Saturday, November 22, 2008

No on 8 Rally Video Montage

At a No on Prop 8 Rally on Nov 9, '08 that Terri and I attended, I brought a video camera. The area around the main speakers was too crowded to get very close to, but there was a ton of other things going on. Then I noticed the amazing array of home made signs and the real story started to emerge for me. This was much more than a carefully scripted event, this was a whole group of people who felt deeply wronged by society and who were really pissed off about it.

I started video taping all the signs I ran into and wound up with 130 or so (I've lost count). All showing an amazing amount of creativity, and initiative. And they wanted to be heard. They wanted to be filmed. While filming, I nearly fell over a little girl who wanted me to see her "I Love My Moms" sign. I was totally charmed, and on the spot, I made the decision to make a finished video. (She and her sign and her mom's are in the video). I hope they get to see it. Unfortunately, I don't know who they are.

I started out by turning all the signs into 3 second still frames and that was pretty cool in and of itself, but it really needed audio. I thought about just using some music, but discarded that idea as getting the rights to any music that would have the impact I wanted would be too expensive.

Then I had one of those "Duuuuh, you idiot, use the audio of the rally, use the chants, use sound bites." So I got to comb back through the raw footage to find audio clips that helped give the impression of what it was like to be there.

Then the iMovie wrestling match began in earnest. I have a buggy, out of date, copy of iMovie 6. I didn't know it was buggy until I started working with the audio. In iMovie, you take a video clip and if you want to mess with the audio, you "extract" it so you can work with it separately. That part works great. The part that is buggy is when you copy and paste an audio clip, the clip appears to disappear, but it's actually been pasted somewhere else on the audio clip sequence (sometimes even underneath another clip) and I had to go find it. This was complete crazy making, but there wasn't time to get an updated copy from eBay and I didn't want to fork over $100.00 for a retail copy (plus I'd have to learn a whole new interface), so I coped by memorizing the audio clip name and did a lot of hunting around. I got pretty good at it, and things started to come together over a week and a half.

The cool thing about video editing especially when you're working with adding audio is that it's very reinforcing. You get immediate feedback on whether your addition worked, and every good addition seemed to make the images more compelling. iMovie allows for two audio tracks, so I could layer audio also. Pretty cool, but I think I am going to upgrade the software though I'm already really over-stressing my Mac Mini and if I got a new computer then it would come with iLife which contains iMovie et al. Funny how you can talk yourself into spending a lot of money this way. Oh and I want a better video camera too.

At some point in time, I recover my senses, and remember that my big goal for the winter is to become a really good skiier. That's going to be expensive enough and I find it ironic that I'm interested in a hobby (videography) that make pricey things like skiing look cheap. Maybe I should take up flying next. (My brother is a pilot and I've actually had a couple of lessons, but I don't love it enough to give up everything just to be able to fly.)

Anyway, last night at 1:30AM I finished the video and this morning I uploaded the video to You Tube. And here is the link:

It's only been hours and it's already having an impact. That's cool. My timing turned out to be good as there was another rally at the State Capitol today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beware of "This Way is Shorter"

(Enough of Prop 8 - let's talk about something else)

Also known as Mt. Tallac: Not Even Close
So today I drove over to Lake Tahoe in hopes of climbing Mt Tallac (local vernacular calls it Ta-LOC')

Now Terri and I have been to this trailhead a couple of winters ago, but do I remember anything about it? Of course not. Do I remember that the turn off is marked prominently? Nope. So I proceed to take every other possible access road before I ever got to the correct trailhead, but I found myself on the road right beside Fallen Leaf Lake which I see on the map takes me to a different trailhead. Wending my way down to the road's end I look around for a trail but don't see one. I'm about to give up and go back to the other one but I saw some folks working on their house so I stopped and ask if they could locate me on my Desolation Valley map (thinking I may have been at the wrong spot.) But I was at the right spot and the guy I'm talking to points out the slightly hidden trailhead and says "This way is Shorter" [than the regular way].

Intrigued I decide to give it a try. Now this is a much less used trail and it's over grown and it's rocky and I'm having to go down the trail by the lake looking for a trail that goes up the mountain. Trouble is that I don't know just how far down to go so I take a couple of E Ticket wrong turns that have me scrambling up a large pile of loose rock. During one of these forays I realize that it's (a) Thursday - I took the day off (b) I'm hiking by myself and (c) I have not seen a soul on this trail. My solution to hiking by myself is to use popular trails where there's someone around. I'm suddenly feeling rather alone and I pick my way down the wrong turn talus slope very carefully.

I'm realizing that shorter does not mean faster if you've never done it before and I'm wasting a lot of time on these wrong turns. Frustrated I sit down to think about what to do. "Use the force" comes to mind. Great the force doesn't seem to be terribly interested right now. Then I realized. "Hello? You have a GPS." "Yeah but I haven't loaded the more detailed map into it." "But you have a map." The light slowly dawns. I look more carefully at the map and it tells me that I need to go 0.7 miles before the turn off. I look at the GPS - I've gone 0.5 miles. D'Oh. Gee I think I need to go a touch further. Because of all of my previous wrong turns I needed to go a bit further, but then a trail did appear that wasn't all talus.

The trail was rough but doable up to a point. I'm past my turn around time and I've hardly gotten anywhere but I decide to go a bit further. Then the deciding factor appeared. 3 downed treed and a boulder blocked the trail (see photo) and I couldn't find where it continued even after jumping over one of the logs. Seeing how the shadows were growning I decided to bail and maybe do the main trail at a later date.

Things learned
My boots worked great at protecting my ankles and keeping my footing, though my feet are a little sore and I'm wondering if I should switch back to Spenco's rather than the Superfeet.

I used my poles with the right angle grips which I still like (even though they're wearing out) but I should use some padded bike gloves with them.

I didn't get over 7500' (only up to 6950') so I'm not sure how I'm doing on the altitude issue.
I deliberately took my time and when my breathing was getting a little heavey I stopped and drank Gatorade and ate chocolate. My legs did not fail ever and was able to lift myself up some large boulder steps.

Wrong Turn Tallus Slopes and Fallen Tree (shows gradient)

Fallen Leaf Lake:

I am Married and They Can't Take That Away

Funny how these moments catch you sometimes.

The advantage of getting married in the backyard is that it's really easy to revisit it in a very surpisingly viseral way. I found myself standing in the same place as where I said my wedding vows to Terri and as the moment sank in I realized that no matter what happens, they can't take that away from us.

Regardless of its legal status, we are married.

I need to really take that to heart when I'm feeling down about all the politics.

Supreme Court to Review Prop 8

Well what we hoped would happen is going to happen. The Supreme Court is going to review Prop 8. This also means that our own marriage will hang in the balance for 4 to 6 months which is a very odd feeling though I trust the supreme court a heck of a lot more than the electorate at this point.

Marriage is one of the most intensely personal decisions you will make in your life. And I'm having all these strangers weighing in on it. It's like if some distant second cousins who weren't invited stormed the wedding and said that they objected. The inappropriateness of it is beyond words.

Rather than cite a newspaper article here is the surprisingly readable court release (pdf format):

Here's the gist (quoting):

The court’s order, issued in the first three cases that had been filed
directly in the state’s highest court challenging the validity of Proposition
8, directed the parties to brief and argue three issues:

(1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than
an amendment to, the California Constitution?

(2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation-of-powers doctrine under
the California Constitution?

(3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on
the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of
Proposition 8?

The more general link is here:

And of course the yes on 8 people are talking about trying to recall the judges if they don't get their way. Given that 8 only narrowly passed, that's really not very likely. Though I don't see them giving up very easily at all as we make such a nice punching bag.

And that really pisses me off. It should be a crime to persecute lgbt people like this (or at least really tacky). And it's not only those of us who chose to be in the line of fire by getting married but every single lgbt person even ones who have no intention of marrying.

I am not looking forward to the next 6 months.

"In its order, the court established an expedited briefing schedule, under which briefing will
be completed in January 2009 and oral argument potentially could be held as early as March
2009. "

A decision would be within 90 days after that

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Whacking a Nest of Hornets - Nationwide Prop 8 Protests

The Prop 8 folks have whacked a hornet's nest.

Anti Prop 8 protests happened all over the country Saturday.
San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fairfield (you go!), and even little Alameda, and many more throughout the state.

But this SF Chron article here (and an earlier one here) and accompanying CBS5 video on the same page, say that there were protests in Boston (where same-sex marriage is legal), New York (where the fight is just beginning), Philadelphia, Las Vegas (which African-American comedian Wanda Sykes came out in) and FARGO, ND! (where it was literally freezing).

Let's hope this momentum continues. The Prop 8 folks are completely caught off guard as they are naively thinking this is all over. They are so wrong.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NAACP joins the fight against Prop 8, also Nationwide Protests Planned

What I missed yesterday is which minority groups were filing against Prop 8.

Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
and in a move that should go a long way towards healing:
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
(and two other groups that this article didn't name.)

And tomorrow should see the start of several nationwide rallies against Prop 8.
Details are here. It also mentions that there's a financial fallout as the identities of large donors to Yes on 8 are being circulated - even more detail is here and here. The article goes on to talk about how this could become a national movement, even as far a New York (honestly, NY really should already have same sex marriage). Wouldn't that be cool. The ultimate unintended consequence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Laramie Project - A Great Play

I went to see The Laramie Project at Alameda High School mostly to support the students (since a friend's daughter is involved in it.) What I hadn't planned on is that I learned a lot from the play. It starts with the attack and moves forward from there through the trials. The play is a summary of 100's of interviews that the playwrights made with the people of Laramie. While I find the subject very upsetting, I was also intrigued and wanted to know the ins and outs.

The acting is surprisingly good for the high school level and some of the actors very much have a future in acting. These were hard roles to portray. These were people who had there lives turned upside down by the acts of two of their members. It made them question the very integrity of their town and question their judgment of who is decent and good person. The dilemma showed though. Many kudos.

And Phelps? He was shown in the play since he and his minions and their signs were there for Shepherd's funeral, and were cleverly covered up by people dressed as angels. I realized that I was silly to worry about these kids dealing with Phelps - they'd be fine, they'd likely welcome it. However a local Alameda Police Detective Brock took a lot of time to verify that the Phelps crew has changed plans and will be going directly to Hawaii to do the noble thing () of protesting at Obama's grandmother's funeral (because she was such an in your face threatening activist? Huh? Low lifes.)

That aside - go see the play. You'll learn a lot, and have a thoughtful evening.
Alameda Little Theatre - 2200 Central Ave. at Walnut, Alameda, CA
Remaining Dates are today (Friday) and tomorrow: Nov 14-15, 7:30pm (get there around 6:45pm or 7pm). $10.

Justices ask Attorney General to respond to Prop 8 Lawsuits

After no word for a couple of days, I hear a heartbeat out of the courts. They have asked Attorney General Jerry Brown's office to reply to the lawsuits filed against Prop 8. Apparently that means that they are taking things seriously (well, duh) as opposed to refusing the case and making a lower court review it first. What they want to know from Brown is whether his office considers the cases valid for review (duh again - don't you love legal formality?). Apparently this is the first step of this process.

The article goes on to say that the justices have the right to suspend Prop 8 while its legality is being worked out. Can you imagine what a charge to the alter that's going to cause?

In another well, duh, moment, supporters of prop 8 are reporting being shocked at the intensity of the response to the yes vote. Hello? If someone took away some of your rights you'd be pissed too.

Many people I talk to say that in a few years this will work itself out. Opponents of same-sex marriage are a shrinking majority and you can bet that there are some who feel really guilty about it (of course there are going to be those who dig in as well). And we will take pains to reach out to those who will listen (an admitted mistake of the No of 8 strategy, as the polling data said the measure would fail.)

What I'm wondering is who's the next enemy? Bible stuff aside, we don't make a good enemy. I'm thinking that next up is back to illegal immigrants (now there's a dilemma for the Central Valley as their agrieconomy depends on them), or arab-appearing Muslims. It will be interesting to see what happens as more American Muslims run for political office.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Evil Phelps Group Threatens to Picket Alameda HS

Alameda is a relatively small city in the Bay Area. After some growing pains, Alameda has become very progressive and supportive of LGBT concerns to the point that they deputized the mayor (I'm sure it was her idea) and most of the city council to do same-sex weddings at city hall. That said, we're not really used to being in the limelight (ok the original anti-gay growing pains got us national attention, but that was 13 years ago).

Well Alameda High Schools decision to put on the Laramie Project has gotten Fred Phelps and Co.'s attention. Phelps is pretty much evil incarnate and get's his jollies off of picking things gay and progressive related, with the most appalling signage. Even among evangelical xian's he's pretty much a pariah. Word has it that they are planning to protest the Laramie Project at AHS on Friday. Word also has it (I refuse to put citations in for these bozos) that Phelps himself is off serving a higher purpose of protesting at Obama's Grandmother's funeral (!! - I did say he was a complete evil, agent of satan, pariah yes?), so his underlings will be there instead.

It remains to be seem whether they show at all (wouldn't be the first time they did a no show), but several people and the police and planning on putting up a buffer zone to shield the kids from this despicable vitriol. I also know they have some misinformation which I won't publish till after Friday.

I don't believe in hell but if there is one, Phelps will be there.

Alameda High puts on "The Larame Project"

My neighbor told me that her daughter is participating in Alameda High School's production of The Laramie Project. That is so extraordinary, that my brain simply didn't put it together at first. The Laramie Project is the story of Matthew Shepherd, his brutal murder (left to die on a fence in Wyo. simply because he was gay - he died after 22 hours), and the aftermath. My neighbor's daughter, is not only a cast member but is the stage manager and since I know how stressful the stage manager's job is (make sure every one in the cast is there and ready to go on at the right time, and calls every lighting cue), is to be doubly admired.

I'm going to see the play tonight, and I need to remember to bring Kleenex as the subject is deeply upsetting to me as unlike most of the cast (this is the 10 year anniversary), I remember all too well when that happened.

My neighbor is very justifiably proud of her daughter as am I.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Prop 8 followup

I am going to take a Prop 8 hiatus but will readdress it from time to time.

This just in Connecticut. just ok'd same sex marriage. Hooray! (Ref. Ref2)
People from Calif. are already talking about getting married there and coming back here to ask for it to be recognized.

And while I don't have a reference handy for it I just heard on KFOG news that some Asian rights groups are joining in the legal brief asking the court to reverse Prop 8.

Which brings up, just how terrific the Asian communities have been in there opposition to Prop 8, as opposed to the lukewarm or even hostile response of other minority communities such as the African-American one. (The Latin commuity was split - and people like Caesar Chavez's granddaughter who had us all chanting "Si si puede" at the anti-Prop 8 rally, are terrific.)

I don't think it's fair to lay blame for 8's passage on the African-American commuity as there were a ton of Anglos that voted for it, but it was indeed weird to hear about those who voted for Obama and also for Prop 8. Feelings of betrayal in the LGBT community who voted overwhelmingly for Obama, were very present yet most seem not to be giving in to open hostility, just noting the irony. And those who are a member of both communities are really feeling pinched.

A well respected polling site has a great page on Prop 8 myths here.

The LA Times talks about the legal ins and out of the court challenges and what's ahead here.

And finally, Equality California is gearing up for a 2010 initiative, though since I am firmly of the opinion that civil rights are not up for vote I really, really hope it doesn't come to that.

I'm also quite happy that the Yes folks really suck at writing legistlation. They've screwed up twice now. The first one they didn't make it a constitutional amendment, and now that they did they neglected to make it retroactive. Now they're saying that's what they "intended" - like that holds any weight - morons.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Legal Eagles Continue to Weigh in on Prop 8

This is likely to be a series of posts.

The legal experts are already starting to weigh in on Prop 8.

One third of the Calif legislators have files a friend of the court brief asking that 8 be overturned;

And long time judge LaDoris H. Cordell has stated categorically that 8 will be overturned and also is of the opinion that we won't be able to convince religious African American voters no matter what we try and that it simply has to be legislated like everything else. Cordell is an African-American lesbian and grew up in that environment and became a lawyer and a judge (now retired), so she really is an authority.

In my mind this all comes down to:

What part of Equal Protection Under the Law do you not understand?

Keith Olbermann on Prop 8

This deserves its own blog entry.

Keith Olbermann speaks out on Prop 8
His passion and eloquence are unmatchable.

I am in tears.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Law of Unintended Consequences

We went to a very encouraging, fun, raucous, noisy, peaceful anti-Prop 8 rally in Sacramento, which gave me hope that there are a lot of really pissed off people who are more that willing to fight this through. I took a lot of video of the very creative signs, which I will make a montage of. I was in particular thrilled to see Caesar Chavez's granddaughter speak as some of us were beginning to feel abandoned by other minorities (but that's another blog entry).

Ahnold has weighed in again saying he hopes the courts will overturn 8, and while I wish he were more outspoken earlier I'm thrilled that he's speaking out and bluntly. (Ref.)

But while the demonstrations show the state that we're not going to take this lying down, the real power is with the courts and that's where our attention will be pointed. Conversations with cooler, insightful heads reveal that the Yes on 8 folks may have painted themselves into a corner that they may very well regret.

Calif law dictates equal protection. The court can invalidate 8, or there's another option that I've heard someone describe as the "nuclear option." If the church is so attached to the M-word then it could just disappear entirely from the state law and we all would have civil unions. I've heard this echoed more than once (3-4 times I believe). Wow, I'm quite sure that's not what the Yes folks intended or want - the tricky part is that it will be considered the lgbt community's fault even though it was the Yes folks who started this nonsense.

I'm hoping that 8 is just overtuned - I do like being married rather that civil unionized, though I'll happily take either as long as it's exactly the same as what everyone else gets. This will still lead to lots of arguing, but years from now the dust simply has to settle.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Prop 8's Real Victims

While every lgbt person is a victim of Prop 8's passage, most of us will fight on and will be ok. Last night, it occurred to me that the real victims are young lgbt people who live in the Central Valley and other homophobic Calif places. They are currently trapped, and I'm really feeling for them.

What about the kid who was just about to come out to their parents when this mob mentality hit? What are they to do? What about in schools? The yes on h8 people claim they worry about same-sex marriage being taught in schools (a lie - unfortunately), but they are teaching their children to hate (in schools, in churches and everywhere else). In our area, it's the young people who are huge instruments for change, teaching children to hate is so wrong, and creates an environment of terror that should have gone out in the 60's. I came out in 1982 and while I had support, it was still pretty uncomfortable. Now I hear stories of it not being an issue at all. How refreshing. I want to save our young people from that pain. For them to perpetuate that pain is beyond despicable.

Terri (who came our more recently) says that this is the first time she's felt discriminated against as a minority. Though she's very resilient, that's pain I would have paid money to spare her from.

Putting the Hurt on My Obama buzz

And that just ain't right.

Prop 8 is headed back to the courts with some very powerful lawyers gunning for its defeat.

Jerry Brown undoubtedly has the weirdest and most uncomfortable position (ref).
The comfortable position is that he gets to defend my marriage (and the 18,000 other ones) as still valid since they were done during a time when they were legal.
The uncomfortable one (that I know he must just totally hate) is that he has to be the unlucky one to defend Prop 8 from the legal challenges filed by city attorneys from SF, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles, who are claiming that Prop 8 is so far reaching that it can not be a simple amendment, but instead a constitutional revision which takes 2/3 of the legislature and is far harder to obtain. Let's hope that Brown chooses to do a really bad job of defending it.

Another legal challenge is by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights who are saying the measure is inconsistent with the constitution. Making the point that if voters tried to take away freedom of speech for women and not for men that it would be certainly struck down. ACLU (who is now clearly the one to watch as Equality Calif is being quieter than I care for right now) has an excellent article on it here.

There is still the fact that votes are still being counted. I don't know if 400.000 no votes would turn up, but given the millions that voted on each side it wouldn't be unprecedented.

I'm just hoping that the courts do what they've so often done in the past. Protect a minority from the tyranny of the [very slim] majority (ACLU mentions that too - hooray.)

I really want to let this go and enjoy the fact that history was made. Back on Super Tues (scary that I've been blogging long enough to self quote) I said while I was happily angsting about Clinton vs Obama (In: This Time My Vote Counts) that "But the thing is that Obama could create a revolution Right Now." and he just very well may.

I am so hopeful right now about us being able to rebuild our place in the world to be less of a spoiled, resource hogging, do it our way, bully. Of course, expectations are going to be so high that there's bound to be disappointment and I don't envy Obama after oh three months in office. But he signed up for this and he is a born president. After 12 years of conservatives trashing our world image, I do so look forward to this.

Staying tuned. And much as I want to be done with Prop 8, I will continue to blog about the legal challenges to it as it works its way through the court system.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Legislating Hate

I'm reeling from Prop 8 maybe passing.

The Central Valley (I reeeeeeally dislike the Central Valley) has decided that their world view of equal rights for only people they like is the way it should be for the rest of us (Prop 8 failed soundly in the Bay Area). They chose to legislate their hate and claim that it's for the good of the children. Ironically, if the trends continue the way they're going, their children will likely grow up and decide that their parents were complete full of it.

What really gets me is they lied. Repeatedly. People who claim to be Christians lied because it was the only way they would win. Appalling. I do hope that karma catches up to them in either this life or what follows.

Fortunately, such a heinous initiative that strips one group of rights sounds very unconstitutional (even though it's trying to amend the constitution), Equality Calif and several city attorneys agree. More info here, and here (page down to latest news).

I have sent them email offering to help with the challenge.

Oh and the best one liner I've seen during this campaign is:
I don't recall voting on your marriage.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day: The Waiting

I have never been so emotionally involved in an election. Terri (my wife) is masochistic enough to watch the polls from day to day, and the reassuring thing is that if the polling data is correct, she figured out that unless there is massive voter disenfranchisement/fraud, there is no way that McCain can win, which I find very reassuring.

Prop 8 will be closer and this is the first time (ok second, but Prop 22 was a long time ago - and I'm too young for the Brigs amendment - which much have been just awful to go through even though it failed) that I and my rights are being put up for popular vote. That's a really weird feeling and I'm not sure how to feel about that (angry, rueful, excited, you name it). Rights are not a popularity contest, nor have they been in the past. Social progress just doesn't seem to go that way. We make ideals (equal rights for all) and then courts make us hold to those ideals (no, it's not equal rights for some). If rights were a popularity contest then think how scary some states would be. It's an easy guess that some states would still ban interracial marriage.

It's so odd. The economy is tanking, we need to rebuild our tarnished world image and you're worried that my marriage is somehow cheapening yours? If my marriage can hurt your marriage then perhaps your marriage isn't quite the bedrock that you claim it is?

My hope is that all those unpollable cellphone-only young voters are going to trounce Prop 8. On Halloween each year we're invaded by hordes of Trick or Treaters. 3 different young teenagers saw our No on 8 sign and happily said "Vote No on 8" Made me wish they could too. They will someday and our future is with them.