A gleam of sunshiny sanity from SCOTUS

From Chief Justice Roberts concerning the overturn of DOMA:

“The Court does not have before it, and the logic of its opinion does not decide, the distinct question whether the States . . . may continue to utilize the traditional definition of marriage.”

Better words could not describe it.

UPDATE: Proposition 8 is overturned based on standing. So here is the legal picture:

ssm_map

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“And you knew who you were then/Girls were girls and men were men”

As Dan Savage urges all his readers, “blog this!” everywhere.

No sooner said than done.

Archie: Well, who the hell wants people like that teaching our kids?! I’m sure God don’t! God’s sittin’ in judgment!

Edith: Well, sure he is, but he’s God. You ain’t!Archie, listen, you wouldn’t want to be the cause of somebody losin’ their job! Archie, she’s all alone in the world now and she’s got nobody to take care of her like I have. And she can’t help how she feels. And she didn’t hurt you, so why should you wanna hurt her? Archie, I can’t believe you’d do anything that mean.

(Emphasis Dan’s and mine.)

A lesson I only recently learned

io9 is currently running an article entitled 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Star Trek.

It’s a cute article in itself, but one of the items piqued my interest and moved me to hunt down an old Isaac Asimov essay on ST from 1967. (BTW, io9, the link you posted to the essay is broken. Here is a better one.)

Here is “Spock is Dreamy!” from the Good Doctor:

MR. SPOCK IS DREAMY!
by ISAAC ASIMOV
(First published in TV Guide April 29, 1967)

A revolution of incalculable importance may be sweeping America, thanks to television. And thanks particularly Star Trek, which, in its noble and successful effort to present good science fiction to the American public, has also presented everyone with an astonishing revelation.

I was put onto the matter by my blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful daughter, who is just turning twelve and who, in all the practical matters that count, is more clear-sighted than I.

It happened one evening when we were watching Star Trek together and holding our breath while Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock faced a menace of overwhelming proportions.

Captain Kirk (for those, if any, who are not Star Trek fans) is a capable hero and a full-blooded human. Mr. Spock is half-alien and is a creature of pure reason and no emotion. Naturally Captain Kirk responded to every danger with an appropriate twist of his handsome and expressive face. Spock, however, kept his long, serene face unmoved. Not for an instant did he allow emotion to dim the thoughtful gleam of his eye; not for a split second did he allow that long face to grow shorter.

And my daughter said, “I think Mr. Spock is dreamy!”

I started! If my daughter said Mr. Spock was dreamy, then he was dreamy to the entire feminine population of the world, for my daughter is plugged into that vague something called “femininity” and her responses are infallible.

But how could that be? Mr. Spock dreamy? He had a strong face, of course, but it was so solemn and serious, so cool; his eyebrows were drawn so outward and upward, and his large ears came to such a long, sharp upper point.

How could he compare with full-blooded Earthlings with normal ears and eyebrows, who were suave, sophisticated, and devilishly handsome to boot? Like me, for instance, just to pick an example at random.

“Why is he dreamy?” I asked my daughter.

“Because,” she said, “he’s so smart!”

There’s no doubt about it. I have asked other girls and they agree. Through the agency of Mr. Spock, Star Trek has been capitalizing upon a fact not generally known among the male half of the population.

Women think being smart is sexy!

Do you know what this means to me? Can you imagine what a load of guilt it has taken off my back? Can you imagine what a much greater load of vain regret it has put on my back?

But, heaven help me, it wasn’t my fault. I was misled. When I was young I read books about children; books for which Tom Sawyer was the prototype. Anyone else old enough to remember those books?

Remember the kid hero? Wasn’t he a delightful little chap? Wasn’t he manly? He played hooky all the time and went swimming at the old swimming hole. Remember? He never knew his lessons; he swiped apples; he used bad grammar and threw rocks at cats. You remember.

And do you remember that little sneaky kid we all hated so? He was an unbearable wretch who wore clean clothes, and did his lessons, and got high marks, and spoke like a dude. All the kids hated him, and so did all the readers. Rotten little smart kid!

As I read such stories, I realized that because I had known no better I had unwittingly been committing the terrible sin of doing well at school. Oh, I did my best to change and follow the paths of rectitude and virtue, and dip girls’ pigtails in inkwells and draw nasty pictures of the teacher on my slate, and steal pumpkin but girls didn’t have pigtails and I didn’t have a slate and nobody I knew across the length and breadth of Brooklyn’s slums had any idea of what a pumpkin was.

And when the teacher would ask a question, I would, quite automatically and without thinking, give the right answer and there I would be. Sunk in vice again! Talk about a monkey on your back!

There was no way out. By the time I was in high school I realized I was rotten clean through and all I could do was hope the FBI never saw my report card.

Then, somewhere late in high school, I became aware of an even more serious difficulty! I had been noticing for a while that girls didn’t look quite as awful as I had earlier thought. I was even speculating that there might be some purpose in wasting some time in speaking to one or two of them, if I could figure out how one went about it. I decided the place to learn was the movies, since these often concerned themselves with this very problem.

Remember those movie heroes? Strong, solemn, and with a vocabulary of ten easy words and fifteen grunts? And remember the key sentence in every one of those pictures?

You don’t? Well, I’ll tell you. Some girl is interested in the movie hero. She sees something in him she does not see in any other character in the film, and I was keenly intent on finding what that something might be.

To be sure, the hero was taller and stronger and handsomer and better dressed than any other male in the picture, but surely this was purely superficial. No female would be in the least attracted to such mere surface characteristics. There had to be something deep and hidden, and I recognized what this might be in that key sentence I mentioned.

The woman says to her girl friend, “I love that big lug!” Or sometimes she says to the hero himself, “I love you, you big lug!”

That was it! Hollywood was of the definite opinion that for a man to be attractive to women he had to be a big lug. I ran to Webster’s (second edition) to lookup the word and found no less than eight definitions. Definition number eight was: “A heavy or clumsy lout; a blockhead.”

It was school all over again. I could manage being clumsy but I could never keep up that blockhead business long. I’d be doing fine for a while, glazing my eyes, and remembering to say “Duh” when spoken to. But, sooner or later, at some unguarded moment, I would say something rational, and bitter shame would overcome emit was no use; I could never attain that glorious lug hood that would have put me at ease with women.

I got married at last, somehow. My theory is that the young lady who married me must have seen that under my suave man-of-the-world exterior, there was a lout and a blockhead striving for expression. So she married me for inner beauty.

Then came television. Remember the husbands in the situation comedies? Stupid, right? Have you ever seen one who could tie his shoes without help? Have you ever seen one smart enough to put anything over on his wife? Or on his five-year-old niece for that matter?

That was one thing all situation comedies had in common–the stupidity of the husband. The other things were the smartness of the wife and the depth of her love for her husband. These points can’t be unconnected, can they? Anyone can see that the only deduction to draw from this is that wives, being smart, love their husbands because they are stupid.

All I can say is that for years and years I have done my best to be a stupid husband. My wife, loyal creature that she is, has assured me over and over again that I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams and that I am the stupidest husband who ever lived. She seems so sincere when she says it, and yet I have always had to ask: Is it merely her kind heart speaking? Can she be just flattering me?

And then, then, came this blinding revelation. Here I had been watching Star Trek since its inception because I like it, because it is well done, because it is exciting, because it says things (subtly and neatly) that are difficult to say in “straight” drama, and because science fiction, properly presented, is the type of literature most appropriate to our generation.

But it hadn’t occurred to me that Mr. Spock was sexy. I had never realized that such a thing was possible; that girls palpitate over the way one eyebrow goes up fraction; that they squeal with passion when a little smile quirks his lip. And all because he’s smart!

If I had only known! If I had only known!

But I am spreading the word now. It may be far too late for me (well, almost), but there is a new generation to consider! Men! Men everywhere! Don’t list to the lies! I have learned the secret at last. It is sexy to be smart! Do you hear me, men? Relax and be your natural selves! Stop aiming at lughood. It’s sexy to be smart!

Just one thing bothers me. Can it be Mr. Spock’s ears? Webster’s (second edition) gives that blockhead definition as its eighth. Its definition number two for the same word is “ear.” Could it be that when a girl says, “I love you, you big lug,” she means the man’s ears are as big as Mr. Spock’s?

Well, just in case, while I’m being smart, I’ll also let my ears grow.

It’s personal. And it’s goddam *right*!

From Anti-Republic Crusaders on Facebook:

I know a lot of you always joke around and ask me “When are you going to have more children?!” Or, when I am sick, some of you joke and say, “Uh oh, are you pregnant?” I am about to share something with all of you, that for the last year, only my husband and my parents have been aware of. The possibility of me ever having anymore children is almost slim-to-none.

Why?

I have cervical cancer. I do not want your pity. I do not want your sympathy. However, I do appreciate your positive thoughts and prayers. The reason why I am telling you all about this now? Effective, as of yesterday, August 1st 2012, the treatments that I could not have previously afforded will be offered to me free of charge. Even though I have AMAZING insurance, it only pays 80%. The remainder 20% would have cost me thousands upon thousands of dollars in medical bills; and to be honest with all of you, it would have been financially a better choice for my SON AND MY HUSBAND (who are the two people that mean the most to me in this world) for me to not undergo treatments and basically let this disease spread to the rest of my body and die a miserable death.

TO MY PARENTS: this is why, up until now, I have not received any treatments and also why I have not been giving you constant updates about; for that, I am sorry. I would have gladly accepted this fate so that my son has a full stomach before he goes to bed every night, instead of trying to pay off medical bills. Also, as of yesterday, the hormonal birth control that used to cost me $35 a month in co-pays every month, my insurance will be obligated to pay for in full.

Why do I need hormonal birth control? If I do not take it I get very large and potentially deadly cysts on my ovaries that must be otherwise treated by emergency surgery. So, why all of a sudden are these benefits granted to me as of August 1st 2012?

“OBAMA”CARE!!

Thank you Mr. President. Because of you, I may now have more time on this planet with my husband and child. You have made LIFE-SAVING medical treatments affordable for me and my family. My husband, my son, and most certainly myself are eternally grateful to you.

Accepting the ACA for the good that it represents is like accepting marriage equality: once someone you really care about gains from either, it’s much easier to see how good they both are.

We grabbed the brass ring. Now we need to hold onto it.

We’ve all heard about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Here are some salient points we all need to keep within our sights:

  1. It’s not ObamaCare. You look like an idiot when you call it that. It’s the Affordable Care Act, or if you prefer, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  2. Congress approved it. The President signed it. The Supreme Court upheld it. All three competing and equal branches of government said it’s Constitutional. You don’t have to like it but stop saying it’s unconstitutional or, worse, that it’s Obama’s fault. 545 members of government played a role in it’s[sic] existence in it’s [sic] current form.
  3. I don’t like the individual mandate either but it’s here and it’s real and we all better get used to it.
  4. If I see you threaten violence, I will punch you in person and if I’m not with you in person, I will unfriend/unfollow you. Someone actually suggested the only way to fix this “problem” is by getting your guns out. Not. The. Answer. Stop being a barbarian.

(What did Asimov say about violence being the last refuge of the incompetent?)

I will add several points here.

  • We all live in a social web of interdependence.
  • We (you and I) are made to spend money on public works we’ll never use personally, just as others pay into public works that we use and they don’t. I’ve never needed to have the fire department save my house, family, or life, but I don’t begrudge one dime of what I spend to have them available.
  • Former British MP Tony Benn is interviewed about the origin of the British National Health Service (NHS) in Michael Moore’s Sicko, NHS was begun because of the privations suffered by Britain after World War II. Doctors were scarce, public transportation was nonexistent, and even decent food was hard to find. “We all had to hang together, and pull together, in order to make our society work again. That is how National Health began.”

The whining from conservatives today is no different than that about the advent of (American) public schools, public roads, public parks, and Social Security. The blowhards will blow hard for awhile, and then they’ll blow away. And with any luck, Rush Limbaugh will move to Costa Rica and leave us alone.

Or not. As a humorous capper to this subject:

Don’t say you’re sorry! Get even!

Dan Savage got a letter the other day that struck home hard for me:

I’m a straight woman planning a wedding in a no-equality state. Many of my nearest and dearest friends are gay. As I address these invites I can’t help feeling like a schmuck. Doesn’t this suck for you guys on some level? Smiling through weddings for years on end while being shat on by the government? I want to write “SORRY!” all over the invitations I’m sending to my gay friends!…

Savage’s advice?

[C]onsider lifting one of the readings from our friends’ ceremony.

“Marriage is a vital social institution The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”

So touching, so true, and so universal—who could argue with those sentiments? Everyone at the wedding was nodding. The reading continued…

“It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a ‘civil right.’ Without the right to choose to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience.”

After the reading—which was done by a gay friend of the couple—the officiant identified the source: It was from the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in that state.

When The Spouse and I went to get our marriage license in St. Paul, we were asked three questions by the clerk:

  • Were we legally eligible to get married to each other? (i.e., not married to someone else)
  • Were we mentally competent enough to understand what we were doing?
  • Were we one man and one woman?

Wha…?

We had discovered that Minnesota statute prohibited same-sex marriage.

We said “Yes, yes, and yes” and got the license, but by the time we got back to the car she was in tears and I was upset. Neither of us had any idea that such a heinous thing had been codified. If there hadn’t been some urgency to getting married (a whole ‘nother story), we would have seriously considered getting married somewhere where itwas legal.

And now out-of-state conservative interests are spending wads of money to engrave one-man-one-woman-marriage into our state’s constitution.

So, if you’re considering marriage, and want to make a serious impact about just what marriage and civil rights are all about, think about including the above quote in the ceremony, and tell your guests, in lieu of gifts, to make donations of time and money to organizations that are trying to rid us of the Jim Crow laws of the 21st century:

Washington United for Marriage

Minnesotans United for All Families

Mainers United for Marriage

Marylanders for Marriage Equality

 

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

Josh Weed is a clinic therapist, happily married to Lolly (his lovely wife) with whom he has three adorable daughters, and they are active members of the Latter-Day Saints church.

Josh is also gay, and now he’s out to the world.

WTF? I hear you say. (I heard myself say it.)

Josh and Lolly write at length about their marriage, their feelings, and how they make their situation work.

And the post brought to tears to my eyes.

The family and I had a discussion about Josh and his marriage yesterday, and I tried to get through to the Horsemen (or three of them, anyway) that as long as a couple love each other, and can make a healthy and safe home-life for themselves and their children, Josh’s homosexuality doesn’t matter a damn.

While the rest of Josh’s blog consists of funny stories about his family and life, this latest post is as serious as a heart attack and as thought provoking as anything I’ve read lately.

Read the Weeds’ post — it’s well worth your time.

(Thanks, yet again, to The Spouse for this tip.)

“I know I’ll often stop and think about them/In my life, I’ll love you more”

Surprises are some of the most sublime moments of life.

When The Spouse and I got married, our good friend Susan Hofflander sang at the ceremony, and she chose to sing “In My Life” — which was one of my favorite Beatles songs.

Thinking about that today, and I’m still amazed at the power of music to bring sudden joy and tears at the same time.

Tying the knot against homophobia, mutant-style

Marvel Comics is taking another social step forward.

There is going to be a big, big wedding portrayed in Astonishing X-Men this summer.

So what’s the big deal:

Jean-Paul Beaubier (known as Northstar) and Kyle Jinadu are tying the knot in AX-M in issues #50 and #51.

In the meantime, DC Comics is promising that “one of the major iconic DC characters will reveal that he is gay in a storyline in June”.

Late in coming, to be sure, but it is heartening that the comics industry doesn’t seem to be afraid of right-wing backlash.

Has the parallels between hating super-powered mutants and hating gays occurred to anyone else?

The price of admission

(This is a longish repost. Stick with it, because the thoughts it contains are well worth your time and consideration.)

Dan Savage, the managing editor/sex columnist for the Seattle Stranger and host of MTV’s reality show “Savage U“, posted this letter and Savage’s response about a year ago. This dialog resounded strongly within me, because it discusses an issue that I have had in my mind for as far back as the memory of my sexual life goes:

Sometimes a monogamous relationship does not fulfill the needs of one (or both) of the partners.

~~~

My wife and I click on just about every level—parenting, money, religion, politics, etc.—except for sex. After our last child was born, my advances were increasingly rejected. In an attempt to avoid pressuring her, I stopped initiating. One week passed, nothing. A month passed, nothing. A YEAR passed, nothing. Depression and anger set in. But I was committed to being the “perfect husband,” so I did not pressure her, hoping her libido would return. It didn’t. After two years, I finally lost it and confronted her. I expected that an open dialogue would improve the situation, but a month passed and she never brought it back up.

I realize that I’m lucky to be happy and fulfilled in just about every area of my life, but I’ve become fidgety, short-tempered, and hypersensitive. I do not want to have an affair and I do not want a divorce. I love her and our children, but I’m at a loss as to what to do. Knowing there are women out there in the world who actually enjoy sex is devastating (it kills me to listen to you field a call from a sexually confident woman on your podcast). I am mourning the loss of intimacy and connection with another person.

Please Advise Troubled Husband

I’ll get to you in a minute, PATH, but first…

MTV, a cable television channel that has been broadcasting music videos in a continuous loop since the summer of 1981, has elected to speed the moral collapse of the United States by putting me on television. My upcoming sex-advice program is tentatively titled Savage U, and it represents MTV’s first foray into non-music-video programming. (My preferred title for the show—Dan Savage’s Alaska—was rejected by the program’s co–executive producer, Piper Palin.) This news has upset not only my son, who has been in the MTV stage of his development for roughly three years, but also Maggie Gallagher, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, who has been stuck in the raving-bigot stage of her development for nearly three decades.

“Renowned sex columnist Dan Savage, who is an openly gay man,” Gallagher wrote on her blog, “will be taking his popular sex and relationship advice column to MTV in a show appropriately called ‘Savage U’ where he intends to educate your college student about the importance of honesty over just about anything else, including fidelity.”

Gallagher, who once had a child out of wedlock, speaks for the fidelity-over-anything-else crowd (fidelity over honesty, reality, statistics, biology, ability, etc.). Now, some people are capable of abstaining before marriage and being faithful to one partner for life—some people, but not Maggie—but these people represent a tiny minority of sexually active adults. And while those who make this aberrant lifestyle choice should not be discriminated against, the rest of us—the majority of sexually active adults—should be free to engage in grown-up conversations about sex and desire and the more reality-friendly ways in which we define fidelity without being shouted down by the monogamously correct.

I’d like to address Gallagher’s two main objections to Savage U in some detail:

“Savage, for all his experience, does not know what women are like,” says Gallagher.

I may not know what women taste like—I’ve never gone down on one—but I do know what women are like. My mother was a woman, my sister is a woman, my favorite bartender is a woman, my first sex partners were women, and many of my friends, neighbors, and coworkers are women. And as someone who is attracted to men and is in a long-term relationship with a man, I know what straight women have to put up with.

Ironically, Gallagher is a practicing Catholic who cites her faith as a reason for her opposition to same-sex marriage. But not knowing what women taste like has never stopped the pope from offering his unsolicited advice to women—no birth control, no abortions, no oral, no anal, no handjobs—and it seems a little hypocritical of Gallagher to suggest that I’m not qualified to offer advice to women, since I don’t fuck ‘em, without first telling that old fag in Rome to STFU already.

“The possibility of taming one’s sexual desire for the sake of another, or of a vow, is not in the Savage moral imagination,” says Gallagher. “Libido will have out, and honesty about that is the best policy.”

The possibility of taming one’s sexual desire for the sake of another most definitely exists within the Savage moral imagination. I frequently discuss the “price of admission,” that is, the personal sacrifices, large and small, that make long-term relationships possible. For some, the price of admission—what it costs to ride a particular ride—includes “taming one’s sexual desire for the sake of another.” If anal sex is something you enjoy, but you’re in love with someone who doesn’t do anal, going without anal is the price of admission. If you’re not into monogamy, but you’re in love with someone who insists on it, then monogamy is the price of admission.

Yes, libido will have out—but “libido will have out” doesn’t translate into “Dan ‘Doesn’t Fuck Women’ Savage says anything and everything goes.” Two people in a long-term, committed relationship should be open and honest with each other about their sexual interests, turn-ons, drives, etc., because, yes, libido will have out. Meaning sexual compatibility and sexual satisfaction have a huge impact on the health of our relationships and marriages, Maggie, particularly if your spouse is your sole source of sexual satisfaction and release. People who can be open and honest with their partners—whether the relationship is monogamous or not—are likelier to have their needs met and likelier to meet their partners’ needs. And when needs are met, people are less likely to cheat and more likely to stay married.

Openness and honesty don’t automatically translate into everyone gets everything everyone wants. Not all needs can be met. But sometimes just having the sacrifices we’ve made for the good of our marriages acknowledged—getting a receipt after paying the price of admission—is good enough. Getting some credit for going without anal, along with the green light to jerk off to anal porn now and then, can make going without anal easier. Indeed, it can make going without anal virtuous, something that speaks well of the going-without-anal partner’s character and priorities.

But there are times when monogamy—its pressures, its discontents, its unquestioned acceptance—can destroy an otherwise decent marriage.

Take PATH’s marriage. If his wife doesn’t come around—if her libido doesn’t kick back into gear after mental or medical intervention—this couple is surely headed for divorce. PATH is not only feeling depressed and resentful, he’s also contemplating an affair (even if he’s in the dismiss-that-idea stage). Sooner or later, he’s going to cheat or walk. But this marriage, a marriage that works on every other level (“parenting, money, religion, politics, etc.”), could be saved if Mr. and Mrs. PATH were encouraged to openly and honestly discuss their sexual needs and their sexual disconnect. If Mrs. PATH is done with sex—for now, perhaps forever—Mr. and Mrs. PATH should be encouraged to come to a reasonable, mutually agreeable accommodation, one that allows for Mr. PATH to get his needs met elsewhere if that’s what he needs to stay sane and stay married.

I’m not sure what to call someone who places a higher value on preserving monogamy within a particular marriage over preserving that marriage itself, Maggie, but I wouldn’t call that person a defender of marriage.

“Rubber duckie, you’re the one!”

It must be a long, uphill battle to be the self-appointed Public Advocate of the United States. Eugene DelGaudio claims he’s up to the job.

And now, here is his latest crusade — stop Bert and Ernie from getting married:

“The Homosexual Lobby is now pressuring Sesame Street — the long-time beloved children’s show — to portray Homosexual Muppet ‘marriage.’  That’s right, the Homosexual Lobby is demanding that Bert and Ernie get married. They want Bert and Ernie to set a pro-homosexual example in order to teach your children that homophobia is wrong and homosexuality is beautiful. They claim that if only Bert and Ernie were allowed to marry it would help put an end to bullying and end the suicides of LGBT youth.

“The reality is the Homosexual Lobby wants access to your children and they want them while they’re young.”

This is an old tired talking point of anti-gay wackaloons. No one is pressing Sesame Street to do any such thing. Rumors and jokes about them being gay have been passed around for years. The Henson production people have stated that Bert and Ernie are puppets, not people, and that their continuing purpose on Sesame Street is to show how people who are very different can still learn how to get along and like each other.

Besides, Bert locked down the question quite well. When asked if he and Ernie were “more than just friends”, Bert’s response was:

“Oh, you had to ask that question. No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”