Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rick Warren and Reality: Tears, Hope and Action!

The only possibly good thing about Warren's pick by Obama to give the inaugural invocation is that many lgbt people have felt compelled to tell "their" stories for others to read. There is no way to understand the situation, especially for straight folks, other than to read them or experience them through a friend or relative. These are painful stories to read by those of us who are hets and Jamessia's story at Kos made me cry. His is not the first.

I highly recommend reading Jamesia's story. It is sad, moving and says a great deal about the coming out/family issue for those that have experienced it and how their lives are constantly touched in ways we hets don't experience.

The bottom line, as you will note, is that Jamesia (as others) points out that the only way to settle "the matter" of lgbt's is acceptance. This can only occur through equality. For marriage, it means TOTAL equality, including 1) either full rights to marriage, or 2) no one "marries", but each couple, regardless of individual gender identity, has equal right to and through a civil union and current marriage are honored and grandfathered as such.

The pain that bleeds through the many posts by "our" IT--her marriage put in jeopardy by litigation being forwarded by Pepperdine University Dean Ken Starr (yes, THAT Ken Starr of Clinton fame) and prop 8--is similarly felt by the 18,000 other couples in exactly IT's position. A longer piece on Starr/Prop 8 can be found here, at Salon.

Imagine, if you will, the government being sued to dissolve YOUR marriage.

Now let me ask you this: What are you going to do about this? Are you going to help our dear friend IT and the 36,000 other same gendered persons married since last may?

The only way we can lift up this issue is by being active in lifting it up. There are many ways to help, including prayer. But prayer must not the the only way.

If we had relied on prayer for other major changes in this country, likely we would still be praying for them. The love extended to us, by God, requires that we extend it to others, as well. That requires our hands and feet, our hearts and our minds. We have to become knowledgeable--as messengers--about the many issues facing the lgbt community. We must, literally, stand with the lgbt community in their peaceful protests, vigils and marches. We must write our decision makers and the editors of our local papers.

1. First, let's consider some major federal policy issues (this means, also, writing to your federal legislators which is REALLY simple):

DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act): Read here, click-able by state. Support repeal of this 1996 act.
DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell): Read here, here, here (for research on the issue), and here (Box Turtle Bulletin which has numerous articles).

Find the electronic addresses for your House and Senate members here.

Feel free to add other issues in the comments section, please.

2. In the case of California Prop 8, I strongly urge a short letter to California Attorney General Jerry Brown thanking him for his intervention in Prop 8 litigation to protect the California constitution.

Write Attorney General Jerry Brown here and thank him for upholding the California Constitution.

Here's the long and short of his decision to ask the CA Supremes to strike down Proposition 8:

While Proposition 8 was a short if not sweet proposition (VERY short language here, "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California") it sought to amend the California constitution. Amending the CA constitution and revising it are different things. Amending can be accomplished through propositions, revising it cannot.

So, opponents of Prop 8 (that's we good guys!) are opining that when it comes to civil rights being stricken from the constitution (the right to marry was granted by the California Supreme Court in May of 2008), doing so requires a constitutional revision NOT an amendment:

Under the California Constitution, the initiative can be used for "amendments" but not "revisions":

[Art. XVIII, § 1.] The Legislature ..., two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, may propose an amendment or revision of the Constitution ....

[§ 2]. The Legislature ..., two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, may submit at a general election the question whether to call a convention to revise the Constitution....

[§ 3]. The electors may amend the Constitution by initiative.

[§ 4]. A proposed amendment or revision shall be submitted to the electors and if approved by a majority of votes thereon takes effect the day after the election unless the measure provides otherwise.

Technically, an amendment requires 50%+1 vote. In the California state constitution, a revision requires passage by the 50+1% vote plus a 2/3 vote of the California legislature. VERY different things.

So, the legal question (in part) before the CA Supreme Court in regard to Prop 8 and the taking away of civil rights of same gendered persons to legally marry (and the revoking of marriages already in place) does prop 8 rise to constitutional revision (higher standard) versus amendment (lower standard)?

The California Attorney General's job (Jerry Brown) is to protect and defend the U.S. and California Constitutions:


California Oath of Office, California Constitution, Article XX, Section 3:

"I, ______, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter."

Attorney General Duties, California Constitution, Article V, Section 13:

Subject to the powers and duties of the Governor, the Attorney General shall be the chief law officer of the State. It shall be the duty of the Attorney General to see that the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced.

So, you see, AG Jerry Brown is taking the position that this is precisely what he is doing by reversing his previous stand (previously, he said he would defend prop 8 as the voters had approved it, but after more investigation found it contrary to the CA Constitution) and is now asking the California Supremes to set Proposition 8 aside in his elected position and in regard to his duty to defend the CA constitution. I posted on this topic yesterday.

There are more things to do, and learn. But let's start here.

This gives you four letters to write:

One to your house member to support DOMA and DADT and one each to your two federal senators.

One to Jerry Brown, thanking him (even if you don't live in CA!).

Now you have the info and the addresses. I can only hope that you are willing to support the civil rights of your brothers and sisters by writing. It takes everyone!