We can be better than barbarians

The biggest news story in Ohio in this past September was about Romell Broom–a death row inmate who was supposed to be executed a few weeks ago but due to the inability of the executioners to locate a viable vein in which to administer the lethal injection, his execution was temporarily suspended. (I tried to see if he finally did get executed, as this happened earlier in the month of September, but there are no recent news articles.)

This story, of course, got me to thinking about the death penalty. I used to be for it. Growing up, I believed in what I later learned was spelled out in the ancient code of Hammerabi: “eye for an eye.” A lot of my fellow citizens also seem to ascribe to this code, believing that one should pay equally for the crime which they committed against someone else. We are human, we seek retribution in our anger over injustice.

But life isn’t as simple as the “eye for an eye” philosophy suggests. Our legal system–any legal system–is not perfect enough for unfailing accuracy in convictions. Sometimes (not in the case of Mr. Broom) the wrong man is convicted because the evidence makes him look awfully guilty. Our legal system is not based on the guilt or innocence but whether or not it can be proven that a person is guilty. There’s just not enough certainty all the time to hang a man.

I hate to say it, but one of the major turning points in my thoughts on the death penalty happened when I watched the fictional film The Life of David Gale. In this movie, David Gale (played by Kevin Spacey) is a part of this radical group of individuals so opposed to the death penalty that they stage what looks like a murder (actually killing someone–the victim participates in her own death as an act of martyrism) with Gale as the guilty party. Of course, you learn by the end of the movie that the death was willful suicide and that Gale was not guilty, but it’s too late and Gale is executed for a crime he didn’t commit. The movie was, of course, blatant propaganda by an agency against the death penalty. Still, it caused me to rethink my own feelings on the death penalty, not only for the innocent man wrongly accused but for the guilty man rightly convicted.

You see, it’s my belief that a civilized society only needs to resort to violence when absolutely necessary. I realize that wars are sometimes warranted. There’s always a faction of “civilized” people with a thirst for power and the madness and drive to attain it. There are dire situations when dire action is needed. However, I believe this force should be used sparingly lest we become the big bullies in the school yard, the ones who would eventually need someone more civilized to come around and tame.

My idea of a civilized society is based on the notion that the human race has a chance to advance itself to a point where we can become, in a sense, higher beings. We have so much potential for good. I think we, as a race, should strive every day to better ourselves, try desperately to beat out of our DNA these barbaric tendencies that lead us down the path to self-destruction. Just as I try, hard, every day to better my own self–to rid myself of those qualities that make me an undesirable person such as jealousy, anger, and prejudice. We can evolve ourselves. And part of that evolution, to me, is desisting in activities that make us savages.

The death penalty is a savage way of dealing with our criminals. Fighting fire with fire does not make a wrong become right. We have the ability in these situations to take the upper hand and not return brutality with more brutality. At the end of the day, no matter how just we think we’re being in executing a convicted murderer, we’re only committing murder ourselves. Murder is always wrong.

I can never understand why some of the people who support the death penalty scream loudest against abortion rights. If you truly believe in the sanctity of human life, then you should also believe that the murder of one of your own adult citizens is also wrong. If you believe in a divine power who is just and fair, then you should assume that a guilty person will someday pay for their sins if they do not repent. And, I will point out in my limited Biblical knowledge and failed Christian education, that Jesus asked people to give everyone a chance, no matter what their past history was, because everyone had an opportunity to be forgiven. A person of faith should be opposed to the death penalty by nature because he/she should realize it’s not our position to chose life and death for someone else.

As a somewhat secular person myself (with spiritual tendencies and a generic belief in karma), I don’t think it’s our place to sentence someone–no matter how guilty we know them to be–to death. I believe that the willful murder of any life–animal or person–is not only wrong but against our better natures. I don’t believe that ultimately people pay the price for their “sins”; I think that sometimes life just sucks and you’re subject to circumstances beyond your control. I want to hope that in some way a murder is punished ultimately for what he/she has done. But that may be just the savage human inside of me who seeks “eye for an eye” justice because it seems the fairest. Though, a part of me always feels that a person is somehow accountable on some level for his/her own actions and that, in ways we can’t even imagine, he/she might pay for his/her grievous mistakes. I just don’t think it’s our place to step in as the final arbitrator between life and death–to play God–for someone else.

Unfortunately, I don’t offer any solutions on just what we should do with someone who has committed murder other than a life sentence without a chance of parole, depending on the circumstances. I realize that that’s more tax payer dollars going to keep undesirable people alive. But money shouldn’t determine whether a person lives or dies. A lot of these people are probably broken and can never be rehabilitated. And I think a person should always have the chance to fight for the case of his innocence through appeals. Perhaps every once in awhile an innocent man wrongly convicted is set free.

People always tell me I’d feel different if someone I knew was murdered. However, I don’t think so. When someone we love dies–no matter how they die–a part of us wants retribution on some banal level. My husband died of natural causes and I still found myself wanting to bring someone to fault for what happened–myself for not knowing CPR or what to do as my husband lay dying before my eyes, the doctor who turned him away as having an anxiety attack when he had his first cardiac incident, even Mike since he never pursued the matter further. I could attack whomever I wanted. I could have sued that emergency room doctor, perhaps the whole hospital, and won myself some money. And then what? Once revenge is taken, the person is still dead. You are still left with that hollow, empty feeling of someone who has lost a loved one. Nothing you can do will make that pain go away except time. Having someone else’s blood on your hands will eventually only make you feel worse. Just like when you inflicted revenge on that one nasty person who treated you badly in middle school. For a few days, you felt good for tarnishing their reputation or beating the crap out of them, but after that immediate thirst was quenched, you still couldn’t take away all the mean things they said about you, the things that sometimes still haunt your mind when you’re feel less self-assured.

And there’s still the question of whether or not the convicted person is actually guilty of the crime. I think we have possibly executed people in the past who were truly innocent of the crime of which they were convicted. I hope that in our modern society this becomes less of a possibility in the advent of technology that allows us to find DNA evidence. However, even DNA evidence isn’t necessarily fool-proof (actual criminals may be more careful of leaving evidence behind while someone who is innocent may inadvertently contaminate a crime scene).

To advance ourselves as a race, we need to step away from our savage instincts. We need to behave like civilized people and treat our even our citizens–even those convicted of a crime–with more compassion. We will never reach our fullest potential as a race if we can’t act better than our animal instincts.

Taxing your health

I really abhor laws put in place to protect you from yourself. Despite being a paying patron of the performing arts, I was ardently against the Cleveland initiative to place an extra tax on cigarettes to give the money to performing arts, but I couldn’t vote on it since I don’t live in Cuyahoga County. Some of my friends were against this tax because they thought the tax money should go to a fund that helps people who are dying of cancer or other smoking-related diseases. I agree with them there. We should not reap the benefits of people smoking to fund an unrelated group in need of funding. But I also don’t think we should tax people on their personal choices. It not only sets a dangerous precedent, but it’s not our business to legislate how people should spend their money or penalize them for spending money on something the general public deems a “dangerous activity.”

I’m not for smoking. Don’t get me wrong. I am a recovering smoker, so I do have a certain empathy towards that part of the population. However, though I voted against it, I actually am enjoying the law against cigarette smoking in restaurants and bars now, which I never thought I would. It turns out that it’s easier for me–as a recovering smoker–to avoid the craving for cigarettes when I’m not sitting there amidst a bunch of cigarette smokers. And I’m sure all the non-smokers out there are happy because they no longer leave places smelling like an ash tray.

That said, however, I never did and never will agree on adding an additional tax to cigarettes for use to fund other programs. The dangerous precedent we set here by adding such tax is the freedom to open the flood gates of ridiculousness for other special interest groups to jump on the band wagon of adding “sin taxes” to anything and everything that they deem is in your best interest. I’m not usually one to believe in “cascading events”–one event will begin the unraveling of the entire woven blanket of civilization as we know it. However, when it comes to people getting a definite supply of money from something, I do think events can cascade out of control.

Case in point is the news blurb I heard this morning about adding a tax to pop (soda to those not in the Midwest). A little vein started to pound on my head when I heard this discussion come up this morning and it did not help the migraine I’d woken up with. The thought process behind this brilliant idea is that pop/soda is bad for you. Which, okay, we know sugar pop/soda is not the best thing you can drink. BUT. It’s YOUR decision to drink it. Why should you be penalized for your personal choice to drink something or your lack of will power to keep yourself from drinking it constantly? Who’s wise matronly decision is it penalize you for your choices?

I want to know who these people are who think they are the Mothers of America, dictating what they think is right for everyone. These people–whoever they are–are going to tell us what is good for us to eat and if we decide that we are going to go against that predetermined little nutritional chart, they are going to charge us more money to purchase something we enjoy. What happens next, then? Hmmm? Taxing me for eating meat? For buying coffee? For chocolate? Let’s get real here!

“They” want to take the money generated from the pop tax to fund public awareness programs about health. We don’t need public awareness campaigns about health. I know the secret to good health: GET OFF YOUR BUTTS AND DO SOME EXERCISE. You are not going to be in good health by starving yourself and then continuing an inactive lifestyle. I am not convinced that any study we’ve done proves much of anything as far as food is concerned. One week, I’m told coffee may cause cancer; the next week I’m told coffee is actually good for you. I’m sorry, but I think there are a variety of variables that contribute to your overall health–genetics, exercise level, environment–and not one single thing is going to cause your demise. Sometimes, you’re just damned unlucky and no matter what you did right, you’re still going to end up with some massive health issue. Why spend all this time obsessing about it?

I just don’t think it’s right or constitutional to start adding extra taxes on things because someone somewhere has deemed that a particular product is unsafe for you. It rubs me the wrong way to have some Over-Mother out there slapping my wrist for the personal choices I make. We don’t need more laws to protect us from ourselves. We have to take a bit of personal responsibility for our lives and the choices we make, not blame the problem on the people who make Coke or Marlboros. The government should not be in the business of legislating personal choice or morality.

And I won’t stop drinking my pop. Though, I admit, I switched long ago to diet pop. And you can tell me all you want that it’s still bad for my health but I’m not going to stop drinking it. It’s my choice. If you want to argue with me that I’m an unhealthy person, then I challenge you to ride up Everett Road with me sometime. We’ll see who’s unhealthy.

Why we will never see eye to eye

My dad always tells me that my biggest fault is that I always think I’m right. I got to thinking about this statement and I’ve decided that of course I think I’m right. Don’t you think you’re right? What kind of person lives life not thinking anything they say or do or believe in is right? Everyone thinks they are right.

But I don’t think that that is what my dad–or some other friends who don’t agree with my point of view–meant. I suppose it’s all in my passionate delivery of beliefs to other people. My persistent insistence that my point of view is the one to lead humanity down the true, righteous path. My feverish pitch like a tel-evangelist, trying desperately to win your soul to the side of the holy, and if you aren’t coming with, then you’re left to the world of the damned.

Well, maybe not quite so bad.

But I do hold strongly to those things I believe in. And I never thought this was a negative quality about myself. I figured if I could, like all Christians are bid to do, set a good example for others, perhaps they would follow me too. I’m slowly realizing that there are just too many differences between those of us on the Left and those of us on the Right for either side to ever reach a compromise. Emotions are too strong (much like my own, though people will deny they feel that strongly about something until you start to get them into a discussion about it).

I thought I could sit quietly on my opinion and try to tame myself for the sake of close friends who are conservative. I thought that we could agree to disagree and just move on with our relations. But it doesn’t work too well because what we believe is so central and core to our beings that it shapes everything about our existences–how we view the world, what we do in our spare time, how we pray and what we pray for (or if we pray at all), and even how we view each other. It’s hard to contain all that stuff. It’s nearly impossible to bite your tongue when you want to speak.

I’m learning that when I’m speaking my mind–again, in that fervor that I have trouble taming–it’s viewed as shoving my point-of-view down the throats of those who do not agree. Which is, ironically, how I’ve always felt about the Right and their opinions. Making laws to outlaw abortion is forcing someone else’s code of morality on me and others. Refusing basic marriage privileges to an entire group of people based on the fact that their biology leads them to love those in their own gender is discrimination of the worst kind–to me, akin to making slaves of blacks or outlawing interracial marriage.

I’ve tried to remove my emotions from my ideas enough to look at these sort of things from the other point of view. To someone on the right, allowing abortion in our nation is like having no law against murders or rapists. To some on the right, those of the evangelical religious persuasion, allowing homosexuals to marry would lead the world one step closer to the city of Sodom which God vanquished. To those of us in the more secular camp, this seems like a ridiculous idea, but there are people who live in real fear of God’s ability to smite down those He has deemed sinful. I’m not trying to mock here, I’m being serious. Those of the less evangelical bend, but still mostly religious, will say that allowing homosexuals to marry “just isn’t right” and cite quotations from the Bible–Old and New Testament–where it has been stated that homosexuality is an abomination.

The explanations go deeper still than what I’m able to convey here. I have a lot of trouble digging deeper with people on these topics because for me they are so hot button. If I care about someone, I’m sincerely afraid to hear totally what their point of view is on these issues because I’m afraid it will make me hate them. Well, not hate. Maybe more like, I will think less of them because people who do not back these things I hold so dear, that I feel justified in believing on the most humanistic of levels, I feel, on some level, are just not compassionate. And that’s just not something you want to think about another friend.

I’ve honestly tried to see the other side. But in the end, I find myself trying desperately to sway those on the other side to my point of view. I’ll even try to provide examples of people in their camp who might agree with my thinking. For example, I’ll try to persuade a Christian friend that gay marriage can be validated by Christian ideas, introducing some author or minister or someone important within the faith who takes this stance. I think I’m being clever and finding a way to speak the language of the other camp. However, in the end, the person I’m trying to persuade will simply invalidate the other person’s opinion with some sort of dig that my liberal Christian representative is not a follower of the truth faith. Or the person I’m trying to persuade will just insist that he/she does not agree with my liberal example.

So, I don’t know. I’m kind of left with a feeling of hopelessness about the whole situation of Right v. Left. I think it will always be Right versus Left because the two sides will never change their mind. We are who we are. I’m not even sure how it happened. I was raised in a pretty middle-of-the-road household. I was even raised Christian (Catholic). Somewhere along the line, I chose for myself to not be Christian or Catholic–I just wasn’t getting it at all–and I chose to be a crazy hippy liberal. It’s what made sense to me. It was not necessarily how I was raised, though my mother, it turns out, is also quite liberal but somewhere to the right of what I am.

I am not sure we can even ever compromise. We will just argue ourselves into a stalemate. And both sides will continue slurring the other under their breath. Because even though we try to see things from the other point-of-view, a part of us feels the other side is something less than human. Like how I can’t get passed anyone who is against gay marriage because I feel like a person of this nature enjoys marginalizing other people. I really don’t know how a person justifies denying marriage to a whole third of our population. Maybe it’s money, maybe Biblical, maybe hatred. I don’t know. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t look past this sort of thing in a person. To me, marginalizing a population of human beings this way means you have a cruel heart underneath what I see. Even though I know this can’t be true.

It’s a never-ending cycle. We will lose breath trying to change each other. No one changes their opinion. Not this late in the game of life. It’s just very frustrating.

I’m starting to take the world view that I should just let the chips fall where they may. It doesn’t matter what I say or think, the world will just push on as it does. I can vote, run down the road screaming in protest, but it’s not going to do a single thing to change the tide of life. So maybe I should just hang around with people who agree with me and forget the Right exists. Maybe that’s what we all gotta do–just find like-minded friends and shut ourselves off from everyone else. That’s pretty much what we do anyway.

Obama is already MY president!

Two days in office and Obama already has achieved a high approval rating from Mars Girl with what he’s already done in office:

Salary freeze on his staff– About frakking time someone put a lid right at the source. Employees throughout the rest of the country are faced with salary freezes right now and I’m pleased that it extends to our government. This action shows me that Obama doesn’t intend to reap the benefits of his position while promising change for all of us little guys pushing our way through the strains of our daily job.

Closing Gitmo – When I heard this morning about Obama’s drafted order to close Guantanamo Bay within the next year, I did a little happy dance in the shower. I do not condone torture and there’s been a serious breech of protocol going on down there. Close that frakking base down. We don’t need it. We have an obligation to treat prisoners humanely.

I think we as a race have a real chance here to be better than our bestial nature. If there’s a God, that’s what he wants of us. We don’t get a free pass, in my opinion, to give into our baser natures while we’re alive just because Jesus Christ walked the earth. A man cannot say he raped a girl because he couldn’t control his urges; likewise, we human beings can’t surrender to barbarism because our baser nature urges us to seek revenge. I don’t care if others don’t “play fair” in war. We have a real opportunity here to be the better person–the more civilized society. “Do unto others as you would have done to you” does not mean you should be allowed to treat the enemy like something less than human.

I’m already pleased with what Obama’s done. The dust has barely settled from all the Inaugural parties and already Obama’s rolled up his sleeves and started making positive change. I don’t remember ole GW getting down to business this fast. I am seeing good things for the future. I hope some of the neo-cons realize the significance of this moment.

One of my good friends relayed the following to me in an email message on Inauguration Day, “I couldn’t help thinking while listening to the inauguration speech that it is within Obama’s power to return the rights lost by Californians and provide them to the rest of us. Until we all share the same basic human rights, we cannot be free.”

I hope she’s right! I hope the publicly validated discrimination that was allowed to take place under GW gets wiped away over the next four years. I feel like close-minded hysteria has ruled the last eight years. We let a loud minority group of religious fanatics to have too much voice. It’s time to start acting rational again.

Prayer in the Public Forum

I’m not one of those atheists/agnostics/non-Christians who is trying to take your prayer away from you. (In fact, I’d debate that atheists/agnostics/non-Christians are not trying to take your prayer away.) I think there’s a time and a place for everything and I, being somewhat spiritual, am not going to scream discrimination because a prayer is said from time to time in public. However–and this is a big however–I think that 1) there is a time and place for prayer in public, and 2) if prayer is to be invoked in public, the wording should be carefully considered in order to be inclusive.

Yes, “inclusive”–that dirty, word cast about by liberals trying to muck up our human language for a few minority groups. Most neo-cons (who are generally white males) find having to be inclusive cumbersome and annoying. They don’t want to be inclusive–they want all these minority groups to conform to their standards. It doesn’t matter that society innately bends in the favor of the white Christian man. In the view of the neo-con, all minorities should aspire to this standard. And why not? Because they view their way as the “right way.”

I’m not a huge fan of public prayer. To me, prayer, and your underlying religious beliefs, is a deeply personal thing. Do I pray? I guess you could call what I do praying, though I like to say “meditate.” None of it is out loud and I rarely share it with anyone else. I don’t think it’s necessary to pray before meals, but will do it if I’m obliged to by a greater majority of people, though I rarely actually say anything–I let the host or whoever do the talking. Having been an atheist most of my life, now more recently spiritual as a UU, I feel a bit embarrassed and awkward when people ask me to pray with them publicly. Still, I do it, if it makes the people I’m with feel better.

I guess the same could be said of my view of public prayer–the type that occurs around special events where there is an invocation or benediction. I just put up with it, generally. It makes me feel, again, awkward and embarrassed, but I’ll partake if I must. If you would ask me to lead a prayer, I would decline. If you are of a specific religious persuasion, you probably wouldn’t like the generalities of my prayer too much anyway (I would probably replace the word “God” with “Oh, Great Unknown Force of Creation” or something equally as hippy/new-agey as that.)

Though I would never call up the ACLU to bring up a case against prayer in a public arena (such as a commencement or an inauguration), I would have to admit that I’m of the opinion that anything in public–i.e., not in a church or at dinner with family–should not involve a prayer. It’s that whole separation of church and state thing. And I don’t think it’s fair to inflict a religion-specific prayer on a mixed audience who could be Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc. etc. Just because Christianity is the majority in this country does not give it the right to be the default prayer structure for everyone in public.

I think prayer is totally inappropriate in public schools. Here’s where I might call up the ACLU. I don’t think prayer is going to make the schools any safer (if you are a true believer, you believe that all happens according to God’s plan anyway, so you have to think that those who die in school shootings were “supposed” to die). I don’t think a reverence to any deity not enforced at home is going to make a kid any better. If you want your kid to pray in school, send them to a private school where such is allowed. Public schools are full of kids of all kinds of backgrounds and to expect them to pray to your deity is ridiculous. I don’t think a moment of silence is appropriate either.

The whole prayer discussion was a source of contention in my high school. The year I graduated, our school board had ruled that we would no longer have a prayer to open our graduation ceremony. Our principal at the time, obviously a man of the faith, was really upset and implored our valedictorian and salutatorian to begin their speech with a prayer. Fortunately for him, the salutatorian was a Christian, so the prayer got said. But I fumed. Had I been smart enough to be the valedictorian or salutatorian back then, I would definitely have not said the prayer because he was infringing on my rights to free speech. Secondly, at the time I was an atheist. Even as a somewhat spiritual/agnostic/UU, I don’t believe I would have said a prayer because, as I stated above, I don’t feel the public arena is really the place for this sort of thing. Also, since it is not in my nature to pray out loud, it is not something I would have naturally inserted into my speech anyway.

All that said, you might ask in what forum I consider public prayer appropriate. Maybe in situations of crisis. For example, if I were speaking after the 9-11 attacks, I might say something like, “Our thoughts and prayer go out to those who died at the World Trade Center.” This leaves room for people to form their own prayer in their own tongue in silence. If someone else is speaking, and they feel it is necessary, I will even allow for a group lead prayer so long as the language is inclusive and not damning of other people. In this case, you are free to use the word “God” if you must, but I would prefer the language not be like that of a televangelist where every other breath is about Jesus and not something we can all relate to–whatever our creed.

I don’t know if I’m making much sense here. I’m trying to explain the reasoning behind why I hated Rick Warren’s invocation but loved Joseph Lowery’s benediction. I felt the invocation was the meaningless rambling of a reverent Christian which really should be reserved for his congregants on Sunday mornings. On the other hand, the benediction spoke beyond the Christian dogma–didn’t try to shove Christianity down anyone’s throat–and called on humanity to get past our racial differences to try to live together in harmony. The benediction spoke of Christian principles of love and applied them in a meaningful manner for all. The invocation was just all “Jesus this” and “Jesus that”–the stuff evangelical Christians love to use to separate themselves from the rest of humanity, granting them special privilege. It was dribble; only words that evangelicals accept as fact and swallow whole. The stuff that does not sell me on Christianity and, in fact, causes me to reject the faith.

I realize that Lowery made specific Christian references that may have not been as inclusive to someone of another faith. I was raised Christian so I’ve got a higher tolerance for Christian references than others, perhaps. It just seems to me that Lowery spoke more broadly to everyone whereas Warren spoke only to Christians or, more specifically, evangelicals. Warren said nothing of bringing everyone together. And he spoke of “God’s judgment” which really offended me because it was said in that sneering exclusive way that evangelicals love to say it.

Warren’s speech was completely off kilter with the theme of Obama’s inauguration which was all about inclusiveness. Obama himself even included “unbelievers” as he listed the people which comprise Americans. At last, a president who recognizes that not everyone in America is of faith! That was a remarkably inclusive statement that gave me a lot of hope for what’s going to happen under this administration.

I don’t know. I suppose I’ve just offended half of my Christian friends out there. Please know that when I place “evangelical” in front of Christian, I’m referring to a group of which you are probably not a part. Most of my Christian friends are liberal and the Christianity they preach–the Christianity of practice and humanism–is the Christianity that does not offend me at all because I believe that I live my life in the sort of walk Christ asked us to. I just don’t believe all of the specifics of Christianity (i.e., that Christ is the son of God, that God is necessarily male, most of the Old Testament, Revelations). But I believe in the message of Christ that includes the fair treatment of all people, loving my neighbor, behaving better than baser instinct urges me.

Regardless of my own personal philosophies, I think that even if I was a full-blown Christian, my views on public prayer wouldn’t be much different. Prayer is such a highly personal experience; I think it’s rude to impose your prayer on everyone else. Being at church is one thing because you’re in a room of like-minded people (which gets really tricky in a UU church). But when I’m at a commencement or a public event, I would prefer prayer be left out. However, if a prayer must be said, it should be inclusive and talk of themes to which we can all relate. It’s not the forum to inflict your brand of religion on everyone else.

Rick Warren

Sucks. I can tell just from his speech. ‘Nuff said.

That Reverend Joseph Lowery was pretty cool, though. He preached my talk with his invocation to God to lead us “to the side of love.” Very UU. Good job. Though, I tried not to giggle too hard. He sounded like Kermit the Frog. But I gotta give the guy a break; he’s 80 years old. Who knows what Muppets’ character I will sound like when I’m 80 years old. You’re allowed to laugh at me when that happens.

And I missed Obama saying the oath of office because a coworker chose THAT MOMENT to come speak to me about something work-related. WTF? I’ve been here all morning!!

And on the east coast…

the light of reason shines on the side of love!

In Connecticut last week, an attempt to put a resolution to ban gay marriage was VOTED DOWN. Gay marriage was made legal by Connecticut Supreme Court ruling this morning! See, there is hope out there.

I continue to be optimistic. And ever vigilant in my help with the struggle to make love legal in the United States.

I’m still waiting for the old biddies and fuddies who continue to vote this down with their errant fundamentalist interpretation of religion to die off…

(Okay, I’m ready to protest… Activist for hire… Anyone? Anyone?)

More on Prop 8

Peacebang posted the video below from the Keith Olbermann show on her blog. Unfortunately, I think he’s singing to the choir, unless Republicans and conservatives are watching MSNBC. I wonder what would happen if someone on FoxNews said this… would there be upheaval in the streets? Or would there be minds changed? I think what Olbermann says here is what changed my mind about homosexuals so long ago (yeah, sadly, I once too was a bigot).’

My great turning point–my preacher–was an episode on Star Trek: The Next Generation where the first officer (Commander Riker) fell in love with an alien from a planet where everyone was gender-neutral and having a tendency towards one gender or another was considered perverted. Of course, the alien he fell in love with had a tendency towards female. They had a great romance over the hour, but it was squashed dead and untimely when the people of the alien’s race found out she was different–a “pervert.” They took her and put her in a sanitarium where they brain-washed her “perversion” away, sounding achingly like the real institutions (religiously backed) who try to make homosexuals become heterosexual. At the end of the episode, she tells Riker that she realizes that she was sick before and now she is cured. She no longer sounds like her former self. I cried like a baby at the end of the episode.

And the seed of change was planted in my mind at that moment. Which is good because it was my senior year in high school and I was about to go to college where a lot of LGBT people tend to come out of the closet and I was to meet, for my very first time, people I’d never known in my sheltered hicktown in Ohio. If that seed hadn’t been planted, I don’t know how I would have handled the experiences I had in college.

I think a great testament to my fairness to people is that I have horrible “gaydar.” I think this means that someone’s sexuality is not something I contemplate at all in a relationship. I had a good friend in college–a guy who loved Star Trek as much as me and was a real geek–who was gay and out for maybe a year before I figured out he was gay. One would think I would have seen that obviously. In fact, when I started saying to my friends that I had found out he was gay, they all said, “Um, duh?”

I’m glad that I see people as people. And most of us probably do. Who, upon meeting someone for the first time, sizes the other person up and thinks, “Is he/she gay?” or, even more to the point, “I wonder how he/she does it with his/her lover.”

I certainly don’t. I look for the goodness in people. I like people for who they are in their soul. A person who is good and fun to be around will always have a friendship with me. As it should be.

Anyway, Olbermann’s views here almost come out in the form of my favorite UU credo, “Standing on the side of love.” Sing it, Olbermann! Hopefully more voices will join the choir.

ADDED LATER: Just learned that Olbermann was raised UU. Totally figures! I felt like I was at church for a moment amidst this video.

Sore loser? Angry JW? Friendly Democrat cleanup service?

When I returned to my house after being away all weekend housesitting at my parents’, I found that my Obama sign was no longer on the front lawn, or anywhere. My Greg Bachman (who lost, by the way) sign is still up and I will remove it tonight. But the perplexing question is, what became of my Obama sign? Was it some angry McCain supporter taking his/her aggression out by removing signs from people’s yards? I would think, then, I would have found the sign in my ditch, ripped to shreds or something. Maybe the neighbor kids thought they were being funny? Was it the same Jehovah’s Witnesses who had left an End-Of-Days-Is-Coming-Come-to-Jesus-And-Forget-Celebrating-Your-Birthday-or-Christmas (aka The Watchtower) pamphlet on my door? (Sidenote: I contemplated putting up a sign on my door with JW written in it and one of those circle-cross signs that mean “No” but I thought it might encourage them.)

Not that I need it anymore. It’s just a curious mystery and I admit I feel a little violated because I didn’t remove it myself, which means someone else took it upon themselves to do so, which ultimately means someone removed property from my yard without my permission. Furthermore, it makes me feel like my freedom of speech has been imposed upon in some way. Or my right to gloat victoriously like a sore winner. Either way, I am a bit worried about this.

I tried to console myself with thinking the best out of my fellow citizens instead. I tried to tell myself that perhaps the local office of the Democratic party goes around removing signs from yards as an added service. But I’m guessing that’s not the case.