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Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
11:22 am - It's the filibuster, stupid
There's much wailing and gnashing of teeth going on at the moment over the reported death of the public option in the senate. I'm not as convinced that the death of the PO means the death of a death of a good HCR bill - it all depends on what we get in return for trading it away. In fact, it could even mean we end up getting a better overall bill (see here). But that's actually not what I want to talk about.

There's been a lot of criticism of various parts of the Democratic establishment flying around recently. If only president Obama had done more to protect the PO! If only Harry Reid was more of a fighter! If only we could get the conservadems out of the senate! I'm not saying that all of this criticism is without merit - I think Obama could have done much more to shape the bill early on, I'm no fan of Harry Reid, and I'd like to personally punch Joe Lieberman in the face. But I think this criticism largely misses the point and the source of the real problem.

The filibuster will keep killing good progressive legislation, and unless we do something about it we're going to keep getting half-a-loaf measures and watered down bills.

The reality is we have an ideologically divided caucus. Yes, we have a 60 seat majority in the senate - but that includes a good half dozen or more conservative to moderate members. Getting all 60 of them on board to break a filibuster is a hard-to-nearly-impossible slog. When it comes to senators like Lieberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, and Nelson, there's really only so much that any president or any senate majority leader can do to get their votes. In Lieberman's case the only leverage leadership has is to threaten his committee chairmanships, and I don't really think even that would work. In the case of the other conservadems, they're either completely ideologically opposed or they fear for their reelection chances - and no matter how idiotic their positions are, I don't see that leadership has any levers they haven't already pulled to secure their votes.

Party purity is not the answer either. Sure, we can primary Blanche Lincoln - but do we really think we're going to a get a flaming liberal out of Arkansas? Or that we're going to get someone to to the left of Nelson out of Nebraska?

Reconciliation is not really a great solution either. From everything I've read, the reconciliation process is just not meant for bills as complex as HCR - major parts of the legislation could be shredded entirely, and what emerges might be even worse than what we have now. It's a huge gamble with a terrible potential downside.

Politics is the art of the possible. I want a PO as much as the next DailyKos reading liberal, but I also know that the math in the senate makes that nearly impossible at this point - and I don't think it's entirely fair to lay all the blame for that at the feet of leadership. Math is math, and the leadership can't just magically circumvent it.

The problem is institutional. As long as it requires a 60 vote threshold to pass every bill, we're going to keep running into this problem no matter how effective our leadership is. The only real long term solution is to curtail the use of the filibuster by changing senate rules to either do away with it completely or allow it only to be used in rare circumstances. Progressives would be wise to start building a movement to accomplish this now, because it'll be a long, difficult road to effect such a change. But short of electing a much larger majority in the senate, I don't see any other practical away to get the kinds of bills we want to get through that body.

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
10:51 am - Maine needs YOU
A new PPP poll of Maine showed voters completely split on the issue of perserving the state's marriage equality law - 48% to 48%, with few undecided voters. Looking at the data, here's what the pollster says:
"With most voters' minds made up the election is not really about persuasion at this point but turnout. Even a small difference in the ability of supporters and opponents of the referendum to get their folks out to the polls could tip the scales with the issue this close."
The No on 1 campaign in Maine has set up a virtual phone bank system that anyone can tap into from the comfort of their own home, anwhere in the country. The phonebanking they need now is NOT about persuading voters - that time is over. Now it's all about phoning our likely supporters and getting them out to the polls. This is the easiest type of phonebanking to do, because you're talking to people that are already on our side. The campaign offer free training, and you can take a 2-3 hour shift so it's not even that much of a time committment. You can get all the information on their website, including training times. Please, check out it today and volunteer a few hours of your time.

I've heard a lot of grumbling in our community over the Obama administration's pace in addressing our issues and fulfilling his campaign promises to our community. Fair enough. But lately, every time I read an angry blog post or FB update to this effect I think to myself "Fine. What are YOU doing to advance your own cause?" Sadly, I think the answer most of the time would be "Not much".

At this current time there is no more important cause to our community than Maine. If we win there, it'll be the first time we've ever won marriage equality at the ballot box, and that will be a game changer. Years from now we might look back at November 3, 2009 as the day the struggle for marriage equality shifted back in our favor. This poll shows that it is completely winnable. The campaign could not make it easier for people to help out - all you need is a phone and some time.

So here's my question: what are you doing over the next two weeks that you can't volunteer 4-5 hours of your time to help carry the No on 1 campaign to victory? Securing our civil rights isn't going to come from the Obama administration or the HRC or some magic equality fairy. It's a struggle we all need to be involved in. It's time to participate.

We are the ones that we've been waiting for - so let's make it happen.

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Thursday, September 24th, 2009
12:56 pm - What I've been working on
There are a lot of reasons I haven't been as active on LJ lately as I used to be, and not least along among them is that I've been so busy with a Big Marriage Equality Project for the last few months that I just haven't had much free time. Well, today that project had its first public spotlight.

The group I'm working with, Love Honor Cherish, filed ballot language today to repeal Prop 8 in 2010. From that announcement:
According to Love Honor Cherish executive director John Henning, "The goal of 1 million signatures will be reached primarily by using an army of motivated volunteers. The campaign will also use new social networking technology designed specifically by Love Honor Cherish, which will build community around the signature gathering process. The signature gathering process will last through April 2010."

That "new social networking technology" is what I've been working on these past months. Here's the lowdown:

You can't gather signatures for a ballot initiative online - it's still an old fashioned process requiring people to hit the streets and gather signatures made by pen hitting paper. But what you CAN do online is distribute the necessary materials - the forms and training - and organize your volunteers. To that end, we're building a very Facebook-inspired site. Users will be able to sign up with the site and create their own personal profile, including the usual demographic information, a photo, and most importantly their goal for how many signatures they will gather. They can update their progress towards these goals as time goes on, and the site will track and reflect that. The site will encourage people to join other volunteers in local teams of signature gatherers. Once you're signed up you can search for existing teams in your area to join or start your own if there aren't any nearby. Teams will also set goals for themselves, and we'll be spotlighting teams that are leading the way in number of signatures gathered, adding a competitive aspect to the site. Teams can create signature gathering events, for example: Team X is going to the mall this Sunday from noon to 4 to gather signatures, come out and join us! These events will also be searchable by area. Team members will be able to message each other and invite their friends to join. There will also be extensive online training videos on all aspects of the process, currently being scripted and shot by my man
zombietruckstop.

We're hoping the site will accomplish dual purposes. There's the obvious, tangible goal of gathering the required signatures. No ballot measure has qualified without a significant amount of paid signature gathering in decades, and we're hoping to buck that trend. But more than that, it helps us get the community engaged and involved in the process early on, building a network of volunteers that we can carry over into the general campaign to follow. And because we'll have all this data on the number of signatures people actually gathered, we'll be able to identify the most productive volunteers.

It's an exciting project. I'm grateful to LHC for giving me the opportunity to work on it, and I'm thrilled to be part of something that I think will make a real difference in winning marriage equality back in California. I'm hoping to have the site live in late October - early November, right in time for the signature gathering to start. At which point I will probably spend an entire weekend sleeping before diving into the next phase of the campaign.

current mood: busy

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Monday, August 10th, 2009
11:00 am - The birth of the Coalition for Marriage Equality
I feel like I was part of history yesterday.

To explain why, I need to give a little back story to those of you not familiar with the recent history of gay grassroots politics here in CA. I'll make it quick and snappy, and I promise there won't be a quiz afterwards.

The "No On 8" campaign last year was a disaster of epic proportions. Because of this, groups that were heavily involved in running that campaign - like Equality California (EQCA) - are kind of on the community shitlist at the moment. The grassroots organizations - of which there seem to be hundreds here - were especially pissed because they were largely told that their help wasn't needed during campaign time. In the months following the campaign everyone started taking shots at everyone else for why it was such a failure. Circular firing squads aren't pretty.

Coming out of that, the grassroots groups have wanted to reassert themselves, take on the task of cleaning up "No On 8"'s mess and win marriage back in California. The problem is, no one agrees on how that should be done exactly, and the sheer number of groups - and therefore opinions and agendas - has made the decision making process challenging. Which is putting it mildly. The most contentious issue by far has been when to go back to the ballot box: 2010 or 2012. With all the free floating anger still in the air, this debate about timing has been amplified beyond all reason. Groups have lined up on one side or another and have taken pot-shots at each other in blogs and meetings for a couple of months. This all culminated in a "leadership summit" in San Bernadino two weeks ago that was supposed to be about getting all these groups together in one room, settling the date issue, and moving forward as a community. Instead it devolved into shouting matches, name calling, and general chaos. I wasn't there, but I've been told it was ugly.

The one thing that emerged from that meeting is that the groups that wanted to move forward with 2010 would forge ahead - a "coalition of the willing", if you will. And that group decided to host a "Next Steps" meeting yesterday to talk about the nitty gritty details of where we go from here: choosing ballot language, running a signature gathering effort, and structuring a winning campaign. All interested parties - even those that want to wait for a later date - were invited. And that brings us up to date. Class dismissed!

I wasn't sure what to expect at yesterday's meeting. Would it devolve acrimoniously like the last one did, or would all these diverse groups figure out a way to overcome their differences and actually work together? I'm happy to report that it was the latter. There were moments of tension and disagreement, but they were just that - moments. For the most part, people rolled up their sleeves and focused on the task at hand - figuring out how we move forward in winning marriage back.

I attended two breakout sessions, both focused on the signature gathering initiative. They were both well moderated and focused, and I felt like good ideas were exchanged and concrete action items discussed. In one of them, I presented the outline of an web-based tool I've been working on that I believe will play a big role in the signature gathering effort, and was glad to hear from a professional who works in the field that it's as good of an idea as I think it is. Participants actually participated, and I think we emerged with much refined ideas of how to proceed.

A big highlight of the day was hearing Steve Hildebrand address the group around mid-day. Steve was a deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, so he obviously knows a thing or two about running (and winning) a good campaign. He spoke passionately about his view that we should go forward for 2010 and not wait, making the point that if they had listened to the experts going into Iowa they never would have gone ahead - and that they would have killed for a solid 47% favorable base to build from. He offered some tough love in the form of a caution to put aside personal feelings and find the narrow message that will help you win. He illustrated this point with the successful campaigns in his home state of South Dakota to beat back a ban on abortions, which instead of focusing on a woman's right to choose, focused narrowly on the lack of exceptions for rape and incest.

He also spoke about the urgent need to choose an executive committee and come up with a campaign structure, a message that resonated strongly. To that end, one of the major decisions made was to have a follow up meeting in two weeks in San Francisco for exactly this purpose, with each group sending one representative.

The announcement of that decision was a great way to wrap the day up, because it showed exactly how far we've come in so short a time. Two weeks ago we were at each other's throats. Yesterday we started uniting and treating each other respectfully again, and made the first steps towards building a real campaign. It was a turning point. I think that in the years to come, after we've won marriage equality back in California, yesterday will be looked back at as the starting point of that effort. The Coalition for Marriage Equality was born yesterday. And I'm thrilled I could be part of it.

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Thursday, June 25th, 2009
1:05 pm - The next fight
There's been a lot of talk over the past few weeks about how we need to shut down the GAY-TM for the DNC - no more money for the party until they start moving more forcefully on our issues. And I'm good with that. It may be the most effective way we have to express our frustration and spur action. And, as it turns out, there's a much better way to spend our gay dollars right now.

I'm talking about Maine. They've recently won the right to marry there, but it is certain to face a "people's veto" challenge at the ballot box this fall. In some ways it will be Prop 8 all over again, as equal marriage rights that are currently available are on the line and might be stripped away. And to give it even more of that sequel feel, our opponents in Maine have hired the campaign director from the "Yes on 8" campaign.

We can't let this happen again. We have the momentum on our side at the moment and we can't afford to lose it. It's not just important to the people of Maine, it's important to all of us that believe in equal marriage rights. If we win in Maine, it'll be the first time we've won at the ballot box, and that's an important barrier we need to break. Last year people from across the country gave generously to the cause in California, even though it wasn't "their fight". It's time to do the same for Maine.

I have a lot of hope for this campaign. I don't think the mistakes of the "No on 8" campaign will be repeated here - from everything I've heard, the people from Equality Maine and their partner organizations are super competent and ready to take this right on. But they need our help, and they need it now. One of the many reasons "No on 8" had so many problems was because money came in so late into the cycle. Let's not repeat that mistake.

Read about the formation of the Maine Freedom to Marry coalition. It includes the "resources of the field organization and volunteer base developed by EqualityMaine, the legal expertise of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and the legal and public outreach capacity of the Maine Civil Liberties Union." They don't even have their website up yet, but you can already donate at Act Blue. Give now, give often, and let's win this thing.

current mood: ready

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Thursday, June 18th, 2009
1:24 pm - on DOMA
Without wading into the larger, heated Obama vs gays fight (to the death!), a thought about repealing DOMA. That thought being: it ain't going to happen anytime soon.

Look, I want Obama to make a move on repealing DOMA as much as the next gay. I want him to throw his full weight behind it and use his bully pulpit to tell the American people why it's such a hideous, destructive law. And regardless of the current dust up, I still believe that he will.

But when he does, I have about zero hope a repeal will actually happen, because I don't see how you get it through Congress. Remember, it was passed with huge margins in both chambers: 85-14 in the Senate and 342-67 in the House. Yes, that was 13 years ago and times have changed. But have they changed that much? We weren't able to get the Senate to even take up the much lower hanging fruit of ENDA as recently as two years ago. Chances for ENDA look much better now since we've picked up a few more seats in both chambers, and I predict it'll get through this year or next, but only by a squeaker. And that's on an issue - workplace protections - that enjoys broad support in the electorate at large. Support for gay marriage is growing nationally, but it's still a minority position, which means there's not going to be a lot of pressure on our congress critters, especially those from conservative parts of the country, to change their votes anytime soon. Maybe you can get it through the House, maybe, but it's sure to be filibustered in the Senate, and I don't see how we get 60 votes to stop a filibuster. For one, there are 13 Democrats who voted for the act still in the Senate - Baucus, Bingaman, Byrd, Conrad, Dodd, Dorgan, Harkin, Kohl, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Murray, Reid. Maybe a couple would change their vote - Dodd and Leahy, for example, are both from states that have gay marriage now. But I don't imagine most of them will. There are new conservative Dems like Bayh and Nelson who I can't imagine would vote with us on this issue. And we all know where the Republicans stand. Even the moderate Snowe voted for DOMA. I just don't see the path to victory - we don't have the votes. And this isn't something the President can do on his own.

Having said that, do I want my president to show leadership and at least give it a push? Yes. Symbolically it will mean a lot. I think of the gay youth out there seeing their president making the case for a repeal of DOMA, and what a positive effect that would have, and that's something I want very much. But substantively, I think we're going to be stuck with DOMA for a long time to come.

I actually do have a larger point, but my lunch break has run long so it'll have to wait for another time.

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Monday, June 1st, 2009
2:07 pm - Meet in the Middle

Best. Protest. Sign. Ever!

Saturday afternoon Sean (zombietruckstop), Alonso (moroccomole), Dave (e_ticket), and I drove down to Fresno for the Meet in the Middle for Equality rally. Even though I'm starting to get a little bit of rally fatigue, I liked the fact that this one was held outside of our own safe spaces in the big cities and in the middle of the state where we have the toughest battle ahead of us in winning hearts and minds. And I'm very glad that we went.

The steamy afternoon was filled with lots and lots of speakers - three solid hours worth. Thankfully pretty much every one was worth battling the heat to hear - props to the organizers for vetting their invitees well. There were leaders from various grassroots organizations. There were children from GLBT households (one of which gave us the cutest line of the day: "Then Prop 8 passed and I was really annoyed!"). There were trans activists pleading with us not to forget them in our struggle. There was a group of grandmothers for marriage equality. There were a few celebrities (Eric McCormack: "I can get married. You can't. What the FUCK is up with that?"). There were speakers from just about every background imaginable, too many to recount in entirety, but I do want to mention a few that I found to be the highlights of the day.

Eric Lee - African American pastor and leader of the LA chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Really, no one can deliver a rousing speech like a black preacher, and knowing the work we have ahead of us with the African American community, his voice and perspective was most welcome.

Dan Choi - Dan's been making the media rounds after his high profile discharge from the National Guard under DADT. But hearing him speak in this context was so much different than seeing him on a talking head show. The man is passionate, forceful, eloquent, and knows how to fire up a crowd. I think we're seeing a real Love is worth it, indeed.

Cleve Jones - I'm sure Cleve needs no introduction, as an early protege of Harvey Milk and founder of the AIDS Quilt Project. He closed the day with a moving speech about how it's time for us to stop accepting crumbs and to start pushing for "the promised land" - full equality at the federal level.

He also announced his full support for a National March on Washington on October 10th and 11th of this year. I know many people are not so sure about this idea, and I admit to being skeptical myself. However, sometimes these things take on a life of their own and your only decision is to either get on the train or not, but the train is leaving the station regardless.

But no one impressed me more than Robin McGehee, the woman who came up with the idea of Meet in the Middle. Robin is a Fresno resident who was fired from her position as head of the PTA at her children's school after speaking at a No on 8 rally. She's not a professional activist. I don't think she's ever organized anything on the scale of this. She is, first and foremost, a mother fighting to protect her family's rights. She came up with the idea for this rally and promoted it on her own. She didn't go to any of the big orgs and ask for their permission or blessing - instead, she dragged them along after she had already put the wheels in motion. Her speech was emotional, her story compelling. It reminded me that any of us can do what she did; any of us can make a difference. We can't wait for someone else to fight this fight for us. We have to be proactive and passionate and never give up. If you have a few minutes, listen to her speech below.



current mood: moved

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Friday, May 29th, 2009
1:41 pm - blast from the past
All they gays in the house that had awkward fits of dating girls in high school raise your hands. Really? ME TOO!

So my very first girlfriend from high school, Kim, just friended me on Facebook. Here's what I remember from when we dated: her basically dragging me into the woods behind my after school job for my first ever kiss - me being all nerves and wondering why I wasn't into it at all, her very much into it and I'm sure wondering why I didn't want to do more. Passing notes in history class. Drama, lots of drama, most likely caused by her having girl parts and me being sad about that. Finally breaking up when I couldn't continue to cover up the fact that I didn't want to make out with her ever again.

In other words, good times.

We stayed friendly after the break-up. Our total incompatibility aside, she was a very nice girl. And in a school where class sizes were about 35 kids, you couldn't really afford to make too many enemies. I'll confess I hadn't thought about her much since high school, but it would be nice to catch up and see how she's doing. Her two kids (gah, all of my classmates have multiple kids at this point!) look adorable.

I wrote her a short note and got the gay thing out there right off the bat. I've had more than one ex-classmate run the other way once it comes up, so I've learned it's best just to be upfront and let the chips fall where they may early on. No sense in wasting my time or theirs. We'll see how she responds. Her religious views say "Christian", but it's hard to know if that's the nominal, vague kind or the fired up for Jesus kind.

current mood: waiting for a response

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
12:37 pm - the day after
What surprised me the most about yesterday's California Supreme Court ruling wasn't the decision, which was exactly as predicted, but how little it affected me. Don't get me wrong, coming off the plane from Chicago and having the news be the first thing we heard when we got in the car wasn't exactly fun, and it did deflate the great mood I was in from having such a wonderful weekend with friends. But it didn't feel like the sucker punch some of my friends have described. I'm not even that angry with the court, to be honest. I always thought our legal case wasn't that strong, and I can understand the justices' desire to leave the will of the people intact, however repugnant they might find it to be. I guess I had already moved on; I grieved enough after the election last year. Now I'm just itching for the next fight.

I think we'll eventually look back at this as the beginning of a real turning point for the marriage equality movement. The courts have done all they're going to, and the legislature can't help us now, so the only route left to us is through the people. Think about what that means for a minute. When we win, and we will eventually, it'll be because for the first time anywhere in the country we convinced a majority of our state's voters that our cause is just and that separate but equal is anything but. The other side won't be able to screech about "judicial activism" or "out of touch elite legislators". They will have lost fair and square at the ballot box, and there won't be any turning back. I know some are concerned that if we win one year we'll just have to defend it again the next, and it'll turn into an endless cycle of winning and losing and regaining our rights. But I don't see it that way at all. The tide of justice has always been flowing in our direction. All we've been waiting for us is to reach that tipping point where we've swung the majority behind us, and after that happens the demographics are completely on our side. A solid majority of young people support gay marriage and that isn't going to change as they get older, whereas the older voters who don't support it will fade away over time. Once moved past the tipping point the needle won't ever reverse itself. And once we've won marriage equality at the ballot box in the most populous state in the union, it's the beginning of the end for our opponents. And they know it. They may be celebrating today, but deep down I think they're scared shitless about what's coming next.

So I find myself strangely excited. I'm ready for this fight. 2010 is definitely happening. I got an e-mail yesterday from Courage Campaign saying that their internal poll showed 83% of their members want to go forward with 2010 instead of waiting for 2012, so they're officially endorsing a 2010 initiative. The other orgs will fall in line soon. I think we've got a really great shot at winning 2010. If we don't we'll keep going back until we do. It won't be long.

We just have to be ready and willing to fight. There's a lot of work to be done. Gathering signatures for a ballot initiative, community outreach, door to door canvassing in unfriendly parts of the state, running a real grassroots campaign. There are many reasons we lost last time, but there's no doubt that one of them was the apathy in our own community. Groups like EQCA may have screwed the pooch on the campaign, and rightfully have taken a lot of flack for doing so, but if we don't want to repeat the mistakes of a top-down run campaign, we have to put our money where our mouth is and be willing to put in the time to run this one from the ground up. There's no court or congress swooping in to help us this time - it's all up to us. So let's show this state what a bunch of pissed off queers can do when we're tired of being shoved around. Let's be that change we want to see in the world.

2010, ya'll. Fuck yeah. Bring it on.

PS: Wanna get started? Sign up at www.repeal-prop-8.org to get news about volunteer opportunities when they became available.

current mood: ready

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Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
12:29 pm - 2010 ya'll!
The results of my not-anywhere-close-to-scientific poll on the next steps for the CA gay marriage fight are in, and the results are about what I expected: most want to go for 2010, but a significant portion think we should wait for 2012.

I totally see both sides of this particular argument, but I'm in the 2010 camp myself. Which isn't at all where I started - Sean and I had huge debates about it last year right after the election, with him taking the "2010 all the way!" position and me thinking it was a bad idea. What changed my mind was seeing the energy that came out of the community in the days and weeks after the election, far beyond anything I had seen during the campaign, and more recently the spate of pro gay marriage developments across the country. I think the momentum is ours and we need to keep it going.

More importantly, I think the train has already left the station. In the last couple of weeks I've hooked up with Love Honor Cherish, a grassroots political action group here that has been pushing for a 2010 ballot initiative basically since the day after the election last year. They've been pushing the other small grassroots groups, and the larger organizations like Courage Campaign and EQCA, to get behind the idea for a while, and from what I hear it looks like that effort is paying off - there's an emerging consensus that it's the way to go. I know that one of the big groups did a statewide poll last week to gauge voter sentiment on repealing Prop 8, which I'm sure will show the state divided pretty much right down the middle, meaning that we at least have a realistic shot at winning. Also, this week both Courage Campaign and EQCA have been sending out an online poll to their members asking them to weigh in on if they think we should go for 2010 or 2012 - I expect those results will largely mirror my own little poll's results. And once the big groups have gotten the nod from the memberships to sign up, it's on.

(Interestingly, EQCA took enough of a public relations hit after their handling of the No on 8 campaign that I think they're looking much more to the smaller grassroots groups and their individual members to push an attack plan up than to dictate it from on high.)

To that end, I've already started to work with LHC on a project geared towards the 2010 effort, one which I think will be pretty cool and effective. Details to come.

current mood: 2010

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Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
10:35 am - CA gay marriage: what's next?
Any day now the CA Supreme Court will rule on the legality of Prop 8. The conventional wisdom, which I agree with, is that they will rule to uphold Prop 8 while at the same time keeping the 18k marriages performed before the election. That's good news for me personally, but not so good for the rest of the community and the state.

So the big question is what to do next. There's a growing movement to put a "Repeal Prop 8" initiative on the ballot, but behind even that are two very different schools of thought.

One camp wants to go back at it in 2010. The thinking is that in the wake of the election last year the community is engaged in a way it hasn't been in a long time, and combined with the recent wins for gay marriage across the country, we have a momentum going right now that could dissipate if we don't take advantage of it soon. Also, considering that we almost won last time, and polls taken after the statewide protests last year already showed enough of a swing to put us over the top, there's a realistic chance we could win.

The other camp thinks it's just too soon, and that we should at least wait for 2012. It may be tough to raise the kind of money we need for a campaign so fresh on the heels of the last one. The public at large might not be wanting to confront this issue again so soon. And waiting for 2012 gives us more of a chance to take advantage of favorable demographic shifts which put us in a better position for victory.

I have my own definite opinion, but I'm curious: what do you think?

Poll #1402390 2010 vs 2012: fight!

I think it makes more sense to go for:

2010
19(65.5%)
2012
8(27.6%)
Neither (explain in comments)
2(6.9%)


current mood: curious

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
1:42 pm - Scenes From A Wedding, Appendix C-D: The vows
And by somewhat less popular demand, Sean and I's vowsCollapse )

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1:34 pm - Scenes From A Wedding, Appendix B: The Mishkoff-Abley Memorial Futon
Also by popular demand, the text of Owen's 'The Mishkoff-Abley Memorial Futon'Collapse )

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1:33 pm - Scenes From A Wedding, Appendix A: The Book of Joan
By popular demand, the text of Amy's reading from the Book of Joan.Collapse )

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1:30 pm - Scenes From A Wedding, pt. 3
A few final thoughts about my wedding, aka my special fucking day, and then I'll actually talk about other things here for a while.

When we did the legal bits of the marriage last year it was not really that big of a deal. Sure, going to the courthouse to get our marriage license was a kick, and our little paperwork signing ceremony is something I'll always remember, but there wasn't a big emotional bang. We filed our paperwork, we were legally wed, and life went on.

Then we spent the last several months gearing up for the ceremony, and after a while it became all about planning and scheduling and logistics. Perhaps if we had put "contemplate the emotional impact of committing to each other for life in front of 150 of your closest friends" on one of our many checklists we would have gotten around to it sooner, but we didn't. And maybe after the emotional non-event that was the legal part of the process we just weren't expecting the ceremony to be that much different. I don't know that it really started to hit me until we began greeting our guests that afternoon. But when it hit it was a knock out punch.

I can honestly say this without using hyperbole: it was the happiest day of my life. We were surrounded by most of our favorite people in the world, and there was so much love flowing that day that it was almost overwhelming. I was nervous - speaking in front of crowds, even friendly ones, is always nerve wracking for me - but exhilarated. The ceremony itself was perfect, really, in a way that far exceeded my highest expectations. I don't know that I've ever felt the intense mix of endorphins and adrenaline that I felt walking out when it was all over. And can I just say , making out with your spouse in the first moments of wedded bliss? Highly recommended.

I get it now. I understand in a way that I don't think I could before. Making that commitment in front of your loved ones, celebrating that moment with your community as witnesses - it's important. It's affirming and strengthening like nothing else you can experience. And not just for the couple, but for the others partaking in the day as well. It reminds us all that love that endures is possible, it focuses us on what is worthy of our energy and devotion. It's brought Sean and I closer together, but it's brought us closer to our loved ones as well.

And it's reaffirmed my commitment to the cause of marriage equality. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience what I did that afternoon. I took several months off from volunteer work because planning our wedding and fixing up our apartment took over, but now I'm diving back in. I've already started reaching out to various organizations to figure out where my energy and skills can best be put to use.

Next up: The great recommittment ceremony of 2010! Start planning your attendance now!

current mood: whoa! stil married!

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Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
1:09 pm - Scenes From A Wedding, pt. 2
So. The ceremony.

We agreed from the beginning that the most important thing was that it needed to reflect who we are, that we wanted people to walk away thinking "That was so them!". That meant a minimum of formality, a maximum amount of sass and humor, and just the right amount of earnestness sprinkled throughout. We asked Vinny (umkinda) to officiate for us, because he's a master of mixing sass with earnestness, and because like most of his people, he's willing to work on the cheap. How many wedding are officiated by the ex of one of the spouses? I'm guessing not many, but it worked out real well for us.

Vinny interviewed both of us, separately, about important events in our lives leading up to when we met, syncing up where we were and what we were doing at certain points over over those years. He then weaved together a history of us from both of our individual perspectives, illustrating all the twists and turns that brought us together. It was funny - we were all three laughing through most of us - but poignant as well, and ended on a note that made us all tear up. From the ending:

And here we are at the intersection of these two very long roads. This is the incredible thing. If they had met a couple of years earlier they would have had boyfriends, totally different situations, and if they would have met later they would have had different lives and distractions... It's timing. It's always timing. That two people leading busy lives in very different places of the country could suddenly find their paths cross at just the right time, in just the right place... It's just mindblowing when serendipity pulls a coup of this magnitude.

That's why we're here to celebrate these two friends of ours. Life gets in the way, so often. We can barely be ourselves, we can barely find the keys to our car, and yet... people have been on the moon. All of these things in our way and yet people manage to do miracles, every day. Just like how two people from two very different worlds could find themselves in love on a Futon in Chicago.

It can get pretty amazing out there. Here's to Sean and Matty.

Cue tears. And applause.

But before Vinny read his piece, we had two other readings. We decided to add these kind of at the last minute, each picking a friend to do one and allowing them free reign to do whatever they wanted. This is why it pays to have smart, creative friends - who know how to work under deadline. Sean picked his friend Amy who he's known since his Chicago theater days. I picked Owen murphy, thinking it was fitting since Sean and I met at his apartment (and more specifically, on his futon) years ago.

Amy's piece was a reading from The Book Of Joan, as translated by Christina. I'll be honest in that I wasn't sure about it when Sean first told me what she was doing. But when she sent us a first draft I read the first two paragraphs and was completely sold. A sample:
Love is understanding that sometimes spouses must work together to move the plant to discover the dirt hidden beneath. Be not annoyed toward each other.

So spaketh Joan: I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at the dirt.

Seeing as that's just about my all time favorite movie quote, I couldn't have been happier to have it read at my wedding.

Owen used the fact of his futon being the place where Sean and I first became acquainted as the inspiration for his piece, an ode to his futon - which was amazing. He got bonus laughs for the inevitable crouton-futon rhyme. And he kicked it into overdrive when at the end he whipped out a plaque he had made for said futon. From the poem:
It reads: The Mishkoff-Abley Memorial Futon
and the date to make it perfectly clear
and then 4 simple words there can be no dispute on...
"Something beautiful started here"

Neither Sean nor I knew anything about the plaque, and there are pictures of us both simultaneously gasping at the big reveal. It was a true highlight of the event, and a moment I'll never forget.

After Amy, Owen, and then Vinny had done their bits, Sean and I exchanged vows (which I'll post later) and rings and then were presented to those assembled. And to top it all off, because the day hadn't been sufficiently gay enough, we walked out while the theme from "Xanadu" played (and for those that know me, you'll know just how happy that made me).

current mood: yup. still married

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Friday, May 1st, 2009
1:02 pm - Scenes From A Wedding, media edition


In lieu of words today, I give you media.

Clicking the image above will take you to the Flickr group for our wedding photos. If you were there and took pictures that haven't been added yet (I'm looking at you, Texas boys), get to posting!

And for something completely different, here's a wedding video ala David Lynch, created by our friend and film maker Mike Justice. Seriously, I have no words - other than that I couldn't love it more.



current mood: still totally married

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Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
1:19 pm - Scenes From A Wedding, pt. 1
So this whole wedding thing? I highly recommend it. Turns out that what they say is true - it really was the happiest day of my life.

There's so much I want to say about the past few days. Instead of trying to weave a cohesive narrative, which would take me too long to come up with, I want to start writing about various moments from the weekend while they're still fresh in my mind. Expect little bits to come out over the next few days.

First of all, I want to publicly thank all the far flung friends that came into town to celebrate our big day with us. We could not feel more honored that so many of the people we love spent the time and money to travel great distances for the occasion, especially in this time of economic uncertainty. We sent out a lot of invites to people that we would want to be with us that day in the best of all possible worlds, while at the same time thinking that many of them wouldn't be able to make the journey - and then many more of them came back with positive responses than we ever expected. It was overwhelming and humbling, in the best possible way. Walking out to start our ceremony and seeing all of you there is a memory I will hold with me always, so thank you all for making it happen.

Speaking of walking out at the start of the ceremony, I have to confess that choosing the song we would do that to was the first decision we made when we started to planning the day. If you don't know the tune, it was the Powerpuff Girls singing "Love Makes The World Go Round". The year we started dating, Sean used it as the backing track for a Valentine Day video he made for me, and ever since then it's kind of been "our song" - because deep down (or maybe not that deep) we're really ten year old girls. It's silly and fun and it's impossible not to smile when you're listening to it, and we both knew immediately it would set the tone for the kind of ceremony we wanted to have. I was curious how it would go over with the crowd, and was a little relieved when everyone laughed at the beginning of the vocals.



Yikes, where did my lunch break go? Much more to come later.

current mood: still married

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Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
12:59 pm - In 4, 3, 2, 1...
I think I've discovered the real reasons for honeymoons. Sure, there's the spending time alone with your new spouse and celebrating your new union thing. But more importantly there's the collapsing into a puddle and not moving for several days as you recover from planning and producing your wedding thing. Also recently understood: wedding planners.

Of course a big part of the reason we're so exhausted is completely of our own making. A couple of months ago we decided to use the impending swarm of guests as an impetus to finally complete the myriad nesting tasks we've been putting off for years. To that end we've completely repainted most of the apartment, hung new shelves and hooks in the guest bath, framed and hung new art, cleaned out and organized the closets, finally put the office into a semblance of order, unpacked the last of Sean's boxes from his move in 2 years ago, re-foamed the couch, given the whole place the deepest cleaning it's ever, and a million other small tasks. The place looks great, and I feel like we're finally completely settled in for the first time, so I don't regret it. But perhaps tackling it, say, last year when we weren't also planning our wedding would have been a better idea.

The planning and scheduling has made the last few weeks all about logistics, so it really wasn't until the last couple of days as we've been wrapping all that up that the emotional reality of it started to hit me. There will be more than enough schmoopy stuff said this weekend, so I'll reign it in for now. I'll just say that I couldn't be happier or more excited. Last night we were putting together the playlist for the pre-ceremony cocktail hour, just him and me cuddling on the couch listening to the love songs each of us had picked out, and it was so completely calming. True compatibility in the modern age is being completely happy with your spouse's wedding playlist selections.

The biggest kick for me is all the friends and family we have coming into town to attend the ceremony. Over the weekend I realized I'll have more spheres of my life coming together in one place than ever before, which will either be completely wonderful or wonderfully awkward or both. Friend from elementary school? Check. Friends from my college days in Birmingham? Check. Family? Check. Maternal and fraternal family members that haven't seen each other in 30 years? Check. Dallas era friends? Check. Bears? A big check. Sean's theater and movie-making friends? Check. Co-workers? Check. My head exploding? CHECK.

Now to finish those pesky vows...

current mood: getting married

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
12:35 pm - The Europe Problem?
I have an old friend, someone I've known for most of my life, that's a die hard conservative and whom I occasionally spar with about political topics. I would say he's much more thoughtful than most of the morons that speak for conservatismtoday - he actually makes good faith arguments that warrant discussion, even if we disagree on a fundamental level.

Anyway, recently he sent me a link to an article about the European welfare state that we so often hear we're moving towards these days. The gist of the author's point is that the a strong welfare state, however well meaning, has the unintended consequence of taking a certain vitality out of our lives, robbing us of some amount of purposefulness, and makes the drive for excellence less appealing, so is therefore something to be avoided. It's a philosophical argument that I'm currently debating with my friend and having a good time with. I'm curious, though, what others may think about it - especially some of my European friends. An excerpt below:

Drive through rural Sweden, as I did a few years ago. In every town was a beautiful Lutheran church, freshly painted, on meticulously tended grounds, all subsidized by the Swedish government. And the churches are empty. Including on Sundays. Scandinavia and Western Europe pride themselves on their “child-friendly” policies, providing generous child allowances, free day-care centers, and long maternity leaves. Those same countries have fertility rates far below replacement and plunging marriage rates. Those same countries are ones in which jobs are most carefully protected by government regulation and mandated benefits are most lavish. And they, with only a few exceptions, are countries where work is most often seen as a necessary evil, least often seen as a vocation, and where the proportions of people who say they love their jobs are the lowest.

What’s happening? Call it the Europe syndrome. Last April I had occasion to speak in Zurich, where I made some of these same points. After the speech, a few of the twenty-something members of the audience approached and said plainly that the phrase “a life well-lived” did not have meaning for them. They were having a great time with their current sex partner and new BMW and the vacation home in Majorca, and saw no voids in their lives that needed filling.

It was fascinating to hear it said to my face, but not surprising. It conformed to both journalistic and scholarly accounts of a spreading European mentality. Let me emphasize “spreading.” I’m not talking about all Europeans, by any means. That mentality goes something like this: Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.

If that’s the purpose of life, then work is not a vocation, but something that interferes with the higher good of leisure. If that’s the purpose of life, why have a child, when children are so much trouble—and, after all, what good are they, really? If that’s the purpose of life, why spend it worrying about neighbors? If that’s the purpose of life, what could possibly be the attraction of a religion that says otherwise?

The same self-absorption in whiling away life as pleasantly as possible explains why Europe has become a continent that no longer celebrates greatness. When life is a matter of whiling away the time, the concept of greatness is irritating and threatening. What explains Europe’s military impotence? I am surely simplifying, but this has to be part of it: If the purpose of life is to while away the time as pleasantly as possible, what can be worth dying for?


current mood: curious

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