that she'd long supported equality and was a long-term board member of Mass Equality. Bless her.

On this afternoon's podcast, 3rd Middlesex District MA Senate Candidate Mara Dolan and I shared personal vignettes on the subject near the end of the half hour. She's also a long-time marriage-equality supporter (no surprise as she's progressive and smart). She said that her father was gay and partnered for over 25 years. Her mother and stepfather have been married happily a similar period. Everyone is jolly...and rational.

I added that I'm about to perform my second same-sex marriage. Both of those unions have involved friends of many decades. The only in early August will be of a sandbox buddy from West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle when we were tots.

As with my other four, I felt it would be cheating and insufficiently theatrical to get a mail-order ministry. I go through Massachusetts' splendid petition-the-Governor process to get a one-day designation of solemnization. An aide to Gov. Patrick notified me today that my certificate was in the mail.

For all the loudl folk who publicly find or feign finding fault with same-sex marriage, acceptance grows. I have long been open in my acceptance and support. That may make it easier for others, like the wife of the commonwealth treasurer or a candidate for senate, to proclaim their own to me.

Facts include that virtually everyone knows gay people. An increasing number of us know married and partnered gay couples. If we pay the least bit of attention and open our minds and hearts the slightest, we know there's no damage in legalizing their love if they want to marry.

I note again that I am aware that marriage is not for everyone. Many people I've known in straight and LGBT variations swear monogamy is unnatural or impossible, and the over 50% failure rates for straight marriage seem to support that for some people. Yet, how about supporting and enabling marriage for couples who do want it, who are willing to commit?

I'm not the person to push the disappearing pants option. I'm a long-term married who finds it the right state for me. If fidelity is not always the easiest way, it's easy enough and absolutely not impossible...and the rewards are many.

In a few weeks, I'll likely mist up as I pronounce another set of friends married by the power vested in me by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I love this. I am also buoyed by meeting more and more people who support letting couples who love each other marry.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Timorous Senate Candidates

Secondary sex characteristics are frequent hallmarks of pols. As my wife is fond of saying from her consciousness-raising group days of early feminism, if brave men can be said to have balls, brave women must then have tits to spare.

Alas, I don't sense the courage we saw, even in Barack Obama's first campaign for President. Here in the MA race for U.S. Senate, the donkey/elephant yoked pair wage sniper wars by proxy and inference. Tonight I saw my darling of the contest, Elizabeth Warren again, and heard again how she shied from the battle.

As usual, I showed at Boston Mayor Tom Menino's self-celebratory July 12th event of his ascendancy from City Council to majesty. At his Chesterfield digs, a couple of thousand of us elbow and grin for handshakes, good vibes and free ice cream. As a podcast/blog slut, I was there for the pols and politics, as usual.

This evening, I chatted up Menino (left), Warren (above), Councilors Arroyo (below) and Yancey, MA Treasurer/Receiver General Steve Grossman (below Arroyo) and more.

Amusingly enough, previous Left Ahead podcast guest Grossman was happy to agree to another session and called over his executive director to start planning a date. Warren's campaign lackey in contrast was horrified that I'd even ask. Among that group, we'd already had Arroyo, Menino several times and others. The once-burned Warren was the one with no guts.

If you aren't a regular, you might wonder what toxin I carry. Start with the coverage of the elite-hick podcast. Warren and I were both born in OK about the same time, long ago, and found that humor fodder on her podcast. The evil and rapacious wingers tried very had to turn our comments into some slander, which in turn found its slimy way onto Fox News, the NYT and such.

Not being too subtle, I showed up this evening with my handmade HICKS FOR ELIZABETH campaign button.Of course, as my yellow Ray-Bans were singular on Chesterfield Street, so was my button.

I went straight to Warren pulling out my button for effect. She pounded my back and shoulder saying, "I love it," as well as re-affirming her affection for my glasses, as she has before.

As any social-media slut would, I careered among pols. I found myself back before Warren a few times. She was insidious in making her own rounds, going from hamburger stand to music stall and beyond. She is a real master of the personal. Wingers like to proclaim that Scott Brown is the guy you want to have a beer with and the homey one. They clearly have never spent a few minutes with Warren. She is as our mutual roots suggest, real folk, with none of Brown's smarminess.

Regardless, one of Warren's minions saw me taking pix of pols and asked if he could take a pic of her and me together. Amusingly enough, in all my years of photography and newspaper and magazine work, I'd always avoided any shots of me with a celebrity. This time though, it felt right. I agreed. I took off the hicks button and held it forward when her campaign lady pushed it down. She said Warren would do BlueMassGroup for an interview but certainly never Left Ahead again. The elite-hick incident was before her time, but she new the story. As Scientologists would have it, she'd been engrammed.

Therein lies the gist of this. Where are this year's balls, tits, guts, vision?

In 2006, Deval Patrick got social media. He leveraged us bloggers and used us as press as part of his grassroots/netroots victorious campaign. His good chum Barack Obama followed suit two years later.

What's happened? Where is the vision and courage of the current crop of pols?

What we're seeing and hearing with such as the Warren and Brown campaigns are shallow and sallow versions of the heroics of yesteryear.

Having underlings tweet the predictable and self-serving is not savvy new-media usage. Picking a few friendly, non-taxing interviewers is not gutsy

One of the times I was next to Warren on Chesterfield Street, I handed my hicks button to her. She said again she loved it, but her lackey glared at her. Warren then retreated by saying to give it to her later.

That's pathetic.

She grew up in OK. I was born there and spent much of my childhood in my mother's turf of the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Warren and I are hicks to the core, not matter my decade living in Manhattan or  our many years living in Boston and Cambridge. We are ordinary folk, grounded in honor and honesty, candor and simple values, good manners and respect — traits that transcend intelligence, experience and credentials.

I am doubly embarrassed for Warren.

While I surely shall endorse here (disclaimer: my wife has already contributed), I'd like to see the guts I know she has. People may well disagree with my strong positions on this or that, but they won't have to wonder what my opinion is. I expect the same from her.

Moreover my Left Ahead co-host Ryan Adams has decried the dreadful shrinkage of local blogs and other netroots folk. The vitality that the likes of Patrick and Obama brought to new media is nowhere to be seen in the current pols. With Facebook, G+, Twitter and more free and for the direction, what the hell are they thinking...or not thinking?

Regardless, back to my wife's hoary allusion, where's the courage?