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A Rose by Any Other Name….? (and an angry email)

July 8th, 2010 No comments

In this week’s column at 365gay.com, I address the issue whether civil unions should be considered a serviceable political compromise for the time being, while we await full marriage equality. As you might expect, lots of comments have come in already.

But I wanted to share a very different sort of comment; one that you wouldn’t often see on that site because it’s so negative. Here’s the text of an email I received today; you should read the 365 post first for context, although I think he fairly (not selectively) quotes me. I’ve highlighted my language from the column for ease of reference:

Regarding the article, “Culhane: Should we hate civil unions, or love them?“, I have a few thoughts.

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle stated she took longer to decide this issue of ‘Civil Unions vs. Marriage’ than any other brought before her.And that she had decided to veto the civil union bill after much deliberation.
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“With her body blocking the state seal – with its (loosely translated) motto of “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness” and its depiction of the Goddess of Liberty – Lingle issued the by-now boilerplate blather about letting the people, rather than the legislature, decide. It’s as though she’d just been transported to a place where the rules of representative democracy had been suspended”

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The whole of the statement you made, as seen above, reeks with biased slander and a hint of self aggrandizement. Is “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness” the translation of “Ua Mau Ke Ea O Oka Aina I Ka Pono” or not? If it is, and it is according to some those local boys I’ve known for years, your veracity has come under scrutiny.

Now, this “…boilerplate blather about letting the people, rather than the legislature, decide…” is the Governor simply doing her job in a representative democracy. So, what are you trying to say here…..we must leave the state legislature to do their job fulfilling their responcibilities under a representative democracy but, as Governor, she must kowtow to the wishes of the State Legislature!?! Surely you’re not trying to tell us that the Governor isn’t the representative voice of all the States population!?! Her job would be, as the State voice under a representative democracy, to consider what we the people want as a whole. Doesn’t this make sense to you at all?
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But I want to focus on something the governor said during her press conference: Civil unions are marriage ‘by another name.” Since she opposes same-sex marriages (she didn’t say why), she also opposes civil unions.

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“Civil unions are marriage ‘by another name.” There is no need to redefine the word marriage and a definite need to distinguish between a ‘civil union’ and a ‘marriage’. You may think there is some kind of underlying ill-will towards gays or perhaps some kind of homophobia in play. But the fact is you couldn’t be farther from the truth.

It has become apparent that there is an agenda being pushed upon the majority of the population of America and it is happening on the State level. Here is where the push began…when those who call themselves gay wanted what married people have…and I’m not talking about all the financial and other benefits that go along with being legally married. The simple truth is, and I’ve had enough gay friends to know, they want the title of marriage because they see their relationships as the same as those who are married. But they’re not! I’ve seen more gay sexual addicts than I’d care to shake a stick at….it’s like the ‘lust rheostat’ is turned on high and stuck there. It’s all about being “Out”…about being “In Your Face”…about “Being Gay and Proud Of It”. And most of all, it’s about bringing down the established white christian morals that have stifled this country for so long.So, you might want to start writing the truth.
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“So how can it mean the same thing as marriage? Lingle might be right to say that civil unions are marriage “by another name,” but names have weight. The word “marriage” is particularly totemic, as we can emphasize by this table-turning little experiment: Imagine a suggestion that same-sex couples’ unions be called marriages, but that opposite-sex couples would be granted the right to enter into civil unions. Would anyone then really want to suggest that the name wasn’t terribly important?”

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You’ve gt to be kidding? I would be willing to bet almost anything that, if the tables were turned, it wouldn’t be such a big deal!  But, of course, we’ll never know will we! So, this little point is irrelevant!
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Perhaps nowhere was the importance of this distinction better understood and deconstructed than by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Writing in response to the question whether the legislature might carry out the court’s mandate of conferring marriage equality on same-sex couples by creating the civil union, the court said this of the proposed bill:
[I]t is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status. The denomination of this difference…as merely a “squabble over the name to be used” so clearly misses the point that further discussion appears to be useless.
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Are you cherry-picking bits of information and wording it in such a way as to reflect you will and desires? This is what I found:

“In a 50-page, 4–3 ruling delivered on November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that the state may not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by “civil marriage” to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, writing for the majority, wrote that the state’s constitution “affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens,” the state had no “constitutionally adequate reason for denying marriage to same-sex couples,” and “The right to marry is not a privilege conferred by the State, but a fundamental right that is protected against unwarranted State interference.” On the legal aspect, instead of creating a new fundamental right to marry, or more accurately the right to choose to marry, the Court held that the State does not have a rational basis to deny same-sex couples marriage on the ground of due process and equal protection. (the court gave the State Legislature 180 days to change the law to rectify the situation)

She said “It forbids the creation of second-class citizens….”! Big difference, wouldn’t you say!?!

I must say, Mr. John Culhane, Professor of Law, Widener University, I would not want to be a student sitting in your class where I’d be fed an assortment of lies served up by a biased, or should I say prejudice, bigot!

jim

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Well, I know I would need a thick skin when I embarked on a life of blogging. This is the kind of thing you get. Most of what “jim” said is, I think, self-refuting, and I want to turn to reading and then analyzing the DOMA decisions that came down this evening, so I’m not going to get into it in detail. Just a very few quick points:

(1) There was Goodridge, which jim summarizes, and then there was the Opinion of the Justices in response to a question presented by the state senate. The latter is what I was quoting.

(2) There are plenty of sex addicts — men, women, straight and gay. No one suggests that the presence of sex addicts in the heterosexual population should lead society to ban their marriages, so why is it different for gay couples? Note the implicit homophobia in the attempted demonization of gay men (what about lesbians, by the way?) while ignoring similar, heterosexual impulses.

(3) jim claims to have gay friends. If so, I hope he’s open enough with them to share this email. If he does, he could learn something through their responses — if they’re not so pissed they simply walk out on him.

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Look for my analysis of the DOMA cases later tonight, or tomorrow morning.

The Only Real Story

June 30th, 2010 1 comment

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been blogging lately about such weighty matters as Idina Menzel, Wonder Woman, and the fate of Federer, here’s one explanation: I can’t bear to spend too much time thinking about the only real story, the one that threatens to compromise my (and all) kids’ futures —  the BP Oil Spill. Here’s an especially disturbing video, lavishly narrated, that chronicles the sickness and death of dolphins and whales and the deep, organic wound to our ecosystem. Warning: it’s hard to watch.

If you want to stay on top of the eco-consequences of this unfolding horror, this blog is a good pick.

Bloggy Bloggenstein…

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

…is what David calls me. This cartoon nails it:

(h/t Daily Dish)

Categories: blogs, humor Tags:

A Few Days’ Respite

March 31st, 2010 No comments

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be away from Internet access (OK, I’ll still have my iPhone) for a few days. So I’ve decided to take a few days off from blogging — for the first time since I’ve started, really. In my absence, several of my favorite posts from the past year-plus of blogging will re-run, with original posting dates at the bottom. The site has many more readers than it did at the start, so I thought I’d run a few of my favorites (not necessarily the ones that received the most comments).

I hope you enjoy them. Meanwhile, for something new, check out tomorrow’s column over at 365gay.com; the topic is a bullying case from upstate New York, and my take on the Obama Administration’s positive role in bringing about a settlement. It should post in the late morning or early afternoon. If I can, I’ll alert readers when it goes up.

May you all enjoy some time with friends and family during these few days that have religious significance for so many.

Categories: 365gay column, blogs Tags: , ,

What is Wrong With Ann Althouse?

March 21st, 2010 5 comments

Ann Althouse’s blog features many funny and deliberately irreverent observations. I can’t always tell whether she’s being serious, and that’s OK — if not a job requirement — for a blogger. But it seems that her love of blog traffic (of which I’m admittedly envious) has overtaken her best judgment. Her recent post on the ugly racist and homophobic incidents that unfolded at yesterday’s Tea Party protest in Washington, as reported by, among others, that left-leaning MSM outlet known as “Fox News”, is just nuts. Here are some choice nuggets from her defense of the nasty people who hurled racial and anti-gay epithets at several African-American congressmen and at Barney Frank:

“There’s nothing wrong with showing anger at the thing that motivates you to protest. That’s what protests are for! The members of Congress have a lot of power, and they ought to have to hear the anger their exercise of that power is causing. It’s outrageous for them to pose as victims without very good cause. So what if some idiot said a bad word?”

Yeah, so what?  And how do we know that it was just “some idiot” and not a broader swath of the protesters? Althouse has the goods: Her husband told her (apparently he saw everything), and there’s a 48-second video that doesn’t contain any nastiness, posted on her website. Then she concludes, on that basis, that the race card was being played for nothing. “Shame!” (The fact that she actually uses the term “race card” is a problem by itself, but never mind.)

Nice evidence. Let’s look at some reliance  evidence, shall we? Here‘s a story, told by witnesses, recounting how Barney Frank had to call the capitol police to haul away some protesters who were banging on his door, shouting through the mail slot (classy!), and calling him “Homo communist” and telling him, cleverly, to “go homo to Massachusetts.”

Althouse might not know, somehow, that gays live in a society where our physical security is often at risk. (But by saying that, I’m sure I’ll be accused of playing the “gay card.”) Frank might well have believed that people banging on his door, shouting, and calling insults, might be about to do him harm. But that doesn’t seem to have occurred to her.

Later, she added a final inanity to the post, disputing the account that one Congressman had been spat upon by noting that no arrest had been made. Therefore, she’s assuming it’s a lie. What? Perhaps the offender eluded detection, slipped away, or the police weren’t right on the spot — to name just a few other possibilities in the real world of imperfect law enforcement. But she needs to provoke, so there it is.

All of this might be tolerable, barely, but for the willingness she has to post any and all comments, without editing or comments of her own, no matter how horrible. Andrew Sullivan repeated a few of these that her readers had for him this past Fall, and they’re far worse than anything accompanying this story. But some of these are bad enough. . As a law professor and a member of the profession, she should show some minimal discretion. Here’s an example of the kind of comment she allows (this from a reader reacting to a gay commenter’s offense):

Hey downtownload, you dumbfuck of a homo, did it ever occur to you that the more you show your naked hatred of “straights” the more it will be returned? It is good, profoundly good that normal America is getting it full in the face from all the marginal shits, it’s a lesson that will be well and truly learned and never forgotten. A tidal wave coming your way in November, fagellah.

At the least, she might have edited out the more vituperative epithets. But that’s not what drives traffic to her blog.

Next Step in my Plan to Rule the World: A Weekly Column at 365gay

March 16th, 2010 1 comment

Just a short post tonight to announce that, as of this Thursday (3/18), I will be writing a weekly column for the website 365gay.com.1  This will give me a chance to speak to a much larger audience, as the site is related to LogoTV, the gay and lesbian cable network. (Logo, in turn, is a trademark of Viacom.)

This offer came about after what might have been a one-off post that I did this past Friday at the invitation of Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Vanasco; the piece received a good response, and now I’ve been invited to contribute on a regular basis.  I’m thrilled.

For those who read this blog regularly, you will find much that’s similar in my weekly post over at 365gay. I’ll be discussing legal issues in ways that I hope are both comprehensible and compelling to interested lay people. Of course, as the website name itself more than implies, these posts will focus on issues directly affecting the LGBT community, but as always I will try to connect these issues to other themes and will strive — sometimes against the odds — to find humor in (almost) every situation.

This blog will of course continue at its sometimes relentless pace, and I will link to the weekly column from here as well.

Thanks to everyone who’s read this blog over the past year and a couple of months, and to those of you who scooted over to 365gay to check out my post. As always, I welcome your comments, input, and suggestions — either here, or over at 365gay.com. For starters, does anyone have a good idea for a title for this column?

Now I have a column to write….

  1. Does that mean they’re not gay on Feb. 29?

A Death in the Family

February 18th, 2010 4 comments

I was going to blog about something that I listened to today. Then I learned that a colleague that I very much liked and respected, Bobby Lipkin, died today.

It was a couple of conversations with Bobby that gave me the courage to start this blog. His passion and energy were evident, and he convinced me to get past (even if I couldn’t entirely overcome) my uneasiness and fear of putting myself out there. His blog, Essentially Contested America, went quiet a few months ago, but it will live in cyberspace and in intellectual discourse for a long, long time. Perhaps one of his co-bloggers, or someone else, will carry his effort forward. But he will be missed.

If you knew Bobby Lipkin, and want some comfort, perhaps spending a few minutes with the clear voice you’ll hear on his blog will help.

Moving Day

July 22nd, 2009 No comments

My webmaster needs to do some shuffling (don’t ask me to explain it) of the blogsites, so I will be unable to post from late today until, probably, late tomorrow. You may or may not be able to access the site during that time. If not, there are a few million other blogs, not to mention other news sources, to check out. I know you’ll miss me terribly.

This works well, as I’m actually spending tomorrow and Friday far from the madding computer. I do have one post that might go up (via iPhone) on Thursday pm or Friday am, but otherwise: I’ll be back on Saturday.  

Update: Webmaster now tells me that the site will be up and down starting late today. So you may be able to access it at times. Just don’t get frustrated when it doesn’t come up.

Categories: blogs Tags: , ,