Monday, February 19, 2007

Civil Unions In Jersey And A T-Dude Flashback

New Jersey is offering civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. It's about time. The Tretonian: Civil unions available in NJ to gay couples starting today

(Image credit:

For those of you who may have missed it, I waxed poetic on this very subject in a little post titled "National Marry A Lesbian Day" last summer. I have reprinted it here for your enjoyment and because it seems rather fitting considering New Jersey's rational for offering this option.

National Marry a Lesbian Day (Originally published on 6/5/2006)

As I sat in front of my morning newspaper this morning (For all you children out there, that's the big paper thing with the words and pictures on it that your parents use to swat the dog.) I was reading about the biggest issue facing America today. How big you ask? So big that our President wants to amend the very document that shapes our rights as citizens, the very document that serves as the cornerstone of our legal system. So important is this issue that it can't possibly be left to the states or mere federal law but requires a change to the constitution itself.

That's right, I'm talking about Gay Marriage.

According to our President, "Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all."

Exactly how stupid does he think we are? Does he honestly believe that the average American cares if the two women living next door with their three cats and two children from a third world country have been through some ceremony? I don't. What I do think is that most Americans would like to see that those children have all the rights and benefits to which they are entitled. And that includes the health and well being of their parents.

Bush and his political hacks are confusing the issue of marriage for political reasons. They are trying to shore-up the religious right and prove that the Republican's are still their horse in the race. They want to have a wedge issue that they can drive between the suburbs and the cities, the minorities and the Democrats. But it is a false issue, a phantom created to electrify a portion of the electorate. It is a Hallmark Holiday issue, created solely to sell the Republicans as the moral compass of the country.

The real issue here is whether or not domestic partners can receive and share the same benefits as straight married people. It is about rights, not religious morals. Should gays have access to healthcare? Should the children of lesbian couples be as secure as those of straight couples? Should gays couples be allowed the same rights in divorce and death as straight couples? Those are the questions, not whether or not the very existence of the lesbians next door is somehow eroding the sanctity of my marriage. As a married person, I can tell you that they aren't.

The bottom line is this. If a church will marry two people, it is none of the State's business. This country was founded on that ideal. Now we have to decide if those people should be given the same rights as other citizens, and as equal rights is also a founding principle of the US, then I say yes, regardless of what the bible thumpers may say about it.

Taking a short break...

I am off to Boston in a day or so for a five day conference so I'm not sure I'll be posting this week. However, if you have any thoughts on Boston please let me know, I've never been there before.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Like 'Shrooms On Shit, The Klan Grows On Hate...As Do Some Of My Neighbors

There are some groups that feel almost like fictional creations in today's modern world. Like the Boogieman, Nazi's and Klansmen sometimes feel like they have faded away to that dark place under the bed where nothing evil really lives. Then you read a story like this and suddenly evil crawls out and reminds you that it is alive and kicking in America.

CNN: Klan growing, fed by anti-immigrant feelings, report says

After reading the article, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The Klan hit its peak during the great flood of new immigrants during the 1920's. Fueled by anti-Catholic rhetoric, the Klan had nearly 4 million members back then. And now, we have a sudden influx of immigrants from predominately Catholic countries and the Klan is there to exploit it.

So many things bother me about this story, but what frightens me is the nationalist, anti-immigrant language they are using sounds an awful lot like some of the things I hear coming from the mouths of my neighbors here in the suburbs.

College educated professionals are openly talking about how the "Mexicans" are ruining the schools and killing the standard of living.

(Funny how everyone with a Hispanic name is suddenly Mexican. Ever heard of Ecuador? San Salvador? Do you think they should call all white people Canadian?)

Hey neighbor, I hate to point this out to you but the vast majority of your families came over in that wave of immigration during the 1920's. And you know what Americans did? They called those immigrants names; they denied them work and basically did everything they could to make sure that they got no quarter from the country your families had chosen.

Just ask my mother-in-law who is a first generation Irish-American. She tells stories about how businesses would have signs up advertising open positions except at the bottom they would say "No Irish". Remember, approximately four million Klan members wanted your relatives gone, and yet, here you are.

It scares me that the very issue the Ku Klux Klan is using to drive up membership is the issue that neighbors of mine are not only talking about, but in part, agreeing on with the Klan, despite what the Klan tried to do to many of their ancestors.

The difference they'll say is that they don't actually hate the Mexicans, they just don't want to share their city with them.

"I pay a lot of taxes and I don't do it to teach a bunch of damn Mexicans to speak English."

"The reason the schools are so packed is because of all the damn Mexicans."

Sound familiar? They do to me, and I feel the need to point out one little thing. Their being Hispanic as nothing to do with it. They are people. People who live in your city. They could be brown, white, green, or plaid and the results would be the same.Therefore, the problem isn't them, it's the community itself.

For example, tying school funding to property taxes is a sure fire way to make sure that wealthier kids get a better education than less-fortunate kids. Here's the thing, rich people like it that way. They like their smaller classes and better facilities (Who wouldn't?!) and don't really give a shit about how the rest of the world lives. Hell, they're paying for it, they should get what they want, just ask'em.

But when the rest of the world starts to move into the neighborhood, suddenly, the resentment comes out.

"Those damn Mexicans are ruining everything. The immigration problem is screwing up this country my friend and we need to do something about it."

Well neighbor, I happen to know of a few guys who agree with you. They're easy to spot. They're the ones wearing the designer hoods from Linens & Things.

I'm not completely idealistic. I understand the issues. Do we need to limit immigration? Yeah, we do. We don't have the infrastructure to handle an endless flood of immigrants.

Do we need to protect our borders? Of course, technology has given any individual the ability to be a weapon of mass destruction.

But do we blame the immigrants who have chosen to come to America to do work that many Americans refuse to do? Hell no. They are doing what our grandparents and great grandparents did nearly a century ago and we need to show these new immigrants a level of courtesy that our families didn't get.

Why? Because of some things called "progress" or "common decency" or "Christian values" to name a few. It's called all kinds of things depending on your perspective, but the common ground is this: it's the opposite of hate, exclusion, racism, and indifference.

Those are all things I feel comfortable being against, just like I'm definitely anti-Boogieman. You get a few of those in the neighborhood and everything goes to hell in a hand basket. Just you wait and see.