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  • As usual, Jon Stewart says it best.

    October 10th, 2013 [Editorial, Law & Politics]

    I’m sick to death of people trying to pass themselves off as “impartial” or “independent” by stating that both sides of the political battle are responsible for this government shut-down mess. It is simply not true. If you want proof, imagine how it would look if the Democrats decided that they were going to shut down the government until Republicans stopped enforcing the 2nd Amendment. Is that a good way to get your way? No. But that is what’s going on here. The Tea Party Republicans couldn’t win via election and they couldn’t win via Congressional votes and they couldn’t win in the Supreme Court – so now they are deciding to take what they want whether it’s theirs or not. And it’s coming at the expense of the American public.

    You don’t negotiate with terrorists, you don’t reward children for temper tantrums, and you don’t agree to defund or delay existing law based on obstructionist tactics. If the Democrats give in on this Tea Party hissy fit, I guarantee you that shutting down the government will become the preferred way to get what you want from Congress. Capitulating on this issue will only harm the country in the long run.

    Jon Stewart says it best:


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    The Raw Story | McDonald’s: No workers comp for employee shot protecting patron

    February 23rd, 2009 [Editorial, General]

    The Raw Story | McDonald’s: No workers comp for employee shot protecting patron.

    I could alllllmost understand their argument (but not really) if this had been an actual robbery and the kid just decided to be a hero (but even then I’d be raising my eyebrows). But this was NOT a robbery. It was not an attempted robbery. It was not even an attempted mugging of a customer in a McDonald’s store. From all I can see from the accounts, it was a case of an employee ejecting a troublesome patron for the safety of others. I can see how McDonald’s is greedy and selfish and evil enough to deny this claim, but I cannot see how they are STUPID enough to do it. Hello, bad PR, coming right up!

    Just shot off this letter to McDonald’s corporate:

    I am absolutely appalled by the news that McDonald’s has denied worker’s compensation benefits to a young man who was shot during the course of his employment with you.

    I understand that McDonald’s takes the position that in a robbery situation he should have called 9-11 rather than being a hero. I doubt that is a legitimate position, but even if you had a legal leg to stand on with that argument, it does not apply in this case, because this WAS NOT A ROBBERY.

    Your employee had no reason to expect that the patron he ejected from your store would have a gun or would use it against him, and therefore even if your argument was viable in a real robbery situation (which I doubt it would be), it certainly cannot apply here.

    This young man did a commendable thing by ejecting a troublesome customer, and you are punishing him for that. But guess what? By punishing him for being a good employee and a good person, you only punish yourself. This news will spread like wildfire, and your selfishness will be exposed to good and decent people across the nation.

    As for me, in addition to being appalled by your treatment of this employee, I also cannot feel safe in a McDonald’s restaurant if I know that the employees are prohibited from protecting their customers in the case of loud, unruly or violent patrons because they will not be protected if the patrons turn on them.

    Therefore, I will no longer be visiting McDonald’s restaurants.

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    McCain suspends campaign – but why?

    September 24th, 2008 [Editorial, Election 2008, Financial, General, Law & Politics, News, US]

    Make no mistake: John McCain is NOT suspending his campaign simply because the economy is about to go bust. If his only concern was about the economy, he would be out there, telling the country what he plans to do to fix it. He would be chomping at the bit to get the airtime provided by the presidential debate. He would say the debate is especially necessary now that one of these two men is going to inherit this economic crisis. Time is running out, and the American public NEEDS to hear from the presidential and vice presidential candidates.

    But of course, none of that is happening. Why? The real reason he is suspending his campaign – and trying to postpone the debate – is because he sounds better with his mouth shut. He has nothing to say, and has no good way to say it. His campaign has been injured enough by stupid, bigoted, ignorant, completely ridiculous statements coming from him and from his staff. At this point, the very best (and most safe) thing for him to do is smile and look pretty until all the polls are closed. The more he talks, the more we hear him and understand who and what he truly is – and that’s not good for his numbers.

    I can only hope that America is not gullible enough to fall for this ploy. After all, what does it mean that he’s suspending his campaign? Does it mean the endless barrage of deceitful commercials about Obama will stop? No. It just means he saves money because he can let his supporters do all the advertising for him – which probably means more lies, not less. Does it mean that his army of lackeys will stop trying to smear the Democratic candidates at every opportunity they get? Of course not.

    All it really means is that now he will have an excuse to stay out of the public eye.

    Of course, it may also be that he’s trying to push things as far as he can in order to prevent Palin from ever having to debate Biden. I could see him claiming that the presidential debate is more important than the VP debate, and trying to cancel the VP debate altogether.

    All this goes without even getting into the very serious question about whether we’re facing another Reagan in the White House, and if elected, whether he will even survive the presidency.

    And what of David Letterman’s suggestion that the right thing to do is for McCain to go back to Washington but let his campaign continue on with his running mate, the vice presidential candidate, at its helm?

    Well, I think we see the problem there. She’s busy campaigning for the title of Miss America and arranging staged, scripted photo-op meetings that bear a remarkable resemblance to speed-dating.

    This political ploy by McCain will be a true test of what America has learned during the past 8 years. Let’s hope we don’t fail by falling for it again.

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    Noun, verb, POW.

    September 15th, 2008 [Computers, Editorial, Election 2008, General, Technology]

    You might remember Jay Leno’s recent interview with John McCain, in which Leno asked him how many houses he owns, and he answered that he lived in a prison cell for 5.5 years. Well, the McCain camp strikes again.

    Obama’s campaign recently put out an ad targeting McCain as computer illiterate and out of touch with modern times. His spokespeople point out the crucial role the Internet plays in the economy.

    Well, I’ll give you three guesses as to the excuse being put forth for McCain’s utter computer illiteracy.

    If you guessed “Noun, verb, POW,” you are RIGHT! Karl Rove, dough-headed mouthpiece of the Republican party, is now arguing that John McCain can’t use the computer – because he was a POW.

    Karl Rove recently blasted Obama’s campaign for criticizing McCain’s inability to use a computer. Found among his word vomit was the following chunk: “But they then say he doesn’t …send e-mail. Well, this is because his war injuries keep him from being able to use a keyboard. He can’t type. You know, it’s like saying he can’t do jumping jacks,” Rove said. “There’s a reason he can’t raise his arms above his head. There’s a reason he doesn’t have the nimbleness in his fingers.”

    What the hell? Is this supposed to be accepted as a legitimate excuse? We’re supposed to just accept that McCain has some sort of unnamed disability called POW that he only talks about when it’s politically convenient, and while he’s been able to do just fine as a Senator for some twenty-odd years (collecting a a healthy tax-free disability pension even while voting against similar benefits for current and future disabled veterans), when it comes to modern technology his disability just won’t let him do it?



    Okay, I understand that he doesn’t like to use the computer. Some people are just like that. Why doesn’t he just admit it, instead of saying that his disability prevents him from learning how to use a computer? The computer, and subsequently the Internet, is the most influential non-medical advancement in technology since the creation of television and radio – and perhaps more so, depending on who you ask. It permeates, nu, dominates every level of our economy, and increasingly, much of our society and culture. If all the computers were to shut down tomorrow, mass chaos would ensue. COMPUTERS ARE IMPORTANT – and so are the “Innernets.” A President of the United States should be computer literate, even if he chooses not to use the computer on a regular basis for whatever reason, be it indifference or pain with repetitive motion. The next few presidential terms could see Congress drafting legislation regulating the Internet. The President needs to understand what that means.

    So why is it that John McCain somehow “can’t” use a computer – is it really because of his war injuries forty years ago?

    So he has a disability. Okay. He tries to avoid repetitive motions. Great. He says he lacks nimbleness in his fingers. Only Cindy McCain can tell us if that’s true, and frankly, I don’t want to know. That’s really not the point.

    The issue is not whether he has the manual dexterity to type however words per minute. The issue is not whether his shoulders start to ache if he types for too long. Nobody’s challenging his claim of disability (or maybe they are – but that’s another post altogether, and it’s not coming from me). That’s not the problem here. The problem is that this brushing off of computer ability / literacy as unnecessary and impossible because of physical disability is a slap in the face and a harsh, unnecessary smear against those of us who have disabilities and are not only able to use computers, but are damned good at it.

    How is it that so many millions of Americans experiencing disabilities ranging from carpal tunnel and tendinitis to blindness and quadriplegia have managed to become not just literate, but FLUENT on the computer, without relying on their wives or staff to operate it for them? How is it? Oh, yes, I know. THEY CHOOSE TO LEARN TO USE THE COMPUTER.

    There are TONS of devices and applications that create accessible workstations for people with a variety of disabilities ranging from ergonomic/pain complaints to access issues for the vision-impaired. Those with typing issues, like McCain, can use voice-recognition software to draft anything from a quick email to a dissertation (or legislation, in this case). People with disabilities can be computer programmers, web designers, writers, engineers, statisticians, and everything in between – if they want to. It’s true that many people with disabilities are not able to use computers because they cannot afford the technology necessary to accommodate their needs, but I guarantee you that John McCain does not have that problem. Many people with disabilities are also unable to use applications that are not accessible. That is most likely not a problem McCain faces either. He can’t say it’s his age either; plenty of elderly Americans are perfectly adept at this newfangled tomfoolery. So what is his problem?

    He simply doesn’t want to learn to use the computer.

    So why doesn’t he just admit it, instead of insulting disabled Americans by blaming his self-proclaimed “illiteracy” on his disability?

    I’m not some able-bodied chauvinist mouthing off about whining disabled people. I have physical disabilities, including a chronic pain syndrome. Up until a car accident a few years ago, my primary complaint was related to my arms, wrists and fingers. I get it. I understand how much it can hurt to type. Hell, I gave up handwriting because it just got too painful. I use the computer instead. I’m not saying this to somehow absolve myself of any possible incorrectness; having a disability doesn’t qualify me to speak for people with disabilities, nor does it qualify me to speak for anyone else. It just means I have a perspective on the situation that a completely able-bodied person might not have. That’s all – and it’s entirely possible I might get railed on by other folks with disabilities who disagree with what I’ve said here, and that’s fine, because as I said, I don’t claim to speak definitively for a disabled population.

    That said, there’s a difference between a preference for not typing and a stubborn refusal to learn the basics of computer literacy. I certainly don’t think that it’s fair for one disabled person to tell another disabled person what s/he can or can’t, or should or shouldn’t do in relation to disability and accommodation, especially when it comes to pain management. That’s not what this post is about. I don’t care whether McCain chooses to use a computer on a daily basis. Hell, I am always talking about how necessary it is to approach pain management from an economic standpoint, weighing the factors and determining when the cost of performing an activity outweighs the benefits.

    But we’re talking about learning here, not about doing. McCain doesn’t have to touch a keyboard in order to know the basics of how a computer works, how the Internet works, the dynamics of computer-mediated communication, etc. Hell, you can learn all that without even being in the same room as a computer. He has simply chosen to stay illiterate, and blames this illiteracy on a disability that simply does not preclude his use of a computer if he had any interest whatsoever in using it.

    Nobody says McCain has to sign onto Facebook or start playing WoW to prove that he’s “hip” to the computer age – but the president of a modern and technologically advanced country should have a working knowledge of computers and the Internet, and McCain does not. He just doesn’t want to admit that he is out of touch with modern times, and at (many) times intellectually lazy, like his predecessor, G-Dubya. How can we have somebody as our President who can’t be bothered with the most influential technological advances of our time? How can he understand our economy if he doesn’t understand the first thing about the technology that keeps it going?

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    Chatsworth Metrolink Collision – Placing Blame Already???

    September 14th, 2008 [Editorial, General, News, US]

    I have been enthralled with this Metrolink collision, as it happened in Chatsworth, which is in my “native homeland,” the San Fernando Valley (and I’ve taken the train out of Chatsworth a few times). I’m surprised that more people aren’t talking about it, considering that it’s the worst US rail accident in years. (Click for fatality list, which hopefully will not grow.)

    I have to agree with the rail workers’ union – I think it’s awfully premature to be placing blame on the engineer, who in the accident. Even before I read this article, I thought, “How convenient for MTA to be placing blame on a single individual. How convenient that it was his actions, and not a MTA technical error, which led to the collision… How convenient that this blame has been placed on one who cannot defend himself.” Of course, it’s entirely possible this 10-year veteran of the rail industry did “ignore” a red light warning that a train was coming up ahead. It COULD have happened that way. Perhaps this guy was text messaging while operating a commuter train, in violation of oh so many laws. But without examining the data/signal recorders and the other physical evidence that will be gathered and investigated in the coming weeks and months, it seems exceedingly premature and yes, convenient, for Metro to assign blame immediately, and then claim they’re doing it in the interest of “honesty.”

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    Sarah Palin’s family drama off limits??

    September 2nd, 2008 [Editorial, Education, Election 2008, General, Law & Politics, Marriage & Family, News, Reproductive Rights, US]

    For all of you out there, including Barack Obama, who allege that Sarah Palin’s family life is private and off limits: Can I just remind you that it was SARAH PALIN who fed this piece of information to the public in the first place? Nobody spied on her; nobody got hold of secret medical records or hacked into her computer. Sarah Palin CHOSE to release this information to the American people, and now it is our inalienable right to talk about it, react to it, and decide how we feel about a woman who supports abstinence-only education when it’s clear from her own family situation that abstinence-only education DOES NOT WORK.

    Can we call her a hypocrite? Absolutely. She doesn’t support same-sex marriage (or domestic partnership rights, even) because marriage is soooo sacred, but she’s willing to let a CHILD enter into this sacred union as punishment for having premarital sex. So is marriage a sacrament, or a punishment? Make up your mind!

    She comes from a party that cracks down on access to birth control and yet doesn’t want abortions to be legal – but STILL doesn’t support education about how not to get pregnant in the first place. This is the woman we want thisclose to inheriting the presidency from ancient, ailing John McCain?

    So is her daughter’s pregnancy private? It was, until she made it public. And is it relevant? HELL. YES.

    I know that many people will claim that the Palins were forced to make this announcement in order to quell rumors going around that Palin’s youngest “son” Trig is actually her grandson. There are a few points to address here. I think the people who made these speculations in the first place were just having a hard time reconciling Palin’s uber-family-values stances with the fact that she endangered her child’s life multiple times the evening she gave birth by flying even after her water broke, the fact that she simply did not look pregnant and her staff was shocked to find out she was seven months along, the fact that no picture exists that demonstrates the woman was ever pregnant in 2008, and the fact that she returned to work three days after giving birth to a baby with Down’s Syndrome. It just doesn’t add up to the Family Woman that Palin claims to be.

    Much more likely (and logical, for that matter) is that she found out her daughter was in labor and THAT is why she rushed back to Alaska. Much more likely is that she thought her daughter’s pregnancy might undermine her image as uber-family-lady, while her own pregnancy might garner her some sympathy. Much more likely is that if she didn’t look pregnant, she WASN’T pregnant, especially given the photos circulating of her when she actually WAS pregnant – because let me tell you, when Sarah Palin is pregnant, she LOOKS it.

    So now we’re left with this situation where the Palin family has announced their daughter’s pregnancy in order to cover their own asses as far as Trig’s parentage. This announcement proves nothing. Palin could have protected her daughter AND her image by simply providing a dated photograph of herself visibly pregnant at the time she was supposed to be pregnant (although I suppose once you’ve decided you’re going to lie to millions of people, you might as well go all the way and stuff something under your shirt). She could have provided hospital records showing that she was admitted and in labor – after all, John McCain had to provide the media with his own medical records, so why shouldn’t Palin? She could have done a lot of things that didn’t involve exposing her family and her children to further controversy and ridicule.

    Instead, Palin “outed” her own daughter, thrusting her into the limelight of her OWN accord. But again, the news itself proves nothing except that the rumor-mongers weren’t so far off – the teenage daughter of this abstinence-only-education proponent IS having sex, and she IS being irresponsible about it. It actually makes the case stronger, not weaker, that Trig is her son.

    But of course the real brilliance of Palin’s feeding Bristol to the lions instead of stepping up to the plate herself is that by the time the truth comes out, it will be too late. It’s entirely possible that Bristol Palin is more like three months pregnant, which means she could easily be Trig’s mother as well; we all know that teen mothers frequently make the same mistake twice (or three times, or four times…). But by the time we know for sure, either Obama will have won and nobody will care, or Palin will already be VP and it will just be another “White House Scandal”: Vice President Palin’s daughter is miraculously eleven months pregnant. Gee. Who saw that coming?

    There IS a way to settle all of this without throwing your pregnant teenage daughter under the train. But I guess Palin’s choice pretty much shows us what kind of parent she is, and what kind of candidate she is, and what kind of VP she will be – a person willing to sell out those who depend on her in order to cover up her own dishonesty.

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    DEA claims agent is not Blackwater employee – and we soooo believe them. Not.

    August 6th, 2008 [Civil Rights, Editorial, General, Law & Politics, Medicinal Cannabis, News, Patient's Rights, US]

    Americans for Safe Access is reporting that the DEA now claims the agent wearing the Blackwater shirt is not actually a Blackwater employee, but rather, merely a DEA agent. Not only that, but they’re also requesting censorship of the photo involved for the “safety” of that employee, who allegedly sometimes does undercover work. They asked the LA Times to blur the face of the agent in the Blackwater shirt. Since the LA Times has a policy of not altering photos, ASA reports, they removed the photo altogether.

    Let’s get a few things straight… First of all, if you do undercover work, exactly how wise is it to be involved in a very public raid of a legal medicinal cannabis co-op? Shouldn’t undercover people STAY undercover, and not make themselves even more conspicuous by wearing extremely controversial and noticeable clothing in a situation where media and cameras are certain to be present? Or you know, by being involved at all in such a raid?

    Second… do private security companies frequently offer their logo-bearing t-shirts to the public? And do DEA agents frequently wear logo-bearing t-shirts to raids? Do raids call for casual street attire? Wouldn’t the only logical logo for a DEA agent to be wearing during a raid be… oh, I don’t know, the DEA logo???? When’s the last time you saw a DEA raid in which the agents were wearing Abercrombie or Disney t-shirts? So this Blackwater shirt was just a coincidence? Sure. I believe that. Uh huh.

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    Blackwater involved in raid of Organica medicinal cannabis cooperative

    August 3rd, 2008 [Civil Rights, Editorial, General, Health & Wellness, Law & Politics, Medicinal Cannabis, News, Patient's Rights, US]

    As if the recent raid on a Culver City medicinal marijuana cooperative by DEA agents wasn’t enough, it’s now become apparent that this raid was conducted not only by DEA agents, but also by Blackwater employees. Yes, that would be the same Blackwater that has government contracts for private security in Iraq, and the same Blackwater whose trigger-happy thugs killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians for no particular reason. What’s next – will Blackwater agents start shooting medicinal marijuana patients too?

    As I browsed pages while reading about this story, I came across this article about Blackwater’s broader functions in the present and in the future. Then I came across this chilling paragraph:

    What could prove to be one of Blackwater’s most profitable and enduring enterprises is one of the company’s most secretive initiatives–a move into the world of privatized intelligence services. In April 2006, Prince quietly began building Total Intelligence Solutions, which boasts that it “brings CIA-style” services to the open market for Fortune 500 companies. Among its offerings are “surveillance and countersurveillance, deployed intelligence collection, and rapid safeguarding of employees or other key assets.”

    Now, if you read the LA Times article you’ll find that while the DEA agents and Blackwater people ransacked people’s bedrooms and stole all of the marijuana and live plants on the premises (and uprooted their vegetable garden too), they did NOT arrest anybody. They did, however, crack open the ATM and help themselves to its contents. More importantly, they also seized medical records, which basically would include the names of all of the co-op’s customers. Why does this matter? Well, those patients are not breaking any California laws, but until the CA legislature passes a new employment protection bill, employers can still fire patients who test positive for marijuana use, even if they have a valid prescription, are not medicated while at work, and there has been no negative impact on job performance (although apparently it’s perfectly fine to come to work hopped up on Vicodin or Xanax or suffering a hangover from a massive drinking binge the night before). There are also other non-criminal ramifications of being a known cannabis user.

    So what I’m thinking is that we’re seeing Blackwater doing its “CIA-style” intelligence gathering, with the generous and convenient help of the DEA. If you’re a patient who goes to Organica Collective, you can bet both dollars AND donuts that Blackwater has your information now, and will be keeping it on file for those Fortune 500 companies and selling it on the open market.

    I think Organica employee Brian V. Birbiglia, a disabled former Marine who was handcuffed for more than four hours during the “raid,” said it best: “We follow the law,” he yelled, his face red and his eyes teary. “We might as well have just got robbed by a bunch of thugs downtown.”

    Brian, I think you were closer to the truth than you imagined.

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    Bush signs eavesdropping bill , cackling madly and raising his fists in victory as thunder and lightening spring forth from the sky

    July 10th, 2008 [Civil Rights, Editorial, General, Law & Politics, News]

    Today Bush signed into law the new eavesdropping bill, which overhauled rules about government “surveillance” and granted immunity to the telecommunications companies that open the door to government spying. It is a bill many are calling a cop-out and capitulation by Democrats in Congress.

    It’s amazing the civil liberties people will give up in order to remain “free.” How far will we go? After all, the youngest of this generation doesn’t remember what it was like not to have to follow arbitrary rules set by some sketchy 1984-ish “Department of Homeland Security.” Remember when airport guards didn’t think you were a terrorist until proven innocent? Remember when they let you bring yogurt on the plane without accusing you of trying to smuggle flammable liquid aboard? Remember when you didn’t have to take your shoes off go to through the metal detectors? How far will we let it go before we stand up and exclaim, “This is too much!” – or will we ever?

    Bush tries to rationalize the bill, trying to take credit for the fact that we haven’t been attacked again. Let’s not forget that we hadn’t had an attack on American soil (Oklahoma and Columbine notwithstanding) in the eight years prior to September 11 either (following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing), and somehow we managed to get through those eight years without watching our civil liberties slip away from us. Had Bush actually been in the White House doing his job and listening to the intelligence being bombarded at his team right and left, perhaps we would have continued our winning streak of keeping terrorist attacks off US soil. You can’t blame the 9-11 attacks on American civil liberties. The intelligence was there, if only they had been willing to listen to it. Instead, Bush was on vacation.

    On the bright side, the same news article finally describes Bush properly, as few others have done: as “an unpopular lame-duck president.” That’s putting it lightly. I guess he’s trying to see just how much damage he can do in his remaining time in the White House.

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    Five Myths About Same-Sex Marriage

    June 29th, 2008 [Blogs, Books, Civil Rights, Coupons & Discounts, Editorial, Financial, General, Humor, Law & Politics, Leisure & Recreation, LGBT, Love & Relationships, Marriage & Family, Marriage Equality, Movies, News, Rebates, Religion, Shopping, Technology]

    I published this article over at Hubpages, and thought you might like to read it. I’ve included the text for archive posterity.

    Five Myths About Same-Sex Marriage

    Over the past several weeks I have seen a huge number of articles spring up in protest of last month’s CA Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriages. I want to address some of the arguments and claims that I’ve seen in those articles.


    Myth #1: Four liberal activist judges overruled the will of the people.

    What You Should Know
    : The California Supreme Court, a conservative court, struggled with the issue, looked to the CA Constitution, and concluded that equality means equality for ALL – and that includes those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

    Many have argued that legislatures, not judges, should be responsible for making marriage law. The CA legislature has twice passed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act, which equalized civil marriage rights among couples but explicitly stated that no religious institution shall be compelled to preside over a same-sex marriage. The bill was passed by two different assemblies of the legislature, since one passage was prior to a major election and once occurred after. The bill was twice vetoed by the Governor specifically because he believed it WAS an issue for the courts, not for the legislature.

    Of the seven CA Supreme Court Justices, six were appointed by Republicans. The CA Supreme Court is traditionally known for being fairly conservative. If you think “CA” and think “liberal judges,” you might be mistaking the CA Supreme Court for the United States Court of Appeals for the Circuit. They are two very different courts. Incidentally, one of the dissenters is personally in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. Judges can and do go against their own personally-held beliefs in favor of upholding the CA Constitution.

    The Supreme Court decision did not create a “new right” – rather, it acknowledged prior decisions stating that every person has a right to choose his or her life partner, and determined that this right cannot be abridged based solely on sexual orientation, which the Court views as akin to race and religion as far as discrimination practices are concerned. The judges did not come to their decision easily; they struggled with it, and that struggle is documented in the extremely lengthy opinion released last month (most court decisions are NOT this long – the Massachusetts marriage decision was less than a third of this length). If you think all it took was a stroke of a pen, I challenge you to read the 172-page opinion. I did.

    Myth #2: The people of CA already spoke on the issue of gay marriage by passing Proposition 22

    What You Should Know: Only 29% of registered California voters (21.5% of eligible voters) voted in favor of Prop 22. Is that an overwhelming majority?

    Supreme Court Cases You Should Read

    Perez v. Sharp (CA, 1948)

    Loving v. Virginia (US, 1967)

    Baker v. State (VT, 1999)

    Lawrence v. Texas (US, 2003)

    Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health (MA, 2003) [PDF]

    Lewis v. Harris (NJ, 2006)

    In Re Marriage Cases (CA, 2008) (PDF only, due to length)

    While Proposition 22 was a statewide ballot initiative, it was not an accurate reflection of all of CA, for two major reasons:

    First, contrary to popular belief, Prop 22 was not approved by an overwhelming majority of CA voters. Prop 22 was passed by an overwhelming majority of the voters who came out in March of 2000 to pick between John McCain and George Bush, since there was no true competition in the Democratic race, with Vice President Al Gore being the assumed winner. True, more Democrats than Republicans voted in the election, but if you count by who they voted for instead of their party identification, you get 2,654,114 voting Democratic and 3,702,487 voting Republican. In a consistently blue state, these statistics are not representative of the true population (about 30 million people). Overall, the election had a pretty low turnout rate. That primary election had around 7 million voters out of about 15 million registered voters. This past February primary (2008) had about the same number of registered voters, but more than 9 million actually turned out – and THAT was with closed primaries, which we didn’t have before, and no real contest in the Republican race.

    In a state of more than 30 million people, only 4,618,673 voted in favor of Prop 22, and 2,909,370 voted against it. With only about a third of eligible voters, and barely half of registered voters, having voted on Prop 22 (that’s overall, not just in favor), it’s hard to use the word “overwhelming” to describe the outcome. Basically, 29% of registered voters (21.5% of eligible voters) voted in favor of Prop 22 – and that was eight years ago. The world has changed since then. People have changed since then. I know a LOT of people who voted for Prop 22 and are, in retrospect, utterly ashamed of themselves for it.

    Second, Proposition 22, while appearing simple, was actually quite misleading. It came as a response to DOMA, which allowed states to refuse to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, and the entire campaign was centered around the notion that CA should not be forced to recognize other states’ marriages. The argument was framed in such a way that many people who had no particular opinion on same-sex marriage voted for Prop 22 because they believed CA should be allowed to make the decision for itself and not be forced into it by another state. While this same Supreme Court ruling ultimately determined that Prop 22 did apply to all marriages and not just those performed out of state, the “yes” campaign intimated otherwise, and countless voters were duped in the process.

    Even if Proposition 22 HAD passed with the approval of most Californians (which it didn’t), the CA Supreme Court had the responsibility to ensure that it complied with the CA Constitution (which it didn’t). The Court here didn’t ignore Proposition 22; it attacked it head on and found it to violate the spirit of the California Constitution. Courts have declared other initiatives unconstitutional as well, and in the 1960’s the US Supreme Court even invalidated a voter-approved CA constitutional amendment which sought to overturn a recently-passed legislative act banning housing discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, sex, marital status, physical handicap, or familial status. Propositions don’t just glide into law just because the voters approved them. They still have to meet the rigorous standards of our great state and federal constitutions, and Proposition 22 violated what both the CA and US Supreme Courts have called a basic human right, the right to marry and create a family with your chosen spouse.

    Myth #3: Marriage is a sacrament and has always been between one man and one woman.

    What You Should Know: Read Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz. You’ll learn things you didn’t even know you didn’t know.

    I could go on for pages about the ways in which marriage has changed over the years. One man can no longer have eight wives. Women are no longer subsumed by their husband’s identity and viewed as property. Couples are no longer barred from marriage based on their racial makeup. Most importantly, however, couples do not have to have their marriage blessed or sanctified by a religious institution, and they do not have to be married by a member of the clergy. This is the key to the constitutionality argument for same-sex marriage. The court cannot, and must not, and WILL not force religious institutions to officiate marriage for same-gender couples. Religions have the right to dictate their requirements for marriage, and the government may not interfere.

    However, the state does not “recognize” religious institutions’ marriages; it creates the official status itself, and it officiates marriages outside the religious sphere. We call this civil marriage. It is an entirely different institution from religious marriage; it just happens that the state grants clergymen the status to officiate civil marriages at the same time as religious ones, for convenience’s purpose, so that a couple can be married in a single ceremony. A couple that goes to church and exchanges vows before witnesses is NOT married unless they fill out the necessary paperwork for a civil marriage. Likewise, a couple can obtain a civil marriage license and be married by a judge, a marriage deputy, or other civil servants acting as agents for the state, and never even interact with a religious institution.

    Religious institutions can discriminate against certain couples; for example, most rabbis will not officiate at a marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew, because Jewish law only recognizes as valid a marriage between two Jews. However, the STATE cannot discriminate in the same way and purport to be upholding the Constitution, state OR federal. If the STATE offers civil marriage, it must allow it to all adult couples, not just those who fit religious descriptions of propriety. After all, can you imagine the chaos if the state refused to issue a marriage license to a couple because one of them was Jewish and one was not? It is not the state’s business to uphold or enforce religious restrictions on marriage. (In fact, considering the VAST number of religious institutions and clergy who submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in support of same-gender marriage, I would argue that the state would have been in violation of the Establishment Clause had it NOT allowed the marriages to take place, since barring same-gender couples would have been equivalent to expressing a preference for some religions over others, at the expense of individual civil rights.)

    If you want Biblical proof that it hasn’t always been about men and women, read I Samuel, not just the lines I have provided below, but the entire story – and read a translation that is as close to the original Hebrew as possible, as modern versions have diluted the story, often explicitly changing words entirely to tone down the relationship. Think about what it means to make a “covenant.” In nearly every other case in the Bible, the word “covenant” refers to the relationship between God and people, or to people promising to serve God. A covenant is an eternal promise – why else would some states institute “covenant marriages,” which are not as easy to dissolve?

    1 Samuel 18

    1. And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

    3. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

    1 Samuel 23

    18. And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

    Myth #4: Allowing same-sex marriage will lead to legalization of incest, pedophilia, and polygamy! Next thing you know, people will be marrying their dogs!

    What You Need To Know: It’s far too late for that.

    Let’s get this one over with: A dog is not and will never be a consenting adult. Nor will a goat. In addition to being morally and utterly repugnant, sex with animals is always rape, because an animal cannot consent. Likewise, a paw print does not suffice as a signature on a marriage license – and no matter how sure you are that your dog is trying to tell you something, absent a licensed dog-to-human translator, “Arf arf” cannot be properly construed to mean “I do.” Get your mind out of the gutter and stick to the issue at hand.

    Incest is already legal in the 26 states where individuals can marry their first cousins. Cousins are the next degree of siblings; they are the children of your parents’ siblings. The great irony of today’s marriage laws is that I can marry my black cousin, the son of my aunt, but I can’t marry my wife. Or rather… I couldn’t. Now I can.

    Pedophilia is already legal in the 1/3 of states that allow children under age 16 to marry, with some allowing marriage as early as age 13 with permission from the court. I’d be willing to bet that in most cases the men marrying adolescent girls are not also in their teens. If you want to protect children, you can start by lobbying states to prohibit children from getting married before they are old enough to see R-rated movies.

    Polygamy is a separate issue because it doesn’t involve marital prohibition so much as it involves individuals trying to “double-dip” on the marital property and tax systems, among other things. A marriage is a union of two individuals into one economic unit. You can’t “become one” with one person if you’re already “one” with another person. There’s an argument to be made for allowing “threesomes” of people to marry, but I highly doubt anybody would take the economic risk, considering that one individual could wind up paying alimony to everybody else in the group if s/he decided to leave. I think the specter of alimony would be enough to prevent anybody from seriously raising this concern – not to mention that it’s an extremely rare arrangement in the first place.

    Myth #5: Gay couples don’t need marriage in order to get their legal matters in order. Calling it “marriage” does nothing but devalue the sanctity of marriage.

    What You Need To Know: Allowing committed couples to marry encourages and promotes monogamy and family responsibility, two crucial family values. As a result, federal and state governments have instituted a system of rights and responsibilities that have become necessary and irreplaceable for two people sharing their lives together. These rights are not replicable in private legal arrangements since most of them have to do with third-party or government recognition.

    First, I have to point out that same-gender couples can’t possibly do more harm to the institution of marriage than that already inflicted by the heterosexuals who have held a monopoly on it for so long. (Hello Britney; hello “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?”) With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce, marriage needs all the good role models it can get. Many of the couples that are getting married in California this week have been together longer than most heterosexual marriages ever last. In fact, some social scientists believe that studying the way same-sex couples communicate and deal with conflict may actually help decrease the divorce rate among heterosexual couples by helping them overcome conflict.

    Whether you like it or not, same-sex couples will have children. Children fare better in life when their parents are married. Why would you deny these children the right to be raised by married parents? Studies show that there is no substantial difference between children raised by gay parents and those raised by straight parents. They do, however, show that two parents are better than one. Marriage encourages two-parent childrearing, and provides economic safety-nets for situations where one parent abandons the family. Without marriage, the protections are substantially reduced. Marriage also encourages personal responsibility and shifts economic support responsibilities from the government to the individual and the private sector; with gay marriage legalized, many people will no longer have a need for state-provided benefits because they will be eligible for benefits through their spouse.

    Children tend to thrive when they have one parent at home and one parent working to support the family; in an ideal world, families could afford to live on the salary of only one working parent (this is becoming less common as the cost of living skyrockets). Federal marriage recognition encourages parents to stay home with their children; spouses are entitled to their deceased spouses’ Social Security benefits if their own are insufficient. Gay couples do not receive this benefit, effectively removing this incentive to keep one parent at home. Additionally, federal marriage recognition keeps families from being uprooted in case of the death of a spouse; the property passes from one spouse to the other without tax repercussions, which means that in the tragic event of one spouse’s death, the other spouse and their children will not be forced to sell their home to pay estate taxes. Gay partners are taxed on bequests as though they were granted by any acquaintance; a partner of 55 years could be forced to sell her home to pay the taxes on property inherited from the deceased partner. Finally, the federal tax system actually penalizes gay couples who choose to have one partner remain at home to care for the children; the wage-earning partner is taxed on her income as a single person even though her salary is supporting both partners and their children. Stay-at-home moms should relate to this – imagine if your husband had to pay taxes as a single person!

    I could go on forever, but I think it’s time to wrap up this article. However, I am happy to answer any questions you might have. As for me, my wife and I got married this past Tuesday, on the one-year anniversary of our religious wedding. We were already married in the eyes of God – it was time for the state to catch up.

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