Tuesday, November 11, 2008
SPECIAL COMMENT: THE PASSAGE OF PROP 8
Posted: Monday, November 10, 2008 9:01 PM by Countdown
Filed Under: Special Comment
Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.
Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.
And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics.
This is about the... human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not... understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want -- a chance to be a little less alone in the world.
Only now you are saying to them -- no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights -- even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?
I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage.
If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal... in 1967. 1967.
The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry...black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.
You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are... gay.
And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing -- centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children... All because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?
What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.
It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.
And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?
With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness -- this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness -- share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of...love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate. You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know...It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow **person...
Just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.
This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.
But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:
"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge.
"It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:
"So I be written in the Book of Love;
"I do not care about that Book above.
"Erase my name, or write it as you will,
"So I be written in the Book of Love."
Monday, November 3, 2008
My wife made me canvass for Obama;
here's what I learned
By Jonathan Curley
Charlotte, N.C. – There has been a lot of speculation thatmight win the election due to his better "ground game" and superior campaign organization.
I had the chance to view that organization up close this month when I canvassed for him. I'm not sure I learned much about his chances, but I learned a lot about myself and about this election.
Let me make it clear: I'm pretty conservative. I grew up in the suburbs. I voted fortwice, and his son once. I was disappointed when won, and disappointed he couldn't run again.
I encouraged my son to join the military. I was proud of him in Afghanistan, and happy when he came home, and angry when he was recalled because of the invasion of Iraq. I'm white, 55, I live in the South and I'm definitely going to get a bigger tax bill if Obama wins.
I am the dreaded swing voter.
So you can imagine my surprise when my wife suggested we spend a Saturday morning canvassing for Obama. I have never canvassed for any candidate. But I did, of course, what most middle-aged married men do: what I was told.
At the Obama headquarters, we stood in a group to receive our instructions. I wasn't the oldest, but close, and the youngest was maybe in high school. I watched a campaign organizer match up a young black man who looked to be college age with a white guy about my age to canvas together. It should not have been a big thing, but the beauty of the image did not escape me.
Instead of walking the tree-lined streets near our home, my wife and I were instructed to canvass a housing project. A middle-aged white couple with clipboards could not look more out of place in this predominantly black neighborhood.
We knocked on doors and voices from behind carefully locked doors shouted, "Who is it?"
"We're from the," we'd answer. And just like that doors opened and folks with wide smiles came out on the porch to talk.
Grandmothers kept one hand on their grandchildren and made sure they had all the information they needed for their son or daughter to vote for the first time.
Young people came to the door rubbing sleep from their eyes to find out where they could vote early, to make sure their vote got counted.
We knocked on every door we could find and checked off every name on our list. We did our job, but Obama may not have been the one who got the most out of the day's work.
I learned in just those three hours that this election is not about what we think of as the "big things."
It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected.
It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the , mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore.
I don't see either of the candidates as having all the answers.
I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hopeand the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives and never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in . The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways.
My wife and I went out last weekend to knock on more doors. But this time, not because it was her idea. I don't know what it's going to do for the Obama campaign, but it's doing a lot for me.
Recently Kristin and I celebrated our 5th anniversary by heading back to our favorite camping/cabin spot – Wilderness Way. It didn’t actually start as an anniversary celebration trip, it was just a ‘one last trip before the snow falls’ with Michele, Heather, and Jehn. So, we headed to Wisconsin the weekend of MEA (which also happened to be our anniversary weekend) for some fall relaxation.
Kristin, Jehn, and I left Friday around noon. The drive took much longer than usual as we seemed to stop in every town and at every store for something. I was happy when we finally arrived. This time we got a bigger cabin closer to the lake, and I loved it! It was so beautiful and the cabin was a little nicer than the last one we were in. We settled in, unpacked our $130 worth of groceries (stopped at a VERY overpriced grocery store along the way) and enjoyed the scenery. We started a fire that evening and were excited when Michele and Heather finally arrived.
The next day was fairly low key. We were going to go to a meat raffle at the Golden Chipmunk, but missed it after some misunderstandings. Oh well. There’s always next time, right? :) We basically just relaxed all day and then headed over to the Golden Chipmunk for dinner.
We ended the night by joining some other lesbians at the fire pit – Michele especially seemed excited to meet and converse with them. The weather was beautiful, so Kristin and I decided to go for a walk. We went down by the lake, and I was struck by the number of stars in the sky! I remember sleeping outside when I was little and trying to count the stars. My parents live out in the middle of nowhere, so I could always see millions of stars at night. I had kind of forgotten what that was like – but there they were – all still there!
We had lots of fun adventures with animals there as well – a flying squirrel (yes, they do exist), chipmunks (unfortunately ours didn’t sing, Alvin….Alvin….ALVIN!), spiders, loons, and more.
The next morning Michele cooked us all a great breakfast and we packed to leave. Last time we stayed for one night and I found myself wishing we could have stayed longer. This trip we stayed for 2 nights and once again I was wishing we could stay for another night or two. It is so peaceful there!!
I’m thinking of ringing in my 30th year there in December. Not sure how it would be if it’s really cold and possibly snowy, but I really can’t think of any place I’d rather spend my birthday!
The beginning of October we had a bonfire at Como Park fire rings! Kristin and I showed up a few hours before the event was going to start thinking that would be plenty early. But when we arrived all of the rings were taken. We then spent the next 2 hours on the phone with Heather and driving all over Saint Paul trying to find other available rings.
After about 1 ½ hours we realized that all of the rings had been removed – seems the Parks Department removes all of the fire pits in September. Which makes no sense to me. October typically is the perfect month for bonfires – so why they remove the pits in September is beyond me.
Anyway, so after 2 hours of driving to all sorts of different parks (I was frustrated by the end, but the drive was so beautiful, I didn’t mind too much!) we decided to head back to Como and hope that a fire ring opened up. We were able to get a grill near the rings, so we cooked up our hot dogs and waited. Eventually we basically built a fire in the grill (totally illegal) so we could make s’ mores. Then someone noticed that some people were packing up to leave.
Heather and Michele, being the brave souls that they are, headed over to ask if we could have their ring. They said yes, and we pounced!
It was great because the fire was already going and we were able to just sit and enjoy. At some point we commenced the annual meeting of the LSC. I agreed to induct all bonfire attendees (Heather, Michele, Emily, Lara, Kristin, and Jehn ), and we agreed that the annual meeting should be held around a bonfire.
That was about it. Oh, there were lots of s’ mores and a slight confrontation with some guys (which Kristin handled like a super star) but otherwise it was just a nice, relaxing evening under the stars! I keep thinking maybe we could squeeze one more in before it gets too cold, but not sure that will happen! Oh well, I guess there’s always next year!
The trimester is over half-way done. For some reason the amount of work is crazy this week and then it seems like it will kind of die off a little again after that. I have a presentation and journals on Friday and a presentation and booklet due on Saturday. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but trust me, it is.
I am still really enjoying Philosophy. I don’t get some of the stuff we read, but I love the teacher and the discussions. My fieldwork class is also going well. It’s a little frustrating because it’s only 2 hours long and I feel like all we do is spend 1.75 hours “checking in” and then the last 15 minutes saying goodbye. I wish we would spend more time discussing our placements and assignments and less time just talking…but it is what it is, I suppose. I’m liking my Human Behavior class a lot more than I was before, but it’s still relatively boring and repetitive. I think I’ll like it a whole lot more once this presentation on Saturday is done.
Overall it’s been a good trimester. I’ve definitely enjoyed not having Spanish and am looking forward to next trimester when I will only have classes every other weekend instead of having one ever week (I currently have Philosophy every week).
Speaking of next trimester, I register for classes tomorrow – will be in another fieldwork class, a research class (this will be my area for complaint next trimester!), and an interviewing/communications class (beginning therapy class, basically). I will have class on Friday nights and then all day on Saturdays which will kind of suck, but I’ll survive :). I’m definitely looking forward to a little break over Christmas!