Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Prop 8 Ruling

I returned from a short vacation on Tuesday very happy to know that my husband and I were still married. It would have been pretty horrible to have the State of California forcibly divorce 18,000 couples. Thank God we were spared that.

Of course I was disappointed with the other half of the Supreme Court ruling, that upheld Proposition 8, enacted by the California voters last November. Disappointed, but not surprised, as that was certainly the way the wind seemed to be blowing since the day of oral arguments back in March. And disappointed but not angry, and not called to public protest. In fact, I think the Supreme Court made the correct legal decision.

The problem in California is our ridiculously easy to amend constitution. But the proponents worked within that system as they are entitled to do. The court ruling is not anti-marriage, or anti-gay; it's simply an affirmation that the Prop 8 proponents followed the rules fair and square. We don't need the court to win this one for us. We can follow the same rules and win our own victory at the ballot box. In the meantime our Domestic Partnership laws are still available to any same-sex couple looking for legal protection and recognition, providing exactly the same statewide legal benefits as marriage. With 18,000 married same-sex couples it will be difficult for the anti-marriage folks to convince voters that we present an actual detriment to the culture (as opposed to the imagined threat they campaigned on last year). And lastly, it's important for those of us who are tired of hearing the right complain about "activist judges" to support the court when they make a principled, legal decision, even if personally we disagree. It's not the court's job to change our culture; that's our job.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

California Propositions, all or nothing

California has another special election coming up on Tuesday. This time we're asked to vote on a set of questions, labeled 1A through 1F. That they're all number "1" is an effort to make us think of them as a single question, although they cover a variety of issues. So although a voter might be inclined to support some and not others the State is hoping we'll vote yes on even the ones we don't like because they're presented as a package. The problem with that strategy is that it also encourages us to reject the whole package if we don't like some of it, which is what is happening.

They tried the same strategy, to similar negative effect, in another way as well. Within the propositions themselves the voter encounters a mix of budget solutions which equally attract and disgust persons of all political philosophy. The state hoped to win support of Democrats and Republican voters by marrying, say, a tax hike with a program cut, or a borrowing plan with a spending cap. Here again, though, in attempting to please everyone they've pleased no one. It's a very strange situation to hear fiscal conservatives and liberal Dems equally condemning the same propositions with one complaining "it's a secret tax hike" while the other complains "it cuts programs for our most vulnerable citizens."

The ballot measures will fail. California will be forced to deal with a 21 billion dollar deficit. It won't be pretty. But perhaps the crisis will force Schwarzenegger and the legislature to deal with the real issue: a budget process that for decades has been completely hamstrung by propositions mandating that certain programs be funded regardless of other budget realities, that certain taxes only go for particular pet programs regardless of shifting needs in the State, and worst of all that any new taxes or the annual budget itself must be approved by two thirds of the legislature giving perpetual veto power to the minority party.

California needs to let our government govern. But in order to do that the government needs to call a constitutional convention and undo all the knots we've tied them up in. That would be the positive outcome of the impossible place we've come to. Wish us luck.

Sabrina lives

My dog turned 14 last month. Still relatively healthy. Then last Friday she got up in the morning, jumped down form the chair where she sleeps at night and crashed on the floor. Her back legs had given way. "Oh no," I thought. My older dog had died just past his 15 year birthday with much the same problem.

But Sabrina's case was not quite so bad. She could stand, with effort, and even stumble forward a few steps before collapsing again. Peleg and I took her to the vet that afternoon. He prescribed a drug called MetaCam that Peleg and I had already had recommended to us by a friend when we told him of our dog's situation, and we had researched on the web. The vet gave Sabrina a shot of that while we were at the office and then we carried her home with a 30 day supply.

We set Sabrina up with a new bed on the bottom floor of the house so she wouldn't have to climb stairs or jump into a chair. She seemed confused and upset that day. Wouldn't eat. The next day we gave her the medicine and she ate a little when we supplemented her regular food with some chicken broth. And then slowly by slowly over the last week she's made nearly a full recovery. I carried her up the front steps to the street a couple of days ago and let her walk a little. Then yesterday we went for a longer walk and she went up and down the steps by herself. This morning as I was taking a shower in the upstairs bathroom she suddenly appeared at the door having climbed the stairs on her own. By the time I got out of the shower she had jumped into the chair where she used to sleep and was looking at me like nothing had happened.

SPF 100

Neutrogena now offers an SPF 100, sun block. What does that mean? The SPF number doesn't measure percentage of protection. An SPF of 30 already screens nearly 97% of the sun's UVB rays.

The SPF number is a multiplying factor that calculates the increased amount of time you can endure sun exposure without burning. If it normally takes you 15 minutes to burn, an SPF of 15 would protect you for 15 times that amount, or 3 hours and 45 minutes. Of course with sweating and rubbing, and maybe swimming you'd want to reapply anyway.

So an SPF of 85 (another common product) would mean a person who burns in 15 minutes without sun block, could theoretically stay in the sun for 85 times that long, or 21 hours and 15 minutes. If you put on the sunblock before dawn you would be protected until well after midnight. An SPF of 100 actually gives you protection for 25 hours, more than a full day. Even if you live above the arctic circle and never go indoors you don't need that much SPF.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

prayer for the day

National Day of Prayer, 2009

God of our imaginings and far beyond our imaginations,
God of our thoughts but beyond our comprehension, beyond our theologies, beyond our religions,
God of our hearts but who loves your people more greatly and loves your creation more broadly than we can love even ourselves.
God of our hopes who gives us all things but asks us to participate in creating the divine Kingdom on Earth.

We gather today, troubled, fearful, angry, resistant, impatient, and weak.

We pray for ourselves
For good work
For strong families
For healthy bodies
For food to eat and safe places to live

We pray for our neighbors
for those who have lost their jobs in this depressed economy
and for those employers forced to make difficult decisions
for those who have lost their homes in this recent wildfire
and for the firefighters working to prevent more homes being lost
for those who have lost their lives in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
and for those whose lives have been disrupted by the wars.

We pray for our nation’s leaders:
That they might have wisdom, greater than our confusion
That they might have courage, greater than our fears
That they might have compassion, greater than our intolerance
That they might have flexibility, greater than our partisanship

We pray for our world
That people may live in peace, with justice and liberty for all,
That we find a way to share the earth with all living things
That we heal what we have already injured and cause no further damage

God, we offer ourselves, our communities, our nations, and our world as partners in your divine plan.

Take our minds and mold them to your ideals

Take our hearts and overfill them with your love

Take our bodies and bend them to your work.

In gratitude for this day’s blessings, and all the blessings of our lives, we re-affirm the vows of our faith to bind ourselves more closely to your holy will for our own sakes, and for the salvation of all.


for more prayers visit the Unitarian Universalists of Santa Clarita Valley prayer blog

national day of prayer 2009

The Santa Clarita Interfaith Council hosts an event at the door of City Hall this afternoon. I'll be there. There is a lot to pray about.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

marry in maine

it's exciting news. what once seemed unimaginable seems now commonplace. The story that Maine has now approved marriage for same sex couples isn't even being reported on the news radio station I listen to in my car. Later today the New Hampshire legislature sent a marriage equality bill to their governor. The states are now moving twice in one day.

One quibble. Every news report keeps counting Maine as the 5th State to grant marriage equality. As a happily and still legally married gay man in California I feel a little ignored. Technically California was the second state to grant marriage equality, after Massachusetts, then Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and now Maine. New Hampshire might be next. But if by chance the California Supreme Court does overturn Proposition 8 (we're still awaiting the decision, due by early June) will the media count California as seventh (after New Hampshire) or second (after Massachusetts)?