DOMA – Defense of Marriage Act

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Sunday Night Blog – DOMA

11th century Hebrew Bible with targum, perhaps...

More than a few of my friends may be clutching their hearts and falling over, actually.  I did not mean to lead you down the road to heart attack.  An issue that does not impact your life one bit should not worry you so much.  I know you did not expect me to be so blunt in my approach, but I have given it a bit of thought. This even surprises me, because the issue does not affect my life.  There are no male suitors, to be sure, and while Brad Pitt and a million bucks up front might be tempting, I seriously believe I am not walking down that aisle.  So why would I change my position when I have generally been indifferent to the whole matter in the past?

The legislature of the Great Bankrupt State of Illinois has adjourned without taking a vote on gay marriage.  It was expected to be called for a vote with a good chance of passing.  Perhaps the votes were not there or perhaps, like the group in the District of Columbia, they were moved to inaction on just about everything.  Whatever the excuse, we have delayed moving forward on this.  When the issue was generating interest, however, the opposition consistently fell back on one major point: “The Bible is against it.”

Perhaps the Bible is against it.  Perhaps all good Christians will vote no to gay marriage.  Perhaps man should not lie with man like woman, or perhaps the actual translation of the Aramaic text refers to male prostitutes as some scholars suggest.  Perhaps we should not eat pork.  Perhaps we should stone women who have had sex before marriage.  Perhaps we should cut off the hand of a woman who rises up in defense of her husband.  Perhaps we should put to death disobedient children.  Perhaps we should stop playing football as the ball is made of “pigskin” (allegedly).  Perhaps we should stop pretending that we know for sure what the ancient Greek and Aramaic texts actually mean and start loving one another as we love ourselves.  Do unto your neighbors as…you know the rest, or do you?

The arguments against gay marriage are religious arguments, put forth mostly by Christians.  I have been told by a Muslim friend who follows Islam, that gay marriage is unacceptable in their culture as well.  Even so, the objections are based on what certain groups of religions believe.  There is no other reason put forward.  As the Supreme Court is likely to come down on the side of separation of church and state, what follows is that religious arguments offer no valid support of DOMA.  In addition, misquoted Bible passages are no defense to a Defense of Marriage Act that creates separate and unequal classes.  We already know what the Supreme Court and Constitutional scholars think of that.

So there is no defense for the 1996 law.  In an era where who is married is the same as who and what the individual states recognize, each state will have to wrestle with the issue in its own capital.  If all they have to offer the general public are a collection of dubious statements based on alleged readings of poorly translated texts of ancient languages, then I think we have no reasonable opposing point of view.  The state will have to decide separately from its various religions that there is no rationale for us to concern ourselves with who loves whom.  Just as surely as the state has no interest in what sex acts are going on in the home of a man and woman, they should equally be unconcerned with any two law-abiding people who love each other in the privacy of their homes.

You may respond, “They are committing sin and they will go to Hell!”  OK, but you do not stop people from gossiping, another stoning offense, and you do not generally interfere with adultery where no civil law is broken, so why do you pretend to care about gay marriage?    Leviticus 19:28 forbids tattoos but I see no legislative action to shut tattoo parlors.  Marriage after divorce is adultery and women should not speak in church, but little is done about these “offenses.”

I do not pretend to speak for God, so I wish my legislators, in the spirit of the separation of church and state, would stop doing so as well.  Promoting the general welfare of society is not brought further along by twisting Bible passages to suit someone’s personal moral agenda.  At one time the concept that some were pushing a “gay agenda” became so twisted that the term ended up a punch line.  A hateful “moral agenda” will be a sad punchline too.  The recent work of three university scholars on the various types of marriage, that are acceptable in ancient Biblical text but not allowed today, may be found in a recent Des Moines Register op-ed piece that garnered plenty of hate in reaction.  It indicates that people only want to hear what they want to hear and please do not read them Bible passages that do not go along with their Rush Limbaugh / Glen Beck way of thinking.

You are now free to go forth and do what you will in the privacy of your own home.  OK, you would do that anyway and none of the rest of us would be any the wiser.  I must leave and attend to my friends who are having heart palpitations, or perhaps it is just a cholesterol reaction to the extra chicken wings and french fries.

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30,000 hits … Go figure.

It seemed appropriate — what with getting all these awards during the last few days — that this is the week I hit another landmark. On November 9th, I passed 20,000 hits and today, exactly 3 weeks later, I hit


From February 2012, through the end of September, I gathered 10,000 hits. It took me a slightly more than a month to get the next 10,000. On November 9, I was at 20, 783.

At 11:38 pm — right now — I am at 30,044, which is just about 10,000 hits in three crammed weeks.

When there’s a lot of stuff going on, people come looking for more than information. We all want explanations, validation, confirmation that what we believe is right or what we disbelieve is wrong. Those of us who put ourselves out there gain a certain amount of popularity, maybe notoriety or at least a degree of attention in return for fending off a lot of flak for having expressed opinions with which others do not agree. I try to back my opinion with facts, at least as far as I am can establish whatever facts exist. In the end though, facts are slippery as eels, subject to innumerable interpretations. Statistics are easily twisted to support virtually any position. Numbers are neutral, but what we do with them is not.

November 2012 was a newscaster and blogger’s dream. The richness of the available subject matter for a writer was unlimited.  It gave me a lot of room to stretch my writer’s wings, to try writing about things that would normally not fall in my purview.

The dreams of writers and reporters inevitably are built on events that are someone else’s nightmare. Sometime since the advent of electronic media has come to dominate the news industry, news no longer means information about current events … what’s happening. It used to be that news might be good or bad. News was merely “new.” It was the newness that counted, not any predetermined content.

It’s different now. Today, all news is bad news. “If it bleeds, it leads” is the unofficial motto of newsrooms around the nation and probably the globe. Violence and death draws an audience. If a story has a happy ending, it’s likely relegated to feature status or considered “not newsworthy” and thus completely ignored.

Lacking fresh disasters, the next hot ticket in the news biz are scandals, financial crises, sports, weather, and anything happening to a celebrity. These days, we have celebrities who are famous for being famous. They’ve never done anything noteworthy. They don’t act, sing, play an instrument or invent things. They aren’t politicians or scientists. They are nobodies. I hope I am never desperate enough to write about any of them. Since I have pretty much no idea of who is currently famous, I’m unlikely to write about them. Most of the time, guests on talk shows are strangers to me. I can’t tell one from another. Neither can my husband. If you are looking for the latest gossip, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. I have neither information nor opinions on the subject.

Election day 2012I plead guilty to enjoying lively discussion and controversy, though I require civility however much we disagree. I figure we should be able maintain the same level of manners in public disputation that we would demand of a 5-year-old. That has turned out to be an unreasonably high expectation when issues of national importance were under discussion. No kindergarten teacher would allow such appalling behavior from her charges, but we not only tolerate, but actually encourage worse behavior from public figures.

As angry as I have been about policies and issues, I have been far more upset by the bad behavior of public figures, many with advanced degrees slinging mud, calling names, and clearly trying to incite violence. There ought to be limits, there ought to be a level below which we will not sink. Watching “Lincoln” yesterday reminded me how uncivil our public behavior has been over the years. The difference between then and now is the presence of electronic media that allows everyone to immediately see — in real-time — how ill-mannered we really are. It used to be a dirty little secret; now it’s an international embarrassment.

The sheer energy generated by so many major events occurring at the same time helped me gain an audience at a faster rate than I could have done had there not been so many important events occurring. There was Sandy, the giant storm. A storms is inherently uncivil. Storms have an excuse. They have no brain cells, just mighty wind, rain or snow … so a storm has an excuse for mindlessness, but what excuse can there be for people like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck?  Perhaps they too lack brain cells. But more likely, they simply like a conscience and the level of manners required of a pre-schooler.

I get a reasonable number of regular visitors these days. I’m not exactly viral but I have an acceptable following. The number of visitors rises and falls according to some invisible tide over which I have nominal control . When Serendipity’s visitor count first popped up from 70 or 80 on a good day to over a thousand, I figured it was a fluke and would fizzle. As I expected, the visitor count has leveled off, but apparently people who initially dropped by for a particular post continued to return for other things. I am more inclined to trust the new, steadier numbers I get now than the wild up and downs surges of early and mid November.Here, Griffin!

It’s harder to find relevant, exciting content when there are no super exciting events in progress, but I try to stay relevant, try to find interesting subjects. Maybe make a few people laugh or at least smile. I like offering historical background for whatever is going on, the rest of the story we didn’t get in elementary school. Understanding the world is easier if you have the perspective of history. Context counts.

Thanks for reading, thanks for being my friends and making me feel that I’m still a real live part of the living world.  Let’s all hope that this year is going to be a better one than last year. Maybe less full of news, but more full of joy!