Marc Solomon is justifiably flogging his newly published Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of how Same-Sex Couples took on the Politicians and Pundits — and Won. He is national campaign director for Freedom to Marry and has been a key player in several rights groups for 13 years.
Eager-Reader Note: You can order his book through his website. Click on the title above to go there.
In fundamentally another stop on his book tour, Solomon came on to answer past, present and future questions about marriage equality in the U.S., as well as describing what's in WMTISOHSSCTOTPAPAW. We're not huge on promoting books. That's for the likes of The Daily Show. However, I think this is one is really timely, very important, and with a strong local angle.
Solomon admits we aren't quite to full marriage equality yet, but expects it soon. He figures that with or without Chief Justice John Roberts' vote, the Supreme Court will expand it to the nation, likely this term, by the end of June 2015.
Getting there has not been easy nor linear. Click the player below to hear some of the road blocks and struggles. He recounts the anguish of California's Prop 8, which stripped legislated equality away, only to have it restored in another initiative. There, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "punted" as Solomon put it, after vetoing SSM twice and claiming the courts should decide. In the end though, Schwarzenegger aided the cause by not fighting the result.
Solomon also recalled the struggle to keep marriage equality alive in MA, the first state to legalize it, with the Goodridge decision of our Supreme Judicial Court. Efforts to overturn that pivoted on a ballot initiative that would require only 25% of the combined bicameral legislature to put to a risky vote. Listen in as Solomon describes what worked in MA and later elsewhere. Convincing lawmakers to support equality required gay couples, many with children, to visit their Reps and Senators to simultaneously present themselves and plead the case. That made the difference here and elsewhere.
While that campaign went on, Solomon said the pro-marriage-equality forces often felt the whole world opposed them — leadership in the Vatican, the commonwealth's Republican party, local pols like Sen. John Kerry, and national ones like Karl Rove. He talks about how their strategy won the day, even with legislators from rural and more conservative urban areas.
Now, Solomon says, the anti- forces have pretty much lost their strength. The Catholic Church has shifted its position, the Mormon Church has backed away, and the professional anti-gay groups have much less support as the nation favors SSM by 60% or more.
For one point, Solomon is much kinder to President Barack Obama than I on the issue. Many political insiders hold that Obama was always pro-SSM but cynically held off saying so before his first election. I am incredulous that he and his wife, both lawyers with him also a former law professor, certainly knew the distinction between religious ritual and civil marriage.Solomon, who was privy to White House thinking, phrases the process leading to Obama's support for equality differently. Solomon sees a very narrow range where politicians feel comfortable making definitive statement on controversial issues. "It's simply the way the political process works," he said.
Cross-post note: This appears at Left Ahead.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Thursday, November 06, 2014
No more hiding from marriage-equality for the US Supreme Court, as the 6th Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 to uphold same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. This stands alone after the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th Courts rejected the bans and upheld lower-court rulings.
Despite the jive rhetoric of right wingers, has seldom been "activist" or "legislators from the bench." That's what wingers have called it when the Supremes or state high courts do their jobs but don't find as conservatives want.
Instead, the Supremes have largely waited until pushed hard and often enough. Every so rarely, they do something wacky, illogical and spitting in precedence, such as Citizen's United. Normally our highest court only goes into huge battles when there is a direct conflict between Courts of Appeal.
Observers figured this was eventually going to happen, even after a long, thick string of victories for equality. The 6th Circuit is very conservative and was the likely catalyst. Simply put, come out, come out. You guys have to decide. Suddenly equal protection is up against states' rights.
Today's ruling was about more than just marriage of homosexual couples. Among the cases the three-judge panel considered were whether same-sex couples could adopt, whether they had such rights as being on each other's death certificates (with all those ramifications), and whether states had to offer comity — recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states where they are legal (i.e. most of the nation).
There is no legal option for the Supremes. They likely won't rush into this one, but will have to decide it.
Friday Update: LGBTQNation reports that the lesbian couple who sued Michigan for the right to jointly adopt their three kids are preparing an appeal to the SCOTUS. This likely will hasten the schedule for taking up the big question at the top.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Yes indeed we'll have two-page, double-sided ballots next week. Be aware most of that is the four ballot questions...and that this is a simpler set of choices than the recent Dem primary.
I happily play scout and point the trail. I read the literature, go to the stump speeches, watch the debates, and drill down into the campaign sites so others don't have to. People do ask and I do say.
Do all of us elections officials and your fellow voters a big favor. Show up knowing which ovals you'll smear. You can do the essential research in two minutes through the secretary of the commonwealth's site. Go here to view or print your precinct's ballot.
Count 'em 4 Questions
I have strong thoughts on these four. If you don't or are undecided on any, feel free to use my brain. The short of it No on 1 and Yes on 2, 3, and 4. My reasoning is in my Left Ahead podcast, which you can access here.
Mostly Obvious Choices
Sometimes I mix it up, but this cycle, the picks are Dems, as in:
- US Sen. Re-elect Ed Markey over a weak GOP Brian Herr (no real vision or any other virtues)
- Gov./Lt. Gov. Martha Coakley/Steve Kerrigan over Charlie Baker/Karyn Polito. Reject the baseless, even puerile, fantasy that putting a Republican in the titular head office somehow balances anything. The nominally heavily Dem legislature is not very liberal putting a GOP Gov. in is silly. Baker has toxic history from his roles running HHS and the Big Dig finance, and in his inhumane approach to fixing Harvard Pilgrim. Don't trust him.
- AG. No contest between the brilliant and experiened Maura Healeyk and the ho-hum John Miller.
- Secretary of State. Bill Galvin is stagnant and is a Luddite whose technology foot-dragging makes it hard to access "his" data (it should be ours). Alas, neither D'Archangelo nor Factor has made a convincing argument to unseat him. Too bad. Last time, Jim Henderson did, but as an indy, he didn't have the recognition. Begrudgingly, Galvin yet again.
- Treasurer. Deb Goldberg is the one, over GOP Mike Heffernan and Indy Ian Jackson. She has the experience and smarts.
- Auditor. Re-elect Suzanne Bump over GOP Patricia Saint Aubin and Indy MK Merelice. In a fit on inexplicable asininity, The Globe endorsed Saint Aubin. who is an anti-gay, anti-marriage-equality bigot. Moreoer, she got a basic accounting degree 34 years ago and briefly practiced as an auditor; too little, too long ago to qualify her for anything. She is abrasive. Bump has found terrific waste in the system and saved us tons of money. Let her keep at it.
- Congress. Incumbents are OK and in the one meaningful race for an open slot, the Sixth US House District, go with Seth Moulton over Richard Tisei. I generally like Bay Windows picks, but they are wrong picking the latter. Sure, he's openly gay and wants to push ENDA, but he's a Republican first and not in a good way. He promises to be John Boehner's puppy. Tisei has been a MA state senator and there's nothing he knows that Moulton can't outdo in a few days of study and conversation. Moulton has better politics and planks.
More of my reasoning on most of these choices are in another Left Ahead show here.
So, if for some reason you don't totally agree with all my choices, still vote next Tuesday. For all of our sake, come prepared with your picks.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
In the case of Mike Huckabee, the threat is le déluge. But far more realistically, it would be just sans moi.
It was big yucks from Huck last Tuesday on winger radio, American Family Radio's Today's Issues. He was on with a couple of other loonies, including Rick Santorum. Huckabee's false prophesy starts around 22:18.
The short of it is that he said that if Republicans accept same-sex marriage, the GOP will lose all elections going forward. Setting aside that the opposite has been the case and getting more so, bigotry and discrimination don't cut it.
Moreover, the Huck says obey him, GOP, or see a wholesale desertion.
I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans, who have abdicated on this issue, If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing and Bible-believing people just go ahead and abdicate on this issue. And while you are at it, go ahead and say abortion doesn't matter either because at that point you lose me.He's going to take his Bible and go away, but not go home. He seems to figure he'll call out, "Over here, y'all true Christians," and millions will do it.
I'll become an independent and I'll start finding people that have guts to stand," he said. "I am tired of this.
Alas, his record of leading and harvesting voters suggests, very strongly, otherwise.
Vanity and ego, behold yourself in Mike Huckabee.
Monday, October 06, 2014
SCOTUS shocks must be good for me, at least keeping me alert and flexible. They did it again today, refusing without comment the requests by five states to review federal courts overturning their gay-marriage bans.
WaPo has its usual thorough coverage of this here. Also, The NYTimes has deeper history here.
Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin are in this batch. In Virginia, for example, that commonwealth will begin issuing licenses this afternoon and will recognize the same-sex marriages from other states where they are legal already.
It is almost certain that this will quickly expand to six more states — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia — where federal appeals courts have ruled such bans unconstitutional. That would bring to 30 the number of states with marriage equality.
States that has piled on both constitutional amendments and laws banning marriage equality are the legal equivalent of oldsters whose Depend diapers fail them, with lots of soiled clothing involved.
How now what they manage to hurt, harm, hamper and hinder homosexuals? We can be sure the plug nasties will keep at it. They've done that with abortion and contraception rights, voting laws and more. When they hate a group, they plug away.
Meanwhile, this morning's SCOTUS announcement hints strongly that the high court will duck nationwide case this term to settle this. Despite the crazy conservative decisions of late, it seems the justices can't deny that marriage is a fundamental right, hence worthy of legal protection.
A clear case or set of cases would almost certainly come down favoring marriage equality. The justices are particularly loath to mandate where individual states have traditionally set their rules. Of course, they did just that in Loving v. Virginia, but that was 57 years ago.
I say it's time to do it again.
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Many other nations have their own public loonies. As in the U.S., those have voice as politicians or actors or business owners. Our most local, current version certainly includes Scott Lively.
He is one of five who will appear on the MA ballot for governor on Nov. 4th. I'd write "God help us," but that is largely a figure of speech. Lively seems to think he has that market cornered,
Pix note: Above are two screen caps (fair use claimed) from WGBY's recent broadcast of a gubernatorial debate with the five candidates. The wide-eyed one at left was his finest, funniest moment when he answered a question about medical marijuana by shouting that he "inhaled...A LOT!" While ID'ing himself as a pastor, he admits to 16 years of alcohol and other drug abuse. The image on the right is of his more usual, studied expression.
Lively is plain about his ideas. They are on his campaign site, as well as his personal one. The latter includes PDF files of chapters of his widely debunked co-authored The Pink Swastika. The book postulates that the Holocaust in particular and Nazism more generally were direct products of a group of German homosexuals.
A hallmark of ingrained, intense bigotry is that its being like a tarp that can cover everything. You can take Lively's words to verify that. If you did not catch the debate, check the video on the link above in the Pix note. Scroll to the bottom of the article to play it.
In the spirit of religiosity, I confess. I have not contacted Lively to ask him to do a Left Ahead show. The Dems and independents have all been on (see archives). The Republican won't even return my calls or emails, likely terrified of "Left" in the show title. For Lively, I'm not at all confident I could be civil enough to let him express himself. I could end up doing a show in the style of Bill O'Reilly or Chis Matthews for him.
Square One, Square OneLively is a good entertainer, as befits a self-described pastor. For example, near the end of the debate, he had the best shtick of the hour, riffing on what he said was his 16 years of drug abuse. Unfortunately, he plays the dour scold nearly always.
You can read his positions on his campaign site. They are extreme and very much out of sync with MA voters' views. While his team managed to get 10,000-plus registered voters to sign his ballot petitions, they'd be hard pressed to find 10,000 people here that really agree with his positions, which include:
- Abortion is the intentional killing of a living human being and should be criminalized...Since abortion is a form of homicide, it should bear similar punishment, depending on the severity of the particular crime.
- (W)e should abolish public-employee unions and return to the earlier model in which public service was a civic duty and privilege shared by the citizens.
- Since they (LGBT people) cannot prove that homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender is innate and unchangeable, we must assume for the sake of the children that these behavior-based lifestyles are acquired, and can be overcome.
- Rather than rewarding those who gained (or gamed) their entry to the United States by cheating (I'm speaking now of the adults who have been here for a long time), it is time to ask the illegal immigrants to take all that they have learned about living in an orderly democratic society back to their homelands so they can recreate there what they have enjoyed here.
- We should dismantle the destructive feminist system of emasculating boys with pharmaceuticals and gender-blending social engineering tactics in public schools and the popular culture, and restore key elements of what feminists derisively call the “patriarchal society,” but which in reality is just respect for authentic male leadership.
Those are just samples from his positions. In the full context, those and such planks as the death penalty are more extreme.
During the debate, nearly every comment returned to what he termed his Biblical world view. That, of course, meant his particular take on carefully chosen verses to support his starting positions.
For example, he disdained LGBT rights and any mention of homosexuality during classes. Nothing else illustrated this so clearly as his off-the-road detour from the question about MA infrastructure. Consider:
I think there's a corrupt system we have right now and frankly I thank when we're talking corruption, we really need to be looking at the moral infrastructure of Massachusetts as well. We're killing unborn babies every single day in this state. We are promoting sexual perversion to the children in the public schools. Those kinds of things are corrupting us from the inside much worse than what's happening with our road system and our bridges.He had started out touching on a bit of the infrastructure problem, suggesting that state contractors pay for bonds to cover cost overruns on bids. Yet he did not really address the infrastructure question the other four did. He brought in all manner of unrelated subjects, thoroughly muddying the waters and likely confusing listeners. He again also brought in his personal bugbear, homosexuals.
To his credit, Baker answered the next question and ended by taking Lively to task for his anti-gay allusion. Baker noted that his gay and married brother informed his views and feelings here, that he found the remarks somewhat offensive. Lively tossed out afterward, "I believe in the Bible, Charlie. I'm sorry that you don't."
Other oddmentsI suggest listening to the debate, even if you just fast forward to Lively's answers. You'll hear that what was an idyllic agrarian MA has deviated from our Judeo-Christian to a Marxist perspective. Lively would aim to severely limit state government. "I would reverse that process. I would go back to localism," he said.
He would not increase funding for education, and in fact opposes universal pre-K. He believes that public schools, even before first grade are turning children over to government. He'd set up a voucher system that would include paying home-schooling parents.
He called climate change and global warming concerns "a scam." "The nonsense called global warming is a scheme of transnational elitists to institute a global taxation system," he said. He figures climate change can largely be blamed on the sun.
Those are glimpses of Lively's shadow world. Do listen to the whole debate and ponder his sites if you need more.
Back in the U.S.A.Despite frequent victimization claims of repression by wingers and religious extremists, the U.S. is damned (that word again) loose in free speech. We let citizens and visitors make all manner of wild, unsupported, unsupportable claims. We don't have hate-speech laws like many European nations and Canada.
As states began enabling marriage equality, anti-gay sorts often claimed that it would mean preachers would be pulled from their pulpits and sent to prison for homophobic rhetoric. It hasn't, can't and won't happen here, but that does not stop the canard.
Instead haters like Lively can and do get on ballots. They almost always lose, but they can run, speak, and attract the votes and donations of like-minded loons. I think this is where we're supposed to agree it's a great country.
Sunday, September 07, 2014
Till now, I avoided the Universal Life Church, a.k.a. The Monastery. Any hippie or hipster leanings I've had stopped short of what some deride as mail-order ordination.
Instead I hiked uphill with my respect and affection for marriage. The five I have performed — solemnized in nuptial lingo — started with petitioning the governor here. That is the state law and one of the inspirations for this blog, along with promoting marriage equality. Yet the process sounds a bit grander than its reality.
One of my early posts here over a decade ago was on what was then the physical process of earning the wax seal on the one-day certificate of solemnization. Alas, over the years and the five marriages, the official process of getting the right to sign a couple's license has lost much of its theater.
Even the stodgy secretary of the commonwealth's office uses technology to simplify, streamline, and in the process demystify getting the paper. You can apply online and be pretty set in a week.
I confess that I enjoyed the formality of petitioning the governor. In reality, that surely fell and falls to some petty functionary in the secretary of the commonwealth's office. Now that would lack drama in the telling.
On the other hand, three years ago, a chum from my professional association asked if I would solemnize his daughter's wedding when she and her beau were on a prolonged visit during their break from their French college. Of course I would, although that would run afoul of our general law Chapter 207 §39. That law limits one-day solemnizations to one per calendar year.
I filled out the application to the governor's office and in my cover letter noted that this would be second marriage that year. Much to my surprise I got a call from Gov. Deval Patrick's top aide, saying that would be fine.
Note that California has done this right. For the longest time, Massachusetts was alone in this splendid method of letting family and friends conduct marriages for loved ones. When California was looking at pending passage of marriage equality, it passed but better legislation. There, you can get the privilege much as you would a marriage license, no high ranking officials involved at all. Plus, you can perform as many as you'd like.We need to catch up with the leapfroggers.
Recently when the sister of a family friend asked via that friend if I'd perform her wedding, I agreed. Then I considered the logistics. There wasn't much time. More important, they knew place but were unsure of the date. The one-day law requires exact details of the couple, the city of marriage ceremony and the date. If anything changes, you need to re-apply.
That sent me to the Monastery. I wanted the flexibility that comes with just being able to sign the license after the ceremony. Lackaday, the residual theater goes away here.
I did apply and got my credentials of ministry quickly. However, while in many states, that's all you need, Massachusetts adds a layer. While it is free to do you, to perform marriages here, you must get on an approved list. That includes:
- Being a Massachusetts resident
- Providing a copy of ordination papers
- Sending an original letter of good standing in the church that ordained you
That took a few extra days to assemble the paperwork. It also highlighted one of The Monastery's clever funding wrinkles. The packets of documents with ordination do no include a letter of good standing. In states that require one to have on file, it requires another order ($18 more, plus $18.50 shipping, in a #10 envelope).
There is an Emergency Minister's Package ($64.99, plus shipping) that includes the letter. You would suppose that more expensive and grander sounding packages would have it all, but they do not. To their credit, The Monastery does have some packages for states with convoluted laws, like California, NYC, NY state same-sex, and Nevada extras.
The key point is that you should work several angles if you go with the Monastery. Find out from the secretary of state where you might perform marriages before getting ordained this way. Then you can safe effort, time and money returning to order the surprise essentials.
Note too that after submitting everything to get on the marriage list here, I found they don't notify you. You need to call them and make sure they got the paperwork and certified you an officiant.
On the other hand, if you are in Massachusetts and expect to perform a single marriage, go with petitioning the governor. It's only $25 pus a stamp, and comes with the cachet of explaining how you, a non-minister/not-JP got to do that.
I would note to anyone deriding ULC/Monastery ordination, it's a several steps down from a divinity school degree, plus the fellowship process many churches require. However, it is a solid step up from the self-ordaining crowd. I know people who call themselves ministers, saying they got a personal call from God, and others who give themselves ecclesiastical titles (Bishop is big in one father/son mega-church around here). It's made-up stuff and America is just one country with a long history of ministry-because-I-say-so.
For the pending wedding, I met with the couple. As with each of the previous weddings, I planned, customized and produced the ceremony and vows. Unlike the many weddings I've attended, mine are what suits and what will be memorable to the couple and attendants.
I suspect ministers, justices of the peace and others who conduct weddings get as tired of the cant as the guests do. When my eldest son married, I dickered with him and my future daughter-in-law considerably on wording. They really only knew what they didn't wants (like nothing from the Bible). In the end, I drafted my own concept, figuring that was the next round of negotiation. Mirabile dictu! They were pleased and we went with it.
At their reception, a minister and a JP asked for copies of the ceremony. They were tired of delivering the same repeatedly. As with so much of life, creativity trumps cliché.
I'm likely to report here on how this wedding goes next weekend. While I'll miss turning in the designation of solemnization with the signed license, they'll be just as married.
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Having just watched and listened to the BIG DEBATE (numerous media outlets) 6 days before the MA primary, I was disheartened. As a pol wonk, I fretted at how few voters might have tuned in or stayed in; as a poll warden, I feared how few would bother to come to the polls 9/9.
The short of it is that the two moderators — Andy Hiller and Janet Wu — are pretty simple-minded and do not fit the Socratic ideal of maieutic questioning. Hiller had some bozo mindset of drilling whether it differed that funds came from the feds or commonwealth. Wu was her usual dull self, unable ask anything insightful.
I did not get the sense in the hour that far-front leader Martha Coakley avoided controversy or hard positions to play it safe, Her style is simply non-confrontational and even noncommittal.
Granted I favor the bold, progressive positions of Don Berwick. It's no surprise that I thought he trounced Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman. His powerful performance should make little difference. All the polls have Coakley winning by 20 or more points over Grossman and Berwick getting the bronze.
He repeatedly used that to good effect this evening as he waved at AG Coakley and Treasurer Grossman to paint them as career pols. "I haven't clapped anybody's back," he said. "I don't know any lobbyists."
One amusing, if ultimately trivial, question for the trio was as they are all over 60 and boomers, how do they relate to young voters. Here again, Berwick was best. He's an outdoorsman, including hiker, and immediately responded, "I'll met them on the cross-country trail first."
And thus the hour went. Coakley was largely washed over by responses from the guys. She was not so much passive (and certainly not negative in the passive-aggressive sense) as she answered under duress.
Pressed by opponents and moderators alike, Coakley could not come up with a single reason to trust her. Come her approval of the terrible Partners merger or casinos implementation or suit to recover sneaky financing of a hospital's money, she went with the rules-are-rules, laws-are-laws, and I'll-stand-by-my-work non-answers.
Maybe the most telling inter-candidate questioning in the second half was when Berwick asked Coakley if she didn't have any position beyond boilerplate ones. He called for big ideas, strong stances. She could or would not point to any, and on casinos again said that the voters will make the decision and she'll abide.
All in all, Grossman remained the Eagle Scout as always. Fortunately he was less whiny and nasty this time than in previous debates. Coakley was flat, but may not have had to been better. Berwick circled both, but did it matter?
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
There is still no good answer in America to who will guard the guards themselves. I am a little stunned to see that I asked that as long as eight years ago here. The beat goes on, the beating down goes on, and the putting down goes on.
Eight years ago, it was a Boston cop who spent the night into the wee morning hours at a bar with chums. Driving home, he plowed at high speed in the breakdown lane into a young mom who belonged there — disabled car with blinkers on, waiting for a tow. He told the staties on I93 he was sober. They never tested him in any way, as they surely would have anyone without a badge. No charges. She died. In 20 minutes they had cleared the road as though nothing happened.
The same and even worse happens when cops murder with guns, allegedly justifiable homicide while on duty. This pat month, for a dreadful example set, four unarmed young black men were gunned down. Unless we act from top and bottom, all the uniformed perps will be free to continue.
Surely, most assuredly, we have come to points through this nation where we can no long allow cops to murder with impunity. Other cops, prosecutors and judges must be made to realize, even if they lack, compassion and reason, that we cannot as a nature murder by police as the natural order of America.
I have absolutely no doubt that this horror will not abate until the bad cops know that if they harm or kill citizens they face prosecution, and prison. That means that the floppy end of the justice chain (those police, DAs and judges) tightens up and does their jobs.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie, 76, was swamped in his primary over the weekend. A state senator, David Ige, 57, will be the Dem against the GOP's Duke Aiona for the general election.
Seriously progressive in a conservative state, Abercromie had already riled the locals as a long-term legislator. He annoyed many of them more in four-year governorship. We noted his relentless push for same-sex marriage (successful in large part due to his efforts). In a stat chockablock with very loud, very anti-gay religious fundamentals. was wisdom and compassion to offset them.
He stood for numerous lefty positions, most of which he won. I had to wonder if the marriage issue was big in his defeat.
Not so, according to numerous local accounts, like here. Instead it seems voters could forgive him the equality thing but not the pension one.
In 2011, he proposed raising revenue by adding retirees' pension income to state tax liability. In a state knee-to-knee with oldsters, that seems to have been his worst idea. The legislature soundly defeated it.
In a real sense, it's good that pushing for marriage equality was not the problem. Plus he's plenty old enough to relax. I bet he doesn't though and while he likely won't run for office again, he can mettle around and find good causes to champion.