Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"Dreamers, AWAKE!"

Many Democrats and Liberals have claimed that this election was lost essentially because of HOMOPHOBIA. Bush appealed to voters, so the argument goes, who are so rabidly, viciously, deeply filled with hatred for gay folks, that they voted for George Bush to make sure gay marriages won’t be allowed. Liberals making this phony charge simply refuse to admit any valid basis for maintaining or defending fundamental institutions that have served humans from pre-history.

James Lileks did a great job of articulating the position I share with many conservatives: “I’m a live & let-live sort of guy when it comes to this; I’m in favor of civil partnerships, legal protection in the workplace, hospital visitation rights, societal-wide acceptance of the utterly NO DUH notion that gay relationships have the same essential emotional qualities of straight relationships. I support gay adoption - unless there’s a M/F couple in line, in which they should get preference. That has nothing to do with sexual identity or heterosexual chauvinism. I think a kid does best growing up exposed on an elemental level to both male and female characteristics; does that make me a raging bigot? Can we not even talk about that?”
(source/link as of 09 Nov 2004: http://www.lileks.com/bleats/index.html)

There are some issues that deserve to be examined.

Our country presently has a number of statutes, common law traditions & precedents that give priority to BIOLOGICAL relatives' rights. Visitation, inheritance, access to estates of people living but incapacitated, guardianship of minors and medically-impaired persons, etc. For instance, if someone is severely injured in a highway crash or found on a public street in a diabetic coma, hospitals are bound by LAW to maintain life support for that person, even despite the wishes of next-of-kin, in the absence of a “living will” or other legally inassailable document previously signed by the patient.

They certainly won’t “pull the plug” on the say-so of non-relatives OF ANY SORT. Spouses, under law, have greater powers of decision than parents, children, cousins, etc. Casual acquaintances with no formal legal standing are out, regardless of anyone’s sexual orientation.

I have much sympathy with any person who’s been excluded from hospital by the relatives of a desperately ill patient, simply because that family couldn’t accept the sexual orientation of its own. But that is often a source of anguish in cases of heterosexual relationships where a family can’t abide their child’s (or sibling’s, or parent’s) choice of sexual partner. If any person wants to ensure the legal rights of the one they love there are already legal instruments available in almost every jurisdiction in the country.

Where there are impediments, there should be legislation NOT JUDICIAL FIAT to allow a person to declare a preferred partner to have visiting rights, or the right of veto/confirmation for DNR (‘Do Not Resuscitate”) orders. Legal instruments like Power of Attorney already exist which would allow this sort of declaration, without requiring enormous upheaval in social customs and laws.

But let’s keep in mind that the Democratic party has already made an emphatic choice on the side of maintaining and strengthening the priority of the traditional rights of parents and family in questions of custody, access, guardianship, and control.

The Clinton Adminstration's use of Paramilitary Officers armed with automatic weapons to wrest a child from relatives who wished to raise that child in America, was the most emphatic reiteration possible for the legal concept that the biological father has the pre-eminent right to custody of his child. Janet Reno’s black-clothed swat team enforced that right of the child’s father--- despite he was coerced by the murdering dictator Fidel Castro, and despite the fact that the mother had risked and lost her life in the attempt to bring the child to freedom in America.

At the time and since, liberals in America accepted WITHOUT CRITICISM the use of a military-style swat team, bashing in the front door of a private home with a battering ram in the dark of night, to confiscate a child from its COURT-APPOINTED LEGAL GUARDIAN at the point of a machine gun. At least, in this instance, the child and the relatives actually survived Janet Reno’s tactics, which is more than can be said for the children whose welfare she undertook to manage at Waco, Texas. (Remember: the immediate justification Reno gave for the assault was that there had been reports the children of the Branch Davidians were being abused.)

Folks, you have to recognize that you cannot support THOSE actions by a popular Democratic Party administration, AND AT THE SAME TIME claim that the rights of a non-blood-relative friend or lover must be given priority over those of immediate family. The two concepts are mutually exclusive. And the solution is not to find some activist judge who is willing to abuse the powers of the judiciary to overthrow the clear will of the VAST majority of the country. That option simply leads to dueling activist judges. If Liberals cannot accept that our republic is based on the rule of the majority, they’re advocating a dictatorship of an unelected elite, pure and simple.

The idea of gay marriage is not dead for all time; there are lots of people who voted for George Bush that are sympathetic to that notion. Liberals do nothing to advance the cause of gay rights, or any other cause, by insulting the 59 million people that saw Bush as a better choice than Kerry.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

"All dressed up and no-where to go..."

There’s a bit of wisdom people quote from time to time— I think from Matthew 6:34— that tells us not to fret overmuch about tomorrow’s troubles; today’s are enough to deal with.

I take it to mean there’s no profit in making yourself crazy over things you can’t change while you’re occupied with present emergencies.

This election is history. In the fullness of time people will digest events and gradually recognize that the universe is undeniably different from what they’ve been telling themselves.

Do we really want to waste the next month, week, day, or even two breaths worrying about what our recent opponents are saying to each other?


A lot of us on all sides have been held in thrall through this campaign, stunned by the atrocities of external enemies, and thunderstruck by the perversity of people we thought were allies. On one hand, I feel ready to get back to my life. On the other hand, I see my life can never again be exactly as it was, because the world is not as I thought it was.

There are people who plunge into tasks when called upon, and others who make promises they have no intention of fulfilling. Some of us learned in grade school that it drains far more energy wheedling and cajoling the latter to perform, than to go ahead and work with those who are willing.

Coalition of the Willing.

It isn’t really a heroic phrase, is it? But like Mark Twain said of Wagner’s music, “It’s a lot better than it sounds.” Would you rather have ten friends you can depend on or a hundred who have to be dragged along against their will? The answer helps figure how you spend your time and energy in your daily life, too. Good “touchstone.” I have some ideas for people to try regardless of your politics, some that have helped me from time to time.

Get out of the house. Out of the apartment. Out of your hovel. Quit assembling those explosive devices. Show up at the local office of your favorite political party, and volunteer to stuff envelopes, or lick stamps. Join a Mac User Group. Play music with an orchestra, or sing with a choir, or start learning to play banjo or harmonica at a local music shop. Serve meals at a homeless shelter. Rake the leaves one day for a neighbor who’s only got one lung. Volunteer at the Zoo, or the local animal shelter.

Go to the library and offer to shelve books. Visit the hospital and see if they need someone to read stories to kids. Visit a convalescent home and volunteer to play checkers or chat with the residents. Offer to teach a course (you must have SOME skill to share...) through your city recreation / parks department.

If you’re really brave, visit the jails, or the prisons, or cancer wards or intensive care unit at the hospital. Even if you’re not religious, you can connect with ministers and find a way to help distribute food, or paint houses, or babysit, or teach an adult to read, or just hold a dying person’s hand and provide a little companionship.

These are things you can do that transcend any petty bullshit bickering over politics. They will connect you to people you may learn to treasure, regardless of whether they agree with your politics. You may persuade and be persuaded. You will likely be changed, but likely in ways that satisfy. You don’t have to be a genius, or a scholar, or a magician, or a college graduate. You don’t have to have any special qualifications for a lot of activities that can make a big difference for other people.