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, June 30, 2013

Late-night Thoughts

Five years ago tonight, this blog didn't exist, and same-sex marriage was available in only two states - Massachusetts (which had just revoked its 1913 law barring foreign couples from getting married if the marriage was illegal in their home state) and California, which had started marrying gay couples just six weeks before. A bare handful of other states offered civil unions or domestic partnerships. Gay couples in many places were still going off to Canada to get married, like Edie Windsor and Thea Speyer did.

I think too of all the quiet little commitment ceremonies - already now a dated phrase - that have taken place over the last forty years, all across the nation; usually in some private, secluded spot like a meadow, a beach, or a rented cabin in the woods, with a small group of friends to witness and celebrate. And I think of the many other couples, differently situated, for whom unwitnessed vows and private embraces had to suffice - like my late husband and I.

But what a stunning change in just five years: at midnight tonight, Delaware's new marriage equality law will come into effect, making a total of 12 states and the District of Columbia where gays can tie the knot - totally legal, just like the straights can, plus six more states that offer some kind of civil unions. On August 1st, Rhode Island and Minnesota will also become marriage-equality states, raising the total to 14, containing 30 percent of the U. S. population.

That's Change at a breathtaking speed. This is an historic period we're living through, folks, just like the late 60's/early 70's - as I well recall - when schools were integrating all across the South, and the "White" and "Colored" signs started to disappear. And suddenly, startlingly, there were black news anchors on TV, and female disk jockeys on the radio (that's right, children - there were no women DJ's before about 1972, not in my part of the world - radio was totally a man's business; and TV too, but they at least had the weather girls on some stations).

Of course we get frustrated now, as I'm sure progressive people were frustrated then, living with the day-to-day delays and surmounting the obstacles that remain - but it's all good. The tide is flowing in our direction now, and as Justice Scalia (who, make no mistake, has a brilliant legal mind, even if he is a bigot) said in his dissent this week, given the majority's ruling that marriage discrimination violates the Fifth Amendment, it's only a matter of time before we have marriage rights all across these United States.

For all this I thank, among others, our President, who despite some needless, equivocating foot-dragging, has delivered on DADT and is now making the federal government implement the post-DOMA changes as quickly as possible. Getting ENDA passed would be a great triple-play to cement his legacy as the Equality President, if he and our allies in Congress can get that done before his term ends. But just think, guys - how much of the last five years would have happened if McCain was president? Or Romney? Or, God help us all, Palin? What a chilling thought.

I still think it could be 2030 before the Deep South accepts the change - and here I mean the great red swath from Texas to South Carolina, which is the most conservative and most religious and most hell-no region in the country. The struggles will be fierce; there could even be scattered acts of violence and open rebellion. But in the next twenty years Change will come to my homeland too - if for no other reason than that the demographics make it certain. For example, whites in Texas are already only 48% of the population; in twenty years, Latinos will be over 50% and whites only 35%. Then too, the diehard, anti-gay, over-60 Bible-thumpers will be dying off.

Well I'm glad I have lived to see this much change in my lifetime. For me personally, nothing much actually changes out here on the prairie, but I do rejoice at the thought of the wonderful difference it all makes in the lives of others, whose pictures I've posted here on the Blue Truck, and for the generations yet unborn, who will take their freedom and equality for granted - and yawn over the history books, and wonder what was all the fuss about?

And won't that be fabulous.

Change you can believe in:
Edie Windsor as Grand Marshall in today's NYC Pride Parade.
When her car turned onto Christopher Street, the crowds roared,

Oh, Just Go Away

II.  Rachel and friends on Meet the Press this morning:

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Sunday Drive: From This Moment On

For all the happy couples in California, and everywhere, who at last can join two lives in one:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Capping a Fabulous, Historic Week

The Empire State Building last night, lit for Gay Pride 2013

from Twitter via Joe.My.God.


San Francisco City Hall last night

Sandy Stier and Kris Perry are wed by the California Attorney General

Jeff Zarillo and Paul Katami are wed by the Mayor of Los Angeles

What a difference a day makes! While your Head Trucker slept Friday afternoon and evening, at around 3 p.m. California time the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay in the Prop 8 case and allowed same-sex marriages to resume immediately in the Golden State. This surprise development caught everyone off guard, since it had been expected that the appeals court would wait out the 25-day period before the Supreme Court's ruling became effective. However, legal experts say the appeals court was well within its rights, and the law, to lift its own stay on its own ruling.

The plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case lost no time in getting hitched. In San Francisco, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier were wed by Kamala Harris, California Attorney General, at San Francisco City Hall, and likewise down in Los Angeles, Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarillo were wed at City Hall by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The timing is doubly delicious since it is Pride weekend in those cities, and Friday was the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969 that sparked the gay-rights movement.

Rachel reports on the breathtaking developments:

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San Francisco International Airport

Friday, June 28, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

Private, consensual sexual intimacy between two adult persons of the same sex may not be punished by the State, and it can form "but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring." By its recognition of the validity of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions and then by authorizing same-sex unions and same-sex marriages, New York sought to give further protection and dignity to that bond.

For same-sex couples who wished to be married, the State acted to give their lawful conduct a lawful status. This status is a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed by the State worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages. It reflects both the community’s considered perspective on the historical roots of the institution of marriage and its evolving understanding of the meaning of equality.

--United States v. Windsor,
Supreme Court of the United States, June 26, 2013.

Upon hearing the news that DOMA has been struck down,
Michael Knaapen and his husband, John Becker, embrace 
outside the Supreme Court, Washington, D. C., June 26, 2013

Reaction to the Marriage Rulings: Anderson Cooper

Anderson discusses the effect of the rulings with Jeffrey Toobin, Andrew Sullivan, and Evan Wolfson:

Moment of Joy

Next week's New Yorker cover:

Reaction to the Marriage Rulings: David Cole

Justice Anthony Kennedy

David Cole, author, journalist, and professor of law at Georgetown University, writes in the New York Review of Books:
Together, these decisions are a consummate act of judicial statesmanship. They extend federal benefits to all same-sex married couples in states that recognize gay marriage, expand the number of states recognizing gay marriage to thirteen, yet leave open the ultimate issue of state power to limit marriage to the union of a man and woman. The Court took a significant step toward recognition of the equality rights of gays and lesbians, but by not imposing same-sex marriage on the three-quarters of the states whose laws still forbid it, the Court has allowed the issue to develop further through the political process—where its trajectory is all but inevitable.

What will the Court do when the issue of whether states can limit marriage to opposite-sex couples is put before it again? It is difficult to read Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Windsor without sensing, as Justice Scalia warned in his angry dissenting opinion, that the “other shoe” will drop eventually, and the Court will ultimately recognize that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the Constitution in the same way that denying mixed-race couples the right to marry does. (Significantly, in his opinion for the Court, Justice Kennedy cited Loving v. Virginia, the Court’s 1967 decision on interracial marriage, for the proposition that the state’s otherwise broad authority to define marriage is subject to constitutional limits.) But Kennedy’s opinion was nonetheless written in such a way to leave the question open while political thinking about gay marriage continues to evolve. . . .

So as a matter of pure judicial craft, Justice Kennedy could have been more clear and definite. But judging is not only a matter of craft. Justice Kennedy sought to walk a fine line—invalidating a federal law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples without simultaneously resolving the question of whether similar state laws are constitutional. Had he pronounced that classifications based on sexual orientation are suspect and subject to heightened scrutiny, or had he held that the due process clause affirmatively protects the right of two committed adults to marry, regardless of sex, he would have, in effect, decided the broader issue. By focusing instead on the federal government’s unusual intrusion into a prerogative of state law, and its dramatic imposition of a double standard in states that recognize same-sex marriage, he wisely limited his decision to the federal law at issue. By allowing the transition to full recognition of same-sex marriage to take place gradually, Kennedy’s opinion avoided the backlash that a federal mandate to recognize same-sex marriage in every state might have triggered.

Ironically, Justice Kennedy did not join the majority opinion in Perry, the California case, which sent the issue back to district court. He dissented, joined by three other justices, and would have decided that case on the merits. Had he attracted a fifth vote for that view, it would have rendered all the care he took in the Windsor decision moot, because the Court would have had to address the question of state authority directly. The statesmanship of the two decisions, then, comes not from any one justice, but from the collective action of the court as a whole. There’s a reason we have nine justices. . . .

The justifications for denying a “dignity and status of immense import” to gay and lesbian couples are unpersuasive, whether at the federal or the state level. Same-sex couples, like opposite-sex couples, can and do make long-term commitments to live together as a family unit. They can and do raise children, pay taxes, care for dependent family members, and the like. The real reason so many states have denied marital status to same-sex couples is a sense, founded on tradition and moral disapproval, that these couples do not deserve it, simply because they are of the same sex. But the Court has already held, in Lawrence v. Texas, its 2003 decision invalidating state sodomy laws, that tradition and mere moral disapproval are insufficient grounds for differential treatment of gay and straight couples.

We will have to wait for the other shoe to drop, but drop it will.

FYI, from the Congressional Record, the Report of the House Judicial Committee, July 9, 1996, pp. 15-16, summarizing the principles and purposes of the Defense of Marriage Act then pending before the House:
Civil laws that permit only heterosexual marriage reflect and honor a collective moral judgment about human sexuality. This judgment entails both moral disapproval of homosexuality, and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.
You can read the entire report here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reaction to the Marriage Rulings: Sullivan

Last night, Andrew Sullivan summed up his thoughts about the momentous day:
Marriage is not a political act; it’s a human one. It is based on love, before it is rooted in law. Same-sex marriages have always existed because the human heart has always existed in complicated, beautiful and strange ways. But to have them recognized by the wider community, protected from vengeful relatives, preserved in times of illness and death, and elevated as a responsible, adult and equal contribution to our common good is a huge moment in human consciousness. It has happened elsewhere. But here in America, the debate was the most profound, lengthy and impassioned. This country’s democratic institutions made this a tough road but thereby also gave us the chance and time to persuade the country, which we did. . . .

So to those who are often tempted to write off America’s ability to perfect its union still further, to lead the world in the clarity of its moral and political discourse, and to resist the pull of fundamentalism when it conflicts with human dignity, let me just say: I believe.

Because I have seen.

And he quotes political theorist Hannah Arendt:
The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which "the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one’s skin or color or race" are minor indeed. Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs.

Update: One of Sullivan's readers crystallizes a thought that was already forming in your Head Trucker's mind:
I don’t know about you, but my head explodes when I read the following from Scalia’s dissent: “We have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation.”

You mean like you invalidated a whole section of the Voting Rights Act (just yesterday!) and tried unsuccessfully to sink the entire Affordable Care Act? I’m not a lawyer, and my lawyer friends assure me that Scalia is brilliant, if extremist, but I read that kind of head-turning inconsistency and all I see is a hack, not a brilliant legal mind. And again, I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t the entire purpose of the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of legislation (democratically adopted or otherwise) and invalidate it when necessary? What a dipshit.

Power to the People

Amid our rejoicing over the marriage cases at the Supreme Court, your Head Trucker is sure that all his readers will admire what happened on Tuesday night in Austin:  the story of the triumph of Texas state senator Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) and her legion of supporters over the pigheaded Republican good ol' boys who control Texas politics.  Rachel reports:

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Reactions to the Marriage Rulings: Rachel

The full import of yesterday's rulings by the Supreme Court in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases is still settling in with your Head Trucker.  Here's Rachel's inimitable, insightful take on things, and this clip should lead you through several segments of her show last night, dealing with various facets of the marriage news.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Bless God, I have lived to see this day.

The Supreme Court this morning overturned Section 3 of DOMA in a 5-4 vote as being an unconstitutional violation of due process and equal protection - meaning the federal government has to recognize same-sex marriage in those states where it is legal; text of the ruling is here. Commentary from SCOTUSblog editors:
In response to some questions about Windsor: Only Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act -- which defines the words "marriage" and "spouse," for federal purposes, as referring only to marriages between opposite-sex couples -- has been struck down. Consequently, any federal statute that refers to a "marriage" or a "spouse" should be interpreted as applying with equal force to same-sex married couples.

The federal Defense of Marriage Act defines "marriage," for purposes of over a thousand federal laws and programs, as a union between a man and a woman only. Today the Court ruled, by a vote of five to four, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, that the law is unconstitutional. The Court explained that the states have long had the responsibility of regulating and defining marriage, and some states have opted to allow same-sex couples to marry to give them the protection and dignity associated with marriage. By denying recognition to same-sex couples who are legally married, federal law discriminates against them to express disapproval of state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. This decision means that same-sex couples who are legally married must now be treated the same under federal law as married opposite-sex couples.

The Court also in a roundabout way sent Prop 8 to the garbage can, also by a 5-4 vote; text of the ruling is here.  Comment from Amy Howe at Scotusblog:

Here's a Plain English take on Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage: After the two same-sex couples filed their challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court, declined to do so. So the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the lower court) ruled that they could do so under state law. But today the Supreme Court held that the proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, it held, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case.

Photos of plaintiff Edie Windsor, at the home of her attorney in New York City, as she heard that she won her case this morning, in the New Yorker.

Report on the rulings from NBC News, with some jubilant crowd reactions in the background:

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Update, 12 noon:  The ACLU has issued a FAQ on "Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in California," discussing the implications of the Court's ruling on Prop 8; a couple of notable excerpts:
A few final, legal steps must be completed before same-sex couples can once again marry in California, which should take only about a month. First, the Supreme Court’s ruling must become final, which will happen 25 days after the ruling. Under the Supreme Court’s rules, the party who loses a case has a right to ask the Court to re-hear the case within 25 days of the decision’s release. Petitions for re-hearing are very rarely granted, so it is unlikely that anything will change during this 25 days. Once the ruling is final, the Ninth Circuit will issue a “mandate” that will send the case back to the District Court. When the mandate is issued, the injunction against the enforcement of Prop 8 will take effect, and same-sex couples in California will once again have the freedom to marry. We expect that the State of California will issue guidance to all County Clerk offices in the state about when the decision becomes final and when those offices must resume issuing licenses on an equal basis to same-sex couples. Please note that couples should wait until the Supreme Court ruling is final and the Ninth Circuit issues a mandate to the District Court before attempting to obtain a marriage license or to marry, to ensure that your marriage is valid. . . .
Yes. The legal order (or injunction) that stops the State of California from enforcing Prop 8 applies to state officials throughout the state. This means that Prop 8 cannot be enforced anywhere in the state. There may be efforts to try to limit the effect of the injunction to apply to only some parts of the State but we strongly believe that those efforts are futile and will not succeed. . . .
If you live in another state and get married in California you will be legally married. However, depending on where you live, your home state may not respect your marriage. The Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor striking down Section 3 of DOMA concerns only the federal government’s treatment of marriages. The ruling does not require states to recognize a valid marriage of a same-sex couple performed in another state. Thus, if you marry in California but live elsewhere, it is still possible that your home state will not recognize your marriage.
Update, 12:30 p.m.: In California, Governor Jerry Brown has issued the following statement:
After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California. In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted.
Update, 12:45 p.m.: At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has issued this statement:
The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses -- regardless of sexual orientation -- as soon as possible. That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do. The department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court's decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies.
Update, 1:00 p.m.: From aboard Air Force One en route to Africa, President Obama has issued the following statement:
I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal - and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.
So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision - which applies only to civil marriages - changes that.
The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.
And in New York City, Edie Windsor, plaintiff in the DOMA case, had this to say, according to the Washington Post:
After learning of the Supreme Court ruling, Windsor broke into tears. “If I had to survive Thea, what a glorious way to do it, and she would be so pleased,” she said at a news conference. She thanked her lawyers and her allies, gay and straight: “We won all the way, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Asked what Spyer would say to her if she were alive, Windsor replied, “‘You did it, honey.’”
And that's about as far as your Head Trucker can go today, I have to get some sleep now.  But I'll have more reactions and analyses in my next post, sometime tonight.
Odd sensation, looking out my window at the green grass and the rose bushes and the sycamore tree and corners of the blue summer sky above:  all is just as it was yesterday and all the days before, yet now there's something different about this plot of ground I live on, this green earth, this land of ours.  A quick, sly thought whistles up from my heart to my eyes:  we belong here, we are kindred, we are of the tribe - we are truly, fully Americans, and strangers no more. 
We belong.  And that makes all the difference.  

Just one more:

With Bated Breath

The various news sites and bloggers who should know about these things say that the Supreme Court will rule on the DOMA and Prop 8 cases today.  And when they do, all sorts of people will be saying, "Well, I knew the Court would rule that way . . . " - but that's all bullshit. As of this moment, nobody but the nine justices themselves knows how the rulings are going to go.  As we saw in yesterday's Voting Rights Act ruling, the conservatives can easily muster five votes when they want to; so the Court could very well uphold both DOMA and Prop 8, though I think it unlikely they will. 

But we just can't and won't know for sure until the court begins issuing its rulings at 10 a.m. Washington time today:  the quickest and likely most accurate way to get the news is by following the live feed over at SCOTUSblog, beginning at 9 a.m.

Meanwhile, it happens that today is the tenth anniversary of the momentous 6-3 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down the enforcement of sodomy laws in the fourteen states that still had them in 2003.  This short video from Lambda Legal reviews the connection between that case and todays' cases.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Marriage News Watch

The Supreme Court issued rulings in several cases this morning, but the DOMA and Prop 8 cases were not among them.  This being the final week of the term, the Court is expected to wrap up the last few pending cases and issue rulings on them tomorrow . . . or Wednesday . . . or Thursday.  They don't say in advance what rulings they will issue on what days, so all anyone can do is wait and see.  Thursday the 27th would be a very good day, in my opinion, for the marriage cases rulings to come down, being the 44th anniversary of Stonewall. 

Meanwhile, Matt Baume has this week's update from the American Foundation for Equal Rights, sponsors of the Prop 8 case:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Great Supine Protoplasmic Invertebrate Jellies!

My man Boris tells it like it is, as the London Assembly kicks him out of a meeting:

You go, buddy! He'll be Prime Minister one day, and a jolly good one too, I expect.

How to Get Ready for the Supreme Court Ruling

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, sponsors of the Prop 8 case, explains what may happen when the Supremes release their ruling on the Prop 8 and DOMA cases in this coming week, as expected:

What I Say: Your Head Trucker reminds you that the legal and constitutional issues are complex, with many possible outcomes, and if the result is not all that you think it should be, it's no good whining and bellyaching like the rightwingers do about "unelected judges." We live under the rule of law, and up at the very top of the pile there has to be an umpire to have the final say. So deal with it. And no, you don't have a better idea, bubba, so sit down and hush up.

Once again, your Head Trucker predicts that the outcome of these two cases will be 1) that same-sex marriage is restored to California, and 2) that the federales will have to recognize same-sex marriages wherever they are legal. Anything beyond that will just be icing on the cake. But the Supremes are going to follow public opinion, not drag it kicking and screaming into the future. A lot more work for equality will remain to be done nationwide after this week. Bet on it.

Update:   Speaking to the North Carolina Bar Association on Friday, Justice Scalia declared somewhat ingenuously - and with a note of desperation, perhaps? - that judges should not rule on moral issues because "Judges are not moral experts, and many of the moral issues now coming before the courts have no 'scientifically demonstrable right answer.' As such, he said, it’s a community’s job to decide what it finds morally acceptable, not the courts’."

Of course, in the past he has never hesitated to mouth about moral issues both on and off the bench. And he knows full well that such cases are argued not in terms of morality, but according to the stated provisions and principles of law. I wonder if Scalia is pissed off because he's already been outvoted in chambers by his fellow judges on the two marriage lawsuits. We'll find out soon enough, I guess.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

Summer's here, and orange is the new white.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vexation without Representation

Or, things that make your Head Trucker go, Ugh.  A lot of straight people think we gays are all like the goofy ones seen in these clips, which is repugnant to me, and I think to some of my readers, for reasons that are obvious to a mature mind. None of them are in the least representative of me or my friends or at least half the gay male population.

I'll say no more, since it's a free country and people can certainly do as they please - my approval or disapproval counts for nothing in this world.  But that doesn't mean I have to like everything they do.

And I'll say one thing more:  being gay - or black, or female, or Latin, or Asian, or anything else - doesn't mean you can't do anything wrong or stupid or silly.  To think otherwise is just mindless.

If you have no problem with what's depicted, well just move on then.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mylar, My Gosh

This publicity film from 1955 may be too tedious for some of you, especially if science is not your strong suit - your Head Trucker is not a scientist either, and found it puzzling in some respects. But oh my gosh, my golly, what an amazing scientific development Mylar was. I thought Mylar was just the name of those funky thin, gold space blankets. But as Wikipedia informs me, sixty years later it is still an extremely useful product and is used in many, many applications today - including some we take for granted in our homes.

And just think: this miracle was devised and produced without the aid of computers at all. Or if any computers were used, they were full of vacuum tubes, were programmed with punched cards, and took up the space of an average house.  But mostly it was due to sheer human brainpower, ideas and formulas scratched on paper with pencil.  Wow.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marriage News Watch, 6/17/13

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

House of Lords Debates Amendments to Same-Sex Marriage Bill

The House of Lords passed the bill at second reading a couple of weeks ago by a vote of 390-148.  Now they are are debating, for the first of three days, proposed amendments to the bill, many of which are intended to weaken the bill.  Attendance is low since there's no vote today. 

Update, 5:10 p.m.:  The noble lords have adjourned, but you can watch the entire day's proceedings here.   The debate on the amendments begins at the 33:00 mark.

It's very interesting to listen to a calm, civilized debate on the subject.  Also very interesting to see what the pro- and anti-gay people look and sound like on the other side of the water. But a rather shocking sign of the times: at about the 55:00 mark, while Lord Armstrong of Ilminster is speaking, you can see a noble lord seated behind him texting on a small phone. Which leaves your Head Trucker speechless.

Bill and John: More Than Ever

The story of a love that spanned seven decades, from Freedom to Marry:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Father's Confession and Plea

Saturday Evening Post cover, June 16, 1956.  I remember my dad setting up a swingset like this for me in the backyard.  He took the extra care to sink all four corners in concrete, so as to make it super-stable and safe.  Thanks, Dad.

Ruben Navarrette writes at CNN.com, under the headline "Fathers, stop coddling your kids":
There's a story that a friend shared a few months ago that really made an impression on me -- as it did a roomful of other middle-aged parents who are struggling with raising their toddlers or teenagers.

One day, my friend said, he walked into his house and casually told his teenage son that he needed some help with some minor chore outside. The son, who had been playing video games, was clearly bothered. Exasperated, he said, "Dad, whenever you ask me to do stuff like this, it's just such an inconvenience."

Showing more restraint than I would have at that moment, my friend calmly apologized to his son for disturbing him. Then he picked up the phone, and fired his landscaper. Next, my friend sat down at the computer and ordered a gift for his son: a brand new lawnmower. This summer, the teenager -- who is now responsible for doing all the yard work at the family home -- is learning the true meaning of the word, "inconvenience."

It's a great story. But what I found most interesting was the crowd's reaction. It amounted to thunderous applause. It was as if they were ready to name my friend, "Father of the Year."

There must be a whole segment of Americans who are thirsty for this message. They're worried that in trying not to be too hard on their children, they've gone too far in the other direction and turned too soft. They're concerned that they've been too lenient on their kids, too eager to cater to their whims, too quick to spoil them and too determined to convince them that they're special. This was all done with the best intentions, but it has produced some bad results.

Now, I suspect, a lot of people are experiencing a kind of parents' remorse. Many of us were raised in strict homes full of rules and expectations where mom and dad never tried to be our friends and weren't shy about yanking us back in line. And so, when we became parents, we took a different road.

We bought into the philosophy that children needed unlimited self-esteem, maximum freedom and minimal pressure to succeed in life or contribute to society. We taught our kids to think of themselves as entitled and to see themselves as the center of the universe. Now instead of parents having expectations of their children, children have expectations of how their parents are supposed to behave. We're here to serve them, to make their lives as comfortable and convenient as possible.

One father told me recently that all he wants from his kids is a little gratitude. That's it. He wants them to show even the slightest bit of appreciation for all that their parents are working hard to provide them. Things come too easy to them, he said. Whatever they want, they get. Now they've forgotten even how to say a simple, "thank you."

Another father told me that he wants his teenage kids to toughen up a bit before they leave home in a few years and enter the real world. He would like for them to understand that, if you want something, you can't just demand it. You have to work for it. You have to earn it. . . .

Of course, the rub is that this is what parents are for. It's our job to instill these values and teach children how to become good people. It doesn't happen organically. And it won't happen magically. It'll only happen if we set the standards and and lay down the law when they're not met.

And fathers have a special role to play in all of this. It's not easy being a good dad. In fact, it's exhausting. And it can often be frustrating.

In fact, frankly, a lot of fathers decide it is too hard. They give up, check out, hang back and essentially let their kids raise themselves. It's one of the reasons why we got into this mess.

The only way out is for fathers to get back in the game. We have to be present in our children's lives. Forget about being their friends. They have friends. They need fathers.

We have to be in our kids' faces, just like Grandpa and Dad used to be. And for the same reason -- because we care enough not to be anywhere else.

Sunday Drive: There but for Fortune

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Tale of Two Dads

From the Campaign for Southern Equality and Freedom to Marry:

My God, how times have changed in my own lifetime.  I well recall a day fifty years ago when these two guys would not have gotten out of the courthouse, for several reasons - they would have been jailed right then and there, if not shot.  So you see, it does get better.

Somewhere. Sometimes. For somebody.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

The magnificent David Anthony from Titan Men

Note: This last is apparently a genuine Kraft ad, published recently in People magazine, of all places. Jeezus. I mean, seriously?

It's Not Just the Feds You Should Worry About

A new documentary reveals the frightening power held by all the companies that you access online every day:
Terms And Conditions May Apply examines the cost of so-called 'free' services and the continuing disappearance of online privacy. People may think they know what they give up when they click 'I Agree' on companies like Facebook and Google. They're wrong.

See also the Guardian's guide to the metadata you generate online, and an example of how it was used by the FBI in the Petraeus scandal. (Hint: using an anonymous email account won't hide your identity.)

Update: On the other hand, you shouldn't stop worrying about the feds, either. Al Gore declared that the NSA's collection of vast amounts of data is "not really the American way" in a telephone interview published in the Guardian today:
Unlike other leading Democrats and his former allies, Gore said he was not persuaded by the argument that the NSA surveillance had operated within the boundaries of the law.

"This in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear," he said. "It is not acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is."

Gore added: "This is not right." . . .

Gore has long had qualms about the expansion of the surveillance state in the digital age. He made those concerns public this year in his latest book, The Future: Six Drivers of Social Change, in which he warned: "Surveillance technologies now available – including the monitoring of virtually all digital information – have advanced to the point where much of the essential apparatus of a police state is already in place."

Within hours of the Guardian's first story about the NSA, the former vice-president tweeted: "In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?

He said on Friday: "Some of us thought that it was probably going on, but what we have learned since then makes it a cause for deep concern."

Also: Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which has oversight of the Homeland Security Department, said after a briefing by intelligence officials that the revelations of NSA surveillance leaked to the media this past week are "just the tip of the iceberg," the program being much broader than hitherto suspected.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fifty Years Ago

In June of 1963, One magazine, the first gay mag in the country, which was published from 1952 to 1967, ran an article supporting "homophile marriage" - by which was meant, not legal same-sex marriage as we are fighting for today, but simply the settled, permanent state of living together with a lover -something sneered at then and now by the party boys.  Read the full article here.

It's interesting sometimes, and instructive as well, to reflect on the changes that the passing of the years brings to this old world, always spinning in circles, heedless of its course, lurching and bumping along. 

A half-century ago this week, your Head Trucker was exulting in the end of term at grade school and the beginning of summer vacation. I got my first sunburn that summer, after frolicking all day long in just a swimsuit on the beach where my family was vacationing. We never had a movie camera, nor did we ever get to California, but this film fragment will serve to show what the summer of '63 looked like on the beaches of America - and, er, some rather fetching beach boys too:

In Rome, the prelates of the Second Vatican Council were still mourning the death of their convenor, Pope John XXIII, whose funeral was on June 6th. His successor, Pope Paul VI, was elected on June 21st.

On June 11th, Alabama Governor George Wallace made his "stand in the schoolhouse door" to block integration of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Later that day, Wallace gave way when federal troops (nationalized Alabama National Guards) appeared to enforce the integration order of the federal district court; James Hood and Vivian Malone were subsequently enrolled that same day, the first black students ever admitted to a public university in Alabama.

That evening, President Kennedy delivered his landmark Civil Rights Address to the nation live on television, "transforming civil rights from a legal issue to a moral one." The Civil Rights Act he called for in the address was enacted a year later by Congress, seven months after Kennedy's assassination.

In the early morning hours after Kennedy's speech, civil-rights activist Medgar Evars was murdered in Jackson, Mississippi, shot in the back in the carport of his home. His killer, a member of the White Citzens Council, was not convicted of the murder until 1994.

Also on June 12th, the movie Cleopatra premiered in New York City. Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Burton, the four-hour-long film was one of the most expensive ever made; despite being the highest-grossing film of the year, it did not earn back its production costs and nearly bankrupted its maker, 20th Century Fox.

In Washington, the Post Office Department was preparing to unveil its brand new Zip Code numbering system on July 1st, and it would take repeated cajoling in a stream of public-service ads over the next few years to get the public used to the irritation of having to add a number to the end of an envelope address:

But Hertz was willing to put you in a new car via air mail at any time, with or without a zip code:

Across the ocean, Britain was reeling from the sordid revelations of the infamous Profumo Affair. Secretary of War John Profumo had just resigned on June 5th in the wake of press allegations of his affair with a call girl who was also consorting with a Soviet spy, and it was feared that his liaison had compromised the United Kingdom's national security.

No one in America outside of music industry executives and avant-garde disc jockeys had ever heard of the Beatles, who were in the middle of a summer-long tour of nearly every town of size in England and Wales, where they were already wildly popular. The first Beatle record most Americans ever heard, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," would not be played on U. S. airwaves until December of that year.

And the number-one song this week in 1963 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was "It's My Party" by 17-year-old high school senior Lesley Gore, seen here elegantly coiffed and gowned for a television appearance:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Traitor or Patriot?

The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things. . . . I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under. . . . I don't see myself as a hero, because what I'm doing is self-interested: I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity. --Edward Snowden

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. --Fourth Amendment, United States Constitution

An interview filmed a couple of days ago with the 29-year-old whistleblower who spilled the beans to the Guardian and the Washington Post about the National Security Agency's vast data-mining operations, thereby rocking the United States Government to its core:

Snowden was in Hong Kong when the interview was filmed, and quickly running out of funds. As of Sunday evening, Texas time, he had checked out of his hotel room, and the press says his whereabouts are "unknown."

He strikes your Head Trucker as a sensible, conscientious person, not a bug-eyed radical; and while he may or may not have been mistaken in his conclusions, my gut tells me his motives were good, and selfless, and for that I think he deserves our attention and respect. Of course, his days at liberty are likely to be numbered - if he is still alive, and not already kidnapped and flung into a hellhole "black prison" somewhere. But he seems to have known the enormous risks he was taking, and took them anyway. God help him.

Rachel further explores the limits of secrecy and freedom with the latest on the unfolding PRISM scandal, including a talk with one of the prime investigative journalists who broke the story - about 20 minutes of stuff here, but well worth your time:

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