Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Scales Are Tipping Everywhere You Look

It is amazing to live in a time when the scales tip toward righteousness. We have come out of eight years of desperation, when lying and greed and uncontrolled aggression seemed the norm, when our country lost its way, and now there are positive developments on every front. Did you see the video yesterday of President Obama visiting the troops in Iraq? He doesn't pre-screen his audiences, like the last guy, those hugs and smiles are for real. No plastic turkey this time, the Commander in Chief has the respect and even the love of the troops.

This blog is, improbably, devoted to topics involving gay and transgender rights. I say "improbably" because it never occurred to me in my long life that I would be involved in such topics, and now -- I have attended talks where I am referred to as a "gay activist." All right, I'll take it, it does turn out to be an important civil rights issue and an important battleground for our time. In 2004 some rightwing extremists tried to pull off a coup in our county, they tried to take over our county school board, and our group formed to stop them, and now we are gay activists. Well, cool.

Yesterday the Vermont legislature voted to overturn their Republican governor's veto of a bill that allowed equal marriage opportunities for gay and straight people. That was a big step, no state has proactively legislated such rights before. A few days ago a court in Iowa ruled that gay people should have equal rights to marry, and the wording of that judgment was strong and direct, they ruled for the right reasons. Further, the brave Democratic politicians in that state have put their foot down and are not going to entertain any silliness about taking people's rights away. It's a done deal.

The City Council in Washington DC, the "urb" of which we are "suburb," yesterday voted to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, and almost all observers understand that the District is moving closer to legalizing such marriages. Like, here's how Fox News put it:
WASHINGTON -- The D.C. Council has voted to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

Lawmakers say Tuesday's unanimous vote moves the city a step closer to eventually allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the nation's capital. D.C. Council Votes to Recognize Gay Marriages Performed in Other States

Court rulings in Connecticut and Massachusetts led to recognition of marriages between same-sex couples in those states. New Hampshire and New Jersey both recognize same-sex civil unions, with all the legal benefits of marriage, and the governor of New Jersey has said he will sign a bill allowing marriage equality if it comes to his desk. A bill to recognize same-sex marriage has passed the New Hampshire state House and is working its way through the Senate.

The issue got off to a negative start, with 29 states approving state constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin. Under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the U.S. government does not recognize same-sex unions, even those that are legal marriages in states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut.

There is no sensible justification for the government of a free country telling the people who they can and cannot marry. The "institution of marriage" will survive even if gay and lesbian couples are allowed its benefits. Most people are going to do what most people have always done, they're going to fall in love, marry, set up a household, start a family. This isn't something you have to be told to do, it comes naturally, people aren't instructed to pick a mate, nature drives them to do it.

Our state of Maryland is one of the most progressive states in the country -- at least the citizens are. Our elected representatives have failed to promote marriage equality successfully in the state legislature. Right now a bill to ban gay and transgender discrimination sits in a Maryland committee, where it is going to die, and so civil rights languish.

It's not all so bad in the Free State. State Senator Rich Madaleno sent out an email yesterday where he announced an advance in Maryland's inheritance tax statute:
I am pleased to report that earlier today, the Maryland State Senate passed the bill that exempts same-sex couples from the inheritance tax on primary residences. The final vote was 28-19 and reflected a few surprises. This year, Senate President Mike Miller voted for the bill. Unlike last year, there was no attempt to filibuster the bill and no concerted effort to amend or block the bill. In fact, the Republican leader, Sen. Robert Kittleman (R-Howard County), voted for the bill. Unfortunately, six Democrats voted against the bill, including three from Prince George's County. The vote count demonstrates where we have work to do to pass a marriage equality bill...

So, even here progress is being made.

These are exciting times when progressive changes are being made on every front. The far right has become paranoid and incoherent in its attacks on the new administration, but public opinion is remaining solidly sensible. People are concerned about the economy, but they want to have food that doesn't poison them, they want the earth to survive the plague of pollution our industries have brought, they support a just war but not international bullying, they don't want to torture anyone or be spied upon without a warrant, and they want American citizens to have freedom to make their own personal decisions in their lives.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

More evidence that 2010 will be a fun election year:

"WASHINGTON (April 8) - The White House is allocating tickets for the upcoming Easter Egg Roll to gay and lesbian parents as part of the Obama administration's outreach to diverse communities.

White House officials said that tickets for Monday's Easter Egg Roll event were distributed to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations, but did not specify how many or to which ones.

Representatives from Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other groups confirmed they were invited and encouraged to have their members participate."

Slowly, the agenda advances.

Now, quotas of required gay infiltration.

April 08, 2009 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Let Freedom Ring said...

...I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day --
this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

"My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!"

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, [straight and gay] will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

April 08, 2009 4:36 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

Oh heaven forbid that lgbt families be invited to the White House as part of the Easter Egg Roll, anonymous.

Why if that happened, you might find out that we are harmless folks instead of cogs in a huge machine pushed by a conglomerate headed by a mysterious bald man with a scar who presses a button on his desk thereby dropping naughty subordinates into a pool of pirahna while all the while stroking his Persian cat.

And we wouldn't want THAT to happen. Would we?

April 08, 2009 8:37 PM  
Blogger Tish said...

Now hush, BT. He's already figured out the QGI (Quotas of Gay Infiltration). If you don't stop dropping hints he's going to find the secret underground headquarters. He'll probably sneak in and pretend he's been recruited to the Gay Lifestyle, just so he can get the toaster oven.

Please don't let that happen.

April 08, 2009 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom is to not be taxed to death.
Freedom is to be able to listen to conservative radio.
Freedom is to not be forced to accept alternate lifestyles.
Freedom is the right to own a gun to protect oneself from tyranny.
Freedom is to teach both creationism and evolution in the schools, not only evolution.
Freedom is to buy what color car you want to buy.
Freedom is to drive what car you want to drive (fuel efficient or not).
Freedom is to eat trans fats if you want.
Freedom is to................
If your only interest is in social stuff, you miss all the freedoms that are going down the drain.

April 08, 2009 10:59 PM  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

I'm in favour of teaching creationism in science class.

First we deal with two theories about the Earth. The one that's described in the Bible, that says the Earth is disc-shaped, flat, and protected from "the waters above" by a hemispherical metal shield - a "firmament". Then we contrast the conventional explanation, and formulate experiments to see which corresponds to reality better.

Second, we deal withe Biblical Meteorology - that rain comes when the "windows of heaven", valves in the metal shield, get opened. That there are storehouses of hail and snow. And that clouds are the dust raised by God's feet as he walks on the firmament, all as the Bible says. Contrast that with the conventional explanation, and have experiments such as making clouds in the laboratory.

Third, we'll go with Cosmology. We've had lots of time with the Christian Bible, so this time we'll do various creationist theories such as the Japanese Ameraterasu, the Aboriginal Rainbow Serpent, the Greek Chronos and so on.

Then contrast with a more conventional explanation. We have to teach the controversy you see.

April 09, 2009 2:03 AM  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Freedom is freedom not to be forced to accept someone else's religious belief.

April 09, 2009 2:04 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I am a mysterious bald man with a scar.

April 09, 2009 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I am a mysterious bald man with a scar.

April 09, 2009 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Oh heaven forbid that lgbt families be invited to the White House as part of the Easter Egg Roll, anonymous."

I don't care if they're invited. The disturbing thing is that they are invited just because they are lbgt, to try and orchestrate some quota of infiltration.

No one's excluded them in the past. What was wrong with that?

April 09, 2009 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea not anon
President Obama holds the first White House Seder tonight(for the second night of Passover). He didn't invite me but that's ok. I'll ask his family over for the first seder next year.

The teaching of creationism belongs in comparative religion class- not science.

April 09, 2009 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one's excluded them in the past. What was wrong with that?

"It's not the first time gay and lesbian-headed families will participate.

In 2006 during the Bush administration, more than 100 gay parents attended the egg roll in part to make the statement that they should be welcome. Some conservatives accused gays and lesbians of trying to "crash" the event and turn it into forum for ideological politicking.

This year already feels different, said Colleen Gillespie of Brooklyn, who helped spark the 2006 effort.

"We feel so welcomed and embraced, and that in a very real way, I think we can just go as a family and enjoy it," said the 42-year-old assistant professor at New York University's school of medicine, who is attending with her wife and their daughters, Ella and Zelda. "We don't have to fight for our right to exist and be treated fairly."

Leah McElrath Renna, managing partner at a D.C. communications firm, agreed. She attended the event in 2006 and 2007 with her partner, Cathy McElrath Renna, and their now 3-year-old daughter, Rosemary.

"Under Bush, it felt a bit like we were crashing our own party. But this year it feels like we're equally honored guests," Leah McElrath Renna, 44, said. "It's more celebratory."

Rosemary is particularly excited to see the Easter bunny again and already has planned her outfit: A yellow polka-dotted dress and a new straw hat with a pink band.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the joy on my daughter's face when she sees the Easter bunny," she said. "And seeing the White House in the background and knowing that America and the future that she lives in will be a more perfect place than it is now." "

April 09, 2009 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one is forced to believe any particular religion. You have the freedom to decide for yourself whether to believe or not.
That is freedom.
However, if you choose to believe in Jesus and repent of your sinful gay agenda ways, you will be saved and in the end will enter heaven.
That is the truth and you have the freedom to accept it or not.

April 09, 2009 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Anonymous thinks, for some reason, that lgbt people were not excluded from anything in america in the past.

I suppose that really well-closeted, bearded lgbt people who weren't caught weren't excluded.

The largest department in the U.S. government specifically excludes lgbt people (DADT is not the policy of the military; one isn't asked on application, but if told on can be asked, and must tell, and be excluded).

Anonymous is just funny. He knows better than the claptrap he exudes, but produces it anyway.

Anti-queer ideology is the mythology of the conservative movement.

April 09, 2009 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The teaching of creationism belongs in comparative religion class- not science."

That's probably right, Andrea, but public school textbooks often imply or make the statement that life was begun by the process of evolution or a random chemical accident. No one ever seems to have any problem with that unproven religious statement. Either take a neutral stand on such things or let all religious views in.

Furthermore, while creationism may be religious in nature, the anthropic principle, originally formulated by secular scientists and considered one of the greatest mysteries in science deserves discussion even though, like the Big Bang theory, it tends to support creationism.

Facts are facts.

"In 2006 during the Bush administration, more than 100 gay parents attended the egg roll in part to make the statement that they should be welcome."

And, notably, no one stopped them.

Couldn't they just go and stop trying to draw attention to themselves?

"Anonymous thinks, for some reason, that lgbt people were not excluded from anything in america in the past."

No, I don't.

They were righfully excluded from many things. The Easter egg roll is not one of them.

Most Americans feel like kids are kids, no matter how crazed and demented their parents are.

Facts are facts, kids are kids.

No matter where you go, there you are.

April 09, 2009 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" - I am so sorry you have lost your right not to be taxed for the benefits you receive as a citizen of our country and that you somehow have lost your ability to choose a car of the color you like and that you are being forced to give up your trans-fat diet, and - worst of all - you are being forced to accept alternative lifestyles (in the U.S.A. - can you believe that - alternative lifestyles?!) I must have been asleep when the tyranical government came to take away your firearms, though.
Perhaps if you feel that ALL of your freedoms have been or are being stripped from you, you might consider moving to lovely Zimbabwe or perhaps North Korea where your particular views are in sync with the ruling tyrants.
You know what?...whiners and losers like you are becoming boring and irrelevant. Find something useful to do with your life and maybe you will find some peace and happiness in your otherwise empty existence.

April 09, 2009 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Find something useful to do with your life"

You mean like building deviant floats for gay "pride" parades and shopping for painkillers to lessen the discomfort of practices one suffers a compulsion to engage in and reading the latest research on how to cope with the health problems caused by those practices?

I'll give the suggestion all the consideration it is due.

April 09, 2009 2:19 PM  
Anonymous PasserBy said...

The funny thing about Anon's list of grievances is that not one of them is true. Nobody is being taxed to death, in fact I guarantee Anon's taxes have not gone up one tenth of one percent; anybody can eat trans-fats, they just can't order them in a Montgomery County restaurant; no one's radio listening has been infringed; nobody has to accept any kind of lifestyle, though they may have to give equal rights to people they are biased against; not a single person has had their gun taken away or been denied one; creationism can be taught in private schools, but science is the norm in our public schools, and teaching fairy tales as fact is not "freedom" anyway; I don't even get the one about what color of car you can buy, what color can't you get?; you can drive a gas-hog if you want to pay for it, though you might have trouble buying one soon ...

No freedoms have gone down any drains since this new administration took over. In fact, a lot of freedoms have been returned.


April 09, 2009 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

The thing I don't get the most about the Conservative Agenda is it's obligatory denial of industrial-caused climate change. Where in the world does this come from?

April 09, 2009 2:50 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Robert I often puzzel over that myself. What is it about the conservative mentality that makes them want to deny climate change? Is it that in someway acknowledging that reality would challenge their authoritarian viewpoints? Is it that they desire to be dictators and the idea of climate change challenges that somehow?

April 09, 2009 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe you should give it some thought and delete that comment, Priya

April 09, 2009 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
yeah, creationism is fact just like the other stuff Anon writes. Please don't quote nonsense about creationism as being supported or supportable by anything but non-science.

As to "the truth", Anon- I don't believe in Jesus as God or the Messiah- and I am sure I am as likely to get into Heaven as you- and that's the truth- you can accept it or not. Actually considering some of the things you say- I am a lot more likely to get there. I'm thinking bigotry won't get you very far towards the "pearly gates".

And that gay agenda!!- the gay couple on my street are having contractors redo their front yard and driveway. What do I do about this??? Where will it all end?? I also saw one of the women walking the family dog yesterday- I was shocked at this sort of gay activity going on in my neighborhood.

April 09, 2009 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"yeah, creationism is fact just like the other stuff Anon writes. Please don't quote nonsense about creationism as being supported or supportable by anything but non-science."

Little hard to decipher Andrea's babbling but I think she's referring to my statement that "facts are facts".

Unfortunately for her, that's true.

While creationism may not be proveable, there are plenty of scientific findings that tilt toward it. These findings were all discovered by secular scientists and should be taught without bias to students.

Of course, it's hard to argue with classic reasoning like this:

"yeah, creationism is fact just like the other stuff Anon writes. Please don't quote nonsense"

Withering logic, indeed!

April 09, 2009 4:32 PM  
Anonymous ha-ha said...

yes, just withering

April 09, 2009 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, ha "Anonymous" - I think you have finally exposed your true identy!......"You mean like building deviant floats for gay "pride" parades and shopping for painkillers to lessen the discomfort of practices one suffers a compulsion to engage in and reading the latest research on how to cope with the health problems caused by those practices?"
You must be the infamous,one and only, Dr. Ruth,of National Institutes of Health infamy, about whom so much publicity has been given to your rants in the press and in public meetings about these very same topics. Deny it?

April 09, 2009 5:46 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

Our floats are deviant. They are like the one in Animal House. Only when you press a button, it transforms into a huge effigy of Barbara Streisand. Then we jump down off the float and force the crowd watching our parades to sing a Judy Garland song.

April 09, 2009 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

California is considering banning the making and selling of black colored cars (black uses to much energy to keep the inside cool).
Nevermind that black is the second most popular color. So, it hasn't happened yet, but that loss of freedom is being discussed.
Same with other freedoms that will slowly slip away. Haven't yet, but are on the way down the drain.
If you aren't paying too many taxes, then you must be on the receiving end of my taxes. My taxes may even be paying for the deviant floats! Wouldn't be surprised.

April 09, 2009 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez anonymous,

you would blame President Obama if the grapes in your neighborhood supermarket were dirty.

April 09, 2009 11:21 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

FYI, I grew up in Arizona, and out there nobody would buy a black car, I'm not even sure they sell them. Maybe they're popular out here in the East but in the desert they're uncomfortable because they get so hot.


April 10, 2009 12:55 AM  

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