Live Same-Sex Wedding To Be Part Of New Year’s Tournament Of Roses Parade

At the Tournament Of Roses,
There’s a wonderful parade
Where the floats are not just beautiful,
They’re very strangely made:
Every inch of them is covered
With a flower, leaf, or twig;
They must hide the float’s machinery—
Each lever; every rig—
It’s a grand show of technology,
A flowered tour de force,
And it’s televised to millions
Every New Year’s Day, of course
For a hundred years they’ve done it
(And a handful more, as well)
But this year there’s something different,
So the whole thing goes to hell.
It’s been flowers and designers
Since the Tournament’s first day,
But there’s going to be a float this year
That turns the whole thing gay!

The beginning of the New Year is the end of the world, or so it seems to the Christian News Network. You see, they have horrible news:

PASADENA, Calif. – Two homosexual men are set to ‘wed’ on New Year’s Day during the historic Tournament of Roses parade, as they ride a float sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Congratulations! Danny Leclair and Aubrey Loots are getting married!

According to reports, Leclair and Loots will ride a wedding cake-shaped float themed “Dreams come true,” which will also bear the motto “Love is the best protection,” referring to the global AIDS epidemic. The AIDS Healthcare Foundations says that the float is meant to demonstrate “the role marriage can play in reducing HIV infections among gay men.”

The Christian News Network, of course, is opposed to their marriage. It is an affront to God, it displays sin, it something something … reasons. Apparently, they would rather have unstable relationships and HIV infections, because God loves… sick or dead people, apparently.

Anyway, the comments at the CNN are either hilarious or depressing, depending on how seriously you take them. Especially the letters of complaint people have written to the Tournament of Roses people, expressing offense on the part of themselves and God.

You might want to make a New Year’s resolution to never read the comments again.

Paying It Forward…

as per Ophelia

I plagiarized a poet; I
Recycled someone’s rhyme;
I composed collaborations,
Never thinking it a crime

It’s the form of my expression;
It’s the narrative I choose;
It’s the sharing of ideas—
Does it really matter whose?

Hey, a sonnet is a sonnet,
Make the topic what you will—
With a rhyming dictionary
There’s no function left to skill!

In the world of modern poetry,
Your sentences are free—
You could play the Prince of Denmark…
To be, or not to… something…

Plagiarism as a new art form? I must have scores of verses that are pastiches on this or that… (I won’t link one, lest I link a dozen, and that’s not fair). It seems to me that pretty much all parties know (which is very different from all parties admitting) when party B has used party A’s stuff. Some of it is protected; some of it is being a bastard. I have tried, myself, to only use protected bits of other people’s writing… if you see something you think is otherwise, please let me know!

Ophelia notes that being pointed to other people’s writing is a good thing, a feature, not a bug…I agree.

And if you plagiarize me… remember, my sister used to be a lawyer.

Now she’s a judge.

100 Percent Chance Of Genocide

They were happy, oh so happy,
Gran and Grandpa’s letter read—
Cos their grandson was their shining star
(Though that was left unsaid)
When they saw him in a play, this year,
Although I thought, instead,
That the subject matter seemed a little grim

See, their church put on a musical—
It featured all the kids—
Which, of course, meant all the older folks
Would really flip their lids,
As they told, in Noah’s tale, what
God allows, and God forbids:
With the bottom line, obedience to Him. [Read more...]

Old Good News Revisited (Or, New Bad News)

Since the topics I write on are vast
There’s a chance that good news from the past
Might be soon overturned
Cos you see, I have learned
That Good News may be too good to last.

They may or may not both be from today, but that’s when I saw them–two updates on things I have written about here. Both were good news when I wrote about them; both kinda suck today.

I wrote about Monsignor William Lynn… he was found guilty in Philadelphia, sending a clear message to the church.

But now… conviction overturned.

A Pennsylvania appeals court on Thursday overturned the criminal conviction of a Roman Catholic official who was accused of covering up sexual abuses by priests he supervised. The court rejected the legal basis for a prosecution that was viewed as a milestone in holding senior church officials accountable for keeping abuse reports secret in past decades and transferring predatory priests to unwary new parishes.

So, yeah, bad news.

The other one, I guess, wasn’t originally good news after all. Which means the current news is not newly bad, but just a continuation of bad. Bottom line is, I wrote about the BBC’s “Thought For The Day”, which apparently refused to include atheist thought as a subset of “thought”. So today, I find out that a guest editor managed to sneak an atheist’s thoughts in. Well… an hour earlier, and labeled “alternative”, because the BBC refused to let an atheist have the regular slot.

The BBC has banned Sir Tim Berners-Lee from having an atheist deliver Thought for the Day as he guest edited Radio 4’s Today programme, saying it must be spoken by a believer.
Sir Tim, who was invited to edit the flagship news programme on Boxing Day, had intended to employ an atheist to read the traditional Thought for the Day, in order to best represent Britain as a whole.
But, he has disclosed, the move was prohibited by the BBC, which insists the slot must be filled by a religious leader.

I guess it can’t all be good news.

Oh, and it goes without saying, if you look at the comment sections of either story, you’ll see what people think about atheists.

Narrow Ohio Ruling With Broad Implications For Same-Sex Marriage

If you’re living in Ohio
And you want to wed your mate
There are certain situations
Where they’ll send you out of state:

See, Ohio has its standards;
Still, the balance of your life
They will recognize your union—
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

If you’re more-than-kissing cousins
And you want to tie the knot
There are states where you can do so
(Roughly twenty—not a lot)

You could fly to Alabama,
California, or New York,
Maybe Cape Cod, Massachusetts,
Say “I do”, and pop the cork

When you fly back to Ohio,
The remainder of your life
They will recognize your union:
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

If you want to wed your sweetheart
But she isn’t yet fifteen
There are states that you could fly to
(Well, there’s one or two I’ve seen)

Though Ohio doesn’t like it,
You could wed your child bride,
Then it’s back as married Buckeyes
Cos it cannot be denied

Though Ohio doesn’t like it
It remains, for all your life—
They will recognize your union:
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

But they made one big exception
Yes, they made a special note
And they said it was important
Cos they put it to a vote

And the people used the ballot
On that cold November day
To deny a legal status
If the wedded pair were gay

Adding injury to insult
Voters made it very clear—
If you’re legal in some other state
You’re still not legal here!

No, it won’t apply to everyone
With un-Ohio ways…
Not the cousins, nor the children,
No, it just applies to gays

But… the U.S. Constitution,
As amended, makes it clear
That we’re equally protected
Though Ohio thinks it queer

When majorities discriminate
And do it “just because”
It falls to the judicial branch
To scrutinize our laws

So, Ohio may not like it—
Disagreement may be rife—
But a man can wed a husband
And a woman wed a wife

Seems this is the week for court rulings you’ll want to bookmark. This time, it’s Ohio. The latest installment of (among other things) the story of John and Jim, whom we have seen here, here, and here.

Ohio’s ruling this week is very narrow, but with explicit hints that it applies to much bigger issues:

The court’s ruling today is a limited one, and states simply, that under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates, just as Ohio recognizes all other out-of-state marriages, if valid in the state performed, and even if not authorized nor validly performed under Ohio law, such as marriages between first cousins, marriages of certain minors, and common law marriages.

That is, once you get lawfully married in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away, because the right to remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1.

Moreover, as this Court held in its initial Orders this summer and reaffirms today, by treating lawful same-sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages (e.g., marriages of first cousins, marriages of certain minors, and common law marriages), Ohio law, as applied to these Plaintiffs, violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection: that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws” U.S. Const. amend XIV, § 1.

Therefore, under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize on Ohio death certificates valid same-sex marriages from other states.

As with the last decision reported here, Scalia’s dissent in Windsor is cited–judges apparently love irony.

And in case subtle irony is too subtle, the final footnote (22, on page 43) is more explicit:

As a final note, although the question of whether Ohio’s refusal to grant same-sex marriages also violates Ohio same-sex couples’ right to due process and equal protection is not before the Court in this case, the logical conclusion to be drawn from the evidence, arguments, and law presented here is that Ohio’s violation of the constitutional rights of its gay citizens extends behond the bounds of this lawsuit.

Another One To Bookmark

It matters not how you re-word it; they’ve heard it,
Your argument stinks—that’s a matter of fact.
The judge gave to you, in this ruling, a schooling
A thorough rebuking, though written with tact.
You claimed it amounts to miscarriage of marriage
To change what such unions have meant all along;
The judge found your “think of the children!” bewilderin’
Considered your logic, pronounced it dead wrong.

What you label “logic” is tortured—the sort you’d
Expect from a kid, whom you’d then want to scold!
In your view, to give churches freedom, you need ‘em
To keep other churches more tightly controlled!
You say that gay men have the same rights you claim, rights
To marry a woman—whichever they choose!
The judge, as you’ll quickly intuit, saw through it;
Your argument’s specious, and guess what? You lose!

Majorities see what they’ve wanted confronted
When sometimes their wishes are not what they ought
The judge, in his wisdom, saw through you, and knew you
Were moved by religion and prejudiced thought
“Gay marriage” is “separate but equal: the sequel”
It’s one institution, for straight or for gay
Just “Marriage” will do—it’s a beaut! Ah, but Utah,
I love what you’ve done in this ruling today!

It’s one to bookmark. No, not this verse, the Utah Same-Sex Marriage ruling:

The court agrees with Utah that regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states, and remains so today. But any regulation adopted by a state, whether related to marriage or any other interest, must comply with the Constitution of the United States. The issue the court must address in this case is therefore not who should define marriage, but the narrow question of whether Utah’s current definition of marriage is permissible under the Constitution.

Few questions are as politically charged in the current climate. This observation is especially true where, as here, the state electorate has taken democratic action to participate in a popular referendum on this issue. It is only under exceptional circumstances that a court interferes with such action. But the legal issues presented in this lawsuit do not depend on whether Utah’s laws were the result of its legislature or a referendum, or whether the laws passed by the widest or smallest of margins. The question presented here depends instead on the Constitution itself, and on the interpretation of that document contained in binding precedent from the Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Applying the law as it is required to do, the court holds that Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law. The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.

It’s a great read–the stories of the plaintiffs make it clear that this is no abstract fight, but a genuine problem for real and relatable people. The judge, Robert Shelby (as is his duty) considers all the state’s reasons for denying marriage to same sex couples, and not only finds them lacking, but occasionally points out that the real effects are likely to be the polar opposite of what the state claims!

I was very interested to see what the state’s arguments actually were; I’ve argued this topic for years, and have yet to find a decent argument against same-sex marriage that was not either inane, fundamentally religious (and thus moot by virtue of the first amendment) or both. Here, though, we don’t have just morons on the internet arguing, but the lawyers for the state of Utah…. and the arguments are the same as you see made by idiots on the internet. Seriously, the state argued that (for instance) gay men have the same right to marry the woman they love as any straight man does. Therefore allowing them to marry the man they love would be giving them additional rights. They really argued that.

The arguments based on the state’s responsibility to promote “responsible procreation within marriage”?

The State has presented no evidence that the number of opposite-sex couples choosing to marry each other is likely to be affected in any way by the ability of same-sex couples to marry. Indeed, it defies reason to conclude that allowing same-sex couples to marry will diminish the example that married opposite-sex couples set for their unmarried counterparts….If there is any connection between same-sex marriage and responsible procreation, the relationship is likely to be the opposite of what the State suggests. Because Amendment 3 does not currently permit same-sex couples to engage in sexual activity within a marriage, the State reinforces a norm that sexual activity may take place outside the marriage relationship.

(page 44, if you are looking)

Seriously, bookmark this ruling; when the idiots on the internet make stupid arguments, and you want the perfect rejoinder (including precedents), you’ll be glad you did.

Well, That Was Unexpected!

Apparently, I’m in OpenLab 2013. I did not even know I had been nominated!

It’s for this verse, here, and I couldn’t be happier. You see, it’s an example of my very own verse form (for more on that form, read this… and if you happen to be Stephen Fry, or a close friend of his, I would dearly love an answer), and was inspired by a Doctor Who episode… really, what more could you ask for?

I’ve been in OpenLab before–it’s always an honor, and I am always humbled by reading the other entries, which never fail to impress me more than my own do.

Check it out.

New Harris Poll: God Belief Down, Atheism Up

The Harris numbers make it plain:
Belief in God is on the wane
The numbers also show a gain
In Darwin’s evolution
Majorities, though, still hold sway
In seeing the religious way
But now—I hope… perhaps… some day
A different distribution

Majorities will still insist
That God Almighty does exist—
Although that ship’s begun to list;
It’s showing signs of sinking
More people now will be so bold
As question myths that they’ve been told
But now we know (cos they were polled)
There’s changes in our thinking!

Harris Interactive released a poll this past Monday, tracking various measures of religious belief in comparison to previous polls in 2005, 2007, and 2009. From their release:

A new Harris Poll finds that while a strong majority (74%) of U.S. adults do believe in God, this belief is in decline when compared to previous years as just over four in five (82%) expressed a belief in God in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Also, while majorities also believe in miracles (72%, down from 79% in 2005), heaven (68%, down from 75%), that Jesus is God or the Son of God (68%, down from 72%), the resurrection of Jesus Christ (65%, down from 70%), the survival of the soul after death (64%, down from 69%), the devil, hell (both at 58%, down from 62%) and the Virgin birth (57%, down from 60%), these are all down from previous Harris Polls.

Belief in Darwin’s theory of evolution, however, while well below levels recorded for belief in God, miracles and heaven, is up in comparison to 2005 findings (47%, up from 42%).

There’s a lot of information there–well worth a visit. I’ll just whet your appetite with this table (click to embiggen):

Good News, Everybody!

Good News, Everybody!

The *Real* “End Of The End Of The World”

Though “the end of the world!” grabs the headlines
(“Armageddon!” is easily said)
There are false, and some all-too-real deadlines…
And now “Wrong-Again Harold” is dead.

Via Sharon Hill’s wonderful “Doubtful News”, word that Harold Camping is dead. You may remember him from such doomsday predictions as May 21, 2011 or October 21, 2011, both of which (spoilers!) were wrong.

For a failed prophet, Camping generated a lot of press. And yes, I confess to having written my share:

Wrong-again Harold.

Headlines and deadlines. (and yes, I am aware of the irony.)

Harold Camping’s success

Apocalypse When?

But somehow, today, it seems the right one to re-post is “The End Of ‘The End Of The World’“:

They’ve scrubbed all the dirt from their website
The predictions that somehow went wrong
If a visitor didn’t know better
You’d think they’d been sane all along

They still believe Jesus is coming
They’re no longer predicting a date
They’re confused that they’re still here to wonder
But they’re putting it all down to fate

Somewhere, a lunatic’s howling
His freak-flag is proudly unfurled
But Harold has given up doomsdays
It’s the end of “the end of the world”

They used to say “Jesus is coming!”
They’d done so for fifty-odd years
“So send us your prayers and donations!”
There’s money in preying on fears

But they went to the well once too often
With a guaranteed rapture. Then two.
When the end didn’t come as predicted
Well, what’s an old con-man to do?

Somewhere, a lunatic’s howling
His banner is proudly unfurled
But Harold has given up doomsdays
It’s the end of “the end of the world”