Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts on the news from California today...

I'm hopeful today. Granted, I'm disappointed that Prop 8 has been allowed to stand, but I'm hopeful for the future. Honestly, the idea that the court would derail the democratic process is a little unsettling to me anyway. So here are some thoughts about the decision of California's Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8.

First, I've been hearing a lot complaining about how the court caved to political pressure blah blah blah...but the argument to overturn Prop 8 was that it brought "sweeping changes" to the constitution and therefore wasn't constitutional. The court simply upheld the means by which the measure was passed. AND they let the 18,000 marriages stand. That sounds like a victory for equality and democracy to me.

We who oppose Prop 8 need to remember that today's ruling has nothing to do with whether Prop 8 was fair or just. It's the means by which it was passed that was in question. Plain and simple. Ttoday the supreme court endorsed the democratic process, not the fear and prejudice behind Prop 8. Remember, it was a decision by the CA supreme court that made same-sex marriage legal in the state last year. Moreover, they let stand the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed before Prop 8 passed. The decision today isn't a defeat. It's not an indictment of the judicial process. And above all, it's no reason to lose hope. On the contrary, this tiny blip in the struggle for equality is an opportunity for Californians to endorse equality the right way.

What I'm suggesting is that everyone in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage needs to chill about the supreme court's ruling today and keep working toward equality. The decision wasn't made today, it was made in November. THAT's what we should be working to overcome. So let's do it by being the good people that we are. Let's be productive members of our communities. Let's be good neighbors. Let's stop labeling opposition with hate. Let's be open and honest about our lives. The public opinion is slowly but surely changing in favor of equality, so let's win our rights that way. As happy as I am every time a state supreme court rules in favor of equal rights, a state legislature passing the same rights sends a much more powerful statement. And if a state were to grant equal rights by a public referendum, THAT would be the most powerful statement of all. As it is, Prop 8 only narrowly passed. Compare that to previous campaigns and it's clear the momentum is clearly building in our favor. Imagine the day when California overturns Prop 8 using the same system by which Prop 8 passed. I am convinced that one day soon the citizens of California will extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples. And that will be a much bigger victory than the supreme court could ever provide, especially by overturning Prop 8 on a technicality. That's the day I'm hoping for.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NYC, day 1 - New York's Finest

I left the theatre completely overwhelmed by the power of next to normal. After a brief call to Fabio, I hopped onto the train back to Harlem. Twenty five minutes later I emerged into a dark, unfamiliar neighborhood. I blinked a couple times, got my bearings as best as I could, and started walking with purpose in what I hoped was the right direction. I quickly realized I was hopelessly out of place. In my mind, everything from my clothes to the color of my skin screamed “outsider”. Not making eye contact with anyone on the street, I quickened my pace. After several blocks, I started to worry. I was approaching the cross-street that Fabio had suggested I avoid. Granted, it was an area of the street farther from the well-lit Broadway where I was walking, but at the sight of the street sign I surreptitiously slipped my phone out of my pocket and started to dial.

At that very moment, my phone rang. It was Fabio. Because of the pace I was keeping, I had passed his street and was several blocks beyond him. I whirled around and quickly marched back the way I came.

There is safety in numbers, and once I had rejoined my host, the walk home became much less intense. Not knowing the neighborhood, I let Fabio take the lead. We stopped for a moment at an intersection, a bit carried away in conversation, and eventually turned onto the side-street. As we neared the next intersection, I heard a voice from the street. “Excuse me, could we talk to you for a minute.” My natural instinct was to bolt. Thankfully I suppressed that knee-jerk reaction. The voice belonged to a policeman who was stepping out of his car. His partner approached from the other side, and a third officer came approached from behind. We were surrounded.

Apparently there was a robbery in the neighborhood and the suspects were a pare of Caucasian males. The officer asked for identification and I produced my Utah ID card. A bemused smile crossed his face and his partner asked where we were coming from. I told them I'd just been to a Broadway show and offered to show them the playbill and ticket stub. No, they said, that wouldn't be necessary, they had just seen us pause at the intersection then head the other way when we saw the car. Frankly, neither of us had seen the police car, but because our abrupt “detour” up the side street looked suspicious to them, the officers felt it important to investigate.

Ultimately, they just took our information and let us go on our way. As we left, I resisted the urge to ask for a picture with the officers. Nothing would be more entertaining for a scrapbook than a nice photo with the officers who briefly detained me in Harlem on suspicion of burglary.

NYC, day 1 - Next to Normal

(coming soon)

NYC, day 1 - Getting there is half the fun

The adventure began at about 4 am. For some reason on a work day waking up is impossible, yet on the night before a vacation...well, don't even think about trying to sleep. I forced my eyes shut for another 2 ½ hours, then got up. At precisely 7:30, I sent Paul (my ride to the airport) a quick text message. He was on his way, but factoring in the traffic, we didn't actually get on the road till 8. Not to worry...the flight doesn't leave till 8:50...

As we sped down the interstate, the butterflies in my stomach overpowered my ability to pay attention to our conversation. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big green sign “General Aviation” whiz by. I calmly pointed this out...and by this I mean I squealed “GENERALAVIATIONGENERALAVIATIONGENERALAVIATION,” waving and pointing wildly. Paul swerved off the road into the patch of dirt that divided us from the interstate and the exit we had just missed, dodged an oncoming car or two, and set us on the path to...something that wasn't the airport. Apparently that “General Aviation” sign referred to something Generral and Aviatory, but not the airport. After another five minutes, Paul corrected our course and soon we were at the airport.

I bolted to the unsufferably long security line, passed through the least populated (but slowest) checkpoint, and scurried to the gate with five minutes to spare.

Fifteen minutes later, after my heart quit racing, a voice came over the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that some minor repairs on the cockpit are taking a bit longer than expected. But we should be on our way momentarily.” After nearly an hour delay, the airplane finally moved. Apparently the co-pilot's intercom button was stuck and the maintenance crew couldn't figure out how to put the thing back together.

Miraculously, we touched down only a few minutes late, though for some reason they parked the plane in the middle of nowhere, loaded the passengers on two “People Movers,” and transported us the final 1/8 mile that way. No worries...it's only 4 pm and the show isn't until 7.

90 minutes later, I emerged from the subway in Harlem. Don't worry, that's where I'm staying...on purpose. I called Fabio, my host, and got directions to his apartment, and started walking. A half block later, Fabio joined me and we walked to his apartment, stowed my things, and headed back to the subway. 25 minutes later, I emerged in Times Square and fought my way through the crowd to the Booth Theatre. Sweating profusely, and smelling of a full day of exhausting travel, I plopped down in the front row of the mezzanine.

to be continued...