November 20, 2008

November is for Mustaches


I made my first donation to Movember this morning in honor of Mo Bro Mark Trammell. It's his birthday -- Happy Birthday, dude! -- and he's fighting prostate cancer along with his other Mo Bros and Sistahs on "The Upper Lip Theorists" team.

Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a charity event held during November each year.

At the start of Movember guys register with a clean shaven face. The Movember participants, known as Mo Bros, then have the remainder of the month to grow and groom their Mo (Australian slang for moustache), raising money and awareness along the way for men's health and the fight against prostate cancer.

Note: I did say "my first donation" -- I'll try to give a little bit to all my Bros and Sistahs this month.

November 19, 2008

/Ground : Briefing 2.0?

My latest post at /Ground -- Briefing 2.0?

The U.S. Department of State is surprisingly hip to all this "2.0" jazz... On October 31, McCormack held the department's first "Briefing 2.0" where he answered ten questions that were submitted via YouTube and two questions that were submitted via the Dipnote blog.

Read the full post over at /Ground.

November 8, 2008

In the wake of Prop 8...

First of all, let me say THANK YOU to the 43 people who donated $2655 to No On Prop 8 since my blog post on 10/14. As soon as I follow up with you all via email, I hope to put together a post listing your names and giving you the thanks you deserve.

We were close. But unfortunately, surprisingly low voter turnout (50% compared with 64% nationally)* and the ugly fear that children would suddenly be taught about homosexuality in the classroom created the perfect storm for this hateful thing to pass. Edited to add: turns out low voter turnout is no excuse. CA was in line with the rest of the country at around 64%. However, surprisingly high turnout of other minority groups is a popular scapegoat...

I decided not to pay much attention to the returns regarding Prop 8 Tuesday night -- fearing the worst after the kerfuffle on TechCrunch on Monday (search that page for "hillary" and you'll see what I mean) -- choosing instead to get totally swept up in the drama, emotion, and history of electing our first African-American President. It was an amazing night. I laughed, I cried, I hooted and hollered, and I got a bit drunk. :)

However, Wednesday and Thursday were a different story. I still welled up a couple times when I saw all the "Yes, He Did" headlines, but the joy was tempered with a deep and profound hurt. I'm sad. At In-N-Out Burger last night I was putting little green checkmarks and red Xs over peoples heads: Do you think I'm disgusting? How about you? I'm pissed. I've had some of the same hateful thoughts that I'm sure people have had about me. And it stings that there's so much activity in the wake of Prop 8's passage. Where was this urgency last week? Why were we all so complacent, so sure that there was "no way in hell" it could succeed?

But all that will pass. Even just 24 hours later I'm again full of hope, and thankful that I live in a place like San Francisco and am surrounded by friends and family and coworkers that feel the need and take the time to reach out and say, "You are not alone." The vigil last night and the march through San Francisco tonight were enough to put a smile back on my face, and fill me not only with hope, but with the will to fight.

And so, I give you my latest blog comment. Some background: I was searching twitter for "Prop 8" and ended up clicking through to a lot of the links. I felt that this post deserved a response -- "Is there a downside to Prop 8?"

Hi there. I stumbled across your post via twitter, and thought I'd take a minute to reply to a few things.

First off (so you know where I'm coming from), I'm gay and legally married thanks to the window of opportunity between the Supreme Court decision and the passage of Prop 8.

I am not going to try to convince you that I'm just as normal as you because I know that's a dead end. I will also refrain from pointing out the obvious biblical passages that fundamentalists choose to ignore because they acknowledge that they make no sense in today's society. Instead, I'll try to point out a couple of flaws in your argument.

Even if I weren't a Christian, I would be opposed to the notion that homosexuality might be taught in schools.

Fact: Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education. And no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it.

California’s top educators including Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell and California Teachers all agree: Prop 8 has nothing to do with education and the idea that "homosexuality might be taught in schools" is ridiculous.

Also, it wasn't right for a minority to push their agenda on the majority.

I don't quite understand what agenda you mean. The proponents of Prop 8 were the one with the agenda. We simply wanted people to vote no -- to say no to a bill that would use state law to single out one group of Californians to be treated differently. No matter what your faith, equality under the law is a fundamental constitutional guarantee.

Would you have supported a bill that erased the right to marry for atheists? For Muslims? For African-Americans? After all, it was just a short 40 years ago that it was illegal for whites and blacks to marry -- the common thought was that interracial relationships were deviant, unnatural and disgusting.

Again, I realize that you and I fundamentally disagree. But I simply ask you to think about what has happened:

Just over half of Californians who went to the polls on Tuesday (which represent less than half of all Californians) were able to amend the Constitution and strip away rights from a tiny minority. It doesn't matter if homosexuality is a "choice;" the CA Supreme Court has designated us a suspect class (groups which meet a series of criteria suggesting they are likely the subject of discrimination) just like the federal Supreme Court recognizes race, national origin, religion, and alienage. Prop 8 is discriminatory at its very core, and I hope that you can take a step back and recognize that.

So this is my fight for now. Brick by brick, tweet by tweet, march by march I suppose. Not sure where it will lead, but it felt good to write about it tonight. Thanks for indulging me.

November 4, 2008

/Ground : Election Protection and Citizen Journalism

My latest post at /Ground, again on the theme of election protection:

The big day is here. I hope if you are registered to vote, and you didn't vote early or absentee, that you'll brave the lines, be patient, and take part in the democratic process today. Here are a few resources to help you get the job done.

Read the rest over at /Ground.

November 3, 2008

Prop 8 = "separate but equal" redux

UPDATE: scroll to the bottom for a video where someone did the same thing with a Yes On 8 campaign video.

The following text is from the 2008 California voter guide's arguments for and against Prop 8. Specifically, this is the proposed argument for voting yes on Prop 8; however, I've highlighted certain sections and replaced "gay" or "same-sex" with "interracial" (or otherwise appropriate language).
Edited to add: This is simply to illustrate that this same bill would be overwhelmingly viewed as unjust and wrong if any other minority was inserted in place of "gay". We can see from history that this proposition on its face is wrong.

I am stunned by the widespread support for a bill that would use state law to single out one group of Californians to be treated differently. I'll say it again: it's not about religion, morality, or even gay marriage -- it's about fear.

Give this a read and then try to tell me that passing Prop 8 is the right thing to do:

Proposition 8 is simple and straightforward. It contains the same 14 words that were previously approved in 2000 by over 61% of California voters: “Only marriage between a man and a woman of the same race is valid or recognized in California.”

Because four activist judges in San Francisco wrongly overturned the people’s vote, we need to pass this measure as a constitutional amendment to RESTORE THE DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE as a man and a woman of the same race.

Proposition 8 is about preserving marriage; it’s not an attack on the interracial lifestyle. Proposition 8 doesn’t take away any rights or benefits of interracial domestic partnerships. Under California law, “domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits” as married spouses. (Family Code § 297.5.) There are NO exceptions. Proposition 8 WILL NOT change this.

YES on Proposition 8 does three simple things:

It restores the definition of marriage to what the vast majority of California voters already approved and human history has understood marriage to be.

It overturns the outrageous decision of four activist Supreme Court judges who ignored the will of the people.

It protects our children from being taught in public schools that “interracial marriage” is the same as traditional marriage.

Proposition 8 protects marriage as an essential institution of society. While death, divorce, or other circumstances may prevent the ideal, the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married mother and father of the same race.

The narrow decision of the California Supreme Court isn’t just about “live and let live.” State law may require teachers to instruct children as young as kindergarteners about marriage. (Education Code § 51890.) If the interracial marriage ruling is not overturned, TEACHERS COULD BE REQUIRED to teach young children there is no difference between interracial marriage and traditional marriage.

We should not accept a court decision that may result in public schools teaching our kids that interracial marriage is okay. That is an issue for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. It shouldn’t be forced on us against our will.

Some will try to tell you that Proposition 8 takes away legal rights of gay domestic partnerships. That is false. Proposition 8 DOES NOT take away any of those rights and does not interfere with interracial couples living the lifestyle they choose.

However, while interracial couples have the right to their private lives, they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else.

CALIFORNIANS HAVE NEVER VOTED FOR INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE. If gay activists want to legalize interracial marriage, they should put it on the ballot. Instead, they have gone behind the backs of voters and convinced four activist judges in San Francisco to redefine marriage for the rest of society. That is the wrong approach.

Voting YES on Proposition 8 RESTORES the definition of marriage that was approved by over 61% of voters. Voting YES overturns the decision of four activist judges. Voting YES protects our children.

Please vote YES on Proposition 8 to RESTORE the meaning of marriage.

By the way, this whole "activist judges" thing makes me sick, and I'm so sad that the argument for this proposition hinges on that very phrase. Judges aren't activists. They interpret the law, according to the Constitution. We've seen the judicial system get more and more politicized over the last 30 years, and it's sickening. The fact that Roe v Wade is in jeopardy of being overturned if a Republican is the one who gets to make the appointment is all the proof we need.

Consider this: it was a majority conservative/Republican Supreme Court that ruled on Roe v. Wade. It wasn't a Democrat or Republican wedge issue; it was a Constitutional issue.

I hope and pray that the majority of Californians decide to face the future and not the past. No on Prop 8.

This is a parody of, and response to, the video called "YES on Proposition 8 (Prop 8) your rights".

UPDATE #2: since the wife is a lawyer, I thought some of you might enjoy a trip down memory (err, history) lane.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) - the original "separate but equal" SCOTUS decision

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) - the SCOTUS decision striking down "separate but equal"

UPDATE #3: borrowing a paragraph from Buzz Me ( who said it better than I did.

Notwithstanding the fact that slavery itself was only abolished in this country about 150 years ago and discrimination in all forms is still thriving here, interracial marriage in the United States was still banned in 17 states as late as 1967. That is forty-one years ago. If there were a Proposition 8 41 years ago, Asians, blacks, Samoans, and Hispanics I saw with a Yes on 8 signs this weekend, it would have been about you. Interracial marriage was banned because it was considered unnatural, it was thought to be “against God’s will,” and it constituted illicit sex. Sound familiar?

The America we should be: vote no on Proposition 8