On Coughing And Sneezing My Way Through Valentines Day

It’s Valentine’s Day (and that never gets old)
I could give you my love, but I’d give you my cold
So, much as the Hallmark folks wish to inspire us
I’ll stick to my couch, here, alone with my virus
You’d think some affection is not much to ask
But a kiss ain’t a kiss through a surgical mask
And hugging’s not hugging, I think you can tell,
If, immediately after, you bathe in Purell;
With Lysol’s protection, and thick nitrile gloves
We’ll just have to trust in each other’s true loves
So my gift, from my heart, on this Valentines Day
On behalf of my germs, is to stay far away.

For those who prefer the older Cuttle-valentines, the more-or-less complete collection is here.

Texas Judge Rules: Pull The Plug

The mother died back in November, remember?
She’d made clear her wishes (as all of us ought)
But, sadly, this happened in Texas, the nexus
Of Christian intrusion in government thought
Her will was denied, for a baby that maybe
Would live for an hour, with help from machines;
The state says “we’ve got to complete us a fetus”—
To rescue the baby, whatever the means.

The judge, as the calm voice of reason, who sees, in
This case there are people, not robots instead,
With that, saw some facts had eluded–concluded
Essentially, mother and fetus are dead.
The statute, though not found unlawful, is awful;
A woman’s autonomy, Texas denies
The one thing that no one’s denying is… crying.
That’s kinda what happens when somebody dies

Without ruling on the constitutionality of the law (I am of two minds here–I wish it had been slapped down [can’t imagine it would be upheld], but this family has been through too much already, and I suspect this is a quicker and quieter end), a Texas Judge has found that Marlise Munoz is dead, and that her fetus is not viable, and has ordered that she be removed from the machines that turned her body into the state’s incubator. Which is what Ms. Munoz had expressed, what her husband and extended family had wanted, but which Texas law, as interpreted by the hospital, had seemingly denied.

My sympathies go out to the family. I know this is not an end, because these things never actually end… but at least it is the close of a particularly horrible chapter. And much as I would want to see the law overturned, holding your family hostage over that is every bit as bad as what the state just did, so that will have to wait.

After all this time… only now will the family be able to begin actual funeral plans. Texas should be ashamed, but I think the politicians there are immune.

Edited to add… perhaps the saddest thing I have read in years, the testimony of the husband, as reported by the NY Times:

“When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death. As a paramedic, I am very familiar with this smell, and I now recognize it when I kiss my wife. In addition, Marlise’s hands no longer naturally grip mine for an embrace. Her limbs have become so stiff and rigid due to her deteriorating condition that now, when I move her hands, her bones crack, and her legs are nothing more than dead weight.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I am a very smell-oriented person. I know exactly what he is saying, and it breaks my hearts.

A Whole Different Kern (Oklahoma SSM Ruling)

In Oklahoma, Terence Kern,
The news reports would have me learn,
Has ruled (He is a judge; he can)
Against the same-sex marriage ban
Though, for a while, the ruling’s stayed
Until the state appeals are made
So justice is a bit delayed.

The law that Oklahoma passed
Left same-sex marriage second-classed
They could not wed in-state at all
And should a couple come to call
Who’d married in a different state
Why, Oklahoma shuts the gate
Assigning them a different fate

But now (well, pending an appeal)
Such marriages again are real
And Oklahoma’s silly ban
No longer figures in their plan
And everyone is equal now
As far as laws like this allow
And Terence Kern should take a bow.

Remember Sally Kern? Remember Oklahoma discriminating against some of their citizens and treating them as less than equals? A whole different Kern has spoken:

U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern handed down the ruling in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples. Kern immediately stayed his ruling pending appeals, meaning gay marriages won’t happen in Oklahoma right away.

The gay couples had sued for the right to marry and to have a marriage from another jurisdiction recognized in Oklahoma.

Kern ruled on a constitutional amendment approved by Oklahoma voters in 2004 that says marriage in the state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. He said the measure violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause by precluding same-sex couples from receiving an Oklahoma marriage license.

Once again as with Utah and Ohio, the actual Oklahoma ruling is well worth reading. My prediction: as with Utah and Ohio, comment threads will be full of stupid arguments that paint scenarios specifically addressed and answered by the actual ruling.

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.

An Atheist Wedding? Good God!

In the planning for our wedding
We had made the usual list
Of the people we’d invited
Making certain none were missed
From your little cousin Hanna
To my scary uncle Todd
There was one, though, uninvited:
We had left no room for God.

We would build our world together
We would make our solemn vows
We would share with one another
All that time and life allows
You and I were getting married
So we really found it odd
There were some who thought a marriage
Needed you, and me, and God.

We’d be legally united
By authority of state
What our love had joined together
Lack of God can’t separate
With no need of church approval
With no priest to give his nod
We’d be married—just as married
As the ones who called in God

And there’s really nothing missing
Cos we’re married just the same
Though we didn’t take our wedding vows
And swear “in Jesus’ name”
See, our vows are to each other,
And that doesn’t make them flawed
Only two of us got married
Cos we saw no need for God.

SO, yeah, CNN had a story up on atheist weddings. Seriously, I would have thought this the non-est of the non-stories, but there ya go. Marriage certainly precedes Christianity (but you wouldn’t know it from the comments at CNN), and will likely survive it as well. The last two weddings I went to (my niece and nephew’s weddings) were both secular, and were both beautiful. It was wonderful to attend weddings that were about the couple, and the families, who were gathered there, rather than about some ancient verses in a book. Really, First Corinthians 13 can be retired for a generation or two, and then maybe it will be beautiful again; as is, it is a stale cliche, and may as well be two minutes of static noise.

I vaguely remember attending some religious weddings–I videotaped my sister-in-law’s Catholic wedding (by her request), happy for the excuse to wander around with a camera while everybody else was praying. That wedding was not about the couple, it was about the church. No fun at all.

Why have a wedding that you don’t enjoy? My niece and my nephew did it right. Beautiful, wonderful ceremonies–laughter, and joy, and tears (that might have just been me). The difference? No God.

Want a beautiful wedding? Step one: Don’t Invite God.

A Perfect Match

He gave her his heart, in exchange for her own
And he owed her that heart and more, didn’t ‘e?
They already knew they were perfectly matched…
Cos, you see, she had given him her kidney!

(Honestly, if you are the sort who doesn’t watch videos until you see if it is worth it, watch the video, and then you can read the rest. And yeah, I cried. But that might just be me.)

The full story is here, at the Indy Star

Chelsea Clair, then 22, had never met Kyle Froelich, then 19. But she had heard his story through a family friend and had already volunteered to help raise awareness for his cause.

On that very first day they met, without really knowing why or what it would mean, she said to him: “I’m going to give you my kidney.”

Froelich didn’t think the outcome would be different from anyone else who had offered. Then, a month later, the test results came back.

“We ended up being almost a perfect match,” she said.

The whole thing is worth reading–stories like this are rare and wonderful, and you want to read it before it is turned into a Lifetime movie or Hollywood script.

Doctors removed Clair’s left kidney and planted it inside Froelich’s abdomen. In its new home, the kidney started working right away.

When she woke up, she asked, “Is Kyle OK?”

When he woke up, he asked, “How’s Chelsea?”

Immunosuppressant drugs worked to keep Froelich’s body from rejecting the kidney, but the medications also meant he had to be isolated to prevent infection.

On his way to recovery, he pleaded and persuaded the nurses to wheel him past Clair. Even though she was still too woozy to notice, he just wanted to wave at her through the window.

And of course, my favorite line:

It’s hard to pinpoint when they fell in love.

Perfect.

I have no idea at all what belief systems these people hold. I honestly don’t care. The news stories are astonishingly and refreshingly devoid of religious particulars, but the comment sections are predictably full of them. I don’t care. I rejoice in their happiness, their health, and their lives together. I hope you do too.