Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sweet Graphic

From Good Magazine comes this cool graphic summarizing the progress and regress of states on marriage equality. Sheer info eye candy.

hat tip: Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts on the California Supreme Court's Decision

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the decision handed down by the Supreme Court of California upholding Proposition 8 and simultaneously stating that the ~18,000 legal gay and lesbian marriages performed last year will stay just that: legal marriages. While this is not the decision I would have liked the Court to make, my sense is that it is perhaps the best decision they could have made. (Disclaimer: I am a legally ignorant layperson in the Midwest. I am not trained in law, much less the law of the California; heck, I don't even know how to get a driver's license in California.)

Proposition 8 was approved by 52% of the people of California. The constitution of that state does permit amendments based solely on majority vote of the people. Do I think that is a dumb policy? Hell, yes. But does my opinion of the policy change anything? Hell, no. The Court essentially made the same statement about its own opinion in its decision published today:
In a sense, petitioners' and the attorney general's complaint is that it is just too easy to amend the California Constitution through the initiative process. But it is not a proper function of this court to curtail that process; we are constitutionally bound to uphold it.
One measure that might be used to justify the claim that California's constitution is too easy to amend is to compare the number of times it has been amended with that of other states whose constitutions require more than popular majority to be changed. My husband recently pointed out that, while the constitution of his home state of Iowa has been amended only 36 times since 1857, the constitution of California has been amended "500 times by referendum and about 40 times by initiatives since its adoption in 1879." That means California's constitution is changed an average of 4.1 times each year--roughly 17.8 times as fast as Iowa's constitution, which has changed at a rate of 0.23 amendments per year..

I'll be interested to see if the legacy of Prop 8 will include more than just the unprecedented surge of support for gay marriage we have seen this year--perhaps it will spark an additional change in California--one that will make the constitutional amendment process more thoughtful and deliberative than the present system.

Congrats to all the married California couples who will stay that way. And to the couples waiting to be married--I hope their wait will be a short one. I fully expect that one of the several amendments Californians will make to their constitution in 2010 will be a repeal of Prop 8 and a popular embrace of full marriage equality.

I'll close with a beautiful montage I found online today. Gotta love the photos in this--I expect the campaign for Prop #? in 2010 will include many more adorable couples such as these :-)

hat tips: Joe.My.God., More Musings on Christianity, Homosexuality, and the Bible, and the man I love

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Huh!? Wha!? Illinois "absolutely expected" to pass civil unions NEXT WEEK!?

So I knew a bill that, if passed, would legalize civil unions in Illinois had made it through committee this spring. But I was caught completely off guard by this article in today's Washington Blade stating expectations that the bill will pass the legislature next week.

Huh? Wha? Wow! That came out of nowhere!

I'll confess I feel a little jaded and cynical about this though. Similar bills have surfaced in our legislature the past three years, but have never come to the floor for a vote. Sounds like this one may, though. We'll see.

If it did pass--oh my goodness! C and I would be legal at home and not just when we're on vacation visiting his family in Iowa or friends in D.C.!

So here's hoping :-)

hat tip: Joe.My.God.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Joe's Most Popular Post

Each time someone comments on this blog, I receive an email. Usually one of my blog entries will have 0-3 responses. One of my blog entries far outshines the others as receiving the most comments. But it's probably not what you would expect.

I wrote the blog entry in November of 2007. Since that time, 68 comments have been posted to the blog. And counting. I get a few each week.

Check it out.

Interesting, huh?

Gallup: Majority of Americans Pro-Life

Here's a topic I rarely (if ever) have addressed on this blog: abortion. Every year since 1995, the Gallup organization has polled Americans for their opinion on abortion. This year marks the first time in the history of the poll that the majority of respondents (and, by statistical projection, the majority of Americans) identified themselves as pro-life.

Spoiler Delay Alert: I'm gonna withhold discussion of my personal beliefs on this issue until the end of this post.

My first reaction to seeing the graph at left was to think this must be some kind of statistical fluke. However, Gallup has presented a detailed breakdown of the respondents that shows this sudden swing in majority opinion is actually due to several underlying trends that have played out for years. For instance, liberal opinions on abortion have changed very little (if at all) since 2000, while conservatives are trending more and more pro-life as the years have passed. Moderates, on the other hand, have oscillated back and forth.

When given options from the extremes (no legal abortion, abortion legal in all circumstances) to more moderate positions (abortion legal in few circumstances, abortion legal in most circumstance), the largest chunk of Americans favor limiting abortion to only a few circumstances.

Now me: I'm confessed at how well this survey reflects my own beliefs. As my blog name may suggest, I identify as a moderate. I'm a registered independent. And I, just like other moderates surveyed by Gallup, have vacillated on my opinion of abortion. I was brought up in a culture that treated abortion as a black-and-white issue--or rather, as just a "black" issue: I was taught it is wrong in all circumstances. But I have seen more shades of gray in the issue over time.

But not too many shades. I've actually given a lot of thought to abortion over the last few months. Why? Well, because I have frequently seen abortion protests outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Champaign, Illinois. Much of my internal struggle has been over the extremes--I think because I used to see this as a black-and-white issue and feel I must see this as 100% legal or 100% illegal. But I have not found peace with either extreme conviction. Rather, I find peace somewhere in between.

I like the concise three-point position Bill Clinton argued in his campaigns for president (and echoed, albeit somewhat less succinctly, by Barack Obama last fall): I want abortion to be safe; I want it to be legal; and I want it to be rare.

If I were presented with the Gallup poll today, I wound respond that I believe abortion should be legal, but only in a few circumstances. I'm not sure if that makes me pro-choice or pro-life. Hmm.

How about you? What do you believe?

POST SCRIPT: More thoughts. I am a gay man. I cannot (or perhaps I should say I will not voluntarily LOL) reproduce. Like many other gays and lesbians out there, and like many childless heterosexuals out there, I would like to adopt children. But I've heard hell stories about how hard it is to adopt newly born children--in the first place, few infants are put up for adoption and in the second place, the process of becoming and adoptive parent is long, complicated, and expensive.

Perhaps we should redirect some of the political campaign expense on resolving the 100% legal/100% illegal issue to political efforts to encourage and facilitate adoptions. What if women with unwanted pregnancies were given the option of all-expenses-paid pregnancies should they choose to put the child up for adoption upon birth? What if the adoption process could be reformed and streamlined?

hat tip: my husband

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ready and Waiting

Today C contacted the his hometown County Recorder's office and received the most wonderful news: a marriage certificate with our names on it is ready and waiting to be picked up there.

So surreal. So wonderful! I'm rueing the 90 miles between C and I tonight; some celebratory cuddles are definitely in order!

Can't wait to see him again this weekend :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our Second Marriage

C and I are going to get married again (to each other, that is)!

Today the Quaker Meeting in Iowa City, IA sent us a message saying they would "be happy to assist [us] in meeting the civil requirements for marriage in Iowa."

Perhaps a bit of explanation: C and I have already submitted an application to obtain a civil marriage license in Iowa, but now we must have our actual marriage license signed by an Iowa "marriage officiant", i.e. a judge or a religious leader who is recognized by his or her community as having the authority to deem a couple married. Ironically, in Quaker circles only a couple themselves has the authority to deem themselves married; however, clerks of Friends Meetings typically fill the legal role of signing as the "officiant" on civil marriage licenses.

Interestingly, the Iowa City Friends have requested that we in essence repeat our original wedding in their presence. That is, they have asked that we join them for one of their regular Meetings for Worship, during which we will rise to recite our vows to one another--again--in their presence. As with our original wedding 11 months ago (oh my goodness! it's been almost exactly a year!), there will be a traditional Quaker Marriage Certificate for all in attendance to sign. However, unlike our original wedding, there will be a civil marriage license to sign at this event :-D

LOL, we should start a collection of marriage certificates! Once this process is over we'll have three marriage certificates to hang on the wall of our living room :-)

C and I were also moved to read the following at the conclusion of the message from the Iowa City Friends:
We are truly honored by your request. In 1988 Iowa City Monthly Meeting minuted our willingness to conduct same-gender marriages under the same conditions and in the same manner as marriages between people of differing genders, but this will be the first time that minute is put into effect. So this is a very significant event for us as well as for you, both historically and spiritually.
So cool. I'm so excited! We will be the first same-gender couple to be married under the care of the Iowa City Meeting :-) What an honor for us!