C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Drive: The Boxer

Laying out my winter clothes and wishin' I was home,
going home . . .

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The High and the Mighty




Steve Hayes reviews the 1954 suspense flick:
Buckle your seat belt, grab a life-jacket and say your prayers as John Wayne and an all-star cast take an ill-fated flight across the Pacific in William Wellman's The High and the Mighty. Based on the bestselling novel by Ernest K. Gann, this was one of the first airplane disaster movies and set the standard for years to come.

A trans-Pacific flight from Hawaii to San Francisco runs into trouble past "the point of no return" and pilot (Robert Stack) along with his salty and veteran co-pilot (John Wayne), must decide if they can make their destination or down the damaged plane in the drink, risking the survival of everyone on board.

And what a passenger list! There's Oscar winner Claire Trevor as a good-time -gal whose time may be up; Phil Harris as a slob always looking on the bright side; and Jan Sterling as a woman trying to cover her tracks. Then there's the crew - Robert Stack, fighting both a fear of flying and of failure at the worst possible time; Doe Avedon as the stewardess who must keep the faith despite the circumstances; William Campbell as the smarmy assistant who sees too much and talks too often; and John Wayne fighting the ghosts of his dead family by returning to the cock-pit in an effort to regain and retain his dignity.

It's big screen adventure at it's best and believe me, when you fly, you won't forget The High and the Mighty!
BTW - Steve's friend Johnny, who opens each episode, has always been a cute fella, and a decent, normal-looking guy is what does it for me. But now with the beard . . . wooof.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beach Picnic

This made me laugh out loud today, hope it does the same for you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Fun - A Hundred Years Ago

Early films are wonderful to watch because they happily correct the erroneous impression we all get from looking at old black-and-white photographs in books:  our great-grandparents looked rather solemn when they put on their formal faces for the still cameras, for dignity's sake - "say cheese" didn't really become the norm until after World War I. 

But as these clips by Edison and others show so vividly, our collective ancestors were not carved out of stone, but just as human as we are.  Young women were just as silly and giggly then as now, and young men just as silly and show-offish as today.  Human nature does not change.  And this ought to correct another wrong idea:  just because you are loaded down with every technological gadget you can afford, and think nothing of jetting across the continent or around the world whenever the whim strikes you, does not mean you are one whit different from, or intrinsically better than, your ancestors.  Quite the opposite.

You are still just a human being, as they were.  Think about it.

Folkestone, Kent, England, 1904:



Blackpool, Lancashire:



Coney Island, New York City:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Creation Myth

The Creation of the Sun and Moon, Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo.
But who's that guy who lost his pants?  Seems kinda strange, don't it.  Click to enlarge.
Once upon a time when your Head Trucker was still too wet behind the ears to know any better, I got into a big, hairy religious argument discussion with a Bible-believing lady. I might a-knowed the conversation weren't goin' nowhere when she began by claiming the King James Bible was the only one to use because that's exactly how God wrote it - ever word, from front to back. In English, o'course.

I ain't makin' this up, fellers.  The Bible said it, and she believed it.  So that little talk we had was a waste of breath, for shore.  Now you have to understand, her motive was good; it was just her thinking that was all kinda sideways.  Poor woman just had no idee there was anything in the world to know about, besides her little church in her little town in her little world.

Well, we live and learn. Your Head Trucker, of course, has long since moved on from thinking that God created the universe, and Texas to boot, in just six 24-hour days. But a lot o'folks hasn't. In Texas and elsewheres. Which is why I'm putting a little chunk of this article by a fella named Carl Pinnock out here, so's maybe somebody somewhere, sometime, can read it and get a little clearer understanding of things. It's right int'restin'.  He called his piece "Climbing Out of a Swamp: The Evangelical Struggle to Understand the Creation Texts":
For even though the purpose of Genesis 1—11 is other than scientific, these texts are still talking about the real world and its history in their own way. After all, the creation of the world is the beginning of God's purposeful temporal activity in relation to history and the event of the world's coming into being. My point is more modest, that we should be guided in a general way by the macro-purpose of the Bible and the Book of Genesis and not unduly influenced by debates which have their meaning largely in the context of modern society.

This impression about the function of the Bible is reinforced by specific signals in the text itself which should alert us to it in other ways as well. The fact that God made the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day, not on the first, ought to tell us that this is not a scientific statement (Gen. 1:14—19). This one detail in the narrative suggests that concordism is not going to work well and that the agenda of the writer must have been something other than one of describing actual physical processes.
Continued after the jump . . .

The Great Agnostic: Robert G. Ingersoll

Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now.
The place to be happy is here.
The way to be happy is to help make others so.

Reason is the highest attribute of man.

The truth is, our government is not founded upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights of men. . . .  It is the only nation with which the gods have had nothing to do.

Argument cannot be answered with insults. Kindness is strength; anger blows out the lamp of the mind.

Happiness is the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worship, humanity the only religion, and love the only priest.
The other day, while doing a little research on the history of divorce laws in this country - which just goes to show that the straight boys have been changing the rules of marriage all the time, just as they pleased - your Head Trucker happened to stumble upon this very interesting work:  Is Divorce Wrong? 

Written in 1889, it is a response to the question by three well-known public figures of the time:  Archibishop Cardinal Gibbons of Maryland, who naturally condemns the very idea out of hand, holding squarely to Roman Catholic teaching on the sanctity of marriage; Episcopal Bishop Henry C. Potter of New York, who as a good Anglican naturally waffles a good deal about it, pro and con; and finally Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, known as "The Great Agnostic," who ringingly denounces the tyranny and injustice of religious precepts against divorce, which cause so much needless harm to innocent people, though at the same time very warmly and rather poetically defending the sanctity of marital love and the family home.

Somewhere along the line I had heard of Ingersoll's name before, but couldn't remember anything about him.  So a little further googling turned up the very interesting facts of his life, and his numerous speeches and writings, which you can browse through at your leisure if you have nothing better to do after brunch.  Many of which are quite good, and even amusing at times.  "The Most Remarkable American You Never Heard Of" - yes, and I can see why he was never, ever mentioned in the history books down here in the Bible Belt when I was a schoolboy.  Or if you don't have time for reading today, at least check out this video, I think you'll be amazed for one reason or another:

[For some strange reason, none of Ingersoll's videos will display here - how odd. But try this link for an overview of his life and work:]

What I Say:  Ingersoll was a man of great intelligence, and of great compassion for the human race.  It seems to me that he is a more outspoken proponent of Thomas Jefferson's famous vow of "eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the human mind."  And I agree wholeheartedly with Ingersoll's great aim of removing the shackles of ignorance and superstition from the human race.  Quite an admirable man, who deserves to be better remembered than he is.

Yet from reading a few of his works, I think Ingersoll, in his zeal to bring light and freedom to his audiences, sometimes overstates his case - as all zealots do.  Just as Ingersoll inveighs against ever placing "unquestioning faith" in any scripture or supernatural authority, so your Head Trucker would offer a gentle warning against placing the same kind of blind faith in any one remark of Ingersoll's.  To take just one example, in one of his writings he heaps great scorn upon the book of Job and condemns it as essentially worthless.  Perhaps so, if you think it was written to be taken literally.  On the other hand, if you approach it as a work of fiction - moral fiction - to begin with, then you may take an entirely different view of its worth.

Continued after the jump . . .

Saturday, August 21, 2010

God Hates Olivia's Two Mommies

. . . That's the implied message Jill and Tracy Harrison got when their daughter was denied admission to St. Vincent's Cathedral School down here in Bedford, a suburb in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  The school is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, which along with a handful of other dioceses and parishes across the country, seceded from The Episcopal Church in 2008 specifically over the consecration of gay bishops and the growing acceptance of gays and lesbians in the national church.  The diocese is now a leading member of the breakaway Anglican Church in North America, but has not changed its name.

The Anglican Church in North America is not part of the Anglican Communion, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  But it is in full communion with, among others, the Anglican Churches of Nigeria and of Uganda - which as you all know, have been promoting imprisonment and even execution of gays in those countries. 

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video.



The school has refunded the $100 application fee, and the Harrisons have placed Olivia in another private school which has no problem with Olivia's moms, who were married in Canada in 2006.

This being Texas, the comments on the local NBC affiliate's website run overwhelmingly like this:
  • Hah - I think they did do the right thing (the church school)- it's the two "mothers" who forced the issue - you want to get in everyone's face -
  • This being the 21st century, and all, why can't Jill get it through her head that the Episcopal church is based on theology that contradicts her lifestyle choices? This smells like another attempt by the gay community to play the victim
  • The tolerance that they enjoy in this and other western societies is a direct product of Christian culture. Don't believe me? Let them vacation openly in most Islamic or other non-Christian cultures, then get back to me on that.
  • Private school, private values, don't agree go somewhere else.
  • If they wanted their child to be offered an education then they could have taken her to a public school system. How in the world can this combo of church/school begin to tell their students that same sex marriage is wrong if you have a child in the school who currently lives in it? Regardless whether we as a society think its right or wrong, the bible and God says its wrong.
  • Poor, mistreated gays. Wah, Wah, Wah. Play the "victim" card. There are PLENTY of other places their child can get an education. To expect a Christian school with Christian beliefs to compromise their teachings so this couple can flaunt their lifestyle is nonsense.
  • I homeschool, and belong to a homeschool academic co-op. Our group publishes a "statement of faith" and anyone that wishes to join has to believe in that statement. We wouldn't let a lesbian "family" join.
You see the kind of world I'm living in down here, fellas?  But this one takes the cake:
  • Equal rights will be the downfall of this once great nation. Just because you are equal under the law doesn't mean you are right.
What I Say:  Much as I sympathize with the Harrisons' frustration, and the little girl's disappointment, the parents do seem to have been, um, pretty clueless about what they were doing.  Obviously, they are not Episcopalians or they would have known gayness is the big, hairy hot-button issue for that diocese.

But it's too damn easy nowadays to do a little background research on things:  look before you leap, ya know?  If it had served a worthwhile purpose as some form of protest or whatever, that would be one thing.  But by all accounts, the parents were totally surprised that the school barred their little girl.

But I'm sure Olivia will be truly much happier at her new school, instead of lumped in with the homophobes at St. Vincent's.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hidden History



Not all these guys were necessarily gay. Some might have been brothers, or just good friends - in the pre-Stonewall world where nobody was out, the very idea of same-sex attraction was unspeakable: homos didn't exist in daylight but only in the dark corners of the imagination. Thus, straight boys could get away with more mugging for the camera than would be possible today, perhaps.

And then too, in some cultures it was just the custom for male friends to display affection more openly than in America; think of French men doing the double-kiss-on-the-cheek routine - or at least the way they used to in the movies, who knows what they do now.

Still, having said all that - these charming pics make you wonder. And some of them, at least, were undoubtedly gay. Even if they didn't know the word for it. Enjoy.


Honk to Porncake.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Target Ain't People



Hahaha.  Your Head Trucker is an old codger who is not up for street protests anymore, but he throroughly admires the spunk and creativity of these young whippersnappers.  What a marvelous job they did - and left the onlookers smiling, and probably more sympathetic to the cause than they would be if the protesters had broken windows and torn up the merchandise.  Effective - memorable - nobody hurt.  Excellent.

And notice how quickly the little old lady shoppers get into the swing of it.  A charming way of doing things, my hat is off to the younger generation on this innovation.


Honk to Truthspew via Reluctant Rebel.

Waitin' for the Weekend

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Little Foxes


Steve Hayes reviews the 1941 classic, based on a Lillian Hellman play that was a hit on Broadway starring Tallulah Bankhead, followed by Bette Davis in the film version, one of her greatest roles:
Things get hot on the old plantation when Bette Davis squares off with everything and everybody to get to what she wants in William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's drama of greed in the turn-of-the-century South, The Little Foxes. Shot in full period splendor at Samuel Goldwyn studios during one of the hottest heat waves to hit California in decades, The Little Foxes was a troubled shoot from the get-go. Bette Davis and William Wyler fought incessantly over her interpretation of Regina, the lead character, which had been immortalized on stage by Davis' rival Tallulah Bankhead. The heat, along with the frayed nerves, the heavy costumes and the long waits for Cinematographer Gregg Toland to set up intricate shots drove Davis to walk off the set, the production into delays and the tempers into high gear.

Wyler vowed he'd never work with Davis again. Yet, despite the problems, the film proved to be a spectacular achievement. Most of the Broadway cast was brought out for the production and all had lucrative film careers after the picture's release. For her part, Davis received her fifth nomination for Best Actress and should have won over eventual winner Joan Fontaine. But the troubles on the "Foxes" set combined with her resignation as president of the Academy had made her too unpopular and although the production itself received numerous nominations, it took home nothing.


Lillian Hellman's memoir, Pentimento, is one of those books that I've dipped into time and time again over the years:  having grown up in New Orleans, she has a Southerner's hypnotic power of storytelling that keeps a listener, or reader, enthralled all the while that the story is going everywhere and nowhere.  The point is not the story itself so much as the telling of it; I don't know how to explain it to you all any better than that.  One of those things you just have to take in with your mother's milk, and the drowsy heat, and the trailing Spanish moss, and the winding, sky-spanning branches of the live oak trees to really understand.

It's the difference between "Just the facts, ma'am" and "Did I ever tell you about the time . . . ?"  Which immigrants to these parts have such difficulty getting used to, it seems.  There's a reason why the Nawth is known for efficiency, and the South for charm. 

In my imagination, at least, Hellman is one of those people I could sit and listen to by the hour; quite a personality, as shown by this excerpt from her obituary in the New York Times (1984):
She was also one of the most successful motion-picture scenarists, and the three volumes of her memoirs were both critical and popular successes - and even more controversial than her plays.

Yet the Hellman line that is probably most quoted came from none of these, but from a letter she wrote in 1952 to the House Committee on Un-American Activities when it was investigating links between American leftists and the Communist Party in this country and abroad.

''I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions,'' Miss Hellman wrote.

She offered to testify about her own opinions and actions, but not about those of others, because ''to hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and dishonorable.''

For this, she risked imprisonment for contempt of Congress, was blacklisted and saw her income drop from $150,000 a year to virtually nothing.

Although she had participated with Communists in many causes, she was not a Communist. ''Rebels seldom make good revolutionaries,'' she explained.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Votes for Women - Oh No!

Celebrating the proclamation of the 19th Amendment, 1920
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the day the 19th Amendment was ratified - by vote of the Tennessee Legislature - giving all women in the United States the right to vote.

The history of the woman suffrage movement is a long and fascinating one, which you would do well to read up on sometime if you're not familiar with it.  There are many parallels to the continuing struggle for LGBT equality that we are living through right now. 

To mark the occasion - and to show you that the more things change, the more they stay the same - and that every advance of freedom and equality in this country has always been met with the cry that it will destroy the nation - Armageddon is just around the corner - here's a short visual history of the opposing attitude.  Which ought to sound real fucking familiar.

OMG!  The home in danger!  The traditional family will disappear.  Business will collapse, too.  And all those men who will be put out of work . . .

Continued after the jump . . .

There Is No Ground Zero Mosque

Keith Olbermann, in his inimitable way, gives a tour-de-force refutation of the hysterical right-wing claims about the proposed Islamic center; highly recommended if you want to see the reality of the situation there in lower Manhattan.





Honk to The Gospel of Hate.

Boys Will Be Boys




Honk to Porncake.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

WTF: Massive Oil Spill Was No Big Deal?


So were we just dumbshits to get all upset over that ginormous oil spill in the Gulf?  Did the BP fairy godmother wave her magic wand and poof! make it all disappear like a big, greasy pumpkin?  Have we all just been big, screaming drama queens about this trifling little incident?

Your Head Trucker is no oceanographer or marine biologist, so he can't answer those questions.  But here's an excerpt from an article by the folks at Nature who quote some experts in those areas, so read and judge for yourself, fellas:
More scientists have come forward to criticize a US government report on the fate of the oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico during the recent Deepwater Horizon debacle.

Earlier this month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that only 26% of the 4.9 million barrels that spewed from the BP well was “residual” in the Gulf. A number of scientists interviewed by Nature (see: Upbeat oil report questioned) and Science questioned the positive spin put on this report .

Now researchers from the respected Georgia Sea Grant programme have joined the fray. In their report they say that up to 79% of the oil from the spill remains.

“One major misconception is that oil that has dissolved into water is gone and, therefore, harmless,” says Charles Hopkinson, director of Georgia Sea Grant a researcher at thee University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences (press release).

“The oil is still out there, and it will likely take years to completely degrade.”
The UGA report is available here.

And here's a CNN clip about what scientists at the University of South Florida in St. Pete have discovered:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Federal Court Will Hear Appeal of Prop 8 Case

Told you.  But it's all good, as these observations by legal experts at Prop 8 Trial Tracker show:
First, and drastically most importantly, the Court granted the stay. Consequently the thousands of couples who were waiting for the day of equality will have to wait at least a few more months until December.

Second, the Court wants this case to be resolved quickly. Appellants’ opening brief is due in just a month and the hearing will happen on December 6th. This is lightning quick for a Federal Court of Appeals, and it’s a very good sign. The Court understands that this case is important, and it doesn’t want it to linger.

Third, the Court specifically orders the Prop 8 proponents to show why this case should not be dismissed for lack of standing. Here’s a discussion of the standing issue. This is very good news for us. It shows that the Court has serious doubts about whether the Appellants have standing. . . . a very good sign . . . .
And:
A victory in this appeal on the jurisdiction/standing issue would be phenomenal. Although the principles established in Judge Walker’s ruling would only result in the striking down of Proposition 8, rather than the establishment of marriage equality nationwide, dismissal of the appeal would eliminate the risk associated with bringing these claims before the Supreme Court of the United States — the most conservative Court that we have had in the last fifty years, in many respects — and Judge Walker’s devastating analysis of the factual record and the utter lack of evidence supporting any reason for excluding same-sex couples from marriage would remain on the books and be available for us to cite in all our future efforts at litigation and legislative reform.

It is frustrating that California couples will need to wait yet longer to have their rights vindicated, but this order holds much promise for the successful elimination of Proposition 8 once and for all.
So, unless somebody in the judiciary throws a curve ball, it seems that patience will be rewarded with success in the end, and not so very long from now, perhaps.

When I was a kid, at the drive-in my family patronized most often, the carhops would always leave a little card under your windshield wiper after they took your order, which went something like this:  We know you're hungry, and we aim to please, but remember - Good Things Take Time.

Jack Russell Terrier Panting

Freedom and Equality, Oh No!

Not OK.  At least, not in OK.  Or anywhere else, so says the pol you love to hate, Oklahoma's own Wicked Witch of the West, Sally Kern:



And OMFG, can you believe?  The challenger, Novotny, is a transgendered Oklahoma City attorney.  Yes, really.  Donate to her campaign here

Who knew the Sooner State was so progressive?  Your Head Trucker needs a cold one or six to get his head around that.  Grin.

Brittany Novotny

Where the Road Goes from Here



From Friday's NYT editorial, "In Defense of Marriage":
On Wednesday, unless there is an order from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, gay and lesbian couples in California once again will be able to marry. Like other couples around the world, they will be able to pledge to support each other, buy some dishes, raise families, argue about the bills, maybe sit on a park bench years from now and chuckle at the hysterical old claims that their lives together would destroy the institution of marriage. . . .

Because of Judge Walker’s firmly reasoned and occasionally soaring decision earlier this month, there was no reason to continue the prohibition. After a full-blown trial that gave opponents every opportunity to prove the harm caused by same-sex marriage, the court found that it caused no harm whatsoever to the state or society. But substantial harm was caused to gay and lesbian couples by depriving them of their constitutional rights.

There already are 18,000 same-sex couples in the state who were married before Proposition 8 was passed, and their presence does not seem to have damaged relationships between men and women. The State of California filed a brief with the court urging that marriages be allowed to resume immediately, making it clear that it would impose no burden and would, in fact, serve the public interest. . . .

But even if Judge Walker’s ruling stands in California, it would be a shame if the case stopped there. Only through appeals, first at the Ninth Circuit and, ultimately, the Supreme Court, is there a chance that the principles set down by Judge Walker will apply to the entire country. Yes, there is the possibility that the judgment could be struck down, but it is sometimes necessary to take big risks to get important results, as the lawyers behind this lawsuit have demonstrated. If same-sex couples in California have the constitutional right to be part of the mainstream of society, then so should every couple in America.
Well, there you go.  The New York Times says gays should be able to marry anywhere in the country.  Another breathtaking development for this old coot, who remembers that for many years, this very paper refused to use the word "gay" in its pages, clinging to "homosexual" instead, well into the 1990's, I think.

It does seem more and more that educated straight people on both coasts - where the national mindset is ultimately rooted - are swinging solidly in support of equal marriage.  A big, big change.  Which is as yet completely invisible here in small-town Texas, except that I do hear, or hear of, the younger generation - under 25 - being on the whole much more accepting of gays and lesbians in their midst than I ever thought possible.

However, I realize that not everyone up there in the blue-state wonderland supports equal marriage.  Contrast the NYT's stand with this excerpt from a recent Chicago Tribune editorial:
Judge Vaughn Walker did a thorough job of making the case that same-sex marriage would advance the same purposes the state has in sanctioning heterosexual marriage, such as "creating stable households," "legitimizing children" and "assigning individuals to care for one another." He cited plenty of evidence to indicate that fears of unwanted effects, such as undermining heterosexual marriage, are unfounded.

What he didn't do was refute the argument of a California Supreme Court justice, who in 2008 said no court has "the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice."

This federal judge insists that "the withholding of the designation 'marriage' significantly disadvantages" same-sex couples. In fact, the disadvantage is symbolic — and the nation has not had enough experience with civil unions to establish whether they will someday acquire the same cultural status as marriage.

This ruling, of course, will stand only if it is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which would be a drastic and highly controversial step. But the justices might seize on the same middle option used by several states — civil unions. The court could rule that equal protection requires giving gay couples the same prerogatives granted heterosexual couples, but not by the same name.

That course offers a compromise that, while satisfying neither side entirely, accommodates each in its central concern. It would show a respect for democracy and a humility about the role of the judiciary.

It would accord with prevailing opinion: In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, two out of every three Americans favored providing civil unions for same-sex couples. It also would preserve the right of states to enact same-sex marriage if they choose.
So the Trib says A) judges should not strike down any laws that discriminate against a class of people, because they are judges, not legislators - and B) every state has the right to discriminate against any group in its territory if the majority feels like it - and C) give the homos "civil unions" to shut them up, but don't you dare use the M-word.  (But if it's merely a symbolic difference, why the hell not, exactly?  Answer:  because homos are different from straights, meaning not as good as.)

Well, boys, you can see as well as I can there are several problems with this line of argument.  It's the whole separate-but-equal talk I remember so well from my childhood in the legally segregated South, with its separate schools, restrooms, water fountains, etc.  (And fellas, trust me because I was there:  all those things reserved for blacks were definitely not equal to the accomodations provided for whites.)  But let me remark on just one point here:  will civil unions someday acquire the "same cultural status as marriage"?

Continued after the jump . . .

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sex, Lies, and Catholicism

Pope Benedict XVI and his private secretary Georg Ganswein arrive to lead a general audience dedicated to the altar servers in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on August 4, 2010. About 50,000 altar boys and altar girls coming from 17 countries gathered at the Vatican to attend the audience. The pope urged the young altar servers to follow the example of their patron saint Tarcisius a third century martyr. Pope Benedict XVI wears his red Saturn hat, named after the ringed planet Saturn. Photo by Eric Vandeville/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom


Excerpt from a Sunday essay on the Pope's sexuality by the devoutly Catholic Andrew Sullivan, under the ironic title "The Pope Is Not Gay":
The choice between this kind of affirmation of spirituality and love and a politics of control and fear was what the church faced under John Paul II, as modernity pressed. . . . The pursuit of control is really a fear of scrutiny and transparency which, when added to the unspeakable crimes of the past, ineluctably led to the current meltdown in the West. The homosexual question is not in any way marginal to this; in fact, you could see it as a central challenge for a church caught between truth and power. . . .

It seems pretty obvious to me - as it does to Angelo Quattrochi, whose book is reviewed by Toibin - that the current Pope is a gay man (just as it was blindingly clear that John Paul II was straight). I am not claiming that Benedict is someone who has explored his sexuality, or has violated his own strictures on the matter. There is absolutely no evidence of that, or of hypocrisy of any sort. But that does not mean that he isn't gay. In fact, Ratzinger's command that gay priests should actively lie about their orientation makes any public statement about this on its face lacking in credibility. But when you look at the Pope's mental architecture (I've read a great deal of his writing over the last two decades) you do see that strong internal repression does make sense of his life and beliefs. At times, it seems to me, his gayness is almost wince-inducing. The prissy fastidiousness, the effeminate voice, the fixation on liturgy and ritual, and the over-the-top clothing accessories are one thing. But what resonates with me the most is a theology that seems crafted from solitary introspection into a perfect, abstract unity of belief. It is so perfect it reflects a life of withdrawal from the world of human relationship, rather than an interaction with it. Of course, this kind of work is not inherently homosexual; but I have known so many repressed gay men who can only live without severe pain in the world if they create a perfect abstraction of what it is, and what their role is in it. Toibin brilliantly explains this syndrome, why the church of old was so often such a siren call for gay men who could not handle their own nature. In Benedict, one sees a near-apotheosis of this type, what Quattrocchi describes as "simply the most repressed, imploded gay in the world." . . .

I would like to return to the world where this kind of speculation was disgraceful, unnecessary and blasphemous. But when this Pope has already enabled the rape of children, has covered up the crimes of many priests, when he has responded by blaming gay men for the moral failings of his own church, when he has publicly demanded that gay Catholics remain in the closet, i.e. lie about themselves as a sacred duty ... then such deference becomes much more difficult.
What I Say:  As a gay man, and an Episcopalian-on-hold, I understand the point Sullivan is making about being attracted to a spirituality supported by liturgy, ritual, and finery; in fact, as I've blogged in the past, I do think that the love of beauty - creating, revealing, sharing it in any of a myriad possible ways - is a defining element of the gay personality, which of course also comes in many shapes and sizes from silly twink to gruff leatherman.  But when you get past whatever the exterior may be, I think you find the same motive animating all of us at heart.

In contrast to our straight brothers, some of whom are very creative indeed and might take great delight in crafting pastries or growing roses - as did one very butch and very straight retired Marine captain I once knew.  Yet my hunch is that for them the beauty motive is a sideline, not the animating principle; seems to me that the heart of an unambiguously straight man is driven to build a metaphorical fort, not a house or a garden, as well as finding the means to knock down the other guy's fort.  In other words, aggression and domination, or to put it differently, the defender and the warrior, two sides of the same coin:  that's what makes them tick and sets their life agenda.

Continued after the jump . . .

Angels in America

Judith and Samuel Peabody
. . . is the title of today's must-read Frank Rich column in the NYT.  Which is remarkable for two things:  first, his recounting of the story of Judith Peabody, socialite and early champion of the AIDS crisis, who died last week.  Read more about her wonderful life in the NYT's obituary article.  Thanks so much, Judith - I'm sure there's many stars in your crown.

The Rich article also has some very pertinent remarks on the Perry case and Judge Walker that you ought to check out.  Excerpt:
There has already been an attempt to discredit Walker, who has never publicly discussed his sexual orientation but has been widely reported to be gay. The notion that a judge’s sexuality, gay or not, might disqualify him from ruling on marriage is as absurd as saying Clarence Thomas can’t rule on cases involving African-Americans. By this standard, the only qualified judge to rule on marital rights would be a eunuch. No less ridiculous has been the attempt to dismiss Walker as a liberal “activist judge.” Walker was another Reagan nominee to the federal bench, recommended by his attorney general, Edwin Meese (an opponent of same-sex marriage and, now, of Walker), in a December 1987 memo residing at the Reagan library. It took nearly two years and a renomination by the first President George Bush for Walker to gain Senate approval over opposition from Teddy Kennedy, the N.A.A.C.P., La Raza, the National Organization for Women and the many gay groups who deemed his record in private practice too conservative.

The attacks on Walker have fizzled fast. With rare exceptions from the hysterical fringe — Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich — most political leaders have either remained silent about the Prop 8 decision (the Republican National Committee) or punted (the Obama White House). Over at Fox News, Ted Olson silenced the states’-rights argument in favor of Prop 8 last weekend by asking Chris Wallace: “Would you like Fox’s right to a free press put up to a vote and say, well, if five states have approved it, let’s wait till the other 45 states do?” (No answer was forthcoming.)

Most of those who do argue for denying marriage equality to gay couples are now careful to say that they really, really like gay people. This, like the states’-rights argument, is a replay of the battle over black civil rights. Eric Foner, the pre-eminent historian of Reconstruction, recalled last week via e-mail how Strom Thurmond would argue in the early 1960s “that segregation benefited blacks and whites and had nothing to do with racism” — as if inequality were O.K. as long as segregationists pushing separate-but-equal “compromises” claimed their motives were pure.
What I Say:  The other day a famous gay blogger slimed a less-famous but well-respected conservative gay journalist as a "quisling" - for the mere reason that Maggie Gallagher's National Organization for Marriage used a quote from the latter as part of a statement against same-sex marriage; in the excerpt they quoted he was favoring civil unions as a more winnable achievement.

Which ignores the fact that this writer has written numerous articles, and an entire book for that matter, arguing the case for gay marriage.  And in fact did marry his partner earlier this year in D. C.  So, far from being a traitor to our cause, he is indeed working on the same team - with us, not against us.  Having read his blog articles many times in the past, I believe this conservative blogger is making the case for achieving a solid, permanent goal of equal marriage rather than a Pyrrhic victory that will remain questioned and unsettled in the public mind for years to come, like Roe v. Wade.

Which is a legitimate concern, and a worthy subject for discussion and debate; and while your Head Trucker wants to see equal marriage the law of the land in this country as quick as we can get it, I also admire greatly anyone who can make a clear, cogent case for something in impeccable English, based on logical reasoning and a command of all the relevant facts.  It's important to consider carefully who is and who is not the enemy.  As Frank Rich makes clear in his column, Walker's nomination was fiercely opposed by gay groups at the time - but supposing they had succeeded in blocking his appointment to the bench?  Where would we be today with the Perry case, under some other judge, eh?

Of course, even reasonable people with a fine command of facts, logic, and language can still disagree on ways and means to a worthwhile goal - and what seems best at one moment in history may be found later to have been an honestly mistaken view; that's the whole idea subsumed in the concept of freedom of speech, which is the very bedrock of our frame of government and democratic society:  the lifeblood of our body politic.  Disagree if you like with someone's conclusions, but disagree with respect for the other guy's character, if not his point of view.

If you are going to claim American values, it's important to live them yourself.  Otherwise, you are morally on the same level with the enemies of individual liberty.  You want freedom for yourself, you must want it for others as well - or you are simply being a self-centered hypocrite. Acting the part of a nasty brat.

Which is what your mama and daddy were trying to get across to you when they made you share your cookies with the other kids, and not wolf down the whole box all by yourself, ya know?


SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 04: Prop 8 supporter Mark Wassberg (L) argues with Prop 8 opponent Ron Weaver as they wait to hear the ruling on Prop 8 outside of the Philip Burton Federal building August 4, 2010 in San Francisco, California. US District Judge Vaughn Walker announced his ruling to overturn Prop 8 finding it unconstitutional. The voter approved measure denies same-sex couples the right to marry in the State of California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Connection Infection

[Note - I have no freakin' idea why this video won't display, and I've re-embedded it twice.  If it doesn't display on your end, here's the link.]



Your Head Trucker is one of the few people now living outside of a nursing home who has actually sent a telegram for ordinary communication - ten words for $1.50 in 1966.  SRSLY.

Stephen Heiner, a recovering Blackberrier, on the plague of eternal uplinkedness (honk to Andrew Sullivan):
As this breakthrough happened, I realized something deeper about the way we use phones – not just the smart ones: we are their slaves. We jump whenever they call because we never, ever turn them off. They only get turned off if we run out of battery life, and even then we become desperate for a charger and can think of little else until our depleted child has the charging indicator safely blinking and is serenely drinking its electronic milk.

We have allowed ourselves to become 24/7 radio beacons. We are always on. Always ready to transmit or receive. There is a nervous habit that the younger generation has of checking their cell phones every 90 seconds or so. Just watch them. They didn’t hear a text message notification, but they are checking their phones just in case. And who knows, one might feel the urge to send a text message because heck, it’s been 30 seconds since one was sent. Watch people in airports, or in the auto repair shop, or on a university campus. There is a constant need to check to see if they are still plugged in. It is a nervous tic that they don’t even know is a tic.

In previous times, when we were more tied to place and limits as a society, people were reached at a specific location. Letters came to homes. Telegrams came to homes. Phone calls were placed…to homes. The cell phone, the harbinger of the always-on internet society, unhooked the anchor of place from communication. And when communication is not limited, is not circumscribed, it becomes unlimited and tyrannous. . . .

While people always cite “emergencies,” more often than not the singular reason that a cell phone exists in their lives is to give them a crutch to prevent them from being alone with themselves, their thoughts, and their fellow human beings. Going to the gym? Call a friend. Running an errand? Send a text. Eating something interesting? Take a picture and show the world on Facebook. We are incapable of living outside the virtual cloud that surrounds us. We can only fully live if we are constantly connected.

Or we can turn it off, put ourselves back in control of the machine, and take back the solitude and dreamy quiet of our thoughts: the beginnings of a recollection that lends itself to prayer and conversation.
What I Say:  It's truly astonishing to consider how quickly and vastly the Internet has changed our lives in what seems to me like a rather short time.  When I was finishing college at the turn of the 70's/80's, computers were still largely in the commercial-use-only phase.   All big companies and most small ones by that time were sending you computerized bills every month, and I do recall that by my senior year the library at my university had supplemented the card catalog - gee, I miss those - with an electronic one.  Which actually had, wonder of wonders, not a keyboard but a touch-screen display (black screen and amber characters, no pictures, no Windows).  Which of course was promptly covered with every kind of greasy fingerprint imaginable and stayed that way.

But even though the very first PC's had just come on the market by the beginning of the decade, if I remember rightly, nobody but a very few intensely passionate fans of technology ("geek" had yet to enter the lexicon as a term for those guys) had them.  Pocket calculators, yes (from about 1975), but PC's, no.  For one thing, they were hideously expensive, maybe the equivalent of two to three thousand dollars now.  For another, to use them you had to learn a whole programming language, like Basic.  But even if you had the dough to invest in one, and the many long hours of solitary study to be able to program it, my thought always was, just what the hell would you do with it once you had it?

Continued after the jump . . . .

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Plus ça change . . .


Another venerable tradition dumped in the wastebasket of history.  Now the NYT reports that Frenchwomen are turning all modest, and not going topless at the beach:
Coralie Kosiada, 23, has never gone topless on a public beach, and doesn't plan to. "Honestly, I don't really like women who show their breasts," she said, pursing her lips and recoiling slightly. "There are not that many nice-looking breasts, so why display them? And it's a generational question. Mostly 50-year-old women do it. It's kind of passé."
Tant pis for the straight boys.  But fortunately, French men are still going topless despite the shifting winds of fashion.  Voici:


Approuvez-vous ?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Love Wins in the End


From the Carroll County, Illinois, Prairie Advocate, amid announcements of births, anniversaries, and military assignments - all the typical small-town stuff:
Donald Fair and Warren “Butch” Dollinger were united in marriage on July 23, 2010 at the chapel in the VA Hospital in Iowa City, IA. The ceremony was performed by Pastor John McKinstry of the First Christian Church of Coralville, IA. A World War II veteran stood up for the couple. The couple are both Navy veterans of the Vietnam War. The couple are surrounded and supported by family and friends. They have been together 40 years and wanted to honor their love for each other by pledging to be “together till death do they part.”

The couple are proud to be gay and happy to be able to marry and consolidate their love for each other.
Well my stars, the times really are a-changing.  I hope I live to see this kind of notice in our small-town Texas papers, too.  Congrats and all good wishes to the newlyweds.


Honk to Andrew Sullivan.

Waitin' for the Weekend

Don't you wish:

Nick Ayler

I sure as hell do.

Please Remain Seated until the Aircraft Comes to a Complete Stop


There's a lot of premature ejaculation celebration going on over the Prop 8 ruling, seems to me like.

But guys, I'll bet you a hundred dollars there will be no gay marriages in California next week.  Or the week after.  Or for several years more.

If the Ninth Circuit doesn't issue a stay, then the Supreme Court surely will.  This is just too big a fucking deal to be decided for good and all by one district judge, and that's just the reality of things - and that is, I have no doubt, exactly the way the Supremes will see it.  It's a big, hairy Constitutional matter with major longterm ramifications on lots of things you may not have thought of yet - things that have nothing to do with marriage at all - not some small-town ordinance against jaywalking or whatever, ya know?  They may rule for us or against us, but they will have their say before the dust settles, sure as shootin'.

So - hold your hosses, boys, not your breath.  This ain't over yet, not by a long shot.

When it is, I'll bring the champagne and we'll all have a helluva great party.  But not before.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Funny but Sad

. . . the actions of overnight folk hero Steven Slater, I mean.  On the one hand, I can sympathize deeply:  dealing with the public is very stressful and can work your last nerve - especially when you've just been knocked in the head hard enough to leave a big bruise, and called a motherfucker just for doing your job.

(And why is it Slater's face is all over the news, and not that of the asshole who slammed him?)

I can understand very well how it is that a person can reach a breaking point.  And we've all lost it, one time or another, with our co-workers or customers, haven't we?  To a smaller or greater degree.

On the other hand, though Slater's story works great as a what-if joke . . . I think we should keep a sense of perspective.  Slater's response was very understandable, and even forgiveable - but not very admirable.  Not a model of how to behave.

I mean, it's not the way a man should act, is it?  Especially a trained pro of many years experience.

Grace under pressure is something to cultivate:  in a man, especially, much more admirable and attractive.

To be grown up - to be civilized - is to admire self-control more than instinct.  As an ideal, anyway.



Capt. Sullenberger, Steve Slater. 



Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Peyton Place


Steve Hayes on the popular "dirty" movie that later spawned a sequel and a hit sixties TV show - a prime-time soap opera, really - of the same title:
"The book that could never be filmed!" In 1957, screenwriter John Michael Hayes faced this kind of stigma over the film version of "Peyton Place," Grace Metalious's scandalous bestseller about the dirty secrets of small town life in America. Hayes, however, beat the odds and turned in an Oscar-nominated screenplay that eventually earned the film the reputation of being "The best film ever made from a bad book!"

In the lead role of Constance, the repressed mother, director Mark Robson cast Lana Turner against type and she received her only nomination as Best Actress. For the teenagers, he cast virtual unknowns, Diane Varsi, Hope Lange and Russ Tamblin, all nominated as well, along with screen veterans Terry Moore, Betty Field, Mildred Dunnock and Arthur Kennedy, who got an Oscar nod as the town drunk. Nominated as Best Picture and shot on location in Technicolor, with a glorious score by Franz Waxman, "Peyton Place" proved to be more than just fodder for soap operas. The end result is a valentine to young love, innocence and life before and after World War II.


Knowing this movie is essential to understanding the punch line of Texan Jeannie C. Riley's wildly popular 1968 country-pop crossover smash:



No, wait - yes, really - a megahit, swear to God - number one on both charts - summer of '68, I remember it well - everybody was humming it, turning up the radio when this came on.  The teen station and the country station.  SRSLY. 

I love it.  Even if Jeannie later got saved and "renounced" the song for its "rebellious" attitude.  I guess Christians aren't supposed to speak truth to power like the lady in the song did, huh.

Oh Ben, You're So Butch

Okay boys, time for a one-minute lesson in ad production.  This is Dan Quayle's son.  Watch both versions and see if you can tell the difference.






Honk to Rob Tisinai

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Marriage is a Contract


Texas marriage license and certificate, 1879; the couple was married by a justice of the peace, not a clergyman - which made it a legal marriage just as good as any celebrated in church.

I've blogged about this a time or two before, but since a couple of you fellas have touched on this point in some recent comments, seems a good time to put the legal definitions out there so everyone can make use of them as need be.

One big huge ginormous problem with the whole marriage debate is that our oh-so-holy religious kin, friends, and neighbors have got the idea so strong in their heads that marriage was invented by the Christian Church, and is thus The Will of God and eternally unchangeable - and moreover has always and everywhere been exactly the same thing it is right now, except of course for those nasty, perverted, pagan places like Spain, Canada, and Massachusetts.

Wrong.  Dead wrong.  Even your Bible shows you, knucklehead, that people were marrying long before Jesus ever walked the earth.  "Well, the Hebrews started it then, when God gave them the Ten Commandments."  Wrong - don't you ever go to Sunday School, you heathern?  Jesus himself said, "in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark" (Matthew 24:38). Before the Flood. You ain't a-gonna argue with the Lord, are ya bubba?  Though there is some folks I've knowed who was just so bullheaded, they would argue with Jesus Christ hisself.


So then, going just strictly by the Bible, you see there was plenty of marrying going on away long before the time of Christ, long before the Ten Commandments, long before Moses or even Abraham.  Long before there was any notion whatsoever of a Christian Church, and long before there was any idee of a Hebrew religion, even.  You can check out Genesis for more references to marriage and husbands and wives, including ol' Noah hisself, who natcherly took his wife along in the boat with him - not to mention his sons and their wives.  You do remember that story, don'cha bud?

There was also marriage going on in every other place on the face of the earth too, whether God liked it or not - you remember who tempted Joseph, don't you?  That's right - the wife of Potiphar, an Egyptian woman.  So marriage wasn't something the Hebrews dreamed up all on their own. 

"Oh well it doesn't matter, because marriage has always been the same, and I want to keep it just like it was in the Bible."  Izzat right, friend?  Well now, how 'bout you consider the fact that Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, David, Solomon, and a lot more of them old boys had several wives, and concubines too - and nobody thought a thing in the world about it, including God himself, who actually encouraged that kind of thing with some of them. 

"Oh but Jesus changed all that." Well now if you're a-gonna start quoting Jesus, how about this saying from his own mouth: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery" (Mark 10). But say, bubba, that didn't stop you from trading in your old lady for that purty little blonde you got a-stirring your grits now, did it? And you ain't felt a minute's guilt about any o'that, have you bud? Still setting up there in the pews, front and center ever Sunday morning, pleased as punch with yourself, ain't ya?

So enough with "thuh Bye-bul says" routine; it's plain as day from your own scripture that marriage - of all kinds and stripes and shapes - was going on long before there was ever a Christian to be seen on the face of the earth, and also that you straight boys have done just exactly as you please with the rules of it, in every century and in every clime.  So just sit down and shut up about it now.  You might learn something.

Continued after the jump . . . .

Sound Familiar?


OMG!  If we let those people marry, it will destroy the whole institution of marriage - not to mention the whole country - and bring the world to a screeching halt!  It just ain't Christian, I tell ya.  We have to stop this terrible thing before it destroys us all - and think of the poor little babies too . . . and yada yada yada.

Since Judge Walker posted his ruling last week, there's been a lot of good stuff on marriage equality coming out, and here's another bit I just found, from a commenter on the Guardian's article about the ruling:
“[If interracial couples have a right to marry], all our marriage acts forbidding intermarriage between persons within certain degrees of consanguinity are void.”

(Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 40 (Shenk, J., dissenting, quoting from a prior court case)

“The underlying factors that constitute justification for laws against miscegenation closely parallel those which sustain the validity of prohibitions against incest and incestuous marriages.”

(Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 46 (Shenk, J., dissenting, quoting from a prior court case)

“[T]he State's prohibition of interracial marriage . . . stands on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage, or the prescription of minimum ages at which people may marry, and the prevention of the marriage of people who are mentally incompetent.”

(Source: Excerpted United States Supreme Court oral argument transcripts from Loving v. Virginia, from Peter Irons and Stephanie Guitton, eds., May it Please the Court (1993) at 282-283, quoting Virginia Assistant Attorney General R. D. McIlwaine, arguing for Virginia's ban on interracial marriage)

“Each [party seeking to marry a member of a different race] has the right and the privilege of marrying within his or her own group.”

(Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 46 (Shenk, J., dissenting, quoting from a prior court case)

“When people of [different races] marry, they cannot possibly have any progeny, . . . and such a fact sufficiently justifies those laws which forbid their marriages.”

(Source: A judge in a Missouri case, quoted in Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, May 19,1996)

Allowing interracial marriages “necessarily involves the degradation” of conventional marriage, an institution that “deserves admiration rather than execration.”

(Source: A U.S. representative from Georgia quoted in Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1996)

“[S]uch laws [banning interracial marriage] have been in effect in this country since before our national independence and in this state since our first legislative session. They have never been declared unconstitutional by any court in the land although frequently they have been under attack. It is difficult to see why such laws, valid when enacted and constitutionally enforceable in this state for nearly one hundred years and elsewhere for a much longer period of time, are now unconstitutional under the same constitution.”

(Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 35 (Shenk, J. dissenting))
 Note - Perez v. Lippold, aka Perez v. Sharp, is the landmark 1948 decision by the California Supreme Court allowing interracial marriages in that state.

Loving v. Virginia is the 1967 ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court striking down Virginia's miscegenation law, and ending all such bans on interracial marriage throughout the nation.

It's important to understand that both of these cases determined that the laws in question violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment - which is exactly what Judge Walker found to be wrong with Prop 8 in the Perry case.


All these points of comparison and more are found in an excellent handout produced by Vermont Freedom to Marry: download the entire 2-page pdf document here.

Send a copy to your nearest and dearest while you're at it.  Probly won't change anybody's mind - but at least now you can quote them chapter and verse, if that's what they like to do to you.


P.S. - From the New York Times, November 12, 2000:
Alabama voters quietly removed one piece of arcana from their Jim Crow-era constitution: a 1901 state law banning marriage between a Negro and Caucasian. The Supreme Court struck down such laws in 1967, but until last week, when voters passed a ballot initiative to purge that law from the books, it held on as the last such state law in the nation. The margin by which the measure passed was itself a statement. A clear majority, 60 percent, voted to remove the miscegenation statute from the state constitution, but 40 percent of Alabamans -- nearly 526,000 people -- voted to keep it.
Also, FYI:  That Texas sodomy statute that the Supremes struck down in 2003?  It's still on the books here in God's Country.  Old times here are not forgotten, oh hell no.


Check out this parody of a Prop 8 ad, from the 2008 election in California:

"Why Does That Woman Live with You?"


Andrew Sullivan, responding to a reader's description of growing up - more or less happily, it seems - with gay parents, but not having a word to explain their relationship to her friends:
Portrait of Family at Party
Let me add something that I experienced as well. My in-laws have always been supportive and loving and tolerant. They accepted me at Christmas and other occasions and were glad their son had found a partner. But it was not until we told them that we were "engaged" that something suddenly clicked. They finally had a way to understand us and our love because they had the linguistic architecture to make sense of it. I was going to be their son-in-law! With those words. I became family - not Aaron's friend, or roommate or boyfriend or lover or what-have-you. But his husband. And thereby their family as well.

There was and is something about these words - engaged, married, husband - even though they may contain a mountain of different experiences, that made us a family. I think conservatives should favor the unification and mutual love and support of families. And that means they must by definition favor the mutual love and support of the gay people in them.

This is not about creating something new. It is about making a home for people who have been here all the time for centuries. It is about making the human family whole.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mexico Recognizes Equal Marriage Nationwide


Same-sex union laws around the world, from Wikipedia -
bluer is better.

In a 9-2 vote today, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages performed in the nation's capital, as they have been since March 4 of this year, must be recognized by all Mexican states.  The justices upheld the constitutionality of Mexico City's marriage equality law last week, and this week will consider the right to adoption.

It is not yet clear how the states will interpret the court's ruling or what degree of recognition they will extend to same-sex couples.  The ruling does not require Mexican states to perform same-sex marriages for any couples.  The state of Coahuila, on the Rio Grande border of Texas, has offered civil partnerships to same-sex couples since 2007.  In the rest of Latin America, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Uruguay either offer civil unions or grant some rights of married couples to cohabitating same-sex partners.  And of course, Argentina's Congress made nationwide marriage equality the law of the land down there just last month.

So now the U. S. of A. is boxed in by nationwide marriage equality on both sides - Canada and Mexico.  Seems like it ought to be just a matter of time before we get it here, ya think?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thoughts on Marriage

I.  Ted Olson eloquently sums up the whole case for marriage equality in this short interview.  Andrew Sullivan says, "I've been making these points for many many years. I cannot express how affirming it is to hear such a distinguished conservative jurist defend the civil rights of gay citizens - especially such a fundamental, core right as civil marriage."



Sullivan also writes a longer post today on this topic.  Excerpt:
The church - even in its current High Ratzinger phase - opts for inclusion over exclusion. It allows the infertile to marry. It does not remove the Sacrament of Matrimony from those who do not produce kids. It even annuls countless marriages, many of which have been consummated, in enormously large numbers. It marries those past child-bearing age. It treasures adopted kids, even though they violate Ross's parent-procreating "microcosm of civilization" ideal. And that's only the Catholic church. The Protestant churches freely allow divorce and contraception - breaking both the monogamy and the procreative elements of Ross's ideal (which is to say all of it). So in the religious sphere, the Church breaks its own ideal with regularity, and the other churches have long since given almost all of it up. And yet the Catholic church still insists that its ideal be enforced as an act of civil exclusion in the secular sphere, even on people who are atheists.

On what conceivable grounds, if you pardon the expression? Look at how diverse current civil marriages are in the US. The range and diversity runs from Amish families with dozens of kids to yuppie bi-coastal childless couples on career paths; there are open marriages and arranged marriages; there is Rick Santorum and Britney Spears - between all of whom the civil law makes no distinction. The experience of gay couples therefore falls easily within the actual living definition of civil marriage as it is today, and as it has been now for decades. To exclude gays and gays alone is therefore not the upholding of an ideal (Britney Spears and Larry King are fine - but a lesbian couple who have lived together for decades are verboten) so much as making a lone exception to inclusion on the grounds of sexual orientation. It is in effect to assert not the ideal of Catholic Matrimony, but the ideal of heterosexual superiority. It creates one class of people, regardless of their actions, and renders them superior to another.

II.  David Boies wipes the floor with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, co-founded by the infamous George Rekers of rentboy fame:



Have to say, it's gratifying but really surrealistic to this old shitkicker to see these straight men defending gay rights so passionately - something that simply Does.Not.Happen down here in Jesusland.


III.  On a completely different line of thought, Andrew Brown writes in the Guardian about wedding-day extravagance and pretentiousness:
The modern wedding, with its stupendous cost (£20,000 on average) and duration, is really a celebration of the participants. They really are unique and precious snowflakes, just as they have suspected all along. In fact, they are each and both of them just the unique and precious people they would like to be. Everyone pretends that for the day the couple really are starring in their own film: following the conventions of modern films, that means nothing really bad can happen to them.

Feeling unique and treasured and valued for yourself is exactly the point of being in love, and it's very nice. But it's not realistic. In particular, it's a disastrous attitude to bring to a wedding. There will be times when you appear – and are – not in the least bit treasured or valued, and when you'll be unlucky to be thought unique: everyone going through a divorce is convinced for a while they were married to the absolutely worst spouse in history.

The great point about completely impersonal ceremonies, whose form is the same for everyone, whether these are religious or entirely civil, is that they remind us that the problems and difficulties of marriage are universal. They come from being human. They can't be dodged just by being our wonderful selves, even all dusted with unicorn sparkle.
Of course, it's your privilege to do as you like on your "special day," whether that involves gold lamé or faded denim.  But your Head Trucker has never thought much of expensive spectacle at a moment when a sober, solemn vow is the central idea - which partakes of the sacred in some sense, even if exchanged by two atheists in front of a county clerk.

Nor do I favor the hippie practice of writing your own vows - for one thing, the vast majority of folks who are not trained writers have a tin ear for language, and produce something sickly-sweet that grates on the nerves like fingernails on a blackboard.  For another thing, it's embarassing to witness the uncensored little-girl fantasies on display in such vows, full of totally unrealistic notions drawn from fairy tales, pop songs, and romantic movies.  As everyone who has been married - or at least as nearly so as is possible without benefit of law - knows, there is a very good reason why the Dunmow flitch has rarely ever been claimed.

Which is why your Head Trucker, if the occasion ever arose, would much prefer to use the simple, ordinary words of the traditional marriage service - which to my mind, creates a connection, a spiritual union, between the couple and all the countless other couples who have come before to this sacred moment - all pledging the same troth, or truth.  To me, a lovely, sterling idea, more precious than anything money can buy.
In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.
But as all that is getting to be an entirely moot point at this late age, your Head Trucker will just shut up now and go back to tending his own garden.


IV.  Male sexuality is really and truly different from female sexuality, whether we're talking heteros or homos.  It has taken many years for this to really dawn on your Head Trucker, and it leads me to some interesting conclusions about what fidelity really means in practice and in the heart.  But more about that another time. 

For now, I'll just say that looking back, there were times when I went nuclear over things - very human things - that in retrospect were not worth the subsequent anguish on both sides.  I was following a script learnt by heart from old movies and Victorian novels - both of which genres were quite consciously crafted so as not to offend the sensibilities of little old blue-haired church ladies who, when duty demanded, gritted their teeth and thought of England or whatever; but that was a false model for me in many ways. 

With age comes, if not wisdom, then at least clarity, you know?
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