Monday, February 28, 2011

Breathing out Lies

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
--Exodus 20:16
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: [#6] a false witness who breathes out lies.
--Proverbs 6:16,19a

Count the lies in the following interview with Tony Perkins of the Family "Research" Council:

Lie #1: The President's decision affects all of DOMA.

Truth: DOMA comprises three sections; the President's announcement regards only section 3.

From the letter from the Attorney General to the Speaker of the House:
The President of the United States has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"), 1 U.S.C. section 7, as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.
Lie #2: The President's decision will require all states to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in any of the other states.

Truth: Full faith and credit is addressed in section 2 of DOMA, which is not affected at all by the President's decision.

From the text of DOMA:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
Lie #3: The President will stop enforcing DOMA.

This directly contracts the President's statement.

Again, from the text of the letter from the Attorney General to the Speaker of the House:
The President has informed me that Section 3 will continue to be enforced by the Executive Branch. To that end, the President has instructed Executive agencies to continue to comply with Section 3 consistent with the Executive's obligation to take care that law be faithfully executed, unless and until Congress repeals Section 3 or the judicial branch renders a definitive verdict against the law's constitutionality.
Lie #4: This has never happened before.

Truth: It is not uncommon for a Presidents to refuse to defend a Federal law.

In just the last 100 years, Truman did so, as did JFK, Carter, Clinton, both Bushes, and Reagan--on at least four different occasions.

What the President actually did say.

The President said his administration will continue enforcing all of DOMA but will stop defending Section 3 in court. For reference, Section 3 provides a Federal definition of marriage as an opposite-sex union.

Obama's administration has already defended Section 3 of DOMA in Federal circuit court and lost. The President is saying that he agrees with the circuit court's determination that Section 3 is unconstitutional and has decided not to appeal the case further.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Enjoy the subtleties in this great short film. Masterfully put together.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


(Warning: unfiltered romantic feelings below; proceed with caution)

Yesterday as I drove home from work I was reminded of a moment some six years ago. It was a weeknight and I was gathered with friends in a room of our church's ministry center (office space near campus) following our small group meeting that evening. At one point conversation turned unexpectedly to reciting poems we could recall from memory. Most of the poetry I and my friends could remember was lighthearted and silly (I, for instance, repeated what I could remember of the Calvin and Hobbes poem A Nauseous Nocturne I once performed in middle school).

But my attention that night was riveted by a particular warm-eyed young man who quietly recited the words of a Robert Lowell poem about conscientious objection.

For months I had been quietly trying to hide my developing crush on the handsome young man who that night recited the lines of Memories of West Street and Lepke. That night, as he carefully recalled these moving words, my admiration for the young man deepened. As the idle chatter of my friends that night died down to listen, all I could hear was him speaking and my heart beating. And, perhaps for the first time since meeting the young man, my heart lept. Butterflies. Heartthrobs.

Two nights ago, my heart throbbed again as I kissed that man goodbye and departed for the workweek. I am far deeper in love with that man now than I was that night six years ago, and the butterflies and heartthrobs keep coming. But I enjoy reminiscing about when the first heartthrobs happened.

Only teaching on Tuesdays, book-worming
in pajamas fresh from the washer each morning,
I hog a whole house on Boston's
"hardly passionate Marlborough Street,"
where even the man
scavenging filth in the back alley trash cans,
has two children, a beach wagon, a helpmate,
and is "a young Republican."
I have a nine months' daughter,
young enough to be my granddaughter.
Like the sun she rises in her flame-flamingo infants' wear.

These are the tranquilized Fifties,
and I am forty. Ought I to regret my seedtime?
I was a fire-breathing Catholic C.O.,
and made my manic statement,
telling off the state and president, and then
sat waiting sentence in the bull pen
beside a negro boy with curlicues
of marijuana in his hair.

Given a year,
I walked on the roof of the West Street Jail, a short
enclosure like my school soccer court,
and saw the Hudson River once a day
through sooty clothesline entanglements
and bleaching khaki tenements.
Strolling, I yammered metaphysics with Abramowitz,
a jaundice-yellow ("it's really tan")
and fly-weight pacifist,
so vegetarian,
he wore rope shoes and preferred fallen fruit.
He tried to convert Bioff and Brown,
the Hollywood pimps, to his diet.
Hairy, muscular, suburban,
wearing chocolate double-breasted suits,
they blew their tops and beat him black and blue.

I was so out of things, I'd never heard
of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
"Are you a C.O.?" I asked a fellow jailbird.
"No," he answered, "I'm a J.W."
He taught me the "hospital tuck,"
and pointed out the T-shirted back
of Murder Incorporated's Czar Lepke,
there piling towels on a rack,
or dawdling off to his little segregated cell full
of things forbidden to the common man:
a portable radio, a dresser, two toy American
flags tied together with a ribbon of Easter palm.
Flabby, bald, lobotomized,
he drifted in a sheepish calm,
where no agonizing reappraisal
jarred his concentration on the electric chair
hanging like an oasis in his air
of lost connections. . . .