Saturday, October 31, 2009

The wording on the Maine ballot question: a deliberate attempt to confuse?

Here's a short video that highlights some of the confusion over the referendum in Maine about same-sex marriage.  That's all for this week....Happy Halloween and I'll be back on Monday.

Friday, October 30, 2009

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage Will Ruin Society: Be Very Afraid

   This has been floating around the Internet for some time, but is worth a second look and a grin.

1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans ™ always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
   2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
   3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
   4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
   5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
   6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.
   7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
   8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.
   9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
  10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Hate Crime Bill is finally law.....

Yesterday Barack Obama signed into law a hate crimes bill that included LGBT Americans.  This is the result of years of work on the part of the leaders and foot soldiers in the LGBT community. U.S. Attorney General Holder called the bill a “civil rights issue that is clearly a priority.” Wrote Joe Solmonese, Director of the Human Rights Campaign:

    I cannot overstate the importance of this moment. This is the first time ANY federal equality measure     protecting LGBT rights has become law. The very first time. And it is the first federal law to explicitly  protect transgender people. It is a touchstone in our movement, a triumph of what is right. And I truly feel things will never be the same.

    Also significant is that the law will now permit federal authorities to assist local governments in hate crime investigations, assistance that was sorely needed after the death of Matthew Sheppard, the gay man who was brutally murdered and left to die in a field ten years ago.  At last, the federal government has acknowledged the unique nature of crimes that target citizens because they are LGBT.  It is time to celebrate.
    So why am I not feeling very celebratory?  I get it.  I get how huge a moment this is.  I know that yesterday was a landmark in LGBT history.   I am deeply appreciative to all those who made it happen.  Yet I hear this voice that says, “Isn’t this just the beginning?  How long can you celebrate the fact that it is now officially illegal to target people because of their sexual or gender orientation?  Isn’t mandated tolerance a pretty low bar for acceptance?”
    It is up to all of us to make sure this bar is raised higher and higher.  We need to remember those who are LGBT in Uganda, where a law is being considered that would make some gay sexual activity punishable by death.  We need to remember the two gay Iranian teenagers who were put to death a few years ago because of who they were.  We need to remember the thousands of gay teenagers who kill themselves each year in the United States. 
    So yes, huge congratulations and profound thanks are due.  Now it’s time to continue the work.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some thoughts on immigration and same-sex marriage.....

Sometimes I am frustrated that issues are seen in isolation with no connection to each other at all.  What for example, do immigration laws and same-sex marriage have in common?  Most obvious is the plight of US citizens in same-sex relationships with non-American partners.  The inability to marry keeps many of these couples from staying in the United States.  Imagine the nightmare of having to either separate or travel from country to country in order to stay together.

The issues are connected in subtler ways as well.  Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts who fought vehemently against same-sex marriage and who, as a presidential candidate, took an extremely hard stance against undocumented workers, actually rose to national prominence on the backs of those very workers who entered the country illegally.  Mitt Romney's "saving" of the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 was the first of two tickets to the national stage.  An inconvenient truth for Mr. Romney: according to the mayor of Salt Lake City at the time, the Olympics owed its very existence to undocumented workers in the United States.  That's right.  The very people Romney would like to send out of the United States were greatly responsible for the event that made Romney the politician he is today.

In the 1990's, while running for a senate seat, Romney claimed that he would be better than Ted Kennedy for GLBT people. As a governor with presidential ambitions a few years later, he not only turned his back on gays and lesbians, he also launched a vicious campaign to stop equal marriage in Massachusetts.  In doing so, he became a darling of the conservative movement.  Ticket number two.

See a pattern here?

Bottom line: if a politician exploits one group such as immigrants to win an election, how can GLBT people ever trust him to look after our interests, too?  The two issues are connected.  And it is in the best interest of supporters of gay marriage to recognize this connection.  We all need to look out not only for our own interests, but also the interests of other groups seeking the right to live and love as everyone else in our country.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Now from our youth....

Last week I posted a video from a WWII veteran from Maine who movingly testified for the right of same-sex couples to marry. Today is a video from a different generation: a 17 year old testifying for those same rights in Vermont. It's hard not to feel inspired and encouraged after these two videos, from two people with more than 70 years between them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Going to be Close in Maine...

The latest polls from Maine put the odds of the continued legality of same-sex marriage in Maine at even: 48% say they will support the referendum that would override the Maine State Legislature's same-sex marriage law while 48% say they will vote no, thus keeping same-sex marriage in Maine legal. It's going to be close. Very, very close. But a few developments are encouraging for those who support same-sex marriage:

1. Supporters of same-sex marriage have raised more money than opponents. This is not usually the case in these battles. Because of this funding, last minute ads that are misleading or untruthful can be responded to quickly and effectively. Many of these ads, as was the case in California, are an attempt to instill fear that somehow school children will now be "indoctrinated into homosexual marriage." What puzzles and disturbs me -- and I say this as a member of a church -- is that religious institutions have spent a great deal of money to deny gay couples the right to marry. These are non-profits that don't pay taxes.  Isn't this illegal? 

2. The wording of the question is confusing. It reads, "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" Therefore, a YES vote is actually a vote AGAINST same-sex marriage and a NO vote is actually a vote FOR it. There is research that shows that when people are confused about a ballot question, they will vote no.

3.Major newspapers in Maine have come out against taking away the right to marry, with some extremely strong and persuasive editorials.

If you know anyone in Maine, please let them know if you support same-sex marriage.  It may come down to a few hundred votes.

Finally, I want to thank everyone for making this first week of blogging a success!  Over 350 people have visited.  I began this blog as a promotion for my book about marriage that will come out next fall.  But the blog has become much more than that for me in only one week.  Thanks for checking in!