Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Star Trek: Enterprise - Countdown 

Okay, I feel silly. Last week's episode wasn't the season finale after all. Good thing, too, because as Countdown wrapped up I was thinking, "That's it? That sucks!" It was rather anti-climactic, nothing was wrapped up, etc. Then they showed previews for THIS week's season finale. "Oh. Okay then."

Thoughts on Countdown:

-Why doesn't Hoshi even try to get one good hit in when the reptilians are forcing her into the torture seat or later on? She didn't even try fighting before deciding her only option was to hurl herself over the rail and into the void. She's a Starfleet officer. She's had combat training. She's competant, dammit! But all she does is twist back and forth while making high pitched grunts of outrage. I think it's great they had her use her brain and pretend to be decoding while actually adding a layer of encryption, but she should be able to use some brawn as well when necessary.

-I enjoyed the little dinnertime chat. "You may buy me a drink if you wish."

-I hope T'Pol formalizes her service to Starfleet by the start of next season. She looks better in a Starfleet uniform than in that bizarre fuzzy line of jumpsuits she's got.

-Whoops! Stephen Culp just cut his number of simultaneous shows down to two. That sucks, because I like him as an actor. He's natural and relaxed, and just disappears into whatever role he's taking on. Maybe he wasn't plodding and pedantic enough (phrasing by The Guyfriend), and made the other actors feel inadequate.

-After Enterprise I watched last week's season finale (yes, it was really the season finale) of JAG, one of Culp's other shows (along with ER). Whoops! Killed off Agent Webb, too. Guess he's just on ER now. Well, that season finale has already passed, so at least he's got one live character going into next season.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:42 AM
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Fly Me To The Moon 

Someone should gather together all the various analogies used in anti-gay rhetoric. It's quite telling of the lack of actual argument they have when their fall-back position is such as Andrea Lafferty's short little tennis skirt v. cleats argument.

Last night HeraldTribune.com published a story covering yesterday's rally in Sacramento for opponents of gay marriage. Among the speakers were Alan Keyes in person, and Gary Bauer by cellphone held to a microphone. Keyes apparently relied on the procreation argument, but presented it in space age language:

"To say it's between a man and a woman doesn't discriminate against same-sex couples anymore than it would be discrimination for the government to say I can't offer to fly people to the moon without benefit of a rocket ship," Keyes said. "And being as how I'm not physically equipped to fly to the moon, telling me I can't carry passengers there is not discrimination, it's common sense."

Okay, maybe this analogy would work if we were talking about debate over a law that stated that two people of the same sex cannot get pregnant by having sex with each other. Anything beyond that and it really falls short. And as with every other procreation based argument, this law would also apply to opposite sex couples in which one is sterile or in which the woman has entered menopause. What of opposite sex couples who choose adoption for any number of reasons, such as the skirt lady herself, Andrea Lafferty? She and her husband, Jim Lafferty, are adoptive parents. Why is this a more acceptable form of child-rearing than a gay couple who adopts?

I saw another article last week in which the man being interviewed echoed one of the talking points posted on Probe Ministries website:

"Arbitrarily granting a marriage license to a same-sex couple doesn't constitute marriage. It is a counterfeit of true marriage. It is like trying to tape two same-sex electrical plugs together to form an electrical current."

Another of Probe Ministries' (and let's talk about their name, by the way. What's up with that?) talking points is that gay marriage devalues opposite sex marriage:

"Giving same-sex couples the right to marry devalues true marriage. Imagine if at the next awards ceremony, everyone received an award. Would anyone value the award if everyone received one?"

Pretty much all straight couples can get married - does that mean that it's not special and no one really wants to? Maybe there should be some sort of test everyone should take before receiving a marriage license, to make sure that only the "special" couples get them. Perhaps a short quiz on the U.S. Constitution, with particular attention to the 14th Amendment? Or perhaps on rocket science? Alan Keyes would ace that one.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:50 AM
Friday, May 21, 2004

Reality Attorneys 

Fox Network is now casting for a reality show in which "America's most charismatic new lawyers" will compete in mock trial situations in front of a "high profile" judge, a jury and a national audience in hopes of being the last one standing. The prize is "a major career opportunity."

Applicants must be U.S. residents and have been first admitted to a state or D.C. bar after April 1, 2003. They claim their contestants will range from "Ivy League to correspondence school grads." I'm not sure there actually are accredited correspondence law schools. But if there are, I'm sure Fox and Rocket Science Laboratories (the production company - yes, that's the real name) will find one.

This could go either way in how it affects the reputation of lawyers in American. I'm guessing it won't make life any easier for those of us who are getting used to fielding the ethical inquiries and sleazy lawyer jokes from friends, family and the occasional total stranger.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:16 PM

No Reading Allowed 

A columnist from my hometown wrote (pointer via commons-blog) on Wednesday about an incident that occurred earlier in the week when he attempted to attend a public discussion with Governor Romney about education policy. On his way in he passed several groups passing out flyers, many of which were in opposition to Romney's policies.

As Joe Bradley approached the metal detectors, he was directed to turn over the papers. Sure enough, posted on the sign was notice that the following items were prohibited: Coats, bags, weapons, signage literature. He asked why, and was told it was the policy of the governor's office. He asked for a written copy of the policy, but was not given one. When a local cop was called over, whom Bradley knew, Bradley decided to leave rather than give up the papers or cause a problem for his acquaintance.

As he left the building, he informed the folks that their papers were being confiscated, and that he might be writing a column about it. In short order the governor's deputy press secretary was on hand, asking him to return to the event and to feel free to hold on to the flyers. Bradley asked about the policy, and was again told that it is official policy, and is not available in written form. Bradley left and wrote this interesting column. On his way home he came to this conclusion:

"As I drove home I couldn't help but think that the governor doesn't believe the people can be trusted with literature from opposition groups at his town meetings, but it's really the people who perhaps shouldn't be trusting the governor on his education policies. I realized I finally understood Gov. Romney's education policy: literature not allowed."

Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:23 PM

Other Marriage Limits 

Amy Hunt in today's entry on her "In support of same sex marriage" blog on Boston.com wonders whether Governor Romney will be as adamant about enforcing the following out of state marriage laws as he is in supporting the other states' bans (explicit or inferred) on gay marriage, since he's been so vocal about not being able to pick and choose which laws to enforce:

-Delaware: no marriage for a person with "any degree" of unsoundness of mind, "habitual drunkards" or persons on parole or probation (without explicit permission by their watchers).

-Mississippi: marriage is void if "it appears" that Parties A and B are drunk, insane, or otherwise unable to make a decision for themselves.

-Pennsylvania: marriage is void if entered into by "the weakminded."

-North Carolina: no marriage for impotent persons.

Oh, you might say, but the states don't actually enforce those laws. They're antiquated relics. So is the 1913 Massachusetts statute Governor Romney is using to justify banning marriages in Massachusetts for couples who neither live in nor plan to live in the state. Equal treatment under the law is clear - apply it across the board or don't apply it at all.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:49 PM

Golf v. Tennis 

Yesterday the Washington Post published an article about Rev. Lou Sheldon and his daughter, Andrea Lafferty, both of the Traditional Values Coalition and two of the most adamant and vocal opponents of gay rights of any form. The article at one point describes how the two differ only stylistically in their approach to the issues, with Sheldon tending more toward scripture, while:

Lafferty, trained in more anodyne Washington sound bites, searches for more digestible explanations for why gay marriage makes no sense. "Let's say we go and play tennis and you show up in your short little tennis skirt and your racket and I show up in my cleats. You'd say, 'We're supposed to be playing tennis, not golf!' " she says. "They can have any other arrangement, but marriage is between a man and a woman."

Oh, now I get it! It's tennis, not golf! Silly me! If only someone had taken this approach to explaining their position on the issues sooner, we could have avoided all this foolish debate.

I do have to wonder about Ms. Lafferty's focus on short skirts, though. In addition to her above description of "your short little tennis skirt," the article also includes her descriptions of growing up in Anaheim. "A bikini and short skirts were okay," she is quoted as saying. According to the article, "She kept a pink miniskirt pinned on her bedroom wall and told her mom it would be her wedding dress one day."

But back to their opinion on the state of their battle against gay marriage. They aren't dismayed by the waning support in Congress for the FMA or the relatively low numbers of people actively involved on their side of the issue. Sheldon figures that will change once people from other states come home with their Massachusetts marriage licenses.

"It's a sleeping giant out there," he says. "We're talking about tens of millions of people. And when they wake up I feel bad for the homosexuals."

Maybe if we all start wearing miniskirts, Ms. Lafferty won't notice us anymore. Or maybe she'll notice us even more, but won't mind us as much...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:11 AM

Scandinavian Marriage Stats 

Slate yesterday published an article by University of Massachusetts professor of economics M.V. Lee Badgett, titled Prenuptual Jitters: Did gay marriage destroy heterosexual marriage in Scandinavia?, in which Badgett provides a more detailed analysis of the statistics cited by opponents of gay marriage as evidence that the opening of marriage to gay couples destroys the institution of marriage both by reducing the numbers of hetero couples who marry and by increasing the number of hetero couples who have children without being married. Badgett shows that these interpretations are false.

Badgett gives a complete analysis of the specific allegations made by Focus on the Family's James Dobson and the Hoover Institution's Stanley Kurtz to show that the numbers simply don't support the dire statements, and she then provides a comparison of other issues impacting marriage and the differences between Scandinavian society and US society to show how any numbers provided simply cannot be transplanted from one culture to another.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:35 AM
Thursday, May 20, 2004


Some updates on yesterday's posts:

Church day camp: The Priest Lake Community Baptist Church yesterday obeyed the court order to allow Dept. of Human Services staff to inspect the premises. DHS stands by their contention that the day camp is an unlicensed day care center, and that the armed guards are violating a prohibition against weapons in childcare facilities, while church officials are adamant that they are merely holding church services and should not be required to be licensed, and that the armed guards are necessary to protect the facilities from vandals and other criminals. A hearing will be held today on the issue.

Mass. marriage law: While Gov. Romney and his staff stick by the "we can't pick which laws to enforce" as support for their extreme efforts to enforce a law no one (including Romney) saw worth enforcing until it meant letting out of state gay couples get married here, the state Senate yesterday voted 28 to 3 (5 of 7 Republican senators voted to repeal) to repeal the statute in question. House speaker Thomas Finneran has expressed his conviction that the repeal (part of the budget package) will not pass the House. Romney has committed to vetoing any such repeal if it comes to him for signature.

In a spin worthy of Orwell, the governor's communication director, Eric Fehrnstrom (you remember him - the gays, guns and children guy) has interpreted the Senate's overwhelming vote as reinforcement of the concept that the law is on the books and must be enforced without question until such a repeal might come into effect.

Meanwhile, GLAD (who handled the Goodridge case and subsequent efforts to reverse or vacate the decision) has posted a notice on their website requesting that couples from CT, RI, NH, ME, VT or NY who have filed for marriage licenses here or are planning to in the near future contact GLAD. The group is preparing for any court action that might be necessary should the governor attempt to use the 1913 law to invalidate or block out of state marriages.

Angel series finale and Enterprise season finale: Tivo recorded them. I have not yet watched them. Viewing is scheduled for later today.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:07 AM
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Enterprise Returns - For Now 

Continuing the network announcements, Sci-Fi Wire reports that UPN is renewing Star Trek: Enterprise, which had been on shaky ratings ground. UPN may move the show to Friday, however. Because that's always such a sure-fire ratings night.

I'm looking forward to tonight's season finale. I'm also looking forward to tonight's Angel, but not at all to the fact that this is it for that show. Even the hinted-at TV movies were nowhere to be found on WB's schedule. No more Angel. No more Illyria. Gah.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:23 AM

Tru Calling - Season 2 

Who would have thought that this show could get its act together in time to last an entire season, let alone get renewed? But Sci-Fi Wire reports that Fox has indeed renewed Eliza and company for a second season. And yet they ditched Wonderfalls when it was barely out of the gate and already rockin'...

The Girl will be quite disturbed to hear this news. She never could figure out why I kept watching it while at the same time complaining about how bad it was. And then she simply didn't believe me when I said it was getting better. But they really did improve over time. The plot holes got smaller (but didn't disappear), the actors relaxed (plus they put Davis in a Lillith Fair t-shirt), and the storylines weren't predictable within the first five minutes.

I'll be watching in the fall, and hoping (hoping, hoping) that the improvement continues.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:15 AM

Child Care or Day Camp 

Tennessean.com has been covering the ongoing story of a "daily camp" being run by the Priest Lake Community Baptist Church in Nashville. The program handles up to 150 children aged 5 and under (including newborns), but insists it is not a day-care provider and refuses to register as such. Church officials state they are holding church services for the children from 6 am to 6 pm, and therefore should not be subject to what they refer to as the state's "atheist agenda" in requiring day-care licensing.

There are a couple of kinks in the church's argument. The parents pay a weekly fee for their kids to attend church. These kids are all pre-schoolers. Then there are the guns. Yes, the Priest Lake Community Baptist Church has armed guards patrolling the perimeter of the property. The wear bright orange shirts pulled over their beltline to cover the weapons, and cruise around in golf carts day and night, questioning anyone who ventures onto the grounds. There is also an "extensive surveillance system."

Church spokesman Charles Bennett defends the guards as necessary to protect the children, as being licensed to carry firearms, and as having received extensive firearms training including monthly refreshers. He also stated concern that the local authorities have compromised their security by revealing details to outsiders.

DCS has started a 60 day investigation, but state officials have been barred from the property. The church has continued operating in spite of a restraining order, and church officials are to be served today with a court order to allow inspectors on site.

Earlier articles are here and here.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:48 AM

A Wedding Tale 

I know there has been story after story of this couple and that couple, trying to put a face on the events. But just do me a favor and read A Carefully Considered Rush to the Altar (washingtonpost.com), which follows Brookline's Robyn Ochs and Peg Preble from proposal to clerk's office to courthouse and back to the clerk/justice of the peace, with a bit of their backstory thrown in. I'm welling from reading it. Okay, I'm one of those people you can count on to get teary eyed right when I'm supposed to when watching movies, reading books, etc. But this is really good.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:46 AM
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Show Me Your Papers... 

An attorney with the Romney administration has contacted the four communities who declared that they would issue licenses to nonresidents, and demanded copies of all applications. This request was made only to Somerville, Springfield, Worcester and Provincetown. All but Somerville have stated that they are sending the paperwork to the Registry of Vital Statistics. Somerville has not yet commented.

Related to the issue of out of state couples, here is Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch's statement regarding whether Rhode Island would recognize marriages obtained in Massachusetts by gay Rhode Island couples.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:51 PM

Men v. Boys 

A Boston.com article by Rick Klein, titled Groups hold out for public furor before acting, discusses the continued determination of some groups to reverse the Goodridge decision. Among those quoted is state Representative Emile J. Goguen, the sponsor of the bill of address seeking to remove the four SJC justices who comprised the majority in Goodridge. Despite the previous total lack of support for this bill and Article 8, the group pushing for it, Rep. Goguen is convinced that his bill will come to the floor for debate and a vote. He spoke volumes in this statement:

"When it comes to the floor, they'll vote for it," said Goguen, a Fitchburg Democrat. "I want a debate on it. I want to separate the men and the boys."

He wants to separate the men and the boys. Apparently he feels the best way to pass a bill based on homophobia and prejudice is to call into question the manhood of any legislator who does not vote for it. And to offend, ignore and isolate his colleagues who are women. Their votes count in the grand tally, but I guess he doesn't think he needs them. What's next? Stamp your foot and put a sign on the door to the state house: No girls or sissies allowed?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:40 AM

Tony Randall, 1920-2004 

Tony Randall has passed away. He was at NYU Medical Center, and died in his sleep last night.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:24 AM

Excellent Wedding Advice 

I agree with Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars and his hearty endorsement of this post by John Scalzi at Whatever. Sharing his experience from his own wedding and the four he has performed for others, he gives practical advice to gay men and lesbians now planning and going through their own official weddings. It's a wonderful guide to all the little things that are glossed over in the wedding advice columns and books, such as:

"You will almost certainly have trouble focusing on anything but the face of your beloved during the ceremony; that's why there's a third person up there to direct traffic."

"Some people don't think you should invite your exes to the wedding. But I think it's not such a bad thing to have one person in the crowd slightly depressed that they let you get away. They'll get over it at the reception. Trust me."

"There will be drama of some sort at the reception. If the wedding party lets any of it reach the newlyweds, they haven't done their job"

Read it. Print it out. Tuck it away for frequent reference when you're planning the big event.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:06 AM

Protester Sans Preparation 

I drove out to Ashland to visit my parents yesterday evening. My 82-year-old, inexplicably Republican mother (I'm convinced it's because her father was Republican. In truth, she thinks "all politicians are crooks.") commented, "Did you hear about the idiot protesting in front of town hall today?" I'm guessing this particular individual was quite disappointed that not one couple came along to apply for a marriage license, so there was no one to berate and threaten with eternal damnation. Not that there are no gay couples living in Ashland, or that none of them applied for licenses yesterday. It's just that Town Hall is closed for renovations. Directions to the temporary town hall are readily available on the town's website, and I'm guessing there's some sort of notice posted at Town Hall. All ruffled up and no one to receive the rant. Must have been quite disappointing.

On the other hand, I was pleased to hear on WBUR this morning that a lesbian couple in my town of residence yesterday braved our facing the clerk in our little town hall north of Boston. They weren't sure what kind of atmosphere they'd be walking into, but were greeted with flowers and a very helpful staff who assisted them with their application.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:18 AM
Monday, May 17, 2004


Congratulations to everyone who is taking the big step today! After the Supreme Court on Friday without comment declined to issue the requested emergency injunction against the issuance of marriage licenses to gay couples, the last potential roadblock was gone. Couples lined up starting yesterday, and at 12:01 this morning the first applications were filled out at the early-opening Cambridge City Hall, in a scene that will be repeated throughout the state today as town and city halls across the commonwealth open their doors to couples who will likely still be trying to convince themselves they are not dreaming.

I watched the scene on tv for a while last night, and it was strange seeing the full-gear riot police mixed in with the celebratory crowd. Other than a handful of the ever present Phelps family protesters, the crowd estimated by Cambridge police at approximately 5,000 was comprised of applicants and supporters.

The remainder of town and city halls will be opening their doors momentarily, and those couples who are obtaining waivers for the 3-day waiting period will be saying their vows not long after that. First up at Boston City Hall are Hilary and Julie Goodridge, the lead plaintiffs in the historic case. Congratulations to all who are making the journey today, and to all who will be following suit in the months and years to come.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:12 AM
Friday, May 14, 2004

Vote Wrong, No Communion 

365Gay.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the NY Times are reporting that the Roman Catholic bishop of Colorado Springs has stepped up the earlier warning by a number of US bishops that politicians who go against church doctrine in their legislative activities will be barred from taking communion. Bishop Michael J. Sheridan has now announced that any voters who support any politician who in turn supports abortion rights, same-sex marriage, euthanasia or stem-cell research will also be barred from communion. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Anyone who professes the Catholic faith with his lips while at the same time publicly supporting legislation or candidates that defy God's law makes a mockery of that faith and belies his identity as a Catholic," Sheridan wrote.

In a telephone interview, Sheridan said: "I'm not making a political statement. I'm making a statement about church teaching."

Other catholic officials have spoken out against using communion as a means of punishing individuals for their political ideals or actions.

I find this level of intrusion into the individual choices people make appalling. What happened to free will, rational dialogue, the power of persuasive argument? What value is blind adherence to religious dogma (which changes periodically) if it is only accomplished through threats? Wouldn't church members who adhere to church teachings because they actually believe in the validity of those teachings much more valuable? Can you save the soul without addressing the heart and mind as well?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:22 PM

Tauro: No TRO 

I posted a summary of the latest developments on Goodridge over at the New England School of Law OUTLaws blog. Check over there for the full scoop and related links. In a nutshell:

-US District Court Judge Joseph Tauro rejected the request for a temporary restraining order against implementation of Goodridge. He held that the SJC was completely within its authority in hearing the case and reinterpreting the definition of marriage in the commonwealth.

-Attorney Matthew Staver, who argued for the TRO, is appealing the decision and is confident that if necessary the Supreme Court will hear the case before Monday.

-Opponents of gay marriage continue to predict dire consequences and eventual victory.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:13 AM

Clark For VP? 

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see that Boston.com is reporting that Kerry is possibly considering Wesley Clark for his running mate. I certainly hope that Clark will have an important place in the (please, please, please) Kerry administration. I still have my Clark04 sign up in my office even though he dropped out of the race months ago. He has so much to offer with his experience, intelligence, long-term thinking and ability to form and maintain coalitions.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:37 AM
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Hudson, NH Official and Slurs 

Queerday had a pointer this morning to this brief report on WNNE31's website, about the Hudson, NH board of selectman giving their chairman a warning after he admitted telling a resident that gays should be shot if they come over the border into the state. Apparently Chairman Bill Cole said he meant the remark to be flip and not derogatory. The other selectman gave him a formal warning, but support his contention that he didn't intend to be "malicious or disrespectful." He was also alleged to have made derogatory comments about Italians and African-Americans.

I wondered what the details were behind this story. What was the context in which he made this remark? Is there a context in which this would not be both malicious and disrespectful? I found two other articles, here and here. From these additional reports it seems that local resident Jean Serino spoke to the Board on March 8 to complain about the comments Cole made to her on February 25. Serino had come to town hall to get names and addresses of state politicians she planned to contact and request that they not support the then upcoming bill barring recognition of same sex marriage. At the meeting last night, Serino admitted the shoot-the-gays comment, stating:

“Did I make an outrageous statement in response to this? Yes I did,” Cole said. “Did I intend to make an outrageous response to this? Yes I did. Did I intend to be derogatory against any group? No I did not.”

Cole said he “couldn’t resist the opportunity to pull her chain to make a flip comment as it were.”

He also said that Serino's statements regarding the conversation were merely a "clumsy attempt to have me removed from office." Serino stood after Cole's address and renewed her allegations, accusing him of attempting to slander her. I could find no specific information on the alleged racial and ethnic comments.

The Board of Selectmen, despite formally warning Cole, showed their continued support for him by voting to keep Cole in his leadership position. After the vote, selectman Kathleen MacLean made this statement:

“Selectman Cole, sharing along with all of us the flaws of an imperfect human being, has proven to have a wealth of experience in town matters,” MacLean said after the vote. “I do believe he cares deeply about the town of Hudson and working for the common good of all its citizens.”

His admitted statements and his defense of those statements fly in the face of MacLean's supportive statement. Even assuming that he's being truthful in that he was just trying to "pull her chain," his decision that this was an appropriate response to one of the citizens for whose good he is supposed to be working, or that an offhanded comment that anyone should be shot for entering the state, reveals an astounding lack of concern for common human decency, let alone political savvy or that he gained anything from his "wealth of experience in town matters."

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:51 AM

DNC Delegate Targets 

Bradenton.com ("Florida's Gulf Coast Home Page") reports that several states' Democratic parties have established target numbers for GLBT representation among their delegates. They list the total numbers and GLBT targets for 16 states. Some go for the full 10% (California = 440 delegates, including 22 gay men and 22 lesbians; Florida = 201 delegates, including 20 gay or lesbian plus one alternate), while some are at 5% or less (Colorado = 64, including 3 gay or lesbian; NJ = 129, including 3 gay, lesbian or bisexual). New Hampshire has a goal of including in its 27 delegates a total of 8 combined from the following groups: seniors, youth, gays and lesbians, and persons with disability. It will be interesting to see how that NH goal works out.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:45 AM
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Eulogy For an iPod 

Kevin over at The Sleepy Sage came to the sad realization today as he prepares for his upcoming 6 weeks study abroad in France. Facing a previously unrealized dearth of funds, he had to make some choices, and in order to ensure nutrition while in Europe, Kevin has decided he must return his recently acquired iPod Mini. I commented back that I would have committed to broth and baguettes for six weeks rather than giving it up, but that's just me. He then added this fitting farewell:

I've gathered up the receipt and all of the packaging for my beloved. All that's left is to wipe the tears from her brushed metal body and gingerly place her once more in the cardboard womb that birthed her. Farewell, my tiny azure goddess!

Sad times, these...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:01 PM

More Beer for Hockey Fans 

AP reports that the Tampa Bay Lightning is considering including unlimited free beer during games to its season ticket holders. The idea is being criticized by local police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. And me. I ride the T after my evening classes, and during hockey season lots of Bruins fans hop on at North Station after games. Trust me - NHL fans really don't need an excuse to have even more beer.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:30 AM

Gay Marriage, Child Marriage, Drugs and Guns 

Governor Mitt Romney's spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom yesterday crossed a few lines in an e-mail response to a reporter's inquiry on Romney's strategy for dealing with Provincetown officials if they issue marriage licenses to out of state gay couples.

“What next, is Provincetown going to start marrying 10-year-olds in violation of the law?” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in an e-mail response to a reporter’s questions about Romney’s legal strategy yesterday. “Are they going to refuse to enforce the drug laws? Will they ignore the gun laws, too?”

I'm surprised he didn't drag out the seemingly abandoned arguments about people marrying their dogs. His comments seem aimed at creating an atmosphere of fear and potential violence, much like Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger's early response to the San Francisco weddings:

"In San Francisco it is license for marriage of same sex. Maybe the next thing is another city that hands out licenses for assault weapons and someone else hands out licenses for selling drugs, I mean you can't do that," Schwarzenegger said on NBC.

Another article about Schwarzenegger's inflammatory initial response reported this statement (also here:

"When I was in San Francisco for the Republican convention, all of a sudden we see riots and we see protests and we see people clashing," Schwarzenegger said. "The next thing we know is there are injured or there are dead people, and we don't want to have that."

But back to here in Massachusetts. Spokesman Fehrnstrom also repeated Gov. Romney's attempt to frame this as action taken out of concern for the children, and their full protection (from the boston.com article):

“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an interest in making sure the laws are enforced evenly, not selectively,” he added. “And everyone, especially spouses and their children, has an interest in making sure marriage in Massachusetts is worth more than the paper it’s printed on.”

Then why did the Governor shut down an effort to repeal the 1913 law causing all this kerfuffle by threatening to veto any bill aimed at that repeal? If you want to avoid confusion, if you want to protect the people entering into marriage, if you want to protect their children, then don't do everything you can think of to restrict those protections.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:00 AM

Flynn's Case Dismissed 

Former Boston mayor Ray Flynn's case scheduled in Suffolk Superior Court, in which he hoped to block Goodridge by succeding on the subject matter jurisdiction argument that has failed repeatedly, was dismissed yesterday without a hearing. Judge Paul E. Troy cancelled the hearing since the argument was so similar to the one rejected by the SJC last week.

I found Flynn's remarks after the dismissal a bit confusing (although I admit I often find Ray Flynn's remarks puzzling):

"Our attempt was to get people to vote on this issue, an up or down vote one way or the other," Flynn said. "People can understand when the vote goes against them -- when they're ignored, that's when frustration sets in."

I think he's trying to latch on to the argument presented by the Catholic Action League's C.J. Doyle in his petition to vacate or stay Goodridge. This petition was denied, and the arguments rejected. The theory presented was that by allowing gay marriages to proceed prior to a public vote on a proposed constitutional amendment would damage opponents' abilities to lobby for the amendment to such an extent that they would be denied opportunity to express their views, and would nullify their votes. The court responded that whether such a vote will ever occur is speculative and that such a stay of an indeterminate but lengthy at minimum would be to deny the plaintiffs the very real benefit achieved by Goodridge. The court also responded that C.J. and his friends are still free to lobby and voice their opinions as much as they want in their efforts to sway voters to their side of the issue.

But Flynn seems to be forecasting not only that the commencement of marriages means that the speculative amendment vote will fail, but that the people who vote for it will feel ignored and frustrated (is he predicting a lashing out by the frustrated at that point?). If he's predicting failure of the amendment because of ongoing marriages, is he saying that people won't vote for it because they've been able to see that nothing bad happened because of the marriages? And exactly who is it that will feel ignored and frustrated? The people who vote for the amendment? If the amendment fails, it's because they were outvoted. But I thought Flynn just wanted "an up or down vote one way or another." Sounds like he's a bit disingenuous in that statement at least.

In other news, the conservative groups bringing their action to the US District Court today are calling this their "last stand." Do you promise? This is the last one? Wouldn't that be nice.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:39 AM
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Sleeping Defendant 

In recent years the issue of whether an adequate defense could be presented by attorneys alleged to have napped during hearings, but now it's an issue for a napping defendant. The Washington Post reports that Colonel Patrick Parrish, the military judge presiding over the case of Sgt. Hasan Akbar, is fed up with the defendant falling asleep during his trial. Apparently the defendant has untreated sleep apnea. Col. Parrish has ordered Sgt. Akbar's defense attorneys to deal with their client's medical condition. The defense team has requested that the government provide treatment, arguing that beyond treatment, there is nothing they can do to guarantee his alertness levels.

Sgt. Akbar is on trial for a grenade attack on fellow U.S. soldiers in Kuwait last March. His attorneys have also taken issue with the fact that all the jurors outrank the defendant, and have requested that either the death penalty be removed as an option or that members of other military branches be included on the jury.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:05 PM

Star Trekking Across the Gay Universe 

AZ Central reports on the lack of gay Star Trek characters and a fan-based internet series which is trying to fill the void. Hidden Frontiers is the creation of executive producer Rob Cave, is in its fifth season, and includes a gay crew member.

I haven't checked out the series yet, but after my LAST FIRST YEAR EXAM (civil procedure) this Thursday, I'll get on the download wagon and let you know my thoughts.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:35 AM

IBEW Local 103 - No Insurance for Gay Spouses 

Boston.com reports that although several Massachusetts unions have announced decisions to expand insurance coverage to include spouses of employees in same sex marriages, Boston's chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 103, has instead stated that their spousal coverage will only apply to opposite sex spouses. They are within their legal rights to do this, as their benefits are covered by the Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Other area union leaders, including the Quincy based IBEW Local 2222, have spoken out against the move, saying that it goes against the trend of expanding benefits and protections to gay union members as part of the general goal of unions protecting and securing benefits for all members and their families.

What I found most telling was the statement by Local 103 administrator Russell F. Sheehan. From the Boston.com article:

He said the trustees did not consider amending the benefit plans to include spouses of the same sex.

"We could have, but we didn't," Sheehan said. "I'm sure we have plenty of gay members, and that's OK. They shouldn't have expected benefits if they knew their plan."

Sheehan brushed aside any suggestion that the step could be discriminatory and stressed that his union is free to extend benefits as it sees fit.

"We could choose to change our plan and offer everybody $10,000 worth of dental each year," Sheehan said.

So basically his opinion, and by extension the other 5 executive board members who voted unanimously on the change, is - yeah, we've got gay union members. Tough shit. Because we can do what we want it's not discriminatory; it's just what we want to do.

I'm not sure what analogy he was reaching for with the comparison to a hypothetical decision to vastly expand dental coverage. Is he saying that extending coverage to married gay spouses would be financially problematic in the way that $10K/year of dental coverage would be? If so, say so. Or is he saying that the idea of extending the benefits to gay legal spouses would be as unheard of as offering that amount of dental? If that's their opinion, just say it rather than implying it. If you're going to hold on proudly to your discriminatory attitudes and impose your views on the union members who look to you to protect their best interests, then by all means speak up and state it. If you're going to be an ass, you may as well be a total ass.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:39 AM
Monday, May 10, 2004

Wait, Wait - "I strenuously object!" 

So spoke Demi Moore's character in A Few Good Men, after a courtroom objection was overruled.

The SJC has now denied a motion to vacate Goodridge. The motion was based on a theory that the SJC was without subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. Among the reasons for the denial was that the argument had been previously presented, argued, considered and decided in the case.

In an article on 365gay.com about the latest decision, it was noted that former Boston mayor Ray Flynn has filed a separate motion in Suffolk Superior Court, with similar arguments.

Today Boston.com reports that several conservative groups have filed a motion in U.S. District Court, seeking to block Goodridge, again on similar grounds. According to the article:

The motion argues that the court usurped the constitutional powers of the Legislature and the governor when it changed the state's marriage laws. This, in turn, violated the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees a uniform separation of power in all of the states, the motion argues.

Shari Levitan of Holland & Knight had this to say:

"When the laws that are made violate the state Constitution, it is the court's purview to say yes or no,'' Levitan said. ''I think the significance of this is not the case itself but that it highlights such strong emotions. People are willing to go to the mat with any argument to push their claim."

I have a feeling every day in this final week is going to bring news of additional last-ditch efforts. Whether anyone will come up with something new in their objection, only time will tell. My money says that it will be the same old same old, but more strenuously.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:29 PM
Friday, May 07, 2004

Thinking For Myself, Thank You 

365gay.com reported this week that a special election for a seat on the Village Board of New Paltz, NY was won by Michael Zierler, a supporter of Mayor Jason West. Mayor West is facing criminal charges for performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples earlier this year.

Zierler's opponent in the election was Rick Remsnyder, who is supported by a Village Board member who was vocal in his opposition to Mayor West and his actions. The election was seen as a measure of support or opposition to the mayor.

What I find most interesting is Remsnyder's explanation after his loss. From the article:

Following the vote Remsnyder accused university students who voted in large numbers of skewing the results, saying they outnumbered "real" residents of the village.

"Students cannot think for themselves," he told the Freeman newspaper. "They do village elections as a political exercise or as a protest vote against what they see as the establishment."

Since when can students not think for themselves? Isn't that what they're supposed to be doing while at a university? As for voting being a political exercise - well, that's what voting is. Citizens exercising their right to have a voice in choosing their elected representatives. A protest vote against "the establishment?" Wouldn't the mayor be at the top of that establishment ladder? And even if the votes were in protest against anyone's politics - isn't that also what a vote is for? To express your support or lack of support? Wouldn't a protest vote be an expression of a person's thoughts on the matter at hand?

If he feels students are unable to think for themselves and cast votes responsibly, perhaps he should file legislation to disenfranchise all students. But which students does he have in mind? Am I, at age 39, incapable of voting because I am a student? If I were 18 but not a student, would I then meet Mr. Remsnyder's qualifications?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:23 PM

Romney Threatens Veto 

Even though Governor Romney has previously stated that he was only fighting so hard to uphold the outdated and generally ignored (until now) 1913 marriage law because he can't pick and choose which laws to uphold, it would seem that he has no such qualms about picking and choosing which laws to fight for or against. He's been doing everything he can think of to prevent or hinder issuance of marriage licenses to same sex couples, which will be the law as of May 17, and now he has stated that he will veto any legislation which would repeal that 1913 law.

In his earlier statements about out of state couples, he claimed he was only concerned for the couple's long term legal standing, and the security of the children, should their marriage be invalidated because of the 1913 law. So why then would he insist on that law remaining if the legislature should see fit to repeal it?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:58 AM

Dove Sono? 

I've been down all week with bronchitis and apparently a slight asthma reaction. I've never had asthma, but this is what the nurse practitioner diagnosed. So I've been lying on the couch in a codeine-laced cough syrup daze. Worked really well for studying for that Contracts exam I've got tonight.

I've not logged on or listened to NPR since Monday. I'm assuming nothing earth-shattering happened, or I would have seen some indicators on my way to work this morning. The major story on NPR this morning seems to be the fallout from the Iraqi prisoner abuse. Time for me to catch up on things...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:42 AM
Monday, May 03, 2004

Exam One Tonight 

To paraphrase Pseudolus regarding tonight's featured examination:

Old situations,
New complications,
Nothing portentious or polite:
Tragedy tomorrow,

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:09 AM