Maine gets Gay Marriage just right

When I listened to Governor John Baldacci of Maine give his speech following his signing of the of the Gay Marriage Bill  just a few short hours after receiving the bill, all I could think of was “He got it right”.

I watched and listened to what he said, not as a gay man,  but as a citizen of Maine, and the United States.  Even though I am gay I have not always agreed with the arguments FOR or AGAINST gay marriage. 

It wasn’t until I heard the Governor explain that the new law is about affording equal rights to all Maine citizens as outlined in Maine’s Constitution that it all made sense to me.  The Constitution’s first Article states “All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”

Baldacci used this first and most important Article to first understand for himself that allowing Gay Marriage in Maine is not about granting the same rights to gay people that are affording to heterosexual people.  He said we are all equal and all deserve the same rights and when he looked at the issue from that perspective, he could not come up with any reasons not to allow Gay Marriage.

 He went on further to say that that no religion will be required to conduct same-sex marriages, or even recognize same-sex marriages within the realm of their own belief system because Maine has strict policies about the division of church and State.  And Maine whole-heartedly abides by the Church/State tenet.

These are ideas that I had never heard anyone express in this specific manner before; the idea that the State will allow gay civil marriages but it won’t force any church to recognize them.  So if, for example, the Catholic Church doesn’t want to recognize gay marriage because it goes against their belief system, they don’t have to.  But the Catholic Church can’t tell a gay couple what civil rights they can or cannot have.  The same applies to any other religion.  On the flip side, a gay couple cannot force a religious organization to perform or recognize their marriage and cannot claim discrimination if that church will not recognize their marriage or perform their marriage ceremony.  Under these circumstances, anybody against same-sex marriage CAN hide behind their religion, and take comfort there.  But they can not deny rights to others.

I believe that this is as close as anybody is going to get to writing a law that makes sense when defining gay marriage.  It covers all the bases.  Nobody is forcing anyone to “believe” in anything and those who call themselves “believers” can’t squelch equality and civil rights by hiding behind their religion.  So, like the U.S. Constitution has done so many times, it was Maine’s constitution that acted as the final document to guide us through this divisive issue. 

Governor Baldacci was never comfortable with the gay marriage issue.  But, he found it in himself to understand that legislators, or politicians if you wish, need to take a stand and can not continually defer to public opinion.  All of the far lefties, and far righties have had more than enough time to express their viewpoints on this issue, and they have.  Neither is a shy group. 

The Governor said that he realizes this will not be the last word on the issue.  In my opinion, it should be, but it won’t be.  Instead of worrying about real problems, the whack jobs are going to come crawling out of the woodwork.  

The Maine Legislature and the Governor have laid down the gauntlet.  There are no “reasonable” arguments against this law as it was written.  First, anybody who protests this law must first say to themselves, and then the public, “I intend to take away the civil rights of others”.   Secondly, anybody who intends to use the Bible or their religion as an argument can stop right there.  The law clearly states that you don’t have to religiously recognize gay marriage or perform gay marriage if you don’t want to.  So what’s left?

Well, there’s the “I simply think it is wrong” argument.   Hmmm?  Are they also against heterosexual couples who get married and never intend to have children, or those who get married for convenience, or those who get married to obtain property, money, or social status (you know, the reason marriage was invented in the first place).  What one “thinks” or “believes” is wrong is immaterial.  Because under the Constitution of the State of Maine, all citizens have equal rights and included in that is their right to marry whom they choose as long as it is not breaking any other laws (like the minimum age for marriage or harm to animals). 

There is only one argument against Maine’s Gay Marriage law and it’s a faux-argument called “hate, fear, and ignorance” none of which are viable arguments against ANY law.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean some people in Maine won’t mind standing up and saying “I hate, I fear, and I am ignorant” to try and get their way.


Obama and Clinton differ on NAFTA and Health Care

If you compare Obama and Clinton on issues, it is true that they have the same basic platform, beliefs, and commitment.  I’m not one to go along with generally accepted truths blindly, but in this case, I do believe that Obama and Clinton really only differ on Free Trade and Health Care.

As for free trade, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) came into being when Bush One was in power.  I believe that Bill Clinton made some adjustments to it to try and make it better, but in reality he also used it as one of his first attempts in his Presidency to get some form of agreement from both sides of the aisle. 

Now, while Hillary supported NAFTA at the time, she has since said, “I have been critical of NAFTA for years.  I have said repeatedly that it did not realize its potential or its promises and we had to change it.”  I’m not sure what this really means.  It is a passive-aggressive statement, using the word “it” as if to separate herself from a distant idea.  So, she knew NAFTA wasn’t working, or wouldn’t work but she supported it then, but not now.  I’m so confused.  But one thing stands out for me.  It seems that Bill and Hillary didn’t think the whole NAFTA thing out too clearly.  Bill Clinton still defends NAFTA but says that if it is not considered successful, it is because the rules weren’t enforced, not because NAFTA was a bad deal.   The bottom line for me is that since NAFTA went into effect in January 1994, there has been major fighting between the countries involved (U.S., Canada, and Mexico), the unions involved, the industries involved, and the governments involved.  No matter how you slice it, NAFTA is controversial and has never been proved to be beneficial to anyone except big business in America who got richer off the deal.  I’m not too keen on a world leader who takes the approach of “let’s send it up the flagpole and see if it flies”.  This was not typical of Bill Clinton so I’m not sure what really happened back then.  As President, you need to be a lot more insightful than that.  You can’t just “try it” and see if it works.  You owe it to the American people to think about it, listen to your advisers, listen to the citizens of this country, and listen to your gut.  If you truly believe you are doing the right thing, then do it, and own it, successful or not.

As for health care, Hillary Clinton’s plan is similar to the plan in existence right now in Massachusetts.  Essentially, health care is MANDATORY, meaning you must get insurance.  My sister and her family live in Massachusetts and they have told me that this mandate is a financial hardship for them.  They are scraping by now and have the additional burden of figuring out how to pay for this mandatory insurance. 

So, if you can afford it, too bad, Clinton’s plan is that you must have health care.  In many circumstances, the problem is not “getting” health care but “affording” health care.  I don’t see the point in mandating that the citizens of America get health care if the money is coming out of their own pockets regardless of whether or not they will be able to feed their families after paying for health care.  Something just doesn’t make sense.  Hillary Clinton has said, in rebuttal, that she plans to provide tax credits to help defray the cost of health insurance.  As an average American, do you understand how a tax credit is going to help you afford to go to the doctor TODAY because you are sick but don’t have the money to pay the doctor?  Clinton also plans on enforcing, in some manner, her mandatory health insurance plan.  She has talked about “garinishing wages” or some other “enforcement mechanisms”.  What does that really mean.  I’ll be penalized by my government if I can’t afford to buy health care by them taking money forcefully from me?

I believe that Mrs. Clinton misrepresents the facts when she says that her plan is superior to Obama’s because he plan “covers everyone” and his does not.  Barack Obama’s plan is based on the fact that Americans don’t have insurance because they simply can’t afford it.  Many Americans get insurance through their employer, some who CAN afford it, buy it privately, and others may get it by being a member of an association (for example, the Small Business Association) where they can get more affordable insurance because they can be part of a group plan.  With this in mind, Obama is saying that for everyone else who WANTS insurance, he would like to make affordable insurance available (in an insurance plan similar to the one members of Congress enjoy today).  He does not plan to enforce mandatory insurance on anyone but rather offer affordable alternatives so that people who WANT insurance have affordable options.  His only talk of enforcement comes from his belief that children should have insurance and since children can’t speak for themselves, and are our most vulnerable citizens, he may come up with some plan to enforce parents to provide insurance for their children.  Most importantly, Barack Obama has said that his first priority is to bring costs down.  That’s a good priority to have when compared to enforcing health insurance for everyone.  We all know that health insurance companies are second only to oil companies in terms of monumental, undeserved profits.

I am not saying that what I have written is the absolute final word on this.  I have written this based on the research I have done and my interpretation of it.  There are so many misconceptions based on the words that the candidates use and how they are interpreted by the media and the public.  I think it is the responsibility of each of us to do our homework and make our own decisions.  This is just my humble opinion.

Thanks for stopping by.

McCain and the New York Times? The Obamas Hate America?

First let me say that I am not affiliated with a political party.  Yes, I do tend to lean more liberal or progressive in my opinions, but I don’t blindly walk and talk the liberal game plan.

Second, I do NOT agree with what the New York times has said about John McCain regarding some mysterious woman and the insinuations they made that McCain has some sort of inappropriate relationship (whatever that means) during his 2000 bid for the presidency.  They have no real sources, and just recently, the Times endorsed McCain, only to now try and discredit him.  I think that is wrong.  I’m still not voting for McCain but he’s a decent enough guy that I’ll stick up for him where I can.

Mike Gallagher talked about this today on his show and how he had strong feelings that the NY Times was involved in a smear campaign and I actually agreed with him.

In an attempt to stir up even more trouble, he went a bit too far.  I don’t know why he didn’t stick to the McCain subject.  He would have been fine because his argument made sense.  But no.

He went right into talking about Barack and Michelle Obama saying that they both hated America.  He brought up Michelle Obama’s comment about being the first time in her adult life that she was proud to be American.

I do understand where she is coming from.  I believe what she meant is the same thing that is similar to what I feel.  When I was younger, I was proud to be an American.  But now after these long arduous Bush years, and the “me” generation that preceded that, being a proud American was not necessarily something I thought about every day. 

But now things are different.  It’s not that I am now proud for the first time.  But it feels as if it has been so long since I felt as proud as I am to be an American, that the words  “it’s the first time in my adult life that I feel proud to be an American” could easily roll of my tongue the same way they did hers.  Michelle said later, in her explanation, that she doesn’t remember a time when there was a movement in this country, a groundswell of patriotism, based on everyday Americans being proud to be part of the political party. 

Don’t let Gallagher fool you.  He said “the worst thing you can do to a liberal is call them unpatriotic”.  And so he called Barack and Michelle unpatriotic because NY Times publisher Arthur Salzberger crafted an unusual speech for a graduation commencement where he apologized that his generation did not fix all of the problems in this country that they promised themselves and their children that they would fix (like unlawful wars, a woman’s right to choose, and same sex marriage).  I really didn’t get the connection of Salzberger’s speech to the Obamas other than that he grouped them all together as America Haters.  Maybe there was more to it, I had to get out of the car and could listen no longer (thank god).  But realistically, it doesn’t matter how he might have justified saying all of that.

Well, liberals don’t hate America.  Hate is a strong word anyway but since Gallagher used it, I will.  Liberals hate the Bush Administration, they hate Bush’s cronies and their policies, they hate the Bush Administrations manipulations and lies, they hate conservative talk radio hosts base their shows on “truthiness”.  But they don’t hate America.  They are doing what they do because they love America and want everyone to have any equal shot in this world.

Conservative talk radio is running scared, and so are the conservatives who listen

I tend to listen to conservative talk radio, not because I agree with them, in fact most times I get so angry I want to stop the car and call someone.  I listen so I can figure out what is going on in their heads.

In the last few weeks, everyone from Rush to Hannity to Laura are all behaving like small children who are stomping their feet because they aren’t getting their way.  And they are acting like teenagers who think that a “revolt” against the establishment (which as now become the democratic party) is the best laid plan.

I here words like “we are battling for the very soul of the republican party”.  And I hear, for the first time in years, Republicans bashing other republicans.  They are running scared, and jumping ship, not from the party or conservative views, but running from any presidential candidate who might have a progressive thought mixed into the fray of his campaign.

We non-republicans have been listening to ultra-conservative, manipulating rhetoric for 8 years and I must say that I am taking pleasure in watching the conservative mouth pieces on talk radio sink to new lows, knowing that they are fighting a losing battle.  If you really listen and compare what they say to what you know in your heart to be the truth, you will find it funny.  And a little sad.

And I can’t believe they are still bringing up abortion.  I have written other articles about this but I will state it again.  I am not saying abortion is right, or wrong.  I believe anybody who has to deal with abortion as a personal issue will struggle desparately with their decision.  But abortion is not something that I think about everyday, or need to think about every day.  I have no reason, based on the people in my life and the people I know, to worry about it every day.  My circle of family and friends isn’t making appointments for abortions on a regular basis.  And neither are theirs.  So get off it.  Get off your high horse about abortion and gay marriage and the things that make no difference in our everyday lives.  I have to get up and go to work everyday and try to put food on the table and gas in the car and pay the utility bills.  Abortion and gay marriage don’t have anything to do with that.  I also don’t worry about whether or not Osama is planning an attack on my neighborhood or on the roads I drive to get to work to make some money to eek out some sort of so-called living. 

 Get your heads out of the sand when it comes to “issues”.  You’re starting to piss me off now.

Take back the election (Part 2) – it’s time to study for the final exam

In a previous post, I had asked that each of us concentrate on our own state, our own candidates, and not worry too much about what’s going on in Iowa and New Hampshire.  They happen to voice their opinion about the presidential candidates first, but they are not the only ones who get to have their say.

Each state has a primary.  It is our duty as citizens of these states to find out what each candidates stands for and what his or her plans are.  Then match up those views with what you believe in, and vote with your conscience when it comes time for your primary.

In tis country, we are not used to doing our homework when it comes to elections. We are used to relying on the media (too heavily) whether it be newspapers, magazines, or talking heads on the tube.  In many ways elections results can and are molded by the media and to whom they choose to pay attention.  A large segment of the population votes based on what Letterman and Leno had to say; or take their cues from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.  All good, all funny, and all probably even get us to think.  But that is their opinion, what about yours.

But that’s not how it should be and not how our founding fathers wanted it to be.  There are untold number of resources available to each of us to find out what each candidate stands for.  The Internet itself is a vast source of information and while the Internet can contain bias just like any other medium, the sheer volume of information available to us allows us to weed through it all and make judgements of our own.

So please, let’s not rely on other people to tell us who to vote for.  And please don’t make assumptions about candidates simply because they are democrats or republicans, women or men, black or white.  There is simply too much at stake here and the lines between party lines have blurred so much (like it or not).  For example, a democrat may find a republican that has opinions more in line with what the democrat believes in,  like say fiscal conservatism.   Maybe you consider yourself to be a very progressive liberal, but you struggle with the idea of abortion.  Not all democrats agree with how things should be done, nor do all republicans, or any other second political party.   Can you even name another polictial party (other than “independent”; that is not a political party, it just means unaffiliated with the well knows Dems and Reps).

I am not here to ask that you vote a particular way or for a particular party.  I will not spout off my political views and try to convince you of anything.  I am asking that each of us do our homework.  Don’t vote blindly based on what you think is popular opinion or the party line.  If you are not sure of a candidates position on a topic, find out.  If you can’t find it easily, call the closest headquarters for the candidate.  They will be happy to explain their position.  If you don’t have access to that, call the candidates office.  They all have toll free numbers.

Did you really understand what Al Gore, John Kerry, or George W. Bush stood for before you pulled that lever?  Can you look back now and question whether or not you had educated yourself enough to make the decision that you made?  That’s the point of the posting.

I’ve only become somewhat political in the last year or so.  All I can tell you is that if you want information or answers, it is out there. 

If you understand how much say you really have and how important this election really is, then I believe that you will all be Pioneers.  You should at least know what isn’t working, in your opinion, so you know who NOT to vote for.   Again, your opinion and your vote matters, as long as you cast your vote with conviction based on what YOU believe and you alone.

In other countries, as I am writing this posting, there are people being murdered for their political beliefs.  I don’t want to get all sappy but I don’t think we realize what a privilege we have to be able to pick our own president.  So go out there, trust democracy, get educated and cast your vote.  If no, what will you tell your children about how this whole thing works.

Think ahead, and thank you for stopping by.

Take back the election

We’ve have had some interesting elections lately.  But these are almost nothing compared to what happened leading up to and prior to the early 1800’s.  Before that time, Americans didn’t realize that they themselves elected a President, not the Washington insiders.

Take it back.  Speak your voice, speak your heart, speak your mind, and speak with your vote.  It counts.  Forget caucuses and primaries, there is so little we can do about those.  But go out and learn about who is running, what they stand for, and vote for the one who stands the closet to what you believe.  If you have a minute, try to convince one other person of your point of view.  That is politics. Make it simple.  And think ahead.

From Gregory Gore – Greed and poverty are literally destroying the world

The following is an email I received from Gregory Gore, the photographer, entitled “The Rule of 100”.  He who was so distraught over the current condition of the world, he felt compelled to write and asked that we pass it along.  It struck a chord with me so here it is:

When George Bush was re-elected I basically decided to go silent on politics. I decided that most people either don’t care about politics or have simply stopped paying attention to the important issues.   In either case, I withdrew my voice out of a sense of hopelessness and despair.


Now I see so much going wrong in the world around us and feel so little inspiration for the candidates that have come forward for 2008 that I feel compelled to say something.   Maybe my words will register somewhere and have a blowing in the wind effect.  Maybe there are others who are thinking along the same lines.  Maybe some conversations will get started on a national level about some of the issues that really matter to all of us.   Read More »

The story of an American and a Saudi – it might suprise you.

In the course writing of my blogs, I do a lot of research.  I research anything available to me on the Internet so that I can try and peel away the layers and find the truth; somewhere.  In my travels on the web I ended up making contact with a 22 year old guy in Saudi Arabia.  Some would say we met under unusual circumstances.  I am gay and he happens to be gay and one night a week ago or so, we found ourselves chatting using instant messaging.  We became somewhat enamored of each other; there was something about the way we talked and shared, the way we flirted and cared, that made me realize that when you peel away all the layers of politics, religion, sex, and lifestyle, we are essentially all the same.  We all want to be loved, we all want attention, we all bleed when we are stabbed; we are all lonely when left alone too long.  We all believe in a power greater than ourselves, we all are sometimes so empty that we want to reach out to anyone who will listen. 

I have so many unanswered questions:  What is it like to live where you are?  What are your freedoms?  What is your lack of freedom?  What is your schedule like half way around the world? When do you work, when do you sleep? What to you think of Americans or any other nationality out there?  I hear the pain in your voice and want to fly half way around the world; this evil world’ and take whatever chances I need to take, to get to you and hug you and let you fall apart from the unbearable pain and let you cry on my shoulder.  I don’t care if we become friends or lovers or neither of these.  Read More »

It is time for this war to end

Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Cindy Sheehan, Barak Obama, George Bush, Ron Paul – there is so much going on and so much rhetoric.  When is this all going to end.  It is time for the war to be OVER, NOW.  If we all pack up and leave, will we really be any worse off than we are now.  How many more thousands of soldiers and civilians must die, for nothing, before we end this.  Not that soldiers die in vain, I don’t mean that, but what did they really die for.  I love them and support them and I want each and every one of them home with the people that love them.  Being around those who love you is the most important thing in anybody’s life.

Fighting for freedom is the most honorable thing that anybody can do.  I am not a soldier but I still fight for freedom; in my words, in my blogs, in my conversations with friends and family.  Anyting I can do to try to stop this insanity because I can no longer make sense of any of it.  I will never be a soldier and our soldiers are the most beloved people to me in my whole life.  I wish I was as brave as they are.  I am too old now and I guess I hide behing my paper and pencil like so many others do.