Spreading God’s Wrath–er, I mean Love, Globally

In America, the culture wars
Are given up for dead;
We can’t kill gays here (legally)—
Let’s kill them there instead

The bible belt is loosening—
Think bigotry? Think twice!
But hey, the world’s a big, big place…
Uganda sure looks nice.

Ugandan evangelicals;
American support—
A match that’s made in heaven, or
At least that’s one report

America’s morality
Leaves much to be desired;
But now, Uganda’s laws on gays
Are biblically inspired!

Uganda was the first to fall;
Nigeria, this week;
Both, evidence evangelists
Have found a new technique

We welcome the apocalypse
When God rights every wrong
And so we do our level best
To move it right along:

The end of days is drawing near
When God shows us his love
The world stands at the edge of doom…
Let’s give a little shove

Context: The Daily Show’s interview with Roger Ross Williams (third segment at link–individual segments not yet available).

Supremes Halt Same-Sex Marriage In Utah, While Under Appeal

Though we thought that an era had passed
It was, maybe, too perfect to last
Hundreds thought they were wed
Now the court says, instead,
“Equal treatment? Hang on, not so fast!”

It took a while–long enough for hundreds of same sex couples to have already wed–but the highly-expected appeal finally came through, and same sex marriage in Utah is on hold:

The terse order, from the full court, issued a stay “pending final disposition” of an appeal to the federal appeals court in Denver. It offered no reasoning.

This kinda-sorta happened in California, earlier, when the supremes danced around the issue instead of taking it on:

Judge Shelby was only the second federal judge to strike down a state ban on same-sex marriages, along with Judge Vaughn R. Walker in San Francisco, who in 2010 struck down Proposition 8, California’s ban. That ruling was stayed while it was considered by an appeals court, which affirmed it, and by the Supreme Court.

In June, the Supreme Court effectively sustained Judge Walker’s decision on technical grounds and without reaching the question of whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

So the couples in Utah had longer than the few hours some expected, but their concerns were dead on.

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.

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.

The Concerned Neighbor

There’s a little get-together
In the house across the street
Where they’ll have some beers, some chips and dips,
And maybe grill some meat
Though it’s not the sort of recipe
My family cares to eat,
Still, I must admit, they’ve gathered quite a crowd.

All the cooking is downwind from me
There’s nothing I can smell
But I still—of course—am bothered
Cos the thought makes me unwell,
And notion of their cooking
Makes my life a living hell
So I’m thinking that it shouldn’t be allowed.

***
When my neighbor is relaxing—
Say, there’s no one else around—
He prefers a sort of music
With an odd and foreign sound
I imagine different harmonies
Like none I’ve ever found
Though his headphones keep his choice of music hidden

Now, his music doesn’t sound the way
That music’s meant to be
I believe it might be harmful—
Well, it seems like that to me—
I can’t hear it, but I hate it
So my path is clear, you see:
I must push to have that sort of noise forbidden.

***
Down the block there are some neighbors
Who are looking to be wed
But they’re not a normal couple—
No, they’re lesbians, instead;
When I think of them and marriage,
Why, a part of me goes dead
And our peaceful little neighborhood is wrecked

So I’m going to their wedding
Which they’ll have at City Hall
It’s a civil ceremony
Thus available to all
And I’ll steel myself to answer
When the J.P. makes the call:
“Is there anyone here gathered—“ “—I OBJECT!”

Inspired by today’s A Good Cartoon (which, of course, you should be reading daily).

Truth, Principle, Integrity: The New(speak) Scouts

“Real men value truth,” the man said, “over tradition”
(For these definitions of “truth”)
“And principle, yes, and integrity, too,
Are the things we’ll be teaching our youth”

We value the values we find in the bible
And that’s where we’ll put our reliance
The truth is found there, we’ll be telling our boys—
If there’s one thing you can’t trust, it’s science

And principle, truly, is valued in scouting,
Though valued in different ways;
It’s a principled stand we are taking, you know,
Not accepting acceptance of gays

And integrity, honesty, truthfulness, trust—
Why, the telling of lies is forbidden!
But you don’t have to share every detail, you know;
If you’re gay, for God’s sake, keep it hidden!

These new scouts, “Trail Life”, are a small group right now
With few (though committed) adherents
And since kids are too young for such prejudiced thought
They’ll be looking for bigoted parents.

Traditional scouting can open your eyes
To a world you might never have known
But that world contains people much different from us
So it’s time to set out on our own.

Via NPR:

A new faith-based boys group is taking shape, just three months after the Boy Scouts of America decided to change its membership policy to allow gay youth to join.

The group, dubbed Trail Life USA, calls itself a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts. They recently revealed the name at a hotel conference before a crowd of about 1,200 parents and scoutmasters, complete with a slick video with a dynamic score.

For me, the money quote comes from John Stemberger, whose efforts spearheaded the anti-gay faction of the old Boy Scouts:

“Real men value truth over tradition,” he told the assembled crowd. “Real men value principle over program, and they value integrity over institutions.”

“Truth”, defined in opposition to medical and psychological science, “principle” that excludes entire swaths of humanity, “integrity” of appearance–you can and must lie to yourself and others if you clash with their particular narrow vision.

Adults in Trail Life USA must sign a statement of faith and make a commitment to purity. That means scouts will be taught that any sexual activity outside marriage is a sin. Leaders say scouts who are gay will be allowed in, as long as they don’t promote or engage in any sexual behavior that is a distraction to the program.

They will not allow youth who are open about their homosexuality. Officials did not comment further about the policy.

So… yeah, gay scouts will be allowed in, so long as no one knows it.

Truth, principle, integrity.

The Wedding Of John And Jim

This is the story of John and Jim;
Jim loves John, and John loves him;
Twenty years, six months, and eleven days
Already married in many ways,
They finally got to say their vows
With every right the law allows

Just watch the story—don’t ask why…
And I fucking dare you not to cry.

I don’t always cry at weddings. The last wedding I went to, my nephew’s, I bawled like a baby–but that’s because this was my nephew, and every detail was perfect, and I just love him to death.

I don’t know Jim or John. Never heard of them before about an hour ago. But thanks to the internets, I cried at their wedding, too. It was another perfect day:

John Arthur’s been a patient of Crossroads since March, but it wasn’t until June 26 that he settled on his notion of a perfect day. That morning the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As he watched the announcement from a medical bed in his Over-the-Rhine condo, Arthur and his partner of 20 years, Jim Obergefell, decided that they wanted to marry.

A wedding for the couple would not be easy. Because same-sex marriage is illegal in Ohio, and because the Supreme Court ruling left marriage bans at the state level intact, Arthur and Obergefell couldn’t marry here. The prospect of travel was difficult because Arthur is bedridden with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe. Within minutes of the Supreme Court decision, the couple started working the phones, email and social media to figure out how they might legally wed.

The full story is well worth reading, and it is a tear-jerker. I was going to write and tell you about it even before I saw the video.

But, oh. Watch the video (I’ll embed it just below, and if that isn’t working, it can be viewed at the link). It takes a while, but it’s just so beautiful. Yes, I cried. You will, too. I can only hope (vainly, I suspect) that Ohio will soon (sadly, they don’t have much time) allow them to renew their vows in the state they fell in love in, and did not want to leave.

(ok, it’s embedded below the fold–the video is on autoplay, and I don’t know how to fix that, so be aware before you click through. It’s still very much worth your time, though Ok, I’ve deleted the video until such time as I am able to embed it without autoplay. Again, here’s the link to the video, and you do want to watch the video!.)

Anyway… Here’s to John and Jim, or Jim and John, husband and husband. Congratulations!

Scouts To Admit Gays. Maybe. Wait…

The policy, if you are gay,
Is changing—changing any day
But wait! It seems there’s now delay
Why wait for change? I cannot say—
They should have done so anyway.

The policy that guides each scout
From honest lad to brutish lout
Was scheduled for a turnabout
Which made some bigots scream and shout
Or rant and rave, or sit and pout.

The scouts, you see, discriminate.
It’s not just fear; it’s not just hate;
It’s policy that bars the gate
Till now. Or, till some future date;
They’ll have to wait to learn their fate.

So now we wait for more reports.
We’ll make our crafts; we’ll play our sports
On soccer fields and tennis courts
In neckerchiefs and khaki shorts…
Just don’t admit the godless sorts.

Some of my students have been scouts. Eagle scouts, even. Great people. I haven’t spoken to a single one who supports the policies banning gays or atheists. Maybe I’m in the wrong right geographical area, but the actual scouts I know are great. (Full disclosure–I quit scouts after one annoying year of Cub Scouts, so I won’t pretend to be able to give an insider’s view) And the little scouts that come to our door for fundraisers seem perfectly fine, and don’t begrudge me my protest against their national policies–indeed, their local policies are inclusive enough that I’d be happy to support them in something that did not send money to the national organization.

Ay, there’s the rub. The national organization. Fucking Bastards.

They are supposed to do right. They had the chance to, decided on a half-assed attempt at not wholeheartedly plunging toward wrong, and then screwed that up and have [as of this writing] chosen to delay making the easiest decision they could have.

One of Spike Lee’s movies gives us the moral message “always do the right thing”. There are times when that message is difficult or convoluted or hidden. Not this time. The right thing has been obvious for some time, and the scouts have avoided it, and are continuing to avoid it, because the wrong thing, apparently, has deep pockets.

And yeah, the current reports have gay scouts well ahead of atheist scouts. Yay, humanity.

Fucking Bastards.

The Problem With The VAWA

A woman lies battered and bleeding and bruised,
As so often, reports CNN
And as always, a clamor—a group much abused—
Won’t somebody think of the men?

In a CNN opinion piece, Senator Patty Murray writes of yet another example of the failure of the Republican leadership to do the right thing:

This week, just over 250 days since the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan and inclusive bill to extend the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives allowed the clock to run out on protections that bill would have provided to millions of women across our country.

The act had been renewed many times since it was first introduced in 1994; there were a few changes this time:

Specifically, the bill included increased protections for women on college campuses across the nation following the brutal 2010 murder of Yeardley Love at the University of Virginia. It included new law enforcement measures to safeguard women on tribal reservations, one in three of whom will be raped in their lifetimes. It included nondiscrimination language for those in the LGBT community who had been unfairly left out of previous bills. And it provided protections to immigrant women, regardless of their status, who are often scared into silence at the hands of their abusers.

Yeah… no. That’s unacceptable to the right wing of the Republican party, and those extremists are in control.

But that’s not what my verse is about. No, as usual, I took an ill-advised peek into the comments at the article, and found… exactly what I expected to find. The real victims in all this?

Men.

Any sort of legislation aimed at protecting women from rape is clearly anti-equality and anti-american. Any concern over some victims of sexual assault (read: women) ignores the bigger picture, that equal treatment under the law means that privileged groups might have to settle for being treated equally, and that’s just not fair.

Never mind that the Violence Against Women Act’s nonexclusivity clause directly states that protections apply to male victims as well. Never mind that “what about the men?” does not apply to this story at all. The Republican extremists apparently don’t like LGBT, native Americans, or women in college–that is the hold-up. But CNN commenters aren’t always that nuanced.

One comment even suggested that the act is completely unnecessary, that other laws already cover everything that is needed to combat sexual assault. This commenter, of course, was referring to concealed carry laws. The solution to every problem.

Here’s hoping the new House of Representatives does a better job.