Saturday, May 12, 2012

Marriage Equality $tuff

I live in a small college town that has the unique distinction of being the site of some of the first same sex marriages in the country -- back when the very idea was shocking to many, and very, very illegal. The straight mayor of New Paltz, a recent SUNY grad at the time, was criminally charged for performing the ceremonies eight years ago, and he paid a heavy personal and financial price for it. He lost his bid for re-election, became ostracized by the moral majority, couldn't find a job, and was even reduced to sleeping on friends' couches.

Now Jason West is back, re-elected mayor on the Green Party ticket, and making his living painting houses. His response to President Obama's announcement that he had finally personally evolved into accepting same sex marriage? A big, fat "Meh."
"I'm happy the president finally joined the 21st century and has recognized the civil rights of these Americans. But until he starts pushing for a federal law, the various Gay-Straight Alliances in any high school in the country are doing more to advance the cause than he is. They're the ones in the front lines," West said.
Meanwhile, I have been counting all fund-raising emails coming in from various and sundry Democrats in the wake of the Obama Evolution. The first one arrived from Nancy Pelosi, not even one hour after the Robin Roberts interview aired. It asked me to sign a statement, to show solidarity with Brave Barry. I knew by signing I would be deluged, but I obliged anyway, just to see how intense the money-grubbing would get.

Sure enough, within minutes Nancy wrote back, asking for $3 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. ThinkProgress, the blog of The Center for American Progress (CAP), the neoliberal think tank with close ties to the White House, followed up, wanting me to sign President Obama's thank you card to mark the historic day. The White House itself sent a formal announcement, with video. Then  another email from Nancy Pelosi  urging me to be "part of history."  And to harvest emails by telling all my friends to be part of history too, of course.

The next day (Thursday) Jim Dean (Howard's bro) emailed me for a donation to Democracy for America, a DNC front group and asked me to tweet a thank you to the president. The White House sent a second official announcement, with video, just to remind me. Rep. Jared Polis, whoever he may be, emailed me and let me know the Republicans were already on the marriage equality attack. Contribute now!!! Another one from CAP to remind me to Tweet.

Sen. Al Franken, to his credit, did not directly ask for money. He just sent an email saying marriage rights activists should be proud and work hard to enshrine their work into law. But CAP sent a third missive titled "The Knives are Out", reminding me I had only seconds to sign my name to the Twitter message. Uh oh. I guess missed out.

MoveOn, which recently jumped on the Occupy co-optation bandwagon, asked me to "chip in" to Obama's re-election campaign because he deserves a reward for coming out so bravely. I guess the 99% money-making gimmick is a thing of the past. We liburls can just go back to drinking the kool-aid.

Meanwhile, I had to check my spam folder to see all the emails from the Obama campaign itself. I never asked, but Yahoo had started placing all the Bam Spam in the junk aisle. There is just so damned much of it, the automatic filter got it confused with the Nigerian scams and credit score alerts and porn. Let's see... I am counting one, two.... ten pleas for cash from Campaign HQ. But to be fair, one of them was based on Mothers Day. Barack wants me to wish Michelle well on her special day by sending him cash. What a stand-up guy.

Oh, here's something different and interesting. An email titled "Historic" just landed in my in-box. It's from Eric Schneiderman, the NY State Attorney General who was put in charge of the White House's mortgage fraud task force. Has he finally indicted a bankster? Nope.

We witnessed a great moment this week as President Obama announced his support for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples.
There is no doubt that having the President's support on this important issue will help ensure that all Americans are treated equally under the laws that govern our state and country.
And, you guessed it: Please donate to his campaign war chest. 

From BuzzFeed comes news that the Obama campaign has wasted no time ordering some gay swag to sell on its website. If you were afraid Barry was trying to co-opt OWS, just check out how he now totally owns Gaydom. Obama Pride.... sounds like a whole new brand. But still evolving, methinks, since the model is not quite ready to show her face.



Zee said...

I found this guest op/ed piece from the small-town, small-potatoes Albuquerque Journal to be quite touching this morning:

Also, I have been reminded that Arch-Villian Dick Cheney endorsed gay marriage quite some time ago:

I don't pretend that this in any way excuses The Dick from his conduct as Vice President, but it goes to show that even the smallest and meanest people can still exhibit love and compassion at least for family.

Meanwhile, some who pretend to have big hearts do so only for political advantage, and then easily change "heart" for perceived political convenience.

Denis Neville said...

Brave Barry?

He said he thought gay marriage was a “state-by-state issue.”

It was okay that North Carolina put equality up for a popular vote? Equality is not a state-by-state issue.

Isn’t that in opposition to the Boies and Olson Proposition 8 case that challenges California's ban on gay marriage? Doesn’t that support the right of Californians to uphold bigotry in their state constitution? Aren’t state bans on gay marriage unconstitutional? Why is Barry supporting this?

Forward? Barry’s not moving forward, he’s headed backwards.

Valerie said...

Whoopee! This stance costs Obama nothing! It is not as if religious fundamentalists were planning on voting Democratic! The only disgrace is that this hasn't been his position all along.

Funny timing though - just as the Occupy Movement is up and running bringing the REAL focus back to where it belongs, income inequality and injustice - suddenly Obama announces he is standing on the side of gay marriage. Now, gay marriage will be what is discussed in the MSM instead of the REAL issues wrecking our country. Free Trade agreements, more and more unemployed falling off the radar because they no longer qualify for unemployment, more mini-bank bailouts, defunding public education, cutting the safety net, setting up a security state to protect the 1% from the people they are fleecing - all those things Obama and Romney agree upon and will govern exactly the same way - will be deflected and the American public will be distracted once again.

PLEEZE! I can't even get myself to find out if I have been dumped off the voting registry in Washington State because I am so uninspired by this upcoming presidential election. If they weren't defunding public libraries and trying to re-enact anti-vagrance and anti-pauper laws, I wouldn't have any interest in voting at all for either head of the uni-party!

Karen Garcia said...

Ross Douthat's column in the NYT was on "Winning the News Cycle, Losing the Race". My comment:

Does it really matter which corporate candidate wins the news cycle or the race, when the upshot is that the American people are superfluous to the outcome?

On the one hand, we have a candidate who, far from having no core, has just been outed as being rotten to the core. He has been a serial physical, emotional and financial abuser, and he's openly proud and saying it loud. If elected, he promises a punishment of our most vulnerable citizens, and he promises that it will swift, terrible, and sure.

On the other hand, we are asked to celebrate a much nicer man who has “evolved” on marriage equality, but who has refused to sign an executive order banning workplace discrimination against gays by federal contractors. As a matter of fact, his entire record on civil rights is pretty abysmal: an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, detention without trial, drone strike assassinations of “militants” which often result in "collateral damage" of innocent women and children, the “Secure Communities” immigration dragnet, the inhumane War on Drugs.

Both candidates, of course, are the pliable instruments and servants of Wall Street.

We deserve much better, and we demand better. Despite corporate media claims to the contrary, the Occupy movement is alive and well and living in a global neighborhood near you. We do have choices -- they simply have not been pre-approved by the Corporate States of the Homeland.
Also responded to Maureen Dowd's piece on Obama gay marriage wishy-washiness by basically condensing my current blog post.

DreamsAmelia said...

The Times has a great series called, "Degrees of Debt" featuring quaint New Paltz in its video....
heartbreaking---and adds to the jaw-dropping stories of new nurse trainees I work with who have similarly staggering debt-loads.
When the boomers are all gone in 20-30 years, there is going to be no one left to buy anything--except the 1%. They will indeed own the world, and they've started with these children, who will never be property owners.

Valerie said...


I responded to your last comment in a previous thread on the same thread rather than write it here.

Steve said...

I came across your blog via the NYT’s comment section. Your enthusiasm is encouraging, especially for me during a time when the relentless crush of greed seems to be unstoppable and irreversible. As you pointed out, it’s clear that both candidates are owned by Wall Street, as are the majority of our elected officials. There was a time when the federal government acted as the yin to capitalism’s yang and a tenuous balance was maintained. The middle class, unions, and single income families were proof of the successes of this arrangement. Now, however, the foxes are not only in the hen house, but they’ve taken over the farmer’s home as well. In fact, the farmer invited them in with a smile and an open hand.

For every small victory on some social issue, larger corporate crimes escape justice. The puppet masters understand how to appease the masses. By distracting us from the real evil via demonizing various sub-groups of humanity using scare tactics and/or pacifying us with cheap consumer goods and banal entertainments, the rich and powerful keep the game rigged in their favor.

So what do we do? My enthusiasm and faith in the power of the people is waning fast and I see little we can do beyond complaining – in an organized fashion or not. What gives you the strength to continue fighting the good fight? Truth be told, I’m about ready to throw in the towel. This isn’t just an American thing, it’s a human thing. Our insatiable hunger for power and wealth seem destined to win the battle for our collective souls.

Elizabeth Adams said...

Steve's comment made me want to chime in.

I had a great day yesterday. Nine of us were on the main drag of our little conservative town, holding our homemade (homemade are much more powerful than computer-generated/printed, I've learned) signs in front of the B of A as a part of "Move Your Money" month.

"We the People Are Pissed Off"
"Honk if you think banks should pay equal taxes"
"Move Your Money"
"We Are the 99%"
"People Before Profits"

Having been doing stuff like this on at least a monthly basis for about 8 months now, I can feel that we are getting more of a positive response.

Having been going to the library every month for 11 months now to check out keys to the community room for our Rebuild the Dream meetings, the librarians are talking about our issues now.

But what made my day so awesome? One of the demonstrators had been swallowed up by the conservative nature of our community and didn't know there was a progressive element at all. This was his first "event" in many years and he was so excited, saying "I'd rather be doing this than watching TV". The event charged him up and he started getting lots of ideas going in his head. He couldn't wait to start working on them.

What made it even more awesome was another demonstrator, who wasn't even from out town. When the 99% Spring Training events were going on in April, the ones in his larger town were very small and filled up quickly, so he and his wife drove to ours, which was about a 40 minute drive for them. Yesterday was his 75th birthday, and he shared it with us. His wife said there was nothing he would rather be doing on his birthday. He said to me, "I SHOULD be doing this."

The people are waking up, Steve. Maybe not fast enough. But it's happening.

Neil Gillespie said...

Thanks Karen for introducing us to New Paltz Mayor Jason West. His quote in the Times Herald-Record has relevance for all movements: Individual action that snowballs to a tipping point.

"For me, it's not that I somehow opened a space in New York for same-sex marriage to happen," he said Thursday. "It's the fact that change happens so incrementally no one sees it until it reaches a tipping point."

"In the same way, West said, "I didn't create social change. The thousands — millions — of people who came out to their families and friends long before that day made something possible."

And once again, Obama is leading from behind.

"And while he praised President Barack Obama's landmark decision, announcing his support for same-sex marriage, West applied the same criteria to the president: Obama was definitely leading from behind on the issue."

There has been good coverage on same-sex marriage in the New York Times too.

Your Money, Same-Sex Marriage Activists Look to Law, May 11, 2012

The High Price of Being a Gay Couple, Oct. 2, 2009

Editorial, Harming the Troops, May 12, 2012

Going to the Chapel and We’re Not Getting Married, May 11, 2012

Unable to Say ‘I Do’, May 7, 2012 (moot point now!)

Heartland Justice, May 5, 2012 (Equal Protection Clause - Iowa Supreme Court)

And a reminder that the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, and defined marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.

Given Mitt Romney’s Mormon background, maybe he could imagine marriage defined as the legal union of one man and many women? So maybe Romney can imagine same-sex marriage?

Gay marriage can help the economy too. Wedding planners, license fees, gifts, photos, jewelry, clothing, catered parties, guest travel, honeymoons, and the couple’s first home. (and just like man/woman marriage, legal bills for prenups, and the inevitable divorces).

Marketwatch: Economic benefits of gay marriage

"Forbes magazine says an immediate windfall of about $17 billion could be had if gay marriage were made legal nationally. The magazine conducted the analysis several years ago and determined that "one thing is abundantly clear: Legalizing same-sex marriages would mean a windfall for the wedding industry." Weddings are a $70 billion-a-year business."

Forbes: The Gay-Marriage Windfall: $16.8 Billion

Marketwatch: "In another, long-term analysis, the Christian Science Monitor notes a Congressional Budget Office study, which found that if gay marriage were allowed throughout the United States, it would improve the federal budget's bottom line."

"The CBO calculates that same-sex couples would boost Social Security spending, because the partner of a deceased worker would receive 100 percent of the worker's benefit. But the federal government would save money on Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and Medicare," the report says."

CSM: The dollars and cents of gay marriage

Valerie said...


Thanks for that! Tears filled my eyes when I read your comment. It is a hard, uphill battle for many - particularly those like Karen, Chris Hedges and Bill Moyers who have been fighting the good fight for so long and must feel weary. These little small rays of hope keep people like me going.

Zee said...

If you want some additional heartburn over Obama's shamelessly tardy endorsement of gay marriage and his new self-billing as The Champion of Gay Rights, have a look at Newsweek's next cover:

Valerie said...

Interesting links, Neil. Thanks

And Zee - Like I said, it is an issue that will be blown all out of proportion like abortion and whether or not it is a good thing to be a stay-at-home mom meant to distract us from the really big issues. Like you mentioned in an earlier post, I am far more interested in what J.P. Morgan has been up to behind the scenes and whether or not they will be borrowing from the Fed at 0% interest in order to prop themselves up for yet another run at destroying our economy in order to gain excessive bonuses.

Denis Neville said...

@ Valerie

I agree. Just more smoke to distract us from...

“Dedicated to the 6,705 people who have been arrested supporting Occupy to date, from the first 80 arrested in New York on September 24, 2011, to the woman arrested in Sacramento on March 6, 2012, for throwing flower petals. May our numbers swell and increase.” – Noam Chomsky, Occupy

Via Maria Popova’s “Occupy: Noam Chomsky’s Guide to The History and Practice of Protest”

How ironic!

Almost 7,000 OWS protesters have been arrested and not one Wall Street bankster responsible for destroying our economy in 2008 has been arrested. Not one! But 7,000 who stood non-violently to protest against this thievery have been arrested. This just boggles the mind.

La Provocateur said...

Democrats should be cautious with the gay issue. It is one thing to support gay rights, but it is another thing to be seen as actively promoting that lifestyle. Hollywood's involvement in this issue isn't helping.

Many people feel that sexuality is a personal and private decision. While supporting the right to choose one's own lifestyle or reproductive decisions such as abortion, many don't support the flaunting or overt promotion of those choices. Just look at all the television shows featuring gay themes and gay characters. While it might help to normalize the view of alternative forms of sexuality, it is also an affront to some who otherwise might be supportive, or at least tolerant.

The whole issue of sexuality is skewed. Advertisers portray typical masculinity and femininity in stereotypical extremes. Many kids probably feel like freaks of nature because they don't fit the mold, when actually they may simply be expressing the normal mix. Considering that both males and females have all the same hormones but in different mixes (males have estrogen, females have testosterone), it seems reasonable to assume that sexuality, if we could get beyond taboos, might be spread on a Bell Curve with bisexuality at the center.

Marriage, of course, would have to be plotted on another graph, being engulfed in many dynamics involving children (and pressure for grandchildren) and other factors such as that vital factor of career advancement and societal acceptance. Can anyone forget the intense pressure to find a marriage partner by graduation? No wonder so many gays have children from their first failed marriage and the divorce rate is so high.

The next liberation may be freeing people from the assumption that sexuality is set in stone at birth and giving everyone real choices in how they express their love and sexuality at any stage in their lives. Unfortunately, the major religions and their affiliated political groups rely on procreation for their membership, so they aren't going to want to recognize anything that jeopardizes their sheep breeding business, at least for those in their reproductive years.

Neil Gillespie said...

@ La Provocateur

The libertarian approach seems popular. Listen to the enthusiastic response of the conservative debate audience when Ron Paul says he would legalize gay marriage, prostitution, marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

There is a weird standard in America over male expressions of affection. Anyone remember Pres. George W. Bush holding hands and kissing the lips of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah? In this short clip, "Brokeback Bush" we are reminded of that kiss - and the $126 million per day Americans spend on Saudi oil.

BTW, I don’t recall "intense pressure to find a marriage partner by graduation", maybe that was a custom in your particular location? Was that high school or college graduation?

Valerie said...

@Steve (from the last post)

Hope you are still with us. You asked, "What can we do?" If you haven't read the link that both Denis and I included linking you to Chris Hedges, you might want to start there. Hedges maintains we should leave the circus that is the 2012 election, forgo the crap corporate media, read the good blogs (Karen has a good blog roll)- I think this is the best so you have hit a gold mine by starting here - and get involved in the Occupy Movement.

The media and the corporate demopublican party would like us to think that we have no power and must choose from the corporate candidates they offer us, but we can get involved with our democracy in ways other than voting for the lesser of two evils.

Jay - Ottawa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie said...

Just a heads-up. Here is the link to the interview on Democracy Now with Bill Black. Excellent interview - explains exactly what JP Morgan did wrong and cuts through the crap of Jamie Dimon's rhetoric and outright lies.