Monday, February 27, 2012

Benefiting from things not paid for

Robert Borosage of Campaign for America's Future is not pleased with Obama's recently announced corporate tax reform framework. He lists these reasons:

Obama declared the framework would be "revenue neutral," no doubt because of the GOP house. Borosage says this is unfair. The poor and elderly are being asked to do more without while corporations are sitting on trillions in profits. Besides, corporations are the largest users of infrastructure (roads and such) and these things are crumbling. The corporations also benefit from public education, government research, the legal framework of government laws, the military to protect sea lanes and overseas investments, and government contracts.

Obama says the tax rate should be lowered and loopholes closed. Reagan (of all people) tried that. Doesn't work. Corporations have armies of lobbyists who are very good at getting loopholes put back in. And somehow tax rates don't go up to compensate. Yes, close loopholes, but don't lower the overall rate.

The tax on overseas profits might work if set high enough. But it probably won't be.

It appears our choices for prez. are between GOP candidates who want to lower the corporate tax rate and Obama who doesn't want to raise it.

Dave Johnson, also of Campaign for America's Future notes how politicians have changed their speeches as the money flows in to their Super PACs. He also notes that corporate wealth also means personal wealth because the 1% owns just over half of all stocks, bonds, and mutual funds and the top 10% owns 90% of the same. Another couple statistics worth noting: five people donated one quarter of all Super PAC dollars and 23 people donated $54 million. Yup, politicians are going to dance with the one who brung 'em.

A variety of progressive organizations (including and labor unions are sponsoring the 99% Spring. They hope to train 100K people in non-violent protest during the week of April 9. I've signed up, but don't know any more than that.

I watched the Oscars last night. My favorite for Best Live Action Short did not win. My favorite for Best Animated Short did.

Yeah, I should have posted this a couple weeks ago. Alas, when I first played the video it would go for only 90 seconds before stopping. This time I played it after Adobe Flash crashed. This 5 minute video is of Washington state Representative Maureen Walsh, Republican from Walla Walla, giving her testimony before passage of the marriage equality bill in that state. Her goal: throw a wedding for her lesbian daughter. The linked page includes a transcript of the speech.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Unambiguous morality

What planet is this guy from? Speaking in Troy, Michigan Rick Santorum said that kids shouldn't go to college because the liberal professors will "indoctrinate" them. Perhaps college will make them too smart to allow the GOP to do their own indoctrination about how they are destined to rule America.

The latest book by John Shelby Spong that I'm reading is Eternal Life: A New Vision. In it Spong traces a brief history of religion. He comes to the conclusion that religions are not about truth (in spite of Fundie claims), but security.

Ira Chernus, writing in Religion Dispatches Magazine, applies that idea to conservative voters. These people want to live in a community with boundaries that can't be violated so they can be protected from threatening evils. They want unambiguous morality even in an age of moral uncertainty. They want their morals to be obvious, immutable, and with clear distinctions between good and evil.

Naturally, these voters will flock to a candidate who vows to support their morals. "Vote for me and I'll save you from moral chaos." There is a safe inside and a dangerous outside. If you are in, you are good. If you are out, you are evil.

They hate Obama and Liberals because no such assurances are coming, even more their goal appears to be making moral boundaries more vague or erasing them completely.

Every campaign becomes a search for the father who will protect the house from invaders. In this case the "house" is both the country and religion. Every campaign becomes a discussion of whether politics should be used to create and support fixed boundaries and unshakeable truths?

But when politics is used for that people suffer. Women die from unsafe abortions. Gay couples can't get married. In addition, a search for absolute truth is anti-democracy. In a democracy, we choose our values, everything is open for discussion, new views are debated, and the outcome cannot be predicted. That is not a search for unambiguous morality.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

History of discrimination doesn't justify continuing

Karen Golinski wants to put her partner on her employer supplied health plan. A bit of irony -- Golinski works for the 9th Circuit Court, which just ruled favorably in the Calif. gay marriage case. But that means Golinski is a federal gov't employee and the Defense of Marriage Act won't allow her marriage to be recognized for benefits.

Judge Jeffrey White, a federal judge, has declared DOMA to be unconstitutional. This is one of many cases about DOMA working their way towards the Supremes. Most of those that have had a ruling have said it is unconstitutional.

Ari Ezra Waldman, a lawyer, lists some of the ways this particular case adds to the argument.

The 9th Circuit ruling on the Calif. case included one dissent. That judge thought that it was fine for voters to vote for discrimination as long as they had a good reason, even if that reason was based on lies. Judge White's ruling said that previous cases (Romer and Lawrence) have already said moral disapproval is not enough to justify discrimination.

DOMA does not encourage responsible procreation and child rearing because it has nothing to do with straight marriages and their kids.

Denying federal recognition of married gay couples only burdens those couples.

It does not nurture traditional marriage because a person in a gay marriage is already married and will not marry someone of the opposite sex.

DOMA does not maintain the status quo. DOMA was the first time the federal gov't defined marriage.

A long history of discrimination does not justify its continuance.

A desire to be cautious in a hot social issue does not permit continued discrimination.

No doubt the case will be appealed to the 9th Circuit -- yeah, the court where Golinski works.

Just being ourselves

Sometimes being ourselves changes other people's minds. During a hearing on marriage equality, State House Member Kach, a Republican in Maryland, ended up in a seat next to the witness table. He was able to watch gay couples testify -- and saw how much they loved each other. He then voted for the marriage equality bill, which narrowly passed the House.

The bill has now passed the Senate and Gov. O'Malley has promised to sign it. And opponents are starting to gather signatures to put a repeal on the ballot.

Maine is going to try something different this year. Instead of a citizen initiative to put a marriage protection ban in the constitution, the citizen initiative asks for approval of marriage equality.

Harvey Weinstein, big Hollywood producer, has created a documentary about bullying. He has run into a problem -- the MPAA has awarded it an R rating, meaning kids can't see it without their parents. That puts a big dent in the studio's plans to show it at middle and high schools. It may also mean kids who need to see it won't, because they don't want their parents to know they are seeing it. The linked page includes the trailer.

I thought of another aspect of this case. Is the bullying depicted in this movie so harsh and violent that a movie containing it is rated R? Wow.

I wrote a few days ago about the Super PAC behind Romney wanting him to get not quite enough votes so the GOP convention would be brokered. My friend and debate partner thinks this is a conspiracy theory. He may be right. I value him for both his friendship and his willingness to debate. We'll know when we get to the convention.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Glorifying plunder

Terrence Heath took a look at the amount of money flowing into the Super PACs. For example, Sheldon Adelson, casino owner, has poured $11 million into Gingrich's Super PAC (which is the amount of money Adelson earns before noon). The money has been flowing so freely that some candidates are spending their own campaign funds a bit too quickly, trusting the PAC will fill in the slack.

Practically every news story (at least the ones I hear) about Super PACs remind listeners that the candidate cannot coordinate with the Super PAC. Greg Palast of Truthout sees it a bit differently. He says while a Super PAC may declare it is for a particular candidate, it is actually for the 1% who funds it. Ponder that for a moment.

That leads to some interesting situations. Restore Our Future is the Super PAC behind Romney. It is funded mostly by Paul Singer and the Koch brothers. This PAC has raised over $30 million. Perhaps half has not been spent. Why wasn't that money spent on the Colorado primary, which Romney came in second by less than 4,000 votes?

Palast believes Singer-Koch doesn't really want Romney as president (nor Santorum, nor Gingrich, nor Paul). Those are the same sentiments of a large portion of the GOP voters. So Singer-Koch are spending on Romney in such a way that he doesn't quite get enough votes to win the nomination. Then at the convention someone else can be nominated. There is, of course, lots of speculation who that person might be.

With the amount of money the 1% are giving the Super PACs it is clear to Heath they are not donating the money, they are investing. They want something in return. What is that something? Heath quotes Frederic Bastiat:
When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Turkey sandwich v. chicken nuggets

The anti-government crowd is crowing about an incident in the West Hoke Elementary School.. Apparently, the kindergarten or preschool class had the lunches they brought from home inspected and a couple girls threw away what look like healthy lunches which were replaced by the cafeteria menu that didn't look very healthy. The reports are muddled. Who did the inspecting -- a school, city, state, or federal official? What rules were the official following? Did the little girls misunderstand the directive to supplement their lunch with milk and thought their entire lunch was bad?

Even so, that prompted a commentary by Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin on the intrusiveness of government. He is rightfully concerned because lots of people want the gov't to be intrusive into the sex lives of gay people (yeah, the same people who don't want any other type of intrusion). Is this the same kind of issue? The debate in the comments was lively. Do kids that young understand what a healthy lunch is? Do their parents? Given the prevalence of childhood obesity, that may indeed be the case. Does a child's health trump parent supplied lunch? Is it enough to teach kids (and parents) about healthy food? Who pays for the health care of the kids with unhealthy diets? Is a lunch prepared by the school all that healthy?

This particular school lunch issue is too muddled for me to come down on one side or the other. What it has done is given me new insight into the issue of government intrusion. (1) What may be intrusion to one person may be welcome assistance to another. (2) What sounds good on paper may not be when the inspector is actually looking at someone's lunch. (3) There may be less intrusive ways to get the same result. (4) It is not fair to give a blanket pronunciation that all gov't intrusion is bad or all is good. One must look at the issue and details before deciding. Healthy debate takes a while. Alas, loud voices on both sides tend to obscure both issue and details.

But I still wouldn't want any kind of inspector in my bedroom unless they were only inspecting the electrical wiring.

I'll just appoint someone to make it all better

I missed half the story about NJ Gov. Chris Christie's veto of gay marriage. As part of his message when he wielded the veto pen, he said (1) citizens have a right to vote on such an important issue (we've been here before), (2) civil unions are supposed to be as good as marriage (yup, that was the original demand of the state Supremes that caused civil unions to be created), and (3) perhaps the state should appoint a civil union ombudsman.

The job of an ombudsman would be to investigate complaints that civil union partners are being discriminated against and work to fix the situation. Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin notes that because Christie thinks this is a necessary (and acceptable) solution is evidence that civil unions are not equivalent to marriage and thus fail the demand of the NJ Supremes.

Also in marriage equality news, the Calif. marriage ban is to go before an 11 judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. It was a 3 judge panel that ruled recently. A lot of commenters think the anti-gay side is doing this (rather than heading straight for the Supremes) just because it will delay the end result that much longer. This step may add as much as a year to the process, with a ruling not until 2014. Some also speculate a reason for the delay is a hope for a GOP prez. win in Nov. followed by a progressive Supreme retirement replaced with a conservative before this case gets that far.

That thing about insufficient funding for schools

Some of what I'm posting today was actually written on Sunday. I've had an ongoing problem of a few favorite blogs crashing Adobe Flash within my Firefox browser. Before it does it appears to suck up a lot of memory (a half gig at times), reducing my computer to a crawl. At times I mutter, "Crash already!" so I can have my computer back. Sometimes it isn't the page contents that use Flash, but the ads that dance to call my attention to them. I'm sure it doesn't help that I tend to leave several tabs open. If I find a blog posting worth writing about I'll leave it in an open tab and sometimes I don't get to it for several days as I accumulate more open tabs.

In an attempt to fix the problem I looked at Firefox help pages. They suggested I make sure I have all the latest versions of the various browser plugins, Adobe being one of the ones out of date. Another recommended for update was Quicktime (which, to my surprise, is supplied by Apple). Since I did this just before shutting down for the night it was the next day when I found several blogs weren't displaying properly. The reason turned out to be that Quicktime had declared itself to be the plugin of choice for several types of images, but the pages themselves were written for Flash. I installed the latest version of Flash, cleared cache and everything displays properly. And Flash still crashes.

I was down at the Detroit Institute of Arts Saturday evening for a showing of the short films nominated for Academy Awards. The auditorium was sold out (I bought my ticket the week before). The program was wonderful. It was very easy for me to choose a favorite of the animated shorts -- The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was charming and I highly recommend it to my sister librarian. It was very difficult to choose a favorite of the live action shorts. It came to a tie between Time Freak and Tuba Atlantic (which is not about music). We'll see who wins next Sunday.

GOP candidates and House members have been fond of saying the Obama stimulus has made the economy worse. Dave Johnson of Campaign for America's Future, writing about the 3rd anniversary of that stimulus, supplies the graphs to show otherwise. Yeah, we know the people the candidates are speaking to are not the ones who read graphs.

Jeff Bryant, also of Campaign for America's Future, wrote about the Education Wars. He uses Cleveland, Ohio as an example. Mayor Frank Jackson and Gov. John Kasich are doing all they can to make sure Cleveland Public Schools are not sufficiently funded to properly teach poor kids. Teacher salaries are being slashed so that they will see Cleveland as a step to somewhere else and the city's schools will be roiled with turnover. The money is being diverted to charter schools, which are not better.

I wrote about this because it has been playing out in Alabama for more than a century. The GOP intentionally wants poor kids to be uneducated, a direct violation of the Christian ethics most of them profess.

I've been hearing some GOP hacks crowing about how various GOP governors around the country have balanced their state's budget. One of those is Gov. Snyder of Michigan. He balanced the budget all right -- by giving corporations a tax cut and slashing school spending. So my question for those proud of all those balanced budgets: At whose expense? Who is being denied a viable future because of all this intentional underfunding of schools?

The Occupy movement has hit the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has posted new rules for bank regulations to allow public commentary. Banks, of course, are trying to throttle those rules and gut the laws behind them. The Occupy movement has delivered a comprehensive letter to the SEC explaining why the rules are important and should go into effect. The scruffy occupiers speak the language of the SEC? Yes. Occupy the SEC includes a "vast array of specialists" from inside the financial industry. Cool!

And just because they need all the linking possible, the Occupy Wall Street blog is here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The struggle is worldwide

Ricky Santorum has a big lead on Mitt Romney in Michigan (primary in about 10 days) even though this is Romney's home state (his dad was Gov. here for a while). That story has been in the news lately. But they may not mention why. The answer, according to Terrence Heath is simple. Romney continues to say the GM and Chrysler bailouts were a bad idea. That's even after both companies are profitable (highly so in GM's case) and Michigan's economy is beginning to revive.

A few GOP senators are talking about a series of bills to help boost the economy. Yeah, we all know which part of the economy they want to boost. Heath explains a few things. These senators quickly abandon talk of "job creation" and move on to "capital formation." Give small businesses more money (or easier access to money), say the senators, and they'll create jobs.

Small business owners are getting tired of the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business of putting words in their mouths. They say there is one thing that will get them to hire more people: more customers. Give owners a tax break and all they'll do is go to the Bahamas. Besides, all those tax breaks aren't going to end up in the hands of small business owners.

Yup, NJ Gov. Chris Christie was "swift" in his veto of marriage equality in his state. It passed the Senate only yesterday. Garden State Equality accuses him of having his eye on the 2016 South Carolina GOP primary.

Also today the Maryland state House approved a marriage equality bill in a 71-67 vote. It now goes before the state senate. There are predictions that if it passes it will be challenged and have to go before voters. That makes three states (Washington, Maine, Maryland) likely to have marriage equality on the ballot in November (and Minnesota already has a marriage protection amendment on the ballot). If we don't win at least one of them it may be a while before another state legislature tries a marriage equality bill.

The Global Post has series of articles on the web about the struggle of gay people around the world. The series is The Rainbow Struggle. I've read about the extreme homophobia in Serbia, the plight of gay refugees from Uganda now in Kenya, the gay-friendly tourist town in Cambodia, and the attempts to get sexual minority protections in the new Nepal constitution.

The opening page says there are 600 million gay people around the world. In a population of 7 billion that is about 9%. But the best estimates of the number of gays in a population is more like 3-4% or about 250 million.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Jersey!

The New Jersey state Senate has passed a marriage equality bill 24-16. The House has now passed it 42-33. Gov. Chris Christie has vowed a "swift" veto.

These vote tallies aren't enough for an override -- yet. The NJ legislature has nearly two years to attempt an override and can take as many votes on it as they would like. And in two years a *lot* can change, especially around this issue.

Another factor in all this is the NJ Supremes. They will soon hear a case that claims the current system of Civil Unions doesn't fulfill the mandate the Supremes laid out a few years ago.

A wedge pointing in the right direction

Andrew Sullivan wrote an opinion article for Newsweek a while back that praised Obama. Sullivan is back again to discuss the recent argument between Obama and the Catholic Bishops over including contraceptives in health care. The culture wars are back, but the dynamic is quite different from eight years ago. This time it is more of a last gasp than blowing hot coals into flame.

Sullivan thinks that Obama so neatly turned the tables on the bishops -- by having insurance companies pay for contraceptives and providing it in spite of objections -- that perhaps Obama intentionally laid a trap that the bishops walked right into. The big reason is the disconnect between Catholic members and the leadership. Most members think that using contraceptives is a way to lessen the use of abortion. And most members are more progressive than the average American.

The bishops, in rejecting the compromise, have shown they are about imposing their doctrine on those who don't share it as a condition of employment not related to religion. And on this they will lose.

The version before the compromise, the one where Catholic hospitals must pay for contraceptive coverage, is already law in New York and California. It has been required in health insurance plans since 2000 because not having contraceptive coverage is discrimination based on sex and thus unconstitutional.

This rigidity and focus on sex (by both Catholics and Evangelicals) has left the younger generation feeling alienated. The church should be focused on torture, the poor, inequalities created by capitalism, universal health care, the death penalty, and human trafficking. Sex is a sideshow.

So contraceptives will be a wedge issue this year, but between the bishops and their members. And this time the wedge issue will benefit Dems.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Staving off public opinion

CPAC refused to allow GOProud to be a part of their gathering, with the only possible reason that most members of GOProud are gay. It can't be for any other reason because GOProud agrees with everything (including the harsh treatment of gays) that CPAC organizers espouse. Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin sees two interesting ideas that are related.

1. Most CPAC attendees disagree with the organizers. Half of the attendees were under 25 (yikes!) and this generation thinks gays should have the full support of society. All the panels featuring gay issues had members over 50 and their audience was mostly over 50.

2. GOP prez. candidates attended. Candidates now avoid events that have the appearance of being racist. But they don't yet avoid events that are homophobic, even if that turns off younger voters.

The nasty anti-homosexual bill is back for consideration in the Uganda Parliament. Jim Burroway also of Box Turtle Bulletin has started a series to explain how nasty it is.

Timothy Kincaid finds similarities between that bill, pushed by Rep. Bahati and the push for a marriage amendment in North Carolina by Sen. Brunstetter. Kincaid thinks neither man wants to actually kill gays (as the Uganda bill says) or poke into bedrooms in NC. What they want is for society to see homosexuality as vile. The crime isn't gay sex, but disagreeing with the vileness of gay sex. It isn't the sex, but doing it without feeling shame. They want to act quickly before public sentiment turns against them. Too late.

A commenter suggests another motivation, the fear of being wrong. Their anti-gay rhetoric has produced suicides and murders. If gays really aren't different from straights than all those nasty comments were for nothing other than causing deaths. Innocent people are dead and the blood is on their hands. That could cause a great deal of fear.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jobs and marriage

Today is Darwin Day! It is held on the birthday of Charles Darwin and celebrates science and reason.

Ricky Santorum, while speaking at CPAC, has confirmed that those in control of the GOP will be pushing issues of morality, not economics. Yeah, issues that only they care about and don't seem to play well in the rest of the country.

Conservatives frequently claim that marriage is so wonderful that if everyone would just get married already out economic and societal ills would be cured. Santorum was the latest (certainly not first or last) when he said, “Work, graduate from high school, and get married before you have children.” That's how we eliminate poverty.

Terrence Heath says the conservatives have it backwards (as they usually do). Men, especially black men, won't propose marriage until they are financially stable. Women, especially black women, won't hitch themselves to a man who has no prospects of financial stability.

Want to promote family values and save marriage? Make sure everyone has a job.

Back to Santorum's statement. There are some important questions: So what will you do as president to make sure work is available? What are you going to do about the huge percentage of black men who are incarcerated? How will you help all kids graduate from a working, well funded, high school that teaches more than how to take standardized tests?

Heath has a second part to this essay. He discusses all the things gay couples must pay extra for, things that straight couples take for granted. That money disappears into such things as unequal taxation, legal instruments that protect the family, inheritance rights, family leave for an ill spouse, and ability to live in a nursing home together. This is money that isn't going to improve standard of living or children's college fund.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Not really susceptible to evidence

Mark Oppenheimer has a big article in Salon about Maggie Gallagher. She started the National Organization for Marriage and "Gallagher has done more than any American to stop same-sex marriage."

I'm a bit torn between knowing our enemies and giving them more attention than they deserve (that being any). But, on the recommendation of bloggers I trust, I read the article and found a few things worth sharing.

Just before she graduated from Yale in 1982 Gallagher became pregnant and was not married. The father split, which left her raising the child on her own (though she did fall in love and married about a decade later). That pushed Gallagher into her life's work of trying to strengthen marriage. Her early writings were attacks on feminism -- men and women have particular roles and sex cannot be separated from procreation. And a child needs both a mother and a father. Gay marriage didn't enter into this work until 2003, 20 years after her son was born.
For Gallagher, the principal problem with gay couples is not the act of sodomy: It’s that they cannot be a mother and a father. Gallagher believes that what is best for any child is to be raised by its natural mother and father — what happens when Marriage succeeds — and any law that honors an alternative arrangement is thus harmful. Adoptive parents may succeed in raising a child well, single parents may succeed, but they are both inferior to biological mother and father, the paradigm that Marriage has always supported, throughout history.

Gallagher is not claiming that same-sex-couples are preventing proper heterosexual rearing for any actual, existing children. Rather, she is asserting what to her is a timeless social fact: that institutions and norms are delicate, and that if you mess with them — say, by expanding the definition of marriage — bad things are likely to happen.
There is an obvious problem with this sort of argumentation: it is not really susceptible to evidence. Gallagher is unwilling to make any predictions of what doom will befall families after the legalization of same-sex marriage. She just has faith that marriage, the central institution of good child-rearing, will be weakened if same-sex couples are allowed its prestige and protections.

[Gallagher] explains why her opponents are mistaken: “One of the lessons I learned as a young woman from the collapse of Communism is this: Trying to build a society around a fundamental lie about human nature can be done, for a while, with intense energy (and often at great cost); but it cannot hold.” Same-sex marriage is just a big lie, she believes, like Communism. It is weak at its foundations, like the Iron Curtain. It may get built, she seems to concede — in 10 years, or 20, there may be more states that recognize same-sex marriage, more shiny, happy couples raising rosy-cheeked, well-adjusted children, children who play with dogs and go to school and fall from jungle gyms and break their arms, children often adopted after being abandoned by the heterosexuals who did not want them or could not care for them — but in time (big time, geological time, God time) the curtain will be pulled back, or it will fall. Because it has to. It cannot be otherwise. Because a son, as Maggie Gallagher will tell you, needs a dad.
Yes, there is a lot of what she says that is only her personal belief. All the research is against her or her opinions cannot be researched.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


The Washington state House approved marriage equality today! The bill got five votes more than necessary. The Gov. pushed for the bill, so she'll sign it. Alas, the right to marry won't go into effect on her signature. The anti-gay forces have until June 6th to gather signatures to put the issue on the Nov. ballot. If that vote confirms gay marriage, ceremonies may begin the next day.

Maine went through this process back in 2009 and the blocking vote was successful. There is more hope that the Washington version would withstand the vote because they already put DPs to a vote, also in 2009, and won with a margin of 6%.

A narrow ruling with broad implications

The Ninth Circuit Court declared the Calif. ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional and, yeah, they did it yesterday. It was widely reported in the news (though I don't read conservative news sources), but I didn't have time to do any writing yesterday. The delay allowed me to read analysis from several of reliable and trusty gay blogs. You can read about it from these sources:

The actual text of the ruling is posted here, some 130 pages. I haven't read it.

Ari Ezra Waldman of Towleroad. He is a lawyer and explains things in an understandable way. Waldman also had a review of the important issues that he posted the day before.

Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin probably has a more straightforward analysis and includes a section on the judge who dissented and why he did so.

Rob Tisinai of BTB covers just the basics.

Jim Burroway of BTB on why it applies only to California.

The basic argument goes like this:

* California has Domestic Partnerships that are very close to marriage, though they don't use the word.

* California did have same-sex marriage for five months.

* Taking away the right of gays to use the word marriage was only about the use of the word. In our society, that word means a lot (and a lot more than the words Domestic Partnership).

* The use of the word marriage, because of DPs, doesn't change the law about responsible procreation, adoption, the best way to raise a child, who makes a fit parent, parental rights, religious rights, and what children are taught in schools.

* Therefore, the only reason for denying the use of the word marriage to gay people is that the majority didn't like gay people. That is unconstitutional. The equal protection clause says that laws can't declare a particular right is unavailable to a particular class of people unless there is a very good reason.

Since the ruling was about a right that was taken away, the 9th Circuit pointedly said this ruling only applies to Calif. They clearly said they were not taking up the question of whether banning gay marriage is in general unconstitutional.

The dissenting judge (a Mormon) said there didn't have to be a good reason to ban gay marriage, it was enough for voters to think there was.

Even though the ruling was narrow, the implications could be broad. The ruling says a lot about the nature of gay relationships that can be applied to other cases, such as those attempting to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

There is another more immediate implication. Though the GOP in New Hampshire left gay marriage repeal off this year's agenda, many legislators are still itching to vote for repeal. But that would put NH in the same situation that the 9th Circuit said is unconstitutional. The ruling may make enough GOP legislators hesitant enough that the repeal bill won't pass.

Gay marriage won't start in Calif. anytime soon. The anti-gay crowd has said they will appeal and the ban will remain in effect until that has run its course. Appeal may be made to a larger panel at the 9th Circuit and then on to the Supremes, or may now go directly to the Supremes.

Jim Burroway (link above) says that because the ruling affects only Calif. the Supremes may decline to hear the case. There is no federal question for them to resolve. So, the anti-gay crowd might go for the larger panel at the 9th Circuit simply to delay the time when marriage equality returns to Calif.

The reactions -- on all sides -- were predictable. Gay groups praise the ruling. Anti-gay groups vow to soldier on (send money!) and note that the lead judge is the most overturned. Prez. candidates fume over "activist" judges.

Alvin McEwen notes all the whining from the anti-gay crowd and sees hypocrisy. The cry is that 7 million voters lost their rights in the decision. But in the original trial (two years ago!) only two people testified that banning gay marriage is a good idea. Out of 7 million Californians, and armies of national groups pushing to ban gay marriage, they could only find two people to defend it in court? You had your chance. You didn't take it. So shut up already.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Avoiding support of the gay agenda

Gay friendly companies -- Microsoft, Starbucks -- are lining up in support of marriage equality in Washington State. The bill has already passed the senate with a bigger margin than originally anticipated. What is even better is companies that see gay marriage as ordinary. The latest ad from Macy's about their bridal registry includes a cake with two men on top.

As they usually attempt, anti-gay forces are trying to boycott gay-friendly companies. The latest one is Starbucks. Though Huffpo has noticed no boycott of Microsoft or Google. What, True Believers can't find alternate search engines or operating systems?

Never fear, Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin has jumped into the fray to provide a valuable service. He has contacted three companies to see if they are anti-gay and thus have products that are safe for those who refuse to even indirectly support the Gay Agenda. The companies and products are: Smith Corona who used to make typewriters, Crosley Appliances who used to make rotary phones, and Central Tools who (apparently) still make slide rules. Can you say snarky?

Laws for symbolic purposes

I had a good afternoon and evening at the Detroit Institute of Art yesterday. I didn't get into the Rembrandt exhibit (sold out), but I have a ticket for next week. The Detroit Revealed exhibit has some marvelous photos. I especially liked the one looking down the hall of an abandoned factory in the Ford Rouge Plant.

The highlight of the day was an evening showing of Being Elmo, the story of Kevin Clash who has the job of manipulating Elmo on Sesame Street. My inner child had a delightful time. Look for it eventually on DVD.

Yes, it has been a week since I've had something to write about and then a free evening to do the writing. Much of what I write today will only be brief descriptions with links to full articles.

Here's a nice and brief suggestion for all of our lawmakers.

The Supreme Court declared sodomy (sex between two men) laws illegal back in 2003. Kansas GOP still won't repeal their law. Even if they can't enforce it, they want its symbolic value.

The New Hampshire legislature (under GOP control) was supposed to vote to repeal gay marriage this past week, even though the Gov. (Dem) promised a veto. But, surprise, the year's legislative agenda was released and gay issues were not listed.

Over 71% of college freshmen think marriage equality (not just recognition of gay relationships) is a good idea. That's up 6 points in just a couple years.

A council member of Baltimore County introduced a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Ruth Jacobs, president of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government, pulled out the claim that the bill would open up women to being raped in public bathrooms from men who dress as women. She even claimed it has happened in nearby Montgomery County, which already has such an antidiscrimination law.

The police chief of Montgomery County went through his records and sent a letter to the Baltimore County Council. Those rapes? Never happened.

A commenter notes it is hard to combat people so willing to lie. Refutations don't fit easily into soundbites. For this reason our best offense might be the courts where the process can root out dishonesty.

I wrote that NJ Gov. Chris Christie said that perhaps the 1964 civil rights laws should have been put to a popular vote. Well, he apologized. Sort of. As one commenter put it he discovered some people were offended so he knew he needed to say something, not that he believed he did something wrong. Put it another way, he apologized for miscommunicating, not for the sentiments behind the words.

Ari Ezra Waldman, a lawyer, says the phrase marriage equality is just fine for our fight in the public arena. But in the realm of law, he says we should be demanding a bit more: marriage recognition.

Terrence Heath notes the size of some of the gifts that some of the 1% are donating to campaign Super PACs. The size of donations has gone up a 1,000 times since the Supremes permitted unlimited spending in the Citizens United case. And you can be sure the 1% want something in return for gifts that large.

Heath says that Citizens United has indeed united people. It has united the 1% behind the candidate of the 1%. It has also united the 99% into finding a way to overturn that ruling.