Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pretty Lights, Or Smooth Safe Traffic Flow?

So, a couple of accidents have shut down the Marquette Interchange on this Thursday morning's rush hour. One, not exactly sure where. The other, an overturned semi on National.

Should there be any surprise, I mean really? They say that the design decisions have been made with aesthetics and safety in mind. Just look at the mood lighting and odd lane configuration in place with future expansion in mind. Now that's planning, by the way, given their on-time under-budget implementation.

But I digress. Consider this: I94 to I43 south, a single lane turning into an exit only lane. Markings to discourage crossing into the main thoroughfare. I don't know the exact distance. But, it seems when I drive through it all I have is about two seconds to decide what to do. This is made all the more interesting when some poor soul is trying exit on National from two lanes over.

So to hear about today's traffic situation? No surprises here. How about reconfiguring the lanes to something that makes a little bit more sense, folks? What's more important: pretty lights, or smooth and safe traffic flow?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

So They Want To Blame Obama, Ey..?

You know, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Clinton leaves office with a widely known budget surplus. Bush takes office and on his watch the country dives into a deficit. Obama inherits a fucked up financial situation.

But one thing is certain: allowing some of Bush's policies to continue certainly isn't helping..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tax Breaks For Pets, Not For Domestic Partners

Unreal. There are a couple of Republicans out there who would like to setup a tax break for pet owners. As some of my friends on Facebook have commented, whatever happened to giving tax breaks for domestic partners?

Looks like to at least two individuals, man and his best friend are more entitled to this benefit compared to two men in a long-term committed relationship. Hasn't it been the rule for some conservatives to be staunchly against domestic partnerships and gay marriage because of a slippery slope argument? You know the one: it includes spewing rhetoric that on recognizing gay couples, domestic partners, civil unions, look-alike marriage, etc. we'll eventually be forced to allow people to marry animals.

Wait a minute: my partner of 11 years and I each own a cat, so if this bill gets passed we're eligible for double the credit.. hmm..? ;-)

NPR Article:

Bill information on Thomas Library Of Congress:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Let Me Appreciate You By Castration..

Stories like this are utterly disgusting. Imagine that you've made a discovery that literally changes the direction of a world war. Imagine the pride that you must feel in making such a huge difference to countless millions in war weary populations. Then imagine your country focusing on one aspect of your personality, and treating you like a monster to the point that your only way out is to kill yourself.

Yes, this is rather harsh but this article is but one extreme example of the harsh treatment that some gays have faced just for being who they are.

Did you know that at one time, one of the many "cures" for being gay was chemical castration?

Imagine if mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing's homosexuality was "discovered and dealt with" prior to making his discovery during the war against Nazi Germany.

Friday, August 28, 2009

He Just Got A Letter, He Just Got A Letter! But What Would You Do?

So there has been quite the chatter about Attorney General Van Hollen's decision to not defend the domestic partner registry legislation. Now, we're being informed that he has written a letter to Governor Doyle to explain his decision. Apparently he will not defend the legislation because he believes it is flawed and that a domestic partnership may be substantially similar to that of marriage.

Well.. I'm curious about the full contents of that letter. So far the news hasn't revealed much more which hasn't been revealed before. Except of course that the AG believes the law is flawed.

I, for one, am wondering if religious conservatives are capable of putting their beliefs aside and constructing a legal status which grants rights to same-sex couples.

Our governor believes that all couples deserve legal protection. Up until now, not all couples have had that the ability to receive protections through the government. No matter how you look at it, the solution now in place has the best of intentions: to provide basic protection to same-sex couples. Some such as the Journal Sentinel's Patrick McIlheran would have you believe that this is not about legal protection, but only about sanctioning love or the right to love. Believe what you want because we're all free-thinking individuals. Just don't remind me that all couples have the option of purchasing legal protection. That suggests that opposite-sex couples have had TWO options for legal protection -- one a fraction of the cost of the other -- while same-sex couples only have had ONE EXPENSIVE option. And this doesn't even include the cost of the commitment ceremony or wedding, for those couples that choose to have a celebration.

I will go out of my way, however to say this. I agree: the domestic partnership declaration and the marriage license are identical in many ways except in who each is for and which rights are granted.

A quick side-by-side comparison of marriage licenses and domestic partnership declarations (based on my understanding) shows:

  • Two distinct audiences: one is for opposite-sex couples, the other for same-sex couples.
  • Different sets of rights:
    • Mathematically, 43/1200+ is less than 4%.
    • The declaration grants 43 rights from the state and no federal rights.
    • The license grants 200+ rights from the state and 1000+ federal rights.
    • Unlike marriage, the declaration does not grant adoption rights, legal support obligations, and comprehensive property rights.
  • Unlike marriage, divorce law is not required to end the domestic partnership.
  • They cost the same to obtain.
  • Both have the same qualification criteria.
  • Both are granted by the same process and same government officials.
  • A member of clergy is not required for both.

I'm forced to ask: when it comes to any legal construct which would grant rights to same-sex couples in Wisconsin:
  • Should it cost a percentage of the charge for a marriage license? In other words, should the domestic partnership declaration cost 4% that of a marriage license? In Waukesha County that would be $3.7625 instead of $105.
  • How long should they be together before they can become eligible for basic rights and protections?
  • What process should they follow and how should the process be administered?
  • From whom should they obtain the documentation for said legal construct?
  • What words should be spoken when granting the documentation?

I seriously doubt a casual definition to determine who is eligible, as McIlheran suggests, would fly with Joe the Voter. Might as well include Julaine Appling's "two men in an ice shanty" statement as a qualification to register.

So to all these people who are basically complaining about this small taste of equality that Wisconsin gay couples now have, I dare you to answer the following questions:
  • What will it take for you to allow and to work towards establishing a legal construct to grant rights and protections for same-sex couples, instead of using law to eradicate access to those rights?
  • What makes those rights special to opposite-sex couples?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rest In Peace, Les Paul

A great man has left us today. Les Paul, Waukesha native and one of the most influential people in music history. Click below to see a great story about this great man.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Yes, It's A Legal Option For Same-Sex Couples


“While we disagree with the constitutionality of the registry, we understand it’s a legal option for these folks,” said (Wisconsin Family Action President) Julaine Appling. The group chose not to have its members protest outside courthouses, she said.

Monday, July 27, 2009

About Dancemakers: Who cares! Just another..

From the program for Dancemakers, July 24-25:

Location: UWM Mainstage Theatre, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Performances: Each night will feature a different program.
Friday, July 24 at 7:30 pm (an informal reception follows this performance)
Saturday, July 25 at 7:30 pm

Dancemakers showcases work by the professional dancers and choreographers who travel to Milwaukee each summer to participate in the graduate program.

Who cares! Just another...
Choreography: Joel Valentin-Martinez
Performance: Javier Marchán
Costume design: Joel Valentin-Martinez
Music: Tacvba:12/12, by Kronos Quartet and Cafe Tacvba

This piece is a work in progress and it is a reflection of the times we live in. It is about the Mexican and Mexican-American experience. This is about one man's struggle to exist in a society that continue to reject and at times dehumanize him. In this piece we find our character in an imaginary Caribbean town, in Mexico, where time, space and history are compressed for the pleasure of the modern tourist.

On the evening of Friday, July 24th I witnessed a wonderful solo dance performance by Javier Marchán. I'm not just saying this as a proud older sibling: it was a mesmerizing show. It was clear that our family history and Mexican-American heritage gave him a unique perspective for his interpretation.

But first, here is a bit of our family history. Our paternal grandfather arrives in this country as an immigrant and migrant worker in 1927. Eventually his family emigrates to the United States in the 1950's and settles in Palmyra, WI. Our father is the youngest in his family, and our mother is among the youngest in hers.

Soon after our parents married in December 1972, our mom left Mexico to be with her husband. She was the only one from her immediate family to leave the country. Both our parents worked to provide for their family of four. They instilled in us a sense of family, service and individuality. Our family began to experience being torn between two cultures when the oldest three kids we were very young. Spanish was the first language the three of us spoke, and I have memories of our family dealing with my first grade teacher who nearly succeeded in getting me to change the spelling of my given name.

Now, on to the performance: Javier starts out with a simple representation of a campesino going about his life in Mexico. Later on, you see the campesino make his way to the north. During a poignant, pivotal moment he raises his hand to point to El Norte. While pointing he immediately looks back contemplating what he is about to leave behind as if to say, "but I have to go." What follows is calm determination as he journeys towards and crosses the border which is immersed by the Rio Grande. This transition is but the eye of the coming storm, a representation of the tumultuous, chaotic emotions and struggles that some Latinos of today face.

I witnessed images of the sensationalism behind the H1N1 variant of the common flu when Javier performed with a medical mask on his face. The unusual Republican rhetoric surrounding Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination and the scales of justice were very evident as he gracefully carried out moves that required focused balance. And the music: a simple flute melody at first which transitioned to a faster contemporary Latin beat, then became interspersed with the original theme and somewhat frantic sounds of a beating drum.

The audience showed their love of the performance with shouts and thunderous applause. An excited person said it best during the reception after the show, when I heard him proclaim to Javier something like, "you were so present in your performance!" I couldn't agree more with this assessment of the effortless grace embodied by his movements. Regrettably I was unable to chat with Mr. Valentin-Martinez about the work but the huge-ass smile, stretching from ear to ear on both of our brown faces, simply required no words.

What a show.

About the Artist (from the program)
Joel Valentin-Martinez is a Sr. Lecturer in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University where he teaches courses in contemporary dance and world dance genres. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, he grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where he initiated his studies in dance. From 1990-2003 he performed nationally and internationally as a member of Garth Fagan Dance (Tony and Bessie award winner). His dance piece Tlatelolco Revisited (2008) was commissioned by Luna Negra Dance Theater and performed at the Harris Theatre, Chicago. As a choreographer he has collaborated with the visual artist, John Jota Leaños, with his multi-media opera Imperial Silence: Una Ópera Muerta/A Dead Opera in Four Acts (2008), which premiered at the World Theater in Monterey Bay and continues to tour throughout California. He has been a guest artist around the country, including S.F. State University where he mounted his piece, Brasos y Abrazos (2009). Mr. Valentin-Martinez has also served as rehearsal director for residencies by Delfos Danza Contemporánea, Nora Chipaumire and Robert Moses. At Northwestern University he mounted his work, Ask me in the morning light (2009), which was selected by the Joyce Foundation in New York City for The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009. He also reconstructed Nora Chipaumire’s Groundswell for the 2008 Danceworks concert and choreographed the musical SPUNK as part of the mainstage season. Prior to arriving at Northwestern University, he taught at Arizona State University and the University of Rochester.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hello.. my name is Leonel.. and I'm a minion..

I'm proud to be among them! The law-abiding, decent ones that is. After all, I have a good paying job, a great family, the best friends anyone could ever have, a nice home, and a partner of 11 years.

Yes, I cannot help but draw attention to Yankee transplant Julaine Appling. During her quest to eliminate and eradicate equal access to particular rights for people of different sexual orientations, she has referred to us as minions of a certain demonic figure. Hey -- these are her words, paraphrased of course, not mine! She'll do anything to prevent same-sex couples from obtaining equal access to basic rights and protections.

I'm catholic and I find it embarrassing and humorous to hear someone use Christ's name to use language like "Satan and his minions" to describe decent people. Wouldn't any reasonable person?

(8/12 Supplemental - Julaine Appling has updated her Twitter profile and removed the Yankee reference. Forgive me folks for not giving credit where due. See for yourself what her profile once read here: That is where I first heard about her use of the Yankee reference. I believe within a week after the article appeared, she changed her profile.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wisconsin's Domestic Partner Status Is Not Substantially Similar To Marriage. Period.

It is done. Wisconsin has redeemed itself and its progressive history. It is the first state in these United States which bans marriage for same-sex couples and also grants them basic legal protection. Opponents of basic rights for all couples are going to have a field day and have been working to eradicate basic rights for same-sex couples ever since the conception of Wisconsin's domestic partner status.

It should be an interesting situation to watch. When considering the constitutionality of domestic partners there is something else these.. challengers.. will need to push beyond: their own words. Why? In Wisconsin, legal process includes a test for legislative intent.

The state already recognizes that State Representative Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin and amendment author, intended to prohibit look-alike marriages and not prohibit domestic partner benefits. The leaders of the campaign to pass the disgusting ban via constitutional amendment have expressed that the ban would not affect domestic partner benefits.

From the state summary itself:

There is evidence of intent ... to support the position that it is reasonable to conclude that the provision does not prohibit the domestic partner proposal included in (the state budget). The intent of the second sentence ... was discussed in a 2006 memorandum prepared by (Gundrum's) office.

Further down in the state summary is Gundrum's own explanation that the proposal:

.. does not prohibit the state, local governments or private entities from setting up their own legal construct to provide particular privileges of benefits, such as health insurance benefits, pension benefits, joint tax return filing, hospital visitation, etc. as those bodies are able and deem appropriate. As long as the legal construct designed by the state does not rise to the level of creating a legal status 'identical or substantially similar' to that of marriage (i.e., marriage, but by a different name), no particular privileges or benefits would be prohibited.

Then there is the recorded media account, again accounted for in the state summary:

Note, too, that media accounts of statements from supporters of the constitutional amendment that created (the same sex marriage ban) would be relevant in determining intent. In order to determine not only the legislative intent behind a constitutional amendment but also to determine the intent of the electorate in approving a constitutional amendment, a court will review expressions made in the media.

I wonder if that review of media would include..

Journal Sentinel
Appling said she has "no plans to be involved in litigation." She added "the government is free to give benefits to unmarried individuals on a basis that does not approximate marriage."

Wisconsin State Journal
State Attorney General Van Hollen "..agreed with Lautenschlager's recent opinion that a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would not prevent local governments or private employers from providing health benefits to the same-sex partners of employees."

Marriage Equality New York
"If the state Legislature wants to take up adoption and inheritance rights, it can do that" if the amendment becomes law, Appling said. "Nothing in the second sentence prohibits that. Nor does it in any way affect existing benefits given by local governments or the private sector."

Capital Times
When critics of Wisconsin's proposed ban on gay marriage and civil unions warned it would threaten domestic partner benefits, supporters of the measure said they were crying wolf.

"That's just an absurd argument," Julaine Appling of the Family Research Council told The Capital Times in February 2006.

Need I say more? Not really, except to end with stating what the new legal status does not include:

  • The mutual obligation of support that spouses have in marriage.
  • The comprehensive property system that applies to spouses under the marital property law.
  • The requirements of divorce law for terminating a marriage.

The new legal status grants a limited set of 43 benefits, rights, and protections to same-sex couples.

Would someone PLEASE explain to me how, exactly, is the legal status of domestic partner identical or substantially similar to that of marriage? At least the intent of the amendment is pretty clear to me with regards to basic legal protection for same-sex couples. Thank you, Wisconsin!

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's About Time Government Controls Tobacco, Not Behavior!

So I've been biding my time on expressing an opinion about the smoking bans which seem to be fashionable these days. Believe it or not, I have mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, I can see the health benefit for non-smokers. On the other hand, I do NOT like to see government using law to eradicate personal choices.

Government is finally doing what should've been done years ago: regulate the tobacco industry. Obama has signed legislation to give the FDA sweeping power over it. It's about time government takes that type of action. Now that's the way to go. Confront smoking by dealing with the source, not by legislating behavior.

This whole situation reminds me of advertising I've seen in Mexico. Yes, in Mexico. Look around and you will find posters on bus stops that essentially say, "smoking will kill you." No beating around the bush there like we do in the States: "smoking may be harmful to your health" indeed.

Reuters Article:

Legislation Fact Sheet:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Don't Forget, It's Ok To Discriminate! Right..

So, now Republicans and the media have found a new sensational issue to focus on regarding Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor. It seems that her participation in an all women club, The Belizean Grove, is considered to be a violation of judicial ethics. Not knowing all the facts, I disagree.

And here is why, even though I do not know the mission of this organization. My disagreement is because of a pretty simple question, really. According to their written mission statement, what group of people does this organization serve?

If the written mission statement for Belizean Grove clearly states that it exists for all women, then the answer should be obvious.

If it states that it exists for everyone and in practice excludes men, then the group is discriminating.

In other words: the bottom line is about who the group states that it serves. It discriminates when it excludes within the population served. For me, the answer to this type of question is simple: look to a group's written mission statement. I do not know the mission of Belizean Group, but it helps to have learned that the group appears to serve women and may exist in response to the all-male Bohemian club.

From an article which appeared in the New York Times:

The Belizean Grove bills itself as women’s answer to the 130-year-old all-male Bohemian Club in California. The men’s club owns a 2,500-acre camping area in Northern California called the Grove.

I cannot help but notice the irony here. Wasn't it about ten years ago that conservatives rallied behind the Boy Scouts, an organization whose stated mission appears to serve an entire group and publicly excludes gays within that group? Let us not forget that the Supreme Court sanctioned their discrimination. Funny that their website is not clear about eligibility.

Ironic and definitely not surprising that conservatives are now crying discrimination.

At any rate: once again the media and conservatives are focusing on one side of the issue. Very few people are talking about the all male Bohemian Club. I wonder why..?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.. Take 2..

So.. after a month or so, I have found that posting status updates and microblogs here might not have been the best decision. I didn't quite like how they appeared alongside the main entries. My blog archive was just looking way too messy in the end.

I've moved them off to a separate blog. This is mainly for family and friends who would like to see what I'm up to, yet not have to go setup accounts on the social sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.

Sorry for the confusion and inconvenience, everyone!! :-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marriage Equality Can Be Achieved By Separating Church And State

This is nothing new. Nevertheless, it is good to be reminded of the need to separate church and state with regards to marriage. Religious institutions should not be used as a clearinghouse for legal rights, privileges, and protections for any given couple and their family.

And, I learned something new today. France and other countries already make the clear distinction between church and state:

This is the way it's already done in countries such as France. "A priest or an imam, or whoever's responsible, they can't legally make a wedding or marriage if the person had not previously been married by a representative of the mayor in a city hall," said Jacques de Noray, spokesman for the French consulate in San Francisco. "Since the French Revolution, there is a clear separation between the state and church." The church ceremony, he adds, "doesn't have any legal significance."

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Power Strangers Have On The Right To Marry

I haven't been quite sure how to put my thoughts on California's Proposition 8 mess into words. Until now. Actor David Hyde Pierce pretty much summed it up as best as anyone really could.

Angered by the ruling, Hyde Pierce said Thursday: "It's like, `Oh great, we made the cut.'"
He called it a "very odd thing" that strangers have a vote on his private decision to marry.

The power that complete strangers have given themselves over this particular individual choice is disgusting. They have the power to dictate who gay people can be united with in the eyes of the law. They have the power to dictate which people get the automatic right to hospital visitation, end-of-life decision making, and family leave for their companions.

Very odd indeed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Focus On The Family Is Ok With Gay Judges?

In a big "huh?" moment, supposedly a spokesperson for the Focus On The Family organization says its ok for a justice to be gay. He says it has no impact on the ability to judge (duh!). But - what would happen if we ever did get a gay justice nominated to the Supreme Court? If you think this group would speak out against the nomination, please raise your right hand..

Friday, May 15, 2009

To Define or To Protect..

Someone help me out here, did Julaine Appling just suggest that the 2006 amendment contained two questions?

Supporters of the ban feel it's about only one topic. The first part was about the definition of marriage.

"The second part of it was whether or not we're going to protect the institution of marriage," said Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Council. "Really, if we didn't have the second part of that, the first part is of very little value because then you can have marriage by another name, call it domestic partner, call it a civil union, call it whatever you want. But it is marriage by another name."

Judging from this statement, the amendment which bans civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples appeared to pose two questions to the voter.

1: Shall we define marriage?
2: Shall we protect marriage?

Oh, I get it. The single question posed to the voter was "shall we further regulate (religious) marriage?"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek Review

As a queer mexican trekkie, it is my duty to post a review on the latest Star Trek movie. And yes, I've posted comments on various websites. Wouldn't have things any other way.. no? :-)

So, my review is a compilation of what I've posted online with additional content and editing. Be warned, I'm not a movie critic so don't expect an opinion on plot. Do expect comments which bring out my inner trekkie, which believe it or not doesn't happen very often. All I ever want, anyway, is a good entertaining story which makes me think. Star Trek is full of many good stories, many great messages, and beautiful character moments all being among the many reasons why I am proud to be a Trekkie. This movie is certainly among the best Trek stories ever told.

Here goes!

Star Trek is a good movie and I will definitely go see it again.. I wouldn't say I loved it, but I did enjoy it very much. The anticipation was most worth it. This will be a day long remembered.. (oops.. wrong franchise) ;-)

I don't think anything will top Star Trek: The Wrath Of Kahn, though. That said: this new reincarnation of Trek is written for everyone and not just for the fans. So unless you have very strong feelings about time travel, are extremely nitpicky about all things Trek, and will only accept Shatner as Kirk - go see the movie already!

One scene left me really upset. Another was a huge WTF. I have had mixed feelings about the time travel. I did like how it was explained through a mind-meld from Spock. Regardless, I actually appreciated that there was no magic reset button at the end of this movie.

It essentially establishes a third universe ready for new adventures. We now have Prime (original), Mirror, and Reimagined (yet unnamed as far as I know). Nothing from what has come before is wiped clean. Nothing is lost. To paraphrase the good ol' Guardian of Forever, time hasn't lost its shape (if you prescribe to quantum mechanics and the idea of a multiverse) and "all is as it was before." My only question is, which universe does the very first scene take place in: prime, or reimagined?

Lots of nods to all that has come before, I actually lost track. And dammit, I missed the tribble! Maybe it was hiding behind that baseball cap sitting in front of me at the movie theater..

Anyway, it was great to see the Big E in action once again. I do confess, her reveal left me asking.. no, begging.. to be showcased a little more as in The Motion Picture. The TMP Enterprise will always be my favorite ship, by the way. The E is a character unto itself, to be honest! Regardless it was a highlight in this emotional roller coaster of a film. The music for that scene was just right.

About the scene which left me utterly upset: I was unable to get that moment out of my head until many hours later. While typing this up, quite suddenly thoughts of TNG’s “Sarek” episode put everything back into a certain perspective, given what happens later near the end of the film.

In that episode Sarek reveals through a mind meld with Captain Picard how much he loved his former wife, Lady Amanda Grayson. Amanda's character is established as a teacher and is a fan favorite. You can infer from later events in The Next Generation series that he never truly reveals his suppressed feelings to anyone, not even to his son, Spock. The point is - in this reimagined universe Spock hears directly from Sarek how much he loves his wife.

You don't even need to know this from the previous series to get the point. Within these two hours, we get to witness why Sarek's union with Amanda was more that just the logical thing to do. Not so in any other incarnation of Trek. This is a prime example (no pun intended) of the care that the writers put into this movie. The movie is chock full of moments like these.

One thing I was watching for, which I got. In Next Generation's "Yesterday's Enterprise" we are taken to an altered timeline and it seems only Guinan is aware that something is not quite right. So, knowing that this episode was among several which were inspirational to the writers, I hoped to find such a moment. And yes, I got it! At one moment Spock says to Kirk: "what? you're not the captain?" with a very quizzical look on his face. Awesome!

Final thought.. Spock & Uhura? Really? That was a bit over the top..

So: will I see Star Trek again in the movie theater? Hmm. Is the Pope Catholic? ;-)


So, recently I was muckin' around with It is a neat little service which allows you to update your status on many social network websites such as MySpace, Facebook, Hi5, Bebo, Yahoo360, and many others. It can also update your status on IM clients such as AIM, GoogleTalk, YahooIM, etc.

It also has a feature for doing microblogs. Mini versions of full-blown ramblings will now appear on my little corner of the web. I'm debating if I'm going to keep posting them here. I love technology!

So, for now you'll see full-blown blogs as well as status updates, microblogs, etc. You'll be able to see answers to the questions, "what are you doing" and "what are you thinking" as I post to my MySpace and Facebook. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This Week In Traditional Marriage Issue 1.3

Sometimes parents let their kids get away with anything. They don't face the consequences of their actions. (hmm.. who should "they" refer to..) Sometimes kids will have an underage drinking party which leads to violently breaking in to a neighbor's house, and then threaten to firebomb the home of the police officer responding to the incident.

Take this week's family. Their kid sure likes to party. Note that there is no mention anywhere of said kid's father. Quite frankly I don't care where he was. A lot of WTF comes to mind when I read this article.

Oh I get it. All you have to do is cry "mommy the cop hurt me really badly" and the officer appears to get into more trouble than the kid, at least the way this opinion piece reads. I suppose traditional marriage doesn't need protection against this brand of bad parenting.

Friday, April 10, 2009

This Week In Traditional Marriage: Good Friday Edition

There is talk about a case currently in the Wisconsin courts. It seeks to strike down the two-sentence marriage amendment. Apparently Wisconsin process is that when a referendum is brought to a vote, it should only pose one question. There are those who argue that the one referendum in fact contained two. In other words, shall we define marriage (first sentence)? Shall we prohibit "look-alike" marriage (second sentence)?

While responding to that case, the Wisconsin Family Council says if the state's highest court strikes down the amendment they will take measures to "give marriage the very best legal protection possible."

So in honor of the Wisconsin Family Council's brilliant and silly statement, here is this week's family. Apparently this one couldn't spend enough quality time at home. Nor while shopping.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This Week In Traditional Marriage

So here is an example of my twisted sense of humor.

To celebrate Iowa's forward thinking stance on civil marriage, I've decided to start a weekly feature. In honor of the crusade to protect the religious institution of marriage, I'm going to play with the rhetoric used to argue against legal recognition of same-sex couples. You know, that children are best raised by both a mother and a father, and that same-sex couples do not provide a good environment to raise a family.

Seriously, folks: good parenting does not require a man and a woman, but it does require patience and commitment -- which apparently some traditional families lack.

This week has an extra special article from JSOnline, featuring two families:
A man police say beat his 3-year-old son to death for messing up the dining room and a woman who police say shook her 2-month-old son to death because he would not sleep were each charged with homicide Friday, one day after Milwaukee's mayor and police chief warned of a crisis in family violence.

Remember, same-sex marriage is a threat to traditional families such as these. But as a gay male, what do I know..

Congratulations, Iowa Same-Sex Couples! Regarding Wisconsin..?

Will you look at that..! Iowa has become the third state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage. It is awesome to see a state away from the coasts take this bold, forward, progressive step.

From the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision:

"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. There is no material fact, genuinely in dispute, that can affect this determination."

"We have a constitutional duty to ensure equal protection of the law. Faithfulness to that duty requires us to hold Iowa’s marriage statute, Iowa Code section 595.2, violates the Iowa Constitution. To decide otherwise would be an abdication of our constitutional duty. If gay and lesbian people must submit to different treatment without an exceedingly persuasive justification, they are deprived of the benefits of the principle of equal protection upon which the rule of law is founded. Iowa Code section 595.2 denies gay and lesbian people the equal protection of the law promised by the Iowa Constitution."

I've already been asked. What does the Iowa ruling mean? Doesn't civil marriage only grant a handful of protections anyway? Can a same-sex couple from Wisconsin go to Iowa, get married, and be recognized as married in Wisconsin?

Having been involved in the community for some time now, the second question is easy for me to answer even though I don't know all the fine details. Each state grants different sets of protections when a couple obtains their marriage license or enters a civil marriage. A religious ceremony is not required to obtain a marriage license. I have no idea what Iowa grants to its married couples. Wisconsin grants 200+ protections with its license. On top of that, the federal government grants many protections and privileges, the most commonly known being the ability to file a joint tax return. No matter how you look at it, a marriage license grants basic legal protection to a couple and their family.

Regarding the first question, the way I see it is this. I am definitely not an expert. Iowa had legislation which defined civil marriage. That state's Supreme Court determined that the civil marriage definition did not comply with their equal protection clause. So, the court reasoned logically that civil marriage must be changed to include same-sex couples in order to comply.

Then there's that third question. If only it were that easy. Wisconsin has an obscure law which states that Wisconsin residents are prohibited from marrying in another state if that marriage is prohibited here. Apparently we have the stiffest law of that kind, according to JSOnline.

In any case, civil marriage is quite the big deal. No offense to anyone, but I find it fascinating, intriguing and not surprising how some straight couples don't realize just how "big a deal" civil marriage really is. Some don't realize the cost of the marriage license alone compared to the rest of the ceremony if they choose to have one.

Anyway, this is what equal protection clause in Iowa's Constitution states:

All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.

Pretty clear stuff.

Now compare that to Wisconsin, where equal protection is determined by interpreting Article 1 of our state Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and by going through a bunch of legal tests. From a quick Google search, the tests include heightened scrutiny and rational basis. Heightened scrutiny is further broken down as strict or intermediate. Somewhere along the way I found a reference to legislative intent and compelling governmental interest. If Wisconsin's equality clause sounds familiar, it should be: I understand it was based on the Declaration of Independence.

Wisconsin Constitution Article I:
Equality; inherent rights. SECTION 1. [As amended Nov. 1982 and April 1986] All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to secure these rights, governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. [1979 J.R. 36, 1981 J.R. 29, vote Nov. 1982; 1983 J.R. 40, 1985 J.R. 21, vote April 1986]

U.S. Constitution Amendment 14:
SECTION 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Don't even ask me to explain or figure out the legal mumbo-jumbo. Dammit, I'm a queer mexican trekkie, not a lawyer! I found the following page which seems to cover it pretty well. One thing is certain: it has suddenly become even more clear why Wisconsin is forced to go to the separate and unequal route of enacting a domestic partnership registry which grants 43 out of 200+ protections for same-sex couples.

No matter. In the grand scheme of things, its always just a matter of time. There are always possibilities..!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Two Men From An Ice Shanty Walk In To The Courthouse..

Are you kidding me? Appling has made an ice shanty comment which sounds like the start of a bad joke. A fairly recent Madison Times article just showed up in my Goggle Alerts. The article states the following:

As for Doyle's plan itself, Appling says it's broad and vague.

"One of our concerns is that this kind of partner registry could be available to two guys sitting in an ice shanty somewhere."

First off, now she is the one crying down the broad and vague river. Funny.. there's an amendment out there that is rather broad and vague. But I digress: that's an old story.

Seriously, folks. Two men in an ice shanty? According to the general provisions, only if:

  • each individual is at least 18 years old and capable of consenting to the domestic partnership

  • neither individual is married to, or in a domestic partnership with, another individual

  • the two individuals share a common residence [even if only one of the individuals has legal ownership of the residence or one or both of the individuals have one or more additional residences not shared with the other individual, or one of the individuals leaves the common residence with the intent to return]

  • the two individuals are not nearer of kin to each other than second cousins, whether of the whole or half blood or by adoption

  • the individuals are members of the same sex.

The application must contain the social security number of each party who has a social security number. It requires that each party must present satisfactory, documentary proof of identification and residence. The individuals who register as domestic partners must swear, or affirm, to the application before the clerk who is to issue the declaration of domestic partnership.

So I suppose if the two do own the ice shanty and can prove ownership, they can register. Which reminds me. There's no way an opposite sex couple would ever just shack up and obtain their marriage license inevitably leading to divorce, right? That has never happened.. except maybe Brittany Spears?

Oh, what do I know as a gay male with a same-sex partner of 10+ years. No matter. I'll continue to do what I can to educate against Appling's.. misconceptions.

PS: Apparently my link to the general provisions does not work. Try cutting and pasting the following link into your address bar to see them.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

About The Limited Set Of Protections..

So, what the heck does the proposed statewide domestic partner registry do, anyway? Here's my take based on skimming through the general provisions for the budget proposal. Basically, it grants a limited set of 43 legal protections to same-sex couples who choose to register as domestic partners.

As has been widely discussed, the statewide registry if passed as proposed in the budget grants specific protections. The helicopter view is that they grant basic protections and other miscellaneous rights and protections to same-sex couples. The basic protections include requiring hospitals and nursing homes to allow visitation for domestic partners, providing the ability to make end of life decisions for a domestic partner if he or she is unable to, and permitting family leave in the event of the death or serious illness of a domestic partner.

Tell me which couple does not deserve to have the aforementioned basic protections and why. Explain who the hell you think you are to have the right to judge why they are not deserved. In the interest of separation of church and state convince me why your view is more right than any other one without invoking the name of any given deity and religion.

Imagine being encouraged by your boss to lie in order to use personal time to care for a loved one in the event of a serious illness. It is among the most unusual choices to ever be faced with. Believe me, it is not a pleasant situation. It is an example of the extraordinary situations same-sex couples are faced in caring for each other.

Our state motto is, "Forward!" Our governor believes that same-sex couples deserve some basic legal protection as their opposite-sex counterparts do. These protections fall under specific provisions, and try putting a price tag on some of them..

  • Victim Notification by the Department of Corrections

  • Evidences - Privileges

  • Damages, Recovery, and Miscellaneous Provisions Regarding Actions in Court

  • Crime Victim Compensation Program

  • Ownership of Property-Joint Tenancy

  • Administration and Transfer of a Deceased Individual's Estate

    • Revocation of Certain Provisions in Favor of a Former Spouse

    • Unintentional Exclusion from a Deceased Individual's Will

    • Default Rules for the Transfer of Property to Heirs in the Absence of a Will

    • Priority with Respect to Certain Personal Property

    • Right to Purchase Deceased Individual's Interest in Joint Home

    • Exempting Certain Property Transferred to the Surviving Spouse or Surviving Domestic Partner from General Creditors' Claims

    • Family Support During Administration of the Deceased Individual's Estate

    • Accelerated Distribution and Closure of Small Estates

  • Active State Duty National Guard Member Civil Relief

  • Private Employer Health Care Purchasing Alliance Program (PEHCPAP) Rights of Residents in Care Facilities

  • Consent to Admissions to Nursing Homes, CBRFs, and Hospices.
  • Mental Illness, Developmental Disability and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) Treatment Records

  • Health Care Records

  • Power of Attorney for Property and Finances

  • Power of Attorney for Health Care

  • Consent to Autopsies

  • Consent to Make an Anatomical Gift

  • AIDS/HIV Health Insurance Premium Subsidy Program

  • Insurance Provided by Fraternal Organizations

  • Notifications Made to Family Members Following the Release of Certain Persons

  • Real Estate Transfer Fee

  • Family and Medical Leave

  • Worker's Compensation Death Benefits

  • Employee Cash Bonds Held in Trust

  • Wage Payments

  • Insurance for Employees of Local Governmental Units

  • Manufactured Home Title Transfer Fee

  • Motor Vehicle Titles

To think that for an average of $80 opposite-sex couples get automatic access to the above protections and substantially many more when they purchase their marriage license. For more about the above as they are laid out in the budget proposal, check out its general provisions.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flip-Flopping At The Expense Of Taxpayers Regarding Same-Sex Couples

I wasn't quite sure how to remark on an old, unmarried, closed-minded, religious heterosexual woman leading a crusade to protect the religious institution of marriage.

Julaine Appling was interviewed for this week's Eye To Eye on CBS 58. During that interview, she made something perfectly clear. She is ready and willing to legally challenge the proposed statewide domestic partner registry which would grant 43 basic protections to same-sex couples in Wisconsin.

Appling has made it clear in the past that the absurd, disgusting, and far-reaching amendment which bans civil unions and "look-alike marriages" was not intended to affect benefits. Now she wants to challenge the 43 protections should the budget be passed with the registry intact. I wonder if she considers these protections to be benefits..

If she thinks of the protections as benefits, then she has in effect flip-flopped her position. I have a vague recollection of her stating to the residents of Waukesha back in 2006 that she would not do that. How many people crowded the UW-Waukesha campus and witnessed that?

What the hell?

Regardless this change in attitude is no surprise, whatsoever. But there's another thing: she gripes about the expense to the taxpayer for extending domestic partner benefits to state employees. On the other hand, she wants to put the government through the cost of a legal battle over her apparent flip-flopped position.

Again: what the hell?

The point is this. Wisconsin opposite-sex couples have the choice to enter a civil contract which automatically grants 200+ legal protections for their relationships and if applicable for their families. Same-sex couples do not have that choice.

Yes, its true that all couples have the choice to spend hundreds if not thousands on strong legal protections. Not everyone is blessed to have that kind of money. Especially now during a struggling economy. Same-sex couples which do not have the financial means to purchase strong legal protection are in effect -- I hate how this sounds -- out of luck.

I don't want my tax dollars going to a legal battle over an old, unmarried, closed-minded, religious heterosexual woman's belief that some couples do not deserve basic legal protection and that the constitution should be used to eradicate their choices and rights.

Do you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bush's Common Ground With Some Islamic Nations

Say it wasn't so. The Bush administration was opposed to a gay rights declaration over at the United Nations? Really?

Gee, no surprises here.

Isn't it nice to see Bush share common ground with some Islamic nations? Can't forget the Vatican. They opposed the declaration as well. Regrettable that this common ground is regarding gay rights.

Friday, March 13, 2009

We Don't Need These In Wartime, Right?

Someone help me out here. We're in the middle of a war right? So, it makes perfect sense to me that we need qualified:

  • intelligence collectors
  • military police officers
  • infantry personnel
  • health-care experts

Apparently not if you're gay.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thank You Governor Doyle For The WI Domestic Partner Registry!

Governor Doyle has included in this year's budget a provision for setting up a statewide domestic partner registry. This is great news for the thousands of same-sex couples living in Wisconsin. According to Fair Wisconsin, the statewide domestic partnership registry will grant access to 43 rights, protections, and privileges to same-sex couples who choose to register.

In his address, Governor Doyle stated:

If we want our economy to flourish – if we want to help attract and retain talented workers – it is also time to make sure our state takes some basic steps toward fairness and decency. First, we can make sure that domestic partners who work for the state have access to benefits. We can also make sure that a committed couple has visitation rights at a hospital, and the right to take the appropriate leave if one has a serious illness. This isn’t an issue of being gay or straight – we are not judging people’s lives here. But I don’t want the state to stand in the way of someone being able to care for their long-term partner. And I don’t want the state to be less competitive at our university and other institutions because we don’t treat people fairly.

When you break down that absurd second sentence of the amendment which bans civil unions and marriage for gay couples.. never mind the debate whether or not a registry (in other words a list) creates a legal status. It goes without saying that the "legal status identical or substantially similar" clause is far-reaching and meant to include "civil union." In fact Appling herself has made it quite clear that the amendment was intended to ban gay marriage and not to limit domestic partner benefits.

Take into consideration Webster's definition for the word substantial. Mathematically, 43 out of 200+ is not even close to a majority. I cannot see how 43 rights, privileges, and protections are considerable in quantity or significantly great compared to the 200+ that can be granted to heterosexual couples automatically at the stroke of a pen. This is far from substantial.


In simplest terms its about equal treatment under the law. 43 out of 200+ may fall short of full equality, but its far better than having nothing. Besides: government should be granting rights, privileges, and protections and not eliminating them. Among the protections the new registry will grant are requiring hospitals to allow visitation of domestic partners and requiring businesses with 50 or more employees to allow family leave in the event of the death or serious illness of a domestic partner.

These are issues that we should not be worried about in times of emergency, and I cannot wait to find out more about the other 41 rights, protections, and privileges.

Thank you Governor Doyle for several things. You've given us the choice to register our long term relationships if we desire to do so. You've eased the burden we face in order to establish legal protections for our relationships. You've freed up time, money, and energy which we can now spend elsewhere.

Most of all -- thank you Governor Doyle for granting rights, protections, and privileges for the same-sex couples of Wisconsin!!

(but first the budget has to pass.. hopefully the beancounters out there can see the potential new revenue source here, no?)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Where Were You When Bush Was Whisked Away?

I've been looking forward to reading Crawford's Take regarding the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama. Be sure to stop by Renee Crawford's blog to read about her adventures in Washington D.C. Read about the tangible joy that was felt by two million people converging into one town to celebrate the departure of President Bush and the welcoming of President Obama. Two million people. People from countless different walks of life, from countries all over the world, with different sexual orientations, with different gender identities, of different cultures.. you name it they were probably there.

Read about the collective sigh of relief from two million people as they waved goodbye to now ex-President Bush. About the missed media opportunity on that fateful day.

When Bush was whisked out of Washington D.C, I was at work. I happened to have my phone turned on so I got to hear some of the live coverage. Reading Crawford's Take I remembered being able to actually hear cheers from the massive crowd of people as Bush was carried away on Executive One. I remembered feeling a remarkable sense of relief at that precise moment.

Click here to read all about the cheer from two million people which was kept surprisingly quiet by the media on that fateful day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Man Robs 7-11's With (Klingon) Sword

Trekkies on the rampage. What is the world coming to? What's next, Star Wars fans robbing banks using lightsaber replicas? And I'm not talking those toy plastic ones!

Seriously folks I'm not sure where to go with this one. Anyone up for a poll on what is more sad?

1. A Trekkie committing an armed robbery with a.. "sword"..
2. The robbery victims recognizing that it was a Klingon Bat'leth
3. Me, blogging about a robbery by Klingon Bat'leth at a 7-11

Click here for full details including video and commentary.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Almost As Good As Being There

Hundreds of thousands of people at President Obama's inauguration. Surely a few people will take pictures, no? Check out this massive collection of photographs taken during today's history-making festivities.

For a real treat, be sure to do the following:
1. Click on any one of the push-pins
2. Click on the lower right icon to view the "photosynth" full screen
3. Press the Play button, which will scroll through a slide show


Monday, January 19, 2009

Almost There.. Priceless!

Crowds cheering on the inevitable departure of one George W. Bush, just outside his doorstep on Election Night.

Crowds singing, "Nah Nah Nah Nah!" outside that same doorstep during the inauguration celebrations.

History marking the end of Bush's tenure as President: priceless!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another Great Leaves Us.. How Can You Not Feel Old?

Its another sad day in the world of Trek. And beyond. Ricardo Montalban has passed away at the age of 88.

Shock cannot begin to describe my feelings these days. Shame is another feeling. Why? I confess I'm embarrased to admit that I only know of Mr. Montalban's roles in Fantasy Island, Star Trek, and The Naked Gun. There is so much more to this Mexican born actor.

Less than one month ago, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry left us. Today, Ricardo Montalban. Meanwhile one of my best friends turned 40 today, another good friend is rumored to retire from work soon. My parents, aunts, and uncles certainly are not getting any younger. I have an extraordinary grandmother turning 90 this year. So much is changing and I'm finding it difficult not to feel old.. *sigh*

Click here for a neat video tribute from several years ago. And here is an MSNBC article which does a great job at giving an overview of his wonderful career.

Tornado Rainbow Triangle