Wednesday, September 14, 2005

 

This, that, and a beautiful statement on gay rights

UPDATE! The proposed anti-gay amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution has just been voted down by a resounding 157 to 39. It was a far greater margin than I had thought possible, or that seems to have been expected. Gay marriage, that had been derided as "the work of activist judges" has now been validated by the state legislature.

A few random thoughts:

Driving home last night I was startled to see gas selling at one station in my neighborhood for $2.84. Several stations had come down to, and remain at, $2.99 but fifteen cents lower than that is very good news.

It may be getting ugly in New Orleans with the first criminal charges (negligent homicide) brought against the two owner/managers of a hospital. A large number of aged people were discovered inside--all of them patients--no doctors, no orderlies, no nurses or administrators. It looks as if when the crunch happened, the staffs of at least two hospitals fled and left the aged, infirm and ill to drown. And for those trying to get New Orleans back on its feet again, they have to fight a huge invasion of mold that is consuming parts of buildings and any material it can feed on.

So Bozo finally admitted yesterday that the Federal Government's response was inadequate and a mess, saying that he accepts responsibility and the blame. Finally, the little SOB wasn't smirking on TV. Maybe he actually "gets" the fact that helpless human beings drowned while he was playing yet another game of golf with his rich, uncaring Republican cronies. At the very least, making that statement on national television is the kind of public humiliation I've been hoping for him for a long time.

The vote on an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Massachusetts state Constitution comes up for a vote today if the originally announced schedule holds. On Monday, Boston's WBZ radio described legislative support for the amendment as "collapsing rapidly." Several prominent names in the House and Senate formerly in support of the amendment have announced that they will now vote against it in fairness to gay citizens, or because they believe in universal civil rights or--this one heard very frequently--because the horrors promised by the radical religious right if gay marriage came to the state have not come to pass. The amendment is expected to be defeated handily.


A second amendment that was introduced in expectation of the defeat of the first, is less overtly homophobic but everyone knows what defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman means. If the first proposed amendment is shot down later today, I think the second will have a really hard time passing when its turn comes. But if the second amendment does get passed, it won't go before the voters until the fall of 2008. There will be at the very least three more years of legal gay marriage here and, therefore, three more years for citizens of this state to realize that nothing is harmed by letting two men or two women marry.

Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero

In Spain, the vote in favor of gay marriage was greeted by this beautiful speech delivered by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Its phrasing and literacy point up once again just what a crude clod we have in our White House. Zapatero even quoted two highly regarded gay poets in what is being hailed as “probably the most remarkable speech in favor of full equality for those with same-sex hearts ever delivered by a head of government anywhere."

"We are not legislating, honorable members, for people far away and not known by us. We are enlarging the opportunity for happiness to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and our families: at the same time we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members.

"In the poem 'The Family,' our [gay] poet Luis Cernuda was sorry because, 'How does man live in denial in vain / by giving rules that prohibit and condemn?'

"Today, the Spanish society answers to a group of people who, during many years have, been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, their identity denied, and their liberty oppressed. Today the Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their liberty.

"It is true that they are only a minority, but their triumph is everyone's triumph. It is also the triumph of those who oppose this law, even though they do not know this yet: because it is the triumph of Liberty. Their victory makes all of us (even those who oppose the law) better people, it makes our society better. Honorable members, There is no damage to marriage or to the concept of family in allowing two people of the same sex to get married. To the contrary, what happens is, this class of Spanish citizens get the potential to organize their lives with the rights and privileges of marriage and family. There is no danger to the institution of marriage, but precisely the opposite: this law enhances and respects marriage.

"Today, conscious that some people and institutions are in a profound disagreement with this change in our civil law, I wish to express that, like other reforms to the marriage code that preceded this one, this law will generate no evil, that its only consequence will be the avoiding of senseless suffering of decent human beings. A society that avoids senseless suffering of decent human beings is a better society.

"With the approval of this Bill, our country takes another step in the path of liberty and tolerance that was begun by the democratic change of government. Our children will look at us incredulously if we tell them that many years ago, our mothers had less rights than our fathers, or if we tell them that people had to stay married against their will even though they were unable to share their lives. Today we can offer them a beautiful lesson: every right gained, each access to liberty has been the result of the struggle and sacrifice of many people that deserve our recognition and praise.

"Today we demonstrate with this Bill that societies can better themselves and can cross barriers and create tolerance by putting a stop to the unhappiness and humiliation of some of our citizens. Today, for many of our countrymen, comes the day predicted by [the great Greek gay poet] Kavafi one century ago: 'Later 'twas said of the most perfect society / someone else, made like me / certainly will come out and act freely.' "


Comments:
Hopefully we can get rid of that other proposed ballot question now. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of wrangling between now and 2008.
 
Can we elect HIM president? Damn.
 
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