Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Court of Reason

A long awaited decision came down today in Federal District Court in San Francisco when a federal judge ruled California’s Prop. 8 banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. That’s right, unconstitutional against the U.S. Constitution, not just the state constitution.

The decision by federal Judge Vaughn Walker gives hope to gay men and women everywhere. In the struggle to fight discrimination in the circles of marriage rights, the LGBT community has had to rely on the reasoned minds of the judiciary to recognize the blatant discrimination forced upon the citizenry by the so-called majority.

I’m proud to live in a country that has these checks-and-balances, so we’re not always succumbing to the mob mentality of “majority rules.” When it comes to rights, the foundation of the United States, it shouldn’t be left to the passing fancy of the loudest people around.

During the trial, Judge Walker asked reasoned questions, from both perspectives, to get to the heart of the matter. And in the end, he couldn’t see any legal arguments to make an exception of the Constitution’s equal protection clause to allow men and women to marry, but not allow same-sex couples to do the same. The judge noted that allowing such a law on the books somehow implied that heterosexual couples were somehow more entitled than same-sex couples. Today, at least, we’re all the same.

Of course, this is just the first step. In fact, the judge ruled that Prop. 8 should not be enforced, but then put a stay on his ruling to allow the issue to be appeals. But this case puts the issue on track to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. And decisions by the highest court of the nation often put an end to all the fighting. I look forward to that day, even though I confess I’m a bit nervous given the conservative tendencies of a court built over several years of a Republican president. In the end, I just hope the Supreme Court justices rely on reason and not emotions. Just like how Judge Walker did today.

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Buenos Aires is a Great Place for a Honeymoon

Today Argentina joined the ranks of the progressive countries who believe in civil rights. The country's senate today voted to approve same-sex marriages, being the first Latin American country to do so. (Mexico City recognizes gay marriages, but that's just a city. We're talking about an entire nation here.)

I visited Buenos Aires a few years ago, mostly because it was welcoming of gays. Today's action just confirms my affinity to this amazing city, and country, and place that despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church, still follows their hearts to do the right thing. Viva Argentina!

Read the LA Times story here.

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hell Must Have Frozen Over for Eminem

I’ve never been a fan of Eminem, or very many rappers when I think about it, because of the general hateful language that sometimes come out of the lyrics. Eminem certainly had his days, but like everyone else, as he gets older, he’s getting more mellow.

And in a recent interview with the New York Times, the reporter asked a question about gay marriage, and turns out the new mature, sober, and tolerant Em is all for it. Who would have thunk it?

Here’s the complete exchange:

NYT: “You’ve been accused of writing gay-bashing lyrics in the past. Would you like to see gay marriage approved in Michigan, where you live?”

Eminem: “I think if two people love each other, then what the hell? I think that everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want.”

Wow, I thought I’d never see the day. But as Eminem shows, society can change. Maybe there’s hope for all of us to be miserable together one day.

Photo courtesy of the New York Times website.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rights in the Nation's Capital

I know it's been awhile since I've posted, but there really hasn't been much good news. But I did want to drop a short update to acknowledge the profound effects of this day, when our nation's capital, the District of Columbia, began issuing same-sex marriage licenses to its residents.

Because D.C. is not a state, the local legislation allowing these marriages had to be approved by Congress. The fact that same-sex supporters were able to stave off any Congressional vetoes, likely given most politicians' inability to stand up for justice and civil rights, is a major milestone.

So even though other parts of the country continues to be conservative and restrictive toward others' rights, it's nice to know that in this country's seat of politics and justice that at least that community can experience true freedoms.

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Same-Sex Marriage Wrap Up

I’ve totally been off the radar for this blog, so my apologies to the one or two person who come and visit occasionally. You know who you are.

But as we come to the end of the year, I figure this is a good time as any to play catch-up and mention some of the highlights in the battle for marriage equality.

Gracias Mexico City. Let’s start with the latest news, and that’s Mexico City has approved legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, the first Latin American city to do that. (Buenos Aires legalizes civil unions and has been working on legalizing same-sex marriages.) Like other legislation passed (especially in the United States), it’s subject to the signature of the mayor. But it looks good, given that the mayor is from the left-leaning party called the Democratic Revolution Party. This is an amazing accomplish given the strong Catholic roots in Mexico.

The Capital Leads the Way. Earlier this month, Washington, D.C.’s city council also passed legislation to allow same-sex marriages. It’s symbolic that in the city that hosts Congress, the city council has more guts than Congress to recognize the civil rights of their citizens. Opponents, of course, are acting like poor losers and are lobbying Congress to overturn the new law. (D.C., apparently not having much control of its own jurisdiction, can get their laws vetoed by Congress. That sucks.) But Congress is likely to not get into it, doing their typical position of looking the other way.

2010 or 2012? So the LGBT community is torn about when to put the same-sex marriage issue up to California voters again since the devastating passage of Prop. 8. Groups that were pushing for a 2010 ballot measure have fallen out, mostly because of funding issues and probably some post-Prop 8 fatigue. (There’s still one group collecting signature, but not sure how much support they’ll have to launch a campaign to garner the majority votes needed.) I believe that it may take some time to get a strong showing, so 2012 may be the better year to ask the question again. But I also believe that in the civil rights movement, you can’t take a break. The inequality must always be exposed. And even if it’s on the losing end (such as in Maine recently), at least we kept the issue out there and those who vote against loving same-sex couples will have to go to bed at night knowing that they stand for discrimination.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Maine, You Make Me Sad

This year’s election wasn’t one of change. In fact, it was one of resistance. Of unbending rule.

It wasn’t a big election year with major races, but the country looked to the tiny state of Maine to see if it would set the tone for the national debate about same-sex marriages. Voters in that state, similar to California and Prop. 8, barely approved a referendum that would ban same-sex marriages after their own state’s high court ruled all its citizens deserved the right to marry.

It’s disappointing, for sure. People thought there might be a chance of squashing this because more efforts in grassroots campaigning and more money went into the LGBT camp. But in the end, the lesson learned is that you can’t fight ugliness with just a big hug. There needs to be more.

It’s sad to see that people who fight vigorously to not portray themselves as bigots, saying they care about the LGBT community, would then vote to take a right that legal minds have decided should be shared by all. We like you, but we don’t want you to be like us. That’s the message they’re sending.

So the fight continues. No one expected this to be easy. Stonewall wasn’t easy. Harvey Milk died for just the simplest of recognition. But this we know for sure, we will not change to populists’ demands that we act differently or be different. Our definition of love is universal.

Read an inspiring editorial in today’s Los Angeles Times.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Who’s Up for a March?

This Sunday, hopefully thousands of Americans will march on Washington, D.C.’s Mall to raise awareness of the need for equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian men and women in the United States.

I’m sad to say that I won’t be there. I would have gone if I knew this was happening. I didn’t hear about it until two weeks ago. Two weeks? Is that enough time to book a flight and make arrangements to go to D.C. from the West Coast? Since my sister lives in D.C., I probably could have bunked out with her. But even before I knew this march was actually going to happen, I already committed to other plans for this Columbus Day weekend.

This is the problem with the organizing of what should be the National Equality March. I heard the proposal for the march last year when everyone was into marching the streets to protest Prop. 8. But then there were rumblings about when it should take place and who’s going to plan it. This grassroots effort was too grassroots, meaning it didn’t have any national structure to gather all the various LGBT efforts and then get the word out.

So who will show up this weekend? I know for sure the entire cast of Broadway’s “Hair” will be there, as I read in the New York Times that the producers will close the show for one day to let the actors participate in the march. I think that’s great, and it’s that spirit that will bring a positive feel to the march. There will probably be a lot of people on the East Coast who probably might drive down to D.C. for the march. But there will also be lots of people like myself, who will be there in spirit. Maybe the next march we’ll get more advanced notice.