Thursday, May 17, 2012

Final straw: I gave up on a goal today

I have, finally, given up entirely on being part of a Piskie (Episcopal Church) organization that was, I thought, congruent with my own views: equal treatment, all the sacraments for all the baptized, that sort of thing. Today was the last straw, and it was only a straw that did it, although the tipping point was reached a bit earlier. Here's the history of my disenchantment with a group I thought I could be a part of, not realizing they had their own internal rules.

In 2007, I consented to helping re-form the local chapter. I consented to co-chairing the chapter. When most of the organizers promptly bailed out after the chapter was formed, I consented to chairing the chapter. Help from the membership was not present.

Help from the National organization was, in Kelvin numbers, in the single digits. They sent pitiful tracts, in quality and quantity, for the table at Diocesan Convention. Communication and support, in Kelvin numbers, brought the numbers lower, not higher. This was truly a wilderness experience. As Convener, I should have the privilege of delegating authority, but there was no one who would step forward and help out.

Fast forward to 2011. With a new burst of energy from our newly-elected Convener and a grant from the national organization, we planned, organized and executed a film festival, in two venues, South Side and North Side. National accepted our plan and sent us a 50% advance on the grant. We did it. The South Side was predictably barren: our posters were removed or never posted, our 'net ads never appeared. The North Side received a better fate. Three or four ancillary groups helped us spread the word, we got help from the venue's press, and our premiere of Gene Robinson's second film provided enough spark to make the festival a success, but only marginally so. The festival ended in February. It is now May, and the Convener has yet to submit a final report. Without this report, there are insufficient funds to cover my expenses.

In March 2012, the national organization asked me to represent them at a two-day meeting of a delegation headed for our triennial General Convention: set up a table, network, schmooze, help out, whatever: represent the organization. I did this, willingly, cheerfully.

Now, here we are approaching our General Convention. The national organization asked for volunteers, and I responded immediately. Less than two weeks ago, I received a form email stating that I was not selected to represent the organization.

Oh, yes, the final straw? The Tiger Lady of the organization runs a blog. I submitted a response to one of her posts this morning. It probably wasn't as weighty as it could have been, but I put some time and energy into it, nonetheless. She threw it away.

Oh, yes, I have an ego, and I genuinely appreciate a kind word and the acquiescence of a blogger to post my occasional contributions, some substantive toward the blogger's POV, others less so or even challenging.

Too much to do to waste more time on these insults, I'm off to helping others treat us all as equals. It's a major task, here in darkest Indiana. I shall be busy. All the best to those who are overwhelmed with talent that you have no need of mine.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Romney's attack on gays

I wrote earlier that Gov. Romney's Wednesday, May 9th statement, "If a civil union is identical to marriage other than with the name, why, I don't support that". I wondered just what benefits granted hetero married couples Mr. Romney would deny LGBT couples, and why.

Today, I found the answer to those questions, in the form of a video. According to the video, Romney would:

 Deny health insurance for one's partner and kids
 Prohibit gay couples from adopting children together
 Refuse one person from making emergency medical decisions for his/her partner
 Let the states roll back federal rights for couples' hospital visits
 Work to adopt an amendment to the Constitution denying rights now granted under the 14th Amendment, Section 1. This would be the first Constitutional amendment in U. S. history to discriminate and deny rights to individuals.

"Calling it marriage creates a whole host of problems," Gov. Romney said during the 2012 debates, "for families, for the law, for the practice of religion, for education. Let me say this, 3,000 years of history shouldn't be discarded so quickly."

OK, let's examine his statement in somewhat greater detail. What kind of problems would gay marriage create?

 For families, it would mean that parents and grand-parents would have to learn that their LGBT progeny are human, discovering as they grow that they can love another of the same gender. It would mean abandoning the idol of straight marriage, 2.3 kids, picket fence, that sort of thing. Have you seen Fiddler on the Roof? Behold Tevye, the father of five daughters, the strong-willed actions of the eldest three abandonment of prejudice toward LGBT persons. But, that's already happening across the world.

 For the law, it means that Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution would finally apply to LGBT persons. Just as with the Caucasian clauses of almost every home real estate title in the sixties, it would invalidate every one of the state constitutional amendments that chooses not to recognize that two loving couples can marry and have their rights—and responsibilities—recognized by state and federal governments.

 For religion, it means that religious denominations have two options: re-interpret Scripture or declare bigotry to be a religious icon. In essence, this is a choice between pride and humility, between sticking with the concept of hetero superiority and God's decision to create some people gay.

 For education, note the educational aspect of all the above points. Essentially, the community of educators would have to, first, learn that human sexuality is not exclusively straight, it varies, and second, teach that natural variation in mammalian sexuality is a normal condition. As with families and religion, it must disenthrall itself from the pride of straight superiority and teach that gay sexuality is no more inferior than left-handedness or green eyes.

Oh, yes, Mr. Romney, gay marriage creates a whole host of problems, but there's not a single one of them that can't be overcome with strong political leadership. During the Republican debates, you chose to lead our country to a position that denies LGBT persons their rights to equality under the law. Should you be elected President, your Oath of Office would be perjury, because the platform on which you ran would be contrary to the U. S. Constitution, as amended.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Clear Choice for 2012

I've been holding back on putting together my thoughts on why I'm for Barack Obama and against Mitt Romney for President. Yesterday, however, convinced me to begin to express my thoughts. With luck, they'll be succinct, perhaps even understandable.

President Obama, in yesterday's interview with Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America," said, "I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally." Equality under the law is a concept written into the U.S. Constitution (14th Amendment, Section 1). For gays and lesbians, President Obama's position has "evolved". He now supports this concept more fully.

Gov. Romney, in contrast, said, “I don’t favor civil unions if it’s identical to marriage, and I don’t favor marriage between people of the same gender.” Asked why he opposed civil unions, in particular, he explained that in many cases they represent marriage by a different name for gay couples. “If a civil union is identical to marriage other than with the name, why, I don’t support that,” he said Wednesday."

Mr. Romney's statement left me wondering just what benefits granted hetero married couples Mr. Romney would deny LGBT couples, and why. What state interest is advanced by denying any benefits, now granted married couples, to gays? Name one.

Another question occurred to me: were Mitt Romney to be elected President, God forbid, how could he take the oath of office without perjuring himself? Remember the Presidential Oath of Office?
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. (emphasis mine)

Vice President Biden expressed what I believe to be the key framing issue in his Monday interview. "Who do you love," asked Mr. Biden, "Who.Do.You.Love?" he repeated, with emphasis. No government, State or National, can or should be in the position of encouraging or discouraging its citizens to love or not love another person of his or her choice. Amendment 1 of the Constitution, lead-off hitter for the Bill of Rights. 30 or 31 states, however, have placed themselves in the position of denying equal benefits to their LGBT citizens and encouraging all their citizens to hate gays and lesbians.

In the period Oct 1787 - Aug 1788, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay published a series of 85 papers in an effort to promote the ratification of the new U. S. Constitution. We know these papers today as The Federalist Papers. Federalist 10 discusses "the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority," a concept now referred to by the phrase "tyranny of the majority". de Toqueville popularized the phrase, using it as the title of one of the chapters of his book, Democracy in America, in 1835. Ayn Rand, with whom I agree only infrequently, stated in Collectivized Rights, that individual rights are not subject to a public vote, and that the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and that the smallest minority on earth is the individual--her extreme individualist views is where we part company).

Yet here we are, with 30 or 31 states whose majorities are conducting a campaign of oppression against LGBT persons. 29 states do not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. You could be fired if your employer thinks you're gay.

President Obama's and Gov. Romney's positions are sufficient for me to support Barack Obama for President this year.

Friday, May 4, 2012

So this is how we lose the lead

Paul Krugman's Op-Ed today drove to the heart of the malaise that envelops our economy today:
the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority.
Krugman pointed to the Republican leadership's insensitivity to facts and evidence in their persistent efforts to implement policies that have been demonstrably unsuccessful. He claimed, not implausibly, that such insensitivity was caused by the very wealthiest Americans' support of a cabal of legislators, such support insulating them from public opinion and immunizing them against compromise. I agree with Krugman. One can see the same process at work in the the now largely completed campaign for the Republican nomination. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich stayed in the race far longer than they should have because, in my opinion, they were financed by large contributors: 53.1% and 52.5%, respectively. Rick Santorum, likewise, raised over 49% of his campaign contributions from large donors; he dropped out ostensibly due to health issues with his son. Those with pockets not quite so deep included Rick Perry and Tim Pawlenty, whose big supporters forked over 96% and 99% of total contributions. Jon Huntsman put in $4.1 million of his own money; 86% of the remainder was from big supporters. "Money is speech," or so says the SCOTUS. Not true. Money isn't speech, it's the amplification of speech. I may be able to contribute, say, $150 to a candidate whose ideology matches mine. But what voice do I have against, say, the invisible contributors of Restore Our Future, who have poured $51,904,973 into Mitt Romney's campaign? Even Barack Obama's large contributions comprise 56.5% of his total campaign contributions, although, in all fairness, these contributions aren't coming from super-PAC's, by and large. We, the people, and the voice guaranteed us by the U.S. Constitution are being drowned out by the enormous amplification and mega-speakers of corporate America and the super-rich. It is their agenda to which Congress and most of our entire Government is marching. So, how do we correct this mess? I have a few ideas. First, restrict campaign contributions to registered voters. Second, establish a panel of, say, five non-partisan organizations to declare an advertising spot "issue-oriented," within 7 days of its release or half the interval between its release and the election of a candidate whose platform is supported or opposed, whichever is lesser; Third, require that the source of funds for all issue-oriented advertising identify the registered voter(s) or corporation(s) that contributed such funds. Fourth, define the use of cascading corporations for the purpose of concealing campaign contributions or issue-oriented expenditures to be money-laundering, with appropriate penalties. If I've left anything out, please advise.