Saturday, July 17, 2010

BOTW - Book of the Week Review

 As promised, every Saturday, I review the book that I recommended the previous Sunday to read. This weeks pick was Don't Give Up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812.

This book was not originally what I thought it was, yet it still satisfied me non the less. As one who is just starting his historical journey into the War of 1812, I needed not so much a topical reference of the war - which this turned into - as opposed to a chronological reference. Thus, for any student of the War of 1812, this would be a fantastic book!! But for anyone, such as myself, who knows very little about the War, it necessitates some prior reading.

Just one example of my confusion. The British controlled a very significant fort called Prairie Du Chien...located in what is present day Wisconsin. Yet this particular book assumed that you knew where Prairie Du Chein was located. Thus, because most of the war took place in what is today Ontario, I assumed that this important War of 1812 site was in that province. Imagine my surprise when I discovered otherwise!!!

Other than these few chronological and location based mishaps that anyone with an understanding of the War of 1812 would not have, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Hickey writes in a very conversational manner and with prose that is both interesting as well as to the level of the average reader. He delves into the causes of the War, the Military confrontations of the War, the mechanics of the war - such as rifles, cannons, etc. -, as well as many other important little known facts. Thus, I give this book an 8 of 10, an 8, because for the average reader with no War of 1812 background, it is sorely lacking in the context department.

Stay tuned to the blog tomorrow for next weeks Book of the Week(BOTW)!!!

Don't Give Up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812

The Number of those Living in Equality

This image from 538, documents how many people around the world live in equality...hopefully we can increase this one day!! Its only a matter of time!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Evolution of Marriage - Dummy Style


San Fransisco Relationships

A recent report in the San Fransisco Chronicle gives these statistics on gay monogamy and sexual fidelity.
"In her study of gay couples, 47 percent reported open relationships. Forty-five percent were monogamous, and the remaining 8 percent disagreed about what they were"
Of course, our delightful friends on the right are overjoyed by this, stating that this is another reason why gay couples should not be allowed to have marriage rights,  because instead of saying "I do" and meaning it, the couples instead say something like "I do - except for this, this, and this".

NOM actual words go beyond this, saying that not only are gay couples wanting to "redifine" marriage but area also wanting to "redifine" monogamy and fidelity...

Why stop at the word marriage? Other words can be redefined as well.  Take "monogamy"and "fidelity."  They call them "San Francisco relationships," as the SF Chronicle is proudly reporting on the release of a new study of over 500 couples. The study, by Colleen Hoff, shows that the majority of gay couples are not monogamous and that "planned infidelity" was good for their relationships -- including marital ones, according to the Chronicle.
What is interesting, is that NOM does not give the infidelity statistics of heterosexual couples...which can be found here
 It is estimated that roughly 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage (see, Buss and Shackelford for review of this research). And these numbers are probably on the conservative side, when you consider that close to half of all marriages end in divorce (people are more likely to stray as relationships fall apart).
If you look at the both statistics, then you see that infidelity and non-monogamy are not unique to homosexual relationships, and instead are very common among both types of relationships. If you think about it realistically though, maybe the gay couples have a leg up on the heterosexual ones, because according to the same survey...
Sexual agreements are a healthy trend amongst gay couples according to a new study published in the journal AIDS Care on July 15.
The researchers found gay couples tend to set ground rules concerning sex with others and the act of the 'agreement' itself is about strengthening relationships rather than preventing HIV.
Please realize I am in no way advocating non-monogamy or infidelity. What I am saying is that to use this recent study, a study that has comparable statistics to heterosexual couples, combined with the openness and honesty that is involved in "open" homosexual relationships, I can probably safeley say that gays are more in tune with how relationships should work than our heterosexual counterparts. No matter what NOM might claim.

NOM Still Claiming Victory

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is still claiming victory, even with all the recent defeats of their agenda in courtrooms across the nation.

In the words of NOM president Brian Brown -

With the closely divided 5-4 DC Court of Appeal ruling today prohibiting a voter referendum on the District of Columbia’s gay marriage law, the way is cleared for us to finally get the issue before the United States Supreme Court, where we are confident of victory. The central issue in this case is whether the people of the District of Columbia will be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote on this important issue, just as voters in 31 states have been able to do. The razor-thin majority on the DC Appeals court got it wrong when they said they owed substantial deference to the DC Council. In fact, it is the right of the people that is owed substantial deference by courts and the Council. We believe the US Supreme Court will agree with us. In considering getting involved in this case last March, Chief Justice John Roberts said our argument in the case ‘has some force.’ The Court decided to give the DC Court of Appeal the opportunity to consider the case. With today’s decision, we look forward to bringing our fight for the right to vote on marriage to the nation’s highest court.”
Ok buddy, the Constitution nowhere gives anyone the "right" to vote on the civil rights of minority groups. If that was the case, then I should be given the right to vote on the legality of the civil right that you have to say such things. Yes the courts should defer to the people, but it should only do so when those people are not imposing personal animus onto another group within society. It was to guard against this personal animus that the Courts were originally instituted in our country.

Ried, Angle, and the New Poll

With my election 2010 coverage just starting - I have discussed Iowa havent I? - I decided that the election in Nevada is one that we must also watch. It, at the moment, has nothing to do with gay rights, but it has to do with the establishment of ultra-right wing ideology - dangerous ideology I might add - in Congress.

Angle, the republican, as many of you know, is for the elimination of Social Security, Booze, Medicare, and the Departments of Energy and Education. But thankfully, after months of trailing behind Angle, Harry Reid is making a comback.

A new poll from the Las Vegas Review Journal gives Ried a 7 POINT advantage over Angle...can I hear a hooray!!!

The full text of the Las Vegas Reivew Journal article can be found here.

Another "Protect Marriage" Satire Video

Cartoon of the Day

Here is the Cartoon of the Day!! :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

LGBT Immigration Reform Update - UAFA

An issue that has become exceedingly important to me, because of the situation that I am in, is Immigration reform and how it affects LGBT bi-national couples. Thankfully I can say that there has been some progress over the past few months on the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)

UAFA gives American citizens the ability to sponsor their same-sex partner - whether they be married to them, in conjugal relationship, or common-law - for entry into the United States. Though legislation has continually stalled over the past few years, key democrats in Congress - led by Rep. Gutierrez - have advocated UAFA inclusion in the comprehensive immigration reform bill about to be considered by Congress.

There of course, is the obvious anti-gay anything crowd on the right - National Association of Evangelicals, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - who normally do support comprehensive immigration reform, yet have stated they will not support it if UAFA language is included. The question that I would pose to them is this? Why are you opposed to this bill? It is in no way "legalizing" gay marriage, instead it is just recognizing the fact that gay U.S. citizens cannot sponsor the person that they want to be with and therefore in order to be with them, must face exile from the United States.

Thankfully though, even with the opposition of the "Christian Right", Out4Immigration and Immigration Equality are slowly making headroads in the fight for the passage of UAFA. Cities all across America are passing resolutions in support of UAFA, which Out$Immigration dutifully reports. People, and organizations are also waking up to UAFA, including Human Rights Campaign, who just gave their support to the policy.

Hopefully, at the end of this years legislative session, we will see the passage of comprehensive immigration reform with the inclusion of UAFA. That would take a load off at least my shoulders.

Iowans Reacting

Thankfully Iowans are starting to react to the mixed messages that they are getting from the Branstad/Reynolds gubernatorial campain. I wrote a few weeks ago about how we must all closely watch this race, so therefore I will be providing updates when necessary.

The current update comes from an Iowa Independent article, which chronicles Branstads' "flip-flopping" on this issue over the past few years. Unbeknown to me, Branstad used to be the head of Des Moines University, and during his time there, he was a fierce advocate for LGBT rights.

One of his supporters, who also supports gay marriage, sums up the current feeling when she says.
“I heard of your desire to pass a constitutional amendment taking away the right of marriage from many of my fellow Iowans,” said a woman identified as Rachel from Ames. “When I first heard that Iowa had granted this right, I was extremely proud to be an Iowan. I have told many of my out-of-state friends about Iowa’s progressive attitude and how living here is great for families. As a native Iowan I have had to correct many non-Iowans on their views of our state, and I would be ashamed if such a wonderful example of Iowa’s equality were taken away. Marriage is about love, and please don’t take this right away from your fellow Iowans.  You’re the only governor I remember having when I was growing up, and if this is a point on which you will not waver, then you have lost my vote.”
Thankfully, OneIowa, whose facebook page can be found here, has been holding Branstad's feet to the fire on this issue. Hopefully people will start to listen. 

Protect Marriage!!! Ban Divorce!!!

From jomygod.

Brilliant initiative in Calirfornia!! Everyone who voted for Prop8 should vote for this!!

Congrats Argentina!!

Argentina has become one of the few nations to legalize gay marriage!! With over 70 percent of the population agreeing with this legalization, there is no way our friends at NOM or FRC can claim this was legislative or judicial tyranny.

Technically, it is not legal yet. The reason why I say it is, is because the House of Deputies passed a legalization bill early this year, and the President has since said she would sign such a bill if it made it through the Senate. Well early this morning, the Senate decided in a 33-27 vote to approve the measure!! Congrats Argentina.      

CTV has a great synopsis article on it here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

European Map

Thanks Dr. Campbell for this awesome picture!!! No offense to any of my European readers, its all in jest remember :)

DADT lawsuit gets underway

Yesterday, a federal trial in California was begun in attempt to overturn Don't Ask Don't Tell. Though repeal of the policy is "supposedly" working its way through both the Pentagon and the chambers of Congress, many gay activists - including myself - are skeptical at the bureaucratic efforts of repeal. From the foolishly worded survey, to the compromise that the Obama Administration came up with to pass it through Congress, the gay community has felt taken advantage of and manipulated. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Log Cabin Republicans - a republican gay advocacy group - filed this lawsuit.

The associated press has an excellent synopsis of the case here.

Woods said he plans to use the remarks of Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other top military commanders as evidence the policy should be overturned.
Woods argued the policy violates the rights of gay military members to free speech, due process and open association.
"If they wish to serve in our armed forces, homosexuals must conceal the core of their identity, they must lie — in violation of their honor and duty," Woods said. "Our military excludes these men and women from service solely on the basis of status and conduct that is constitutionally protected."
Woods said 29 nations, including Israel, Canada, Germany and Sweden, allow openly gay individuals to serve in their military, and gays can also serve in the FBI, CIA and even as the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces.

I will hope and pray that the Judge in this case sees the light and strikes down this terrible policy as unconstitutional.

Cartoon of the Day

Just thought I would start our day with a little laugh...I think I'm going to try to do this almost every day, it brings a little bit of a lighter fare to this blog.

Escaping Cows

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thank God the Tea Party is at least Consistent

The Washington Post just ran an excellent article on the consistancy of the tea party folks and the recent DOMA ruling by Judge Tauro in Massachussets.

To give a little background, Judge Tauro issued two different rulings, one of which centered around the assertion that the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not allow the federal government to intervene in the business of marriage, as that has been a traditionally state affair. Yes there was the polygamy issue, which Conservative commentator Cal Thomas has raised - and which I addressed in this previous post, Utah and Polygamy. Regardless of the polygamy issue, Judge Tauro raised some interesting points, which the Tea Party, in order to be consistent, must accept. Thankfully many have started too.

"I do think it's a state's right," said Phillip Dennis, Texas state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. The group does not take a position on social issues, he said, but personally, "I believe that if the people in Massachusetts want gay people to get married, then they should allow it, just as people in Utah do not support abortion. They should have the right to vote against that."

Though I disagree with the Tea Party on oh so many things, I can applaud the fact that many of them, because of their pro-states rights ideas, are agreeing - albeit silently with Judge Tauros ruling.

Awesome South Park Video!!!

Though not my regular fare for my blog...i think this is too awesome to pass up.

DADT survey and Military Order

Here is an awesome article from Time Magazine on the DADT survey.,8599,2003075,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

Time makes some excellent points...saying -

When Harry Truman wanted to integrate blacks into the U.S. military in 1948, he simply ordered it done. When the Navy wanted women on ships beginning in 1978, it commanded its admirals to do so. When the Clinton Pentagon decided women should become fighter pilots, it issued orders telling the military to make it happen. For generations, the military mind-set has been, If we want you to have an opinion, we'll issue you one. So why is the Pentagon asking troops how they'll feel if forced to serve alongside openly gay comrades?
"This is a very dangerous precedent," says Lawrence Korb, who ran the Pentagon's personnel office during the Reagan Administration. "It gives the troops the feeling that they have a veto over what the top people want."
Time magazine also delves into the minority issues that this survey gives dangerous precedent too - and something that I have been saying all along.

 Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, says the poll is simply a political tool designed to ease a decision that would be better made quickly. Instead, it's part of a prolonged process that polarizes those involved and hurts both national security and gays. "If we were asking questions about any other identity group — Would your wife mind living on post next to a Chinese family?, Would you take orders from a Baptist officer?, Would you mind serving alongside an African American? — these kinds of questions make those groups second-class citizens," he says.

I think that when the U.S. Congress and the Commander-In-Chief of the army go to the troops for a decision...we have officially crossed the line in showing that the military order does not matter any longer.  

Monday, July 12, 2010

Christian "Respect" - Another Cartoon

Another awesome cartoon from the following website...which also btw. has an excellent article on symbols and their meanings to different people.


Cal Thomas and Utah - Showing a Huge Lack of Historical Understanding

Please read the following article from Cal Thomas before continuing, though I will extensively quote the article in the following post.

Writing in the Salt Lake Tribune, Cal Thomas argues that the ban of Polygamy in Utah, shows that the United States federal government has jurisdiction on the marriage issue. He is making this claim in response to the recent Massachusetts judges assertion that the Federal Government does not have jurisdiction over marriage because it has traditionally been a state affair. Well let us look at some of the historical aspects in question that Thomas uses in his article.

The following claim is made about the induction of Utah as a state...
A New York Times editorial says of DOMA, “There is no rational basis for discriminating against same-sex couples.” Really? Has the newspaper forgotten the federal government’s “discrimination” against Utah when it forbade the territory from entering the Union until it outlawed polygamy?
 First of all, any study of Utah history will realize that in the numerous attempts to obtain statehood, polygamy was not as big of an issue as might be assumed. In fact, in the year 1850, the first time that Utah applied for statehood, it was not even on the radar, as other issues were preeminent, such as the size of the proposed State of Deseret and the fact that the proposed state had an insufficient amount of people in it to qualify for statehood.

Only after the the Morril Anti-Bigamy Act was passed in 1862 did polygamy and its practice become a thorn in the attempt of the people of Utah to become a state. Interestingly, though Thomas is correct in stating that Utah was forced to write anti-polygamy statutes in in Constitution before it could become a state, he fails to mention two things. First, Utah became a state in the year 1896...six year after the LDS church had officially outlawed the practice and thus the main impediment to statehood, and Second, the Morril Anti-Bigamy Act - which ended up being redrafted into the Edmunds-Tucker Act - is not on the books today, in fact it was repealed in 1978 by the United States Congress.

Thomas also claims this...
In 1878, the Supreme Court declared in Reynolds v. United States that polygamy was not protected by the Constitution.
On the contrary, for that is not what the Supreme Court declared, and anyone who reads just a little on that case will realize this. You see, by this time Congress has enacted the Morril Anti-Bigamy Act, which outlawed polygamy in the territories of the United States. The plaintiff in the case before the Court - George Reynolds - argued that because his religious beliefs necessitated him to practice polygamy, he should be exempt from the new law because of First Amendment.  The court disagreed, for they stated in so many words that the First amendment of the Constitution does protect religious beliefs, but it does not protect the "actions" of those beliefs. The Court stated that it if they agreed with the plaintiff that his religious belief to practice polygamy trumped federal law, then any "religious belief", like human sacrifices could be deemed protected under the First Amendment.  Thus the Reynolds v. United States case was not a case on polygamy, as Thomas would like us to think. Instead it was a case on religious freedom, the actions that flow from religious freedom, and how those actions interact with federal law.

Next quote from Thomas -
If the federal government could reject polygamy then as a means of promoting the general welfare, why can’t it block attempts to redefine marriage now? If marriage is redefined by courts, what is to stop anyone from declaring a “right” to any relationship they wish to enter and demanding “equal protection” under the Constitution?
What Thomas refuses to see here is that other forms of relationships - those that he says people will declare a "right" to have - have known negative individual, social, and ethical consequences.Thus the federal government does have the jurisdiction to regulate them. Homosexual relationships on the other hand, have none of these individual, social, or ethical consequences. Though the Right might say that there is, there is no definitive research to back up their claims, and instead all evidence points to how these relationships are beneficial to all involved.

The purpose of government is to “secure” unalienable pre-existing rights about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence (a document Kagan dismissed as irrelevant to the Constitution, though it is the Constitution’s moral and philosophical foundation). Government is not supposed to create new rights like national health care, or same-sex marriage.

Thomas again is shooting himself in the foot here. First he brings up Kagan, which I really don't see how she has any implications in this debate, but secondly he goes against the majority of Supreme Court jurisprudence. The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that their exists a right to marry, so though Thomas Jefferson might not have "thought" that this would be a right, the highest court of our land has asserted that it is. Thus, the Supreme Court, by legalizing something like gay marriage, is not "creating" a new right. Instead it is recognizing that this already established right applies to all individuals in the United States, not just the majority.

And here is the kicker quote from Thomas...

Marriage redefiners demand acceptance for their position that morality, as well as right and wrong, are to be determined by polls.
If polls show the public disapproving of behavior the elites favor, the elites ignore majority opinion and seek to shove it down our throats anyway, because, you see, only they can be right.
Nowhere has gay-rights advocates wanted the morality of gay rights to be determined by the polls. Yes, they would like to see gay rights gain widespread acceptance from the American people, but because gay marriage is a civil rights issue, they recognize that even if the "majority" disagrees with them, the law should not.

Thus, from the outset, with Thomas' view of history, a distortion at best to fit his ideological bent. To his last quote stating that a minority is shoving their morality down a majority's throat, Thomas has once again shown that he is no better than his other Right-wing bedfellows.

DADT and the Christian Right

Once again, Culture organization that, on its face,  is only supposed to report the news, has once again shown its anti-gay bias with the below title. The question is, instead of having untrue an inflammatory titles, when will they actually have a neutral one?

Will Troops Accept a Homosexualized Military?

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is urging gays in the military to answer a Pentagon survey on the policy that bans them from serving openly, but advocacy groups worry the poll may be biased against gays or that those who participate could be exposed and expelled.
Now what is this post trying to say? That once DADT is repealed, suddenly all the gay people will want to join, thus making it a homosexualised millitary? Umm, were the authors of that title not aware that gays and lesbians already serve in the millitary, and thus by implementing this policy we are not more homosexualizing it than it already is?

Maybe once the CR stops its petty, "oh no the gays are coming" campaign I will then take them seriously on the whole DADT issue.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Book of the Week (BOTW) - Don't Give Up the Ship!!!

I have decided to start what I am going to call the "Book of The Week", or basically, the book that I have decided to read that particular week and which I think you should too. Every Sunday I will release the title and then the following Saturday I will do a quick book synopsis and why this book is important to read. Each book will be chosen for its application and interest. I will also provide a link to in case you would like to purchase it, but I would recommend just going to the library

The books that I will choose will mostly be focused on American History and Politics, because I believe that in order to effect change in America today, we must thoroughly understand the history of our great country.

This weeks book is Don't Give Up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. This book looks to be a fascinating history of the War of 1812, or what many call the "Forgotten War" of American History.

                                                 Don't Give Up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812
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