Archive for October 2008

Pictorial serendipity

October 31, 2008

That’s a long-winded title, but I think it’s a strange coincidence: Andrew Sullivan has a regular feature on his blog called “The View from Your Window” where people all over the world send him a photo taken from their window, with a date and a time. Here are the last three:

Dillon, Colorado

Dillon, Colorado

Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska

El Cerrito, California

El Cerrito, California

I still have fond memories (and a lovely blanket) of our family reunion in the Rockies. And Karen, can you tell us where that photo of Fairbanks was taken from? Stay warm …


Early voting

October 31, 2008

[alternate title= Shotgun Weddings]

So I went down to city hall yesterday to drop off my absentee ballot.   It was lunch and the line was about a 20 minutes for those that were there to early vote.  The poll worker said it would only get longer throughout the day.  Happily, I had my ballot and was able to just hand it over, rather than wait to use a voting booth.  I couldn’t help but notice that there were several couples wandering around all dressed up and it quickly hit me:  The rush to get married before Election Day.  I had heard about it, and sure enough, I saw several couples around the balcony and grand staircase exchanging vows with their small enthusiastic parties.  It wasn’t quite Feb 2003, but it was pretty busy and I got choked up anyway.   I like to think that the great majority of the people lined up in the basement were voting to protect the right of the people right above them to marry (SF voting patterns being what they are).  

Oh– and this might be the only time in history when a bunch of 40 and 50-somethings who likely have been together for a while are lining up for shotgun weddings. 


Level 2


Some thoughts on the matter

October 29, 2008

As Troy goes off to do more phone-banking on behalf of the No on 8 campaign (he’s been working overtime on the cause for weeks now) … I thought I’d offer some thoughts, prompted by some reading I did today.

Andrew Sullivan links to a post on the Althouse blog that describes an LA Times debate on the merits of Proposition 8, which seeks to overturn the legally established right to marriage equality in California. The man carrying the Yes banner, Dean R. Broyles, described all sorts of institutions, from day camps to Catholic Charities to kindergartens, where people who objected to homosexuality in one form or another were punished, banned, or forced to cease and desist. He argued, in essence, that “gay rights” are a threat to freedom of speech and religious liberty.

As reported by Althouse, the No team simply mocked him for thinking that Prop 8 had anything to do with kindergartens, or education in general. But Althouse found that response inadequate.

Let me see if I can make Broyles’s point. I think he means to say that if same-sex marriage remains a legal right, enshrined in state constitutional law, then homosexual relationships will come to be regarded normal and good, and, consequently, anyone who objects to them will start to look like a bigot who should not be permitted to have his way. Thus, in order to preserve the right to discriminate against gay people and to keep schools from teaching children that gay couples are perfectly nice and so forth — all things Broyles wants — it’s important to outlaw gay marriage, because it will be a powerful force in changing perceptions about gay people and those who think gay people are doing something terribly wrong.

Andrew Sullivan picks up the story, saying, “Yes! That’s it.” The most wonderful thing about gay marriage, from his point of view, is that “It gives us a way to talk about gay couples for the first time in human history without talking about sex acts.” He goes on to talk about sex acts (he’s not against them), but concludes by pointing out that he’s never had to tell his nephew and niece that he’s gay. They know him and his partner, and have known them for a long time. They were at his wedding. They accept Andrew and Aaron for who they are, because they are defined by who they are –not by (ahem) an act, or a “lifestyle” which cannot be mentioned.

Reading the original and Sullivan’s follow-up post, everything suddenly made sense. I’ve long believed that gay rights are best defined in the context of religious liberty. The most common argument against legal equality, in any form, is and always has been: “God doesn’t want it that way.” Any laws that seek to instantiate (a form of) God’s law must, by definition, impinge on religious liberty. That’s why laws –even in a country as devoted to public devotion as the United States– require reasons in order to be enacted.

As a result, I (and a lot of people on our side) have never really understood our “threat.” We can’t fathom how our civil marriages, or civil unions, or civil rights –or, for that matter, our very existence– can be construed as “harmful” to anybody. Because, in literal terms, they can’t. It just isn’t reasonable to assume that Troy and I are a danger to those around us … unless I start discussing constitutions, in which case you might want to take evasive action.

But the reason it’s not socially acceptable to be a racist in 2008 (unless you cloak it in pseudo-science or cultural relativity) … the reason no church formally bars non-whites from its communion (if it wants to be included in polite society) … the reason no one can “opt-out” of school lessons about the African-American experience (unless you choose to home school your children) … must have something to do with the fact that there are no legal regimes left in the United States that allow discrimination on the basis of race (or color, or national origin). In fact, it might have everything to do with that fact.

If it is no longer possible to deny gays and lesbians the equal protection of the laws, then it is no longer acceptable to disapprove of them. That is the threat. Every church or religious organization that has committed resources to the Yes on 8 campaign, that has encouraged its members to give their own time and money, that has put its public reputation on the line (quite literally) in the name of this cause understands the danger. If gays and lesbians cease to be legally “other,” then their theological “otherness” will become harder and harder to justify.

I get it now. I read a touching article in the Chronicle today about the surprise of a well-meaning Yes supporter who found herself the target of anger and abuse from her neighbors. “[She] believes such responses must come from deep places of pain –and that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, just not the word marriage. Any animosity toward gays or lesbians is wrong, she said. ‘There must be such deep, deep, deep hurt; otherwise there couldn’t be so much opposition,’ she said. ‘They’ve lived with this. I guess we’re getting a taste of where they live.'”

She doesn’t hate us; she feels our pain. She’s willing to give us legal protection, but not divine sanction. Great! I’ll take it. No problem. How could we have any dispute with her or anyone like her? And yet, she insists on rewriting the California constitution in order to protect a divine plan of salvation.

I can’t help but wonder who needs more help –God, or young men like Matthew Shepard? We know, all too well, that it will never be possible to outlaw homophobia, just as it’s not possible to outlaw racism. It will never be entirely “safe” to be a queer kid, even in the most progressive and enlightened of homes, schools, and churches. It will never be “normal” for two men to walk down the street, holding hands. That much we know.

But we also know that hateful laws, like the Briggs Initiative of 1978 –that sought to ferret out homosexuals or their supporters from public schools, in order to fire them– can never again be tabled (at least in California). We know that the closet will continue to crumble. There will, one day, be an openly gay Major League Soccer player. There will, one day, be an openly gay President of the United States. In fact, she’ll probably be a Republican. Queerness will simply be different. Already, young people consider “gay” to be, well, slightly passé.

So if, next Wednesday, we awake to find that the voters of California have returned us to the status quo ante … if we awake to find ourselves “settling” for civil unions, in other words, we can take comfort in the fact that our defeats are no longer matters of life or death. That our presence in the world –that our fundamental humanity– is at least acknowledged. And that the future –our common future– is still bright. This storm will pass us all by.

But you have to understand our disappointment. You cannot deny someone the equal protection of the laws without disapproving of them. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a false bargain. It allows the lover to feel harmless at the same time that real harm is done. We are not children. We do not need “tough love.” If we awake to find that Proposition 8 has passed, it will be as if the Yes voters, and all those who actively supported the initiative, patted us on the head and said, “We love you Troy and Dan, but …”

One day we’ll put a period in the place of that comma. Full stop.

Fifty politicians (updated 10/28)

October 27, 2008

Late last night, with nothing better to do, Troy proposed the following game, to which Dan readily agreed: name your favorite politician/political figure (of all time) from each of the fifty states. By “from” we mean: “born in” or “represented.” Below the jump: our list. Suggestions are welcome.


Happy #39

October 22, 2008

Dan turned 39 last week. I’m sorry we didn’t live-blog it. It’s probably because the real party didn’t happen until Saturday, when the nieces and their parents had us over for a celebration which included Irish stew, a screening of Aladdin and, of course, cake.

Birthday boy

Birthday boy

The actual birthday was celebrated a bit more seriously as we pondered the issues facing our nation’s future with Peter. We watched Obama and McCain in their final debate and then sped over to Rivoli in Albany for a birthday dinner (thanks maitre d’, for the great window table looking out to the garden)  ––we had to wait through drinks, appetizers, main courses, and dessert before learning what the instant-polls thought of the two Senators’ last face-off. I showed magnificent restraint leaving the iPhone alone all throughout dinner, and did *not* surf the Internet between courses to look for news.

–A follow-up to the “Divis Art Walk” post from last week: I spotted this pasted on top of our neighbor’s No Parking sign a few days later. Ironically, stickers like this only fuel the “We’re the next Mission” ambition of neighborhood businesses. You’ll know we’ve arrived when there are *Nopa* Yuppie Eradication Project posters up. Never fear though. No matter what you call it, it’s still a great place to live.

anti-gentrification art

Divis Art Walk

October 16, 2008

Lovely, idyllic evening report. Even with the sun down, it stayed warm and festive as I strolled around the hood. Despite the economic turmoil of late, spirits seemed to be high– it was the Divisadero St. Art Walk. Various businesses turned themselves into mini-galleries and had food/drink specials or had some free munchies for walkers. It kind of felt like Halloween for adults. I was able to score enough goodies to not really even need a real dinner after returning home (well, except for a banana). I got a sneak peek into the new BBQ place near McAllister and Divis. The nice folks there said it should be opening up in a couple of weeks. Candybar definitely took the prize for best party. Drink specials? Yes, but they also had free quality appetizers and bite-sized desserts. My pic of the free spoonfuls of the buttermilk panna cotta with frozen grapes and olive oil and…? didn’t turn out, but trust me. I enjoyed a complimentary sangria for blogging at one of their laptops for the concurrent “No on 8”, defend-gay-marriage event they were hosting. [yes, i am blogging about blogging elsewhere… so shoot me]. Thanks to NOPNA for a great event! Just please don’t tell Dan, as he has to miss out on Thursday night events this fall (working hard at Cabrillo).


Barthroom instructions at Minibar

For sale at Frankee Uno Salon

For sale at Frankee Uno Salon

“Worst of SF” follow up

October 14, 2008

A quick addendum to last week’s TBAWOSF post.  I was tickled by this timely item in SF Eater this morning:

Wow… even worse than I had feared.


Inside a place few locals have ventured: Bubba Gump’s [Photo: Flickr/Harrogate]

OK-  after that, i’ll throw you this “Best of SF” bone (I took this just a block away from Bubba’s, actually):