Tag Archives: US

Fear and Prejudice on Trial

Go. Go now. Go now and watch “8″: A Play About the Fight for Marriage Equality

Jerry and I watched it tonight, and if ever there’s a church service for someone like me, this. is. it.  One of the final monologues by Martin Sheen (playing the role of the plaintiff’s attorney Ted Olsen) is simply ELECTRIC.

The final scene of the play includes the plaintiffs addressing the audience, talking about the reasons why they put themselves, their relationships, and their family in the public spotlight for this trial.  I was struck by how their primary motivation wasn’t to secure their own individual rights to marry, but the rights of other couples.

Hearing this made me think of one of my favorite high school teachers, Ms. Hearn, who taught me AP US History. I remember that we spent WEEKS studying the ins and outs of the Constitution, including many of the court cases fought that ended up securing some of the rights we enjoy today.  Now, 17+ years later, I can remember how Ms. Hearn impressed upon us how hard others have had to fight to give us the freedoms we so often take for granted.

And that’s how I see these plaintiffs. Ordinary Americans who are doing something extraordinary. Not just for themselves, but for everyone — gay and straight alike.  It’s only a matter of time before everyone back home will be able to marry the person they love — and no piously-driven homophobia will stand in the way.

David Boies (the other plaintiff attorney) put it best: “We put fear and prejudice on trial – and fear and prejudice lost.”

Failing the midterms

So last night was a bit of a bomb for the Democratic party (and, I’d argue, the well-being of the entire country).   The GOP (read: Tea Party Party) took over control of the House of Representatives, though thankfully didn’t take over control of the Senate.  Also, thankfully, Harry Reid didn’t lose to Sharrrrrrron Angle in his district, which would have made the Repub gloating all the worse on the day-after media circuit.

While I’m disappointed in the results, I’m not that surprised or that dismayed.  While it’s going to be PAINFUL to have to watch John Boehner as Speaker of the House, I don’t think the GOP can inflict much damage in their majority capacity.

If anything, it will be interesting to see how the Republican party will have to step up to actually get something done for a change — rather than all the childish, slamming of feet, saying “NO!” that they’ve accomplished during the last 2 years.

I love how, last night in his “victory” speech, Boehner said that it’s now time for him to “roll up his sleeves” and get some work done in the House.  If only he had that attitude for the last 20 years he’s served as a Representative.

Stay tuned, this political ride is going to get bumpy, methinks.

What he said:

Daniel Dennett on the recent Pew study that showed atheists/agnostics scoring higher than most religious folks:
So the Pew results are no doubt actually somewhat stronger than they first appear: The more you know about religions, the less likely you are to believe religious creeds and myths and thus the more likely you are to be an atheist or agnostic, whether or not you are affiliated with, or even clergy in, a church.

Many of those who have thought long and hard about religions – and hence know the answers – don’t actually believe the doctrines that they rightly identify as belonging to the church they are affiliated with.

from The Unbelievable Truth: Why America has become a nation of religious know-nothings

The other line worth mentioning is from the closing of the article, where Dennett mentions his research involving nonbelieving clergy members:

when discussing our first pilot study of closeted non-believing (or other-believing) clergy, we often heard two jokes about the seminary experience that was part of the training of most clergy: “If you emerge from seminary still believing in God, you haven’t been paying attention,” and “Seminary is where God goes to die.”

hmmm. I think Jerry would agree with those two statements.

I’m gonna see the folks I dig*

It’s hard to believe that a week ago tonight I was getting geared up for a whirlwind trip down to Los Angeles, California, for the conference for the 30th anniversary of the Council for Secular Humanism.   At about this time, Jerry and I were probably heading back to our house after dropping off the little one at her auntie and uncle’s for the weekend.

There’s so much to write about our adventures in sunny Cali that it will probably take at least a series of posts to do it all justice.  This was a weekend of many firsts:

  • first time being away from the little girl for consecutive nights (and separated by a country!)
  • first time meeting many of my atheist/humanist heroes in person
  • first time staying in a fancy-dancy hotel
  • first time in California/west coast
  • first time on holidays with my group of very good friends
  • first time eating at a “raw foods” restaurant

Many firsts.  And while our credit card may be hurting for the foreseeable future, I have no regrets about what we saw, did, and spent while we were in sunny California.

Back soon with more specific posts about specific events/talks we witnessed — until then, a pictorial representation of some of the highlights of the weekend:

*bonus marks if you caught that my title is from the Joni Mitchell song, “California”

What she said:

Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the extremist anti-abortion position of never allowing any abortions, even in the case of rape and incest:

Let‘s be completely clear about the facts here.  There is no place in the world and no time in history where restricting women‘s reproductive rights makes a people or a nation more free or more equal.  These extreme positions on abortion are without any question a war on American girls and women.

[...]I‘m from a people who really did experience the need to hold on to a God who would see them through difficult times, including generations of black women who in slavery were forced to bear the children of their rapists.  And I do believe, because I‘m a person of faith, in a interceding God that can help people through difficult circumstances.  But I‘m also an American who believes that the point of government isn‘t to make life so hard for half of our citizens that the only force there to help them is God.  We, as a government and as a people, deserve and should do better.

my kind of rally

genius.

(and, generous!)

history in the making

Today U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled AGAINST Proposition 8 in California, clearing the way for the case to make its way to the Supreme Court.

I’m just DYING to read his entire ruling, but I’m just so swamped right now between

  • teaching/marking/meeting with students,
  • gardening,
  • planning the Freethinker Family Camp next weekend,
  • applying (and being ACCEPTED!) into Celebrant training,
  • mamahood,
  • and the occasional few hours of sleep I can grab.

So — until I can sit down and savor this human rights victory, I’ll enjoy the few snippets I read online, like this one:

The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. FF 21. Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed. (113)

And, this one:

Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians.The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. (135)

The clincher:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. (138)

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick’s reflects on the judge’s decision, and writes:

It’s hard to read Judge Walker’s opinion without sensing that what really won out today was science, methodology, and hard work. Had the proponents of Prop 8 made even a minimal effort to put on a case, to track down real experts, to do more than try to assert their way to legal victory, this would have been a closer case. But faced with one team that mounted a serious effort and another team that did little more than fire up their big, gay boogeyman screensaver for two straight weeks, it wasn’t much of a fight.

For one of the most inspiring moments of the day, watch Rachel interview the lawyers behind defeating the Proposition, Ted Olsen and David Boies:

What a great day for equality.  I cannot wait until I’ll be able to be a Celebrant at a same-sex wedding.