An Open Letter To Prop. 8 Propponents In California

I recently saw an article online that indicated that Pro- Prop 8 people were filing an emergency injunction in order to halt gay weddings because the ban on such marriages was lifted early.

Really? After everything you’re really kicking up more dust? The highest court in the land told you Wednesday that this gay marriage issue was none of your business. Essentially, they politely showed you the door. You have lost every legal battle in the life span of this measure. The only time you did win was on election night, but that was only because you lied and filled ignorant people with outlandish scenarios where gay marriage led to beastiality and polygamy. You said our children were in jeopardy because they would be forced to learn about being gay in school. All lies to serve your agenda. To me that was equal to voter fraud. Millions of people cast their votes for a measure that discriminated against a whole sect of people because they thought they were doing something good for their children. They weren’t. They were played by a manipulative political machine with an agenda of hate.

Why do  you even care? I mean, what business is it of yours who marries whom? How do you think you are able to stand over others in judgment and dictate who has the right to be married and who doesn’t? Why can’t you just walk away from this like you should? The right to marry is a fundamental civil right and just because you have a moral objection to It does not mean you have the right to criminalize it. If it offends you, there are 30+ states in the union that still discriminate against gays. Move to one of them. If I were you, I’d head to Utah first. Something tells me that will eventually be the last hold out as the gay rights issue evolves in this country.

The fact is we live in the U.S.A. and as it has been labeled the land of the free, that means everyone here is free to live their lives as they see fit. That was the ideal. Through the years we have fallen short. It seems ever since the we came into being the only people here with true, pure freedom have been straight, white men, but as history has shown, those who don’t fall into that category have fought, and won, their rights and stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of America. Such it is with the LGBT community.

There are millions of people living here and each person lives their life in a different way. In some cases, those differences clash with others, You may not approve of the way others live their lives here, but you can’t obstruct their right to live it. If you could, how long until you’re on the other side of this fight? What if someone was trying to vote away one of your rights? A lot of people who oppose gay rights never had to fight this battle. They were white and straight and from the day they were born had not obstacles in their way. No one was protesting their choices. Their rights weren’t put on a ballot measure. They never had to hear other people talking as though they were some sub-culture of humanity, so they don’t understand the fight. They don’t get why this is so important, but it is.

You may have a moral objection to who I am by birth, but that does not bestow upon you the right of telling me how to be. There is no partial equality. The laws of our land can sometimes be complex but on principle is steadfast and true. ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL. No asterisk. No exceptions. If you have a problem with a particular group, fine. Hate them all you want, but don’t think for a second you have the grounds to put up laws that carve away their rights, because once you start doing that, everyone’s rights become up for grabs.

Maybe someday we’ll only want families to have two children so any over that will have to be put up for adoption. Maybe we’ll think that interfaith marriages are tearing our society apart. Do you really want to be on this side of history? On the side that insists on dragging us backwards? Because as history has shown, you can fight and drag as much as you want, but eventually we do move forward.

 

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Equality

How could I let a historic day like this go by without saying something? Not one, but two major victories for gay marriage. SCOTUS also made history by for first time taking a firm stand on an issue instead of handing down a half hearted decision that merely kicked the issue down the road.

I was so happy to hear about Prop. 8 being overturned. While I am of the opinion that measures approved by voters should be respected, Prop 8 was different. First, it violated civil rights as well as human rights and secondly most of the people who voted for it did so due to the lies and misleading information its supporters were pushing through the media. The people thought they were voting for something that was going to ‘save’ their children, when the measure had nothing to do with kids or schools. That kind of deception, in my view, amounts to voter fraud.

The next best thing was that DOMA was struck down. The base framework of all discrimination against gay and lesbian couples has been ripped apart at long last. This day is setting the stage for even more progress to be made in the future. Deep breath of happiness.

Now the bad news. It seems the opponents of equality don’t seem to understand how deeply they have lost. Already they are talking about what they’re going to do to prevent gay marriage from coming to California. Do these people ever know when to quit? Members of their own camp have even gone on record to say that gay marriage will happen. They know they are on the wrong side of history and will lose, yet they insist on fighting. And I wonder why California has been chosen as such a battleground. I didn’t hear about this much turbulence when New York legalized. Maybe within the state there were some dust ups, but nothing big enough to make the headlines. It just seems the hate groups are particularly interested in preventing gay marriage here, where I would have assumed it would have been accepted as law a long time ago.  Do they think if they can stop gay marriage here that it will stop it everywhere else? As though we were the hive mind? So far, it seems they are losing ground as quickly as we are gaining. With the Supreme Court’s decision today, I think most arguments following will be quickly thrown out, as the highest court in the land has finally deemed any discrimination against gay couples to be unconstitutional.

I have been irritated by this fight since day 1. It frustrates me that a bunch of narrow-minded fools have decided that it’s any of their business how other people live their lives. I’m irritated because we’ve had this fight before over and over and every time the oppressors lose. Are they unable to learn from history or just choose to  ignore it? This country moves forward. This country is built on equality for all and when they say ‘for all’ they mean it. No exceptions.  it’s a shame though that our history doesn’t reflect that. Blacks had to fight for their rights. Women as well. Pretty much every non-white, non-male, non-straight person has had to fight for their basic rights, but on the good side, they have a good track record of winning.

I get that a lot of the opponents of gay marriage oppose it due to their religious beliefs, but that’s even more infuriating. Why should what you believe impact how I live my life? Who the hell said you got to make the rules? The only people affected by gay marriage are the two people being married. This is not a redefinition of marriage. In fact, since the constitution doesn’t specify gender, this is a literal following of our founding fathers’ vision. I would ask all who oppose gay marriage to think about how you would react if your civil rights were suddenly up for a vote. What if your marriage was being put into question? Once we open the door to this, who knows who will be next on the chopping block? Do we really want a country where the majority gets to decide the rights of the minority? Even if you don’t believe in marriage equality, you should believe in justice because some day you’re going to be on the other side of the argument.

Invisible

For years invisible has been the word to describe me socially. I hang back and observe those around me; keeping my distance and remaining in my ‘safe zone’. Perhaps this is a condtion I’ve developed due to events of my past. Not that I’m into blaming my past for my current problems, but the reality is that treatment we receive as children leave scars and can persuade certain habits later in life.

In my case, I was bullied a lot growing up. Not the intense bullying you hear about today, but it was still pretty traumatic for me. For the naysayers, I say you weren’t there. You weren’t in my shoes so don’t you dare try to minimize my experiences. Some may call it teasing, but back then it hurt me and I found the only way to attempt to avoid such treatment was to withdraw and try to escape into the background. That became the pattern for the rest of my life. I ducked under the radar and never made waves for fear of any backlash. I find to this day I have severe anxiety over engaging in group conversations for fear of becoming a target of ridicule.  I’m rather nervous writing this right now feeling some reluctance over the attention this piece may receive. Even  among my friends I have these concerns.

I must repeat at this point, I’m not blaming anyone or trying to cast shame. I’m just feeling the need to express this. I’ve just felt as of late sick of being in this shadow. I’ve come to the uneasy realization that over the many years of my life, I’ve failed to make many real connections with other people. I’m not the kind to make friends quickly or easily. I just don’t know how it’s done.

For some, it’s easy. I watch as others do it. They get asked about details about their name (Is it short for anything? Are you named after someone/something?) or they are grilled about their place of origin or what have you. For me the standard intro includes the shaking of hands, a quick ‘hello, what’s your name?’ a response to that question followed by a question about how I am doing, to which the answer is usually ‘fine’ since I don’t think a new acquaintance wants to hear the true, super long response and I certainly don’t feel exposing so much so quickly. After that there’s no where to go. They smile and move on to the next person and that person seems to inspire more questions than I was asked, and they usually have better answers. What is it about me that pushes them away? I smile and do all I can to be engaged, but they just don’t respond.

I don’t have much to say, I admit that. I have led a pretty typical life. Grew up in suburbia. Average student. I didn’t come from some far off city or country. I never really did anything too exceptional early on. I don’t have any ‘interesting’ tales to share about my life so to speak. I mean, if someone in a group announces that they suffered from a terrible disease and survived, while unfortunate they were stricken and great they recovered, you have to admit that admission automatically made them 100% more interesting than anyone else at that table. I’m just sayin’. Even now when I tell people I’m a writer, I hope that will be enough to spark conversation, but I’ve found that’s not even very unique. Every time I say it, someone else is quick to pop up with ‘me too!’ and there goes my hook. We may even end up talking about our trade, but two writers talking about writing can only be interesting for so long.

I just don’t understand why I have this barrier in me. Maybe it’s because while I want this one thing, I want it on my terms. I want to be liked and appreciated for who I really am and not have to change just to fit in or become more appealing, because I can’t do that. I’m not like everyone else, but then everyone is different, so why would anyone expect me to be so similar to all the others? Sometimes my behavior may just seem anti-social, but I’m not. I may not laugh at every joke you tell, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s funny. I may not react like you want when you tell a story, but I’m still listening. I am as I have been made and while I have my limitations, so does everyone else, it just seems my limitations are more evident in the social world. I can only guess that my childhood experiences have informed my adult behaviors. This not an excuse or a cop out. In fact, to be totally honest, I have no idea what this is. I just feel this need to vent. I know that some will think I’m just whining.

Maybe it’s just the way I am. Maybe I just wasn’t born with a strong enough personality to be that popular. Or perhaps it’s just low self-esteem. Maybe I’m not who I really should be. I don’t know anymore. Am I a good person or am I just someone who allowed himself to be cast in a role that was convenient at the time? Maybe I’m really a horrible person. If I gave voice to a lot of the things that go through my mind, some could say that I am. There are so many explanations and reasons for this, I cannot tell you. There’s no way to know, and I’m just afraid I’ll never figure it out. I hope that’s not the case, and I hope just getting this out of my system might help.

Movies Of The Future

Recently Spielberg and Lucas shared some of their thoughts on the future of the movie theater industry. They are predicting ticket prices could go up as high as $150. They foresee few movies being made with larger budgets and lasting longer in theaters. They see the movies becoming more like Broadway and its shows.

Is there a Baptist doing their accounting these days? If this prophecy comes to pass it will be like pressing the self-destruct button on the entire industry. How many ways can this go wrong? I can barely calculate. First, the studios will only make movies with at least a 300 million dollar price tag. They aren’t going to make a movies for less than that because theaters aren’t going to be able to sell a $150 ticket for a movie that cost $20 million to make. That means the only films that are going to be made are big budget, special FX blockbusters and that may appeal to a broad audience, it won’t be enough to make back the money it took to make the movie because most people will probably only watch it once and wait until it is released on video.

Maybe not even that since with the high ticket some theaters may give out extra perks, such as digital copies of the film you’re going in to see. So you watch it once and then get to take it home and watch it all you want for FREE.

Another point is the fact that when I go to see a movie, I go to see the movie. If they go ahead with this and give goodies away with the ticket, I have no idea what they could give you that would make a $150 movie ticket seem okay. I go to the movies to see the movie. I don’t want to take home a  bunch of crap.

This would also mean fewer films would be made and that would take a lot of paying gigs from the actors and crews. The reality of acting, as I’ve heard, is that only 1% of actors actually make a living at it. With fewer movies for them to star in (extras, character roles and the like) bring that down to .5%

Let’s now take a look at who’s paying to see these movies. An average family of 4 would be looking at quite a steep bill for a little fun. I’ve seen birthday parties at some theaters. Can imagine forking over $150 for seven people at once? Who has that kind of money? Not the average movie goer, I can assure you of that. These prices are going cut the audiences severely. Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas better make sure all their rich friends go to see their movies about thirty or forty times a week.

So to break it down we have smaller audiences with fewer viewing options all so the AMC can charge $ 150 a head. Sounds suicide to me.

Remember the 80’s and 90’s? Back in a time when movies came out and could be in theater for months. Titanic was in theaters for a year or something like that. Three Men And A Baby was being promoted for over 6 months. Maybe longer. I saw the ad in the paper and remember it being altered for three or four different holidays. The reason the movies did so well back then was because tickets were cheaper, therefore more people  could afford to go to the movies. One of the reasons people don’t go to the movies anymore is because it’s getting so expensive. Seems to me the strategy would be to find a way to make movies more affordable to the average person.

I just hope these guys are wrong because I don’t see a pretty picture if this should come to pass. Theater chains closing down. More unemployed. The studios could start going under as well. If they give out copies of their movies when people go to see them in theaters, they will lose a fortune. No one will need to buy or rent the movie when it goes to video and there’s always the threat that some people may pirate the movie and that’ll undercut their theater profits severely.

The entertainment industry is on thin enough ice these days. This concept seems like it would be the  bullet in the head for everyone. I don’t want to see that happen. I like going to the movies. It’s fun. There’s nothing like the smell of the popcorn or the sensation of hearing those booming sounds and seeing that huge screen. If Spielberg and Lucas love movies as much as they have claimed in the past, they would be on the other side of this argument and try to preserve the purity of the movie going experience rather than siding with the greedy corporate side of Hollywood. I know it’s show business, but it’s also still an art that should be accessible to all. Whether you can cough up half a billion to make your movie or not.

Technology Is Killing Us

Or rather it’s making us weaker. I’ve never been a ‘tech’ guy, so a lot of it goes over my head, but as I watch the endless stream of commercials on TV about all the exciting new innovations the various geek tanks of America are offering us, I see an unnerving trend. We, as a people, are growing increasingly lazy. All the new features of the new phones, computers and tablets are all about ‘simplifying’ and ‘streamlining’ things.

First, let’s  consider the new ways you can watch television and movies on any device at anytime, thereby making it impossible to ever NOT be watching something. Is there any show or movie so good that it warrants that kind of attention? Is there something that we all need to be watching all the time, where ever we go? I think most clearly of The Hopper commercials. in one house, each member of the family is watching something on any one of various devices. All of them in the same house, all their eyes glued to a different screen. I wonder when I see that if there are any people like that. Are there people out there who cannot abide being separated from their television for even a minute? It feels like the beginning of a culture where we all lay around all the time with a screen shoved in our faces. That’s progress?

So while the TV providers are working on dumbing us down, the tech guys have found ways to facilitate that and make us lazier. I’ve seen an ad for a phone that promotes a feature where all the things you’re interested in are plastered on the home screen of your phone. Apparently we are now too lazy to swipe our fingers across a screen or type words into the search engine. Now we need the computers to think for us and to predict our likes and arrange them for us.

I miss the days before smart phones and all this nonsense. What happened to thinking? What happened to putting in a little effort? Why do we constantly seek to make our easy lives even easier? We don’t have to hunt our food. We have indoor plumbing, pools and a machine that makes margaritas, for god’s sake. When will it be enough? We need our movies instantly. We need our TV shows at our fingertips. Doesn’t it ever occur to anyone the more we ‘simplify’ and strip down our lives, the more people get put out of work? Perfect example is the digital book revolution. They make some e-readers and books can now be purchased online and paperless. Great? For some, yes, but let’s think about the book sellers. Borders has already fallen and it won’t be long until Barnes & Noble follows. Those jobs will be gone and there won’t be any new ones to replace them. We can follow this on to the people who actually make the physical books. They’re out of work now too because no books selling, no books to make. More jobs lost forever.

Technology can be good and truly enhance our lives in the correct  measure and I think we reached that point at about 2005 0r so. Since then, we have been overreaching and the large tower of tech is starting to tip over toward us and it’s only a matter of time until it topples over and falls down upon our heads. Maybe this makes me sound like a techonophobe or some old man who can’t keep pace with the rest of the world, but as I look around and see toddlers with their eyes fixed on their tablets and teens engrossed on their smartphones, I think maybe we’ve reached a place where technology no longer has a purpose other than impressing us with what it can do.