Monday, December 29, 2008

What's DOMA?

On January 10, 2009, the next nationwide protest takes place focused on DOMA. I know, I was like, what? DOMA stands for the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal bill signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton that says the federal government will not recognize same-sex marriages that occur in the state level. (Yes, even Clinton was against same-sex marriages despite how gay-friendly he says he is.) President-elect Obama is the same way, saying he's for gay rights but probably supportive of the intent of DOMA, to keep marriages recognized as between a man and a woman. So there's a movement to encourage Obama to change his mind and rescind DOMA. So far, there's no San Francisco protest set up yet, but you can take part by signing the online petition to Obama here. Change has to come in the local, state and national level. Even the world level!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Religious Case for Gay Marriages

I get frustrated by the religious sector arguing against same-sex marriages based on the Bible. As a Christian, I struggle with the interpretation of the bible, my faith and my life as a gay man. But I recognize that each church has the discretion to perform marriages by its definition. The overall argument, however, lies in the fact that the pursuit of marriage equality deals with government-sanctioned marriages.

The government’s role in offering the right to marriage shouldn’t be governed by religious arguments. That’s why it’s so frustrating when proponents of Prop. 8 come from the religious sector, blurring the lines between how the church defines marriage and how the state does.

So if they’re going to throw religion in our face, I think there’s no better article to read than the cover story in this month’s Newsweek magazine, “Our Mutual Joy.” The essay by writer Lisa Miller definitely slants toward same-sex marriages, but I think the questions it raises is worth any conservative’s time to read. I think it’s very enlightening in demonstrating how the Bible, written by men, is a reflection of the society at that time. And the Bible should be a living document, with its core messages in tact, but its interpretation open to the way we live today.

Not surprisingly, the cover story generated a lot of feedback on the Newsweek site. So much so that the editors had to close down the comments section. See what happens when you mix religion and politics?

Link to Newsweek article: "Our Mutual Joy," Dec. 6, 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

WTF: The Things People Say

With California Attorney General Jerry Brown now supporting the repeal of Prop. 8 before the California Supreme Court, that means the conservative, private outside groups who came into the state and confused the voting public with their hateful rhetoric are now taking the lead in arguing for Prop. 8 when the court hear arguments in spring. In a brief filed on Friday, this is what they had to say that I found most interesting:

"For this court to rule otherwise would be to tear asunder a lavish body of jurisprudence," the court papers state. "That body of decisional law commands judges — as servants of the people — to bow to the will of those whom they serve — even if the substantive result of what people have wrought in constitution-amending is deemed unenlightened."

What is so unbelievable about this position is that these people believe that majority rules, all the time, no matter how "unenlightened" the vote may be. Un. Be. Lievable. I mean, really? Have they not heard of the three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, Judiciary. The citizenry is not a part of that because the founding fathers understood that mob mentality cannot be the rule of a country. It has to be the thoughtful reasoning of impartial leaders.

Let's say the majority voted to allow the owning of slaves, does that make it right just because majority ruled it so? The thought that the Supreme Court works for us is an incredible leap of faith that every single American can make the perfect decision for his or her brother. Would you trust me in making decisions for you? I thought not.

Link to story of filing:
"Prop. 8 sponsors seek to nullify 18K gay marriages," San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Light Up the Night -- San Francisco Edition

Tonight I went to the Light Up the Night vigil in San Francisco's Union Square. It was a silent protest. (In fact, I think I heard someone sing "Silent Night." Also, there was a moving a capella version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.") It was a nice big crowd, and I was impressed by how mixed the crowd was. There were a lot of families, which was nice to see too. A lot of straights supporting their gay family members or friends. That's what this is all about at this time of year, the coming together of all people looking for hope. Let's hope this message will last throughout the coming year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Say a Little Prayer for Our Nation

There’s a lot of outrage among the gay community over the selection of President-elect Obama to have evangelical pastor Rick Warren deliver the opening prayer at Obama’s inauguration next month. Warren is a conservative who has spoken out against same-sex marriages and campaigned for the passage of Prop. 8.

While I agree with those who are upset about this selection, I’m not surprised.

I think it is upsetting because while I welcome Obama’s philosophy of bringing opposing viewpoints together, that doesn’t mean you should give a person with a history of hate messaging such a grand platform as an inauguration of the nation’s president. Sure, bring him to a conference of pastors to debate marriage equality. Have him give a prayer at an inaugural luncheon. But to have such a large platform for his opposing views? That’s just sad.

Still, I’m not as upset as some gay groups that are circulating petitions (you can check those out here) because it’s not surprising coming from Obama. He calls himself a “fierce advocate for gay rights” but he’s also the one who will not come out to demand equal rights for gays when it comes to marriage. He did oppose Prop. 8 but he didn’t support the other end, which is marriage equality for all. He believes gays should be satisfied with the less-powerful marriage equivalent promoted as “civil unions.”

I did vote for Obama because there was no other candidate who stood up for gay marriages, so Obama’s position on other issues was worth supporting in lieu of his stand on this one. But I wouldn’t call myself an ardent supporter of Obama Nation. I’m not going to go out and campaign for him, or raise funds for him, or stick my neck out for him when he hasn’t done the same for the gay community. A fierce advocate? PUH-lease.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Follow The Light for Equality

This Saturday is another protest, but one that takes a different form. "Light Up the Night" will be a protest with no shouting or any noise. It'll be a silent night, supposedly. Across the country, supporters for marriage equality are encouraged to gather with a candle for a peaceful vigil. The local San Francisco event will be at 5 p.m. Dec. 20 (Saturday) at Union Square. It might be cold and rainy, but hopefully we can gather a crowd. Again, the battle isn't over and we need to show that we're a united community ready to stand together. Click here for more information.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Small But Mighty Rally & March

Last night I went to the Day Without Gays Rally and March that started in the San Francisco's Mission neighborhood. It was a nice night for a march as the small but feisty group marched along Valencia Street (past all the Mission restaurants) to the LGBT Community Center on Market Street. The march was supposed to end there but the group decided to march all the way to the Castro. (A splinter group tried to go to City Hall until someone convinced them that City Hall was closed and it would be dark.)

I wanted to attend the march just to keep up the solidarity and awareness building. But the crowd definitely was smaller than earlier protests soon after the November election. Don't know if it's anti-Prop. 8 fatigue or Christmas shopping, but it was a small group. I hope people will still come out to show support, despite waiting to see what the courts will do, because we still need to win in the court of public opinion, as demonstrated in the elections. We can't be complacent, ever!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Harvey Milk: You Gotta Give 'Em Hope

I went to see Gus Vant Sant's "Milk" film last night and was deeply moved by this reminder of the gay rights leader and first openly gay elected politician Harvey Milk. Folding in actual footage from the times and giving the new footage a vintage look really took one back in time to the early struggles of the gay rights movement in the 1970s. People have said it before, but the the fight during Milk's time against Prop. 6 (banning gays from being teachers in California) mirrors the fight against Prop. 8 (banning gay marriages) today. The difference is the grass roots effort by the gay community fought back the ugly Prop. 6 proponents. Complacency today allowed Prop. 8 to pass. We need to remember history, and like Milk says, you gotta give 'em hope.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let's Put on a Show!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

What does liberal Hollywood do when it feels its voice isn't heard and it's struggling to understand the rest of society? Well, they put on a musical. The above is from the site Funny or Die and it's a musical about Prop. 8, starring several big names such as Allison Janney, Margaret Cho, Andy Richter, Jack Black (as Jesus no less) and the cutie Neil Patrick Harris. While it's not necessarily Emmy-winning material, I give them credit for trying. (I do feel, however, that there's too much emphasis on the monetary benefits of gay marriage. Yeah, we can add to the economy with gay weddings, but I don't think we should convince others based on the monetary benefits. It should be based on the constitutional issues.) Anywho, watch for yourself.

Day Without Gays Approaches

So there's a movement to have gays and lesbians call in "gay" next Wednesday, Dec. 10, in protest and solidarity in light of the passage of Prop. 8. I think there are a lot of mixed feelings among the community on whether this will really send a strong message. I think even with the mixed feelings, everyone should make their way to the march scheduled for 6 p.m. in San Francisco, meeting up at 24th and Mission Streets.

I think it's important that as we wait for the Supreme Court to make its ruling, we continue to keep the topic of marriage equality in the forefront of everyone's minds.

Here's a link to Protest8's Web site for more information about Day Without Gays and the San Francisco March on Dec. 10.