Friday, October 24, 2014

Progressive voter guide

The gay newspaper Between the Lines has put together a voter guide for progressives in Michigan. They give their endorsements for all the statewide races. For each of the US Congress, state Senate, and state House races the guide lists whether the candidate has been endorsed by gay rights groups (including BTL), women's groups, environment groups, labor groups, and also conservative groups (such as Michigan Right to Life so you know who to avoid). For some zip codes (though not mine) there are also endorsements for local elections. I strongly encourage you to follow its recommendations.

Humanizing Palestinians

I wrote more than a year ago about composer John Adams and his frustration to present his opera The Death of Klinghoffer because it tells the Palestinian side of their conflict with Israel. I was delighted to hear the Metropolitan Opera would be producing Klinghoffer this fall and that they would be simulcasting it to area movie theaters in mid November as part of their regular season. I put it on my calendar.

Alas, the same forces that protested the opera for glorifying terrorism (humanizing Palestinians) when it was first produced 20 years ago are protesting the Met's production. In a compromise that pleases nobody performances will continue in New York, but the simulcast has been canceled. Klinghoffer also won't appear in the Saturday radio broadcasts. Because Adams is a favorite composer I'm quite disappointed – enough that I'm wondering if it is worthwhile to go to New York for two nights. I checked – the total cost would be above $700. But to be in NYC for just a short amount of time would be frustrating and in the middle of the semester I don't have time for a long trip.

The disastrous old fashioned way

And other news of the week …

Jonathan Capehart, writing for the Washington Post, says Pope Francis may have lost the battle in the recent Vatican Synod, but he will win the long-term war. Yes, conservatives made sure the gay-friendly statements were voted down in the final document. But Francis made sure the interim report with all that fine language as well as the vote tally of the final report was made public. Thus the topic is now open for discussion by the wider church. That is his win. In addition Francis has changed the tone from demonization to recognition of gays as children of God.

I listen to NPR for my news. Their coverage of the ebola epidemic (here and in Africa) is measured and calm. That is not the style of other media sources. The hysteria is bad enough that Tristan McConnell of GlobalPost has listed five myths of the disease. So why are these media people so hysterical? One reason is that hysteria on TV attracts viewers. And another is the old conservative-GOP claim: Vote for us because we're the only ones who can keep you safe. That claim is made after huge cuts to the budget of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), especially cuts to funding for public health preparedness and response.

Credit Suisse issued its Global Annual Wealth Report. Global wealth has risen annually since 2008 at a pretty good pace. That's good. Except nearly all of it is going to those already wealthy. We're to the point where the richest 1% own almost half the world's assets – and the poorest half own less than 1% of total wealth.

Lynn Stuart Parramore of AlterNet says this level of imbalance tends not to end well. See 18th Century France. So do we recognize
… that inequality is extremely destabilizing and dangerous, and that non-violent interventions are possible, as we saw in America with the New Deal. Things like robust tax reform, unions, regulation, changes in corporate governance and CEO pay, affordable education, jobs programs, expansion of Social Security and universal healthcare.

Or we could just do things the old-fashioned way and wait for a disaster even bigger than the meltdown of 2007-'08. In that case, fasten your seatbelts. This ride could get very rough.

Gay marriage makes my marriage yucky

Marriage news of the week...

The governor of Wyoming officially notified the federal district court that he will not appeal the ruling that overturns the state's same-sex marriage ban. Marriages have begun (a few photos here). Some of the first were in Laramie County. That has some significance because that was where Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay 16 years ago.

Kansas is the only state in the 10th Circuit that doesn't have marriage equality yet. A straight couple has filed a suit at the federal district court level to make sure it stays that way. Their suit claims that allowing same-sex couples to marry somehow defiles their marriage and makes it worthless. They got a lawyer to fill out and submit the motion, but that doesn't mean there is a smidgen of logic to it. I didn't waste my time to read it.

The Utah Supremes have lifted their stay against adoption by same-sex parents. Five months ago adoptions were put on hold by the state. Officials wanted to wait until it was clear same-sex marriage would be legal.

The governor of Idaho has asked the 9th Circuit for an en banc hearing of the state's same-sex marriage ban. The Gov is fuming over the statements that marriage equality would harm nobody. But a wedding chapel in Coeur d'Alene is claiming harm. The owners say their religious freedom would be violated if they must marry same-sex couples but the city's antidiscrimination ordinance doesn't exempt them because they aren't a legitimate nonprofit religious organization.

A federal district judge in Puerto Rico has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the island's same-sex marriage ban. Some of his reasons:

Same-sex marriage isn't mentioned in the Constitution.

Back in the 1970s the Supremes refused to hear a same-sex marriage case. While circuit court judges say times have changed and that refusal no longer applies, this judge says it still does.

Circuit courts have been basing their arguments in favor of same-sex marriage on the big *Windsor* case from a year ago that struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act. This judge, reading a lot from the dissents in that case, says states maintain the right to define marriage.

He bought the conservative stories that procreation and tradition apply and that there is that big slippery slope.

All those other judges are just wrong.

The case has been appealed to the 1st Circuit. That is an interesting situation because all the states in the 1st Circuit (Maine, Mass., NH, RI) have equality and none of them got it through a federal ruling. So the 1st Circuit hasn't yet taken up the issue.

Monday, October 20, 2014


I put my classroom preparations on hold for a while this afternoon to see the movie Pride. The general plot based on real events: Back in 1984 Britain at the height of Margaret Thatcher's power the Welsh miners were on strike. A gay man in London tells his friends that the cops aren't beating on gays so much that summer because they're beating on miners. We need to help them. They do a good enough job with their help they are invited to the town that received their help. Of course, such a manly town as a miner town doesn't exactly welcome the gays and lesbians with open arms. Prejudices need to fall – and they do, though not all of them and not all at once. It is a delightful and humorous look at building an unlikely community. It is also quite well made with some intricate scenes that assume the audience will get it. The movie is in Royal Oak at least until Thursday and will likely appear in Ann Arbor. If you don't catch it on the big screen it will soon be available through Netflix or your local video store. I highly recommend it.

Back to getting ready for tomorrow's teaching.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Positive actions at my local church

My local church commissioned another pastor today. The important and wonderful story is told on my brother blog.