Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Supreme Court - My Thoughts

What if they made a weekly TV series "Supreme Law" like LA Law or Boston Legal or Night Court. It might make a great TV series but it would probably be better written.

I took the links to the audio and PDF of yesterday's arguments before the court from Russ at Blue Truck Red State and listened in.  Interesting, educational, but at times mundane.

Russ has all the summaries and links a person could ask for regarding the historic Supreme Court cases on Prop 8 and DOMA.  I won't add to that but just my own commentary in "The for what it's worth department".

I would guess that SCOTUS will throw out the Prop 8 case for lack of standing - that is what they were most concerned about.  Those arguing could not seem to get their arguments to be consistent.

Do the proponents of Prop 8 have standing?  Why should they defend the law if the state itself chooses not to?

Is the case just about California or is it broader?  Does it just apply to jurisdictions where same-sex couples already have some of the privileges of marriage and therefore not affect states with no rights for LGBT couples?  It sounded a lot like the lawyers were taking oral exams and prepared answers to all the wrong questions.

Will try to catch the DOMA arguments soon.  My guess is that this will have a better shot at status as it is a much more "federal" issue.

The real question is what kind of can of worms will it open?  With the constitution allowing states to regulate marriage, can the federal government then turn around and say they will not recognize what the states decide?  Will a decision striking down DOMA require states to recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states?  If so, will that essentially negate any State constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage?  And how will that then effect a ruling on Prop 8?

What I think this all reveals is that, although a nice and revolutionary idea at the time, the concept of individual states united under one federal government is inherently flawed, especially now, as travel, industry, technology and all has developed.

There has to be a greater consistency in state laws and regulations.  It is too easy for someone from my state, for example, to avoid paying sales tax on an expensive item just by traveling a couple of hours into New Hampshire where there is no sales tax; or to avoid automobile property tax by registering their car in Vermont using a post office box or a friend's address; or to avoid prosecution for DUI and failure to appear in Massachusetts by not driving through that state; or to avoid certain taxes by locating a business or a yacht in a state like Delaware; etc.

When it comes to marriage laws and same-sex marriage, the issues become so convoluted and inconsistent.  Add the dimensions of relocation, death, divorce, adoption, inheritance, benefits, responsibility for debt and it gets strange.  In Connecticut a spouse is responsible for a deceased spouse's debt - if my same-sex spouse dies and I flee to Oklahoma (I'd be crazy) would I no longer be in debt?  Well I hope the Supremes ask good questions, because I, for one, would like some answers.

Just got finished listening to the DOMA arguments. Whew!  Gave me a headache!  I guess it's wait and see.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Looking For Serendipity or Water Equality

Yesterday I took Benni for a walk in the doggie park.  It was cold and windy and only one other person and one other dog was there, so we decided to walk together.  Turns out that the woman I was walking with works as fundraiser for a non-profit, so we shared some experiences.  She sent me a link to her organization and I checked it out today.  I am attaching one of their videos.

This non-profit House of the Children/Rainforest Flow helps indigenous people of Southern Peru to secure and maintain environmentally friendly sources of fresh drinking water and sanitation.  The founder of the organization went to Peru several years ago and became involved in the fresh water issue based on what she observed there - mainly that contaminated water was the leading cause of death and disease and that the Peruvian government attempts to address the problem were inadequate and not workable.

What impresses me most is that the organization, House of the Children/Rainforest Flow has a very focused mission and  they are implementing their mission the right way.  They are a purely non-sectarian organization with solid scientific methods.  By that I mean they are not there to preach, to change the native culture, or to dole out charity; their very professional, dedicated experts in the field are providing know-how and hands on work to assist the people of the rain forest in building sustainable and environmentally integrated water filtration and sanitation systems.

Their challenge is fundraising.  Who wants to fund an organization trying to bring drinking water to some remote villages in Peru?  What's in it for them?  We have plenty of worthy charities here in the States.

But I liked what I saw on their web site and so I'm sharing it here.

I check out my traffic feed, so I know people from all over the world land here on purpose or by accident.  Perhaps someone knows someone who knows someone who can help.... so here's to serendipity.
Donations Rainforest Flow promotes the preservation of tropical forest ecosystems and cultures by empowering indigenous communities to be the leaders and stewards of their own futures. Please help provide indigenous children and their families with safe drinking water, improved sanitation, health and hygiene education and low technology alternatives necessary for them to build upon their cultural strengths, and develop healthier, self-sustaining lives. Donate On Line
Make your tax-deductible donation to Rainforest Flow today through our online associate Network For Good. 97% of your donation goes to Rainforest Flow. (Your receipt will read Network for Good) Rainforest Flow is an initiative of House of the Children, a 501 (c ) (3) non-profit organization.
Please make your check payable to House of the Children and mail to: House of the Children
7336 Santa Monica Blvd. #664
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Said It Before, I'll Say It Again

For What It's Worth Department:

I posted this comment (pending moderation) on the blog IZZOIZ after another rather boorish post about the Catholic Church and Cardinal Bergoglio/Francis I, criticizing his supposed support of LGBT Civil Unions in Argentina when faced with the likely passage of same-gender marriage there.

So, I guess it's OK for Barack Obama and the Clintons to evolve in their views about same-gender marriage, but not so much for someone "Catholic" like Bergoglio.  Your coverage of anything Catholic seems like just another opportunity for you to express hatred rather than give any in-depth information.

Look, I have been a vocal critic of the Catholic Church, especially while it was under the influence of Ratzinger (read my blog).  But I think there is a way to present a story or to editorialize, that is honest, even brutally honest, but still maintains some semblance of intellectual maturity. 

Compare your headline with that of the - yours is clearly biased as is your snide editorial comment.

Like I said, we all know there is much to criticize about the Catholic Church, but just making the same old pernicious comments over and over does not add anything intellectual to the discussion.

I, and maybe other readers, would be more inclined to take you seriously if your hatred didn't come across as your main point.  It goes well beyond righteous indignation or anger; by painting with a broad brush of name-calling your blog entries on the subject are often both offensive and entirely laughable.

Grow up.

As there are plenty of blogs out there that are reporting on LGBT news, I am removing IZZOIZ from my reading list;  I am considering doing the same for another blog, however that blog is better written and more insightful, except when it come to "Catholic" issues, so I will put that decision on hold.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Case of Bernard Baran

I remember reading about Bernard Baran years ago.  He was wrongly accused of molestation while working as a teacher's aide back in the '80s mainly because parents learned that he was gay and stories were fabricated to "get" him.  He spent 21 years in prison.

Juxtapose this case against that of the man claiming "homosexual panic" and self-defense in the alleged murder of  Marco McMillian, a mayoral candidate in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a state without a hate crimes law.  This guy may actually get no jail time if the jury is sympathetic to his alleged victimization (he claims McMillian was coming on to him sexually) by a gay man.

In both cases the gay man is assumed guilty of a crime.  The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Encouraging Signs of Change

A Very Different View of the Vatican
I have been reading some of the Catholic blogs and it seems that the ultra-conservative faction of the Catholic Church is frantically praying and carrying on as if the Church has been handed over to the devil himself.  I can only take this as a good sign.  And I think a lot of ultra conservative Catholics and politicians alike are going to be in for a rude awakening.  I want to ask, "How does it feel?"

And I think that the election of Francis by the college of Cardinals says a few things that I haven't heard a lot of discussion about.

I think that the majority of Cardinals, including Jorge Maria Bergoglio, before he became Pope, were towing the party line - and by that I mean the party line as defined by Joseph Ratzinger under JPII and as Benedict - and they did not necessarily agree with what the Party was preaching.  These men, unwilling to rock the boat for fear of being thrown overboard, did not always say aloud what they thought in private.  Now this Francis is shaking things up.  I could see him having tea, some time soon, with the Dalai Lama.

And, perhaps most significant, was Pope Francis' statement to the press corp who had assembled for an audience/press conference.  "I told you I wholeheartedly imparted my blessing. Many of you don't belong to the Catholic Church, others are not believers. From my heart I impart this blessing, in silence, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each one, but knowing that each of you is a child of God: May God bless you." 

I am going out on a limb of hope here: The phrase "respecting the conscience of each one" will hopefully prove to be significant.

The National Catholic Reporter has a good article about the power of symbols in Catholic culture.  And this new Pope has been using symbolic gestures since the moment he was elected.  Most importantly, the symbols he's using are pastoral rather than regal, inclusive rather than exclusive, communal rather than hierarchical.

There was even a report (in Gay Mystic by RJ Cameron) that, according to Leonardo Boff, a Liberation Theologian,  as Archbishop he, (Bergoglio), approved an adoption of a child by a gay couple in Argentina.  (unconfirmed so far) Cameron says:

Boff also says that, even though in many aspects - as those referring to contraceptives, celibacy, and homosexuality - Bergoglio followed a conservative line, as a cardinal, that was due solely to pressure from the Vatican, and maintains that there are elements that indicate that the new pope is much more liberal than that.

I have said, "wait and see".  I'm thinking now that the wait may not be that long.

Oh, but they offed John Paul I only 33 days after he became Pope in 1978.  I hope someone has Pope Francis' back.

And let's not forget Benedict is still lurking in the wings.  What if Benny has second thoughts once Francis starts undoing all of his nazi nasty little rules and regulations.  And then there will be a battle of the Popes.

That is way too Armageddon to even think about.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Few Words on Pope Francisco and the Bloggers

Church of St Francis, Assisi, Italy
Many of the gay blogs are all aflutter - most finding and re-blogging all the negative stuff about the new Pope Francisco.  How he is a gay hater and fought against marriage equality in Argentina, etc. etc.  Like they are shocked or surprised or disappointed or, more truthfully, enjoying the opportunity to bask in their self-righteous condemnations.

Yeah, Jorge has a history.  And, based on that history, he is not likely to become a friend to the LGBT communities of the US or Argentina or Europe or anywhere else, anytime soon.

But he also has a history of service to the poorest of the poor and a prayerful humility that is fertile ground for seeds of change.  Perhaps those seeds will sprout and grow this time around.

While I question Pope Francis' sexual and theological orthodoxy, I recognize that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a very different sort of man than was Joseph Ratzinger.  And that Pope Francisco will be a very different Pope than Benedict.

Today, a little over a day since this Pope was elected, I think it is premature to assume that the man in the white cassock is going to act exactly like the man who wore the red one on Tuesday.

While I am not optimistic about any forward movement of the Catholic Church in its stance toward gay, Lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, neither am I entirely pessimistic about the new Pope.

My gut feeling says, wait.

Friday, March 8, 2013

No, No, Not Again!

So living in New England means fantasizing about more significant climate change...last March we were at the beach in Provincetown on March 21, enjoying near 80 degree sunshine...can hope for anything even close this Spring Equinox?

This is what we woke up to this morning.  The forecasters said 3-6 inches.  By the time it ended at noon, it was closer to a foot.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Sad, Sad, Church

It pains me to see the Catholic Church in bed with the likes of NOM.  (See below) The utter hypocrisy of a couple of arch/bishops (Rhoades and Cordileone) sending out a letter to Catholic bishops all over the United States urging support of an up coming NOM demonstration while Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien said in a statement regarding accusations and admission to those accusations of his sexual activities with priests:

(Italics mine) "Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them. (in other words to lie until the truth was just too obvious) However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards (I'd like to know exactly how low those standards are because I thought the Church requires the clergy to be celibate) expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

"To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness," (how magnanimous, now that he's been exposed - obviously he didn't apologize during the many years before the story broke) wrote O'Brien. "To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise." (I'm touched)
"I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. (lucky him, and I'm sure he will want for nothing, including...) I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland."

Photo Source - Internet
Used without attribution
On to the local bullies who prepared this letter to the US Bishops:

Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage

3211 FOURTH STREET NE • WASHINGTON DC 20017-1194 • 202-541-3040 • FAX 202-541-3176

February 25, 2013

Your Eminence/Your Excellency:

As you may be aware, several organizations have come together to sponsor a March for Marriage which is scheduled to be held on March 26, 2013 in Washington, D.C. This event is being planned strategically for the first day when the U. S. Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on the cases that could determine the future of marriage, as the union of one man and one woman, in our nation.

We are grateful for this opportunity to express support for the Marriage March and to encourage participation in this event. We realize that the march will occur during the solemn days of Holy Week, but we ask that you consider promoting this event in your diocese and parishes and encourage participation where possible.

The march will be a significant opportunity to promote and defend marriage and the good of our nation, to pray for our Supreme Court justices, and to stand in solidarity with people of good will. It also complements well the bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty that was approved last November ( This is a decisive time for marriage in our country. We are deeply grateful for any support you can offer for this march.

The websites promoting this event are available at and As we understand, more detailed information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, and updates will be posted on the websites. The Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth will be promoting this event through the website and social media.

With profound appreciation for all you do in support of marriage and family life, and with our assurance of prayers in this holy season of Lent, we remain

Fraternally in Christ,

Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend Chairman, Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone Archbishop of San Francisco Chairman, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage

These guys need to take a good look in the mirror and start being honest with themselves.  Besides, Benedict is GONE, so who are they trying to impress?


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