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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Maya Angelou: Love Liberates

Your Head Trucker can add nothing to the many tributes that have been paid this week to the memory of the remarkable Maya Angelou, but perhaps you all will enjoy this short clip of her speaking about a favorite subject:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Waitin' for the Weekend

For all who love, have loved, or will love:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 5/23/14

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Drive: Time Is Tight

A live performance of this happy tune, one of your Head Trucker's all-time favorites. Adding interest to this clip are offstage glimpses of the members of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Sunset Boulevard

Steve Hayes reviews the spellbinding film-noir classic:
Billy Wilder takes a sardonic look at Hollywood's past in the classic SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950). The film stars William Holden, Nancy Olsen, Erich Von Stroheim, and, in the greatest comeback in motion picture history, Gloria Swanson as silent screen star Norma Desmond. Based on an Oscar-winning original screenplay by Wilder and writing partner Charles Bracket, it tells the story of a down-and-out Hollywood screenwriter taken in by a faded silent star. Eventually, he finds himself trapped in her web of memories, money, sex, and disillusionment. It's a gritty look at the motion picture industry that's as true today as the when it was made. A business that takes talented people, builds them up, puts them on pedestals, then tosses them aside and forgets them once their talent and box office appeal have been used up. SUNSET BOULEVARD is fascinating, frustrating, funny, and fragile. It's not a pretty picture, but just try and look away.

Catch more fabulous movie reviews at Steve's YouTube channel.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pennsylvania Marriage Ban Overturned

Reuters reports:
A federal judge on Tuesday struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage, the latest in a series of court decisions across the country confirming gay couples' rights to wed. Finding Pennsylvania's 1996 Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, District Court Judge John Jones III wrote: "By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth."

The ruling makes Pennsylvania the 19th U.S. state where gay marriage is allowed, a movement that has gained momentum since the Supreme Court ruled last June that legally married same-sex couples are eligible for federal benefits.

Most recent court rulings allowing gay marriage have included a stay pending appeal, but Jones' ruling does not. There is, however, a mandatory three-day waiting period for all weddings in Pennsylvania.

In the ruling, the judge noted that the issue of gay marriage "is a divisive one."

"Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage," he wrote. "However, that same sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection."

He compared Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage to the school segregation laws overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

"We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history," he wrote.

Full transcript of the ruling is here, and the accompanying order here.

Tweet of the Day, via Joe.My.God.:

Update, 5/21/14:  Pennyslvania Governor Tom Corbett announced today that he will not appeal the court's ruling.  Since nobody else has standing to appeal, it seems marriage equality is there to stay in the Keystone State.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 5/19/14; Oregon Marriages Begin

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

And good news from the Beaver State: U. S. District Judge Michael J. McShane overturned Oregon's same-sex marriage ban today, holding that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of equal protection. By separate order, the ruling is effective immediately. The National Organization for Marriage filed an emergency appeal for a stay with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Ninth Circuit promptly told NOM to go take a hike. Gotta love it.

According to the Christian Science Monitor:
Prior to the Oregon decision, 17 states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriages. Thirty-three states had banned gay marriage either by passing a statute or enacting a constitutional amendment.

In addition to Monday’s action in Oregon, federal judges have struck down same-sex marriage bans in six other states – Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Michigan, and, last week, in Idaho. Those decisions have all been stayed and are either under appeal or are about to be appealed.

A state judge in Arkansas also recently struck down that state’s limitations on same-sex marriage. The Arkansas Supreme Court has stayed that ruling pending an appeal.
The Oregonian has a number of videos of the first couples to marry today, with county clerks waiving - for a fee - the state's normal three-day waiting requirement.

In his opinion, Judge McShane made this telling observation about Oregon law:
Despite the fact that these couples [the plaintiffs] present so vividly the characteristics of a loving and supportive relationship, none of these ideals we attribute to marriage are spousal prerequisites under Oregon law. In fact, Oregon recognizes a marriage of love with the same equal eye that it recognizes a marriage of convenience. It affords the same set of rights and privileges to Tristan and Isolde that it affords to a Hollywood celebrity waking up in Las Vegas with a blurry memory and a ringed finger. It does not, however, afford these very same rights to gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry within the confines of our geographic borders.
And the learned judge, who happens to be gay, said this in his poignant conclusion:
I am aware that a large number of Oregonians, perhaps even a majority, have religious or moral objections to expanding the definition of civil marriage (and thereby expanding the benefits and rights that accompany marriage) to gay and lesbian families. It was these same objections that led to the passage of Measure 36 in 2004. Generations of Americans, my own included, were raised in a world in which homosexuality was believed to be a moral perversion, a mental disorder, or a mortal sin. I remember that one of the more popular playground games of my childhood was called "smear the queer" and it was played with great zeal and without a moment's thought to today's political correctness. On a darker level, that same worldview led to an environment of cruelty, violence, and self-loathing. It was but 1986 when the United States Supreme Court justified, on the basis of a "millennia of moral teaching," the imprisonment of gay men and lesbian women who engaged in consensual sexual acts. Bowers 478 U.S. at 197 (Burger, C.J., concurring), overruled by Lawrence 539 U.S. at 578. Even today I am reminded of the legacy that we have bequeathed today' s generation when my son looks dismissively at the sweater I bought him for Christmas and, with a roll of his eyes, says "Dad . . . that is so gay."

It is not surprising then that many of us raised with such a world view would wish to protect our beliefs and our families by turning to the ballot box to enshrine in law those traditions we have come to value. But just as the Constitution protects the expression of these moral viewpoints, it equally protects the minority from being diminished by them.

It is at times difficult to see past the shrillness of the debate. Accusations of religious bigotry and banners reading "God Hates Fags" make for a messy democracy and, at times, test the First Amendment resolve of both sides. At the core of the Equal Protection Clause, however, there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities.

My decision will not be the final word on this subject, but on this issue of marriage I am struck more by our similarities than our differences. I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families. Families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure. With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community.

Where will this all lead? I know that many suggest we are going down a slippery slope that will have no moral boundaries. To those who truly harbor such fears, I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other . . . and rise.

Full text of the ruling here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Drive: Mozart, Serenade in G Major, 4th Movement

A favorite of mine, and so fitting for the merry month of May. Crank it up.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Next Up: Gay Marriage in Idaho!

Yet another win for marriage equality, as the Idaho State Journal reports:
[U.S. District Judge Candy] Dale struck down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban in response to a lawsuit from four Idaho couples. Dale said Idaho's law unconstitutionally denies gay and lesbian couples their fundamental right to marry and wrongly stigmatizes their families. She said the state must start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday morning.
In her ruling, Judge Dale wrote:
This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority. . . .

[T]he dispositive principle in this case is that "fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections." The Supreme Court has endorsed this principle again and again. As Justice Robert Jackson so eloquently put it [in 1949]:
The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget today, that there is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally. Conversely, nothing opens the door to arbitrary action so effectively as to allow those officials to pick and choose only a few to whom they will apply legislation and thus to escape the political retribution that might be visited upon them if larger numbers were affected. Courts can take no better measure to assure that laws will be just than to require that laws be equal in operation.
This principle resonates today, as 10 federal courts across the country have in recent months reached similar conclusions on the very issues present in this case. Considering many of the same arguments and much of the same law, each of these courts concluded that state laws prohibiting or refusing to recognize same-sex marriage fail to rationally advance legitimate state interests. This judicial consensus was forged from each court’s independent analysis of Supreme Court cases extending from Loving through Romer, Lawrence, and Windsor. The logic of these precedents virtually compels the conclusion that same-sex and opposite-sex couples deserve equal dignity when they seek the benefits and responsibilities of civil marriage. Because Idaho’s Marriage Laws do not withstand any applicable form of constitutional scrutiny, the Court finds they violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Full text of the ruling is here.

This morning, Judge Dale denied Governor Butch Otter's request for a stay; the state will now ask the U.S. Ninth Circuit for a stay.

BTW - Governor Butch Otter??  That's rich.

Wikipedia's marriage map is pretty damn ugly and way confusing, but it reflects accurately the crazy-quilt nature of state laws on marriage equality at present:

Marriage equality states are in dark blue. Click here for a legend and explanatory footnotes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dale Hansen is Ticked Off

Find out why in this clip of the famed Dallas sportscaster defending Michael Sam - even if, like me, you don't care anything about football, this is a three-snap putdown not to be missed.

And some poignant thoughts emailed to me over the weekend by my best friend and fellow Pork Boy, M.P., with permission:
Yes it's all so amazing, that what we never dreamed in our wildest we would see in this world . . . no one may understand what its like to be hated and still be invisible. Hated because you are just who you are, and invisible because you need to stay that way at least for your own safety, out of fear, to gain respect, even pretend to get love, but also for the pathetic reason that you can pretend that way that you are not hated, and move through day after day trying to eke out a life that seems to have no meaning in this world. That you will never be "as human" as real people, able to love and live happily as real people, to have jobs and bank accounts and normal lives like real people. Never be, especially in the eyes of God, as good as "real people" - in fact, you are hated and absolutely bound to hell, and would surely ruin all the world and those around you, bring them to hell with you, if you don't remain invisible. . . .

Today being a gay man means I'm a man like any other, and that a man who is Gay (and black even) can celebrate that he's an outstanding athlete, and kiss his boyfriend to show his excitement, and the world sees him as he's not invisible. And they celebrate his good fortune, even his kiss on national, even international TV. Today I can be a gay man and celebrate that I am a good cook and artist, love beauty, create beauty, love music, dance, poetry, philosophy, and those gifts are celebrated in me because of the fact that I'm GAY. and so I write these words to you my friend because no one but us who have been invisible get it. That all may become EX-Invisibles, and that children in the future who are like us never feel the need to be unseen, unheard, unloved - for them and for us is why tears run down my face as I write this, why tears ran down Michael Sam's face, and mine then as I watched him.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 5/12/14

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Here's the Utah ad for same-sex marriage from Freedom to Marry, featuring Drs. Wendy Matis and Dale Smith and their children:

And in Arkansas, the state attorney general has asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to issue a stay on gay marriages; it's not known how soon the court will respond.  By noon today, more than 100 gay couples had obtained marriage licenses in Little Rock and Fayetteville, and some were married at the courthouses, but the clerk in Eureka Springs has apparently has stopped issuing marriage licenses for some unknown reason.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Super Saturday

The kiss seen round the world.

Three great news stories yesterday: first, Austrian drag performer Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision song contest with her rendition of "Rise like a Phoenix." Now the bearded-lady look doesn't do much for your Head Trucker; frankly, I think it's silly, show-offish, and extremely unattractive - but Putin and his evil homo-bashing thugs in Nowheresville are all pissed off by this, so fuck him - up with Conchita!

Second, Arkansas became the first Southern state where same-sex marriages were performed, following state circuit judge Chris Piazza' ruling late Friday that the state's marriage ban is unconstitutional.  In a very learned ruling that cited other recent rulings in Virginia, Utah, and Okalahoma, as well as the Windsor and Loving rulings, and even the Dred Scott Decision, Judge Piazza wrote:
Regardless of the level of review required, Arkansas’s marriage laws discriminate against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause because they do not advance any conceivable legitimate state interest necessary to support even a rational basis review. . . .

Furthermore, the fact that Amendment 83 was popular with voters does not protect it from constitutional scrutiny as to federal rights. The very purpose of a bill of rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. W.Ya. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette,319 U.S. 624,638 (1943). The Constitution guarantees that all citizens have certain fundamental rights. These rights vest in every person over whom the Constitution has authority and, because they are so important, an individual’s fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections. Id. at 638. . . .

It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.
The county clerk in Eureka Springs, a gay-friendly resort town up in the Ozarks, issued 15 marriage licenses yesterday.  The state attorney general plans to appeal the ruling, so it's not yet known when or whether other Arkansas counties will follow suit on Monday.  KARK in Little Rock reports:

And in neighboring Missouri, my fellow Texan Michael Sam made some fabulous history by becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL when was drafted by the Saint Louis Rams yesterday - and kissed his boyfriend, Mizzou swimmer Vito Cammisano, live on ESPN, which broadcast a number of instant-replays of the smooch.  It's quite a moving moment, if you haven't seen it yet:

Afterwards, Sam received congratulations from, among others, President Obama.  BTW, his story is even more moving when you consider that Sam is the first of his troubled family to attend college; read about his very difficult upbringing near Galveston in this NYT report.

Sunday Drive: Debussy, Clair de Lune

Friday, May 9, 2014

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Monet's Garden

My mother used to have a painted iron trivet which read:

One is nearer God's heart in a garden
than anywhere else on earth.

Your Head Trucker has no green thumb, unfortunately, but sometimes wishes he did.  What better refuge is there from the strife and ugliness of the world than a lovely garden in full bloom?  Here we can spend a few moments luxuriating in the painter's famous garden at Giverny - a little bit of heaven, it seems to me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 5/5/14

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

More about the Alaska Supreme Court decision here.

A video of retired Army colonel Ed Cuyler and wife Robbie speaking out in support of their lesbian daughter and daughter-in-law who are raising a family in Oklahoma:

And sadly, recently retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, whose consecration in 2003 rocked and split the Anglican Communion, has announced that he and his huband, Mark Andrew, are divorcing. The couple have been together for over 25 years.  Read Bishop Robinson's announcement in the Daily Beast here.

Bishop Gene Robinson and Mark Andrew, 2003

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sunday Drive: Spanish Flea

What better way to begin lusty May than with a little, um, Spanish flea?  From 1967 or so:

Say, whatever happened to Herb Alpert, anyway?  From 2011:

He's not Hispanic?? Who knew?

A Talk with Justice Ginsburg

Attorney Ted Olson - who with David Boies was lead counsel on the Prop 8 case heard by the Supreme Court last year - chats with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at a technology conference in Reston, Virginia, last December. Justice Ginsburg's observations on the history, societal role, and workings of the Court are fascinating, but you really ought to listen at least from 9:00 to 12:00 to learn about the new opera being written, Scalia/Ginsburg. Seriously, it's a real thing.

A copy of the talk with clearer video can be seen here at the C-SPAN website.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Waitin' for the Weekend

Say, what's that smell?

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