Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If the LGBT community in California is at risk, aren't we all?

Does the recent decision of the California Supreme Court, upholding Proposition 8, bother you? You say you're not gay, so why should it affect you? Or you say that you don't live in California, so it has no impact on your life?

Well, my friends, it should bother the hell out of you! No matter who you are, or where you live, it should eat at your soul. It's a shear case of the majority being allowed by the judiciary to strip-away the rights of a minority.

A brief history: On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court struck down their Constitution's ban on same-sex marriage in a 4-3 ruling. This ruling opened the door for full marriage equality in the state. Over the course of the next several months, about 18,000 couples wed, legally, for the first time in the state's history. On November 6, 2008, a referrendum entitled Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot for the General Election, proposing to ban same-sex marriages. This ballot innitiative was backed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and also heavily funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church). Followinig is the text of Proposition 8, along with the election results, as reported by

State of California November 4, 2008 Election
Proposition 8
Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry
State of California
Initiative Constitutional Amendment - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 6,838,107 / 52.3% Yes votes ...... 6,246,463 / 47.7% No votes

As you can see, it was certainly no "landslide" in favor of the proposition's supporters. Yet it had the effect of preventing further same sex marriages, and put into question the validity of those 18,000 marriages already performed.

Less than two weeks later, the California Supreme Court voted to review Proposition 8 and its validity. On May 26, 2009, the Court ruled that Proposition 8 should stand, but that the 18,000 marriages performed in the interum would remain valid.

The net result is that the Court upheld the right of the majority to oppress the minority! I'm sorry, but the only word I can think of to adequately describe this decision is "shamefull." Shame on those who put-forth this insidious ballot innitiative. Shame on those who voted in favor of it. Shame on the California Supreme Court (the SAME COURT that had innitially paved the way for legal same-sex marriage) for validating discrimination.

This means that a simple majority of people can vote to discriminate against a minority. How long will it be before you and I are in the affected minority? When will our friends and neighbors decide that we should not enjoy the same rights as they do? I'm serious here. . . if the state of California can do it, anyone can do it! This is UN- American!

I'll close with a poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a survivor of the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

Then they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
I did not protest;
I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Obama Promised Us NOTHING!

Suddenly, since some LGBTQ issues have again been hi-lighted in the national media, the LGBTQ community is angered that President Obama hasn't come to the rescue. "He said he was going to repeal 'DADT!'" "He was supposed to be FOR same-sex marriage!"

Hold it folks. . . he never said those things, and holding him accountable for it now is unfair. Our community projected those ideologies onto him, and he was smart enough to let us believe what we wanted. Thanks to this, we helped him get elected. Many of us helped him defeat Hillary Clinton for the nomination, then most of us helped him (some by default) to defeat Republican John McCain. He never really sought our support, we generously thrust it at him.

Take, for example, the insistence that he "promised to repeal DADT (don't ask, don't tell)." He never made such a promise. Here's what was said: "There's increasing recognition within the armed forces that this is a counterproductive strategy - ya know, we're spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need. That doesn't make us more safe. . ." Then, he followed with the general disclaimer: "What I want are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are making decisions based on what strengthens our military and what is going to make us safer, not ideology." Read more here.

He allowed us to hear what we wanted to hear. . . that he didn't approve of DADT. He also, very conveniently, allowed us to let his disclaimer slide. So let's stop whining about Obama's failure to intervene in DADT.

I'm also amazed at the number of my fellow LGBTQ members who think he either explicitly or implicitly supports same sex marriage! Were they listening to the same campaign rhetoric as I? All I ever got from Obama was that 1. He considers same-sex marriage a states' rights issue, and 2. He personally believes that "marriage" can be defined as being between one man and one woman! But again we as a community heard what we wanted to hear.

Here's just one example of his views: (Click for LOGO video) He makes no attempt to address same-sex marriage at the Federal level, only that it's up to the states. Also, he explicitly states that his personal beliefs call for something not called marriage. . . "perhaps Civil-Unions. . ."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

equality. . . or, EQUALITY!

Pretend for a minute that you're Barack Obama, and it's January 1, 2008. You're behind in the polls, but you've got a strong organization, lots of cash in the war chest, and a less than even chance of clinching the Democratic Presidential Nomination. I mean, c'mon, your chances are less than even! Why fight a battle you'll possibly/probably lose? Why not give up, throw your support to Clinton, and say, "Hey, Hillary? Since I'm helpin' you out here, how about the Vice Presidency?"

It'd be a hell of a lot easier, wouldn't it? After all, progress/change is only achieved in small steps, right? Why not go for the sure thing, instead of struggling so hard for the tough challenge?

Well, my friends, that's exactly what many GLBT Americans do when they say they'd be satisfied with something that looks like marriage, feels like marriage, benefits like marriage, but isn't CALLED marriage.

If it's called anything other than marriage, then, by default, it's something LESS. There are those who say "marriage" applies to Christianity, not to state sanctioned commitments. If that's true, then why can agnostics and atheists marry? And what of Muslims, Jews, and a host of others? Why THEM, but not Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders?

If you'll settle for a "civil union" in place of a marriage, and be satisfied with it, then you're only after equality. Note the lower-case E. It's my way of saying "equality-lite." All the great taste of marriage, but without the M word that offends so many wingers.

Me? I want EQUALITY! Equal in every respect. No room for condescention from our pious right-wing friends. EQUALITY! is within our grasp, my friends! As of TODAY, five states have legalized same sex marriage, through various means, but with the same result. . . EQUALITY!

Let's use this momentum to call our Democratic legislators and prod them to action. . . demand our EQUALITY! Let's insist upon full and equal rights in the eyes of the law, just as we are equal in the eyes of the Gods of our understandings. It's POSSIBLE! If we keep pushing forward, the opposition will soon be overwhelmed and unable to muster the strength or the funds to fight back. And by the time they are able to start retaliating, the American public will be able to see for itself that the institution of marriage has NOT crumbled. They'll see that their children are not being recruited into lives of sin and gratuitous sex. And maybe, just maybe, they'll begin to understand. Okay, allow me a little latitude for dreaming! :)

EQUALITY! It's more than just a slogan!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Generation Gap, or Activism Gap?

I must confess I'm confused with the different definitions of "equality" even within the gay community. I thought, for a very long time, that it was a question of an generation gap. Now, however, I'm not quite sure where the line is drawn or for what reason.

Equal Rights Activist A: Believes that anything less than full equality, including full marital rights, isn't sufficient. This activist won't settle for civil unions, domestic partnership contracts or any other euphemism that purports to provide full equal rights without actually using the "M" word. This activist insists that "separate but equal is anything BUT equal."

Equal Rights Activist B: Insists that pushing for full marital rights is going beyond the pale. This activist would be perfectly happy to have a state recognized domestic partnership, assuming spousal style rights are included. This activist doesn't feel relegated to second-classhood by the mere difference in terminology. "It's only semantics."

I admit to being a Type A Activist, as described above. I supported Hillary Clinton as (in my humble opinion) the only viable Democratic candidate with a realistic chance of winning who was truly pro-equal rights. She stated, in plain words, her support for full equal rights. Having been somewhat of an activist since the early 80's, I assumed others of my generation would be of the same mind. . . that "good enough ain't good enough!"

I assumed (yeah, I know) that the majority of those in category B were of a younger generation. That they hadn't come through the struggles, missteps and bitter disappointments of their predecessors, so didn't understand the deeper meanings of (in my opinion) very powerfully different words. I figured that only by not understanding could they be such. . . such. . . lemmings! How did they go so "pro Obama" so soon, in spite of his stated position that "marriage is between a man and a woman. . .?" And they were hard-core in their enthusiasm for getting him elected! Even the Human Rights Campaign applauded him as being pro equal rights, even though he NEVER pledged support to full equality!

Now, I discover that I've got many friends, in roughly my age group (let's say, between 40 and 65), who could hardly give two proverbial squats whether it's called marriage, civil union or buddy-humpin', as long as they can enjoy rights that are similar in benefit to those of our heterosexual brethren. Conversely, I'm discovering a whole LOT of the younger generation who feel as slighted as I do by words like "civil union."

So, what's the variable that I'm not seeing? I guess it's not age, and therefore not a generational gap. Is it simply a matter of differing degrees of activism? Then why were they such avid (often rabid!) supporters of President Obama?

Disclaimer: This is NOT intended to rekindle the Clinton v. Obama debates that were ablaze early last year. Today I'm a strong supporter of President Obama, and worked hard to help get him elected (okay, AFTER Hillary conceded). I'm a bit puzzled, though, by those who expect him to fulfill some unspoken promise.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Allow me to introduce. . .

. . .myself. I'm Cj. I know -- you're underwhelmed. Let me assure you, you have every right to be!

Rather than bore you with details about myself, I'll just state that I want to write. No, I'm not planning to be a great writer. . . I just want to write. Prose, pathos, dialog, narrative. . . maybe even a little poetry. Who knows? What you're reading here (on the very OUTSIDE chance that you've stumbled across my blog) is going to be my "test-bed."

If you plan to read-on, please promise one thing in return for the following promises to you. Hold me to my word! Don't back down! Call me on any dishonest writing. Don't worry about my feelings, just lay it on the line.

Now, for my promises:
  • I will do my best to be respectful to any persons, groups, cultures and ethnicities about which I may write.
  • I'll be impeccable with my words. In short, no BS, no condescension, no bigotry, etc.
  • All characters will be of my own creation. Any similarities. . . etc., ad-nauseum.
  • And I'll tell you right-here and now: gratuitous sex, gratuitous vulgarity, and gratuitous violence will never be a part of my repertoire. These are gimmicks sometimes used by lazy writers, and that's a fraternity I'd prefer to avoid. Don't misconstrue that to mean that there won't be any sex, profanity or violence in my writings. They'll be used when necessary to properly tell a story.
I guess, maybe, I'd better fill you in on a few details about myself. I'm a single gay man who works a 40 hour week. My mother lives with me . I'm a recovering alcoholic (5+ years, yay me!) and reformed smoker. I love to travel, although opportunity, financial ability and inclination seldom coincide. I love people and am a loyal friend. I do my very best to maintain a positive outlook. I'm a proud member of Unity Church. I have a close, personal relationship with the God of my understanding.

One last thing; writing is my dream. I've spent a lifetime telling myself that I couldn't do it, and I believed me. I've given-up my concerns about commercial success. I've given up the idea that I need for people to like my work, and me by association. My only goal, now, is for my writing to satisfy me. That will be my measure of success. In that respect, I'm already successfull, just by having posted this piece.