An Old Fashioned Sit-In

 Some news out of Denver:

Same-sex couple to stage sit-in for marriage license

That’s right!  An old fashioned sit-in.  Will more join Burns and Schroeder?  We can only hope so.  Will it make a difference?  We can only hope so.

I’ll keep an eye on this story and post updates if anything happens.

UPDATED 9/25/07: 6:24 PM

Well, something happened.  As I’m sure most people suspected, the couple was arrested.  Read all about it:

Same-sex couple arrested after marriage attempt

No surprise here.  In order to commit civil disobedience you have to break the law and be willing to accept the punishment.  Martin Luther King, Jr. did this in Birmingham’s jail.  With any luck, Burns and Schroeder’s story will have a happy ending.

Sphere

Pride and Shame in Northwest Ohio

A couple news reports from my very own neck of the woods: Toledo, Ohio.  One makes me very happy and proud to be from the Northwest tip of the Buckeye State.  The other shows me once again that things are not perfect here.  But first, the pride:

Arabic schools gain foothold in the region

I’m somehow not at all surprised that there was great demand for Arabic schools in Toledo.  I was always surrounded by Arab Americans and immigrants, especially during my college years at the University of Toledo.  Thanks to a couple poetry and film courses at UT, I met a young Palestinian woman who became a wonderful friend at the end of my undergraduate years.  The Middle Eastern restaurants have been incredibly successful in Toledo, thanks to Toledoans’ love of food and the fact that Middle Eastern food is fabulous.

And this sounds like a great school.  If I had children (or planned to ever have children), this would be one of the few schools I would feel comfortable sending my child to.  Well done, Toledo.  Well done.

But why am I not surprised that there are people opposed to such a school?  One of the (many) great challenges of this generation will be to overcome the negative sterotypes and downright racism that exists in regard to Middle Eastern folks.  I pray and hope for my nation.

Which is a good segue into the shame:

Former Gillmor aide won’t seek vacancy

I don’t know anything about the politics of Wood County commissioner Tim Brown other than that he is a Republican from a heavily Republican district.  I don’t know if he had a chance of winning and I don’t know if I would have been happy about him winning.  But I find this news story really sad for two reasons. 

First, the fact that he was outed by a blog, to me, seems viscious and unnecessary.  But it is pretty emblematic of how politics is run these days.  The negativity of contemporary political campaigns is not, in my humble opinion, good for our nation or our democracy. 

Nor is pushing people out simply because they are gay.  I don’t want to come down too hard on the Republicans here because I don’t have the evidence to prove that a Democratic candidate who is gay wouldn’t bow out if he or she were outed.  Still, I think I feel comfortable making the assumption that the Republican party is far more homophobic than the Democratic party.  And it is their loss as they push people out of public office who have,  either voluntarily or by force,  come out of the closet. 

I keep hoping something will change in this country.  I keep hoping people will get a clue about this issue.  But, at least we can take to heart what Melissa Etheridge said in 2004 when so many same sex marriage bans were passed.  She told the audience at the GLAAD awards to look at the positives of the 2004 election.  Yes, many states voted for discrimination.  But in order to make that vote — in order to stand in the booth, look at the issue and make a choice on it — they had to think about it.  They had to acknowledge that the gay community exists. 

For Etheridge, that is a step forward.  And in a way it is.  I just hope we have more dramatic steps forward soon.

Sphere

Conservative Hat Trick

There are three news stories that occured in the past couple of days that I wanted report. 

The first comes from Maryland:

Maryland Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The second whammy came out of California:

Governor Promises Veto of Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Finally, because Mitt Romney needs to prove his conservative credentials, here is a story out of Iowa:

Romney launches anti-gay marriage ad in Iowa

I find all this disheartening, especially the Maryland case, though not just because it comes on the heels of Idaho’s ruling that a same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. 

More so, I find it interesting in light of the decision in New Jersey that a doctor is not required to tell a woman seeking an abortion that the fetus is an “existing human being.”  The New Jersey courts made that decision because there was no medical or public consensus as to when life begins.  It doesn’t seem, to me at least, that there is medical or public consensus that “homosexuality is not an ‘immutable characteristic,’ such as gender or race, that one is born with”. 

Yes, an election must be coming up.  Same sex marriage laws are coming to a head again.

UPDATED 9/19/07: 3:21 PM

If you want to read some responses to the Maryland case by gay rights groups and advocates, click here.

And in good news, San Diego City Council has voted to support a law suit that challenges California’s same-sex marriage ban.  This could, of course, then lead to a showdown with Governor Schwarzenegger.

Updates, The Smashing Pumpkins and More

Okay, so I have a few updates about previous posts that I need to make.  So here goes.

“Good News, Part Two”

As expected, Judge Hanson’s ruling didn’t last very long.  A stay on the ruling was issued less than 24 hours after Hanson made his decision.  In between the ruling and the stay, 27 same sex couples filed applications for marriage but only one made it to the courthouse.  Read all about it:

Iowa Gay Marriage Applications Halted

“Grand Rapids Literary Review Issue Two is Now Available”

I don’t know what is going on with the web site for The Grand Rapids Literary Review, except that the site is down.  I have emailed the editors in hopes of finding out.  If the site is down permanently and the journal no longer exists, then I don’t know what that means regarding the poems that were published there.  I still have the interview in my email, so at the least I will post that here.  The poems, if I am allowed, will likely have to be resubmitted elsewhere if the site is down.  I may be overreacting though and it may be resolved soon, in which case I will post another update.  My apologies to anyone who has been trying to find the poems and the interview.

“Bring Anthony Bourdain to Toledo”

The Toledo Blade has an article in today’s paper about a project in Columbus that is similar to the Live/ Work/ Create project that Toledo artists and Mayor Finkbeiner recently announced.  Check it out:

Short North in Columbus offers vision for Toledo

“Poetry Challenge”

There are a lot of great spontaneous poems in the comments section of Rane Arroyo’s “A Challenge And Be Eye Candy Too” posting.  If you haven’t read them yet, you are missing out.

“A Question for Young Americans”

The comments section of this posting has involved a discussion of the current U.S. economy that has mentioned many issues, including the housing market, interest rates, and the unemployment level.  The New York Times issued a report last Wednesday about the economy based on the results of the recent census.  Read the report, by Abby Goodnough:

Census Shows a Modest Rise in U.S. Income

“And So Ends Another Summer”

My classes are settled, the students are registered and I’ve compared the gender ratio of my students to the average reported in “And So Ends Another Summer.”  The national average says that 57 percent of students registered nationwide are female.  Approximately 62 percent of my students are female.  I’m above average!

“Election Fatigue”

Many of us might be fatigued, but Reuters apparently is not.  Today they announced:

Race for the White House kicks into high gear

Many debates, rallies and speeches to go.  And four more months before the first vote is cast.  Meanwhile, everyone is still asking if Fred Thompson is in the race or not.  It seems this week we will find out, according to The New York Times:

After Months of Flirting, Thompson Is Almost In

“Let’s do the Time Warp Again”

Read this interesting article, also from The New York Times (what can I say, I get free copies at school), regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling to ban using race to assign children to public schools.  Unfortunately, to read it you have to have TimesSelect (meaning you pay for the ability to read “older” articles) or you have to purchase the ability to read just this one article.  But here’s the link anyway:

A Successful Plan for Racial Balance Now Finds Its Future Uncertain

If you google the title and find the full text of the article for free, let me know so I can post it.

And because I’m upset no one can see my poems, here is something fun:


Smashing Pumpkins – Rocket” posted by jfu79

Finally, I’m adding three new editorials to the Supplemental Readings page (yes, from The New York Times) by Paul Krugman.  One is about Race and the G.O.P.  The other deals with the current administration’s failures, highlighting Hurricane Katrina.  The last has to do with the attacks on universal health care and that scary, scary word, “Socialism.”  The full text of these are archived on the blog Economist’s View .  And you can read them here:

Paul Krugman: Seeking Willie Horton

Paul Krugman: Katrina All The Time

Paul Krugman: A Socialist Plot

Enjoy!

UPDATED 9/19/07: 7:59 PM

The New York Times has changed its policy regarding the TimesSelect articles.  They are now available for free on their website.  You may have to endure a short ad, but there is a “skip this ad” button for those of you who, like me, are impatient.

Good News, part two

Good news out of Iowa.  The Associated Press has reported that Polk county Judge Robert Hanson has rule against Iowa’s same sex marriage ban. He deemed the ban unconstitutional, claiming it violated “the state contitution’s equal protection and due-process clauses.”  The judge has called for the state marriage ban to be stricken and nullified and has said the marriage laws “must be read and applied in a gender neutral manner so as to permit same-sex couples to enter into a civil marriage…”  Read the whole article, from  The Des Moines Register:

Polk judge rules against gay marriage ban

Opponents of same sex marriage are stepping up efforts to fight the judge’s ruling.  They will take it to the Iowa Supreme Court and, if they fail there, it will probably be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, opponents are also seeking a stay on the ruling, which would prevent same sex couples from marrying until after the appeal process has finished.

Still, earlier today, Rev. Mark Stringer married Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan, making them the first same sex couple to be married in Iowa.  Read that whole story, from The Gazette Online:

The first same-sex marriage in Iowa history

Now, Iowa’s same sex marriage ban was not a constitutional amendment, like the one passed in Ohio.  So that will likely be the next step from opponents of same sex marriage in Iowa.  Hopefully it doesn’t pass.  And hopefully, Judge Hanson’s ruling stands up to the appeals.  And maybe that will be the crack needed to break down the dam of the same sex marriage bans across the country.

Only time will tell.

Good News

Good news, today.  The Ohio Supreme Court made a ruling regarding Ohio’s same sex marriage ban and its effect on domestic violence laws.  In Warren County, a man said he could not be charged with domestic violence because the marriage amendment to Ohio’s constitution (considered one of the broadest of the eleven passed during the 2004 election), defined marriage and partnership as “persons living as a spouce” which would not include non-married folks, no matter what their sexual orientation.  Read all about it:

Domestic violence statute upheld

A part of me was sad when I read this because I thought the conflict between the same sex marriage ban and the domestic violence loophole might help overturn the same sex marriage ban.  But ultimately, I am very happy that domestic violence laws were upheld.  We’ll tear down the same sex marriage ban another way.  And if 2006 was any indicator, we may see more and more of the same sex marriage bans rejected by voters, as was done in Arizona.

Hate Speech

On February 28th, the New York City Council approved a “symbolic resolution” to ban the use of the N-Word.  According to Sara Kugler of New Jersey’s Newark Star-Ledger, “The resolution, approved unanimously, asks New Yorkers to stop using the word, which has long been a racial epithet.”  New York’s resolution, which is not a law and carries no penalties for those who do not follow it, follows similar resolutions passed throughout New Jersey after Michael Richards (Kramer on Seinfeld) verbally attacked a pair of hecklers by using the N-Word.  Supporters of the resolution “are considering a letter-writing and e-mail campaign to persuade entertainment leaders and companies to join the cause.”

Apparently, Ann Coulter didn’t get the email.  If she did, she must not have understood it.  Or she just didn’t care.

Last Friday, speaking to an overflow crowd  at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Coulter, the author of the political books Treason, Slander, and Godless, said, “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘fa****’.”  The crowd responded by laughing and applauding.  The other speakers at the conference included many of the Republican contenders for the Presidential nomination, including Mitt Romney who introduced Coulter.

Everyone should know the definition of the F-Word.  But so there is no doubt for those who don’t, The Oxford English Dictionary, defines it as, “A bundle of sticks, twigs, or small branches of trees bound together for use as fuel.  With special reference to the practice of burning heretics alive.  A (male) homosexual.”

The following day, the three leading Republican candidates, Rudy Guiliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain, denounced Coulter’s comment.  Coulter responded by saying, “Apparently [Guiliani, Romney and McCain] aren’t that smart.”  She also sent an email, apparently to Edwards’ campaign manager, that said, “C’mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean.”

Coulter continues to assert that she was just making a joke and, as such, has refused to apologize.  She feels she has done nothing wrong and that she was attacking John Edwards and not the gay community.  But is that possible?  Maybe Coulter doesn’t understand the history of that word.  Maybe she is unaware of the violent acts against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people throughout history.  Quite frankly, I don’t care.  She should know.  

She needs to know that when she says that word, she brings up the history of associating homosexuals with “the practice of burning heretics alive.”  

She needs to know that by using that word as a joke, she is calling the reactions of Nazi Germany toward homosexuals a joke.  The Nazis arrested 100,000 homosexuals and convincted 50,000 of them as criminals.  Hundreds were castrated and between 10,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps.  And, according to Echo  Magazine, “estimates of the number of gay men killed in the camps range from about 15,000 to as many as 600,000.”

She needs to ask herself if Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson used that word as they drove Matthew Shepard to the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming in 1998.  Did they yell it as they pistol whipped his head eighteen times and then bound him to a fence “so tightly that police had difficulty cutting him free”?  Did they spit it from their mouths as they left him, bleeding and begging for his life, his face a mash of blood and sweat?  Did they joke to themselves about the “fa****” they left in Wyoming flatlands, hung to a fence like a scarecrow and offered to the crows, rats and other vermin to chew on his flesh as he died?

Does she want to be a part of that joke?  From what we know of her, if she knew, she probably wouldn’t care.  Don’t believe me?  Here is a link to an article by the Washington Monthly, ironically titled “The Wisdom of Ann Coulter.”

It doesn’t irritate me so much that Coulter would do something like this.  She’s, put simply, a nut.  She always has been and always will be.  She has proven this time and again.  I know it, liberals know it and even conservatives know it.  What irritates me is that there wasn’t a sudden rush of people, gasping and filing out of the conference after Coulter said that word.  By sitting in the crowd, applauding and laughing, or even by just sitting and doing nothing, everyone at the conference showed that they condoned the use of the word.  They showed that they approve of the tactic of attacking people through hate speech.  They showed that they accept the history of that word and the way it has been used to kill people.  Let me repeat that: the way it has been used to kill people.

As far as I am concerned, the blood of the victims of hate crimes falls firmly at Ann Coulter’s feet.  But it also falls at the feet of all of us who do nothing to stop the casual use of hate speech.  This includes the media.  This includes the organizers of CPAC.  This includes the people who laughed and applauded her.  And this includes everyone who didn’t immediately stand up and leave.  

Mitt Romney, Rudy Guiliani and others waited until a day after the conference to chastise Coulter, their invited guest.  One day was too long to wait.  One hour would have been too long of a wait.