Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The march toward Marriage Equality

In a pair of stunning rulings, the Supreme Court today struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

For California, the ruling means that Proposition 8 is nullified and the nation’s most populous state can once again allow same-sex marriages. With marriage reinstated in California, by August 1 nearly 95 million Americans will live in states that recognize same-sex marriage.

Despite the overturning of DOMA, certain states, including Ohio, do not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. But the effect of that non-recognition is substantially, perhaps fatally, neutered by today's ruling. The Federal government must recognize marriages performed in any state which allows it, as well as marriages performed in other countries (the plaintiff in the DOMA case, Edie Windsor, married her same-sex spouse in Canada). Ultimately, the chief legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage derive from the Federal government. These 1138 statutory provisions touch nearly every aspect of life, from custodial rights, to financial benefits such as survivor’s benefits, to income and estate taxes.

Opponents of same sex marriage have fallen back on the same tired arguments that they’ve been using for over a decade – arguments which are failing to sell with an increasing majority of Americans: 1) that allowing same-sex marriage puts America down the slippery slope that will lead to incestuous marriages and marriages between humans and animals. That argument is so ridiculous that it doesn’t even merit a response, except to point out that there is a correlation between states that allow marriages between first cousins yet outlaw same-sex marriage; 2) that societal values are being degraded and the government is inflicting its will on religious Americans. First, there are numerous religious Americans who support same-sex marriage. Secondly, no one has ever made the assertion that churches should be forced to perform or even accept same-sex marriages. Indeed, I can’t imagine any gay man or lesbian of conscience who would want their marriage performed in a church, temple, or mosque which didn’t accept them.

I've said this before, I shall say it again: The number one reason I have supported the Democratic ticket for President since I became eligible to vote is that the President appoints Justices to the Supreme Court. Four of the five justices who voted to overturn DOMA were appointed by Democratic Presidents: two by President Clinton, two by President Obama. The fifth, Justice Kennedy, was appointed by President Reagan as a compromise when the Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee balked at his original choice: Robert Bork.

As for Ohio, marriage equality will probably be on the ballot in 2014, and it appears increasingly likely that the vile Ohio State Issue 1, passed in 2004, will be repealed. I am cautiously optimistic.

Our love matters...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mercury Living Presence, Volume 2

A second boxed set of classic Mercury Living Presence recordings has been issued. Click here to read my review.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Man of Steel


Perhaps I’m showing my age. First, the new Star Trek movie largely left me cold. Now, the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, has been released to great fanfare. I dutifully saw it on opening weekend and was largely unimpressed.

What I liked: Henry Cavill does an excellent job portraying Kal-El, giving a slightly more brooding turn than usual. Some purists will object to a Briton portraying America’s superhero, but as Superman is not even human, I’m fine with it. As for Clark Kent, we see very little of him – the famous glasses are not even worn until the last few frames of the movie. Amy Adams brings a knowing glint to Lois Lane, sadly missing from Kate Bosworth’s limp portrayal in Superman Returns. The rest of the supporting cast is excellent in every respect, particularly Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent.

What I disliked: I didn’t like the reimagined Krypton – give me the Donner icy galactic version any day. Nor did I care for the dumbed down plot and solution. In previous incarnations, from the comic books, to the serials, the classic 50s TV show and Christopher Reeve movies, Superman was always victorious in the end because he used his most important superpower: his brain. Here, we just have a series of endless action sequences ending in a snapped neck. The tuneless, percussive score droned monotonously. There’s quite a bit of product placement in Man of Steel – but there was in the 1978 Superman movie as well. Cheerios and Timex watches have been replaced with IHOP and Sears.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A time to push, a time to hold back

If you watched the national news today, you saw the story about Ellen Sturtz, a member of GetEQUAL who heckled the First Lady at a private fundraiser.  Mr. Sturtz was upset because the President has not signed an executive order forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation by the Federal government.  I wish the President would sign such an order, but it's worth remembering it would only cover Federal employees and contractors - and it could be easily withdrawn by a subsequent President.  As a member of the LGBT community, I felt embarrassed by Ms. Sturtz' behavior – as I’m sure members of any minority community feel when “one of their own” does something criminal or just plain stupid.  Did Ms. Sturtz actually believe that heckling the President's wife would persuade him to sign the executive order?

I find this "activist" to be appallingly rude. Mrs. Obama does not control White House policy and did not deserve to be treated in this manner. In its way, Ms. Sturtz' behavior mirrors that of several people in the Save the Mansion Library group, who shout and scream, use multiple sock-puppets to post nasty remarks about whoever disagrees with them, and who have been totally ineffective in getting anything done.

There’s a time to push and a time to exercise restraint.  One of the reasons Hate Crimes Legislation was passed and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed - along with the many other positive things for LGBT people that have occurred during the Obama administration - is that there was a balance of “on the streets” activism along with behind the scenes collaboration.  Both are necessary, but when you heckle the spouse of an elected official, you’re crossing a line.  I don’t care if that spouse is Michele Obama or Nancy Reagan.

I've said it before, and will say it again: the struggle for LGBT rights is a struggle for the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans.  If you want to make a difference, come out of the closet, leave the safe cocoon of your gayborhood, be proud, and make something of yourself.  

That’s how we’ll win.