Separate But Not Equal

I am truly disappointed with the latest ruling from the California Supreme Court. It’s amazing that even the Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, supports gay marriage and yet it got struck down. What I find so fascinating is that in the weeks leading up to this decision there are quite a few states that have begun to allow same-sex marriages. In fact, New England has been trying to become the first “region” to allow same-sex marriages everywhere. It appears that they seem to think of it a bit like a challenge of who can be the most open-minded though I’m not sure the rest of the country got that memo.

And the idea has been raised that there were 3 states that have either passed legislation or court decisions that allow same-sex marriages or have submitted legislation that is very likely to pass may raise the question, “What if the religious right doesn’t have so much power?” It’s an interesting position but I’m not sure I believe it completely. This article at slate really made me consider this seriously and I think it would have held more ground had it not been for the fact that the California Supreme Court sided in favor of Proposition 8.

Also, why is it that this is such a new concept? I mean ok, I’ll admit that transsexuals are not the most commonly discussed topic but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. So what happens when a man marries a woman but then one of the two decide to undergo a sex change and they are still together. Does that mean that their marriage is no longer legal? Or is it legal? Or can they even get divorced at that point? It really raises a lot of very valid questions. This op-ed piece really made me think about it a lot. I’ll admit I hadn’t considered the argument before I read this but I think it’s a very valid one. And surely makes life so much more complicated.

I think the part that I don’t understand the most is how anyone can view this as anything but inequality.

Does Every Country Have To Have A War On Terror?

In my personal opinion the “War on Terror” in the United States was possibly one of the stupidest things I had ever heard of. And now to hear things like that coming out of India. To hear about how the Mumbai bombings were India’s 9/11. Well, frankly, they were not. The circumstances were entirely different and certainly the impetus behind it were not even close to being the same. Surely there are radicals everywhere but a War on Terror and “trying to keep the country safe” by essentially creating hysteria within the people is dumb. I know that may be a bit much to take for some people but let’s face it how much has this “War on Terror” really done for us? We (the US) are successfully in the middle of two miserably failing wars and on the brink of starting something up with Pakistan that I have no doubt will be equally as ineffective if we try that route. These wars have caused the rest of the world to lose almost all their respect for us, if it weren’t for the fact that world has simply become too globally intertwined I do believe most of it would have turned it’s back on the mighty US a long time ago. In the modern world that is not possible so they simply whisper behind our backs about what fools we are.

This brings me to India. Now why on earth would anyone want to follow such a failing model? I recently read a beautiful article by Arundhati Roy on her thoughts about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. It is truly a well thought out and eloquent piece on the complications of naming the Mumbai bombings “India’s 9/11”. And if anyone needs some historical background on the complexities of India it also illuminates many of the reasons why it can never be “India’s 9/11”. It saddens me to think that such a great democracy is leaning towards becoming a police state.

And I find it atrocious that we only seem to be able to blame Muslims for acts of terror. Wake up, world, there are terrorists of every nationality, religion, race, ethnicity, you name it there is probably one out there. The scale may be different in what they have been able to accomplish but they are out there. I do not think any people should be persecuted simply because of their beliefs. Perhaps we should try to understand the context, understand why they are so angry and try to fix the problem diplomatically instead of by creating more war, more terror, more hurt, more pain and more anger. Perhaps creating a little understanding might be a better way than to keep on increasing radical beliefs.

The Importance of California’s Proposition 8

To be honest I hadn’t really been paying too much attention to Proposition 8 in California, I guess I just viewed it as just another one of those votes that irritates me. But after reading this article in the New York Times and as a member of the queer community I feel that it is not just my right but my responsibility to speak out on this matter.

Proposition 8 matters.
It matters because it is an issue about human rights.
Civil liberties.
In fact what it is mostly about is discrimination.

Before you stop reading, hear me out.

This is not about what you believe in as a church. This is not about what your religion dictates. This is about legalities. This proposition is allowing a blending of church and state. It is about denying two people that love each other the right to visit the other one in the hospital should one of them fall ill. It is about not allowing two committed people the right to adopt a child because it would be better to have that child jump through several different dysfunctional foster homes. It is about the legal institution of marriage not the religious one. I don’t care what your religion dictates. Feel free not to have gay marriages at your church, synagogue, mosque, temple or what have you. That is your right in following with your religious beliefs. But a legal marriage license is simply a partnership between two people that affects their taxes, their property, their bank accounts, visitation rights and all other legal matters. What happens outside of the realm of the legal system really is not a concern.

What I find unacceptable is not allowing two committed people who intend to spend the rest of their lives together the right to do so legally. It is perfectly ok to allow Britney Spears to have a 24-hour marriage because she married a man yet gay couples that have spent 10, 20, 30 or any number of years together are denied that right. How is that acceptable to this society? How is it acceptable in a society that touts “liberty and justice for all”? That is not justice.

Also, I find it fascinating that many liberals are suddenly conservative when we talk about gay marriage just because of that one little word marriage. But you know what I’m not willing to budge, when you speak in legalities you apply for a license to get married not to have a civil union. If you want to oppose the term marriage then it must not hold legally for anyone. It is perfectly acceptable if everyone, regardless of whether they are marrying someone of the opposite sex or someone of the same sex, is applying for a license for a civil union. That way it would still be the same rights and the word marriage is no longer in contention. But until that can change the simple fact is that in order to be equal and fair, the equivalent would be to allow gay marriage. Creating new laws to separate the two institutions legally allows for discrimination and therefore is not acceptable, hence the need for gay “marriage”.

In fact this sort of discrimination reeks of the same sort that existed when interracial marriages were not allowed. Is this truly any different?

Again, this is not a matter of religion, it is a matter of legalities. And until we can offer all people equal rights this will be a problem for this country and, in my opinion, for the world.

In the immortal words of Catie Curtis:
Some day we’ll all be free
I can feel it, it’s our destiny
Some day, I believe
Love will make an honest world for me

I hope Californians will choose to keep that refrain true.

Why Not a Muslim President?

This has been a sore point for me about the Obama campaign when the rumors first began that he might be a Muslim. And I have no problem with the fact that he isn’t Muslim and has been a Christian all his life, what upsets me is the fact that he vehemently denies being Muslim instead of questioning why we seem to believe that the President of the United States of America needs to be Christian. If I recall correctly one of main reasons for people migrating from Europe to America was fleeing from religious persecution, which is why we have laws in place that separate Church and State. Surely just because our fearless leader seems to believe that everyone should be a “God fearing Christian” does not mean that holds true with the fundamental belief system of our founding fathers and the laws that this country was built on.

I cannot describe how thrilled I was to hear (well really read because I don’t have time for tv so I just read the interviews online) Colin Powell speak out on this topic. I am glad that one very distinguished political figure has finally spoken up for very blatant discrimination. We all know that this country has problems as does the rest of the world and that discrimination of every kind is out there. But to outright assume that any Muslim person in the country would be loyal to terrorists as opposed to the US is just ignorant. It is choosing to be a bigot instead of actually considering the person’s history and merits and deciding from there where their loyalties lie.
I was also pleased to see that one of my favourite columnists Maureen Dowd actually wrote a piece on this today. What I thought was even better was that it was not her typical sarcastic snarky style that I hold so dear but it was actually something rather thoughtful that brings out the humanity of the situation. Colin Powell did not go into those details in his interview but I think it is important to remember that we have Americans that were born and raised here who happen to be of the Islamic faith. They are Muslim, they are American and they should be allowed to be proud to be both. Isn’t that what makes America unique, being able to believe in something different from your neighbor yet still being an American and still being part of a great nation? I fear that if something so small as your religious beliefs can make it impossible for you to dare to dream of being president we are losing an integral part of what makes America great. I would hope that we can do better.

Evolution in Education

I have always wondered why it is such a shock to have evolution be required in the public school curriculum. I find that most people I know are thoroughly shocked that in my high school (in Texas) it was unimaginable to not have evolution in the curriculum. I truly believe that not learning about evolution is the equivalent of allowing our country’s youth to be uneducated. I mean the public school system has enough flaws in it already, we don’t need to help detract from anyone’s education any more so than we already do. Imagine my shock when I read this article in the Times. To me it is simply mind-boggling to blindly say that evolution is not real when it has clearly been proven over the course of many decades. In fact it is the only theory we have as of yet for how humans came to exist. The universe has gone through many changes and it is just a little ludicrous to believe that *poof* God created humans overnight and well here we are. Does God explain what happened to the dinosaurs? Or all the other historical creatures that we have fossil records for? I just think we should be a little more practical about the whole thing. God and Evolution can exist in the same world. Also, who said you have to “believe” everything you learn at school. I may learn it but I can disagree with it. But to cut it out of the education system altogether is just unimaginable. After reading the article I am glad that it is now required in the Florida schools. You do not have to agree with everything you learn but you choose ignorance when you choose not to learn at all. And that just makes for a country full of ignoramuses and who really wants that? Certainly not me.