Monday, August 31, 2009
Washington State's domestic partnership law was just expanded this summer to be similar to California's AB 205, and is, in effect, an "everything but marriage" law.
The news that Referendum 71 has apparently qualified was not surprising, although there are several legal challenges and controversies ahead. Washington Families Standing Together has filed a lawsuit challenging the procedures used by the Seretary of State to validate signatures. There are also lawsuits going on as to whether the names of those who signed petitions to qualify Referendum 71 will have their names made public; the names of the donors to the heterosexual supremacist group Protect Marriage Washington are public, despite protestations from the supremacists that their supporters could face intimidation and violence if their names were made public.
Curiouser and curioser. The New York Times has started going into overdrive as the last grand slam tournament of the year begins tomorrow on its own turf. This past weekend The Gray Lady ran a faux breathless story about the significance of Roger Federer's "RF" monogram and on Sunday there was a front page story comparing the defending 5-time US Open champion to the last man who won the US Open six consecutive years, Bill Tilden, who besides being a great champion was also a well-known homosexual (and confirmed pedophile). This year is the 80th anniversary of Tilden's sixth consecutive US Open championship, which Federer could duplicate if he wins again in New York. The article conceded that Tilden's accomplishments are rarely acknowledged because the tennis icon was arrested multiple times for being caught in inappropriate (and illegal, at the time) sexual situations with teenage boys.
And yet, if not for Federer’s Open success reviving his memory, Tilden would remain largely forgotten, his tennis legacy overshadowed by his vices. He was attracted to young boys in his later years. Shunned by tennis, he died virtually penniless in 1953, at age 60.Interestingly, although Roger Federer's own sexual orientation used to be in doubt, those questions have mostly been silenced with his marriage and birth of his twin daughters in the last six months.
“There’s no question Tilden dominated his era more so than maybe anybody had except for Federer,” said Frank Deford, who wrote the definitive biography “Big Bill Tilden: The Triumphs and the Tragedy” while covering tennis in 1975 for Sports Illustrated.
But as a public figure, perhaps a more apt comparison for Tilden is to the pop star Michael Jackson, whose musical legacy, while unassailable, was mitigated for some by his conduct.
“I think that’s a very good analogy,” Deford said in a telephone interview, adding: “Tennis people tried to hush up Tilden’s personal life. They actually were afraid it would hurt the sport. I think that’s why nobody ever celebrates any of his achievements.”
I understand the New York Times trying to gin up support for locals to attend the Open (which when you really think about it is actually a bit bizarre or paranoid, since the tournament is quite often the most attended sporting event in North America most years) but it does seem a bit beyond the pale to be publishing two articles in three days which "sprinkle pink fairy dust" on the World #1 player by dissing his fashion sense (as "affected") and comparing him to a fashionista in one article and then comparing his tennis to the most famous (and controversial) men's tennis champion in history who happened to be firmly attracted to members of the same sex!
Bam! Here's model Chadwick Johnson for your viewing pleasure. Although I first noticed him at Queerty, apparently this very fit young man lives in the Pasadena area, just a hop skip and a jump from MadProfessah. If I ran into him, my heart just may skip a beat!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
This is the best video I have seen depicting what it is like to live in Los Angeles as we shift from one season (drought) to the next (fire). Hopefully we will be skipping the other two (flood and riot) in 2009! The video shows 90 minutes condensed in to 24 seconds.
hat/tip to LA Observed.
TheTimes is worried that the legal skirmish may get ugly:
In legal filings this month, attorneys seeking to overturn Proposition 8 indicated that they would bring in expert witnesses to testify that sexual orientation is inborn and immutable, that homosexuality is not considered a disorder by the psychological or medical establishments (the American Psychiatric Assn. took it off the diagnostic list 36 years ago) and so forth. The testimony is intended to show that homosexuality deserves the same high-level constitutional protections as, for example, race.Hmmm, I'm willing to take that risk. I believe that the facts and science support the position that homosexuality is just as natural as heterosexuality.
That's understandable, given that members of a racial group are the most familiar example of a "discrete and insular" minority deserving of judicial protection. But homosexuality need not be innate or unchangeable for gays and lesbians to deserve equal treatment under the Constitution. Religious minorities, for instance, enjoy full constitutional protections,even though they are free to convert to other faiths. Indeed, a famous footnote in a 1938 Supreme Court case specifically recognized that laws intended to discriminate based on national origin or religious faith might offend the Constitution just as those that target groups by race. It is no less offensive morally or legally to discriminate against Catholics, who choose their faith, than it is to discriminate against blacks, who are born to their race.
Because of that, gays and lesbians need not prove that their sexual orientation is a matter of genetics in order for the Constitution to protect their equality. Nor is that the stronger tactic; both sides can bring forth expert witnesses to press their claims in this area. Yet, as absurd as it is to argue that sexual orientation is a matter of simple choice, lawyers defending the proposition have made clear that they intend to offer precisely that argument. In so doing, they threaten to trivialize discrimination against homosexuals by implying that gays and lesbians could end it merely by changing their sexual orientation.
It's could get ugly, but then that's to be expected. As Californians well remember, the political and legal debates over gay marriage already have exposed raw emotions and featured willful, hateful distortions. During last year's campaign, there were assertions that only married heterosexual couples could raise truly well-adjusted children -- a claim that ignored nontraditional families, including same-sex parents and single parents, who were successfully raising fine offspring. Commercials for Proposition 8 wrongly implied that same-sex marriage would somehow harm traditional marriages; that religious groups would be forced to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies; that schools would have to teach a pro-homosexual curriculum in elementary grades; and that faith-based adoption agencies would go out of business. The campaign against the initiative never responded effectively to these deceptive claims; the trial, it appears, might offer a supervised forum for knocking them down.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Both Mike and Michelangelo are most well-known
for their involvement in the controversy about revealing the homosexuality of closeted homosexuals.
Mike Rogers outed U.S. Senator Larry Craig in October 17, 2006 several months before the Senator was arrested in a men's bathroom at the Minneapolis Airport.
Michelangelo Signorile is well-known for being the features editor at OutWeek magazine in the early 1990s, eventually outing celebrities such as David Geffen, Malcolm Forbes and Liz Smith, among others.
The movie Outrage is riveting. Using devastating actual audio and video footage of Larry Craig, Governor Charlie Crist and Rep. Jim Mcrery. Craig and Crist are actually shown on camera answering questions about whether they are gay or not. It is left up to the audience to evaluate the truthfulness of their responses.
Several LGBT activists appear as talking heads to show righteous outrage at the hypocrisy of closeted Republicans who actively worked against the needs of the broader LGBT community, or who were in positions of power to help and through inaction caused great harm to continue. Elizabeth Birch, Rodger McFarlane, Hilary Rosen, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jim Kolbe and Andrew Sullivan are just some of the members of the community who rain down scorn upon closeted homosexuals.
One curious aspect of the film is the attention it spends so much of its time on James McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey who announced that he was "A gay American" and promptly resigned his post, and divorced his (second) wife. McGreevey is used to demonstrate the positive mental health aspects of politicians coming out of their own accord, but the more problematic aspects of McGreevey's story are not included in the film.
All in all, Outrage is required viewing for any gay person who is interested in LGBT politics, the debate over the ethics of outing and the media's role in both.
MPAA Rating: R [See Full Rating] for some language and sexual references. Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
OVERALL GRADE: A.
Friday, August 28, 2009
It is the "Diva Dance" sequence from The Fifth Element, the 1997 film starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich, directed by her husband Luc Besson. Caught this film last night on HD on cable and it actually has stood up to time very well. The art design of the film is absolutely stunning and it features a career-making star turn by Chris Tucker.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Last year Serena Williams refused to lose a set (despite facing 10 set points) to her sister Venus in the quarterfinals of the 2008 US Open and went on to (relatively easily) win her 9th major title, after losing to Venus in the 2008 Wimbledon final. This year, Serena won the Wimbledon final against her sister, and will face her in the semifinals, if the recently released 2009 US Open Women's draw holds to form.
As for the rest of the draw, does it really matter? This is Serena's tournament to lose.
"World #1" Dinara Safina hasKleybanova, Lisicki and Jankovic in her quarter of the draw. Dementieva and Kuznetsova are also in Safina's half.
Venus is the unfortunate seed who has Kim Clijsters in her quarter and would face the 2005 US Open champion in the round of 16 and Victoria Azarenka in the quartfinal.
Serena has the nicest draw of all the contenders, although she has people like Samantha Stosur, Amelia Mauresmo and Daniela Hantuchova, all people who could beat her, but who are also serious head cases.
Let the games begin! Brackets, anyone?
Federer is trying for his 6th consecutive US Open title, while the rest of the three are trying for their first US Open title, and Murray his first major title overall.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
As soon as I heard that Kim Clijsters was returning to the women's tennis tour I knew (and said so at the time) that it would only be a matter of time before her Belgian compatriot, 7-time major champion Justine Henin-Hardenne who retired abruptly a few weeks before the May 2008 French Open would join her.
Now there are rumors she may be coming back as early as Spring 2010:
[Henin] has started training for exhibitions in Belgium and Dubai at the end of this year. Henin’s entourage has confirmed the preparations, while Vers L'Avenir added that Henin is considering the revival of her tennis careerThe story is starting to be picked up around the world, with Agence France Press reporting:
Vers l'Avenir newspaper reported that "Juju has as good as taken her decision to return to competition from January."Kimmie better hurry up and win another Slam before the Other Belgian returns, because in major championships Clijsters was something like 0-4 (2003 US Open final, 2004 Australian Open final, 2006 French Open semifinal, 2006 Wimbledon semifinal) against Henin.
Close friend and former coach Carlos Rodriguez played down the rumours.
"There's nobody telling me of a return. We've not spoken about that. I am really astonished," Rodriguez insisted.
But he did confirm that "she is training, yes. Two or three times a week to get herself in shape as she's not played for a year. That's all."
However, his wife was quoted as telling Vers l'Avenir that "something is in the offing but I'm not allowed to talk about it."
Officially, Henin is down to play exhibition matches at the end of the year in Belgium and Dubai.
Under international anti-doping rules Henin would have to inform the game's authorities if she were to return three months beforehand.
1. Dinara Safina, RussiaThe men's seeds are:
2. Serena Williams, United States
3. Venus Williams, United States
4. Elena Dementieva, Russia
5. Jelena Jankovic, Serbia
6. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
7. Vera Zvonareva, Russia
8. Victoria Azarenka, Belarus
9. Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark
10. Flavia Pennetta, Italy
11. Ana Ivanovic, Serbia
12. Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland
13. Nadia Petrova, Russia
14. Marion Bartoli, France
15. Samantha Stosur, Australia
16. Virginie Razzano, France
17. Amelie Mauresmo, France
18. Li Na, China
19. Patty Schnyder, Switzerland
20. Anabel Medina Garrigues, Spain
21. Zheng Jie, China
22. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovak Republic
23. Sabine Lisicki, Germany
24. Sorana Cirstea, Romania
25. Kaia Kanepi, Estonia
26. Francesca Schiavone, Italy
27. Alisa Kleybanova, Russia
28. Sybille Bammer, Austria
29. Maria Sharapova, Russia
30. Alona Bondarenko, Ukraine
31. Elena Vesnina, Russia
32. Agnes Szavay, Hungary
1. Roger Federer, SwitzerlandThe draw will be announced on Thursday and the tournament starts on Monday August 31st.
2. Andy Murray, Great Britain
3. Rafael Nadal, Spain
4. Novak Djokovic, Serbia
5. Andy Roddick, United States
6. Juan Martin Del Potro, Argentina
7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
8. Nikolay Davydenko, Russia
9. Gilles Simon, France
10. Fernando Verdasco, Spain
11. Fernando Gonzalez, Chile
12. Robin Soderling, Sweden
13. Gael Monfils, France
14. Tommy Robredo, Spain
15. Radek Stepanek, Czech Republic
16. Marin Cilic, Croatia
17. Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic
18. David Ferrer, Spain
19. Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland
20. Tommy Haas, Germany
21. James Blake, United States
22. Sam Querrey, United States
23. Philipp Kohlschreiber, Germany
24. Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spain
25. Mardy Fish, United States
26. Paul-Henri Mathieu, France
27. Ivo Karlovic, Croatia
28. Victor Hanescu, Romania
29. Igor Andreev, Russia
30. Viktor Troicki, Serbia
31. Lleyton Hewitt, Australia
32. Nicolas Almagro, Spain
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
It is likely the lawsuit will be refiled in federal court again. However, many LGBT activists were flabbergasted when the attorneys for the plaintiffs revealed their real intention in the lawsuit was to split the state of California into two pieces.
The Obama administration scored a victory of sorts in federal court Monday when a judge threw out an Orange County gay couple's lawsuit claiming that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
Assistant Atty. Gen. Tony West, in his brief filed before U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, agreed with Smelt and Hammer that the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and should be repealed. But West noted that he was obliged to defend the law until Congress moves to repeal or amend it. He urged the court to dismiss the men's suit on grounds that their allegations "fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."
Carter agreed, explaining in his seven-page decision that the absence of "an injury in fact" meant the court lacked jurisdiction to consider the broader constitutional questions.
Smelt and Hammer had also filed suit in California superior court. That action was dismissed earlier this year on similar grounds, as their marriage is legal in California.
Judas Unchained is the concluding half of the Commonwealth Saga begun in Pandora's Star.
Pandora's Star ends with an Alien invasion which seem to threaten the very existence of the human race. Judas Unchained starts seconds later.
The multiple plot strands that are strewn through the two novels finally come to fruition in the second book, and reward the reader for sticking through nearly two thousand pages of exposition.
If you like military space wars, these books are for you. If you like utopian, advanced technology societies ("death" has been solved through the use of memory storage and cloning), these books are for you. If you like depiction of alien creatures and societies, these books are for you. If you like suspense and mystery, these books are for you.
Hamilton does an incredible job of weaving different genres of fiction around a solid core of hard, speculative fiction whose intricacy is frankly breathtaking.
Length: 992 pages. Publisher: Del Rel (January 25, 2005).
OVERALL GRADE: A/A-.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I agree, generally, with the enthusiasm for (and Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained). Hamilton has again created a densely populated universe, filled with well-sketched characters and fascinating technology. I recently re-read these two sprawling novels in The Commonwealth Universe in anticipation of Hamilton's next work, The Void Trilogy, which is set 1200 years in the future of the same Universe.
Hamilton is well-known for his hard sci-fi space operas, particularly the now-legendary Nights Dawn trilogy mentioned earlier.
Pandora's Star is a perfect example of this genre, but Hamilton manages to incorporate many tropes from science fiction: First Contact, Alien Invasion, Paradigm-Shifting Scientific Discovery. For good measure, Hamilton incorporates ideas from other genres as well. There are significant murder-mystery and conspiracy sub-plots. The entire story is peppered with sociological commentary on our contemporary world (as most excellent works of art are).
Pandora's Star is an excellent example of the science fiction genre, but also an incredibly enjoyable (and extensive) read.
Publisher: Del Rey. January 2005. 992 Pages.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Federer followed up his 6-2 7-6(8) defeat of World #2 Andy Murray yesterday to win his 16th ATP Masters title, one behind the all-time leader Andre Agassi, and his 60th ATP Tour title overall.
Federer has an opportunity to win his 6th consecutive US Open and 16th major title overall, starting next week.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
World #1 Roger Federer defeated World #2 Andy Murray in the semifinals of the Cincinnati Masters on Saturday 6-2 7-6(8) for the first time in 5 matches. Federer was very aggressive, especially on the forehand wing and Murray neither served nor returned serve at his typically high level. Federer will face the winner of the Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic match in Sunday's final. Federer improved his lifetime record to 3 wins and 6 losses against Murray.
World #2 Serena Williams lost to World #5 Elena Dementieva 7-6(2) 6-1 in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto. The Russian avenged her 3-set loss in the semifinals of Wimbledon to the eventual champion, Serena Williams and improved to a lifetime head-to-head of 4 wins to 6 losses. Dementieva will face the winner of the Maria Sharapova-Alisa Kleybanova match in Sunday's final.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Following up on his stunning 9.58s turn in the 100m dash earlier in the week at the World Championships in Berlin, 22-year-old Jamaican track and field sensation Usain Bolt broke his own world record in the 200m by running a ridiculous 19.19s, again .11s better than the previous world record.
Bolt humiliated the field, winning by .62s ahead of second-place Alonso Edward of Panama (19.81s) and the pulchritudinous Wallace Spearmon of the United States (19.85s).
In his last 5 championship races, Usain Bolt has set 5 world records.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Campaign manager Jesse Connolly sent out this appeal for funds in the next 48 hours:
You can also donate directly through my MadProfessah ACTBLUE page to protect maine equality.
Can you believe in only 34 days, the people of Maine can start voting to protect marriage equality? I received a note today from a very generous anonymous Mainer who wants to challenge you directly.
Here's the deal - of we can raise $10,000 by Friday, he'll double it. That means we'll have $20,000 to protect marriage equality.
If you donate $250, then it becomes $500.
If you donate $100, then it becomes $200.
But we only have until Friday to make good on this match. We need to make $10,000 and I know we can do it.
And now is the time. Your donation is - literally - three times more valuable now, in the early days of the campaign, than it is at the end. And that's exactly why our opponents have tapped out-of-state, anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family and National Organization for Marriage who have already poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Maine.
NO on 1 / Protect Maine Equality
P.S. Help double your impact and donate right now to reach our goal before Friday! Your contribution of $250, $100, $50 or any other amount, will help us take advantage of this generous supporter’s challenge!
Afterwards, there were questions raised about the winner's gender:
Of course, what they are actually talking about is sex, not gender. Gender consists of the socially constructed meanings, characteristics and associations with the state of being male or female. Sex is the state of being either male or female. Neither are binaries, they exist on a spectrum.
Semenya, a muscular 5 feet 7 inches and 140 pounds, was an unknown before she ran a blistering time at the Africa Junior Championships three weeks ago. She did not speak to media after the race.
Weiss said it could take several weeks to get the results of the investigation, which he said included testing of Semenya in both South Africa and Berlin. Without that evidence, the IAAF could not keep Semenya from running here.
"We entered Caster as a woman and we want to keep it that way," South African team manager Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane told the Associated Press. "Our conscience is clear in terms of Semenya."
The issue of gender testing is so controversial that the International Olympic Committee suspended widespread gender testing in 1999, reserving the right to do psychological, gynecological and chromosome investigations "if there is a valid suspicion," IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said in an e-mail.
Interestingly, the Los Angeles Times goes on to summarize the controversy over the determination of sex in track and field over time.
There have been controversies about gender in track and field for several decades.How do you think the line should be drawn between "male" and "female"?
An autopsy after her 1980 death found that Stella Walsh, who won the 1932 Olympic gold medal in the 100 meters for Poland, had male genitals and mixed male and female chromosomes. She retained her gold medal and a silver she won in 1936.
At least two women have been banned from track and field since 1967 because they failed chromosome tests, although one was reinstated. An Indian distance runner lost a 2006 Asian Games silver medal after failing a gender test.
As recently as the 1987 Mediterranean Games in Syria, only a visual inspection was used for gender verification. By that time, mouth swabs to reveal chromosomes were the accepted method, but questions about their accuracy led to the IOC ban on using them exclusively to determine gender
1. There will be a trial on the merits of the case starting January 11, 2010Michael Petrelis has a quirky (but informative) guest post at LawDork giving his impressions inside the courtroom.
2. The City of San Francisco has been granted intervenor status on the side of the plaintiffs.
3. The LGBT organizations were denied intervenor status on the side of the plaintiffs.
4. The heterosexual supremacist organization Campaign for California Families was denied intervenor status on the side of the defendants.
The LGBT orgs were disappointed at Judge Walker's decision.
On behalf of our clients, we are disappointed that the court did not permit organizations that represent California’s diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to participate in the case as the Court weighs the harms inflicted by Proposition 8. The significance of this case for our entire community is enormous. To exclude the people whose very freedom is at stake is troubling.Interestingly, the ruling happened on the very same day Ted Olson was profiled in the New York Times and four legal experts were asked about the merits of the Olson-Boies federal lawsuit. Openly gay Yale Law Professor Kenji Yoshino was cautious.
Our commitment to restoring marriage for all Californians is unwavering, and we will continue to do everything within our power to secure full equality and justice for LGBT people.
In the wake of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the court was confronted with Naim v. Naim, which concerned a challenge to the Virginia ban on interracial marriage, which was later struck down in Loving. The court was in the midst of issuing a burst of opinions extending racial integration from public education to other state-run institutions like public parks and transportation. Nonetheless, in 1956, the court avoided a decision in Naim, deeming the issue of marriage too socially contentious.Which do you think Perry will be more like? Naim or Loving?
The 2003 Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy in this country, is often described as the Brown of the gay-rights movement. If we carry the analogy, the Olson/Boies suit looks more like Naim than Loving. In 1956, slightly more than half the states banned interracial marriage, a political landscape closer to the one we have regarding same-sex marriage today.
The analogy is important because many gay-rights organizations have criticized Mr. Olson and Mr. Boies, who are not gay-rights litigators, as rogue lawyers who brought the case too soon. Yet as Naim shows, lawyers are not the only ones who control the timing of cases in the Supreme Court. Unlike the lower federal courts, the Supreme Court has discretionary review, which it grants in less than 5 percent of cases.
To be sure, if some attorney had not brought the case, the court would not have been permitted to consider it. But in this litigious age, it was only a matter of time before someone made a federal case out of same-sex marriage. And if I were to choose two private lawyers to go “rogue,” I would pick these two.
If this case is decided on the merits, I hope the court will follow Loving. But the court cannot be insensible to the widely expressed sentiment that the timing here may not be right. If the court believes that a broader social consensus needs to develop, it should remember how it bought time with Naim.
Some news in the 2010 California Senate race: Fiorina has taken her first steps to running to unseat U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010. The press roll-out left a lot to be desired:
Fiorina, who would face Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine in the Republican primary in June, announced that she had filed papers with the Internal Revenue Service to start exploring a candidacy.Ouch. And this is how the Los Angeles Times ended the story covering your US Senate announcement?
"The people of California have serious concerns about job creation, economic growth and the role of government in solving problems that touch each of our lives," Fiorina said in a written statement.
Her personal wealth would make Fiorina a heavy favorite for the Republican nomination. But she would have a tough fight to unseat Boxer, a Democrat seeking a fourth term. And Fiorina is opposed to abortion, which puts her at odds with most California voters.
Fiorina was fired from Hewlett-Packard after a rocky tenure. [emphasis added]
But, wait, there's more!
S0unds like someone who is qualified to be chief executive of the 6th largest public economy in the world?
Fiorina also has not registered her charity, the Fiorina Foundation, with the IRS or the California attorney general's charitable trust division. She said that the charity bearing her name is "not a private foundation" and therefore not required to register.
A spokesman for Attorney General Jerry Brown said Tuesday that an inquiry is under way.
No votes in Fiorina's earlier states
Carly Fiorina, who has voted in five of 18 elections since registering in California in 2000, did not cast ballots in states where she previously lived, according to public records.
In New Jersey, where she lived before California, records in Morris County show that she registered to vote on Sept. 9, 1997, and was granted voter status on Oct. 8. Officials there said she never voted and was deleted from rolls as an "inactive voter" in 2005. Sample ballots were mailed to her home but were returned or got no response.
In Maryland, where records show Fiorina lived beginning in the early 1980s, Montgomery County records show that she didn't register to vote.
The Chronicle checked public records under Fiorina's listed addresses and under all her listed legal names, including her maiden name and names from her two marriages.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans’ purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month’s Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.As OpenLeft says, this is basically like saying "water is wet."
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the heated opposition was evidence that Republicans had made a political calculation to draw a line against any health care changes, the latest in a string of major administration proposals that Republicans have opposed.
“The Republican leadership,” Mr. Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.
In other health care reform news, there are now 46 votes in the United States Senate for the public option being included in the final bill!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Department of Justice is again defending the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court with a brief filed today but this time in a way that will not get LGBT activists' knickers in a twist.
This time the President of the Unite States issued a statement on the DOJ brief being filed in Smelt vs United States:
Chris Geidner of LawDork has some excellent analysis of the new brief in this case, but notes (like MadProfessah has previously) that the most important case in all these skirmishes over DOMA is Gill vs. Office of Personnel Management, the federal lawsuit against Section 3 of DOMA filed by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders from Massachusetts.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of Media Affairs
For Immediate Release August 17, 2009
Statement by the President on the Smelt v. United States Brief
Today, the Department of Justice has filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged. This brief makes clear, however, that my Administration believes that the Act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress. I have long held that DOMA prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my Administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law.
What the Obama Administration does in Gill will be very very important as to whether DOMA survives the Obama Administration.
The bizarre part of this story is that Dan Sullivan is the son of George Sullivan, who was mayor of Anchorage in the 1970s and who vetoed a gay rights ordinannce in 1976!
According to The New York Times:
The Assembly’s approval of the ordinance, a topic of impassioned public debate at its meetings for much of the summer, followed decades of efforts to pass similar measures. Mr. Sullivan’s father, George Sullivan, who also served as mayor, vetoed an initial proposal in 1976. Then, as now, the ordinance met with vocal opposition among Christian conservatives.Umm, no.
“This ordinance was going to force small-business owners particularly to accommodate people who choose a certain lifestyle,” said the Rev. Jerry Prevo, pastor of the Anchorage Baptist Temple and a leader of the measure’s opponents.
“Once you give special rights to homosexuals,” Mr. Prevo said, “then the next step is you legalize homosexual marriage and so forth.”
1) How is it a "special right" to be protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations based on sexual orientation?
This argument was won in the 1990s! Sheesh.
2) Umm, how exactly is a city council going to "legalize homosexual marriage"? (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)
UPDATE TUE 08/18/09 4:48 PM
***TAKE ACTION: If one of the four opposing members of the Assembly changes their vote in the next 21 days, they can override the mayor's veto. So it might be a good idea for us to remind them of the kinds of lies and affronts that led to the mayor's veto (see more here). The four "no" voters (Debbie Ossiander, Chris Birch, Bill Starr and Dan Coffey) can be reached at: Ossiander@gci.net; StarrWE@muni.org; DanCoffey@gci.net; ChrisBirch@gci.netHat/tip to GoodAsYou.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Tyson Gay, the top American sprinter, ran a career-best 9.71s, the third-fastest time in history, but even that time would not have beaten Bolt's time from last year, and was nowhere close to the Jamaican 22-year-old's stunning mark of 9.58s, a full .11 second faster than the previous world record. The largest delta (or change) in the history of digital record keeping which began in 1977.
Hat/tip Rod 2.0
In "Outsmarting Proposition 8," the Los Angeles Times editorial board says:
The most important objective should be a decisive victory, sending a clear message that this state no longer will tolerate separate but not-quite-equal status for families based on sexual orientation. Given the opinion polls, the lack of a coherent campaign strategy and the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, this most likely means an unfortunate wait. A loss at the ballot box or in the nation's high court could set back same-sex marriage for years.This is one of the smarter editorials I have seen since Jordan/Rustin Coalition and other groups released the Prepare to Prevail statement on July 13th calling for the LGBT community to join together to do the hard work necessary to produce a state in which a popular majority supports equal marriage rights for everyone.
Equality California, the organization that led the campaign against Proposition 8, wisely decided to hold off until 2012 before attempting a ballot initiative to repeal the marriage ban. A successful campaign will require $50 million in funding, an extensive outreach program to black and Latino voters, who largely favored the ban, and, most important, an infusion of young voters, the group most sympathetic toward same-sex marriage. Waiting until 2012 gives Equality California a demographic advantage.
But another gay-rights organization, the Courage Campaign, is eager to use the momentum of recent gay-marriage advances in other states and has announced that it will go forward with a 2010 ballot initiative. Both Equality California and some major donors who tried to defeat Proposition 8 have indicated that a 2010 campaign cannot expect their active support.
Though this page will back same-sex marriage no matter what the year, we hope the Courage Campaign will rethink its timing. Gay-rights activists must recognize that their lackluster campaign did little to sway the public, especially considering the misleading ads by gay-marriage opponents. So far, the Courage Campaign has not articulated a sophisticated strategy for changing this. Without other gay-rights groups by its side, its low chances are further weakened.[emphasis added]
It's not as though waiting three years means idly letting injustice prevail. There is plenty to do between now and 2012 -- forging alliances with minority groups, lining up financial support and vetting the best campaign managers. Advocates of same-sex marriage already have a just cause; coupled with campaign smarts and money, they also will have voter support.
There are four main ways the reform we’re proposing will provide more stability and security to every American.It is imperative we pass health care reform this year.
First, if you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of high-quality, affordable coverage for yourself and your family — coverage that will stay with you whether you move, change your job or lose your job.
Second, reform will finally bring skyrocketing health care costs under control, which will mean real savings for families, businesses and our government. We’ll cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies that do nothing to improve care and everything to improve their profits.
Third, by making Medicare more efficient, we’ll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. This will not only help provide today’s seniors with the benefits they’ve been promised; it will also ensure the long-term health of Medicare for tomorrow’s seniors. And our reforms will also reduce the amount our seniors pay for their prescription drugs.
Lastly, reform will provide every American with some basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable. A 2007 national survey actually shows that insurance companies discriminated against more than 12 million Americans in the previous three years because they had a pre-existing illness or condition. The companies either refused to cover the person, refused to cover a specific illness or condition or charged a higher premium.
Gaiman is the celebrated author of the Hugo and Nebula award-winning American Gods (MadProfessah is still working on a review after reading the book in May 2008--see my earlier post on the relationship between the excellence of a book and the longer it takes me to review it).
Gaiman's book was also recently awarded the Hugo Award, beating out the expected winner, Neal Stephenson's Anathem.
The Graveyard Book is the story of Bod, the toddler who should have died when his parents and a sibling were all brutally murdered by a knife-wielding assassin and the child was protected by the inhabitants of a graveyard.
Bod is short for Nobody Owens, Owens being the family name of his adopted parents, Mr. & Mrs. Owens who were unable to have children when they were alive, and are ghosts who inhabit the graveyard in which Bod lives.
That Bod is a baby who grows up in a graveyard and thus can interact equally with ghosts and non-ghosts equivalently is a bit of a macabre, but interesting concept. The cast of characters in the graveyard a quirky, but generally uninteresting group. The most interesting of the bunch is Silas, the person(?) who rescued Bod and to an adult reader appears to have all the characteristics of a vampire (although he is never described as such--he also is never placed in either the living or non-living category definitively by the Omniscient Narrator.)
What truly limits The Graveyard Book, however, is its plot. The story follows the growing pains of a teenage boy who has an unusual family situation (he's the only living person among his family and his home is a graveyard!) but this is depicted in a completely predictable and surprisingly unimaginative fashion. The main tension in the story is that the assassin who killed Bod's family is still out there and looking to correct the one blemish on his perfect record of murders-for-hire. However, since this is juvenile fiction and Bod is the hero, this reader never really believed that Bod would be killed, although Gaiman does try his best to place Bod and some other characters the reader has invested time in learning about in real and extreme peril.
The final impression of The Graveyard Book is of a good idea that doesn't quite have enough meat on the bones of the plot to make a satisfying meal for the discerning (adult) reader, although someone less experienced (i.e. younger) may be more favorably impressed.
Published by HarperCollins. 320 pages.
OVERALL GRADE: B-.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Here's some good news: It now appears that Californians might be spared another bitter, divisive fight over the definition of marriage next year.The Other Half calls my attention to an editorial in the San Jose Mercury News titled "Waiting til 2012 on gay marriage? Wise move":.
One of the state's leading gay rights groups – Equality California – announced this week that it will not sponsor a ballot measure next year to try to repeal Proposition 8, the initiative voters passed last November banning same-sex marriage in California.
We opposed Proposition 8 and we, too, would like to see it repealed. Like the leaders of the gay rights movement, we believe it is only a matter of time before Californians restore the right of same-sex couples to marry. Younger voters overwhelmingly support this position, and as they become a bigger and bigger part of the electorate, equal marriage rights for gays will become the law of the land.
The question is how and when to ask the voters to reconsider their recent decision. Understandably, gay rights leaders don't want to wait. They see Proposition 8 as an injustice that must be overturned, either at the ballot box or in the federal courts. And they already are pursuing a legal strategy that could eventually bring the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But waiting until 2012, as Equality California has decided to do, makes sense. It will give voters more time to reflect on the passage of the gay marriage ban and to see what is happening in other states that are taking the lead on this issue. Most importantly, the pause will allow the gay rights movement to engage in a low-key, grass roots campaign to communicate their message to Californians on a personal level, in a way that cannot be done in the heat of a ballot battle.
Equality California does not speak for the entire movement, and it's still possible that another group will push a ballot initiative in 2010. We hope not. California needs a calm and civil discussion of this issue to prepare for what is sure to be another high- decibel fight when the question is next posed to the voters
Advocates of same-sex marriage can't afford another loss with state voters, and political experts agree that there's a better chance of success in 2012 rather than 2010. Polls show support for the right of gays to marry is growing, and two more years provide advocates with time to build on that trend. In addition, younger voters tend to support marriage equality, and they're more likely to vote in the 2012 presidential election.I wonder when the Los Angeles Times (and other Southern California papers) will weigh in?
But if waiting another two years means a surer victory, then it's the right thing to do.
In the final Murray will face Juan Martin del Potro, who saved a match point against Andy Roddick to win 4-6 6-2 7-5.
Murray leads del Potro 3-1 in the career head-to-head, including 2 matches on hard courts (2008 US Open and Miami earlier this year). del Potro is definitely improving rapidly and is probably higher than his World #6 ranking. However, Murray wants to prove something to the rest of the Tour that he deserves to win these big titles. One wrinkle is that it is often difficult to win again after a huge win, but Murray expects to become #1 so becoming #2 may not be an emotional high for him.
MadProfessah's prediction: Murray in 3 sets.
WA Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law on May 18, 2009 but heterosexual supremacists collected signatures and submitted 137,689 on July 25th. This is a mere 17,112 signatures more than the required 120,577 to qualify their referendum on the new law. However, signature submission places the law on hold from going into effect and if the measure qualifies (which appears increasingly likely) then it remains on hold until the results of the Tuesday November 3rd election (which is conducted by mail).
I have already discussed what the question on the ballot will look like . The organization working to defend the law is Washington Families Standing Together (WAFST.org). Here is what YOU can do to help:
We lost a big one in 2008 with Proposition 8. There is a huge debate going on about whether to repeat that fight in 2010 or 2012 but our community faces two huge battles in 2009: Maine's Question 1 and Washington's Referendum 71.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
In Montreal on Friday at the Rogers Cup, World #1 Roger Federer, World #2 Rafael Nadal and World #4 Novak Djokovic all lost their quarterfinal matches (which for the first time in ATP history had featured all of the world's Top 8 players), to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick, respectively.
The most shocking result was the first, which was Federer's loss 6-7(5) 6-1 6-7(3) despite having a 5-1 lead in the third set! In fact, after Tsonga fell on his right arm doing a winning stab volley on set point in the first set, Federer won 11 of 13 games and the commentators (Brad Gilbert, Darren Cahill and Chris Fowler) were discussing the seemingly imminent Federer-Murray semifinal. Then suddenly, Tsonga woke up and started blasting the ball and participating in relatively long rallies. Federer could not BUY a first serve for the last 30 minutes of the match, and Tsonga started serving much better. Tsonga won 5 games in a row, and Federer actually saved three match points at 5-6,0-40 to force the tiebreaker and then still couldn't get a first serve in and double faulted on match point.
I didn't see Roddick defeat Djokovic but I did see Juan Martin del Potro demolish Rafael Nadal. The Argentine is now being described at "over 6 feet, 6 inches tall." The first set was relatively close, with del Potro not playing well on the big points, but managing to snatch the first set depite being down 1-4 and 2-5 in the tiebreak.
Today's semifinals will feature Murray versus Tsonga and Roddick versus del Potro.
MadProfessah's predictions: Murray in 2 sets, del Potro in 3.
The two front runners for that seat are Steve Bradford and Gloria Gray. Bradford originally lost the 2006 Democratic primary by a heartbreaking 112 votes to Price, who has now endorsed Bradford to be his replacement in the Assembly.
Equality California has endorsed Steve Bradford. They are aware that in the 51st AD Proposition 8 passed by a margin of 57.9 to 42.1 per cent.
Here's an excerpt from a statement from the candidate:
"If elected to represent the people of the 51st Assembly District, I will vow to continue fighting to protect the rights of all Californians including those of our LGBT brothers and sisters. In building a true state of equality, we must ensure that all members of our communities are given equal rights and protection under the law including the right to marry."Stonewall Democrats have also endorsed Bradford. MadProfessah also endorses Bradford.