Faces of bigotry.

OceanCountyFreeholders.jpg OK, here we go: this is just one of the stomach churning stories I alluded to at the start of the last post. Terrance has the full story and links here and here. Briefly: Laurel Hester and her partner of six years, Stacie Andree, registered as domestic partners a year ago, when Hester was diagnosed with lung cancer. Hester now has months to live, and New Jersey law has a loophole of sorts that allows the five assholes pictured above, the Ocean County freeholders board, to decide whether Andree will get Hester’s pension when she dies (it will mean the difference between keeping or losing the house they bought together). The board has said no. You can send them email; keep in mind that these scumbags have all the power here, since there’s no way to change the law before Hester dies, so forgo the satisfaction of a vicious rant and try to get them to do the right thing. Here’s what I sent:

Sirs —
I write to ask you to do the decent thing in respect of Lt Laurel Hester. She has earned that pension, and the right to say to whom it will pass when she dies, with almost a quarter of a century in service to her community. It is simply unjust to deny her that right.
The world is watching. Please show them that American justice has compassion at its core. Please do the right, the fair, the just, the American thing — and grant Lt Hester’s request.

Before I could write that, I had to get this out of my system:

You maggots. You self-righteous, self-satisfied, evil fucking bastards.
Laurel Hester worked her whole life in public service; she’s earned that pension and the right to say to whom it will pass on her death, and you have no right to deny her that. You happen to have the opportunity — the law has made an error, and handed you the opportunity to hurt someone — and you’re falling all over yourselves in your rush to take it.
You contemptible excuses for human beings. If there is a God of eternal torture, as the good Christians tell me, be assured that He is setting aside coals and pincers for you even as you read this.

The spousal unit tells me that Hester may be able to sidestep this whole thing by granting Andree power of attorney. I have the feeling that there’s a reason that won’t work, or they’d have simply done it and avoided the fuss. Any lawyers reading this? I didn’t explain it properly — spousal unit didn’t realise it was an inheritance issue, for which power of attorney is no use.

God hates shrimp1

Fred Phelps is scum, and being barking mad is no excuse. The asshole who picketed Matthew Shepard’s funeral now exults in the deaths of US service personnel in Iraq, claiming that it is God’s revenge on the US for an attack on Phelps’ church and for, I dunno, having not yet rounded up and shot all the icky gays:

Thank God for IEDs killing American soldiers in strange lands every day.
WBC rejoices every time the Lord God in His vengeance kills or maims an American soldier with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked” (Ps. 58:10).
This nation bombed and raided the Westboro Baptist Church, and now the Holy God that Inhabits Eternity is repaying those heinous acts with His retaliatory wrath; “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).
To most effectively cause America to know her abominations 2 (Ez. 16:2), WBC will picket the funerals of these Godless, fag army American soldiers when their pieces return home. WBC will also picket their landing spot, in Dover, Delaware early and often.

These miserable excuses for human beings picketed the funerals of Sgts Bryan Opskar and Christopher Taylor, and plan to picket (inter, no doubt, alia) the funeral of Sgt Jason T Palmerton.
There is an up side, though, the brainchild of one Keith Orr, proprietor of the Aut Bar in Ann Arbor, MI. Phelps picketed the bar in February 2001 as part of a protest against the University of Michigan

do this one small thing

Via T of The Republic of T, John at AMERICAblog provides a glimpse into the slimy shriveled heart of the anti-gay (marriage) movement (more here, here, here and here, and also coverage at the Blue Lemur). The Washington Post on Friday published a magazine ad supplement put together by “Grace Christian Church”; a viler and more despicable piece of homophobic race-baiting you will be hard pressed to find. John has pdfs linked from this post and a zip file hosted by RawStory is here. Read it; you’ll be astonished.
Please take a moment to write to the WaPo ombudsman, Mike Getler; what follows is the letter I sent.

Dear Mr Getler,
I am writing to express my anger and astonishment over the magazine ad supplement “Both Sides Magazine” published by the Washington Post on Friday 11/19/2004. The advertisement is a hateful screed aimed at inciting anti-gay prejudice in the African American community. It relies heavily on unsupported and bigoted opinions presented as facts, on the nonsense masquerading as science peddled by discredited quack Paul Cameron and on deliberate misinterpretation of Martin Luther King Jr’s message of hope and justice for all. (An informative look at what MLK actually might have had to say about gay rights, courtesy of his widow Coretta Scott King, can be seen here.)
Gay marriage is clearly a contentious issue in America today, and if reasonable people are to disagree in a constructive manner it is vital that respectable publications should not lend their circulations, to say nothing of their tacit approval, to organisations determined to sow hatred and division by means of deception. If the Post would not — and I am confident that it would not — accept a paid advertisement from, say, the KKK claiming that Blacks are inferior to whites, why then did it run a paid attack on gays?
I am anxious to hear how the Post will deal with this issue.
Sincerely, etc.

Update 041123: The Post’s response is to shrug and say, “but it was an ad”. John’s not happy and neither am I. Letter number two:

Dear Mr Getler:
If I understand it correctly, your response to my — and many others’ — anger over the “BothSides Magazine” issue is to absolve the Post of responsibility on the grounds that they were paid to run that vile piece of race-baiting pseudoscientific hatemongering. I look forward, inter alia, to the Holocaust revisionism, eugenics and white supremacy “advertisements” that will certainly be run in a newspaper which has made clear and public its policy that all money is good money. I do not believe it is any exaggeration to compare such ideologies to a publication which relies on the hateful and discredited sophistries of professional homophobe Paul Cameron and blatantly targets Blacks in an attempt to drive a wedge between two minority groups. Having accepted “Both Sides Magazine”, I do not see how the Post can turn down David Duke or David Irving.
I’m sure you know what happens, Mr Getler, when one lies down with dogs.
Sincerely, etc.

speak out

A Senate vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment is expected in early July, and the Human Rights Campaign is providing a quick, easy way for you (that is, US residents) to contact your representative(s) on this issue.
This is the letter I sent (the first paragraph is part of the form):

As your constituent, I urge you to oppose any amendment that would write discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans into the Constitution.
The FMA is an attempt to lend to naked bigotry the force of law. It is wrong, and vile, and I write to assure you that extraordinary circumstances will be required before I will support in any way any public figure who does not oppose it. I seldom make this statement in contacting my political representatives, as I am a meliorist by nature and experience and do not believe in delivering ultimata, or burning bridges. This is a time for exceptions, though, and I am making one. I would greatly appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

Seriously, it takes all of five minutes to send a letter; if you can do this and you don’t, I hope your asshole catches fire. Via Republic of T.

you are all so beautiful

wedding portrait by Todd Brownwedding portrait by Todd Brown

Remember Todd, of free wedding portrait fame? Well, the pics are ready. When he talks about “fixing” some of the artefacts produced by his antique camera, I think “feature, not bug” — see for yourself in the two shots I swiped (note: those are about three-fold smaller than the negatives; the prints will be gorgeous at any size). Go see the rest, and remember Todd when you need some photography done.

write to the attorney general

(via b!X) Governor Ted Kulongoski has asked the State Attorney General Hardy Myers for an opinion on the legality of same sex marriage in Oregon. Myers has released a list of the questions on which he will focus and provided a comment form through which residents can provide feedback. My letter to the Attorney General is below.
Update: today’s Oregonian reports that Myers will not finalize his opinion until tomorrow at the earliest — so get writing!
Dear Attorney General Myers:
thank you for this opportunity to comment on such a vital issue. I am not a lawyer, and so cannot speak to the legal complexities before you. At the bottom of all of the argument over same sex marriage, however, lies what I believe to be a simple question: do we want America to be a country in which gays and lesbians are officially second class citizens?
For that is exactly what we will be accepting, if we deny gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry. Civil unions and domestic partnership registries and all the other “separate but equal” paraphernalia are merely another way of saying “these people are different in the eyes of the law”. Even if civil unions offered the exact same privileges and immunities as marriage — which they do not — such provisions amount to nothing short of apartheid. Forcing same-sex couples to formalize their commitment by a separate process will no more constitute equal treatment than separate schools constituted equal treatment for African-Americans in the middle of the last century.
I have heard, as I am sure you have, a great many arguments against same sex marriage. Many of these are identical to arguments that were put forth against racial integration or inter-racial marriage, and the most honest of them amount to no more than reflexive rejection of change; many are a thin disguise for prejudice.
Marriage is what society decides it is; the institution has a history of change, after all, since women are no longer chattels and inter-racial marriage is commonplace. Children do not define marriage — for instance, my wife and I have, and will have, no children. In any case, several decades’ worth of research has found no inkling of a reason why gay couples should not adopt (see, for example, the references listed below). There is no theological barrier to same sex marriage, because no scripture gives a definitive answer and for every clerical opponent of gay marriage there is another, often of the same denomination, who has performed such marriages him- or herself. The much-bruited idea that same sex marriage will somehow make heterosexual marriage “less meaningful” is simply ridiculous. No marriage, be the couple gay or heterosexual, has any means of impact on the value or quality of any other marriage. As for the institution, I dare say it will only benefit from an influx of many thousands of couples and families eager to join, celebrate and consecrate it.
I write, then, to ask you to keep justice foremost in your thoughts as you wrestle with the law. As it was in earlier civil rights debates, so it is now the role of the courts to see clearly which way lies justice, and to light that way for the people they serve.
References on children in gay families:
from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 2 February 2002, pp. 339-340 (link)
PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 2 February 2002, pp. 341-344 (link)
Anderssen, N et al. Outcomes for children with lesbian or gay parents. A review of studies from 1978 to 2000. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology Volume 43 Issue 4 Page 335 September 2002 (link)
Allen M, Burrell N. Comparing the impact of homosexual and heterosexual parents on children: meta-analysis of existing research. J Homosex. 1996; vol 32 number 2 pp. 19-35 (link)
Patterson CJ. Children of lesbian and gay parents. Child Dev. 1992 vol 63 number 5 pp. 1025-42.
Hunfeld JA, et al. Child development and quality of parenting in lesbian families: no psychosocial indications for a-priori withholding of infertility treatment. A systematic review. Hum Reprod Update. 2002 vol 8 number 6 pp. 579-90.

apocalypse when?

Mark Morford wants to know what to do with all those tubs of margarine if the promised gay apocalypse doesn’t come:

I have been waiting patiently.
I have been staring with great anticipation out the window of my flat here in the heart of San Francisco, sighing heavily, waiting for the riots and the plagues and the screaming monkeys and the blistering rain of inescapable hellfire. I have my camera all ready and everything.
There has been nothing.

Really, go read it. And then subscribe to the Morning Fix. Mistah Morford, he funny.


Pictures from yesterday’s marriage-license-fest are available here. They have not been adjusted much, so considerable sharpening and colour/contrast correction is possible on some of them.
A few quick favourites, processed a little more carefully:
umbrellaguys.jpg feathergals.jpg

dots.jpg family.jpg

signs.JPG todd.jpg

That last is a plug, by the way: if you want any photography done, Todd Brown (on the left) is your man.

where’s my damn pictures?

Coming! I plan to upload thumbnails and medium sized files this evening.
What’s this all about? Spousal unit and I took half of yesterday off work and pestered couples for pictures as they lined up to get marriage licenses as per the last entry. We did this because pictures are important: they put a human face on the issue, and seem to be making a positive difference to public attitudes. If I took your picture yesterday, it will be here sometime tonight, and you can email me for a high-res copy any time. (We also made a couple of coffee runs, and with a little luck the spousal unit’s phone calls will have resulted in a more organised coffee service for the crowd today.)
In the meantime, worldwide pablo is collecting links to blogs with pictures of Portland’s gay marriages. So far blue hole and strangechord/smugmug have stepped up, and the former also links to picture posts by zoe trope. Elsewhere, lizbet has rounded up local reaction and other news, and b!X has more good coverage.
Finally, I want to apologise to Portland mayor Vera Katz for my earlier comment in light of her eloquent statement on gay marriage.
Update: spousal unit reports that D-Dish is indeed providing coffee and pastries, and links to more pics.

yes! yes! yes! yes! yes!

Today’s Oregonian headline: County will license gay nuptials. County counsel Agnes Sowle provided county commissioners Lisa Naito and Serena Cruz with a written opinion that Multnomah Co’s legal definition of marriage “.. does not state specifically that the contract may only be entered into between partners of the opposite sex”, and that “refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples denies them the privileges and immunities granted to heterosexual couples”, the latter being exactly the violation of the state constitution that I posited earlier. Via the spousal unit, b!X has more news and background.
Update: because appearances matter, and soundbites pass for journalism: go here and vote (link to the poll is to the right of the wedding photo, towards the top left of the page).