Go here to join the Facebook alliance to deliver a million cans of food; it'll feel great and be more filling than some dumb teabag affair...
Really! It will!
I'll be in Lincoln, NE that day and talking to folks about it. Here's a vid I made 2 years ago about exactly what it is that hunger is, and what foodbanks do.
Last year, I was unemployed at tis time, and you know what? If I had not gotten my current job as I did in last Septemeber, I would have lost my house, and been looking here for food.
Just saying; it can happen to you. By being involved and caring, it's probably true that you can avoid such a position.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
In the past I related this story.
It was really quite formative of my youth, and now here's the next truly formative age, fast forwarding in time to 1980.
I came out 30 years ago. Bit by bit, piece by piece, social segment by social segment, and my family last. I never realized till much later, and still think to this day, that "coming out" is a process, rather than an event. And so, from the beginning, my process unrolled, and continues to do so.
From the pot-smoke filled '71 Mustang where I told my best friend the first time in '79, until I told my mother in '80, there were layers. And ever since then too. Experimentation of HOW to just get the words out were a big deal to me (still is.)
We're talking about 1979 and 1980 after all. In backwards Phoenix AZ to nail the place as well as time. It was so different there, then. Violence was really an issue for me. It was so prevalent. [The story of the scar on my ass while I was getting mugged doesn't happen till '84, and is a different post.]
After the fits and starts, I began to get the hang of the words, and how to come out. Surprisingly quickly, but surprisingly devastatingly.
You'll never believe this, but my school was actually the easiest entity to come out in. A boys only Jesuit High School.
Reading that sentence above, I realize I'm going to give a lot of people the wrong impression. It was no homo playground. That school was so right wing and jock oriented, it was tough to be myself. But it was also such a world, where intelligence, acumen and loyalty totally counted, that I had some amazing experiences, particularly when I was homeless.
That's right; homeless, which really wasn't a word at the time, or at least didn't have the same cachet or meaning of circumstances.You see, to come out as publicly gay was "simply not suitable, this is disgraceful" thus, I could not be allowed in the home. Away with you!
Which was perfectly fine with me then. At that minute that I handed my mother the key to our house, and turned away, I knew the life I had expected was gone, and whatever was going to happen was not what I had expected previously. At that point I was 17 years old by less then a months worth of days.
Dominique Starr was still in my future by about 6 weeks.
What I did during those earliest days, was make deals with some of the guys at school. Two in particular. Let me store my suitcase in your trunk, and sleep in your car. I'll do your homework. Worked for about two weeks, as I'd shower at school, and keep that whole suitcase thing to a minimum. The clothes situation I handled by sneaking into the locker room, and doing my clothes in the school's laundry. So far, so good.
Busted! About 3 weeks into this, I'm innocently going to my goddamn LATIN class, first class of the day, and get hauled into the Principle's Office.
He was a prick to begin with. SOP - Standard Operating Procedure. Then -
Mike: How are things going?
Mike: No, I mean how are things going with you living with your dad?
Mike: Your Mom tells us you're not living with her.
Mike: Your Dad lives in San Diego, right?
Mike: Then where are you living exactly?
Me: [hackles rise] What do you care? I'm coming to class every day.
Mike: This is what we find amazing.
Mike: Because in normal circumstances, you'd be long gone. You wouldn't be here. Most kids run away and don't go to school. You've run away, and you still show up. What's the deal?
Honest to God, right then I lit a cigarette in his office; right then and there.
Me: Mike I didn't run away, I was thrown out.
Mike: Put out that cigarette.
Me: Sorry, nope.
Mike: Don't call me Mike, It's Father _____, and put out that smoke. [Fr. Mike was smoking BTW. Those were the days at that time.]
Me: No. You can throw me out, but since I'm responsible for myself, res ipsa loquitur. [The thing speaks for itself. I actually really said that. The Jesuit took notice, and hard.]
Mike: [pushes himself back from his desk] What are you saying?
Me: I am responsible for myself. [I blew a cloud of smoke out at then. The irrepressible hippy/punk kid.]
Mike: So you're not living with your mother?
Me: No I'm not.
Mike: You're not living with your father?
Me: No I'm not.
Mike: Where are you living?
Me: However I can.
Mike: [the ever keen Jesuit] you said however. I asked where are you living?
Me: I told you. However I can.
Good ol' Mike spun his chair around, where he didn't have to observe the next exchange.
Mike: We're prepared to make a deal with you.
Me: About what?
Me: [trepidatiously] OK
Mike: Yeah, your mom, well, you, if I read your thoughts correctly, owe the school about $10,000.
Me: No no no. She sued my dad for tuition, and won. You should have been paid. I only owe for today forward.
Mike: Sadly, that's not the case. There's nothing paid on your account beyond the first enrollment of your freshman year.
Dear reader, you cannot imagine my fury, angst or impotence that I felt at that very moment, as those feelings were fused, all together at a single point in time. My parents used me as a pawn between each other, threw me out the house, AND dumped the whole Jebbie School debt on me simultaneously. Freaks, really. That's all changed but only in degree, not in substance. And I fell sorry for both the parents, but in different ways, which is for another telling.
It didn't dawn on me for years that this selfsame Jesuit asshole who was basically CEO of a mini prep college was badgering a homeless kid for thousands of dollars. I bought into his meme for a while - and cut a deal. That's what you do with the Republicans In Charge, right?
I got to stay homeless and agree to thousands in debt with these fabulous Christians.
Needless to say, it totally got around the grapevine what my situation really was, and the kids who were in-the-know and at all sympathetic dried up, as their parents really couldn't have "such a situation." It was really socially unacceptable. My life was really unacceptable at that point. Until I met;
Dominique was a transsexual and performing at several bars around town, the seedy ones you know. Including one in the neighborhood of 3rd and Roosevelt [back in the day] where she busted me blowing some dude for cash.
Her fury was legendary, the dude was instantly disappeared, and I was esconced on her couch in her apartment immediately. Dominique Starr was a Saint to me.
You cannot, dear reader, imagine the relief that Dominique provided me. Street knowledge alone kept me from being killed. Aside from that, she was a real Pridester (as I call it now.) She was FIERCE! and Proud and simply couldn't accept what had happened to her, happening to anybody else. I hung onto her for advice all through the early and mid 1980's when we had the MLK marches happening in Phoenix too. She was fantastic and unsung and passed away from AIDS in '85.
Dominique was a shrewd character; she only co-signed for my apartment when I had ponied up 6 months worth of rent for the 6 month lease I signed in 1980. (Don't ask how I put the money away.)
I was devoted to her; how could I not be?
So aside from the whole DOMA/DADT bullshit going on lately, I simply can't countenance any ENDA legislation that does not include the "T's".
I only understand help and freedom from where I got it, and I ain't abandoning that source. What Dominique did for me mattered; what I do in her memory matters too.
No more kids rooting around in garbage cans and alleys or blowing tricks for a living. They're human and this nightmare has to stop.
And just let me tell you this, whether you like it or not; you have seen one of these kids. You have passed by them in some McDonalds or Taco Bell as you go through your life. Someplace like that. You just haven't seen them in their seedy reality, unless, you actually have. And if you have;
Are you Dominique Starr? Can you help one of these kids?
Do it. I find for myself I simply must do something that helps.
Friday, June 12, 2009
The Obama administration, in the persons of the DOJ's Tony West, James Gilligan and W. Scott Simpson gave eight legal reasons in the form of a Motion to Dismiss Smelt/Hammer v. United States of America why gay people are separate and unequal. A summary list of those reasons:
1 - Court Lacked Jurisdiction
2 - Plaintiff's Claim Lacks Standing
3 - DOMA is a Valid Exercise of Congress' Power under the Full Faith & Credit Clause
4 - DOMA Cannot Be Said to Violate an "Asserted Right to Travel"
5 - DOMA is Consistent with Equal Protection and Due Process Principles
6 - DOMA Does Not Violate the Right to Privacy
7 - DOMA Cannot Be Said to Infringe on any Rights of Speech
8 - DOMA Cannot Be Said to Infringe on any "Right" under the 9th Amendment
Reasons 1 and 2 are techno-legal, and can be dismissed as regards the separate and unequal discussion that follows. These same technical reasons could have been enough for the Obama DOJ to weigh in on the Constitutional basis that the President is required to do if s/he feels that the case at issue IS Constitutional. If the case is deemed un-constitutional, the President is free to not defend the damn law.
The Department of Justice may also notify Congress of a refusal to defend an impugned statute without appearing in court for either side. As recently as 2005, the Department of Justice notified congress that it would not defend a law prohibiting the display of marijuana policy reform ads in public transit systems. ACLU et al., v. Norman Y. Mineta (civil action no. 04-0262).Since PresBO's DOJ wieghed in, points 1 & 2 alone would have sufficed if the Administration meant it's campaign claims, namely that DOMA was "abhorrent" and should be repealed, yet felt on technical bases that the case lacke merit or standing.
And yes, repeal means a legislative process. But the Administration has not sponsored or introduced their own legislation. But they did offer the remaining six reasons why I am separate and unequal along with other gay people. Frankly, this leads me to the belief that the campaign promise was empty, hollow, as actions are louder than words as we all know.
Let's have a look at the interesting points and most egregious claims in this Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Lawrence Tribe, Harvard Law Professor who hired Obama as a research assistant in Obama's first year law:
"I certainly agree (a) that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, at least as applied to couples like those who are currently challenging it in federal court here in Massachusetts.... I'm not at all reluctant to have it known that I think the equality component of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause forbids the federal government to deny same-sex spouses benefits identical to those that it would grant to opposite-sex spouses when the spouses are "married" under the law of their state -- that is, when the spouses were married and reside in states where the law forbids a distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex marriage and rejects the DOMA definition of 'marriage.'"From DOMAFlipFlop:
Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is Clearly Unconstitutional
Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7 states, ““In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word „marriage‟ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word „spouse‟ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
Because of this interpretation guideline, same-sex couples legally married in their state are denied economic benefits granted to heterosexual couples legally married in the same state. These include spousal health insurance for state employees, federal income tax deductions for those “married filing jointly,” and the one-time lump-sum death benefit granted to a spouse under the Social Security program claim. Gill et al. v. OPM et al. v. U.S., No. 12-345 ¶ 6-8 (D. Mass. filed Mar. 3, 2009).
The denial of these benefits to legally married couples has no rational basis. The denial of marriage-based benefits to same-sex couples has been found to violate constitutional equal protection guarantees by a number of State Supreme Courts. Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, 957 A.2d 407 (Conn.,2008.), In re Marriage Cases 43 Cal.4th 757 (2008), Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 440 Mass. 309 (2003), Varnum v. Brien, WL 874044 (Iowa 2009). The challenge to DOMA 1 U.S.C. § 7 does not argue that same-sex marriage is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. It does not, in fact, address the question of same-sex marriage at all. Instead, DOMA 1 U.S.C. § 7 denies benefits to same-sex couples already legally married in their home state where the equality question has already been argued in front of the courts and settled.
The President reserves the right to refuse to defend an unconstitutional statute. Section 3 of the DOMA is clearly unconstitutional in that it denies married same-sex couples economic benefits granted to heterosexual married couples from the same state without providing a rational basis for this discrimination.
We ask that President Obama and Attorney General Holder refuse to defend DOMA in the upcoming challenge filed in the State of Massachusetts, Gill et al. v. OPM et al. v. U.S.
Yes, you'll notice that's the Gill case, not Smelt/Hammer. But it's the same difference in Presidential perogative as regards USA standing. Larry Tribe and the FlipFlop folks viewpoints are prior to the filing of this MPA (Memorandum of Points and Authorities) under discussion.
On to the egregious. Reason 5 (C) DOMA is Consistent with Equal Protection and Due Process Principles; DOMA Does Not Rest on Any Suspect Classification. The twisting of the Loving decision from the DOJ motion:
Loving v. Virginia is not to the contrary. There the Supreme Court rejected a contention that the assertedly "equal application" of a statute prohibiting interracial marriage immunized the statute from strict scrutiny. 388 U.S. 1, 8, 87 S.Ct. 1817, 18 L.Ed.2d 1010 (1967). The Court had little difficulty concluding that the statute, which applied only to "interracial marriages involving white persons," was "designed to maintain White Supremacy" and therefore unconstitutional. Id. at 11. No comparable purpose is present here, however, for DOMA does not seek in any way to advance the "supremacy" of men over women, or of women over men. Thus DOMA cannot be "traced to a . . . purpose" to discriminate against either men or women.Speechless. The issue is about orientation, not gender, which is superfluous, as we're talking about SAME SEX COUPLES. But that's the rub with this argument; same sex oriented people clearly do not have the same rights as opposite-sex oriented people, hence the term "Unequal" in my post headline.
Since the claim by Hammer/Smelt brought up the Ninth Amendment, the same rude treatment was given by the Obama DOJ as they too brought up Griswold and twisted it just as they did Loving. Reason 6: DOMA Does Not Violate the Right to Privacy
Plaintiffs also assert that DOMA constitutes "an undue invasion of the Right of Privacy,"citing Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 85 S. Ct. 1678, 14 L.Ed.2d 510 (1965). See Complaint ¶¶ 17, 27, 28. This claim must fail, first, because the Supreme Court has rejected a "right to privacy" claim in relation to same-sex marriage. One of the arguments made in Baker v. Nelson, referred to above, was that Minnesota's refusal to permit same-sex marriage constituted "an unwarranted invasion of . . . privacy" in violation of the Constitution. See Jurisdictional Statement, Baker v. Nelson, No. 71-1027, at 18 (Attachment 2 hereto). In dismissing the appeal in Baker "for want of Case 8:09-cv-00286-DOC-MLG Document 25 Filed 06/11/2009 Page 47 of 54 a substantial federal question," the Supreme Court necessarily addressed the merits of that claim, and rejected it. 409 U.S. 810 (1972) (Mem); see Hicks v. Miranda, 422 U.S. at 343-44.So you see, according to the Obama DOJ, rights of marriage equality for gays are neither fundamental, nor do they rise to the level of the "concept of ordered liberty." [And btw, just be on the alert about Griswold and the Ninth Amendment as regards women's reproductive rights with this Administration, as Griswold and the Ninth are part and parcel of Roe v. Wade.]
Even if Baker were not dispositive in this regard, this Court should reject plaintiffs' right to privacy claim. The Supreme Court has described the contours of this right as follows:The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however . . . the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution. . . These decisions make it clear that only personal rights that can be deemed "fundamental" or "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," are included in this guarantee of personal privacy.
I'm not buying into what others around the blogosphere are saying about the incest and pederasty angles that are being read into this MPA, as I think that's overly reaching compared to the civil libertarian material I've pointed out so far, which I believe is enough to oppose the Administration.
Which brings me to the next part; how to oppose a popular President and not support the Right?
In this case, I propose that neither Obama, the DNC, DLC, Democrats of any stripe get one nickel until they do a 180 on this issue. Additionally, I think a tactic from the AIDS activists of the '80s is due for revival:
It's FUN! Stamp your cash in pink, red, hell just write on it in pen GAY MONEY and watch how the bills flood the circulation. Hell, just screwing around with money to send messages is kind of a neat way to protest at all.
But to end, that's the first peaceful method of protest I can think of at this moment as I am just simply mad at this turnabout from the campaign rhetoric. I'm sure to think of others, and I bet you will to.
Thank you for reading.
Out, Proud, and Not Asking For Rights - Simply Demanding and Living Them -
[cross posted at Firedoglake and the Unruly Mob]
TAGS: Gay Marriage, Obama, More Broken Promises, Anniversary of the Loving Decision, Irony
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Hey there blogosphere - been a while. Cooking up something new. Meanwhile, the Van Cliburn finalists can be found here.
PS, My money is on Di Wu. She's teh awesome as far as the Record Company types are concerned. But really, Bozhanov, Vacatello and Tsujii are totally world class.