Sunday, June 30, 2013

On the Eve of the Best NYC Pride Parade Evah!

I have spent a great deal of time working on a wonderful Believe Out Loud curriculum.  The focus is on telling our stories, pivotal times in our lives that committed or recommitted ourselves to our call to action and on graceful engagement, finding commonalities with people with whom we may not agree to continue dialogue instead of being confrontational.

This week, besides being a glorious time for celebration in the day and lesbian community, has helped me to think deeper about how a nation-wide event might play out in the context of these two tools for activism.

Tell our individual stories is effective, but telling our stories around a common event has the potential to be even more powerful.  This has played out through history for every group working for civil rights and equality through "Where were you when...?"

Where were you when Martin Luther king was assisnated?  Where were you when the civil rights act was passed?  In this day of instant media the question becomes more and more universallly answerable.  Today it is: Where were you when DOMA was declared unconstitutional?  Now add how did you feel and why? We can all tell a story about this.

Gay people can tell stories about what it will mean to them, how there lives will be different or what hopes you have that you didn't have before this happened.

My lesbian and gay brothers ans sisters have a choice.  They can see this with anger that it does not affect them.  That reaction is totally justifiable.  They can also tell a story from a place of empowerment.  They can tell a story of hope that this decision opens doors that were firmly shut.

And then there is graceful engagement.  That seems a very tough one today.  I read Brian Bown's (NOM) ranting that "It would appear that the desire to impose same-sex marriage by some public officials trumps integrity, fairness, propriety, and even the rule of law. All Americans should be outraged!"  And there is worse vitriol.

I believe that graceful engagement calls me not to do what I just did.  Quoting people who do not engage in graceful engagement does nothing but further the notability of these people.  Calling them "haters," as many bloggers do.  What I am called to do is frame the way of love... and this is more than spin.  The more that Brown and his ilk speak, the more that they reveal that there understanding of love, as preached by Jesus, who they say they follow, is limited

Friday, June 28, 2013

Court Watching and Learning, Disappointment and Rejoicing

This past two weeks I have started many blog posting that were never finished.  Today, on the anniversary of Stonewall, I am combining some of these to reflect the emotional Rollercoaster that has been June 2013.

MONDAY, June 17:

SCOTUSblog watching today.  No decisions on the big 4 (Affirmative Action, Voter Rights Act, DOMA or Prop 8.

I do now know that Ruth Bader Ginsberg can do 20 real pushups and that her late husband's cookbook is for sale at the SCOTUS gift shop.


Again none of the biggies.  The nail-biting goes on.

This court does rule with employers, not employees when it comes to discrimination. 

MONDAY, June 24

The decision on Affirmative Action was released.  In plain English the court held that an institution must demonstrate that all race-neutral options must be exhausted before race can be considered to achieve a diverse population.  In this case the institution was the University of Texas at Austin.  So affirmative action is not dead, but must be more highly scrutinized. 

TUESDAY, June 25:

Last Monday and Thursday, yesterday and today I have been glued to SCOTUSblog.  The decision on Perry and Windsor will be issued tomorrow.

In the meantime I have learned much.


Today's huge decision regarding the Voter Rights Act struck up conversation in my home.  I said asked him, as a southerner, "Don't you think that the VRA discriminates against the south?"

"If that higher scrutiny is lifted, I guarantee you that there will be changes that will attempt to limit the access to the polls for African-Americans and other minorities."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the preeminent watchdog group 40% of White Americans voted for an African-American president, in Alabama 15%. 

My belief is that lifting any scrutiny anywhere will open the door everywhere.  We saw last year that the lines were not just in the south.  However, I have never had to wait in a line to vote in my semi-rural polling place. Perhaps congress should make sure that polling places are distributed by population.  They certainly will never have the gumption to tinker with a formula.

All-in-all this is a troubling decision. There are many demonstrable voter repression actions that have been taken and are being proposed that will not be scrutinized.  States with voter ID bills pending are now given the green light.  The only ID needed here is my signature.


A TV commentator just referrred to the "usual 5-4" split.  That's a very real thing.  Although it is not always what happens, it happens often, especially in issues regarding a liberal/conservative ideology.  Whether you are a fan of the 5 or the 4 you should be disturbed by this.  This is court. It's only real job is to determine whether justice is being served.  As in the case of the VRA, congress has affirmed and reaffirmed this by huge majorities.  It's purpose is to assure that rights are not limited, that voting, the very basis of our democracy/republic is protected against

Justice Kennedy reads his opinion - Windsor v US

Today found Kyle and I hunched together watching SCOTUSblog scroll.

When the DOMA decision was released, Kyle cried and I was stunned.  This really was the absolute best decision that we could have hoped for from this conservative court.  DOMA is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.   We never had any doubt that was the case, but the decisions on the VRA and Affirmative action gave us some moments of real doubt as to what SCOTUS would do.  Another 5-4 decision, but this time in our favor.  Justice Kennedy has written 2 previous pro-gay decisions and now he has written 3.

Although we hoped that the court would declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional as well. It avoided this by returning it to the lower courts that already ruled that it was, but by denying standing to the appellants.  This is a cowardly way out, because if DOMA is unconstitutional then certainly so is Prop 8.  However the effect will be to allow marriage to resume rather quickly in California.  The opponents to same sex marriage will undoubtedly raise a ruckus, but the courts to which they would appeal have already ruled against them and the State of California refused to support their appeal because they agreed with the decisions of the court.

It is certainly possible that another proposition could be put forward, but polls show it would not pass.

So it's win-win for gay rights at the Supreme Court and we are very, very happy!

There is still a pall.  These decisions do not affect those in states where same-sex marriage is not legal, they do not affect any state but California.  There is still a section in DOMA that was not stuck down saying that no state may be forced to accept the same-sex marriages solemnized in another state.  This is clearly in conflict with "full faith and credit" that specifcally says that marriages in one state are recognized in another.  There will be more litigation.

As Dr. King has said, "The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice."


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Another Day Without a Decision on DOMA/Prop8

Today was the penultimate day scheduled for decisions to be released.  Monday is the last. It is quite likely however that additional day(s) will be added because there are still 11 cases to be decided.  The court traditionally adjourns the last week of June, however all of this is "tradition" and not a legal end date.  The court can do pretty much whatever the court wants.

There are 4 cases that are drawing great public attention:

    Shelby County v. Holder:  Challenging the Voter Rights Act (reauthorized by Congress in 2006)

    Fisher v University of Texas, Austin: Affirmative Action

    Hollingsworth v. Perry: Proposition 8

    United States v. Windsor:  Challenging DOMA

Back to nail biting.

Monday, June 17, 2013

One Gay Man's Perspective

Here we go again.  In 15 minutes the Supreme Court could release a decision that passes judgement on a key aspect of my life.  It's not really my sexuality.  It's who I love.  Of course the two do not exist independently, but who I love and who I build a home with is what is on the block here. It's about how that relationship is or isn't recognized by my state and my country.

Perhaps this is where all people can come to understand how important this is to me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Could Be Tomorrow

But most probably next week.  And there are so many possible outcomes.  Just a little nerve-racking.